By Jerry Del Priore
Working out your core muscles (abs, lower back, glutes, hips) while pregnant can present challenges because lying on your back during the second and third trimesters is contraindicated.
This is due to the weight of the enlarged uterus, as it could constrict the inferior vena cava — the vein that returns blood to the heart from your legs. If you do, you might end up feeling dizzy, out of breath, or nauseous (or all).
But there are effective ways to work around this problem, and keep your midsection from losing its muscle tone, preparing you for the time when you need to push the bundle of joy out into the world. Plus, help you recover your sexy abs after the birth much quicker.
Please don’t forget to check with a medical professional before starting any type of exercise program while pregnant.
Try these three core muscle moves for starters:
The Standing Crunch
This exercise is pretty much the same as the one in which you’re lying on the floor.
• Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
• Tuck your pelvis in a bit and place your finger tips on your ears.
• Proceed to crunch forward and down, contracting your abs with each rep, breathing slow and steady with each rep.
• Keep in mind that your range of motion is limited because of the baby inside your uterus.
• Perform two sets of 20-25 reps.
Standing Side Crunch
- Stand with your feet outside side your hips and knees and feet pointed outward, with one arm connected to your head at a 45 angle, as in V-Shape (see above photo).
- Slowly lower your opposite arm (straight), as you squeeze your side area opposite your V-Shaped arm (you’ll feel a stretch on the V-shaped arm area.
- As your arm extends downward, keep your chest open and back straight, which will be a challenge as you pregnancy progresses.
- This exercise works the external obliques (side ab muscles).
- Perform two sets of 12-15 reps on each side.
Yes, planking is a great exercise to strengthen your core. But a full plank presents its challenges as your enlarged belly will surely get in the way of executing the move to its fullest.
However, the modified plank allows you to obtain a good measure of the benefits of this fantastic core exercise, and it’s completely safe for you and your baby.
• Go down to the floor, on all fours, with your knees directly underneath your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Make sure to keep your head parallel to your spine.
• You’re going to kick one leg back and the extend the opposite arm out (right leg, left arm).
• Lift your leg out and up while keeping it straight and raise the opposite arm at the same time.
• Remember to squeeze your butt at the top of the movement. So, it’s lift and squeeze at the top and a tap of the foot at the bottom.
• Do the same on the opposite side (left leg, right arm).
• Perform 12-15 reps for each side.
• Modified planks work the glutes and lower back muscles, important for supporting the extra weight during gestation.
Until next time, get healthy, wealthy and fit (if you’re not already)!