Exercise Tip: Crunches for Pregnant Gals

by Pregnancy.org Staff

The set of muscles working together as you twist, turn, and bend stretch as your tummy grows. Abdominal exercises during pregnancy keep these core muscle fit and strong and help strengthen your spine to reduce the back aches. Strong ab muscles discourage diastasis recti, the separation of the connective tissue of the abdomen.

With pregnancy's expanding mid-section and posture changes, abs exercises become a challenge. A hero -- the exercise ball -- comes to the rescue. Exercises performed on a large ball enhance core muscle activation while crunching against an exercise ball helps support your back. The result? A safer and more effective exercise session.

Here's What You'll Need and How to Do It

1. Prepare: Get out your exercise ball and maybe a set of three or five pound hand weights if you'd like to add a bit more challenge.
2. Line up right. Sit on your exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart. Walk your feet forward as you lower your spine onto the ball. Continue lowering until your shoulders, back and tailbone are resting on the ball. If using hand weights, have arms at your sides, palms facing your thighs.
3. Crunch: Breathe in. On the exhale, contract your abs to lift your chest slightly off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips. At the same time, lift weights toward shoulders in a bicep curl.
4. Hold and relax: Be sure to contract your abs at the top of the movement for a one-count. Slowly return to the starting position. That's one.
5. Keep it up! Repeat for one to three sets of 12-16 reps.

Big Tip: If you tip over, improve your balance by moving your feet apart. As you your balance improves, increase the challenge of this exercise by moving your feet together.

Do you have a favorite pregnancy abs exercise? Please tell us about it in the comments section. Another mom-to-be will thank you!

check markBefore starting a fitness program, talk with your midwife or OB/GYN about your current health, physical activity and pregnancy. We don't know what kind of shape you're in or what your medical needs/concerns are. Please get the green light from your provider first!

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