Read the directions and watch the short video before attempting the SET.
1. Funky March (15 reps)
I call this a Funky March because it combines a knee lift and hold with a pelvic tilt. This combination works the muscles isometrically and concentrically.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Lift one knee and pretend you are trying to push the knee down with the other hand. Maintain the isometric contraction for a beat. You should feel your abdominals contract. Switch legs and hands.
- Then, with both legs on the ground, do a pelvic tilt. A pelvic tilt involves tucking only your pelvis without moving your torso or legs. Make sure to untuck the pelvis before moving on to the next march.
2. Wall Squat and Lift (15 reps)
Level 1: Shallow squat
Level 2: 90 degree squat and heavier weight
Level 3: Pillow or pilates ball between thighs
- Squat with your back against a wall. Aim for a neutral spine (lower back neither arched too far nor pressed in).
- Hold one dumbbell or anything heavy (like a milk jug) between your legs. You can also use a resistance band (step on the band and hold the ends with both hands).
- On an exhale, lift the weight or resistance band to shoulder height, keeping the arms straight (but not locked). You should feel your pelvic floor and abdomen contract.
- On the inhale, lower the weight.
You can make this harder by deepening the squat, increasing the weight, or adding a folded pillow or pilates ball between your thighs (squeeze the ball on the lift).
As always, if your belly pooches, the exercise is too hard. If this happens, regress it by choosing a lighter weight or using none at all.
3. Elephant Tilt (15 reps)
Level 1: Both feet on ground
Level 2: Lift one foot
My daughter saw me doing this exercise and said I looked like an elephant, hence the name.
- Stand in neutral with your back against a wall and your legs in a shallow squat.
- On an exhale, push your lower back flat against the wall, only moving your pelvis.
- At the same time, raise your right arm above your head, keeping the arm straight.
- On an inhale, lower your arm and release the pelvic tilt back to neutral.
- Repeat, switching arms.
The exercise becomes markedly harder if you lift one foot off the floor as you tilt (either the same leg as your arm or the opposite leg). If you do this progression, make sure you don’t fall over or let your tummy pooch.
4. Marching Resistance Band Twist (15 reps)
Level 1: No march and/or twist
Level 2: One leg march with twist
Level 3: Lean back more and/or lift both legs
This is a variation of the ever popular abdominal exercise called the Russian Twist. Modify how far you twist based on how your abdomen feels, especially if you have diastasis recti. Twisting is not automatically contraindicated, but pay attention nonetheless.
- Sit on the floor with knees bent. In front of your chest, hold a resistance band with both arms straight.
- Lean your torso back while staying in a neutral posture. Only go as far as you can maintain control of your abdomen. You want to feel a challenging contraction, but not so challenging that you let everything go.
- Lift your right knee while moving your left hand to the side and following with your head and shoulders to twist towards the left (or you can remove the twist by simply moving your left arm but keeping your torso pointed forward).
- Return to starting and repeat on the other side. Do each side per rep.
5. The Vortex (30 seconds – 1 minute)
The vortex is a yogic mountain pose with a pillow (or ball) between your legs. I call it The Vortex because I want you to pretend a vortex above your head is trying to suck you in.
That sounds hokey, but try it. As the vortex pulls on you, ground yourself to the floor and press the pillow between your legs.
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Place a pillow or pilates ball between your thighs.
- Straighten your arms above your head and pretend like the vortex is sucking you up.