This article is written by medical professional Dr. Alice Byram, whom you can read more about at the end of the article.
You might have heard about Kegel exercises from friends, the media or even your midwife, as something you need to do regularly but it’s not always clear why Kegel exercises might be relevant to you.
Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are the base on which all the urinary and digestive organs such as the bladder and rectum sit. There are openings to let out urine (wee) through the urethra and feces (poo) through the rectum which the pubic floor muscles control.
Keeping your pelvic floor muscles toned can also lead to more intense orgasms! As you do kegel exercises, the muscles get stronger, which makes it easier to contract during orgasms, making them more intense. Another reason is that they also promote blood flow to the pelvic area.
If the muscles are toned then they will be stronger and less likely to let urine and feces pass through unintentionally. This is also known as incontinence and can affect anyone, not just women who have been pregnant.
How to find your pelvic floor muscles
Before you start any exercises, you will need to know how to find your pelvic floor muscles. They are internal muscles so the best way to find them is making them work. The next time you go to urinate, try to stop the wee midstream. The muscles you are using to do this are your pelvic floor muscles.
Once you know what that feels like you can try to do it in another setting, sat at your desk or waiting for a bus, for example. Another way of finding them is by washing your hands and then inserting a clean finger into your vagina. Try to clench onto your finger. Again, these are your pelvic floor muscles which you are contracting.
Like any training program, the key is consistency and it will take a few weeks to see and feel the results of your work. If you have had any pelvic floor surgery you should speak to your doctor about a programme tailored to your needs. These exercises can be part of a bladder retraining programme too.
Step-by-step guide with 6 different kegel workout routines that will take you from beginner to expert.
Phase One - Using your kegel to build up strength in your pelvic floor musclesRoutine 1 “Sit ’n’ squeeze”
Sit in a comfortable position (you can do this exercise anywhere). Then do:
- 5 quick squeezes
- 2-seconds long deep clench
Repeat three times = one set
Then let go, and relax your pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds. This is one set. Aim to do three sets of per day.
Recommended: one set, three times a day, every day.
Tip: set yourself an alarm to remind you of your daily sit’n squeezes.
Routine 2 “Long squeeze”
This routine is done while lying down, varying the way you contract your pelvic floor muscles as opposed to routine one which is done seated.
- Lie down and start activating your pelvic floor muscles by doing 5 short, tight squeezes
- Then do a 3-second deep clench. You should feel this one going deeper, causing a pulling sensation.
- Let go of the contraction for 3 seconds, then start tightening again.
Repeat this set three times.
Recommended: Daily before going to bed or getting up in the morning.
For best results, it is important to not only focus on short clenches but also to activate your pelvic floor muscles by doing deeper clenches. Your muscles should be strong enough to hold liquid while sneezing, coughing or laughing.
Phase Two - Advanced kegel exercises with a pelvic floor exerciser
Now you’ve mastered the basics let’s go to the next level with the introduction of a pelvic floor exerciser such as the Ruby Kegel Trainer.
Routine 3 “Travel-up clench”
Lie down, find a comfortable position and insert your Ruby Kegel Trainer into your vagina with or without lube. Lay your hands on your stomach, breathe normally and bend your knees.
- Now start clenching, pulling up the Ruby Kegel Trainer. Imagine it travelling up while doing the pulling-clench for approximately 5 seconds.
- Once you feel you’ve reached the peak of your clench at second 5, hold for another 3-5 seconds.
- Gently let the Ruby Kegel Trainer back down again, while exhaling for 5 seconds.
Repeat this set three times.
Recommended: three times a week.
Tip: Choose specific days for the Travel Up Clench. Try every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning. That way, you will start including the Kegel exercises into your routine. See below for more tips on how to incorporate these pelvic floor exercises easily into your routine.
Routine 4 “The Gravity-Travel”
Insert your Ruby Kegel Trainer while standing up, keeping your legs hip-distance apart.
- Start off by standing with your legs hip-wide apart. Try to hold the Ruby Kegel Trainer inside. If you are finding it too difficult, we recommend that you continue with routines 1-3 again for another week.
- Now do the 5-second travel up clench again, using the instructions in routine three.
You will find this exercise harder to carry out because gravity adds additional weight and resistance to the pelvic floor exerciser.
Recommended: three times a week. Use this one to gradually replace the “Travel Up Clench” part of your routine.
Phase Three - Toning exercises for even stronger pelvic floor muscles
Routine 5 “The Deep Clench”
- Insert the Ruby Kegel Trainer and lie on your back. Pull your bent knees towards your chest.
- Gently open up by letting them fall to each side, as far as they go. To be more comfortable, you can rest them a little further down.
- Now take a deep breath and contract your pelvic floor, while imagining your pelvis moving diagonally upwards. Hold for 10 seconds, try to make the contraction stronger with every second which goes past.
Release and pull your legs back to the centre, allowing yourself 5 seconds to relax. Repeat this set 3-5 times.
Recommended: every night before going to sleep or every morning before getting up.
Routine 6 “Marching Kegels”
- Insert the pelvic floor exerciser while standing up, keeping your legs hip-distance apart.
- Now, while keeping your pelvic floor muscles squeezed tight, lift your right leg (knee bent) up, as if you were running slow motion on spot.
- Do that 10 times, clenching even tighter every time you lift your knee, making sure you’re not losing the Ruby Kegel Trainer.
Relax for 10 seconds, both feet on the ground. Then switch to lifting up your left leg, doing the same exercise.
Recommended: three sets every second day.
Tip: This is a great exercise to add to your morning routine!
From Expert-Level Onwards - Best pelvic floor exercises
Experts will do their daily kegel exercises described above, then will leave the Ruby Kegel Trainer in for an additional 20 minutes while doing some errands around the house.
Experts will also be able to distinguish between the different parts of the pelvic floor muscles. You too will get to the point that you can do all the clench and squeeze exercises while targeting different muscle areas.
No Excuse Bonus Routines - To Do At Your Desk Or During Your Commute
Sit with your legs crossed over in a comfortable position. Take 10 short breaths through your nose, and clench your pelvic floor muscles every time you do so. Then, exhale and relax for 3 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
And you have our promise: nobody will realise that you are doing your Kegels
3 Tips On How To Include Kegel Exercises Into Your Daily Routine
- Set an alarm or calendar reminder on your phone with the name of the Kegel exercise you want to do.
- Make a playlist for doing the beginners Kegel exercises. Choose one specific song, and clench to the rhythm. Now every time you are doing your commute or at your desk and hear that song, clench and squeeze.
- Focus points: whether it is standing in front of your bathroom mirror, in front of a kitchen cupboard while cooking, or in front of your wardrobe while choosing your outfit, there are certain places you pass by daily. Turn them into Kegel Training Focus Points where you automatically start clenching. Put a sticky note there to remind you if necessary.
Ready to have healthier pelvic floor muscles? Order your Ruby Kegel here, in purple or turquoise.
Written by Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab
Dr Alice Byram was born in England to a French-British family. Following on from a degree in Spanish from the University of Cambridge, she went to Spain to study medicine. On her return to the UK, she worked in Emergency Medicine for several years before recently returning to Barcelona.