tummy safe workouts

All that junk!

Fergie working it with Will.i.am in the “My Humps” official video

Fergie working it with Will.i.am in the “My Humps” official video

So many songs have been written about the shape of a woman’s derriere we can be reminded fairly frequently that having some “junk in your trunk” is a good way to go.  Whether your butt is big or small the most important thing is that the muscles within work really well as those muscles are pretty central to everything else that happens in the body.  As a Mum the tendency is for our butt muscles to sag (let’s face it, everything else is!!) and “Mum Bum” becomes an actual reality, often accompanied by low back pain, pelvic floor weakness and posture changes through the rest of the body.  Now I don’t care what your butt or mine looks like, what I care about is that the flat look indicates underused muscles and when your buttocks are underused your whole system is not working cohesively - your buttocks are 3 set of gluteal muscles, plus a number of deep hip rotators in the pelvis most recognisably, collectively called your “glutes” and they attach in and across the pelvis and out to the hip joint, also connecting with the fascia (connective tissue) of the quad, hamstring and hip flexor muscles and upwards they connect with the fascia of the lower back, core system and large shoulder organising/moving muscles of the lats.  Plus very importantly when in comes to the movement Mums do and need to do on the daily, the glutes/deep hip rotators are completely connected with the pelvic floor - tight glutes = tight pelvic floor / weak glutes = weak pelvic floor.  In general terms we know that all muscles in the body are connected but the glutes/buttock muscles drive movement up into the trunk and upper body and down through the hip, knee and into your ankle.  So if you have a weak ankle that often rolls, look to strengthen the glutes, and if you have a clunky, hard to strengthen shoulder, look to work on exercises that strengthen both the glutes and shoulders together keeping in mind the fascial connection between the 2 areas.  

When it comes to the pelvic floor and the glutes connection, there are 3 things you can consider:

  1. How do you stand?  The standard playground posture for Mums is hips swayed forwards, knees locked back and ribcage dropped back and down - when you’re tired and this is your 4000th trip to the park that week you go into energy saving mode which means hanging off your hips.  The problem is to do this posture your glutes stay squeezed on all the time and they are not those sorts of muscles, they don’t like being switched on all the time so they get weakened by holding that position.  When we stand with hips pressed forwards it also means the pelvic floor is locked on and unable to relax or contract. 

  2. How you use your glutes.  As I’ve said above, the most important thing with the glutes is whether you are “switching them on and off”. Your glute muscles work best - and that means support your body and help it function well - when they go from some stretch to some contraction.  To really wake the glutes up we need to stretch them in all directions they can go: twist, lengthen and flex, and then contract them in all ways.  During strengthening exercises and movements we need to set the body up so that the pelvis is in a “neutral” position to be able to help the glutes lengthen and then work and we work the whole buttock muscle group in 3 dimensions as frequently as possible - think of the actions football and rugby players do around a pitch: side to side, sprinting fast, jogging slow, one leg standing, jumping and diving.  I’m not saying that’s the only way to get good working glutes, but if you only work your muscles by going forwards to stand/sit, walk, occasionally jog and also stand with poor posture, your glutes are not going to be working optimally.

  3. Glutes = pelvic floor. If you go to squat, sit on a chair or the toilet, walk up stairs, bend down to load the dishwasher, pick up toys from the floor, or go to pick your kids up you are using your glutes/pelvic floor over and over again.  As we now know from all the above, we want our glutes to work well when we do use them so that means going through the squat movement with a fairly “neutral” spine, hinging at the hip joint instead of tucking the pelvis under (which would be the pelvis moving rather than the hip joint) and then lengthening through the back of the legs and glutes while you bend down/squat/sit which gets the glutes/pelvic floor in the right place to work strongly as you stand up.  This is especially important if you are holding a load - a large, screaming toddler for example - as you don’t want your pelvic floor to be in a weak position causing leaking, or for it to tighten up too much as a reaction to poor patterning so while the pressure builds up in your abdominal cavity it presses down on your pelvic floor causing you to be susceptible to prolapse.

If you have low back pain, can feel tightness or weakness in your pelvic floor, or get aches and pains in your hips, knees and feet, making glute strengthening (with the right form) a priority will be a major part of your rehab, preferably under guidance.

Not just a spare rib!

Today I've been inspired by chats I've had with a few of my clients about how important the position of ribs is for working your abs more efficiently which relates to your posture and how you use your whole upper body especially in weightbearing but also in any lower body work to be able to align well for efficient movement and use of the connection between upper and lower body (pelvic floor and glutes most essentially).

In this video I talk through why rib position is so important, how to think about visual cues for correction, and ways to help your body work effectively over time to get stronger over time.

Let me know any comments or questions you might have, I hope you find this interesting.

Day 23 - Morning wake up with some cows!

Saturday, Day 23 - I decided today that training in the dark just wasn’t all that lovely especially not with the rising evening damp and the cold creeping in even as I moved.  So when I got up (woken by the Ginger Nut needing a wee of course), I threw on some shorts and a top and went to a little bit of space in the field next to our campsite which has some logs and a tiny bit of flat ground to play around on.  The cows looked at me very curiously the whole time, but I guess by the time I started on the circuit and was making huffing and puffing noises they thought I was one of them!!                                         

As I was at least a day behind on the schedule to complete all of my 12 week programme in 26 days, I chose to do the pilates and strength sessions from Week 11, and the circuit session from week 10 one after each other.  A nice mobile intro in the pilates, a pre-activation strength session and then I’m nicely warmed up for the circuit.

The pilates session focussed on a mid-range flow of movements starting from standing, going through down dog/plank positions, and then onto all 4s and finishing with side-lying glute work.  The initial flow in standing is the signature Garuda pilates moves which I find hugely beneficial for mobilising a tight and uncomfortable mid-spine/ribs, and therefore ideal for a 15 minute flow when waking up, it’s then brilliant to challenge the whole body all together to bring everything right in and re-connect.


The exercises in the strength and circuit were:
1) Down Dog scap press - in a dog position, shrug shoulders up to ears and then squeeze them back down to mid back
2) Single leg deadlift - stand on one leg, balance extending other leg up behind, core and all squeezed in to middle, then stand quickly with drive to upright
3) Forearm donkey kicks - down on elbows, kick 1 leg up keeping it bent in same as start position
4) Bench straight leg kickbacks - kneel on bench with one knee and both hands, other leg straight down to floor, kick that leg back until it is horizontal with spine


1) Push-up with alt toe touch - do a push up and each time touch outside of one foot with hand
2) Alt side lunge to jump - side lunge, then back to centre and jump up both legs, then swap sides
3) Side plank with knee tucks - side plank on your knee, then extend your top arm and leg, then pull elbow and knee to touch in front of you then extend back out - repeat either for half the time or do 5 on each side before switching
4) Ski mogul switch hop burpees - start facing off at an angle, hop switching direction 3 times, on 3rd, stay and hands down to floor, feet out to burpee and back in and jump, then do the switches again ending up facing the other way next time you do the burpee.
5) Glute bridge with alternating overhead reach - a normal glute bridge, with one arm reach overhead and to the other side of your body, come all the way back down before repeating and switching arms.

The rest of the day was spent with the kids messing around in the little stream at the campsite, building dams, chasing fish and making potions - I sunbathed, read my book, drank tea (then wine) and ate biscuits - bliss!!