You're only one workout away from a better sex life! Not only can you lose weight, sculpt a strong, lean body and cause your endorphins to soar, but you can also count on exercise to make your time in the sack more enjoyable. Recent research indicates that improved body image as well as doing as little as 20 minutes of exercise a day enables you to enjoy sex more and become more sexually aroused. In addition to cardio and strength training, flexibility is crucial for better sex. It helps alleviate aches and pains and allows you and your partner to experiment with positions that otherwise may be difficult. The following slides provide a series of 15 exercises and stretches you can do to enhance your time under the covers.
Squats are great for toning and shaping the legs and booty. But all that blood pumping below the waist can also improve your ability to become aroused during sex. Plus, squats strengthen and prepare you for those times you'd like to be the one on top. HOW TO DO THEM: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping the heels glued to the floor and most of your weight in your heels, initiate a bend at the waist first, then bend the knees, as if sitting into a chair. Be sure to keep the knees from passing in front of your toes to protect your knees and leg muscles from injury. Your shins should remain as vertical as possible throughout the exercise. You can also incorporate three- to five-pound weights and raise your arms to shoulder height as you squat down. Move up and down very slowly and do between 10 and 30 reps.
Related: 12 Essential Squat Variations to Try
2. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is the precursor to pelvic tilts and Kegels (read on for more on both exercises). It strengthens the glutes, inner thighs and hamstrings and stretches the hip flexor. Because the pelvis is inverted, bridge pose awakens the pelvic-floor muscles and can reinforce the female sex organs. This can lead to stronger, more controlled orgasms. HOW TO DO IT: Begin on the floor on your back. Lengthen through your fingertips with your arms on the floor by your sides. With your feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees then slowly lift your buttocks off the floor. As you hold the posture, keep your knees from splaying out and press through your feet, your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Do not allow your feet to roll outward. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Lower your spine one vertebra at a time, all the way down to the tailbone.
3. Pelvic Tilt Pulses
This exercise strengthens your core and lower back, which are used often during sex. Pelvic tilt pulses will also awaken the lower abdominal region and prepare your body for Kegels (another great exercise to enhance your sex life) and prepare your body for inverted positions. HOW TO DO THEM: Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet hip-distance apart and arms, hands and fingertips flat on the floor. Pressing through your heels, lift your pelvis and glutes to bring your torso into a straight line (as in bridge pose). Hold your abs tight as you continue to press through the heels, squeeze the glutes and inner thighs and slightly pulse the pelvis up and down (just a couple of inches, not the full range of motion). Do 20 to 25 pulses, then slowly lower the spine, vertebra by vertebra, until you feel your tailbone touch the floor. Repeat, working up to three to five sets.
The pelvic floor muscles play an integral part in orgasm, and Kegels are an easy way to improve the strength of those muscles. Additionally, they provide great sexual satisfaction and stronger orgasms (especially when Kegels are done during sex) by targeting the muscles that tighten and release during sex, making the entire experience more pleasurable for both you and your partner. HOW TO DO THEM: You can do Kegels anywhere -- sitting, standing or lying down. Focus on tightening those pelvic floor muscles (as though you're attempting to stop the flow of urine). Hold for three to five seconds and repeat. Do that for five minutes a day or throughout the day.
5. Stability-Ball Pull-Ins
A strong core is essential in preventing injuries to your back when having sex. One of the best exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles and protect your back is the stability-ball pull-in. This exercise works your core (which provides a support system for your back) as well as your upper body, boosting your endurance for on-top positions. HOW TO DO THEM: Start in a plank position with your shins supported on a stability ball. Keep your arms straight and strong. Slowly roll the ball in, using your abs to bend your knees toward the floor as you drag the ball toward your chest. Slowly roll the ball back out as you straighten your legs. Keep your upper body and hips strong throughout the range of motion to prevent injuring your lower back. Don't hunch your shoulders and lengthen through the crown of the head to be sure there is space between your head and shoulders. For an added challenge, lift one leg off the ball as you roll the ball forward with the other leg. Then switch legs. Do two to three sets of 10 reps.
6. Plank Pose
Plank pose is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your entire body while focusing on your core. It not only increases your endurance and stamina at the gym but in the bedroom, too. HOW TO DO IT: Press your body straight, extending your legs back and keeping your arms strong. Think of keeping your body in a straight line from your feet to your head. Your pelvis is neither sagging too low nor elevated too high. Engage the abs, squeeze your inner thighs and butt cheeks together, tighten your quads and press your heels back so your feet are flexed. If you need to modify the pose, do your plank on your knees. Be sure your forearms are on the floor and your elbows are directly under your shoulders throughout the hold. For a more advanced version, raise one foot a few inches off the ground and hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs without compromising your form. Hold for at least 20 seconds and work up to two minutes at a time. Do one to 10 reps a day, depending on the length of your plank holds.
Related: 30-Day Ab Challenge
7. Open-Leg Rocker
"Open-leg rocker is essential for improving balance through core control and strength," says Risa Sheppard, master Pilates certification trainer and founder of The Sheppard Method in Los Angeles. "As we strengthen our core, which includes the pelvic girdle, lower back and abdominals, it awakens not only the muscles, but all the pathways that help to enhance our sexual pleasure... [And] the open-leg portion of the exercise creates flexibility in the inner thighs, making various positions more accessible." HOW TO DO IT: Sit upright with your knees bent into your chest, legs about shoulder-width apart. Lengthen through the crown of your head, roll your shoulders back and down and lift your chest so your back is strong. Grasp your ankles on the outside of the legs. Pull your naval deep into your spine and lean back until you are balanced on your tailbone with your feet off the floor. Straighten both legs toward the ceiling in an open V position and balance. To initiate the rocking, inhale, draw your naval to the spine and bring your chin to your chest. Keeping your head tucked, roll backward, stopping the action and reversing it before you get to your neck. Upon return, stop and balance on the tailbone, legs open and up toward the ceiling. If you need to modify the exercise, keep your legs bent.
Related: Top 10 Pilates Exercises
8. Seated Leg Extensions
For many women, when the legs are fatigued during a workout, they may shake or quiver. This is a good thing while working out, but in the bedroom, not so much. You want to know you can count on your legs to go the distance. And seated leg extensions are a simple way to strengthen your legs and increase stamina. HOW TO DO THEM: Sit in a chair, roll your shoulders back and down and lift your chest. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your ankles are directly under your knees. Grip the sides of the chair without hunching your shoulders or tightening your neck, upper back or shoulders. Keep the hips firmly planted on the chair as you lift and unbend one leg and lift the leg straight up slowly, until it reaches hip height. Slowly bring the foot back down. To modify the exercise, shorten your range of motion in the leg you are lifting, taking the leg half the distance. For an added challenge, lift both legs at once. Do at least two to three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
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9. Triceps Dips
Solid arm strength is crucial for many everyday tasks, but especially during sex. Working the triceps will strengthen and enable you to prop yourself up without tiring in underneath positions. HOW TO DO THEM: Sit with the heels of your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair, knuckles rolled down toward the ground to alleviate wrist strain. Place your feet hip-width apart and bend your legs at a 90-degree angle, making sure your ankles are directly below the knees (they can also be further out in front of the knees or completely straightened, if you'd like a challenge). Slowly slide your butt off the seat, supporting your weight with your hands and arms. Keeping the elbows facing directly behind you, bend the elbows and slowly lower your butt toward the floor. Keep the elbows pointing straight back behind you, and bend them to about a 90-degree angle (don't overstretch the front of your shoulders by going too low to begin with). Slowly push back up until your arms are straight. Need more of a challenge? Hold your feet and legs in a figure-four position (one ankle sits on the other leg's thigh, with the top foot flexed). Do five to 10 of these before switching legs.
Just like planks, push-ups strengthen your core, shoulders, glutes and legs with the added bonus of improved strength in your arms and chest. Also, the intensity that comes from doing push-ups will increase your stamina and endurance. HOW TO DO THEM: Start a plank position. Be sure your pelvis does not sag too low or lift too high (think about keeping your body as straight as a board). Inhale as you lower your chest until it almost touches the floor. Exhale as you press back up to the starting position. Avoid hunching your shoulders into your neck by lengthening out of the crown of the head to create space between you head and shoulders. To make push-ups easier, separate your feet to hip-distance apart or do push-ups on your knees. Or if you want to make them harder, place your feet on a step or bench.
Related: 30-Day Abs Challenge
11. Bridge Bench Press
Women who shy away from on-top positions during sex often do so because of the exertion involved. The bench press will definitely increase your arm and chest strength, but this variation takes it a step further by doing it while in bridge pose. Bridge wakes up those pelvic floor muscles (the ones that help control your orgasms), improving blood flow to the entire area and waking up the receptors that allow for more pleasure during sex. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with three- to five-pound dumbbells easily accessible. Bend your knees and keep your feet about hip-distance apart. Slowly lift your glutes up into bridge pose. Holding the dumbbells, bring your elbows out to the sides of your shoulders with your dumbbells up toward the ceiling, making a goal-post shape with your arms. Slowly press the dumbbells straight toward the ceiling, then slowly return back to the goal-post position. As a modification, try this on an incline bench and start with lower weights. Or for an added challenge, cross one leg over the other, ankle placed on the grounded leg's thigh. Do half of your reps and carefully switch legs. Do 10 to 20 reps and release your bridge in between sets. When you are finished, lower one vertebra at a time, all the way down to the tailbone. Do three to five sets.
12. Upward-Facing Dog
Upward dog strengthens many of the muscle groups required by a wide variety of sex positions -- the lower back, the glutes and the arms -- while stretching the core, psoas and hip flexors. And yogis have long believed it to increase energy and blood flow to the pelvic region. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your belly with your legs hip-distance apart and the tops of your feet on the floor. Bring your hands to the sides of your chest and raise your torso by pressing through the hands. Lifting all the way up, roll your shoulders back and down, lengthening through the crown of the head so you don't hunch your shoulders into your neck. Breathe regularly for about 15 to 30 seconds. If you're advanced, your thighs should lift off the ground.
Related: 5 Yoga Poses to Firm the Butt
13. Happy Baby Pose
Happy baby is an excellent stretch for the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and hips. It's also a great counter-stretch to upward dog, because it relaxes and opens tight lower-body muscles. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with knees bent in toward the chest, the soles of your feet flexed and parallel to the ceiling. Line your ankles up with your knees so your shins are vertical. Keep your tailbone down as you grab the outsides of your feet with your hands and pull them down so the knees move toward the floor on the outsides of your rib cage. Relax your neck and breathe deeply, lengthening the breath as you go. With each exhale, and without compromising form, pull the knees toward the floor. Hold this pose for three to five minutes.
Related: The Best Yoga Poses for Runners
14. Seated Straddle Stretch
The average person sits at a desk most of the day, which constricts and stagnates the muscles in the pelvis and groin. Straddle increases blood flow to that area, which means increased sensation and easier orgasms. It also stretches the inner thighs, making you more flexible and ready to play with some more adventurous positions. HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with your legs wide apart. Flex your feet and make sure your knees are pointing toward the ceiling. Roll your shoulders back, lengthen through the crown of the head and, while lifting the chest, slowly press your torso as far forward as you can comfortably go without rounding your back. Reach your hands to your calves, ankles or toes and breathe deeply. With each exhale, take your stretch a little deeper. Hold the position for five to 10 long breaths.
Related: Yoga Poses for Flexibility
15. Reclined Butterfly Pose
This version of the yogic butterfly pose will open up your hips and stretch your inner thighs. It targets the muscles that are constantly stretched and challenged in a multitude of sexual positions, enabling you to be strengthened, loosened up and ready for your partner. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back and, keeping the tailbone down, bend your legs toward your chest, soles of the feet together. Grab your feet and pull them toward your chest as you use your elbows to press the knees outward. Be careful not to let your head arch back too far. Keep the neck and spine relaxed. Hold this posture as you continue to press the knees outward for 15 to 20 seconds.