Tag Archives: Exercise

How ‘Good Fats’ Aid Fat Loss For The Post Natal Client

19 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness& Therapy Education, London, UK. 

www.burrelleducation.com


Ironically, after years of demonising FAT in general, the diet, health, fitness and food industry is having to re-communicate to the general public that not ALL fat is bad for us and indeed some fats are not only vital to optimum health but also aid fat loss.  One of the hottest Essential Fatty Acids (good stuff)  for female health and fat loss is Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).

Along with a ‘considered’ diet and daily exercise at an optimum intensity to effect the utilization of fat as energy, GLA supplementation has shown to be a highly effective component of fat loss programmes alongside its already well know effect on easing many of the negative symptoms associated with the female menstrual cycle such as breast tenderness, moodiness, depression, irritability and swelling and bloating from fluid retention.  All in all, GLA has a valuable role to play in times of ‘endocrine turbulence’ such as the early Post Natal period and when women are seeking to lose ‘baby fat’.

Why Does GLA Work?

  • In textbook terms, GLA can be synthesized from Linoleic acid, which is found in certain oils, grains, and seeds. But due to a number of common dietary and lifestyle factors in today’s society, most of our bodies don’t make that conversion.
  • The main metabolic roadblocks are trans fats (man-made fats found in crisps, biscuits, cakes, processed foods), sugar, smoking, alcohol, aging, and illnesses such as diabetes.
  • All of these factors affect the body’s ability to convert Linoleic acid into GLA and efficiently burn fat.
  • GLA has a key role in activating under-active fat in overweight people known as brown adipose tissue (BAT) to burn calories.
  • GLA is found (in the largest quantities) naturally in seed oils like Starflower oil (20-24% GLA) and Evening Primrose oil (18-20%).
  • Supplementing with either of these oils will assist the mechanism that will allow the body to get down to the business of burning excess fat.
  • Simply put, GLA has a key role in activating under-active fat burn calories.
  • Many researchers now believe that many overweight people are actually metabolically impaired when it comes to their ability to use energy from their fat stores.  Of course, the other modern factors such as a lack of exercise, a toxic environment, consumption of toxic processed foods etc., etc., just doesn’t help either!

A diet that includes supplementation with a high quality multivitamin, minerals and EFA’s (Evening Primrose Oil or Starflower Oil included) to ensure optimum nutrition is obtained daily is a great place to start for anyone seeking to embark upon a healthy lifestyle and fat loss . In my experience, Post Natal clients who commence and stick to an optimum supplementation programme especially after a period of depletion such as during Pregnancy  often experience  a marked decrease in food cravings, an improvement in general mood and mental well-being and an increase in energy, vitality and ability to rest.  And we all know just how priceless posessing those qualities in daily life are, especially for a new mom.

NB: Always seek the advice of a specialist HCP when providing nutrition and supplementation advice for a Pregnant or breastfeeding Post Natal client if you are not certified to do so yourself.

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

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Why Those Cardio Machines ARE NOT Your Best Weapon For Post Baby Fat Loss!

16 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist REPs Endorsed Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness& Therapy Education, London, UK. 

www.burrelleducation.com


Human Growth Hormone (hGH) – The Key To The Post Baby Fat Loss Kingdom??

Some Key Points:

  • hGH is a hormone that is produced by the Pituitary Gland in the brain. Production peaks during the teenage years and slowly declines with age.

hGH plays aHUGELY significant and varied role in your system:

  •  Fat metabolism
  •  Growth of all tissues
  •  Energy level
  •  Tissue repair
  •  Whole body healing
  •  Cell replacement
  •  Bone strength
  •  Brain function
  •  Sexual function
  •  Organ health and integrity
  •  Enzyme production
  •  Integrity of hair, nails, skin and vital organsh

hGH is responsible for the rapid growth during childhood – and for the repair and regeneration of human tissue throughout our lives. By the time we reach the age of 30, our HGH levels are only about 20% of their peak levels during childhood, and after the age of 30, they continue to decline at about 12 to 15% per decade.  By the time most of us are 30 years old, our bodies no longer produce enough HGH to keep pace with the cellular damage that is occurring in our bodies.  As our hGH levels continue to decline, the damage that we collectively call ‘ageing’ accelerates.

The NOT SO GREAT News:

  • Studies have shown that obese adults have lower levels than normal-weight adults.
  • This can makes fat loss for the woman giving birth late ie., over 35, especially challenging.

The WONDERFUL News:

A 2003 study published in the British Journal Sports Medicine found that “exercise intensity above lactate threshold (when you ‘feel the burn’) and for a minimum of 10 minutes appears to elicit the greatest stimulus to the secretion of hGH.”
So…………

How Can We Increase The Natural Secretion of hGH to Boost Fat Loss and Gain The Other Health Benefits For the Post Baby Client?

It’s not rocket science here, but people still stuggle to understand the off-the-scale value of implementing these basic tasks into their lifestyle…

  • Get More Sleep
  • Drink More Water
  • Moderate/Reduce Your Starchy Carbohydrate & Sugar Intake
  • Eat More Protein
  • Exercise at the Right Intensity & For the Right Length of Time!  Remember: Lactate Threshold & Add Resistance Training – forget long slow cardio (not unless you’re using it as a low intensity leisure pursuit – a long walk in nature is great for the soul!) and swap to short intense bursts.

Sleep
Since the largest hGH surge in a normal day tends to occur around one hour after the onset of night-time sleep, it is vital for anyone seeking fat loss to get plenty of sleep. If the quality and quantity of sleep is inadequate there will be a reduction in the volume of hGH secreted with negative consequences for fat loss. For most people, ‘sufficient sleep’ people means around seven to eight hours.

Water
It is also important to drink plenty of water during your waking hours and more when exercising, as dehydration has been shown to significantly reduce the exercise-induced hGH response. 1 ½ – 2 litres per day is a good starting guide.

Carbohydrates & Protein
Research has also shown how high-carbohydrate diets tend to switch off hGH secretion. Many fat loss expert suggest avoiding sugar for two hours post exercise but ensuring that at least 25g protein is consumed immediately preferably in liquid form for quick absorbtion (a non sugary protein shake) or a protein bar, lean poultry, meat or eggs as protein has been shown to enhance hGH secretion too.

The Right Intensity & Quantity of Resistance Training – Quality over Quantity Every Time!

Exercising at a higher than average intensity results in the biggest volume of hGH secretion in response to a single exercise bout, with levels of the hormone declining gradually over a period of an hour. Research has also shown that multiple (3) short daily sessions of whole-body resistance training can give rise to optimal hGH secretion over a 24-hour period. Another showed an even larger human growth hormone hGH peak in response to sprints on an exercise bike.

Ultimately, to boost your hGH production and blitz your post baby fat stores you need to ensure that when you exercise on your ‘metabolic’ exercise days you….

  • Get hot
  • Get sweaty
  • Get out of breath
  • Feel the lactate burn in your muscles
  • In short bursts, work until you feel truly challenged

A suggested exercise strategy for optimizing hGH secretion through exercise is as follows:  Perform 3-4 short ‘metabolic’ sessions per week, each involving at least 10 minutes’ work above lactate threshold. Keep total workout time to between 20-30 mins and include a variety of styles and principles to maintain muscle confusion. Work hard, keep it short and sweet  and ULTIMATELY, BE CONSISTENT AND THE MAGIC WILL HAPPEN!

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3 Excellent ‘Core and Floor’ Exercises for the Post Natal Client

15 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons) – Founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com)
Specialist Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy Education

For rationale on grading the PN client as Level 1 to 4, please see blog article entitled: ‘5 VITAL Steps to Post Natal Fitness Programming’ – Posted in January 2012.

1.  Kneeling Scapular Retraction & Abdominal Scooping – Looks simple but there’s a lot’s going on here.  This exercise is great for activating the lumbar and thoracic musculature/fascia.  Holding the kneeling hip flexion position ‘turns’ on this musculature and fascia whilst simultaneously performing scapular retraction by pulling the band wide activates deconditioned thoracic musculature.  TVA/PF activation occurs as the client aims to withstand the pull of gravity on her abdominals by activating TVA and its synergist PF. Suitable for Levels 3 & 4 clients.  If the client is unable to activate TVA and keep her abs pulled in as she works, this position is too advanced for her.  You can regress this exercise by performing it in a standing position (still with hip flexion) to reduce the effect of gravity on still weakened abdominal muscles.

2.  Assisted Heel Drops – One for the Pilates massive! – I teach this in the ‘flat back’ or ‘imprint’ lumbar position for the PN client to off-set and de-train her anterior tilted pelvis and to assist in lengthening shortened lumbar musculature and fascia.  The flat back also ensures that the lengthened abdominals are being re-strengthened in a shortened position.  An early PN exercise (Level 2 onwards).  Client gently holds here knees as she works, ensuring the at TVA activation and the lumbar position is maintained throughout.  As the client progresses, the hands can be placed on the floor as she works.  You might find that early returning C-Section clients might first need to be regressed to  HEEL SLIDES before progressing onto these ASSISTED HEEL DROPS.

3.  Kneeling Straight Arm Press Downs with NEUTRAL PELVIS!  – A great way to strengthen the abdominals without creating the usual intra-abdominal pressure associated with crunches.  Emphasize NEUTRAL PELVIS and TVA activation at all times to ensure the abdominals are not strengthened in a lengthened position and the Pelvic Floor muscles are in the perfect position to be activated.  Start and finish positions are shown.  Suitable for Levels, 2,3 and 4 clients.  In forder to ensure total core activation, cue the client to exhale as she simultaneously presses her arms downwards and draws her belly-button towards the spine.  This will have a synergistic benefit to the pelvic floor muscles and muscles and fascia of the lumbar region.

Caveat:  This information is intended for use by Certified Specialist Professional seeking inspiration when programming for the Post Natal client.  If you are a mom looking for suitable exercises after your baby, please seek professional help/advice before commencing any exercise programme.

Need to modernize your exercise prescription for your Post Natal clients?

The next Burrell Education ‘Modern Post Natal Exercise & Exercise Prescription’ REPs Endorsed CPD Course in London, UK.

 Friday 15th June, 2012 – SOLD OUT!

New ‘Overflow Date’ – FRIDAY 22ND JUNE – BOOK EARLY! This WILL sell out!

Visit www.burrelleducation.com for more details of the next courses and securing your place.


Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

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How to Improve Your 10K Time – By Andy DuBois

9 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com)
Specialist Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy Education

Ok, so I’m 3 weeks out from the Run For Congo Women 10K here in London (Regents Park – Sunday 3rd June)!   I’m also doing the warm-up, which should be interesting 🙂

http://www.runforcongowomen.org/

Anyway, I’m finally starting to feel like a runner again and getting a bit keen, so I asked my good friend, former colleague and uber-awesome fitpro Andy Dubois, who’s in Sydney – yes – Australia – to share with us, his top 3 tips for running faster.  He knows a thing or two about this a) he runs ultra-distance – nuff said! b) that’s him below – nuff said!

I asked him to give us 3 tips that cover performing intervals, strength training to boost speed and fuelling for success.  So here they are – thanks Andy!

To Improve Your 10k Time

Speed Session

400 metre repeats at a pace that is slightly faster than your target 10k pace. So if you aim to run 50 minutes for 10km then look at running your 400 metres in 1 min 50 seconds. Jog slowly for 60-90 seconds and aim to perform 8-12 repetitions.

If you don’t have access to a track simply run for 2 minutes at slightly faster than race pace then jog easily for 60-90 seconds and repeat 8-12 times.

Strength Exercise

Outside

One of the best strength exercises for runners when approaching competition is hill sprints. Find a hill that takes around 10 seconds to run up. Once you are warmed up sprint uphill, focusing on driving the arms , lifting the knees and long , powerful strides. Rest for about 60 seconds in between each effort and repeat 10 times

In the Gym

In the final month before a race the focus needs to be on speed not strength. Plyometrics are perfect for this. Jump Lunges are an excellent exercise that can be performed by anyone with a basic level of strength in their legs. Simply stand with one foot forward , quickly squat down , jump up and bring your back leg forward and your front leg back so that you land with the other leg forward. Upon landing immediately jump back up again and swap legs. Perform as many reps in 20-30 seconds as you can and then give yourself a good 1-2 minutes rest before repeating the exercise twice more.

It is not necessary to bend the knees that much when landing , a 20-30 degree bend will be plenty. Focus on keep your ground contact time as short as possible.

Fuelling Before Speed Sessions

Despite what sports drink manufacturers would have you believe it is not essential to consume sports drink during a speed session. As long as you have eaten something 2-3 hours before your session you will be fine. If however you run first thing in the morning or after 4-5 hours after a meal then you may need something to pick your blood sugar levels up so a sports drink may come in handy, a slice of toast or banana would be just as good.

Thanks to the power of the internet, Andy also does remote coaching, his details are below:

0432 838 241
www.mile27.com.au
He also has a great blog too !

Passionate About Pregnancy & Post Natal Health & Fitness Education FOREVER! 

Connect With Me on FACEBOOK and Twitter

At Last….The 21st Century ‘Eat Well’ Plate!

5 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy, London, UK.

www.burrelleducation.com

The NO-DIET FAT LOSS 10 COMMANDMENTS

1.        INSULIN IS ONE OF OUR MASTER HORMONES IN TERMS OF FAT LOSS  – TO PREVENT FAT BEING STORED WE NEED TO GOOD CONTROL OVER IT.  For most people this means 3 things, reduce/moderating their intake of STARCHY CARBS, CUTTING BACK ON ALCOHOL AND AVOIDING SUGAR – YOUR OVERALL DAILY INTAKE SHOULD LOOK LIKE THE PLATE ABOVE.

2.       Eat more protein especially in the morning (first meal of the day), it sets the scene for your intake for the remainder of the day ie., you will crave less carbs.

3.       Focus on avoiding C.R.A.P – NOT COUNTING CALORIES!  Limit starchy carbs, refined sugar, alcohol and packaged/processed foods.

4.       Keep well hydrated – aim for 2 litres of water a day – add a little Himalayan mountain salt and  the juice of ½ a lemon to ‘supersize’. Water is VITAL TO FAT LOSS.

5.       Supplement – Omega 3 and a High Quality Multi-Vitamin & Mineral  daily– GOOD FATS ARE VITAL TO FAT LOSS, they will also keep your blood sugar levels much more even and ward of cravings for not-so-great-for-you fatty foods.

6.       Perform 20 mins of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 3-4 times per week that involves whole body movements – THIS PUSHES YOUR BODY TO BURN MORE FAT. You need to get HOT, SWEATY, OUT OF BREATH AND YOUR MUSCLES NEED TO BURN.  Intensity and brevity are king.  Forget about hours on the treadmill.  Get going, work hard, go home!

7.       Increase your general level of walking and lower level activity on the days when you are not performing HIIT.

8.       Perform some kind of stretching daily & prioritize rest/quiet time – INACTIVITY IS JUST AS VITAL AS ACTIVITY. Have a go at resurecting the noble art of doing NOTHING!

9.       Identify your stressors and start work to eradicate or minimize them – STRESS MAKES YOU FAT!

10.   Base your daily intake and actions on the fact that: YOU ONLY GET 1 BODY, WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT OUR HEALTH AND VITALITY. Movement and great nutrition are your way of showing daily gratitude for the body and health you have been gifted.

Do you need 25 snappy, easy to understand articles like this one specifically for your Pre/Post Natal clients?

Visit www.burrelleducation.com

to view the titles of 25 expertly written articles perfect for your newsletter and blog.  I’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to :-).

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Training Women? They Hate This…C-Section ‘Overhang’ :-(

2 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy, London, UK.

www.burrelleducation.com

Ok, this is not a sexy, wow, bang, pop, post.  But it is important if you have anything to do with women who have had babies.  I don’t know it all but I’ve had a lot of experience of dealing with this question and maybe along this journey, if you follow this series of posts we will have started a started a conversation and a process of enquiry regarding a subject area that not many women are happy to discuss but are very troubled by – the dreaded C-Section ‘overhang’!!!!!!!!!  With nearly a quarter of the births in the UK occuring via C-Section and much more elsewhere, especially the USA (check out www.csectionrates.com) it’s a pretty big deal for a growing number of women.

Just a quick Google search of the term and a troll around various mom-centric sites shows that it is worrying, annoying and confusing for a lot of women.  There seems to be little information on WHAT CAUSES IT and HOW TO GET RID OF IT!  And indeed, lots of women also complain of the ‘overhang’ situation even after having a vaginal birth!  Indeed, apart from structural issues such as Diastasis – which is a whole different conversation, why do post baby women end up with bellies they are not pleased with?

In my experience, I think there are multiple factors at play here namely:

1.  Excess belly fat – due to pregnancy fat gain, increased cortisol during and after pregnancy, poor sleep and the stresses of early motherhood.
2.  Stretched skin – genetics, your age, your nutrition and your hydration are just a few factors that will affect the ability of your skin to ‘bouce back’ from a pregnancy.
3.  An imperfect post operative stitching technique – this I don’t know much about but I will research and report back.
4.  Scar tissue buildup – simple, there has been a wound, there will be scar tissue that need to be manipulated to avoid myofascial congestion and a loss of optimal function and transferrence of energy through the entire system – global and local.
5. Odema due to the C-Section wound being still in the healing phase – this is an ‘early-days’ issue which should resolve naturally.
6.  Numbness, loss of sensation and ‘connection’ to the lower abdominal area leading to frustration when performing abdominal work and the client therefore having poor adherence – it’s our job as fitness professionals to help the client have faith that she can return to a place where she will be happy again.
7.  Inappropriate core strength work being performed with no emphasis on the synergist relationship with the Pelvic Floor muscles, the other components of ‘the core’ and furthermore the WHOLE INTEGRATED SYSTEM!
8.  Poor nutrition and hydration that doesn’t assist and promote healing.
9.  Poor bowel movements that totally scupper any quest for a flat tummy!

So…..for what it’s worth for the whole month of May, I’m going to do a little experiment.  Over a 12 month period, I was lucky enough to experience C-Section not once but TWICE!  Without even a baby to show for it!  I had a condition known as uterine fibroids where benign tumors grow at warp speed attached to the uterus and you eventually have very messed up periods and a huge tummy (note to all – NEVER JUDGE A FAT BELLY!) could be something much more serious than love of cake :-).  Anyhow, to cut a long story short, these tumours were removed in January only to duplicate again at warp speed and by the following January I had no option other than to have an abdominal hysterectomy via C-Section AGAIN.  Incidentally, this might be pertinent information for those of you who train over 50 clients, this is usually part of their story (I’m only 42).

So, I’m 14 months out of the Hysterectomy and what am I left with?

1.  Bit of a fat belly, definitely not tight and flat – I still can’t wear my size 10 (UK)  jeans that I could wear before, I’m in 12’s and feel good.
2.  Post umbilical numbness – around70%
3.  A new ‘firmness’ local to the scar area that I think is due to a build-up of scar tissue

On a positive note, I feel fit and well and extremely grateful, (my fitness regime includes Kettlebell, Power Lifting, Running, Power Plate, I train with a Trainer and I still work as a Trainer and write/teach/run my courses and present).  My energy is awesome, my diet is good but still have a love/hate affair with sugar and I’m teetotal.  I’m on the up!

So,  for the entire month of May, I’m going to adhere to a regime that does everything possible to tackle all the components of healing regeneration, retrengthening and reconnection and see what happens.  I’m going to apply, bodywork principles, nutrition and exercise to my belly situation and see what occurs and I’ll check in once a week with the results (subscribe to be alerted).  It will be interesting to see the results and of course I’ll now go and do a before pic so we have a comparison.

My Self-Prescription

(This is not a recommendation to clients, I’ve been a Trainer for 13 years! If you are a client –  incase you’re wondering, yes, this is a lot of exercise – the running is extra to my normal routine).

1.  Get better sleep – Topical Magnesium Oil EVERY NIGHT before bed
2.  Chill more – Holosync on headphones daily and/or organic meditation
3.  1.5 – 2 litres of lemon water a day
4.  Train for 10K race Sunday 3rd June (2×20 min Interval Training and 1 longer Sunday run)
5.  3 Metabolic Resistance Training Sessions per week (2 x 20 mins plus 1 hour of PT)


7.  I’ll massage my whole abdomen for 10 mins daily using a combination of tradition massage.  I’ll use tradition strokes superficially but also go a little deeper.  This site has great information on C-Section recovery if you are interested – http://www.csectionrecovery.com, and I’ll also include some Instrument Assisted Massage (using an IAM tool (shown above) – www.iamtools.co.uk – thanks Malcolm).
8.  I’ll take 2 tablespoons of linseeds in warm water before bed nightly for phenomenal bowel transit.
9.  Oh and of course, continue my war on sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This might last longer than a month 🙂

Anyhow, that’s quite a lot to be getting on with.  I’m going to take my before pic now and workout!  Til next time.

PS I’d like to hear your experience, thoughts and suggestions on the matter if you too can add something to the conversation.  Speak soon.

For PASSIONATE, MODERN FORWARD-FACING CPD Fitness and Therapy Education for the Pregnant and Post Baby Fitness Professional visit:

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Why/How Vibration Training Works for the Post Natal Client

6 Apr

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons) – Founder of Burrell Education, London, UK , REPs Endorsed
Modern Pregnancy & Post Natal Fitness Education

Just over a week to go til the UK’s Top Fitness Convention, here’s a taster of one of my presentations in partnership with Power Plate International UK. 

As a fitness professional and educator with over a decade of experience providing fitness and therapy solutions for the Pregnant and Post Natal client and my peers, I think I can safely say that the world of fitness education and training principles for the Post Natal client has finally caught up the rest of the game-changing developments occurring in fitness right now.  And just as well, because even if we aren’t parents ourselves, we all have some insight into just how tough being a mom can be on both body and soul and these women need safe, sound and highly effective fitness strategies to get them back into their grooves.

Mothering a new baby is a tough job, requiring the constant lifting and carrying of an ever-increasing weight (the weight of a newborn is averaged at 3.5kg and rising) not to mention the countless squats, lunges, pulls, pushes, rotations and bends-to-extends performed throughout an extremely long ‘working day’ – I also hear that the pay’s not so great either!

New moms have the work-rate of high level athletes but unfortunately, in the wake of childbirth, many find themselves severely lacking in the energy, vitality and functional strength (especially with regards to their core and pelvic floor) to perform well in their ‘sport’.

What do moms returning to exercise want/need?  In my experience and in no particular order a typical checklist during an Initial Consultation usually looks like this:

  1. More energy and to feel good again!
  2. A solution for a ‘leaky’ pelvic floor
  3. Core strength restoration and a better looking mid-section
  4. FAT LOSS!  ( Actually, this is usually No. 1)
  5. A metabolism/hormonal re-boot
  6. Improved muscle strength and tone
  7. Functional fitness for their demanding day
  8. A ‘bang-for-buck’ workout – as short as possible and highly effective without leaving them drained

So how can the Power Plate serve the Post Natal client?  If you are new to the concept of Whole Body Vibration Training (WBV) – in basic terms – when WBV is incorporated into an exercise session, both target and non-target musculature is stimulated unconsciously by the multi-directional vibrating plate and the vibration is absorbed at hugely increased speeds of between 30-50 times per second. This leads to a highly significant rise in muscle contraction and fitness gains without the traditional increase in loading (ie., lifting a progressively heavier weights).  This major factor creates the potential for a shorter workout compared with traditional land-based training.

So, let’s start with the leaky Pelvic Floor – the very act of carrying the ever-increasing weight of growing baby let alone the process of a vaginal birth means that practically all women are in need of focussed work and strategies to firstly reconnect them to their pelvic floor musculature before improving its strength and function.  Enter……Whole Body Vibration.  In the simplest terms, WBV also includes the musculature of the Pelvic Floor and the simple act of standing on a vibrating platform has the same effect on Pelvic Floor muscles as it does the rest of the body.  In tests, both the baseline activity level (just standing on the Plate without performing Kegels) of Pelvic Floor muscles were significantly increased as well as the strength of Kegel muscle contractions when performed on the Plate.  Clients also reported and increased ablility to ‘connect’ with their Pelvic Floor muscles – a huge and vital accomplishment for many.  This is due to the stimulus provided by WBV to the nerves serving the Pelvic Floor musculature and its outlets,  predominantly the Pudendal nerve.  The vital work that can be achieved with the Power Plate to help clients re-establish contact with their Pelvic Floor and the rest of their core shouldn’t be underestimated.  For many clients this period of post birth incontinence can be extremely distressing and for many a formal, easy-to-do exercise programme that is adhered to can provide the solution to an embarrassing problem.  The take-home here, is just get the client onto the Plate and the magic will begin even without performing Kegels!

Next up, core strength restoration and a better-looking mid-section.  If you already use the Plate, you probably have a repertoire of core strength exercises that are suitable for the general client population, so how do you create similar solutions for the Post Natal client with stretched and (in the case of the C-Section client) severely traumatized musculature, ligaments and fascia.  There are a few key principles to follow:

First the clients’ core strength needs to be fully assessed.  This involves a verbal screening for post birth changes in sensation and function and if possible (for early returners to exercise) viewing the C-Section scar to ensure full external healing.  The client then needs to be checked for Rectus Diastasis (Distension).  For all pregnancies, it’s a totally natural phenomenon, the mid-line of the abdominals with the Linea Alba at the surface has to stretch to accommodate the growing baby and after birth, its return to normal strength, tension and function takes time.  In the case of the C-Section birth, the midline has been cut and separated in order to gain access to the uterus to allow birthing.  After the uterus is sutured, THE MIDLINE TISSUES ARE NOT and only the outer layer of skin and underlying soft tissue is sutured.  The key point here is that during the early days of healing (until at least 6 months Post Natal) care has to be taken to avoid performing inappropriate abdominal and whole body exercises that increase intra-abdominal pressure and consequently pressure to an already weakened and healing midline.  Inappropriate activity at this time can lead to lingering issues with core strength due to an obstinate separation of the Rectus Abdominis and other underlying abdominal muscles and back/pelvic pain later down the line.  So, what does core training look like on the Plate?

After categorising the clients’ core strength according to level of any Diastasis found, the exercises below were created to provide stimulus for superficial and deep muscles of the core including Pelvic Floor and the lumbar muscles and associated fascia.


Resistance Band Deadlifts

In the flexed-hip, neutral spine position, the client is asked to contract TVA.   The abdominals are challenged by a combination of factors: resisting gravity, TVA activation and unconscious stimulation via WBV.  The vibration also provides unconscious work for the Pelvic Floor muscles.  Additionally, the resisted bend-to-extend pattern of the ‘Deadlift’, fires the core by providing work specifically for the Lumbar Multifidus, Erector Spinae muscles and Thoracic Fascia.

 

 

Isometric Handle Pushes

An entry-level exercises for the early PN client.  While maintaining a neutral spine and TVA activation, isometric double-handed presses are coached while the client maintains optimal breathing (exhale – TVA activated – PF lifted).  This simple move provide great stimulation for the whole hoop of the core (including the Pelvic Floor).  Reducing stability by performing this exercise on one leg, also increase challenge.  The simplicity of these exercises allows space for the client to ‘reconnect’ with her whole core and the trainer to coach the finer points of a reconnection strategy.

 

Ab-Scooping, Pelvic Tilts and Kegels

This move combines the core muscles resisting the effects of gravity in the prone position, the synergist relationship between TVA activation and Pelvic Floor and  the ‘switching on’ of Pelvic floor through pelvic tilting whilst adding a simultaneous Kegel contraction.  Sound a little complicated but with great coaching the client will be successful and feel incredibly connected to her whole core.  As the pelvis is moved into the neutral position and the client usually reports pelvic floor activation (heightened by vibration), she is also coached to perform a simultaneous Kegel contraction. If this last part of the exercise isn’t possible, no worry as the PF muscles still receive great stimulation via the vibration.  This exercise is not suitable for clients with a Diastasis or those who are unable to maintain ‘scooped abdominals’ in this prone position…remember, any bulging – stop – the client is not strong enough yet.

 

Plate Crunch and Kick-Back

A crunch but not as you know it!  Here we are performing Rectus Abdominis flexion and extension in the prone kneeling position.  The client is coached to activate TVA throughout and the trainer helps the client truly visualise the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercise as the knee is brought in and then the leg is extended out.  Again, vibration creates extra stimulation to the whole core and greatly accelerates the benefits and results of this exercise.  The version shows extra resistance being added via the cable.  An entry level client would work without added resistance.  This exercise is not suitable for clients with a Diastasis or those who are unable to maintain ‘scooped abdominals’ in this prone position…remember, any bulging – stop – the client is not strong enough.  Also fabulous work for reconditioning the glutes – vital for promoting pelvic stabily and optimal posture.

 


 

The ‘Campbell Crunch’

This static four point floating box position can be regressed back to six points by adding a step platform close the plate onto which the knees rest in between work periods.  The client is coached to contract TVA (working the prone core against gravity). When performing the entry level version of this exercise, the client is coached to lift and lower the knees (each move being held for approximately 2 seconds).  This exercise can easily be progressed by asking the client to hold the elevated position for longer or by also incorporating palm lifts or leg extensions to reduce stability and increase challenge.

Kneeling Resisted Scapular Retraction

Fabulous move for improving core and thoracic strength.  In the hip flexed position, the client is coached to maintain TVA activiation with an optimal breathing strategy (see above).  She is then asked to draw the band apart creating work for typically deconditioned thoracic mommy muscles.  Not as easy as it looks!

In the arena of promoting fat loss, a metabolic/hormonal re-boot, improved muscle strength and tone and time-efficient fitness the Plate really comes into it’s own:

‘Following acute exposure to WBV training, there are several positive dynamic responses in the body’s endocrine system.  These hormonal responses constitute a powerful benefit to all types of exercise programmes.  Research has documented that subsequent to acceleration training, anabolic hormones are enhanced:  human growth hormone is multiplied, free testosterone rises, Serotonin levels increase and Cortisol is reduced.  Strength gains are amplified and the sense of wellbeing is enhanced and subjects achieve results more efficiently than with many forms of conventional training.  The endocrine responses from acceleration training promote balance in the autonomic nervous system, and beneficially impact growth, recovery and regeneration, creating the environment for positive change.’  (Adapted from Handbook of Acceleration Training, Science, Principles and Benefits).

The typical Post Natal client presents initially for exercise with lingering hormonal imbalance (heavy on the Oestrogens that are ‘fat increasing’) low on the lean muscle-building hormones.  Exercising at the optimal thresholds (ie., rest-based anaerobic training) can be extremely valuable in helping to normalize this imbalance alongside the positive effect of WBV.  Cortisol over-production is also another huge factor in the Post Natal clients’ fat storage issue (especially in the abdominal area) and her ability to metabolise fat as a source of energy.  With naturally elevated levels of Cortisol during Pregnancy still lingering into the Post Natal period caused by random sleep patterns and the possible stress of managing a newborn infant, any exercise modality that helps to reduce rather than raise Cortisol levels is obviously a huge bonus.  The brevity of exercise sessions 20-30 mins is also a huge bonus in the war against elevating Cortisol too.

The Plate also lends itself perfectly to performing rest-based interval training – the optimal tool for promoting Post Natal fat loss especially for the time poor.  A 20-25 minute workout is the foundation of this system of training.  If performed with the optimal exercise combinations most clients will feel more than sufficiently challenged by a workout of this length.  Also, levels of Serotonin, one of our feel-good hormones is also increased leading to a feeling of well-being which is surely the ultimate aim for both trainer and client.  We all want clients to return for sessions because the last one made them feel goooooood!

The cherry on the cake comes in ability of the trainer to utilise the Plate to train the full range of functional movement patterns that will serve a mother in her daily life.  Training in movement patterns as opposed to isolated muscle groups provides greater ‘real-life’ strength gains for the whole body including the core but most interestingly on the Pelvic Floor muscles!  In tests carried out  (using a vaginal EMG probe),  Pelvic Floor muscle activation was measured when performing standard and multi-planar functional lower body movements and the results were extremely impressive.  In summary it was found that leg adduction, abduction, squatting, jumping, lunging in multiple planes (especially frontal and transverse) all produced greater EMG readings than then humble Kegel!  THE PELVIC FLOOR THRIVES ON MOVEMENT!  The relationship between the deep adductors and abductors and both the fascia and musculature of the Pelvic Floor and pelvic basin all contribute to this increase activity alongside the creation of a stretch reflex during wide-legged movements such as squatting.  Other factors such as a neutral pelvic position and the synergistic relationship of Pelvic Floor muscles with TVA also have a role to play in accentuating muscular activation and the ability for the Post Natal client to re-connect to her PF muscles.

So in summary, let’s briefly return to that Post Natal Initial Consultation checklist:

  1. More energy and to feel good again! CHECK
  2. A solution for a ‘leaky’ pelvic floor – CHECK
  3. Core strength restoration and a better looking mid-section – CHECK
  4. FAT LOSS!  ( Actually, this is usually No. 1) – CHECK
  5. A metabolism/hormonal re-boot – CHECK
  6. Improved muscle strength and tone – CHECK
  7. Functional fitness for their demanding day – CHECK
  8. A ‘bang-for-buck’ workout – as short as possible and highly effective without leaving them drained – CHECK

All in all, I hope this article has given you some insight into the wide-ranging benefits of incorporating WBV into your training programmes for the Post Natal client.  It’s positive aspects are pretty impressive and it delivers huge bang-for-buck every time and on every level for both the trainer and the clients. Never forget, we’re in the results game and successful clients are the bed-rock of successful businesses.

References, Further Reading & Education Resources

  1. Handbook of Acceleration Training – Science, Principles & Benefits, G Van der Meer, E Zeinstra, J Tempelaars, S Hopson, Power Plate International, 2007.
  2. Post Natal Assessment and Exercise Prescription, REPs Endorsed, 1 – Day CPD Workshop, J Burrell, Burrell Education, 2007. (Available via PtontheNet Box Office)
  3. Power Plate Post Natal Assessment and Exercise Prescription, 1-Day CPD Workshop, J Burrell, Burrell Education & Power Plate International, 2009. (Available via PtontheNet Box Office)
  4. Therapeutic Exercise for Lumbopelvic Stabilization, C Richardson, P Hodges, J Hides, 2ndEdition, Churchill Livingstone, 2004.
    1. Functional Digest Series, Volume 3.3, The Pelvic Floor, Gary Gray, 2003.
    2. Fitness for the Pelvic Floor, Beate Carriere, Thieme, 2002.
    3. Pelvic Power, E Franklin, Elysian Editions, Princeton Book Company. 2002.
    4. The Crunchless Core DVD, www.crunchlesscore.com, 2010.

Caveat

Before considering any exercise session with the Post Natal client using a vibration platform, the fitness professional should be both certified as a Pre/Post Natal specialist and have undergone a foundation level of education for the use of vibration platforms with this and the general population.  Fitness professionals are also advised to carry out a full pre-exercise assessment specific to this client group before commencing any physical activity in order to create safe and bespoke exercise prescription specific to the clients’ needs.

Jenny Burrell is founder of Burrell Education (www.burrelleducation.com), a REPs Licensed Education Provider based in London.  Burrell Education specializes in Pre/Post Natal Fitness and Massage Therapy Education.  Jenny also runs her own Pre/Post Natal fitness and therapy practice in West London.  Jenny is the author of the Power Plate Post Natal Certification and lectures at the UK Academy in London – Please check www.burrelleducation.com for dates of Power Plate Post Natal Certification Courses.

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