WHY WE SHOULD ALL WORK OUT LIKE WE’RE PREGNANT
This is not just for girls. We can ALL learn a lot by the way a pregnant person is supposed to workout. Really, they are forced to work harder than the crunch! This is because they are at risk from flexion in crunches, which can cause diastasis recti, a tear in the connective tissue connecting the two sides of the abdomen. We should all be imitating this idea anyway. It yields a strong, balanced core. Pregnant people are not supposed to work out like wimps! And crunches bore me, quite frankly.
This challenging no-crunch ab routine, focusing on true stabilization, makes us work deep and hard and may change the way you think you should be working your core. While doing these moves focus on breathing as slowly and deeply as you can. All moves promote flexibility, and work muscle groups to fatigue.
*If pregnant, be cautious not to try to gain more flexibility, as this is dangerous, and focus more on doing a kegel than whole abdominal engagement. My pregnant model Theresa had a strong core before she was pregnant, so she can master this routine. Always consult a doctor before attempting a new exercise routine.
CORE CHALLENGE: NO-CRUNCH ABS
René’s Tip: These moves are a challenge only when your truly being honest with yourself about your efforts to stabilize. When moving the limbs you must try your best to truly brace the muscles supporting the spine, ribs, and hips. Really think about it. It’s not about perfect stabilization, but trying to use those muscles, as aggressively as you are able. Basically, work to prevent wiggling and shifting!
- SPINE STRETCH AND PLANK CHALLENGE: “The stretchier the back…the stronger the belly.” I say. Hold this stretch inhaling deep about 30 seconds. Hold this low plank moving a leg up and down slooowwwly. Goal: 2 counts of 8 each leg without falling out. Visualize and stabilize the hips and tailbone. No squiggles.
- “C” CURVE CHALLENGE: This is part of my signature routine. Engage the abs, pelvic tilt, and descend to form the spine in a letter C. Go to where it’s very hard to maintain against gravity and maintain it as long as you can. Visualize the spine, hips, and ribcage. Keep them in those locations as you slooowwwly move 1. Arms up and down 1 count of 8 slowly (work to stabilize the ribcage) ; 2. Arms out and in for 1 count of 8 slowly; 3. Each leg up and down slowly 8 each; 4. Combine the slow arm and leg movements stabilizing that C. I cannot emphasize the word slowly enough. All the work is in the spine stabilization. If you do it right, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It feels powerful and so right. Goal: do this whole routine without taking a break from the C position.
- ELEVATED SCISSOR: You guessed it, scissor the legs slowly in this position. 3 slow counts of 8. Slow, I mean it. Really work at trying not to collapse the low spine. Stabilize those hips. Relaxing the neck and shoulders will be a challenge the first times you do this. If you persist, you will train to the core to take over a few times diligently trying this, and it will become less of a pain in the neck. An encouraging progression to observe.
- MAINTAIN “V”: Hold this position for 10 deep breaths. Less advanced may keep feet on the floor. More advanced, move arms up and down slowly, out and in slowly a count of 8 each way.
- MAINTAIN SIDE PLANK: Hold this side plank for 10 deep breaths. More advanced, stabilize the rest of the body while slowly moving a leg up and down. GOAL: 6 slow counts of 8
Where there is deliberateness and grace, there is strength and beauty. This routine looks slow and boring until you actually get on the floor and try it. My most expert clients, like Theresa and Colleen (pictured) listen to their bodies, stretch, don’t hit every rep, and stop if it hurts their back. Our body is like an “internal environment” we can control much of. This is powerful and comforting, as we can control so little of our external environment and stressors. Try this and share love for thoughtful movement.