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Best Ab Exercises for Pregnancy

Best Ab Exercises for Pregnancy

breathing exercises and drills pregnancy May 22, 2024

Good breathing mechanics is the foundation of training during pregnancy!


Here’s a little bit more about why...and how...

Your core is a lot more than your abs. It’s a 360 degree canister made up of your diaphragm, pelvic floor, back muscles and abdominals. Together it’s responsible for managing intra-abdominal pressure and stabilizing your spine during movement. 


Your abs and pelvic floor are meant to work reflexively with movement and your breath...but as the baby grows that connection and automatic reflex become less and less coordinated leaving your low back and pelvic floor vulnerable. We can be super intentional about maintaining as much of that connection as possible. 


There’s A LOT you can continue to do exercise-wise throughout pregnancy if you remain connected to your core and pelvic floor using your breath. That’s why my guidelines aren’t a list of dos and don’t so much as a guide to bringing awareness to what’s going on in your body. 

If you are still looking for a sold set of workout guidelines for pregnancy check my guidelines down below!



Check out the graphic below from. In natural, diaphragmatic breathing, on an inhale the diaphragm contracts down while the pelvic floor and abdominals relax. On the exhale, the diaphragm relaxes back up while the abs and pelvic floor contract.


As you can see, throughout your pregnancy, the diaphragm gets pushed up and stretched out, the abdominal muscles stretch, and the natural reflex of the pelvic floor decreases.

Therefore, it requires intention and practice to maintain as much of this connection as possible. The best way of doing so is using your breath.  Ideally you begin this practice as early on in pregnancy (or even before) but it’s helpful no matter when you start.


First, you need to master a good 360 degree inhale through your nose. Diaphragm contracts down down, pelvic floor relaxes down, and the ribs expands all around - in front, on sides, and in back.


That good inhale sets you up for a great exhale. A great exhale is where the core and pelvic floor will naturally, reflexively engage, but it also may require practice. Try a "ha" breath, long and slow out the mouth like you are trying to fog up a mirror. As you do, notice your abs wrap around you, drawing in from the bottom (pelvic floor) up.


All the workouts in my Running for 2 U program all have an element of breathing in them because it's so important. Here are a few examples:


This Inverted Rockback Breathing helps to inhale into the front and back ribs while also allowing for controlled relaxation of the pelvic floor on those inhales.



Bonus: Inversions like this are incredibly helpful later in pregnancy to encourage the baby into a good position for labor.


The 90-90 Breathing helps to use the proximal hamstrings to align the pelvic floor with the diaphragm for (re)establishing a good connection between the two. Using the proximal hamstrings in general is one of my 4 main strategies to include with strength training during pregnancy.


Connecting your breath with movement is also an effective strategy for loading the core and pelvic floor muscles. This Low to Mid Range Squat is a great example of promoting that connection through movement.



The bottom of the squat promotes more external rotation and relaxation of the pelvic floor. Inhale there.


Mid-range of the squat promotes more internal rotation and a lifting of the pelvic floor through length. Exhale there.


In my Running For 2 U Self Paced Course you will learn:

  • How to honor both your runner/athlete identity and your pregnant body at the same time.
  • How to adjust your running programming during pregnancy and how to know when to push and when to rest.
  • Why strength training becomes even more important for running during pregnancy.
  • How to best structure your strength training sessions.
  • What exercises to include in your strength training to support your running during pregnancy.
  • How to choose which exercises to include into your plan to best meet the needs of YOUR body.
  • Strategy for returning to running postpartum stronger than ever.


PLUS this course includes 3 mix and match sets of Full Body Workouts specifically designed with these principles AND the guidance to tailor them specifically to the needs of your unique body now and as the pregnancy progresses (no matter where you are in your pregnancy journey).

Click here to learn more about Running For 2 U.


Next on Your Reading list:

Waddling Gait in Pregnancy & How To Fix It!

Running and Pregnancy: How To Love Both! 

Your Ultimate Guide For Strength Training In Pregnancy for Runners!

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