Grab your ActiveSupport Leggings and Tanks and get your "move on" with Sara Haley!
As a pre/postnatal exercise specialist, I often hear moms-to-be complain about the lack of “ab exercises” available to them. “Sara, they are all so boring!” Well, this is somewhat because we don’t want to overuse or over tighten our abdominals during pregnancy because they need to be able to separate with ease as our baby grows. When we fight it, we can sometimes end up with a condition called diastasis recti, which can often make postpartum recovery more challenging. Our ab workouts are also limited because some of the most common ab exercises can become increasingly uncomfortable as we get further along into our pregnancies.
What I recommend, instead, is to focus on working the other core muscles that support the abdominals a little bit more: the obliques, lower back, glutes, and pelvic floor. Here are my 5 of my favorites that will keep your core routine during pregnancy a bit more interesting and challenging while keeping your abdominals from being overworked. And if you do want that list of what core exercises you should NOT do during pregnancy, please go HERE.
Side Crunches: Yes, traditional crunches lying on your back are NOT recommended for pregnancy. Switch it up by lying on one side and strengthening the obliques and stretching the side body, while simultaneously working the outer thighs and glutes. Perform 12 reps on each side.
Side Plank Taps: Side planks are also a great way to strengthen the obliques while ultimately keeping your TVA (transverse abdominals), your deepest core muscles strong and stable). Begin on one knee with the other leg stretched out. Take a deep breath in through the nose and then exhale through the mouth as you tap the bottom leg in front of the extended leg. On each rep, try to hold the full side plank a second longer. Think of this as practice for labor; as each contraction gets longer, you must breath deeper and execute more control and strength. Perform 4-6 reps on each side.
Pelvic Tilts in Bridge: This exercise is great for sore backs and for activating your deep core muscles. Hint: Perform a kegel as you do these. Notice you don’t lift your hips all the way up. It’s just a slight tilt of the pelvis. If you were standing up it would feel like a rock forward of the hips. As your hips tilt forward exhale and think of hugging your baby closer to you. Inhale and release back to neutral. Perform 8-10 reps.
Bridge Core Challenge: This exercise is challenging but a really safe way to work all your core muscles. Your goal is to keep your hips pointed straight up to the ceiling. Lift your hips up high and and extend one leg to the ceiling. If this in itself feels challenging, try the exercise with your behind on the ground. Exhale as you slowly bring the leg out to the side, using your core muscles to help stabilize your hips, and then with control bring it back to center and lower the hips. Inhale. Perform 4 reps before switching sides.
Teeter Totter Quadraped: Don’t let this balancing exercise fool you. It will work your entire body, especially your core muscles. From all fours, think of hugging your baby closer to you, so that your back is not arched. Lift one leg to the side while balancing the opposite arm out. Similar to Bridge Core Challenge, your goal is to keep the hips aligned but this time facing the floor. If this is too challenging, try it with just the leg out and then switch so that just the arm is out. Try holding for a count of 4-6 and then switch sides.