Stop Cuing the Abdominals

by Oct 8, 2020

Alright, friends. Let’s discuss something we need to stop doing as exercise professionals and health practitioners: 

Cueing the abdominals, or finding the core on every rep and every exercise.

Yes, even – and especially for – our postpartum people.

I know it’s coming from a good place. You’re concerned about abdominal strength or their ability to find their core. You’re worried they’re not feeling their abs. They are presenting with these signs and symptoms that are telling us that their core is weak.

They themselves are asking, “shouldn’t we be doing more?!” 

 And the answer is no! We probably shouldn’t be doing more. In fact, we should probably be doing less.

Rather than cueing to brace the core for every movement, we need to teach them and cue to “match the tension to the task” – as per Antony Lo (@physiodetective)  

For each exercise that they are doing and trust in, allow, and test to see if their body is responding in a way that they are managing their symptoms and finding control in the movement, and they are responding well to the load.  


Consider the pelvis the bottom of our pressure system of the core of the trunk: diaphragm is up top, pelvis and pelvic floor down below, abdominal muscles in the front and the sides, around the back the spinal muscles and the back muscles.  

We do not need to consistently tell them to draw in or to engage or to fire. We are probably messing with that pressure system more than we need to, for example we might be encouraging them to bulge down on the pelvic floor. Or to not breathe well through the diaphragm through the upper chest in the rib cage.  

What we might want to do is put them into certain positions with their body and then match the tension to that task. So the tension will be through their whole body and the abdominal wall, in the pelvic floor, match it to the task. 

If the task is low level like a glute bridge, why are we cueing the abs on every rep? 

If the task is a deadlift that is heavy and challenging for them how much tension do we need to be cueing for them in that movement? 

Is it making them robotic and tight?  

Is it allowing fluidity and flexibility in their movements?

What do we want to see?  

Always considering if what we’re cueing is actually helping by looking at their symptoms and performance, their general feeling and sense in their body.

Or, if we’re just doing too much and we could back off.

Okay, so stop cueing the abs in every exercise in every rep, allow their body to do what it’s going to do. Watch. And then let’s see if maybe we do  need to add a cue in there, but maybe the cue is not  their abs. All right, give it a go.




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If you work with pregnant or postpartum clients or patients in fitness or any health modality, get yourself on the wait-list for the next class intake of the Postnatal Fitness Specialist Academy.

This is the information we must be teaching our people for truly better health and functioning bodies after birth.

We re-open enrolment (4 year anniversary upon us!) on October 20th, 2020.

Join the wait-list now for early access to register and discounted pricing.


Jessie Mundell is mama-in-chief at, where she’s helped hundreds of moms feel strong, confident, and EMPOWERED in their bodies with fitness programs tailored to their prenatal and postnatal needs.


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