fbpx

5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for Pregnancy (First + Second Trimester)

Can I do ab exercises while pregnant? Yes! Avoid sit ups and crunches and focus on pregnancy-safe ab exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals), core and pelvic floor. These are the five BEST abdominal exercises that are safe to perform during pregnancy (specifically during the first and second trimesters).

*You also can view this 10-Minute First + Second Trimester Ab Workout on Youtube. While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel to get all the newest workouts!

Jump to 5 BEST Ab Exercises That Are Safe For Pregnancy (First + Second Trimesters)

Most women shy away from doing abs during pregnancy because they think they’re not safe.

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.  

What kind of ab exercises are safe during pregnancy?

  1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing (core breathing)
  2. Plank, Modified Plank or Incline Plank
  3. Side Plank or Modified Side Plank
  4. Bear Crawl
  5. Kneeling or Quadruped Core Exercises (like cat/cow and bird dog)

Your abs are so much more than the rectus abdominus (six-pack abdominal muscles).

And 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 during pregnancy 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.

Plank and modified plank | ab exercises are safe during pregnancy

In general, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it’s safe to continue regular exercise during pregnancy.

This includes most abdominal exercises you were doing pre-pregnancy (with some modifications as needed, especially if you’re coming into pregnancy with existing diastasis recti).

What exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?

  1. Full Sit Ups and Crunches
  2. Bearing Down (movements or exercise that places extreme pressure on your abdominal wall and pelvic floor).
  3. Any Ab Exercises That Cause “Coning” or “Doming” Of the Midsection.

These high pressure flexion movements can put a lot of outward pressure against your already stretching abdominal connective tissue.

Creating issues like “diastasis recti” (abdominal separation often referred to as DR)

Learn more in this post on 5 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy and Pregnancy-Safe Modifications. 

Are planks safe during pregnancy?

In general, yes.

Planks or modified planks are safe for most women throughout pregnancy. And they can strengthen the core, deep ab muscles and back. That said, there may come a time when you need to modify or stop doing planks while pregnant…

This is what Diastasis Recti Looks like | When to start modifying ab exercises during pregnancy

When do I need to start modifying ab exercises during pregnancy?

You know it’s time to start modifying your core exercises for pregnancy when you experience ‘coning’ or ‘doming’ of the belly (pictured above).

In this 10-Minute Prenatal Ab Workout for the first and second trimester we’ve included modifications for how to adapt each ab exercise as your pregnancy progresses.

Ab Exercises That Are Safe During Pregnancy (First + Second Trimester)| Core Breathing

5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for Pregnancy (First + Second Trimester)

Looking for substitutes to sit-ups while pregnant? Keep your abs STRONG during pregnancy with these 5 abdominal exercises that are SAFE during pregnancy. 

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). To help you avoid common pregnancy pains like lower back pain, Sciatica and pubic symphysis (SPD during pregnancy).

Add this quick, 10-minute prenatal core workout to your weekly workout routine 2-3 times a week to build a strong core at home. 

Workout Equipment:

Beginner: Use just your bodyweight, or add a sweat towel (follow Rachel on the left in the video).
Advanced: Use a light-to-medium resistance band (follow Lindsey on the right in the video).

*If you need some mini loop resistance bands, these are the ones I have. GET a discount using code: NML

Workout Instructions:

Click here to follow along with the Prenatal Ab Workout Video at the top of this post.

The video will provide demonstrations of each ab exercise for pregnancy, as well as options to modify as your pregnancy progresses. 

I’ll coach you through all five ab exercises that are safe during pregnancy, providing form cues and pregnancy modifications.

Alternatively, work through the 5 best abdominal exercises to perform during pregnancy below at your own pace.

The Prenatal Core Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe For Pregnancy
  • Timed Intervals of Work (40 seconds per exercise, 20 seconds rest)
  • Repeat All 5 Ab Exercises for the First and Second Trimesters x2 Sets 

5 Safe Ab Exercises For the First Trimester and Second Trimester

Perform all single-sided core exercises (2 and 3) on the right side of the body for the first set, then on the left side for the second set. 

  1. Kneeling Hip Lift + Core Breathing with Band Pull Apart
  2. Bear Crawl 3-Point Hand Tap, Right/Left
  3. Modified Side Plank + Outside Leg Lift, Right/Left
  4. Standing Hinged Band Pull with TA Contractions
  5. Bear to Plank

5 Best Abdominal Exercises To Perform During Pregnancy

1. Kneeling Hip Lift + Core Breathing with Band Pull Apart

Targets: Deep transverse abdominals, lower abs, upper abs, low back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and upper body.

hip lift and core breathing with resistance band | pregnancy safe ab exercises

Modification: Omit the resistance band and use a sweat towel.

How to do a Kneeling Hip Lift with Core Breathing (and optional band pull apart):

  1. Find a kneeling position, shoelaces down and hips stacked over knees on mat. Option to loop a resistance band around your hands. Arms straight in front of you, hands in line with shoulders.
  2. Inhale as you hinge your hips back to tap your heels.
  3. Then exhale as you squeeze your glutes, hamstring 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.
  4. With control, bring the band back to the starting position and repeat this movement for 40 seconds.

2. Bear Crawl 3-Point Hand Tap

Targets: Every muscle in your core; including: 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.

bear crawl core exercise | pregnancy abs

Modification: Find a modified plank position (knees on the mat) rather than a bear crawl position.

How to do a Bear Crawl 3-Point Hand Tap:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Extend your right hand in front of you, stretching the resistance band.
  4. Bring your right hand back to the starting position, then extend your right hand out to the right side, stretching the resistance band.
  5. Bring your right hand back to the starting position, then extend your right hand behind you, stretching the resistance band.
  6. Continue tapping your right hand out in this 3-point pattern for 40 seconds.
  7. On the next set, switch sides and repeat this movement with the left hand.

3. Modified Side Plank + Outside Leg Lift

Targets: Obliques, deep TA abs, outer glutes, hips and shoulders.

modified side plank and leg lift | prenatal ab workout

Modification: Omit the resistance band.

How to do a Modified Side Plank and Outside Leg Lift:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Repeat this leg lift from side plank for 40 seconds.
  4. On the next set, switch sides and repeat this movement with the right leg.

4. 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.

band pull with TA breathing | ab workout for pregnancy

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).

How to do a Hinged Band Pull with TA Contractions:

  1. Start standing, feet hip-width apart. Option to add a resistance band six inches above your knees.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips, pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you; knees bent.
  3. Grab the resistance band on the tops of your thighs. Inhale and let your belly expand.
  4. Then exhale as you pull your core tight, drawn the belly in and pull the band out away from your body.
  5. Hold the band out away from you, core engaged, for five seconds.
  6. Return to the starting position with control and repeat this band pull with core breathing for 40 seconds.

5. Bear to Plank

Targets: Every core muscle — upper abs, lower abs, deep TA abs, obliques, shoulders, back, hips and quads.

bear crawl to high plank | first trimester and second trimester ab workout

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.

How to do Bear to Plank:

  1. 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.
  2. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees one inch off the mat, finding a bear crawl position with abs engaged.
  3. Step your left foot back, left leg straight. Then step your right foot back to meet your left food, finding a high plank position. Shoulders stacked over wrists, core is engaged. Creating a straight line with your body from head to heels. Hold for a moment.
  4. 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.
  5. Continue to repeat this bear to plank movement for 40 seconds.

Benefits of Ab Workouts During Pregnancy:

  • Better Posture and Reduced Low Back Pain
  • Reduced Sciatica and Pelvic Pain (pubic symphonies dysfunction, SPD)
  • Strong, Supported Pelvic Floor Muscles
  • Aids in Delivery
  • Increases Postpartum Recovery

For more safe pregnancy workouts, download my Free Pregnancy Workout Plan: 30 Days of Prenatal Workouts

Pin this Workout: 5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for First + Second Trimester

5 Ab Exercises That Are Safe for Pregnancy Pin for Pinterest

More Safe Pregnancy Ab Workouts:

More of My Most Popular Prenatal Workouts At Home:

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. 

This post does include affiliate links and I earn a small commission on each purchase. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Nourish Move Love.

no comments