Read the directions and watch the short video before performing the SET.
1. Pelvic Party Level 3 or 4 (15 reps)
This is a progression from SET 2.
A reminder of the levels—
Level 1: Supine
Level 2: Sitting
Level 3: Standing
Level 4: Squatting
- Stand with feet hip width apart or squat as low as is comfortable.
- Put your hands on your ribs.
- Breathe in. Try to feel the air gently push your ribs outward. If you can’t feel anything, put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in again. Where do you feel the most movement? Try for a movement in your lower ribs. You’ll still feel air in your chest and abdomen, but you also want to feel your rib cage move. You should feel your pelvic floor gently lower as you breathe in.
- Now breathe out. Feel your ribs compress a little. At the same time, lift your pelvic floor in and up. Your transverse abdominis might co-contract. This is good. If it doesn’t, GENTLY contract it by pretending the two sides of your hips are trying to meet along your bikini line.
Note: If you have pelvic floor tightness or pain, spend most of this time relaxing the pelvic floor, rather than lifting it.
2. Chair Churning (20 reps)
Postpartum women need to work their abdominals without overloading them. Although the TvA gets a lot of attention, the rectus abdominis should also be loaded. Indeed, most research on inter-recti distance (the distance between the rectus muscles) shows that the distance DECREASES during crunch type movements and INCREASES during isometric abdominal hollowing, such as “pulling belly to spine.” Therefore, don’t be afraid of spinal flexion. This exercise is like a chair sit-up, but more fluid and weirder. If your lower back hurts, either remove the resistance band completely, or avoid the tucking motion.
- Sit in a chair, starting in a posture that feels stable.
- Wrap a resistance band around the chair and hold the ends in your hands with your elbows bent to 90 degrees.
- Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your torso in neutral. As you lean forward, straighten your arms overhead.
- Then, tilt your pelvis under (a tucking) and pull your torso back up to its starting position.
- At the same time, push your arms out to the side and then back to their starting position. It should feel fluid.
This exercise might be a little controversial because you are tucking your pelvis while also using a resistance band, thereby providing some load while in a flexed position. But don’t be scared. The amount of load in this exercise is negligible. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t hurt, so if it does, change up the exercise. To work the abdominals only, remove the resistance band. To work the shoulders only, remove the tilt.
3. Pull Apart and Hover with Resistance Band (15 reps)
As with the row, your back muscles should be the prime movers. Your abdominals are stabilizers.
- Kneel on the floor with your feet touching and knees slightly wider than hip width (the feet create a triangle with your knees).
- Hold a folded over resistance band in front of your chest. Keep your arms straight and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Exhale and pull apart the resistance band while hovering backward.
- Inhale and return to starting.
Only hover as far back as you can maintain a contraction in the pelvic floor and abdominals during the pull-apart. You should feel this in your trapezius (upper back and neck) and abdominal muscles.
4. Resistance Band Shoulder Raise and Leg Lift (8 reps/side)
This is another shoulder exercise, but one that requires more balance and works your butt. You may be tempted to overarch your lower back or lift up your chest to achieve this balance. You don’t want to do that.
Therefore, pay close attention to your posture, making sure your ribs are stacked above your pelvis.
- Hold the resistance band in both hands.
- Step on the band with your left foot.
- Stagger your right foot slightly behind your left.
- Position your hands palms facing out.
- Exhale. Press the resistance band straight up in the air.
- As you do this, lift your right leg backwards and slightly diagonal, without bending any part of the leg. You will feel the movement in your butt.
- Inhale and return to starting. Do all the reps on one side and then switch legs, this time stepping on the resistance band with the right leg and lifting the left leg diagonally and to the back.
5. Push-Ups (15 reps)
Level 1: Wall
Level 2: Plyometric Wall
Level 3: Lower the Incline Progressively
The push-up has an awesome literal name. You push up.
Traditional push-ups vigorously work the abdominals. However, you don’t want to overload the pelvic floor or lose the abdominal contraction.
Therefore, figure out what incline is right for you. Start at the wall. Move to a countertop, then a chair, and eventually onto the floor with legs bent or straight.
- No matter the incline, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Maintain a controlled line from your head through your feet (if on an incline) or through your knees (if on the floor). Do not let your lower back arch toward the floor. Indeed, if staying in a neutral spine is too difficult, feel free to slightly flatten the lower back.
- Inhale as you bend your elbows and lower yourself as far as you can maintain control.
- Exhale as you push yourself back up (i.e. on exertion). Make sure your pelvic floor stiffens and lifts against the intra-abdominal pressure.
You can make this exercise harder at any incline by turning it into a plyometric push-up.
When coming up from a plyometric push-up, push yourself away from whatever surface you are using, then go directly into the downward phase when landing. Even though you are pushing yourself off the wall or floor, make sure the movement is controlled. Do not rely on uncoordinated momentum.
Watch the Video
That’s it for SET 3!
The goal is to repeat each SET two times through.