To Plank or Not To Plank?


I get asked this question all the time, are planks safe during pregnancy? Can I do planks with diastasis recti? So to plank or not to plank, is a very big question especially if we are discussing diastasis recti.


First, I LOVE planks!

Second, you must know when your body is ready to do planks, during pregnancy, postpartum or anytime really…


Here are some easy guidelines to follow:

  1. Do you have diastasis recti? (if you aren’t sure read this) Having diastasis recti isn’t an automatic “no” (unless you’re pregnant and have diastasis), it’s a “maybe”.  It really depends on your answers to the next 3 questions and be sure to read this entire post too.
  2. Can you connect your deep core muscles? (not sure what they are check out this post) You must be able to have at least a light deep core connection.
  3. Do you see any “coning” of your belly? You must avoid this or you may be causing more damage to your abdominals and even low back.
  4. Can you feel your abdominals connect near your ribcage and your lower abdominal area? If all you feel is pain in your low back then you need to do other simpler exercises for now and give your body more time.


Those are some major guidelines that can easily tell you if you should be doing planks or you should be doing easier yet effective exercises such as:

More exercises to be posted so be sure you’re a part of the Knocked Up Fitness community and sign up here!




Here is my favorite plank exercise “Plank Slides”. I do love these and teach these to a lot of clients, even my clients with diastasis recti (you just gasped – I know!) but let me tell you why. For starters I would never recommend doing these plank slides in those first sessions postpartum (diastasis or not), you really do need to allow your body time to heal. However I love, love, love these for strengthening those deep core muscles once your body is ready.

That is the KEY to planks, your body must be ready… and I recommend starting with plank slides over holding a static plank. I find moving in the plank position to be a very effective deep core exercise and great for getting those abs back.

*Always be sure your physician has cleared you to exercise before beginning any exercise programs*


  1. Begin in a full plank position on forearms and toes. Press legs together to help engage your pelvic floor (do a kegel), transverse abdominals (think lower belly) and intercostals (think “ribs) while also pulling up on the quads (your thighs).
  2. Exhale while moving your body forward staying in a plank position.
  3. Inhale while moving your body back. (Focus on stretching the calves in the backward movement).
  4. Modify: Switch out any plank exercises for a modified plank on forearms and knees or stick with those easier exercises mentioned above until your body is ready.


Watch for any bulging of your abdominals while in a plank position, note the difference in extra lose skin hanging vs. a good flat fascial/muscle connection across your lower belly. The extra skin is inevitable and will decrease will time, just be sure that if you notice any of your abdominal area hanging towards that ground that it is in deed skin and not your abdominals bulging towards the ground.


Be sure to follow those guidelines above to determine if planks are right for you right now. And if your body isn’t ready today it’s not a forever “no” it’s just a “not ready yet” but “someday”. So hang in there and keep strengthening those deep core muscles with more appropriate pregnancy and beyond baby exercises, workouts and programs.


One lasting thing: Please share this article with your girlfriends. I’ve talked with so many mom’s after pregnancy who had been doing exercises they later learned they should have skipped. While some women can safely do planks their entire pregnancy some should skip those and do easier core exercises as listed above. Exercise during pregnancy has so many wonderful benefits but being educated on what exercises are best, specifically core exercises can make a big impact on women during their years of having babies and beyond.


5 Tips for Back Pain Relief


Did you know that back pain affects sixty to eighty percent of Americans at some point in their life! Life as a mom has back pain written all over it – pregnancy, breastfeeding, carrying wiggly kids and lots of stuff, picking up toys, limited time to workout, etc.

It can be lessened by strengthening your deep core muscles, improving posture and staying active throughout your day! Here are 5 tips that could help you prevent and aid in getting rid of that annoying lower back pain:


1. Move!  Overall strengthening can promote improvements in functional movements. If work requires you to be seated for the majority of the day, plan small breaks to go for a brief walk. Stretch out those stiff muscles and keep moving! Try this back extension exercise to strengthen your low back muscles.


 Back Extension Exercise:

{this is NOT a pregnancy exercise, if you are currently pregnant try this exercise instead}

Step One: Lay on your stomach on a stability ball with your elbows bent and hands placed gently behind your ears.

Step Two: While drawing your abdominals in and upward, engaging your core muscles, contract your low back muscles and glutes to extend your spine, lifting your torso off the ball.

Step Three: Hold for 3 seconds and gently return to start. Repeat 12-20 repetitions.


2. Foam Rolling – Try this wiggle stretch {a favorite among my clients pregnant and not} to help release tension around your sacrum and low back. If you don’t have a foam roller handy be sure to read tip #3!


3. Gluteal Release with Tennis Ball  – Grab a tennis ball and place it in your upper glute area and slowly roll around on the ball. This is a form of self-myofascial release that you can do on your own to target specific trigger points that are holding tension in the muscle. When released can help relieve back pain.{as long as this feels good for you, you can do this release exercise during pregnancy}




4. Epsom Salt Bath  {I recommend to AVOID warm/hot baths during pregnancy} However when you aren’t preggers enjoy an epsom salt bath at the end of the day. They help the body feel calm, allow the muscles to relax and will get you ready to go straight to bed! {Add about 1 cup of epsom salts to a warm bath}


5. Improve Posture! Improving your posture is a tiny tweak that can lead to big changes – say bye-bye low back pain. Correct posture is very important in order to have a healthy spine and an absolute MUST during pregnancy too! Remind yourself throughout the day to stand up tall lifting through the top of your head with your core engaged, relax your shoulders, and breathe deeply- remember to “show your heart”!



Thanks Kim for her wonderful testimonial:

BIG thank you to Erica for all of her tips and tricks on back pain relief. I pinched a nerve in my back and while my own home remedy’s were making my situation worse, I finally turned to her Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom Program and her foam rolling videos and INSTANTLY started to feel relief from all of her recommendations. I could even stand up straight without pain the very next morning! Thanks Erica!”

~Kim F. {busy working mom}

Give these powerful tips a try if you are experiencing that annoying low back pain. Be sure to discuss with your physician prior to beginning any exercise program or new exercises. And always listen to your body!


Keeping Your New Years Resolutions!


As we near the end of January many of you may find yourself starting to slip away from your new years resolutions already – yikes! So let’s take a new look at those resolutions – or as I like to call them “goals”. Creating resolutions may just seem like to big a task to actually accomplish. Instead, let’s make goals that you will actually be able to accomplish and feel amazing doing so!



By all means shoot for the stars! Figure out your BIG goal – write it down – then let’s figure out what 2-5 things you need to actively do to reach your BIG goal. It’s about action! Find those action items – write them down.


For me this year I really want to do more yoga – not just learn it – but do yoga for me…I teach a lot (pilates and strength training mostly) and believe it or not sometimes I just want someone else to tell me what to do. Instead of me having to always think about what move or exercise comes next (because I do that ALL the time).






In order for me to do more yoga I have to figure out where to fit it into my busy life of training, building a biz, oh and yes, I have 3 kids and an amazing hubby that fill up every ounce of time I’m home. So for me I have a couple options:

  1. Do yoga at home – which is great when I’m at home all day with the kiddos plus they get to see me be active and they love to join in too! Really a great option for you busy mamas that don’t have time to go to the gym. I do understand that sometimes after you’ve spent all day running around after them and/or working the thought of actually “working out” is exhausting…but even 10 minutes on a regular basis can make a BIG difference and you are setting a wonderful example for your little ones!
  2. Find a class to attend – many of my favorite yoga instructors teach at the same time I do, so typically I must go in an evening when hubby’s home to watch the kiddos. I love my evenings with my family so this one’s challenging, but I’ll go if that ends up being my only option for the week because my hubby and I make it a priority for us both to get our workouts in on an almost daily basis…Sometimes you just have to schedule your workouts in, even if they aren’t the most convenient.
  3. Squeeze in some yoga between clients at the gym – honestly this is my most “realistic” option since I’m already in the gym and in the “workout” mindset. But then there’s the reformer and weights…lots of choices J I know for many of you this isn’t an option because your not in a gym all day – but, you can use your breaks, baby’s naptime or lunch break during the day to squeeze in even a short workout.


Hmmm….just too much to do and so little time…but I really am trying to do more yoga this year and I wanted to share with you 8 of my favorite yoga poses in my new Target® C9 workout gear!


Which, I can happily say fits me really well and I’m comfortable wearing the Target® C9 workout wear all day. That’s saying a lot since I live in workout clothes. There was no pulling or tugging on any of the three pieces (especially the pants, I was super happy with the fit!) – plus what’s not to love because it’s affordable! I bought all three pieces for $65 at my local Target®! $65 for three articles of clothing – seriously, for real? That’s less than I’ve paid in the past for a typical pair of pants that’s in my closet right now. Super impressed!




Premium Capri Legging ($34.99) @ Target®

Ribbed Tank ($7.78) @ Target®

Medium Support Compression Sports Bra ($16.99) @ Target®


I also found a couple maternity tops online for you pregnant mamas:  Maternity Tank ($22.99) &  Maternity Halter Fit & Flare Tank ($24.99)


Always listen to your body and be sure your physician has approved you for exercise. I added “Pregnant?” with an answer for each exercise and “Modify” with modifications for each exercise. If an exercise doesn’t feel good for your body – don’t do it. Find the modification or focus on the exercises you can do and as you become stronger you’ll be able to do more (a couple exercises are more challenging and NOT for pregnancy). I love yoga but during pregnancy I recommend focusing on strength and stability and be cautious to avoid over-stretching. Stretches should feel good and never painful. 



Down Dog

Pregnant? Love for pregnancy, be sure they feel good for you as your pregnancy progresses. Replace with Cat Cows once they no longer feel good for you.

Modify – bend your knees to allow your lower back to flatten.




Down Dog Twist

Pregnant? Can do early on but recommend avoiding later on in pregnancy.




Single Leg Bridge

Pregnant? A great exercise during pregnancy as long as you feel good on your back.

Modify – keep both feet on the ground.





Pregnant? A great exercise during pregnancy.

Modify – use a chair or something stable to hang onto to help you balance.




Warrior 2

Pregnant? Love warrior 2 for pregnancy, a great exercise to help open up your hips.

Modify – avoid going so low.




Pregnant? Can do if it feels good for you but I recommend modifying. Replace with warrior 2 once this no longer feels good.

Modify – Use a block for your back hand.




Shoulder Stand

Pregnant? I recommend avoiding unless you are completely comfortable doing this before pregnancy and it feels good for you now.





Pregnant? AVOID – you cannot do this during pregnancy. But it’s great after to help open up your tight chest and strengthen your back.


The reality of it is that I’m aiming for 1 yoga session every week – now that might not sound like a lot but since I already do pilates and lift weights regularly and run occasionally, adding yoga is actually a challenge for me. But a good challenge for me because I always feel amazing after – all the more reason for me to do it. And you too! When we strive for something that is challenging it will make us stronger (both physically and mentally).


So what’s your new years BIG goal and how are you going to achieve it?



This post was sponsored by Target® through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Target® C9, all opinions are my own.



Worth the Weight: How Prenatal Exercise Can Help You Achieve Your Postpartum Weight Goals

If you’re one of many Knocked-Up mommas waiting for baby, and wondering how your body will react to pregnancy and delivery, you’re in luck!


A study out of The American College of Sports Medicine shows an exciting new positive correlation between prenatal exercise and postpartum weight. Researchers found that women who practice moderate exercise and healthful eating habits are 75% more likely to reach their pre-pregnancy weight at 2 months postpartum! What’s even more amazing is that exercise and healthy eating during pregnancy yielded similar results in all moms-to-be –whether they practiced healthy habits before pregnancy, or only began exercising during early pregnancy. The study also confirmed that a healthy diet and exercise program does not contribute to low birth weight in babies, instead, it contributes to babies being born within a normal, healthy weight range!

This is an exciting breakthrough, since so many women (up to 70% in North America) struggle with postpartum weight loss. By proactively targeting strength and stamina activities during pregnancy, prenatal exercise gives women an opportunity to jump-start their postpartum fitness and reach their after-baby weight goals faster. Several studies show that hanging on to excess weight after baby can contribute to health complications and emotional stress (including postpartum depression), both of which can be significantly reduced by prenatal exercise. These amazing benefits can be reached in just a few workouts a week, and by implementing healthy eating habits.

If your doctor approves you for exercise during pregnancy try starting with some of the Knocked-Up Fitness simple, effective exercises, including Exercising During Pregnancy Can Help Prepare You for Life as a Mom! and remember to listen to your body


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Check Out These Tips From Knocked-Up Fitness:




American College of Sports Medicine


3 Reasons You Should Be Swimming!


Swimming during pregnancy can be fantastic for your body and help you feel
great. If you’re cleared for exercise, here are three reasons why you’ll love
getting to the beach or the pool during your pregnancy.

1) Swimming can help reduce aches and pains. Since swimming is a low
impact activity, it can really help alleviate strain on joints and muscles. You’ll
also be buoyant in the water, so you can take a break from any extra
pregnancy weight or swelling and feel weightless.
2) It’s an amazing exercise! As a cardio activity, you can get your heart rate
up while swimming laps, treading water, or even doing gentle on-the-spot
jogging in the shallow end– and since water provides some resistance, you’ll
be working you’re muscles too! Its also a safe exercise to perform during
most stages of pregnancy since you’re in the water and won’t risk tripping or
3) You can make it family time– or ‘me’ time. Enjoy some time in the water
with your other little ones, your partner, or some time just to yourself. When
baby is here you’ll probably be busy– so you’ll be happy you spent some
quality time relaxing and enjoying the water!
Please keep in mind you should always listen to your body and are never
uncomfortable or struggling through an exercise. Always follow swimming
regulations and check for a lifeguard, especially if you are new to swimming.

It’s also easy to forget to stay hydrated when you’re in the water, so make
sure you’re drinking an appropriate amount of fluid for the time you spend

“Swimming helped my nausea to go away with my 2nd pregnancy and have
been told by other pregnant mamas it helped them as well, so it’s worth a try
to get in the pool. You never know, you may just absolutely love it! I know I
couldn’t wait to get in the pool since that’s the only time that I actually didn’t
feel sick for a couple months during my 2nd pregnancy.” ~Erica


~ Julianna

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Knocked-Up Fitness in Pregnancy Magazine!


Check out Pregnancy Magazine’s latest issue to find featured my Knocked-Up Fitness Prenatal DVD and Digital Programs! Plus lots of other great pregnancy and baby products too.



Pregnancy Magazine’s Mom and Baby Guide includes the Knocked-Up Fitness Prenatal DVDs and Digital Programs  featured as a “What we’re loving right now” product! (located on the last pages of the magazine) My DVDs and Digital Programs offer a variety of workouts, so you can customize and change your workout every day!


Don’t miss anything! Sign up for the Knock Out Mama’s Newsletter, with exclusives, promo’s, free printables, and more!

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See Pregnancy Magazine Here



Stay Fit & Healthy During Pregnancy with Knocked-Up Fitness {Video}


The path to regaining your pre-baby body begins during pregnancy.

Knocked-Up Fitness(R) is designed to be an effective &  fun way for expecting moms to stay active and in shape through all stages of pregnancy. The program includes a variety of exercises that specifically target and strengthen deep core muscles safely. Strengthening deep core muscles helps prepare your body for labor, delivery and recovery.

prenatal_program_templateDVD 1: Pilates-Infused Fitness

Discover the challenge and many benefits of this unique Prenatal Pilates-Infused Fitness program that fuses Pilates, cardio, and conditioning exercises for safe, effective and customized fitness. Mix and match the 5 different workouts to form your favorite routines!

DVD 2: Prenatal Core Pilates Workouts
True core building moves focus on the deep muscle of the abdominals. Discover how to safely strengthen your core and protect your baby with these unique Prenatal Core Pilates workouts — a mix of Core Cardio, Pilates, Yoga, and other fitness exercises.

Equipment needed for these workouts includes: an exercise ball, a light resistance band (included), a light pair of 2-3 lb. dumbbells (optional, but recommended), and a pillow (optional).

Available in a 2 DVD set (which includes a FREE exercise band) & now via Digital Streaming!


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7 Tips for Effective After-Baby Exercise


Giving your body time to heal after pregnancy and delivery is a key part of achieving your postpartum fitness goals.  By starting out slowly and listening to your body, you can effectively progress into an exercise routine that gets you the results you want– starting right after delivery!




1. Start your kegels ASAP– no really, I mean as soon as baby is out!  Working on your pelvic floor muscles is pretty easy, and its imperative to your total-body fitness!

2. Begin light walking if the doctor gives permission.

3. Wait for your postpartum visit (usually 6 weeks) before starting any challenging routine. Your body needs time to heal safely!

4. Avoid crunches until at least 8 to 10 weeks (longer if you had a C-section) & be sure to check for abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti) before progressing to more challenging ad exercises but wait until at least 6 to 10 weeks postpartum before you check.



5. Avoid over stretching! Just like during pregnancy, in the weeks following delivery the relaxin hormone may stay present for around 8 weeks postpartum, this makes you more susceptible to injury and can actually further postpone your ability to intensify your exercise routine!

6. Avoid inner thigh stretches if you had a vaginal delivery until you feel everything has healed properly ‘down there’. Choosing to wait until your postpartum exam if you experienced a severe tear or had an episiotomy might be ideal, to be sure scar tissue has minimized.

7. Work your way backwards. Start back into strength and cardio training with the level of intensity you were comfortable with towards the end of your pregnancy. After each workout you can guage how much more (or less) your body is ready for at this time. Slowly increase the intensity and duration by listening to your body.

General Postpartum Guidelines:
* Aim to workout 30 minutes most days of the week
* A short workout , even just 10 minutes is better then no workout
* Strength train 2 to 4 times per week. Yes–that includes pilates, yoga and weight training!

* Keep up those healthy habits with The Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom 21-day program.

Here are 2 workouts to get you started!
Pregnancy & Newborn 6 week fitness series: week 1 & week 2

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