Safe Core Exercises During Pregnancy - Brittany Lesser

Safe Core Exercises During Pregnancy

February 2, 2018

Can you work your core during pregnancy? The answer is likely, yes. Of course, every woman and every pregnancy is different so make sure you always ask and talk to your doctor about any questions you may have during your pregnancy before turning to any type of website or blog.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t worked my core during this pregnancy. One of the main reasons being that I rarely worked it before I got pregnant, so why start working it now? Ha! But really.. my belly is growing so it’s not the best time to start going hard-core… get it 😉

Okay that was corny, I know. I personally feel as if I “work” my core during my lifting sessions. I lift anywhere from 4-6x per week and perform compound movements and accessory work during each session. While lifting, it’s important to keep your core tight in order to avoid injuries. This is how I typically work my core, before and during pregnancy.

However, I constantly get questions about safe core exercises during pregnancy. There are some exercises that you can safely perform when pregnant.

The first thing to keep in mind when working your core during pregnancy is that you want to avoid getting diastis recti. Some people get it regardless, so in that case, you wouldn’t want to make it even worse. Diastis recti is basically the separation of the abdominal muscles. When your belly is expanding, this will happen. It can be partially open above the naval, partially open below the naval, or even completely open. It’s likely that most pregnant women will get some form of abdominal separation, so it’s important not to do anything that will make this condition worse. You can check if you have it after you give birth by lying on the floor and crunching up a bit with your fingers in-between your abdominal muscles to see if there is a gap.

The main exercises you need to avoid are CRUNCHES. Any type of crunching movement is a no-no and will make DR worse. It’s also likely that things such as planks and push-ups will make it worse as well.

Another thing to notice is if an exercise causing coning, you want to avoid. I noticed that planks cause coning for me, so I make sure to avoid regular planks, however, I can safely perform side planks. Coning is basically when you notice a bulge down the middle of your abdomen. I notice this when I do planks or if I’m lying down on my back and use my abdominal muscles to help me get up.

So, what are the safe core exercises you can perform? Keep on reading!


These are probably the best and safest ones to perform.

  1. Standing Alternating Knee Raises – stand tall with your spine neutral and knees slightly bent, then lift one knee at a time towards your chest alternating.
  2. Standing Bicycle Crunches – the exact same thing as lying down, bring the opposite knee to the opposite elbow and repeat.
  3. Standing Pelvic Thrust – With spine neutral and knees slightly bent, arch your lower back and then thrust your pelvis in.
  4. Sumo Squat Side Bends – Get in a sumo squat position with your hands on your head and bend left to right to work the obliques.
    • Make it harder: reach your arm down during the movement.


  1. Cat/Cow – On your hands and knees, do a similar movement as the standing pelvic thrust by arching your back with your chin up and then curl in and chin to your chest.
  2. Bird Dog – On your hands and knees, reach out with one arm and the opposite leg, hold, and switch sides.
    • Make it harder: Opposite knee to opposite elbow reach and bring it in.
  3. Side Planks
    • More advanced: on your elbow or hand and feet stacked on top of each other
    • Modification: on your elbow and knees stacked on top of each other
    • Make it harder: reach your upper arm through the opening of the other and your body


  1. Diamond points – honestly I made this name up LOL. Basically you are on your back but propped up on your elbows, put your toes together and straighten your legs and point and then bring your knees in towards your chest but bread your knees open with your toes still touching.
  2. Heel to floor (can be on elbows or hands) – on your back either propped up on your elbows or hands, bring one heel to the floor and alternate sides.
  3. Toe Taps – Same thing as heel to floor but you bring both toes together and tap the floor and bring them back up.

For visuals, watch the youtube video below!

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