This 7 minute prenatal ab workout routine is safe to do during the third trimester of pregnancy and was created by a physical therapist. Watch the video below.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Not sure if you can still do ab exercises in the third trimester?
You’re getting so close to the end of your pregnancy but you still want to remain active and healthy as you near your due date. I’m here to answer your questions regarding physical fitness and safe prenatal workouts during the third trimester of pregnancy.
I’m a physical therapist and a mom of 4, and in this article I’ll be sharing with you my favorite 7 prenatal exercises for the third trimester that are safe to perform leading up to labor and delivery day.
Which Ab Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
During the third trimester, the exercises that are safe during pregnancy are the ab exercises that involve less straining, less pressure, are simple, have slow movements and have little to no rotation.
The best word to describe ab exercises in the third trimester is “stabilization”.
In order to activate the core muscles in a safe manner, the best way is to stabilize the spine is by tightening up the core muscles. As a bonus, moving the legs will add more of a challenge for the abs, thereby increasing the intensity of the ab exercises while still being safe for you and your baby.
Doing ab exercises, specifically those ab exercises that target the core as a unit, will ultimately help your pregnancy.
Will I Cause Diastasis Recti By Doing Ab Exercises During Pregnancy?
If you are concerned about causing diastasis recti during pregnancy by doing ab exercises in the third trimester, I want to reassure you that you won’t do any harm if you do exercises that are avoiding a gravitational pull on your belly when facing down (such as a plank or push-up position).
Also, if you avoid straining types of movements, you are less likely to cause diastasis recti.
The most important thing to remember when working out your abs during your third trimester of pregnancy is to focus on abdominal bracing (also commonly known as a pelvic tilt) throughout all exercises while maintaining a tight and stabilized core.
*See my disclaimer below explaining how I, Jena Bradley, DPT, am not liable for any injury you may sustain while doing the workouts on my blog or YouTube channel.
How Do You Know If Your Ab Muscles Separate During Pregnancy?
If you are wondering how you will know if your ab muscles separate during pregnancy, the answer is rather simple. You will visually see a gap between the right and the left side of your stomach typically around the belly button area.
If you look at your belly button in a mirror, you will be able to notice the separation or the gap straight up from your belly button along the linea alba or circulating around the belly button itself.
It looks like an indentation in a way. Everyone’s body looks different, and not all diastasis recti cases looks the same. Some pregnant women might have diastasis recti, but it’s not visible until postpartum.
7 Safe Ab Exercises For The Third Trimester of Pregnancy
Do each of these 7 prenatal ab exercises for a 1 minute duration to total a 7 minute workout. If you need to modify the routine to make it easier for yourself as you get further along in the pregnancy, switch to 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off and then eventually decrease to 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off as you get closer to the end of the third trimester.
1. Pelvic Tilt (On Back)
Lie on your back with knees bent (starting position), tuck in your belly as if you are trying to pull your belly button down towards the ground.
It’s the same thing you would do if you were trying to “brace” yourself if someone was going to punch you in the stomach. Hold for 10 seconds, release and then repeat for one minute. Remember to not hold your breath but breathe throughout the exercise.
If lying flat on your back is uncomfortable, you can do this exercise lying at an incline with pillows propped under your back.
2. Sidelying Leg Raise
Lie on your side with your head comfortably resting on your arm in a neutral spine position (straight spine).
With a straightly aligned spine, first tighten your core before attempting to lift your legs.
To perform hip abduction, slightly move your hip backwards a few inches and then maintain that position as you slowly lift your upper leg and then slowly lower to the starting position.
The slight hip extension is important in that it helps to isolate the muscles you are wanting to focus on.
Repeat and perform 30 seconds on one leg and then switch to perform 30 seconds on the opposite leg.
3. Straight Leg Raise
Lie on your back. Bend your Right knee and keep your Left leg straight.
Slowly lift the Left leg to the height of your Right thigh.
Try to maintain a flat back (do not arch your back). Slowly lower your leg down to the starting position.
Maintain your knee in a straight position throughout the movement. Perform for 30 seconds on the Left leg and switch to do 30 seconds on the Right leg.
4. Heel Slides
Starting Position, perform abdominal bracing and maintain abdominal bracing while you slide your Left heel up towards your buttocks, thus bending your knee. Then return back to starting position by slowly sliding your heel back down. Perform in a slow, controlled manner. Once you complete 30 seconds on the Left, repeat on the Right for 30 seconds.
5. Hand Heel Rocks
Go down slowly on your hands and knees on a carpeted or cushioned but stable surface (not the bed). A yoga mat is a great option.
Place your shoulders directly over top of your hands and your hips over top of your knees.
Slowly rock your body forward onto the floor but maintain your arms in full extension (keep your elbows straight).
Extend your head as you look straight, not allowing your shoulders to shrug close to your ears.
Allow your pelvis to sink down and relax into the floor holding for 5-10 seconds.
Then slowly return to the starting position with a neutral spine and sit back on your heels, keeping your hands in place and resting your head down between your arms.
Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat for one minute.
6. Wall Push-Up
Find a stable surface like a wall or a counter top in the kitchen or bathroom. Place your hands on the surface and walk your feet backwards away from the wall so that your body is at an angle.
Perform a push-up in this modified position by lowering your chest closer to the surface and bending your elbows. Then push-up and return to the starting position. Perform as many repetitions as tolerable within one minute.
7. Standing Marching
Stand with feet hip width apart and lift one leg up by bending your knee towards your chest and then alternate by lowering the leg down followed by marching on the other leg.
Continue to alternate each leg with the goal to march as high as possible while stabilizing your core muscles and maintaining your balance.
7 Minute Prenatal Ab Workout: Third Trimester
In this article I taught you how to do 7 ab exercises that are safe to perform during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Perform each exercise for 1 minute with rest between if needed. Remember to breathe and avoid any painful movements or straining. The 7 exercises you learned today are the following:
- Pelvic Tilt (on back)
- Sidelying Leg Raise
- Straight Leg Raise
- Heel Slides
- Hand Heel Rocks
- Wall Push-Up
- Standing Marching
You can follow along with the 7 minute ab workout video for this routine here on YouTube.
Ab Exercises To Avoid While Pregnant
There are certainly a lot of ab exercises to avoid during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.
During the third trimester there should be no straining, crunches or planks that cause increased pressure on your linea alba (the vertical line between the right and the left side of your abdominal muscles).
You can get a full list of exercises and activities that you should avoid while pregnant here.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
*It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.
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