Peek-a-Boo Obliques (At 9 Months Pregnant)

Today’s post is about side planks, one of my favorite exercises. I love side planks. My clients generally grumble when I have them do side planks, which I’ve learned can only mean one thing. They’re great for you!

Side planks help me feel super strong. You’re working the arm and shoulder and all of your stomach muscles. And I won’t lie (though maybe I should), from a vanity standpoint, I love that side planks help me keep a visual of my obliques throughout pregnancy. 9 months pregnant, 25 pounds up, and sporting some peek-a-boo abs? Oh yeah! I have worked so hard for that and I think it’s fair to be proud. You definitely can’t see a six pack (I have a short torso and my baby bellies grow!), but a little side ab on mama’s ever-expanding belly? I’ll take it, haha. No, but seriously. It’s nice to just see a bit of my old self in my rapidly transforming body. (Left my belly is relaxed. Right, my belly is flexed. Disclaimer: this is after breakfast, lunch, and a giant snack of way too many maple sweetened peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.)

And doubly seriously: side planks are really an excellent ab exercise. I don’t just have my clients do them to torture them. Like a regular plank, side planks require engagement of all layers of the abdominal muscles: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and the obliques. These muscles wrap together like a corset. They also work to pull your core in tight (bracing). And they keep your body elevated.

The biggest mistake I’ve encountered with this exercise is clients will shut down their abs and instead use their hips to hold themselves up. Let’s be clear. You should feel this exercise in the bottom side of your stomach–the side closest to the floor. If you are feeling this in your lower hip, make a change. Lift your hip a little higher and squeeze your abs a little harder. If you still feel it in your hip, modify the exercise by dropping down to your bottom knee.

Today I’m showing three different types of side planks. Yes, these are pregnancy approved. But these are for everybody! I promise, this blog isn’t just for the pregnant ladies. Boys–get off your butt and try these. Your belly will thank me!

  1. Side Plank Hip Taps
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your body using the underside of your abs (the side closest to the floor).
    3. Place your hand on your top hip (or on the floor as a modification for added assistance).
    4. Drop your bottom hip to tap the floor.
    5. Lift the bottom hip again hip until your body is parallel with the floor. 
    6. Repeat.
    7. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. Side Plank with Weighted Arm Extension
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Hold a dumbbell in your top hand.
    3. Drop dumbbell under lower obliques.
    4. Lift the dumbbell until your top arm is straight.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

  1. “Thread the Needle” Side Plank
    1. Start in your side plank. Either legs stacked, or bottom knee supported on the ground.
    2. Lift your hip until your body is parallel to the ground. Place your top hand on your top hip, or on the floor for added support.
    3. Drop your top hand to tap the ground OR literally “thread the needle,” wrapping your arm under your lower obliques. (If you’re pregnant, opt for the tap vs. the wrap. You don’t want to twist your obliques too much while pregnant.)
    4. Raise your top arm to the starting position.
    5. Repeat.
    6. Switch sides after 8-15 reps.

To check out some videos and see these exercises in action, visit my Instagram account.

What’s your favorite ab exercise? Share in the comments below. 

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