Second-Trimester: Core Exercises for Pregnancy

Written by
8fit Team @ 8fit
busy-mom-baby-workout
Written by
8fit Team @ 8fit
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Exercising during pregnancy can be a great way to ease tension and get your endorphins pumping, while also keeping you and your baby healthy. It may seem counterintuitive to do core workouts while pregnant, but it’s far from it. When done safely, they make a great addition to any second-trimester exercise routine.

A whole lot happens to your body during pregnancy, like your internal organs shifting around to accommodate that growing baby bump of yours. All this can cause your back to ache and your posture to suffer, but a strong core will help support your spine and may ease some of the tension.

However, you’ll want to proceed with caution when choosing the right core exercises for your pregnancy. Steer clear of ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches that are dynamic and put pressure on the belly, as that could potentially be risky.

Core exercises for pregnancy

There is a panoply of core exercises for pregnancy out there to discover, but static muscular endurance exercises, such as the plank, are ideal for pregnant women as they strengthen both the abdominal and back muscles. Moreover, when appropriately performed, planks exert less pressure on the spine than dynamic exercises like butterfly sit-ups.

As always, listen to your body! If you're feeling too tired, hold the plank for several short sets at a time and if it's still too much, put your knees on the floor.

Do the following exercises as a warm-up: 2 sets of 8 reps each

Standing knee lifts

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left leg with a bend in your knee at 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment and release back down. Do the same for your right leg. Feel free to balance yourself by placing your hand on a table or chair.

Standing bicycle

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your left hand behind your head with your left elbow pointing to the side. Simultaneously raise your right leg and crunch inwards so that your elbow and knee nearly meet. Repeat this same move on the other side, this time with the right elbow and left leg. Make sure to keep your core engaged.

Superset 1:

Cat-cow & side plank lifts (4 sets of 8 reps each)

Perform eight repetitions of the cat-cow without resting, then move to the side plank for eight hip lifts on one side, followed by eight reps on the other side. Be sure to rest whenever you need – give yourself as much time as you need to perform the second set of movements with perfect form (30 to 90 seconds). When you're ready, repeat the same set for four times in total.

Cat-cow

Directions

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, keeping your hands directly under your shoulders.

  2. Inhale while lifting your head up to the sky and draw your shoulders away from your ears.

  3. Exhale, at the same time moving your chin to your chest and rounding your back upward in an exaggerated way (like a cat).

  4. Lower back down until you return to your starting position. This as one repetition.

Side plank lifts

Directions

  1. Lie on your side with your elbow on the floor directly under your shoulder, keeping your hips and feet stacked.

  2. Raise your hips off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your head through to your feet (or knees if you want to adapt it).

  3. Lift your hips as high as possible while keeping them stacked.

  4. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. This as one repetition.

  5. Repeat 8 reps on one side as instructed then switch your position to work the other side of the body.

Superset 2:

Pointers & adapted push-ups (4 sets of 8 reps each)

For your second superset, you’ll perform eight repetitions of pointers without resting, then switch to the adapted push-ups. After eight reps of this one, take a break. You can add a modified child pose (with knees open) while resting so that you can breathe and relax your back muscles while catching your breath. When you’re ready, repeat the set a second time and repeat for four sets.

Pointers

Directions

  1. Begin on your hands and knees with shoulders directly above wrists, hips directly above knees and spine neutral.

  2. Straighten your right leg out behind you and lift foot up to hip-level, at the same time left arm reaches forward to lift your hand up to shoulder-height.

  3. Bring your right knee and your left hand back down to the center and return to the starting position.

  4. Performing this movement on each side counts as one repetition.

Adapted push-ups

Directions

  1. Start with your body facing down on the floor and your toes curled under.

  2. Place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Face your palms down with your fingertips pointing forward.

  3. Lift your hips off the ground (knees remain on the floor) by pressing your elbows and knees into the ground.

  4. While you’re in this position, your body should form a straight line from your knees to the top of your head.

  5. Lower back down onto the floor until you return to your starting position. This as one repetition.

Superset 3:

30 second plank hold & side leg lifts (4 sets of 8 reps each)

Position yourself so you can hold a plank in proper form for 30 seconds. If it’s easier for you, feel free to plank on your hands instead of on your elbows. You can also widen the stance between your feet to make the move a little easier or even place your knees on the floor. Follow the 30 seconds of planking with side leg lifts – 8 repetitions on each side – before resting and repeating the set again.

Plank holds

Directions

  1. Start with your body facing down on the floor and your toes curled under.

  2. Place your elbows directly underneath of your shoulders. Make your palms face down and your fingertips are angled forwards.

  3. Lift your hips and legs up by pressing your elbows and toes into the ground.

  4. While you’re up in this position, your body should form a straight line from your heels to the top of your head.

Side leg lifts

Directions

  1. Lie on your side with your bottom arm as support; legs and hips stacked.

  2. Slowly raise your top leg as high as possible.

  3. Lower your top leg back to the starting position to do one rep.

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