Boost your bedroom skills by adding these moves to your exercise routine
Want to improve the quality of your sex life—or just have better luck getting in the mood? Start with fitness! Our experts share the moves they recommend most for ramping things up in the bedroom.
You already know this move as a terrific leg and butt toner, but did you know that it can also get the blood flowing to the places that may energize your libido? “Sometimes your heart might be there, but you don’t feel anything in the ‘southern hemisphere,’” explains Debbie Mandel, MA, a stress and fitness expert and the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. “Many women need a little physical help with arousal to get blood flowing to the genitalia.” She suggests squats. With your feet spread shoulder-width apart, “make sure your heels stay on the floor as you ‘sit’ on an imaginary chair,” she explains. “The lower you squat, the more you recruit your glutes and reap the benefits. Push off from your heels and hold your abdominals in tightly [as you return to standing position].” Do them slowly, aiming for 15 to 30 reps.
Happy Baby Pose
Limberness goes hand in hand with great sex—after all, who wants to deal with aching legs or a stiff lower back while in the heat of the moment? That’s why Marta Montenegro, MF, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, a fitness expert, suggests certain stretches to prepare you for agility between the sheets. “One of the most common reasons for lower back pain is tight hamstrings and hip flexors,” she says. “Also, after spending eight hours asleep, there is a natural inflammation of the spinal discs due to the increase of the homeostatic pressure.”
The happy baby pose to the rescue! “It will stretch the spine while loosening up the adductor muscles and the hamstrings, which are heavily compromised in traditional positions such as the missionary,” she says. Lie on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Grasp the outside of each foot with your hands, allowing the knees to drop down toward the floor. Align your ankles with your knees so that the shins are perpendicular to the floor. Apply downward pressure with your hands to encourage deeper opening. You can allow the tailbone to curl up off the floor slightly to decompress the lower back. Hold the pose for three to five minutes.
Want a move that will strengthen the muscles you use most during intercourse? Try the pelvic tilt. “Women tend to suffer from lower back pain, and this sometimes affects sexual positions as well as desire,” says Mandel. “Pelvic tilts give you a bonus of core strength and strengthening the lower back.” Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Raise your pelvic region in a straight line like a bridge. Hold your abdominals in while you tighten your glutes and push your inner thighs toward each other. Slowly lower to the floor and repeat, 20 to 25 reps, if possible.
How can you get toned, gorgeous arms and also boost your sex drive? Grab your hand weights and work in 15 to 20 reps of biceps curls! Here’s why: “Medical studies show that testosterone plays a role in sexual drive in both men and women,” explains Mandel. “Giving a woman with low libido testosterone is controversial, and could lead to undesirable side effects,” she says. “However, strength training increases levels naturally and is healthy too. The testosterone levels that are generated create the tipping point for desire.” And don’t worry—weightlifting is not going to give you facial hair or a lower voice. The testosterone that’s released is at healthy, natural levels.
Tandem Stationary Lunges
Past research has indicated that couples who exercise together have better sex. So why not do a few moves with your guy? Mandel suggests the tandem lunge. “A romantic variation of the traditional stationary lunge: Hold your partner’s left hand with your right [as you stand next to each other] and together do five lunges, with the same legs forward so that you don’t bump into each other.” Need a stationary lunge primer? With one leg forward and one leg back, slowly bend the knees as if you’re trying to kneel down and touch one knee to the ground (but don’t let it touch), keeping both knees at 90-degree angles. Aim for two sets of five repetitions on each side—gradually increasing to 10.
When it comes to fitness, Kegels count too! These pelvic-floor-strengthening exercises that your ob-gyn is always encouraging you to do can have big payoffs when it comes to sexual satisfaction, says Tone It Up cofounder Karena Dawn, a certified personal trainer in Los Angeles. “Kegels consist of contracting and relaxing the muscles in your pelvic floor,” she explains. “Improving the strength of these vaginal muscles is beneficial for greater sexual satisfaction and stronger orgasms, as well as preventing urinary or bowel incontinence and pelvic prolapse in women.” To do a proper Kegel, tighten your pelvic muscles (the ones that control the start and stop of urine). Hold for about 5 seconds, relax and then repeat. Dawn recommends doing Kegels for at least 5 minutes every day. (Psst! You can do them anywhere—even right now—and no one will know but you!)
The core is compromised of more than 20 muscles, and working them “will give you the strength to support your man’s weight without hyperextending your back,” says Montenegro. “A great exercise that works both the core and the muscles of the upper body is the roll-in, roll-out on a stability ball.” Start with your hands fully extended on the floor in a push-up-like position. Place your shins on a stability ball, keeping your back straight. Roll the ball in toward your chest and back out, using the abdominals to drag your knees toward your chest and to push your feet back out. Keep your back flat and hips tight, and don’t move your upper body. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Is there one move that can make you more sexually confident, daring and strong? Yes: the plank, a core-building exercise popular in yoga, says Madeline Castellanos, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in sexual medicine and sex therapy in New York City. “This exercise works upper arms, abdominals, obliques, thighs and buttocks,” she says. “These are important muscles that help stabilize you when you are engaged in intercourse on all fours, any position where the woman is on top, or in transition from one position to another while maintaining close genital contact with your partner.” Lay facedown with the palms of your hands flat on the floor on each side of your shoulders. In this position, your forearms should also be flat on the floor and will act as your support when you raise your body. Push your weight to the balls of your feet as you push up onto your forearms and palms so that your entire body is suspended in the air. Be careful to keep your body as straight and flat as possible, and avoid lifting your hips in the air. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then relax for a few seconds before repeating; do three sets of 10 reps.
Another yoga pose that can improve your sexual enjoyment is the bridge pose. “This exercise helps strengthen the lower back, gluteus muscles and hamstrings,” says Dr. Castellanos. “It helps enhance a woman’s sexual experience because it increases her strength and endurance in these muscles, which are used to create resistance during a man’s thrusting, thereby increasing the intensity of the thrust.” Start out lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lay your arms to the side of your body, lift your hips up in the air and squeeze your gluteus muscles. Continue to press upward until just your upper back/shoulders, arms and feet are touching the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly lower back down to the floor and relax for a few seconds before repeating again. Aim for three sets of 10 reps each.
Seated Leg Extensions
Do your thighs quiver during and after sex—but not in a good way? “The large muscles of the thighs are often used during sex and can get fatigued quickly since they are such a large muscle group,” says Dr. Castellanos. The solution: seated leg extensions. “Find a stable chair in which you can sit up straight and have your knees bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor,” she says. “While keeping your thigh and knee as steady as possible, lift one foot up to straighten your leg slowly, then bring it back down to the floor. Do three sets of 10 reps for each leg.