Are Pull-Ups Safe During Pregnancy?

Just so you don’t complicate your journey, you might wonder about the risks of various exercises, like pull-ups. They are a form of strength-training exercise that involves pulling oneself up on a bar, using shoulder, arm and core muscles.

While exercising is usually encouraged for its health benefits during this time,  it’s important to consider changes happening to you, and how they could affect the safety and efficacy of a particular exercise. So, are pulling ups suitable for mothers-to be? Let’s look into this:

Are pull-ups safe during pregnancy?

The answer to this question usually depends on a few things, like your experience and how quickly your body is changing. If you’ve been doing this a while before you got pregnant, and you feel comfortable and are stable while doing them, why not? they might be okay to continue, most especially within the early stages.

However, as your bump grows and your body changes more, pull-ups can be challenging. Your center of gravity shifts, making it harder to balance. This is going to put extra strain on your joints and muscles, which are already working intensely to support you. PubMed points out that overstressing these muscles can lead to diastasis recti, a condition you definitely want to avoid.

Your safest bet is to discuss this with your obstetrician or a certified fitness instructor. They can assess your condition and advice based on your fitness level and how your journey is going overall.

When to stop doing pull-ups while pregnant?

Are pull-ups safe during pregnancy?

Deciding whether or not to stop doing pull-ups during pregnancy isn’t exactly the same for everyone. It’s mostly based on your fitness levels, how your journey is going overall, and how relaxed you feel. Here are some signs that you need to break from pull ups, maybe modify it or simply switch to a different exercise:

When You Constantly Feel Uncomfortable:

If you persistently feel uncomfortable then it’s time to hit the pause button. During pregnancy, your body is going through lots of changes. These can make exercises that were once easy for you to feel tougher.

For instance, before my first pregnancy, I could do six pull-ups in a row. However, once pregnant, I felt uncomfortable with the stretching and pulling while hanging from the bar. I switched to using assistance and occasionally did ring rows until after giving birth.

In general, listening to your body’s signals is important. If you notice something that isn’t right and uncomfortable for you, then it’s best to play it safe and change the workout or select an alternative that is more comfortable for your body at the moment.

When Your doctor advises against:

Every pregnancy is different, and sometimes what’s okay for one person might not be okay for another. Your doctor will look at how your pregnancy is going, any health issues you might have, and how fit you are to decide if pull-ups are safe for you.

If your doctor tells you to stop doing pull-ups, don’t worry—there are plenty of other exercises you can do that are good for you and the baby. Your doctor can help you find the right exercises that keep you strong and healthy without taking any unnecessary risks. It’s all about making sure both you and your little one are safe and sound!

When You Feel You’re Overly Straining:

Straining too much isn’t just about feeling tired; it’s also about stressing your muscles and joints. Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy, which makes your joints and ligaments looser to help your body get ready for childbirth.

While this is a natural and necessary process, it also means you’re more likely to get injured if you’re putting too much pressure on your body with tough exercises like pull-ups. Listen to your body. If you’re working too hard to complete pull-ups, it’s better to switch to exercises that are safer and more comfortable.

When you notice changes in your abdominal muscles:

As your pregnancy progresses and labor draws nigher, your abdominal muscles undergo even more changes that would need you to cease doing pull-ups completely. One common issue is the stretching and possible segregation between these muscles, referred to as diastasis recti.

As your belly expands to accommodate the baby, it stretches the abdmoninal muscles and cause them to separate along the center seam. You know, pull ups require lots of core strength, which can put extra pressure on these already stretched muscles, possibly worsening the separation.

If you feel that there is swelling or “coning” in your belly during pull-ups, or any other type of exercise, it is a good sign to stop and gist your doctor. Continuing to do exercises that stress these muscles can cause long-term abdominal problems after having your baby.

Modifications for continued pull-ups

If you want to continue pull-ups or add them as part of your routine, then these adjustments are perfectly made for you:

1. Use Assistance

Are pull-ups safe during pregnancy?

With assistance, you won’t have to work harder to lift yourself. This is beneficial for your changing body. It also helps you maintain some benefits of pull-ups like upper body strength and flexibility, without placing too much stress on your stomach or your back.

One way to get assistance is with resist bands. You attach one of these elastic bands to the pull-up bar and then place your foot or knee inside it. As you pull up, the bands stretch when you go down and help in lifting your body when you pull yourself up. This helps reduce the weight you’re pulling, which makes the workout less demanding.

A different feature is to make use of an assisted pull-up machine typically used in gyms. The machine is equipped with the pad or platform on which you can kneel or stand. As you pull up, the machine takes on some body weight, making it easier to raise yourself. It’s similar to doing pull-ups with a built-in helper.

With these assistance methods, you won’t have to give it up completely. You can still do but with less to no strain on your abdominal muscles and back. Plus, it is a smart way to keep your upper body firm while checking you and the baby’s wellbeing.

2. Try ring rows

Ring rows are a fantastic alternative because they still work your upper body without putting too much pressure on your belly.

In a ring row, instead of pulling yourself up like in a pull-up, you pull your body toward rings that hang from above. You’ll hold onto the rings with your hands, lean back a bit, and then pull your chest up to the rings.

The cool part is that your feet stay on the ground the whole time, which means you can easily control how hard the exercise is. If you stand more upright, the exercise is a bit easier. If you lean back more, then it’s harder.

What makes ring rows great during pregnancy is that they put less strain on your abdomen. As your belly grows, you want to be careful not to do exercises that could overstretch or separate your abdominal muscles. Ring rows let you keep strengthening your arms, shoulders, and back while being gentler on your belly.

3. Inverted body rows

Inverted body rows are a type of exercise where you sort of lie underneath a bar that’s been fixed at about waist height. You grip the bar with both hands, like you’re ready to do a pull-up.

But instead of pulling yourself straight up, you keep your heels on the ground, and your body forms a kind of slanted line, like a ramp. Then you pull your chest up to the bar.

What’s great about inverted body rows is that they let you work your upper body – so you’re still getting some of the same benefits as you would from pull-ups. The difference is that your feet stay on the ground, which means there’s less strain on your belly, and it’s much easier on your back.

4. Focus on Grip strength

Are pull-ups safe during pregnancy?

Since you decide how much you lean back, you have control over how hard the exercise is. The more horizontal you are, the tougher it’ll be. The more you stand up, the easier it gets. This makes it a very flexible workout that you can adjust as your pregnancy progresses.

Strengthening your grip means you’re trying to make your muscles in your forearms and hands stronger. It doesn’t mean you have to do the full motion of a pull-up. But it still ensures that your upper body is engaged and growing stronger.

It’s a more secure choice since you won’t put unnecessary tension on your abdomen, which is particularly important as it keeps expanding throughout pregnancy.

And here’s the bonus – by strengthening your grip, you’re getting your body ready for the lifting and holding that you’ll have to do as your baby arrives. Plus, working on your grip strength is quite versatile.

You can try something simple like squeezing a soft ball, or using hand gripper. Or better still just hang from a pull-up bar for few seconds. These exercises are not just safe but also easily modified based on how you’re experiencing on any given day.

The focus on grip could add an element of variation to your workouts as well and make your workout routine more engaging and less boring.

Since you’re not performing the strenuous whole body exercise that pull-ups require you to, you’re less likely to overdo it. That means that you’ll be active through your pregnancy, without taking unnecessary risk.

5. Lower the intensity

Intensity reduction means that you’re not doing as much as you typically would. In the case of pull-ups this may be a matter of doing fewer or taking more breaks between sets, and not pushing yourself all the way up. You keep on with the movement, and are active but are gentler this time around.

Which exercises should I avoid while pregnant?

Some exercises might not be safe during this special time. It’s always a good idea to go for safer, modified workouts that keep you both protected. Here are exercises you might want to avoid until after you welcome your little one:

First of all, when creating your exercise routine, try to get rid of activities that carry a high risk of causing falls or sustaining abdominal injuries. This is the case with gymnastics, downhill skiing snowboarding, or other strenuous racket sports.

It’s best to play doubles instead of singles when it comes to racket sport to limit the chance of injury. Also, outdoor cycling, contact sports like ice hockey, soccer, or basketball, as well as diving and horseback riding, are on the list of activities to avoid.

Moreover, any exercise that involves lying flat on your back for too long, especially as you move further along in your pregnancy, should be skipped out. This posture can hinder the flow of blood to your baby.

And Although sweating is generally good, exercising in extreme temperatures, such as yoga classes in hot temperatures must be avoided to prevent heat exhaustion.

Remember that you and your pregnant friend have a different journey altogether.  It’s important to speak with your OB regarding which exercises are safe to do or to begin during your pregnancy. They’ll advice based on your condition and health history.


Can you hang from a pull-up bar while pregnant?

You can use the pull-up bar during pregnancy particularly in the beginning stages, provided that it is comfortable for you and you don’t have any health issues that suggest otherwise.

As you journey on, your weight center changes and your body releases an hormone known as relaxin, which loosens your joints, impacting your balance and grip. Always pay attention to your body and if you notice anything that isn’t right, stop and speak to your doctor ASAP.

Can you do lat pulldowns while pregnant?

Yes, expectant mamas can go ahead and do lat pulldowns. But they should choose weights that do not burden their bodies so much.  Also, they don’t have to pull the bar behind their necks since it can cause unnecessary strain on their shoulders and neck. A good posture and paying attention to a controlled motion is crucial.

Are pullups safe during pregnancy? – Final Say

Whether pull-ups are safe during pregnancy depends a lot on your fitness level, how your pregnancy is going, and what your doctor says. For some, doing pull-ups early in pregnancy might be okay, especially if they were doing them before getting pregnant.

But, as your baby grows and your body changes, you might need to adjust or stop doing pull-ups to keep both of you safe. The most important thing is to listen carefully to your body and get advice from your healthcare provider.

There are many other safe exercises to keep you strong and healthy during pregnancy. In the end, the safety of you and your baby is what matters the most.

Georgina Austin, CNM

Georgina Austin, CNM

Hello! I'm Gina, a certified midwife, a writer, an experienced one of course, and a proud mother of twins, Noel and Noelle. With eleven years of maternity support experience and my own journey through motherhood, I offer reliable information on women's health here on this blog.

In addition to writing about pregnancy and breastfeeding, I cover topics like sexual health, birth control, egg donation, sibling relationships, and managing life with multiple children. So, whatever issue you're facing as a woman, I've got you covered!