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Safe and effective core training in pregnancy is incredibly important to keeping your body feeling and functioning optimally.

Sometimes, I almost can’t believe the incredibly bad core training information I see on the internet about core training during pregnancy.

From a quick search, here’s what I just saw in various articles: front planks (not great from mid preg), bicycles (…oh dear), side plank with an oblique crunch (why?), and a lot of pelvic tilting (we can do better).

Let’s talk exercises that are truly effective AND safe throughout your entire pregnancy from Day 1 to birth-day.

*As always, check with your doctors and prenatal birth team to ensure you are cleared for exercise.

NOTE: I’m not talking about breathing or kegel type movements in this article, as those are what I consider “always exercises” 😉

5 Core Exercises that are safe throughout pregnancy: 

1. Racked Farmer Carries

What to do?

Pick up a KB (or a DB) into the rack position. Get your ribcage over your hips. Without leaning to one side, walk at a strolling pace.

What to feel?

Tension in the core. Feeling the abdominals working, especially under the ribcage (keep a slight forward lean if you’re not feeling this).

What to avoid?

Pressure on your breast tissue! Keep your thumb into your collarbone or front of the shoulder.

How many reps?

15-20 seconds each side.

2. Tall Kneeling Pallof Press

What to do?

Use a cable machine or a resistance band, set up to knee height. Kneel down to the side of your attachment and pull the handles or band directly into the sternum. Squeeze the glutes and get the ribs over the hips.

Exhale and push straight out in front of your chest, fully straightening the arms. Inhale to return back to the starting position.

What to feel?

Tension in the glutes and in the core. Abdominals are resisting rotation and working to keep your body square to the front.

What to avoid?

Rotating through the hips, ribcage, and/or shoulders. Try not to overcompensate when you’re trying not to rotate in, by rotating OUT too far (common!).

How many reps?

8-10 reps each side.

3. Side Lying Leg Raises

What to do?

Lie on your side with the body in a straight line. Bottom leg bent for support, top leg straight and behind your body juuuuust slightly. Squeeze your bum to lift your top leg up. Control the leg back down to the floor. Repeat.

What to feel?

Glutes burning like WHOA. If they’re not, put your hand on your bum to make sure they are squeezing to initiate the action of the leg lift.

What to avoid?

Letting your working leg start to scoot in front of your body. Having your top leg be anything by stick straight. No floppy legs, please. Don’t lift the leg super high – in fact, you can’t if you’re doing this correctly (this is not a “Jane Fonda throw your leg in the air as high as possible” move!).

How many reps?

10-20 reps each side.

4. Hip Thrust 

What to do?

Crouch down to the side of the bench and roll your shoulder blades along the side of the bench until your upper back and head are supported on the bench. Put the arms out to the sides along the bench, or support the head with your hands.

Squeeze your bum to lift the hips up in the air, until you’re in the top of a bridge position. With the upper body and lower body moving together, dip the hips down towards the floor, touching the bum to the floor or close to the floor. Repeat.

What to feel?

Glutes and hamstrings working to lift you up.

What to avoid?

No lower back soreness. Really work to keep the upper body moving with the lower on the way up and down – often, the upper body gets left behind and the ribcage flares up.

How many reps?

15-20 reps.

5. Modified Side Plank

What to do?

Lie on your side, but prop yourself up on one elbow. Stack your shoulder directly over your elbow. You can bend both legs so the knees are stacked, OR keep the bottom leg bent but straighten the top leg out so it’s in line with the rest of your body (tougher), OR straighten both legs out (toughest).

Lift the hips off the floor, so you’re supported by the elbow, bottom knee, and top foot. Squeeze your bum.

What to feel?

Glutes working. Tension in the abdominals, especially on the underside of the body = the side closest to the floor. Back and shoulder muscles working on the supporting arm.

What to avoid?

Top hip rolling backwards – keep it stacked over the bottom hip. The supporting shoulder scooting away and not staying stacked over the elbow. Lifting the hips SUPER high so the body isn’t in a straight line anymore. Keep breathing!

How many reps?

15-30 seconds each side.

 

You can add these exercises into your workout warmups or into a daily routine throughout your pregnancy.

JMG

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