HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy – Are They Safe?

7 min read

Written by Sindhuja Prabhu

Sindhuja Prabhu

HIIT exercises during pregnancy

Physical training during pregnancy is a very good option to stay fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy. You can avoid many health issues and keep various parameters under control. Doctors advise pregnant women to stay active and exercise through pregnancy but do they recommend HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercises during pregnancy? Is it safe?

Exercises during pregnancy must target various parts of your body and focus on your stamina as well. Staying active will help keep your gestational diabetes and blood pressure under control, among other things. Good stamina is important for a smooth and easy delivery, as your labor can be long and intense. Read on to know if HIIT during pregnancy can help you achieve all this.

In This Article

What Are High-Intensity Interval Training Exercises?

As the name suggests, these exercises are high in intensity, meaning they require you to put in a lot of effort to complete the exercise. They will push your body to its limits and help your body get stronger and improve over time. the number of repetitions is also high in some circuits.

High-Intensity Interval Training, more commonly known as HIIT requires you to do a set of exercises for a very short span of time but at high intensity. You can take breaks between exercises. So, you will push your body to its physical limits and then give it a break. Over time, your body’s limits will expand, enabling you to do more repetitions or increase the speed.

For example –In HIIT, you will do squats at high speed for about 60 seconds without a break and then take a break for a few seconds, before you move on to the next exercise.

Importance of HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy

high intensity exercises

Staying active is very important during pregnancy. Gone are the days when an expecting mother was asked to sit and get pampered by all around her. Today, people are more aware of the various health issues that can affect a pregnant woman and how to keep them at bay.

HIIT can increase your endurance, and body strength and focus on different groups of muscles as required. While walking during pregnancy is definitely good exercise, it may not suffice. Some women need more and HIIT might just be what they need.

Are HIIT Exercises Safe During Pregnancy?

HIIT exercises are safe to do during pregnancy, provided you are used to them before and your doctor gives you a green signal. It is important for you to speak with your doctor before you continue doing them. Even if you are used to doing them before conception. Do not take a self-call on high-intensity exercises when pregnant. 

However, you can always modify HIIT exercises to claim their benefits. Talk to your doctor and you are good to go if they don’t anticipate a complicated pregnancy. 

Top 5 HIIT Exercises You May Want To Consider During Pregnancy

woman doing HIIT exercises during pregnancy

If you are wondering what exercises you can do when pregnant, here are some options

1. Inclined Plank Taps 

Instead of staying parallel to the floor in a plank position, use a box to place your hands on, Your body will be inclined and your pregnant belly will not be hanging down.

2. Reverse Lunge 

Reverse lunges are always safer during pregnancy as you won’t be landing forward with a jerk. You can reduce the weights you carry for the bicep curl.

3. Modified Box Jumps 

Opt for step-ups instead of box jumps. You can even opt for a smaller box so that you don’t have to put pressure on your pelvic muscle to climb the box.

4. Chair Squats 

Squat and sit on a chair instead of going all the way down into a deep squat. The intensity and the speed are lower this way.

[Read : Squats During Pregnancy]

5. Inclined Push-Ups 

Use a bench or a box instead to place your hands for push-ups instead of doing it flat on the ground.

Health Benefits of HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy

Many women may fear doing HIIT exercises during pregnancy. Are you one of them? If yes, here are some ways in which HIIT can benefit you during pregnancy

  • It can help keep all your back pains and other body aches at bay by improving overall body strength.
  • You can focus on areas that hurt and make those areas stronger for a smoother pregnancy experience.
  • Exercising can release feel-good hormones that help in keeping depression and mood swings in check.
  • It can improve your stamina and strength to go through labor.
  • It can help reduce small pregnancy issues like back aches, joint aches, digestive issues, sleep troubles, etc.
  • Strengthening your body during pregnancy can help you bounce back faster after delivery.
  • You can maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy. HIIT can help burn a lot of fat.

Precautions to Take While Performing HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy

pregnant woman sitting on a yoga mat

HIIT can feel very hard. Here are some precautions to take if you are doing HIIT exercises when pregnant

1. Stop When Needed

It is ok to stop HIIT exercises during pregnancy. You may have started with no intention to stop till the end. However, pregnancy can change your body in multiple ways and you have no control over it. If there is a need, to stop exercising or change your workout routine, don’t hesitate to do so.

2. Listen to Your Body 

If your body is resisting or giving clues that the strain is too much, listens to it! if you experience intense stomach pain, chest pain, or sudden dizziness, it means your body is too tired. If you feel any discomfort while walking or feel contractions, you should stop doing HIIT.

3. Don’t Push Too Much 

While it is good to have targets and go all-out to achieve them, pregnancy might not be the right time for such goals. It is not advisable to push your body too much to do better than last time. Your body is under a lot of physical and hormonal strain, and pushing it too much now can become counterproductive.

4. Slippery Floor

Pregnancy can affect your balance. So, when you move about exercising during pregnancy, ensure you move slowly and maintain balance at all times.

Side Effects of HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy

HIIT exercises can target each part of your body and improve your endurance as well. However, when you are pregnant and plan on doing

HIIT, you need to be aware of the following side effects

1. Rise in Heart Rate 

Straining too much during exercising or pushing your body beyond its usual limit can increase your heart rate. Since you are pregnant, this can happen a lot faster than usual.

2. Risk of Injury

Doing some exercise when you are very tired can result in mistakes. HIIT during pregnancy can be very tiring for some women.

3. Uterus Slips Lower 

Jumping or squatting a lot during pregnancy can cause your uterus to slip lower. This can not only be painful and uncomfortable, but your doctor might advise bed rest too.

4. Dehydration 

You sweat a lot when you do HIIT exercises. Not drinking enough water can result in dehydration, which is not safe during pregnancy.

[Read : How Much Water Should I Drink During Pregnancy?]

Modified HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy

pregnant woman squatting

HIIT can be a great exercise routine to stay fit during pregnancy. However, as your pregnancy progresses, you need to modify the exercises to stay safe. Here are a few ways in which you can alter the regular HIIT workouts during pregnancy

1. Reduce Jumps 

Usual HIIT exercises can involve a lot of jumping or bending at the hips. When pregnant, it is advisable to avoid such exercises. Bending down too fast is not only difficult during pregnancy, but is very unsafe too. Jumping during pregnancy is also not very safe. So, you can reach up as high as you can instead of jumping.

2. Reduce Reps

You can reduce the number of repetitions you do for each exercise. When you push your body to do more than its comfort level, especially when pregnant, it may not help.

3. Reduce Room Temperature 

HIIT can increase your body temperature very quickly. Pregnancy also increases your body temperature. Letting it raise too much is not safe for your pregnancy. So, ensure you work out in an air-conditioned or well-ventilated room.

4. Reduce Intensity 

If you are unable to keep up with the intensity or the speed of the exercises, don’t hesitate to tone it down. You can opt to do 10 squats of 2 sets each instead of doing all 20 squats in a few seconds.

If you have always been active and exercising, or even doing HIIT as a part of your regular fitness routine, you can continue doing it during pregnancy as well. You may want to reduce the intensity and modify the workouts as the pregnancy progresses. However, if you are new to HIIT, pregnancy is not the time to start something so physically demanding.


1. When Should You Stop Doing HIIT Exercises During Pregnancy?

If you are finding it difficult to maintain the right posture or breathe normally, you need to tone down the intensity or even stop your HIIT exercises during pregnancy.

2. Can I do HIIT Exercises During The First Trimester of Pregnancy?

Yes, you can; provided you are used to HIIT exercises before pregnancy and the doctor approves HIIT during pregnancy.

3. How Long Can You do High-Intensity Workouts While Pregnant?

You can do them as long as you are comfortable and the doctor is okay with it. Listen to your body, and stop when needed. 

4. Can Intense Exercise Hurt Babies?

No, exercises be they light or intense, cannot hurt the fetus, which is well protected behind multiple layers in the womb.

Read Also: Mind-Body Techniques During Pregnancy – Is it Safe and Top Benefits

Sindhuja Prabhu,M.Sc (Psychology),PGDBM

Sindhuja, a mother of two, is an obsessive mom with a keen interest in psychology, especially child psychology. Her quest for knowledge and way with words led her to become a passionate content writer. She transformed her love for writing into a full-fledged career which incidentally also turned up being the perfect stress buster for the last 5 years.Read more.

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