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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis

Top 5 Pregnancy Core Exercises

Women are obsessed with doing "core" exercises, and I get asked almost daily what exercises you should do for your core during pregnancy.

My answer is: none

Especially not the traditional ab exercises that are super popular, like crunches and planks.

Best case scenario, they just aren't really very effective, as they don't mimic the true function of the core. They probably won't do any damage when you don't have a big ol' preggo belly, they just won't do anything like make your core stronger (and they definitely will not "shape your core", nor will they help you burn belly fat).

Worst-case scenario, they might actually be detrimental to your core health - especially when you have a big belly.

Imagine that your rectus abdominus (the six pack muscles) should run in a straight line from your ribcage to your pelvis. With a baby in there, they are stretched out over the contents of your tummy.

Millions of crunches could put a lot of strain on the tissues and make a diastasis or pelvic floor dysfunction more likely (in particular with the aggressive way some people do them)

So how do we want to train the core?

IF we train the core, we want to focus on exercises that mimic the true function of those muscles - where all the muscles of that core cylinder (diaphragm, pelvic floor and the abdominal and back muscles that wrap around) work in harmony. They contract as a unit, INWARDS to increase intra-abdominal pressure and stability.

The core isn't designed like a bicep or hamstring, so we shouldn't train it that way, by contracting the muscles repeatedly in a way that brings the two ends closer together (like in a crunch, side crunch or those stupid superman things).

It works as a pressure system, like a canister, and all the team members have to work together in harmony to create stability AND movement.

So here are my top 5 exercises that mimic that function


This is an excellent exercise that promotes balance. An external force is applied to the body (the cable or band), pulling your trunk towards rotation as you press out. You have to resist that force to keep your trunk in the same position. You have to use not only that core canister, but also stabilizing muscles in your hips and shoulders, and if you are standing, in your knees and ankles too.

This is an example of an anti-rotation exercise

You can do this standing, kneeling, or half-kneeling, with a cable or a band.