Let’s talk about training abs in Pregnancy. It’s a question I get asked a lot – whether it’s ok to train your abs whilst pregnant.
The answer is YES, and in fact it’s recommended, but perhaps not doing exercises you’re used too.
Let’s firstly have a look at your abs. They are much, much more than your superficial “6 pack muscles”/rectus abdominis. They are made up of layers and layers of muscle and connective tissue as you can see in the below diagram.
When pregnant you want to avoid training the rectus abdominals and also the external obliques. We want this to be soft so they can expand and grow as your pregnancy progresses. So this means that the “sit up” is out for now.
But it is vital to train your deep core muscles and your pelvic floor. This will help both ease existing and prevent lower back pain, can assist in the later stages of child birth and really help in those early post natal weeks.
Here are a few exercises that safely do this:
These are moves that attempt to pull your body into rotation.
For example a “Paddle press” or “Standing single arm row”. Here is an vid demonstrating a Paddle Press:
ANTI- LATERAL FLEXION MOVEMENTS
Probably the most important for expectant mothers. These are moves that attempt to pull your body into a side bend, like holding a heavy car seat, diaper bag, or bag of groceries. Anything that resists you being pulled into a side bend.
These include a “Fireman’s carry”, a “Single suitcase squat” or a “Reverse lunge w/ weight to floor”
Below is a video demonstrating a Reverse lunge w/ weight to floor, my personal favourite:
The most common anti-extension exercise is the plank but full plank stresses the front muscles too much in pregnancy and isn’t for everyone. In fact only really for those who have very good core strength already and still we need to be mindful of doming. So pregnancy suitable anti-extension exercises include an “Incline Plank”, “Incline Press up” & a “Squat with neutral tailbone”. Below is a demonstration of a
These movements tax the muscles in the back of your body, as they have to work hard to keep you from collapsing forward. They include a “Goblet Squat”, a “Deadlift” or a “Crib Reach”, below is an demonstration of the later:
These are movements where you use breath and movement of the limbs to create stability through your torso, working the deep core muscles and also the muscles along the back.
In pregnancy this is done from a table top position. There are many different variations and progressions to this movement. The key thing is to make sure you keep length in your lower back, wrapping your deep abs around and hugging your baby in tight. Here is an example using a resistance band and alternate extensions.
Remember that these are all ok for a low risk pregnancy and if your GP has given you the ok to move. If you have any questions please drop is an email.
Thanks for reading!