Safe & Effective Abdominal Exercises For Every Trimester During Pregnancy

March 3, 2016

One of the most common questions that I get asked is “Can I work abs during pregnancy?” 

The short and sweet answer: Yes… But you need to be super careful if you choose to do so.

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First, there are a LOT of warnings out there about exercising in a supine position after the first trimester. The general advice is to avoid lying on you back because it may cause reduced blood flow. There is some debate however whether this advice is actually necessary. Floor exercises on the back appear to be OK unless you gets dizzy or the fetal heart rate response is abnormal. If one of these problems occurs, the woman should turn on her left side. Remember, lying still under the weight of the enlarged womb compresses and blocks the large vein that returns blood to the heart (inferior vena cava). My experience indicates that as long as the legs and torso are moving, interference with blood flow back to the heart should not be a problem.  Whether you decide to perform exercises on your back after the first trimester is a personal decision based on how you feel and what your doctor recommends. Just be aware that you won’t necessarily cause harm to your baby or yourself if you do.

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Second, it is important to be aware that a separation of the abdominal muscles can occur during pregnancy, called diastasis recti. Diastasis recti results from the growing uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, which is susceptible to separating because of a hormonally-induced softening of the fibrous band that connects the recti muscles. Factors contributing to an increased risk of diastasis recti are being over 35, having poor abdominal muscle tone, having a multiple pregnancy, delivering a baby with a high birth weight, and engaging in aggressive abdominal exercises, especially crunches, during pregnancy. Be sure to monitor your midsection or have your doctor monitor you for diastasis recti. I generally recommend not doing any standard crunches or standard planks during pregnancy for this very reason and the exercises below offer better alternatives to these moves.

Kneeling Side Reaches

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Side plank

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Bird Dog

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Dumbbell Side Bends

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Reach & Curls

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Standing Side Crunches

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Cat/Cow Pose

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For a video demonstation of each move, watch the full workout below:

Interested in a full body home workout routine for your entire pregnancy? Check out my 12 week prenatal program below:

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For those of you who are interested in a nutritional guide for your pregnancy, you may purchase the Fit For Two bundle below which also includes my Eat Clean, Get Lean plan for just $5 more! That is a $15 savings!

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An example of a few moves:

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PLEASE NOTE: Following and/or participating in my blog, daily workouts, meal plans, and any tips or advice is solely your decision. I recommend checking with your physician prior to following any of the workouts or meal plans that I share. I am very open in sharing that I am not a health care professional, personal trainer, nutritionist, or counselor. I provide the workouts, meals, and tips that have worked for me based on my personal experiences.

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