When it comes to your core muscles, one group often gets overlooked … until it gets to be a problem! That’s because when we think of our core, we usually only think of the muscles that wrap around our body’s midsection.
But did you know that your pelvic floor muscles are the FOUNDATION for your core?
They work very hard to support you – as well as all the organs that are inside your pelvic region. Keeping those muscles strong and fit can make a big difference in your body’s overall stability, as well as your digestive and reproductive organs.
This doesn’t just apply to women, BTW – men also benefit from having strong pelvic floor muscles. Strong pelvic floor muscles help with urinary and bowel control as well as sexual function. Many things can affect your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, obesity, constipation, surgery and/or radiation, and just getting older.
3 Exercises For Your Pelvic Floor
The trick with Kegels (for men AND women) is to isolate them without contracting your ab and glute muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise. To see how to perform these exercises check out the link to our core challenge workbook below.
It helps to think about lifting up the muscles at the front and back inside of your pelvis as high as you can and hold for 8 to 10 seconds, and then relaxing. Repeat 2-3 times … and then do a few reps a little faster, holding for 1-2 seconds each.
Make sure you breathe and really focus on targeting just your pelvic floor muscles!
Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, palms facing up toward the ceiling. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Engage your ab and glute muscles and push your low back into the floor, then press your hips up toward the ceiling, until you’re in a straight line from your knees to your hips to your shoulders.
Keeping your core and glutes engaged, hold for 2 to 3 seconds before lowering, and repeat for a total of 8-10 reps. (Make sure you breathe!)
3. BIRD DOG
Kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your hands flat on the ground under your shoulders.
Engage your core and keep your spine neutral as you reach your right arm straight in front of you while extending your opposite (left) leg behind you.
Think “long” and not “high” when lifting your arm and leg, with your hips and chest still facing the floor. If you find your back starts to sag or your hips rotate, only lift your arm and leg as high as you can while keeping good form.
Hold for 2-3 seconds then return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side, keeping the movements smooth and fluid.
Repeat for a total of 5 repetitions on each side.
Note: if you’re currently having problems with pelvic floor weakness it’s important to check with your doctor to find out the root cause, and to get their go-ahead to start working on correcting those issues.
That’s because if your pelvic floor is very weak, trying to strengthen those muscles can actually make the problem worse by over stressing them.
We have a great free resource on core strength if you want more info on strengthening your core! Join our free 5-day Stronger to the Core Challenge – you can sign up and download our guide here.