How Many Kegel Exercises is the “Right” Number?

I was asked a great question the other day regarding Kegel exercises and the confusion caused from some recommendations to complete 80+ repetitions per day vs. my recommendation to complete only 8-10 repetitions per day.

This is a fantastic question and it highlights the difference between the complete 2-step Kegel that is the key to resolving your incontinence and the “quick flick” Kegel that only works one action of our pelvic floor muscles. Knowing the difference between these two approaches is very important in rehabilitating pelvic floor muscles.

First, let me describe the quick flick Kegel. It is simply tightening the sphincter muscles to stop the flow of urine. These can be done in quick succession to a rhythm of “tighten, relax, tighten, relax”, and so on. This sphincter muscle is important to work since it contracts very quickly every time we cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. It is a fast twitch muscle that can contract quickly and with good strength, but it lacks endurance. So what happens when you go for a longer walk, run, or, heaven forbid, someone tells you a really, really, funny joke? Those fast twitch sphincter muscles lack the endurance to hold on for these activities.

Lucky for us, we also have slow twitch endurance muscles within our pelvic floor that CAN keep us continent during prolonged activity. We can strengthen these muscles and maximize their endurance by elevating our pelvic floor. That is why a 2-step approach to a Kegel exercise is so important. The best way to maximize the endurance of our pelvic floor elevation is to draw your pelvic floor up into your pelvic outlet, as if there were a string attached from your belly button to your pelvic floor, and you are attempting to pull it up as high as you can. The challenge is to hold this pelvic floor elevation for at least an 8-count as you continue with a regular breathing pattern.

It is the elevation and endurance hold that is often lost in Kegel instruction. You will find that if you go through the 2-step process, your pelvic floor will actually fatigue throughout your reps, giving you the feeling like you just can’t keep it elevated for the full 8-count. Patients/clients will tell me they are more symptomatic that day or even the next day if they over-do the reps (20+) on the 2-step Kegel.

This is why I include only 4 repetitions of a complete 2-step Kegel before each workout and after each workout on our Hab It: Pelvic Floor DVD. Eight quality repetitions of a 2-step Kegel including both quick flicks and endurance holds is far more beneficial than 80+ repetitions without a direct purpose.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Icon Icon Icon

4 Responses

10.09.09

There are four workouts in my dvd. Are we supposed to do all four at one session? Do we repeat the 2-step process at the beginning of each session if we do them altogether? Thanks for any info,Cathy

10.09.09

Hi Cathy, thanks for posting your question. The four workouts are there so that you have some variety. You should do one at a time. If you find one particular workout you like, then you can stick with it, because each workout addresses each of the muscle groups that need strengthening. Or, if you like a little more variety, then you can switch among workouts. Workout #4 is more advanced than the others so I would recommend you not try that one until you feel comfortable with the others. And, not sure what you mean by “do we repeat the 2-step process.” Do you mean that kegels? Yes, you should do them. But, you don’t have to do anything on top of what the workouts guide you through because, as mentioned before, each workout was designed to be stand-alone, i.e., work on each of the areas that need to be strengthened to strengthen the pelvic “basket.” I hope that helps. If not or if you have additiona questions (or feedback), feel free to come back and post. Good luck! Tasha

10.09.09

It’s is better to start slowly: practice at first for five minutes every day, and after a few days you can gradually increases the time frame until it reaches 15 minutes.

10.09.09

Irene, you can jump right into workout 1 right away. When you feel you have mastered it and you are comfortable with all the exercises in that workout, then progress to workout 2. A progression of exercise time is not needed b/c this isn’t a cardio program.

I also realize that I may not have answered your original question very clearly…so let me give it another shot. If you like to do more than one of the workouts per day. Feel free, and no you do not have to and should not repeat the 2 step kegels for the second workout. Keep your numbers of 2 step kegels to 8-10 per day so you don’t over-fatigue your pelvic floor. Hope this helps!

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required