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How do you get a solid core when sit-ups and V-ups are now almost impossible?

When many people think about core work, they think of sit-ups, V-ups, and hollow rocks.

Working your core goes way beyond that.

If done right, most exercises can be considered core work. Without the strength and stability from your core, pressing weight overhead or pulling weight off the ground becomes very challenging.

Snatches, cleans, deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, push-ups, sled pulls, and farmer’s carries. All of these exercises rely a lot on your core in order for them to be performed correctly and safely.

You may not think of a back squat as a core exercise, but without that core turned on and functioning properly, not only will you hit a wall very early on, but it also might be the reason why your knees or back hurt since they were working overtime by compensating.

I stopped doing sit-ups, planks, push-ups, and pull ups pretty early on in my pregnancy.

As early as 12 weeks, I felt a strange, uneasy burning sensation in my stomach when doing a plank or push-up. I scaled to my knees or an incline, but soon enough, I didn’t like how those felt either. I subbed those exercises out for ones that felt great. For me, those exercises included dball or kb holds, suitcase carries, pallof presses, and vertical chest presses with a band. Once something felt odd, I subbed it out, and moved on. I knew I was still “working my core” in so many ways despite cutting out the “core exercises” since pretty much every movement in CrossFit utilizes the core muscles.

The same mindset applied coming back to the gym.

Many people will be surprised to hear that I didn’t do sit-ups or V-ups in a workout until 4 months postpartum. Even in the last workout I did with V-ups a few weeks ago, I was scaling to tuck-ups so that I could maintain good form.

Again, I didn’t stress about it because I knew my core was getting stronger with all of the other exercises I was doing.

In those early weeks, I was subbing core-specific exercises with deep core/pelvic floor exercises (Check out Briannabattles.com for some wonderful tips for those early weeks. Pelvic floor therapists are wonderful too!). As the weeks went on, I graduated to bird dogs and deadbugs, followed by the scales given regularly in our classes. Being patient with the core-specific exercises in combination with being mindful of the use of my core during other movements has really paid off and I feel stronger every day.

To sum it up, you’ll be better off in the long run if you listen to your body and scale/sub movements until you’re ready for them.

Doing a scaled movement well versus doing an Rx movement without proper mechanics will make you stronger and will most likely help to progress faster.

Additionally, find peace in knowing that your core is getting stronger and more stable performing all of the exercises we do in CrossFit with good form.

Lastly, everybody’s pregnancy/postpartum journey is different and what works for one person, may not work for another. The key is being tuned into how you feel and utilizing the coaches in class to help you.