** Consult a physician before attempting any of these exercises. ***
We got an email from a reader a few weeks back, asking us for tips on developing her core before pregnancy to prepare her for the postpartum return to full-time fitness.
Full disclosure, as your author is both male and without children, he didn’t feel he could provide an adequate answer so he reached out for some support. Thankfully, CrossFit Gymnastics coach Pamela Gagnon and CrossFit Games athlete Emily Breeze were willing to help!
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant (for the first time, or again) or are currently carrying, here are four core exercises that you can do to develop your core strength.
1. Hollow Plank Sliders
- Use towel or furniture slider
- Wrists stacked over shoulders
- “Push through ground” to create tension
- Pull ribs toward belly button
- Tuck pelvis UNDER so you do not have an arch on your lower back/lumber
- Without moving core (lock it in) push back slightly with straight arms
- Then pull ground “forward” to create a slight forward lean in shoulders
- Only go as far back & forth as you can to make sure you maintain that hollow core.
- You should feel core & shoulders fire up
- Try 5 sets of 5-10 reps
2. Shoulder Stand Reaches
- Stand at wall or post & mark shoulder height…this is your “goal” reach position
- Lay on back with bent arms
- Start with feet pointing toward ceiling and lower back pressing into the floor.
- Slowly reach your toes towards your “target” that you marked by engaging lower abs
- Only go as high as you can while maintaining weight on shoulders (NOT NECK)
- Return to start position (hips at 90 degrees)
- Do not bring feet all the way down to ground
- Try 3 sets of 8-12 reps
3. Box Lift Offs
- Set up box/chair or paralettes shoulder width apart.
- Set an object in front of you so you can lift feet over
- In support position, push through the “box” so you create tension
- Start with feet on one side of the object
- Slowly lift feet up and over to the other side of object.
- Lower the object or have a tape line if this is too hard
- Use a higher object if too easy
- Do NOT jump your feet…you are using core & hip flexors to power this movement
- Try 3 max effort sets
4. Tuck Hollow to Scissor
- Lay on back bring knees into chest
- Reach for your heels so upper back is off gourd but lower back is pressing into ground
- You want NO space between floor and lumbar curve
- Bring ribs close to belly button to hold the hollow
- Bring one leg out and clap hands in between bent leg
- Repeat on other side
- Try repeat 3 of: hold tuck for 3 sec & then each leg out for 3sec — so 9sec of work x3 is ONE round (do this for 3 rounds…rest 1min between sets)
Pamela Gagnon works as a Lead Coach for CrossFit Gymnastics, a 2x CrossFit games Masters Athlete and a former collegiate gymnast.
Emily Breeze is one of the top personal trainers in the country and has competed at the highest level of fitness during the CrossFit games. Her programming centers around individual goals mixed with creativity to push athletes past their comfort zones.