While I was in school, we all had to design this pamphlet about something or another, it was a little promotional book basically. I wanted to do something that was educational for me, something I had to research and also something that would be useful for me to use in the future, so chose the topic: “Exercising while Pregnant.”
If you asked me now where I put the booklet, I couldn’t even give you the slightest clue as to where it was, my prof printed some extras out wrong for me so I think I threw them out. The thought came to me this morning on my way to work, how important it is to prep your core before you get pregnant (if you think you’re going to get remotely pregnant within the new few years), strengthening your core doesn’t happen overnight.
I think the thought that spurred this was a post by Dean Somerset (who is amazing!), a personal trainer amongst other awesomeness out West who made a post about what can happen to your Core AFTER you have babies: Read his post Here!
First would be to learn how to do kegels, you’re going to be doing this a lot while you’re pregnant, might as well get to know them well now! Here’s a website dedicated to Kegel\’s for women, a must read if you decrease your chances of not being able to control your urine after your pregnancy. Your muscles of your pelvic floor become more weakened as you get older, so these are suggested if you are older than 40 and are starting to struggle with those problems.
I would also recommend these exercises to strengthen your whole core, especially your back. Having an additional 30+ pounds on the front of you for 9 months can absolutely demolish your back if it isn’t strong enough. I know I for one have an AWFUL core! In college I was considered by some of my classmates to be the ab-girl, only cause I was obsessed with abs, but really now when I look back, I was doing too many “ab” exercises and not enough “Core” exercises. Onto the exercises, here goes:
#1. Plank. Okay everyone hears planks, they really are amazing, it’s an isometric exercise which utilizes your whole core as a unit which is great: Rectus abdominis (the 6 pack), Obliques, Glutes, QL, hip flexors, it’s a great exercise and there are so many variations! Start with a hold for 30 seconds and see how that goes, take a rest and perform minimum of 3 sets.
One of the biggest mistakes when performing a plank are letting your lower back sink down a little bit creating a lordosis. You don’t want this to happen. Also don’t let your feet sit back, shift your weight as much forward as you can, so you are more on your toes. The plank can be on your hands like the picture shown to the left it can be done on the elbows (I prefer elbows).
#2. Side Plank. The Side plank only works more the QL and the Obliques, this is a great balance exercise as well.
Maybe that picture is a bit overboard, but you get the pictures, don’t be too distracted by the shaved chest, lol. The arm should be right underneath the shoulder, head should be facing forward. IF someone were to come over and look right down at you, you should be in a perfect straight line.
If two feet on top of each other is too much that’s okay you can spread them apart to have a bit more of a base of support.
#3. Crunches. This is a simple but easy exercise which can be made more difficult. You start in a sit up position, but instead of lifting your whole torso off the floor you are only lifting your head/shoulders off the ground. Head and shoulders stay aligned and your neck DOES NOT move, hand should be on the side of your head and not behind the neck. If you find your neck moves, find a place on the ceiling and stare at that while you do your crunches, your neck won’t move! If you want to make these more difficult, you can do reverse crunches where you bring your knees and your shoulders together at the same time and down at the same time.
You can also do scissor kicks with your legs alternating with each crunch, gets a little bit more of the hip flexor and lower rectus abdominis.
You can also do the crunch on the swiss ball if you have a bit better balance. If you haven’t done this exercise before, don’t try it alone! Always have a spotter if you’re new to a swiss ball.
#4. Pall Of Press. This is definitely a slightly more advanced exercise, if you absolutely new to the gym and ab/core setting, I’d probably save this for later. If you aren’t, then bring it on! This exercise is great because the core is designed to resist movement, and this specifically targets this.
You don’t want to be moving or twisting at all during this exercise.
#5. Bridge. This exercise is more for the glutes, but they are part of the Core unit as they help reduce a lordosis and help the spine perform as it should. Glutes are oftentimes weak and because of that whole trunk is not a stable unit, less stability and more room for injury and moving in ways that shouldn’t happen and then pop, something goes out-of-place.
With the bridge you start laying on the ground, your knees are up, hands are palms facing down on the ground by your side, you then lift up your butt so you create a nice smooth angle line, you’re squeezing your butt while you hold this position. Hold for a few seconds and then go back down. That’s your rep!
You can make this exercise more difficult by lifting a leg, but then you want to make sure you maintain LEVEL HIPS, most often times if you try and lift your leg you will shift to one side so you can keep your leg up, that’s not good. We want level hips, your hips shouldn’t move when the leg goes up.
I could give you about a million more exercises to help with stabilization of core, but I’ll stick with these basic 5 exercises for now. If you want more difficult variations leave me a comment and I can supply some more!
Don’t be afraid to start, the core is very important! We are talking about your spine here, give that baby some extra support by protecting your spine!
I’ll get into exercise whilst pregnant at another time. =)