Crunch-free core & abdominal exercises
These three exercises are perfect for those who need to work slowly to increase their core strength, who are pregnant (only for those pregnant up to 20 weeks; skip this exercise if you're 21 weeks or further along!), or for those who just had a sweet baby and are eager to begin working out!
Lying on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, you can use no weight, 1lb. weight, or heavier if you want more of a challenge, to bring overhead and back to your hips while lifting your pelvis up to the ceiling.
Be sure to pull your belly button slightly up and in towards your spine as you lift and lower. Lift your hips up on the exhale, and lower down on the inhale.
***if you are 21 weeks pregnant or more, skip the bridge exercise!
Plank - 5 Ways!
Beginner - All 4's - For those who haven't worked out in a while and who need to gradually build their upper body and core strength. Starting slow and gentle is best!
Hands beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips, back flat and belly button pulled up and into the spine. Elbows soft, not locked!
Hold this exercise for 10-15 seconds for 2-3 repetitions, increasing the amount of time and reps the stronger you get.
Modified Plank - For those with a bit more upper body and core strength, and wants more of a challenge.
Starting in the all-4's position, move your hands forward about 6-8 inches and shift the hips forward until shoulders are directly underneath the hands and your body is making a straight line (hips and neck in line with the spine). Elbows soft, not locked!
Again, hold 10-15 seconds for 2-3 repetitions, increasing as needed.
Full Plank - Advanced option for those who have already mastered the first two.
From modified plank, tuck the toes and lift up to full plank. Hips are still in line with the spine and neck. Make sure elbows are soft, not locked, and that the hips don't sag or lift up too high. Hold 10-15 seconds for 2-3 repetitions, and increasing when you're ready.
Modified Forearm Plank - For those who struggle with carpel tunnel syndrome or have any other wrist or hand issues.
Elbows directly underneath the shoulders, and hips are in line with the spine and neck. Try not to let the chest fall to the floor by keeping your chest and core engaged. 2-3 repetitions for 10-15 seconds.
Modified Full Plank - Same as above, just lifting up to the toes.
Be sure to breathe during this entire process! Holding the breath does nobody good!
Opposite arm/leg lift (aka "bird/dog")
This exercise challenges your balance and core!
To start out, come to all 4's, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Lift one arm and the opposing leg, hold for 1-2 seconds, then lower down, and switch to the other opposing arm and leg. Be sure to keep the back flat, and keep looking at the floor. Only lift the arm and leg to the height of your body.
If you want to increase the challenge and abdominal workout, bring an elbow to the opposing knee, making a slight crunch for your abs.
Be sure to exhale as your bring your knee and elbow together, and inhale as you extend your leg and arm.
Doing these exercises a few days a week for 1-3 sets of 5-12 repetitions will help increase your core, abdominal, and upper body strength while also increasing your balance and muscular endurance!
This also helps for those who are pregnant or who are new moms with the abdominal split down the middle of their torso, called Diastasis Recti. At Glow Fitness, we help mamas heal that split, in addition to other pre/postnatal aches, pains, and issues!
Check out the full video on these exercises here: