Prenatal Exercises – Core Strengthening

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,713
    Fitness instructor Vionna Jones demonstrates core strengthening during pregnancy.

    Vionna Jones: Hi! My name is Vionna Jones with the Hot Mama Fitness Studio. Today, I am showing you how to workout during your pregnancy. In this segment, we are going to talk about how to strengthen your core. Your core consists of your abdominal muscles and also your lower back muscles. The first exercise that we are going to do to strengthen your core is called the Plank. The plank is a really important exercise because it strengthens deep abdominal muscles that you can't see. So what we are going to do? Julie is going to come on to her forearms and her toes to start. She is going to extend her legs straight back, she is going to engage her abs by bringing her belly button in towards her spine and she is going to keep her body nice and flat.

    Now this is a pretty advanced level because Julie is at very advanced, but you can also bring your knees down from this position to the mat, keeping your abs engaged and hold the position here. As you notice, none of the rest of her body shifted when she moved her knees down to the mat. So she is going to hold it here for as long as she can, 30 seconds, a minute. Then after that, she will release her abs and come out of the plank.

    So plank is very important. You can do this for as long as you can, take a break and do it one more time. This is something that can be done everyday to help to make your abdominal muscles stronger. Now for a lower back exercise, we are going to do opposite arm and opposite legs. So Julie is going to start off in an all fours position. You will notice that her knees are hip width apart, knees right underneath her hips, and her wrists are underneath her shoulders. She is going to start with a nice flat back here, abs are engaged again.

    Then she is going to lift one arm and the opposite leg, she is squeezing in her lower back here. She is going to hold it for just a second and then she is going to lower down and switch sides, doing the same thing here. She is going to concentrate the whole time right here at her lower back and then lower down again. So when you do this at home, you are going to continue to do this for 12-15 reps on each side, really concentrating on working your lower back. Let's see that one more time, and then lower down. Another great way to strengthen your core is to practice balance exercises. This one that we are going to do is called Marching on the ball. Julie is sitting really nice and tall here on top of the stability ball. Her shoulder blades are back and her abs are engaged. What she is going to do is lift one arm and the opposite leg, hold it for just a second, and then switch sides.

    She is going to lift, hold for a second and switch. You want to do this 10-15 times on each side. The more that you do it, the better you will get at it and the more repetitions you will be able to do. You can do 2-3 sets of this. Again, this is an exercise that can be done everyday.

    The next exercise is called Bridge on the ball. So to start, Julie is still sitting nice and tall on top of her stability ball, abs are engaged. She is going to walk her feet all the way out. So she walks her feet out until her head and shoulders are resting on top of the ball. Head and shoulders are going to be nice and relaxed, abs are engaged here. If you don't have your abs engaged during this exercise, you are going to start rolling side-to-side on the ball. Your feet are going to be hip width apart. Then you are going to drop your hips down, and then come all the way back up, so that you are nice and flat, squeezing the glutes at the top. Then lowering back down again. Your arms can be wherever they are comfortable, either at your sides or at your hips, whichever. You are going to do 12-15 repetitions of this exercise and you can do 2-3 sets of it. So now when you are done with this exercise, you are going to come back right the way you were in the beginning. So you are going to walk your feet back. So you are in a nice, tall seated position on top of the ball. For our next exercise, we are going to do abs or crunches on the ball. Many women believe that it's probably not a good idea to do crunches while they are pregnant, but on the contrary, I recommend to my clients that they do crunches while they are pregnant because it really does help to strengthen your ab muscles. You are going to need these muscles to work really well for you while you are delivering your baby.

    From here we are going to start on top of the ball, kind of good posture here and she is going to begin to walk her feet out. Now this time she is only going to go as far as having the ball behind her lower back. The ball is going to give you the support that you need here. Then she is going to tuck her tail bone under, so that her tail bone and her back is completely supported by the ball. She is going to bring the hands behind the head. Shoulder blades are back and she is going to come up, crunch up, belly button is in, she is going to exhale on the way up and then come back. Then crunch all the way up and then come back. You can do again 12-15 of these for one set, 2-3 sets of these.

    The only time that I would recommend that you not do crunches is, if you have abdominal separation. So speak with your doctor, your OB, your midwife, or your personal trainer, so they can help you to check to see if you do have that abdominal separation. Otherwise, this is a good exercise to do and it's perfectly safe.

    Now after she has done her last one, she will return back to the ball and then walk her feet back towards the ball. So she is sitting in her nice, good posture position on top of the ball to finish up the set. You can take a break and then do another set.

    So now we have shown you how to strengthen your core during your pregnancy. In the next segment, we are going to lead you through an upper and lower body workout.