I subscribe to a website called “Girls Going Strong” and enjoyed one of their recent blogs “10 ways to train your core without crunches” (See the post here). I had a one major gripe with the article, and that was that it still interprets “core” as “abs”. If we take that out of it, and call it “10 ways to train your ABS without crunches” then it as a great article, and one that i am going to use today with my IntoMum and IntoGirls sessions.
I am going to make a few changes, however, for my mums:
- Firstly, i am going to triple-check that they are physically able to lift their pelvic floor whilst in a plank position.
- Then i am going to watch their bellies like crazy, to ensure there’s no doming in any position.
- I’m going to cue their SET breath with every rep, so that they cannot forget to lift their pelvic floor while their abs are squeezing the hardest.
- I am going to add thoracic and scapula movement where possible, because mums get “stuck” and this can increase downward pressure on their pelvic floor.
- Finally, i will turn them inside out and ensure their back and glutes are also included in this program, as i do not want to exacerbate the kyphotic “closed” mummy posture that so many women fall into post-babies!
You can watch my tips for a healthy pelvic floor here: http://www.thelovedestination.com/the-love-destination-expert-series/fitness-love-destination-expert-series/kegel-exercises-how-to-train-a-healthy-pelvic-floor/
The Girls Going Strong program with my tweaks goes like this:
- Pallof press – cue SET breath* on each press, and perform on a Power Plate
- Turkish get up – encourage them to roll on their sides before sitting up, and using their other hand to help push to a sitting position.
- Body saw – use a freeFORM board, perform on their knees, and cue SET breath on each extension.
- Roll out – ditto as above, and perform with just one arm at a time, in 3 different directions.
- Slow mountain climbers – cue the SET breath on the knee lift, and add a step over/scorpion movement for a stretch.
- Alligator crawl – no weight, using freeform boards under their knees.
- Fitball knee tuck – cue SET breath. You can see this here . Some people will be better off just holding this position and moving their head instead of trying to tuck. The tuck is very “hip flexor-y” when you’re tired.
- Half kneeling cable rotations – cue SET breath.
- Half kneeling woodchop with medicine ball – perform squatting, cue SET breath and encourage full hip extension to engage and drive through butt. If the mum has been coming a while she’ll be able to coordinate the short foot at the same time.
- Dead bug and variations – cue breath and watch belly, regress where necessary. Some ideas are here, please remember perfection and synchronisation with the breath is more important than how far your legs go!
- Hanging leg raise – probably won’t do! Mostly because most of my mums won’t have the forearm strength to hold themselves, and i’d worry that they were over-using their hip flexors in the knee raise. However, if they’re strong enough we could certainly give it a go!
*Learn more about the SET breath here
The SET breath and smart deep core training can be applied to pretty much any training modality, there really is NO excuse for ignoring it, especially training women. The areas where each woman will be strong or weak are different per person; constant reminding about their breath and lift, plus analysis of where they can and can’t engage, or what movements force a “leak”, is imperative if you plan to train this population well!