Is it safe to do ab exercises while pregnant? Yes! Focus on pregnancy-safe ab exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals), core and pelvic floor. These are five of the best abdominal exercises that are safe to perform during pregnancy (specifically during the first and second trimesters).
But keeping your core strong during pregnancy is important! It can help you avoid common pregnancy aches and pains, as well as assist with labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.
During pregnancy you want to focus on safe prenatal core exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominals; your transverse abs which wrap around your body like a natural corset.
It’s also important to strengthen your oblique muscles that run along the sides of your midsection, your glutes, and all the stabilizing muscles along your spine and pelvis.
Free Pregnancy Workout Plan
Ab Exercises That Are Safe for Pregnancy FAQs
What Kind Of Ab Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
Prioritize safe prenatal core exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominals; your transverse abs which wrap around your body like a natural corset. Some of my favorite pregnancy-safe ab exercises include: transverse abdominal breathing (core breathing), planks (modified or incline), side planks (modified), bear crawl, and kneeling or quadruped core exercises (like cat/cow and bird dog).
What Ab Exercises Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?
Avoid high pressure flexion movements that can put a lot of outward pressure against your already stretching abdominal connective tissue. These include full sit ups and crunches, bearing down (movements or exercise that places extreme pressure on your abdominal wall and pelvic floor) and any ab exercises that causes “coning” or “doming” of the midsection (which may be a sign of diastasis recti or abdominal separation).
Are Planks Safe During Pregnancy?
In general, yes. Planks or modified planks are safe for most women throughout pregnancy. That said, you’ll know it’s time to start modifying your core exercises when you experience “coning” or “doming” of the midsection.
5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for Pregnancy (First + Second Trimester)
Keep your abs strong during pregnancy with these 5 pregnancy-safe abdominal exercises.
You can start doing these prenatal ab exercises as soon as you find out you’re pregnant; and continue them from your first trimester into your second trimester of pregnancy.
These five pregnancy safe ab exercises build strong abs and supporting core muscle (low back, glutes, hips, outer glutes). This will help you avoid common pregnancy pains like lower back pain, sciatica and pelvic pain (pubic symphysis or SPD during pregnancy).
Kneeling Hip Lift And Core Breathing With Band Pull Apart
Targets: Deep transverse abdominals, lower abs, upper abs, low back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and upper body.
How To Do A Kneeling Hip Lift And Core Breathing With Band Pull Apart
Find a kneeling position, shoelaces down and hips stacked over knees on the mat. Option to loop a resistance band around your hands. Hold your arms straight out in front of you, hands in line with shoulders.
Inhale as you hinge your hips back to tap your heels.
Then exhale as you squeeze your glutes, hamstrings and core to lift your hips back up to the kneeling position. As you come back up, pull the band apart while simultaneously contracting your core or deep transverse abdominals to draw your belly in. As you draw the belly in perform a slight pelvic tilt to get your hips tucked under your ribs.
With control, bring the band back to the starting position and repeat this movement.
Modification: Omit the resistance band and use a sweat towel to create tension.
Bear Crawl 3-Point Hand Tap
Targets: Every muscle in your core including the deep transverse abdomen muscles, rectus abdomens (six pack ab muscles), oblique muscles, shoulders and quads.
Your core is designed to stabilize your body as your arms and legs move away from your body. The bear crawl is an excellent exercise in core control and focused breathing.
How To Do A Bear Crawl 3-Point Hand Tap
Start in a table top position, quadruped on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees. Option to loop a resistance band around your right hand and left thumb.
Tuck your toes under and lift your knees one inch off the mat, finding a bear crawl position with abs engaged. Belly button drawn in towards spine.
Extend your right hand in front of you, stretching the resistance band.
Bring your right hand back to the starting position, then extend your right hand out to the right side, stretching the resistance band.
Bring your right hand back to the starting position, then extend your right hand behind you, stretching the resistance band.
Continue tapping your right hand out in this 3-point pattern for the timed interval.
On the next set, switch sides and repeat this movement with the left hand.
Modification: Find a modified plank position (knees on the mat) rather than a bear crawl position.
Modified Side Plank And Outside Leg Lift
Targets: Obliques, deep TA abs, outer glutes, hips and shoulders.
How To Do A Modified Side Plank And Outside Leg Lift
Start in a modified side plank or knee down side plank. Right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow and right knee on the ground with left leg and arm extended long. Option to add a resistance band six inches above your knees.
Hold this modified side plank position as you lift your left leg off the mat. Pull your left foot up towards your left hip, stretching the resistance band; then lower your left foot back towards the mat with control.
Repeat this leg lift from side plank for the timed interval.
On the next set, switch sides and repeat this movement with the right leg.
Modification: Omit the resistance band.
Standing Hinged Band Pull With TA Contractions
Targets: Rectus abdomens (six pack ab muscles), transverse abs (deep corset abs under the six pack ab muscles), obliques, shoulders and back.
How To Do A Hinged Band Pull With TA Contractions
Start standing, feet hip-width apart. Option to add a resistance band six inches above your knees.
Hinge forward at the hips, pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you; knees bent.
Grab the resistance band on the tops of your thighs. Inhale and let your belly expand.
Then exhale as you pull your core tight, draw the belly in and pull the band out away from your body.
Hold the band out away from you, core engaged, for five seconds.
Return to the starting position with control and repeat this band pull with core breathing.
Modification: Option to use a towel rather than a resistance band and alternate sending your right and left leg straight back to engage your core (standing warrior or standing bird dog).
Bear To Plank
Targets: Every core muscle — upper abs, lower abs, deep TA abs, obliques, shoulders, back, hips and quads.
How To Do Bear To Plank
Start in a table top position on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees. Option to place a resistance band around your feet.
Tuck your toes under and lift your knees one inch off the mat, finding a bear crawl position with abs engaged.
Step your left foot back, left leg straight. Then step your right foot back to meet your left foot, finding a high plank position. Shoulders stacked over wrists, core is engaged. Create a straight line with your body from head to heels. Hold for a moment.
Then step you left foot back in to bear crawl, left knee bent at 90 degrees. Then step your right foot in to meet your left foot; both knees bent at 90 degrees in bear crawl.
Continue to repeat this bear to plank movement for the timed interval.
Modification: Find a modified plank position (on knees) rather than a bear crawl position. Alternate dropping your right and left knees to the mat from high plank to modified plank. Alternatively, just hold modified plank from your knees.
Pin this Workout: 5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for First + Second Trimester
Note: Every body and every pregnancy is different. Before you begin an exercise program, especially during pregnancy, you should consult your doctor or midwife. As always listen to your body and avoid exercises that do not feel good for you.
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