Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor | Increase Lower Body Strength
Women can experience a weakened pelvic floor postpartum or as they get older. Try these five exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles.
Kegels to Improve Pelvic Floor
Pelvic muscle training, or Kegels , is the practice of contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You may benefit from Kegels if you experience urine leakage from sneezing, laughing, jumping, or coughing, or have a strong urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine.
Main muscles worked: pelvic floor Equipment needed: none
Identify the right muscles. The easiest way to do this is to stop urination midstream. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
To perform Kegels, contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds.
Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.
If you do Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect results such as less frequent urine leakage within about a few weeks to a few months. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.
Squats to Improve Pelvic Floor
Squats engage the largest muscles in the body and have one of the largest payoffs in terms of strength improvement. When performing this fundamental move, ensure your form is solid before you add any resistance.
Main muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps Equipment needed: barbell
Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. If using a barbell, it should be rested behind your neck on your trapezius muscles.
Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked and neck neutral.
Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your weight in your heels and knees bowed slightly outward.
Straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
Complete 15 reps.
The bridge is a great exercise for the glutes. If done correctly, it also activates the pelvic floor muscles in the process. Even without weight, the pause and pulse of this move will have you feeling it.
Muscles worked glutes, hamstrings, pelvic floor Equipment needed: none
Lie on the floor. Your spine should be against the ground, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat, and arms straight at your sides with palms facing down.
Inhale and push through your heels, raising your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Your body resting on your upper back and shoulders should form a straight line down from the knees.
Pause 1–2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.
Complete 10–15 reps and 2–3 sets, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.
Take it to the next level
For an added challenge, complete this exercise on a stability ball. In the starting position, place your feet on the ball with your back flat on the ground and repeat the steps above.
Tabletop is a leg move that acts as the foundation of many moves in a Pilates workout. By adding the split, you’re activating your hips and pelvic floor muscles as well.
Muscles worked: abs, hips, pelvic floor Equipment needed: mat Start with your back on the floor and knees bent so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor.
Your abs should be braced and your inner thighs should be activated, legs touching.
In a controlled movement, begin to slowly split your legs so each knee falls outward, reaching a comfortable position.
Slowly raise back to the start.
Complete 10–15 reps and 3 sets.
An exercise in balance and stability, bird dog is a full-body move that makes you engage many muscles at once, including the pelvic floor.
Muscles worked: abs, back, glutes and hips Equipment needed: none
Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Your back should be straight and your neck should be neutral.
Brace your core and draw your shoulder blades down your back toward your hips.
To start the move, simultaneously straighten and raise your left leg and right arm, keeping your pelvis and shoulders in a neutral position. Don’t raise or lower your head. Hold for 2 seconds.
Bend and lower your leg and arm down back to the starting position while maintaining stability. Then switch, raising your right leg and left arm. This is 1 rep.
Complete 10 total reps and 3 sets.
Pregnancy and pelvic floor exercises
If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you can start doing pelvic floor exercises immediately.
The exercises will lower your chance of experiencing incontinence after having your baby.
Find out more in exercise in pregnancy