This prenatal core workout is safe for all trimesters, requires only a band and a single dumbbell, and has no repeat exercises! As I write this, I myself am 19 weeks pregnant and loving this workout! Prenatal core is the key to less back pain, greater pelvic stability, and a quicker recovery once you deliver. I can’t wait to help you get there!
This post is all about a quick 15 minute prenatal core workout to keep a strong core through all three trimesters of your pregnancy!
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Super Fast & Effective Prenatal Core Workout
When to Stop Doing Abs During Pregnancy?
Unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor, you can safely exercise your abs through your entire pregnancy! In fact, this 15 minute prenatal core workout is safe for all trimesters. And not only is is safe, these prenatal core exercises are hugely beneficial for both your pregnancy and your postpartum recovery!
What Ab Exercises Should You Avoid While Pregnant?
- Sit ups or crunches– Sit ups and crunches are not recommended during pregnancy due to the high risk for diastasis recti (the separation of your abdominal muscles). This video by @getmomstrong is an incredible demonstration of the harm sit ups and crunches can do to your abdominals both during pregnancy and in the early stages of your postpartum recovery.
- Lying on your back or belly for an extended period of time– Lying on your back can compress the vena cava, a major vein that carries blood to the heart. Compressing this vein by lying on your back can reduce blood flow to both you and the baby.
- Bearing down– Any exercise that requires you to bear down can put extreme pressure on the abdominal wall. If you are not able to breath through the exercise, it is not appropriate for pregnancy.
- Anything that causes coning or doming– If you see a ridge or bulge in the middle of your abdomen, you should stop whatever exercise you are doing immediately. This is your body’s way of telling you that there is too much pressure on your abdominals. Continuing the exercise could cause or worsen diastasis recti.
*PLEASE READ FIRST*
You should always consult a doctor before trying new exercises or exercise programs. Every body is different and this is especially true during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor who knows you and your pregnancy best before completing this prenatal core workout or any other exercises/exercise routines on this site.
15 Minute Prenatal Core Workout
For this 15 minute prenatal core workout, you will complete 45 seconds of each exercise followed by 15 seconds of rest. After the 15 seconds of rest you will immediately begin the 45 seconds of the next exercise. However, please always remember to listen to your body and take a longer rest if you need! Pregnancy is not the time to push your body to maximum effort. You should be able to carry on a conversation with someone while you do these exercises.
I highly recommend you use an interval timer to help time these exercises! It makes things much easier. I personally like to use an interval timer app on my phone, but you can also use this 45/15 interval from YouTube if you prefer to not download an app.
My Outfit & Equipment:
- Biker Shorts- If you are looking for comfortable workout clothes for pregnancy, I highly recommend these Extra High Waisted Powerchill Crossover Biker Shorts from Old Navy. They are extremely comfortable and affordable! They have become one of my absolute favorite workout staples this pregnancy!
- Workout Mat– I absolutely love my Gorilla Workout Mat. It has just the right amount of grip for my shoes and is thick enough to cushion my joints for any workout!
- Silicone Loop Bands– Resistance bands are a staple to many of my workouts. They are also one of the cheapest pieces of workout equipment out there and they can go anywhere with you. You can get a full set of 5 different resistance levels for under $10 too!
- Adjustable Dumbbells– Living in a small apartment, having a set of adjustable dumbbells has been a game changer! I personally own the Flybird 25 lb. adjustable dumbbells, but they also sell a 15 lb. set.
Standing Oblique Crunch
- Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. You will likely have to widen your stance a little as you progress through your pregnancy. A wider stance will help accommodate for your growing bump while also giving a little extra support to your lower back.
- Place both hands behind the back of your head.
- Slowly bring your right knee and your right elbow together on the right side of your body. They do not have to physically touch. Go as far as is comfortable for you.
- Slowly lower your leg back down and bring your torso back to center.
- Do the same motion on the other side, bringing your left knee and left elbow together on the left side of your body.
- Continue alternating back and forth.
Farmer Carry March
- Hold a dumbbell down at one side. This dumbbell should feel moderately heavy to you so the weight will be different for everyone. A weight between 3 and 10 pounds is a good starting point if you are new to weight training. Do what feels safe and comfortable for you.
- Still holding the dumbbell at your side, begin marching slowly one foot at a time. The weight will make you want to lean to one side. Engage your core to keep a straight posture as you march.
- Switch the dumbbell to your other hand half way through the exercise and continue slowly marching.
Standing Pelvic Tilts
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a very slight bend in the knees (just enough that your knees aren’t locked out).
- Breath in and allow you stomach to expand and your pelvis to push forward. I like to keep my hands on my belly to help me feel the movement and better engage my pelvic muscles.
- Tilt your pelvis backwards to flatten your back and pull your belly in. Imagine that you are pulling your baby in and up into your rib cage. You will feel both your abdominal and glute muscles tighten as you do this. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then release back. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH DURING THE HOLD. Always remember to breath throughout every exercise.
- Continue repeating this same motion for the rest of the exercise.
Box Squat with Dumbbell press
- Grab a box, chair, bench, or even a couch that is sturdy enough for you to sit down on.
- Stand with your back towards the chair or bench, as though you are about to sit down. Hold a single dumbbell at chest height (against your chest), one hand on either end of the dumbbell.
- Slowly squat down onto the box or chair. As you squat, engage your core and press the dumbbell straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
- As you stand back up, pull the dumbbell back into your chest to the starting position.
- Continue this same motion throughout the exercise.
Incline Plank Shoulder Taps
- Grab a chair, couch, or bench that you can use to create an incline. You can also use a wall if you want a greater incline. The greater the incline, the more pressure you will take off of your core. Pick whatever incline feels comfortable for you.
- Set up in a high plank with your hands shoulder width apart and your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart on the floor. You body should be in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- While maintaining your plank position, lift one hand up and touch the opposite shoulder. Return that hand to the chair or bench before doing the same with the other hand/shoulder.
- Continue alternating, being very intentional to keep your hips from rotating as you tap your shoulders. If you feel your hips or body rotating, widen your feet to create a more stable base.
Incline Reverse Walk Outs
- Grab a stable chair, bench, or table that can support your weight.
- Stand facing away from the chair or bench. Place your hands shoulder width apart on the edge and your legs at a 90 degree angle to the floor. This will look like the starting position for a tricep dip.
- Extend your right foot out straight in front of you, followed by your left foot.
- Next, bring your right foot back to 90 degrees, followed by your left foot.
- Continue walking your feet in and out one foot at a time.
Seated Double Heel Raise to Standing
- Start sitting on a chair or bench.
- With your hands on your hips or belly, slowly raise both knees up so that your heels are 3-4 inches off the ground.
- Slowly lower your feet back onto the ground and press through your heels to stand up.
- Sit back down into the chair and repeat.
Seated Band Pull Apart
- Grab a loop exercise band and sit down on a chair or bench. I recommend a silicone resistance band over a fabric one. You will want to use a band with light resistance.
- Grab either side of the band with your hands and extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height and width.
- Keeping your arms straight, slowly pull the band apart in opposite directions and then bring it back to your starting position. Use your core throughout the pulling motion to stabilize your body and maintain good posture.
- Continue pulling the band apart and releasing throughout the duration of the exercise.
Half Kneeling Banded Wood Chop
- Grab a loop band and start in a half-kneeling position with your left knee underneath you and your right foot on the ground out in front of you. Both legs should be at a 90 degree angle.
- Grab one end of the loop band in your left hand and hold this end just below your left hip. You left arm should be straight.
- Grab the other end of the loop band with your right hand.
- Slowly raise the band across your body to the right until your right arm is fully extended above your head.
- Slowly lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Halfway through the exercise, switch onto your right knee and do the same with your left hand, pulling the band up and across your body. (I recommend switching at 20 seconds to give yourself a few seconds to switch)
Sitting Single Leg Raise
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you. They can be straight out in front or slightly to the side, whatever is most comfortable. Make sure to keep your back straight.
- Place your hands flat on the floor alongside your glutes to support you.
- Keeping your leg straight and your foot flexed, lift one leg as far up towards the ceiling as you comfortably can. Aim for a couple inches if possible.
- Return that leg back to the ground and do the same with the other leg.
- Continue alternating.
Modified Side Plank w/ Crunch
- Get set up by first lying on your side with your knees at a 90 degree angle.
- Bring your arm underneath your body to prop yourself up onto your bottom knee and your forearm.
- Extend your top leg straight out and your top arm straight above your head.
- Next, bring the elbow of your top arm and the knee of your top leg together at your mid section. If you cannot get them to touch, simply go as far as is comfortable for you.
- Continue to extend and crunch your top arm and leg while using your core to keep your hips elevated.
- Switch sides halfway through the exercise. I recommend switching at 20 seconds to give yourself a few seconds to switch.
Modified Forearm Plank From Knees
- Start kneeing on both knees.
- Slowly walk your hands out in front of you until your hands have reached your shoulders. Then lower onto your forearms.
- Remain on your knees and forearms while keeping your hips elevated in line with your neck and shoulders.
- Breath throughout the duration of the exercise while keeping your core tight to stabalize.
Side Lying Leg Lifts
- Carefully lower to your side and prop your head up with your bottom hand. You can keep both legs straight or bend the bottom one at a 90 degree angle, whatever feels comfortable for you.
- While keeping your top leg straight and in line with your hips, slowly raise it up towards the ceiling as far as is comfortable for you. You will likely be able to go further each time as you do this workout routine more.
- Slowly lower your leg back towards the ground. Hover your leg just above the bottom leg before raising your leg again. (If you want to make this exercise easier, you can rest your leg for a moment before raising it back up again)
- Switch sides at 20 seconds to give yourself time to reset on the other side and perform the same exercise on the other side for the remaining 20 seconds.
- Start on all fours on your hands and knees.
- At the same time, extend one arm straight out in front and the opposite leg straight behind you.
- As you bring your arm and leg back in, tap your hand to your knee below your abdomen. (You may not be able to touch them as your pregnancy progresses and your belly extends and that is totally okay too!) Extend that same arm and leg once again and repeat.
- Switch to the other arm and leg halfway through the exercise. (Note: If you would rather you can also alternate which arm and leg you extend with each repetition)
Bear Crawl 3 Second Holds
- Start on all fours with your toes curled up underneath you.
- Engaging your core, lift your knees off the ground so that they are hovering about an inch off the ground.
- Engage your core to hold this position for 3 seconds before releasing back to the ground, breathing through the whole exercise. Take a 1-2 second break before lifting your knees back up off the ground for another hold. (remember to always take a longer break if you need it)
- Continue alternating between a 3 second hold and a 2 second rest for the remainder of the time.
A strong core is so important for all stages of pregnancy and also for postpartum recovery. This post was all about a 15 minute prenatal core workout that is perfect for all trimesters so you can stay strong all nine months! Let’s get to it mama!