Attaining Muscle Tone
There are many different ways to exercise the Kegel muscles, but before we describe the ways, remember these three easy tips:
1. Do them religiously.
2. Do them anywhere.
3. Do them for life.
The Quick Moves Exercise
The first exercise to try is “quick moves.” Remember that you can do these sitting, standing, lying, or even squatting — whatever position works best for you. You can even do them in multiple settings for maximum effectiveness.
To do Kegels, simply squeeze the muscles in a set of five quick repetitions. As your muscle tone improves you can do groups of 10 repetitions for a better workout. Keep repeating this Kegel exercise until you can't feel your muscles anymore or until you have reached 100 repetitions.
This simple series of quick moves will reinforce the location of the muscles. If you have previously had problems isolating them and moving only the Kegel muscles, repeated exercise will bring about better control of the area. The problem should disappear as you begin to gain strength and tone in your Kegel muscle.
When doing your Kegels, remember that you should only be moving the muscles inside your body. If you find yourself squeezing your glutes or thighs together, you need more practice!
The Tightening Exercise
From the quick moves exercise you will move to the next stage of Kegels, which is just a tad more involved. While tightening only your Kegel muscles, as with quick moves, you will now hold the muscle tightly for one to two seconds. Then, release the tension and repeat for a set of 10 repetitions. You can build the time you flex the muscle from five to 10 seconds, depending on your comfort level.
Do these tense, hold, and release Kegels at least 100 times a day. You can always do more. The goal of 100 repetitions per day should be your minimum.
The Elevator Exercise
The next step to the Kegel series is often referred to as an elevator exercise. In whatever position you choose, begin with a relaxed muscle and think of this as the first floor. Slowly tighten the muscles, as an elevator would go up to each floor, and hold the tightness as you go, increasing it slowly with each floor. When you reach the top floor of your muscle, slowly return the elevator to the first floor.
The number of floors you can add will depend on the strength of the muscle. Some women can work their way up to five, while other manage fewer. The number of floors is not as important as properly doing the exercise.
How do I know if I'm doing it right?
If you are doing Kegels correctly, you will not be tightening other muscles like your buttocks or thighs. You will be isolating this internal muscle and not straining other ones in the process.
An advanced version of the elevator exercise takes your muscles on a tour of the floors with the last stop being the basement. To do this you will actually try to bulge your Kegel muscle out slightly. This should not be a harsh or forceful movement, but it will help you greatly in awareness of your body, particularly when it is time to push your baby into the world.
Pushing is nothing more than bulging that baby's head into the bottom floor of your perineum. Some women like to think of this as a reverse Kegel. This awareness will help you be able to control the focus of your pushing phase in labor. You will have great awareness of the Kegel muscles and as you identify them during this last stage of labor, you will be able to push more effectively.
Starting slowly is the way to approach any exercise. It is the same with Kegel exercises. The more you do Kegels, the easier they are to do and the more you are able to do, not to mention you will find them becoming a habit the more often you do them.
While these muscles may seem to tire very quickly and become numb, the more you exercise them, the more endurance they will develop. Kegel muscles also tend to recover very quickly from their workout.
Once you have mastered the basic Kegels and have found that you are ready to move on, it's now time to try Super Kegels. Begin by tightening the Kegel muscles as tightly as you can for a count of 10 and then release. Do a set of 10 repetitions at least once a day.
There will be times, for personal or medical reasons, that you may wish to incorporate vaginal weights into your Kegel exercise session. Your practitioner might recommend these weights to help you increase muscle strength in the Kegel muscle.