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10-Minute Pregnancy Ab Workout: 8 Pregnancy Core Exercises

Is it safe to do ab exercises while pregnant? Yes, this 10-minute pregnancy ab workout is safe for every trimester. Eight safe pregnancy core exercises designed to target the transverse abdominals to reduce lower back pain and shorten postpartum recovery time.

It’s safe to exercise your ab muscles during pregnancy with the right modifications.

This 10-minute ab workout is safe for all trimesters of pregnancy, and it’s a great beginner core workout for women too.

These 8 pregnancy core exercises are specifically designed to target and strengthen the deep transverse abdominal muscles.

There are many benefits to strengthening these deep core muscles during pregnancy; including reduced risk for back pain during daily activities like picking up kids and standing over the sink washing dishes.

Pregnant woman performing a modified side plank or knee down side plank; pregnancy-safe ab exercises.

During pregnancy, your ab muscles stretch to accommodate your growing baby. As long as your doctor has cleared you for exercise during pregnancy, you can take steps to maintain your fitness and keep your core strong while pregnant.

This pregnancy ab workout is designed to help you strengthen these muscles, increase core stability and speed up recovery after labor and birth.

Looking for more pregnancy workouts? Check out our popular 30-Day Pregnancy Workout Plan!

Pregnancy Ab Workouts FAQs

Is It Safe To Do Ab Workouts While Pregnant?

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).

During pregnancy, you want to focus on safe prenatal core exercises that strengthen the deepest abdominals (the transversus abdominis) 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.

What Are The Benefits Of Ab Exercises During Pregnancy?

While it may seem odd to strengthen your core during pregnancy when your belly is expanding and your abs are separating, building a strong core actually supports your shifting pelvic floor as baby gets bigger. This can help alleviate pressure on your back. Core strength may also help you recover more quickly after giving birth (What To Expect).

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 cause “coning” or “doming” of the midsection. Learn more in this post on 5 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy and Pregnancy-Safe Modifications.

Pregnant woman performing bird dog exercise; safe pregnancy core exercises.

10-Minute Pregnancy Ab Workout

Build and maintain a strong core during pregnancy with this 10-minute pregnancy ab workout, safe for first trimester, second trimester and third trimester.

I suggest adding these eight pregnancy ab exercises to your weekly training routine one to three times a week to maintain a strong core during pregnancy.

As always listen to your body and modify these pregnancy ab exercises as needed.

Workout Equipment:

None, just your bodyweight.

Option to add a bench (or box, or couch/chair) to planks as your belly grows and your pregnancy progresses.

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Pregnancy Ab Workout Video on YouTube, led by certified personal trainer and prenatal fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 8 Pregnancy Safe Core Exercises
  • Timed Intervals of Work (40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest)
  • Perform Each Exercise Once (on the right and left side of the body as needed)

Pregnancy Ab Workout Outline:

1. TA Breathing or Belly Breathing
2. Quadruped Cat to Neutral Spine
3. Bird Dog
4. Bear Crawl Hold and Stand Up
5. Modified Side Plank
6. Seated Heel Slides
7. Sumo Squat Hold with Oblique Reaches
8. Incline Plank

8 Best Pregnancy Ab Exercises

TA Core Breathing or Belly Breathing

Targets: Transverse abdominal (TA) muscle which extends between the ribs and the pelvis, wrapping around the trunk of the body from front to back.

The transverse abdominus is a very deep abdominal muscle that supports overall core strength and back health.

How to do TA breathing or belly breathing. Close up of pregnant woman's belly performing Transverse Abdominis (TA) or core breathing.

How To Do Transverse Abdominal (TA) Core Breathing

  1. First, activate your transverse abdominis muscles. Stand with your back against a wall or lay on your back with your knees bent at 90-degrees and feet flat on the ground. 
  2. Find your hip bones and move your fingers one inch inwards.
  3. To find your transverse abdominis muscles, fake cough. The muscles you feel ‘pop’ when you cough are your transverse abdominis muscles.
  4. To engage them, take a deep breath and allow your core and pelvic floor to relax. Imagine there is a string between your hip bones and as you exhale that string (or your TA muscles) are pulling your hip bones together. 
  5. As you inhale, let the belly expand (let your back pop off the ground or wall).
  6. As you exhale, pull the belly in tight and think about tucking the tailbone underneath you to press your back into the mat or wall.

Quadruped Cat To Neutral Spine

Targets: Hips, back and abs.

This exercise strengthens your spine, activates the tailbone and releases tension in the neck and upper back.

Pregnant woman performing quadruped cat cow exercise on all fours.

How To Do Quadruped Cat To Neutral Spine

  1. Start in a table top position, quadruped on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Flow through a cat/cow position by continuing the TA breathing. First, drop the belly on your inhale. Be careful not to overextend here, drop the belly just a bit as you find a neutral spine.
  3. Then, on your exhale, tuck the belly in as you pull the shoulder blades apart; gazing down towards your belly button.

Bird Dog

Targets: Erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and abs.

Bird dog is a great exercise for people with low back pain (common in pregnant women).

Pregnant woman performing a bird dog exercise. Pregnancy Ab Workout

How To Do Bird Dog

  1. Find a quadruped position with your knees hip-width apart and hands firmly on the ground, about shoulder-width apart. Engage your core.
  2. Find a bird dog position by extending your right leg back, floating it off the ground. As you extend the right leg back, extend the opposite arm, left arm, straight out in front of you.
  3. Hold the right leg back and left arm out for a moment, then return to the starting position on all fours.
  4. Then repeat this movement on the other side of the body; extending the left leg long and the right arm straight out in front of you.

Bear Crawl Hold and Stand Up

Targets: Deep transverse abdomen muscles, rectus abdomens (six-pack ab muscles), oblique muscles, shoulders, back, legs, glutes and quads.

The bear crawl exercise is one of the best ab exercises for developing core strength.

Pregnant woman performing a bear crawl hold and stand with arms raised overhead.

How To Do Bear Crawl Hold And Stand Up

  1. Start in a table top position, quadruped on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  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. Hold for a three-count.
  3. Then, walk your hands back to meet your feet and plant your heels firmly on the ground.
  4. Drive through the heels to stand tall, raising your arms overhead before returning to start by finding a table top position, quadruped on all fours again.

Modified Side Plank

Targets: Obliques, shoulders, hips and outer glutes.

Pregnant woman performing a modified side plank or knee down side plank. Pregnancy Ab Workout

How To Do A Modified Side Plank

  1. Find a modified side plank or knee down side plank.
  2. Place the right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow and right knee on the ground.
  3. Lift your right hip up off the mat as you extend your left leg and left arm long.
  4. Hold this modified side plank position. Option to rest the left foot on the ground or take the modified side plank from an incline by resting your right forearm on a chair or bench.

Seated Heel Slides

Targets: Ab and core muscles, legs and hamstrings.

Heel slides strengthen the core muscles, which helps to prevent and treat low back pain.

Pregnant woman performing seated heel slides on the mat. Pregnancy Ab Workout

How To Do Seated Heel Slides

  1. Find a seated position on the mat, rolling the shoulders down and back and placing the hands behind you to gently support you (fingertips face the butt). Knees are bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Keeping the left knee bent, gently slide the right heel out until the leg is straight out in front of you. Then, slide the right heel back in to find a 90-degree angle again.
  3. Repeat heel slide on the left leg. Continue alternating heel slides on the right and left legs.

Modification: Option to take the heel slides from a glute bridge hold.

Sumo Squat and Oblique Reaches

Targets: Obliques, inner thighs, outer thighs glutes and quads.

Pregnant woman performing oblique reaches from a loaded sumo squat stance.

How To Do Sumo Squat And Oblique Reaches

  1. Stand with feet wider than hips, heels in and toes pointed out (sumo squat stance).
  2. Bend your knees to lower down into a squat, pushing your knees out towards your pinky toes as you drop your hips parallel to your knees.
  3. Maintain this loaded sumo squat stance as you perform an oblique reach by dropping the right hand towards your right calf/shin.
  4. Alternate the oblique reaches, reaching right and left while maintaining the loaded sumo squat stance the entire time.

Incline Plank

Targets: Chest, shoulders and core

Pregnant woman performing an incline plank, placing hands on a bench. Pregnancy Ab Workout

How To Do An Incline Plank:

  1. Stand in front of a bench, chair or incline surface. Note, the higher the surface, the easier the plank will be.
  2. Plant your hands on the bench and step back into a high plank position. Shoulders are stacked over wrists, neutral spine. 
  3. Hold this incline plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.

Pin These Pregnancy Core Exercises for Every Trimester

Pregnancy AB Workout Pic for pinterest
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