Sculpt strong shoulders, biceps, triceps, back and chest muscles with this safe and effective pregnancy arm workout! This challenging, 15-minute prenatal arm workout is designed to build upper body strength using a set of dumbbells.
Build upper body strength in a pregnancy-safe way with this prenatal arm workout.
If you’ve tried one of my pregnancy workouts before, you know not to underestimate them. They are safe for pregnancy, BUT still very challenging.
This workout became a go-to of mine — especially during my second and third trimesters. It’s quick, efficient and spicy.
All arm exercises are done from a standing or seated position, so you’ll never lay on your back. This workout safely targets every muscle in your upper body — in under 15 minutes.
Add this pregnancy arm workout with weights to your fit pregnancy workout program.
Pregnancy Arm Workout FAQs
Yes! Prenatal arm workouts are important for building and maintaining the upper body strength you’ll need to support you throughout pregnancy and into life as a new mom. Pregnancy arm workouts are great for maintaining good posture and avoiding injury (think about all the bending, hunching and carrying involved with motherhood).
For the majority of pregnancies, yes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends strength training during pregnancy, saying it is extensively studied and found to be safe and beneficial. Of course, every pregnancy is different. Talk to your doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise program.
Yes, push ups are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your entire upper body using just your bodyweight. I suggest modifying push ups for pregnancy by adding an incline.
I suggest adding this pregnancy upper body workout to your routine 1-2 times a week. A well-rounded fitness plan will include a variety of workouts, including pregnancy-friendly lower body and full body workouts. Looking for more pregnancy workouts? Check out my FREE trimester-specific workout plans!
15-Minute Pregnancy Arm Workout
Build strong upper body muscles with this guided, 15-Minute Pregnancy Arm Workout.
All you need is a set of dumbbells for this upper body strength workout. Work through these arm exercises that are safe for pregnancy, Tabata-style.
This is a Tabata arm workout, which means you’ll be working for short, intense periods of work, followed by minimal rest (or no rest at all if you’re following the isometric holds).
I suggest adding this upper body strength workout to your prenatal workout plan 1-2 times a week.
Medium to heavy set of dumbbells and an optional bench.
I’m using 10 and 15 lb dumbbells.
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Follow along with the guided Pregnancy Arm Workout on YouTube, led by personal trainer Lindsey Bomgren.
This pregnancy arm workout is safe for the first trimester, second trimester AND third trimester.
Your Workout Looks Like This:
- 5 Circuits (each circuit targets a specific upper body muscle group — biceps, back, chest, shoulders and triceps)
- Tabata Intervals (20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds rest or an isometric hold)
- 4 “Work” Intervals Per Circuit. In some circuits, that means 4 unique arm exercises, in others we’ll repeat the same exercises multiple times.
CIRCUIT ONE: Biceps
- Half Bicep Curls (Bottom Half)
- Half Bicep Curls (Top Half)
- Standard Bicep Curls
- Hammer Curls
CIRCUIT TWO: Back
- Back Rows
- Alternating Back Rows
- Reverse Grip Back Rows
- Alternating Reverse Grip Rows
CIRCUIT THREE: Chest
- Incline Push Up
- Incline Push Up and Down Dog Push Back
CIRCUIT FOUR: Shoulders
- Single Arm Arnold Press, R
- Single Arm Arnold Press, L
CIRCUIT FIVE: Triceps
- Tricep Dips
- Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions
5 Best Pregnancy Arm Exercises
Standard Bicep Curls
Targets: The long (outer) head of the biceps, and the short (inner) head of the biceps.
The best bicep exercise to make the bicep muscles pop.
How To Do A Bicep Curl
- Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
- Keep your elbows in line with or slightly in front of your body. Shoulders out of your ears with shoulder blades pulled down.
- Then exhale as you squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder height.
- With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Narrow Back Rows
Targets: Mainly the latissimus dorsi (or lats), but also engages the rhomboids and core.
This pull exercise also strengthens the biceps as they are engaged in the “pull” motion.
How To Do Back Rows
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Grip a set of dumbbells, palms facing in towards each other.
- Hinge forward at the hips until your body is in a straight line, neck in line with your spine, flat back, and belly button pulled back towards your spine.
- Pull the weights back towards your hips, elbows parallel to torso. Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together.
- Control the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
Incline Push Ups
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.
Incline push ups are one of the best ways to modify push ups for pregnancy as you still get the full range of motion as your baby bump grows.
How To Do Incline Push Ups
- Stand in front of your bench (or counter, or wall). The higher the surface, the easier the push up will be.
- Plant your hands on the bench and step back into a high plank position. Shoulders are stacked over wrists, weight evenly distributed between all fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
- Hold this incline plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, as you slowly lower your chest towards the bench.
- Lead with your chest, elbows fall about 6 inches away from your body (not out to the sides).
- Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position. Repeat.
Single Arm Arnold Press
Targets: All three heads of the deltoids, also known as your shoulder muscles.
The overhead press builds defined shoulders and improves posture.
How To Do A Single Arm Arnold Press
- Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart. Start with a dumbbell in your right hand, directly in front of your face at eye level (overhead grip, palm faces in towards your face).
- Keep a slight bend in your knees, engage your core and squeeze your glutes (to protect your low back) as you ‘goalpost’ your arm by rotating the palm out so it’s facing away from your face.
- Then exhale as you perform an overhead shoulder press, pushing the weight directly overhead, locking out your elbows (bicep by ear).
- Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position, rotating your palms back in towards your face, and repeat.
Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions
Targets: The long head of your triceps (back of the arms), abs and core muscles.
The overhead tricep extension activates your core and lower back muscles as stabilizers during the exercise.
How To Do Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions
- Start sitting on your bench or chair, feet hip-width apart and firmly planted on the ground. Think about bracing your core to keep your body stable.
- Hold one dumbbell vertically between your hands straight overhead.
- Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, bringing the dumbbell behind your head.
- Then exhale as you press the dumbbell back overhead. Think ‘hide the dumbbell, show the dumbbell’ if you were watching yourself in a mirror.
- Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the entire movement (don’t let them flare out).
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