Diaphragmatic Breathing For A Stronger Core and Pelvic Floor Muscles

It’s probably not the hottest topic of conversation, but many women – particularly new moms – struggle with weak core and pelvic floor muscles.  And the side effects of a weak core and pelvic floor muscles can be very frustrating when starting out a new fitness regimen.

Weakened core and pelvic floor muscles can also lead to back pain, and poor sleeping exacerbates pressure, specifically of the lower back and excessive lifting, bending and squatting motions.

Mums are regularly lifting and turning every day, and the loads get heavier as time goes on, so a strengthening up your back’s support system (the core, hips, and pelvic floor muscles) is a must.

Although it is best to speak with your doctor about a which muscles are needing some fine tuning, there are some basic pelvic floor muscles strengthening exercises that can help strengthen not only your pelvic floor region but also the lower back and core.

Before starting the exercises, it is imperative to master proper diaphragmatic (or abdominal) breathing techniques as they are essential for correct form, increased coordination, and to prevent injury.  The proper breathing technique will not only help to strengthen the muscles but will also serve as an excellent time for relaxation and mental clarity.

Some additional health benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include:

  • Improved circulation
  • Increased respiratory fitness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety and stress levels
  • Improved core and pelvic floor muscle function

Start on your back with a pillow supporting your head and keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.  Place one hand on your lower rib cage and upper abdomen and the other hand on the lower rib cage.

Breathing in slow and deeply,  feel your belly rise to meet your hand – breathing into the abdomen.  To breathe out properly, exhale and feel the ribcage return to a resting position.  Once you begin to master the breathing technique you can remove your hands and place them at your side to breathe on your own.

Start by practising this breathing technique for one minute and build up to 3-5 minutes.  As well, once this breathing technique is mastered, you should begin to add in performing this method in an upright, seated position

Here is a video showing the technique and some of the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing for strengthening the core muscles.  (via TheBelleMethod)

This breathing technique is beneficial anyone struggling with a weakened core and pelvic floor muscles, not just mums.  However, if you’re a new mum, it is always wise to check with your physician to be you are ready for any and exercises you perform.

Stay active!

Have you tried out diaphragmatic breathing techniques?  If so, have they helped you?




**This post was originally featured on RowdyRoddy.com

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Happy Tuesday!  I hope that all is well.  I have had a crazy start to the new year and not a lot of time to work on my blog.  Not cool.  However, I’m so delighted that I finally have time to link up with Jessica and Jill for #DishTheFit this week.  I always enjoy being a part of this link-up and hate when I have to give it a pass.  This week’s optional topic is “TOP FIVE ALL TIME BEST HEALTH AND FITNESS DECISIONS”.

As I have mentioned before, I didn’t always embrace life with the open (mostly) healthy arms I do today.  I used to not exercise, drink and eat too much, and various other not so healthy things.  Nowadays I have embraced a much healthier lifestyle in every way.   So here they are, in no particular order!

  • bpm3Falling in love with Spinning.  My friend, Aspen, is an amazing Spin instructor, and after loads of coercing three years ago, she finally twisted my arm to come and try a class.  Admittedly, I did NOT love it the first class.  My butt hurt, my legs hurt, and I was dying through the entire hour.  However, after two more classes I was totally hooked!  For all you anti-cycling people out there, your butt WILL stop hurting, you will get stronger, and you will LOVE it.  Trust me.  I loved it so much I became an instructor and will be one for the remainder of my days!


  • spin Collage Juicing and blending stuffs.  I have been a picky eater most of my life.  I was always terrible about getting the right amount of fruits and veggies into my diet.   Then I watched the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and was SO blown away by Joe Cross and his reboot that I started to make my own juice.  Fresh juice is honestly THE BEST.  It is better than any candy or processed baked good; it’s refreshing, healthy, and pretty!  I know a lot of people think it’s time consuming and a big clean up, and well, it is, but when you think about the benefits you’re getting from that juice it should totally outweigh the “pain in the ass factor” it presents.  Smoothies and protein drinks are another great way to get fresh fruits and veggies into your diet daily.  I have not looked back after making this big lifestyle change.  Cheers!

  • Becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. This is, by far, what I am most proud of myself for accomplishing.  I am completely passionate about fitness and health and dedicated to understanding how to help others while helping myself.  I am working on a coaching certification at the moment, because I want to have the whole package to offer my clients.  If you’re studying to become a NASM CPT, I have a great study guide and exam tips here.


  • Lifting weights.  I used to be a cardio only kind of gal.  I’d run or use a stairclimbing machine for an hour, but I wouldn’t TOUCH a weight or machine.  While preparing for my CPT exam, I began to realize just how absolutely important strength training is for metabolism, posture, body composition, and disease prevention (hello, who wants osteoporosis?  Not this girl!)  I now lift weights (and bodyweight train) 4-5 days a week.  It has changed my body.   If you’re like I used to be, go out and buy some 5, 8, and 10 pound hand weights and start lifting.  Here’s an awesome upper body workout put together by yours truly!


awesome arms 1

  • Starting my blog!  Nothing has made me more motivated or held me more accountable than starting Beets Per Minute!  I am so very proud of myself for building this little blog into a (maybe only SLIGHTLY) bigger blog over the past 6 months.  Blogging has helped to get me through some very rough times over the last year and a half.  I love connecting with other bloggers and being part of various #FitFams, like this awesome one that Jessica and Jill have created.


fitnessblog.jpgOh, I’m also super proud of these as well…

ah yeah.

ah yeah.


What are your top five fitness and health decisions? Join in the conversation with Jessica and Jill and join #DishTheFit


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Pass The NASM CPT Exam: A Study Guide

Yes, I said how to pass the NASM CPT exam!

So random, yet relevant fact about my flight the other day;  I sat next to a young guy with a NASM textbook, I know,  it’s a perfect time to study, right? Of course! So upon seeing this, I instantly had to be nosy and ask if he was studying or brushing up on information, and as it turned out, he told me he would be taking his exam in October.  I always like to meet people preparing for the exam, because it was so stressful and nerve-racking for me, I feel like I can totally relate. Without my asking him first, he asked me questions about what to expect regarding the exam based on my experience. While I obviously couldn’t cover this information in great detail, I told him to check my blog out in a few days for a more in-depth review of what to expect!  Instant blog post idea! If you’ve taken the exam or are currently preparing for it, you know you also want to pick an alumni members brain for the information.

Does the exam really cover everything?

In the general sense, yes. In the literal sense, no. I think learning the key concepts of each chapter is important, but no, you will not have to know “everything” for testing purposes.  However, really understanding the information is what will make you an excellent trainer and professional – so don’t just learn it for the test, it’s going to be your way to greatness!

There’s SO much anatomy in the text. What should I focus on in that respect?

There is a LOT of anatomy in the textbook and it does seem really overwhelming.   I would definitely say paying close attention to the vocabulary and concepts of chapters 2, 3, 5 and 7 will be in your best interest.

Other areas to pay attention to:

Muscles as movers (agonist , synergistic, stabilizers, antagonists) as well as the Isolated function of muscles – check the appendix section, they are broken down there.

Planes of motion and which exercises involve which plane (sagittal, frontal, and transverse)

Flexibility continuum

Concentric Acceleration and Eccentric Deceleration movements (muscles used/planes of motion)

Reciprocal Inhibition, Altered Reciprocal Inhibition, Synergistic Dominance – Golgi Tendon, FITTE 

Support mechanisms of blood (Chapter 3)

Blood Pressure

BIG ONE:  Overhead squat assessment chart! This includes information on postural distortions (pronation distortion, upper cross syndrome, lower cross syndrome, and altered joint mechanics.) There’s a HUGE number of questions pertaining to this chart. Spend the time learning it. Try it on yourself. Try it on a friend. To quote Judge Reinhold in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, “learn it, know it, live it.”


"Learn it. Know it. Live it."

“Learn it. Know it. Live it.”

What types of program design questions were asked?

I would say if you understand the OPT Model (chapter 14) well enough, you will have a very good foundation for designing programs for various components (core, balance,  plyometrics, speed, agility and quickness, and resistance training) It’s a formula, my friends, and NASM developed it to make program design safe and effective.  For assessment information – view chapter 6

Exercise progression and regression. – listed in the appendix!

Training zones – heart rate, reps, sets.


Straight percentage

Progression Continuum (easy to difficult; stable to unstable)

Various fitness assessment types and how to perform them; YMCA, Rockport Walk Test, etc.

Static Postural Assessment (Anterior View, Lateral View, and Posterior View)

Performance assessments; (Davies, Shark Skills, Upper Extremity, Lower Extremity, Overhead squat assessment, Push-pull assessment- again, see chart in previous section and KNOW it.)

Circuit training

SAID:  Specific Adaptions to Imposed Demands (Principle of Specificity)

Warm-ups, stretching types (following OPT.)

Training with special populations; Hypertensive, Pregnant, Elderly, Cancer, and Obese clients (chapter 16)

Which topics about energy and metabolism do you need to know?

Definitely be familiar with chapters 4, 17, and 18 regarding metabolism, energy, and nutrition. Definitely have a good understanding about the three metabolic pathways; ATP-PC, Glycolosis, and Oxidative. Also, these will be essential for your career and particularly when working with special populations.

EPOC – ( I LOVE this stuff)

Daily requirements for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Calories in Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates – (which specific consideration to athletes)

Hydration and dehydration.

Basic nutrition needs and information about calcium.

Amino Acids (Essential/Non-Essential)

Vitamins (Fat-Soluble, Water-Soluble)

Which information about communication is most important to remember?

Chapters  19 & 20 explain in great detail the components of communication and skills that are important for every personal trainer to know.

READ (Rapport, Empathy, Assessment, Developing)

Stages of Change – very important to know (Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance)

Effective Communication Skills (Verbal/Non-Verbal Communication, Active Listening, Reflecting, Summarizing, Affirmations)

SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)

Exercise Imagery & Positive Self-Talk

Okay, yeah, it’s a lot.  I am not going to lie to you, the exam is not easy, but if you read the book, apply the principles and concepts to real life workouts, and really buckle down and study several hours a day in the months beforehand, you will pass. It’s more than passing though, it’s a desire to want to learn this information.  If you want to be a fitness professional or have a die-hard interest in fitness then this textbook is your bible.

greatest fitness story ever told.

greatest fitness story ever told.

Hopefully this helped you, Ryan (my friendly neighbor in row 23) – please let me know how things are going!

If you have any questions about the information in this post, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.  Remember, the main objective is to prepare for this and really learn it all.  There are some resources online that I used as well to help me prepare, including NASM’S study guide (which is highly recommended and available through your eLearning center – as well as another excellent guide here.) Additional noteworthy sources of information I utilized were:

Bodybuilding Forums

The Healthy Gamer

Some fun quiz sites to help test you (in addition to the NASM practice test, which I highly recommend utilizing as well)

www.studystack.com for NASM

www.quizlet.com for NASM

Good luck studying – and let me know if you have any questions!


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Why I Chose NASM for Certified Personal Training

Why I Chose NASM for Certified Personal Training

People ask me which program I opted to complete my Certified Personal Training and Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification courses through.  I chose to do my certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).  After doing quite a bit of research, I found that

After doing quite a bit of research, I found that NASM was the best match for me.  There were several reasons for my choice, but the most important being their practical and proven training model as well as their “eLearning” support network.

I have never been the most focused or disciplined student — if I am completely honest — and their program made it very easy for me to learn the material and get the most out of my education.    Anytime I had any questions or did not understand something, my advisor was supportive and there to help me through it all.

Committing to something new in this day and age of online classrooms can be difficult as well as overwhelmingly confusing, so it is important to have specific things in mind as you choose the program best for you.

Another reason I wanted to do my certifications through NASM  is their OPT Training Model.  The OPT model makes program design easy to implement and was crucial in helping me find my niche working as a CPT.

Passing your exam is just one step in the process of becoming a fitness professional.  It is the knowledge and skills you acquire from your education that will help you build a successful career.   NASM offer an easy recertification process as well as numerous innovative and specific continuing education certifications to keep you ahead of the game.

If you or someone you know is thinking of becoming a Certified Personal Trainer, I would recommend NASM highly**.  You hear people say this all the time, but I can say when it comes to me it is very true, if I could do it so can you!

I am happy to answer any questions you may have you if you are thinking of becoming a fitness professional.

Visit NASM on Facebook

[Tweet “Why I Chose NASM for my CPT #PersonalTraining #NASM #FItFluential via @BeetsPerMinute”]

**The statements above are my personal opinions based on my experience as a NASM  participant.  I have not been paid to promote their program or endorse their products. 

Are you interested in becoming a Certified Personal Trainer?  Which programs have you looked into?





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