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Pregnancy Exercise: Abdominal Exercises

Exercise to keep your abdominal muscles strong is very important during pregnancy. Exercise helps prevent diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles- common during pregnancy), reduces back pain by improving alignment of the spine, helps make labor and and delivery easier and improves the way you look and feel during pregnancy.

Your doctor may have told you that you shouldn't exercise lying flat on your back after your first trimester of pregnancy, but finding safe alternative ways to exercise your abs can be difficult. Here, Karyne shares some of her favorite exercises from the abdominal section of The Perfect Pregnancy Workout. Each exercise focuses on a different area of the abdominals; if you do all of the exercises together, you will work every part of your abs.


Side Crunch- basic

muscles worked: abdominal obliques (sides)
  1. Lie on your right side, keeping your right leg slightly bent and extending your right arm slightly in front of you for stability. Put your left hand behind your head.
  2. Bend your left knee and bring your left elbow and head in to meet it.
  3. Do 25 repetitions and repeat on other side.
pregnancy-exercise-side-crunch

Side Crunch-advanced

muscles worked: abdominal obliques (sides)
  1. Lie on your right side, keeping your right leg slightly bent and either extend your right arm slightly in front of you for stability or rest your right hand on your belly. Put your left hand behind your head.
  2. Raise your feet, left elbow and head as high as you can.
  3. Hold for one second and release.
  4. Do 25 repetitions and repeat on other side.
pregnancy-exercise-side-crunch-a

Reverse Crunch

muscles worked: rectus abdominus (lower abs)
  1. Stack a few pillows so that you can keep your head elevated above your heart when leaning back on them.
  2. Lean back with your knees toward the ceiling, feet flat on the floor, with your palms touching the floor.
  3. Using your arms to help you, contract your lower abdominals and try to tilt your pelvis forward slightly.
  4. Hold for one second and release.
  5. Do 25 repetitions and repeat on other side.
pregnancy-exercise-reverse-crunch

Crunch

muscles worked: rectus abdominus (upper abs)
  1. Stack a few pillows so that you can keep your head elevated above your heart when leaning back on them.
  2. Lean back with your knees toward the ceiling, feet flat on the floor,hands together behind your head, elbows out to the side.
  3. Contract your abs, lifting your head and shoulders up as high as you can.
  4. Hold for one second and release. Do 25 repetitions.
pregnancy-exercise-crunch
 

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