The Everygirl Podcast

Ditch Crunches: 9 Pilates Moves That Seriously Strengthen Your Core

Source: @liabartha
Source: @liabartha

Crunches may be the most basic ab workout, but it is not the most effective at getting results or building strength. With traditional crunches, you’re isolating only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but you’re leaving out the most critical part of the abs: the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the group of muscles commonly called the “core.” These muscles work with the deep abdominal, back muscles, and the diaphragm (breathing muscle) to support the spine. When it comes to your workouts, targeting the pelvic floor may be the secret to actually seeing results. 

That’s right: You can yoga-pose and Pilates-girl your way to a better abs, and celebrity trainer Lia Bartha is going to show you how. Bartha, the founder of B The Method, has worked with supermodels and actresses alike to strengthen, restore, and protect their bodies through her own method that involves pilates-based, low-impact movements. (Also, she has an Instagram feed that is totally #wellnessgoals). Read on to get the 411 from Bartha on the moves she recommends to target your pelvic floor.


Meet the expert
Lia Bartha
Celebrity Fitness Instructor and Founder of B The Method
A former dancer with scoliosis and multiple injuries, Bartha created B The Method, a mix of highly unique pilates-based, low-impact movements—with inspiration from dance and swimming—to strengthen, restore, and protect her own body. Since becoming a fitness expert, she has trained celebrities such as Martha Hunt and Aubrey Plaza.


Why is the pelvic floor so important?

When your pelvic floor is either too tight or too weak, it can cause many symptoms from pain with sex to inability to orgasm to leaky bladder or constipation. People don’t put enough emphasis on caring for this muscle group because they don’t know what it is, where to find it, and why it matters. The pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles located between the tailbone and pubic bone in the pelvis, and your workouts can have a huge impact on the health of your pelvic floor.

High-impact exercises, lifting heavy weights, jumping, clenching while working out, and not breathing properly can cause the pelvic floor to become too tight. This can lead to so many issues within the body. The same goes with not putting any care and emphasis on strengthening this muscle group.


Nine moves to help improve your pelvic floor


1. Happy baby

Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet in the air. Hold your big toes with your fingers, and press your tailbone down to the floor in a neutral pelvis. This position will actively stretch your pelvic floor and force it to relax. The hip stretch is amazing as well for getting flexible and comfortable in a variety of sexual positions.


2. Open butterfly stretch on a ball

Sit on top of a small stability ball, like this one, with your legs open wide. Lay your chest forward toward the ground with your arms straight on the floor. Rock your hips side to side on the ball. This position will actively stretch your pelvic floor while stimulating blood flow to your genitals.


3. Circle gut massage

Lay down on your stomach with the ball placed under your low abdominals and pelvis. It will fit right in that “v” muscle area. Circle your hips five times in one direction and then switch directions. This will stretch, massage, and reset the gut, hips, and lower abdominals that are used for movement during sex. Think of it like foreplay, warmup, or even a cool-down.


4. Bent leg circles

Lay on your back in a neutral pelvis and spine. Lift your legs into a tabletop position. Either lying flat or lifting your neck and shoulders slightly with hands clasped behind your head, start to circle your legs in opposite directions from each other. Then, repeat in the other direction. This move will strengthen the pelvic floor and inner thigh muscles while loosening up the hips. 


5. Moving frog plank

Get into a child’s pose with your feet tucked underneath. Lift your knees and press out into a plank position with a slightly externally rotated hip. Your toes are apart, and your heels are squeezed together. Now, push back on your arms and into a child’s pose position, but keep the knees hovered. This move will both stretch and strengthen the pelvic floor in a single exercise.


6. Core bridging

Lay on your back with your feet and knees in parallel. Start to tuck your hips up into a bridge but make sure not to clench the glutes. Lead the exercise from the lower abdominals, pelvic floor, and inner thighs. You won’t be able to lift as high, but you will definitely understand why this is good for orgasms when you get into the position. You will feel the connection to that pelvic region.