Need more incentive to get your butt to the gym? How’s this: Working out has between-the-sheets benefits. “A fit mind and body are key to a great sex life,” explains Beverly Hills ob-gyn Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, MD. “Nurturing that mind-body connection is required for a more connected and satisfying sex life,” she tells LivingHealthy. “People who are more comfortable in their bodies feel less body shame and are less self-conscious.” In other words, once we get out of our heads, we can actually be present to enjoy the moment.
“Being an amazing lover involves more than just sexual technique,” adds sex and relationship coach Kim Anami. “Your lifestyle choices influence everything from your libido to your stamina, your ability to orgasm and even the taste of your bodily fluids.”
Here are the top 10 workouts that will improve your sex life.
1. Vaginal Kung Fu: This is a series of exercises to tone, strengthen and enhance vaginal muscles. A weighted jade egg is inserted into the vagina, and the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles are used to lift various objects. Anami teaches this method in order to help women physically and emotionally reconnect to their vaginas and become more in tune with their sexual energy. According to Anami, vaginal weightlifting “strengthens the pelvic floor and vagina far more effectively than regular Kegels—without resistance—and gives women sexual confidence and power. Having a strong pelvic floor and vagina very quickly increases orgasmic potential, libido lubrication and sexual pleasure for both partners.” If you need more of a visual, head over to Anami’s Instagram page, where she documents her vaginal weight-lifting capabilities (coconuts, statues and conch shells, to name a few) with the hashtag “#thingsiliftwithmyvagina.”
2. Penile Weight Lifting: Like vaginal kung fu, penile weight lifting is a great way for men to cultivate their nether regions with a strengthening routine, according to Anami. Taking everything women have been doing with Kegels for more than 40 years and applying it to men, Private Gym ($99), a new workout product and exercise program that launched in September 2014, strengthens the muscles that control the penis and erectile function to reduce erectile dysfunction and maximize orgasms and sexual pleasure. “As men, we work out every other muscle group in our bodies, except the muscles we care about most—those that control our sexual health and performance,” says David Mandell, Private Gym president and CEO. Here’s how it works: An instructional DVD shows a series of engaging pelvic exercises to be done 10 minutes a day, three days a week. For example, in the first week of training, the “basic flex”—a simple contraction of pelvic muscles—is mastered. After strength is built up in the pelvic muscles over a period of several weeks of progressively harder training, resistance training is added in the form of a patented, resistance penis ring. Mandell describes the workout as “simply the best personal trainer for the male pelvic muscles.”
3. Pilates: Pilates strengthens core muscles, those called upon to hold certain sexual positions at length—for men and women. “I often say that when I’m in doggie-style or some other position for hours, I use muscles I only otherwise find in my Pilates practice!” says Anami.
4. HIIT or Endurance and Strength Training Workouts: Weight training is one of the few exercises that stimulate significant dopamine production for both men and women. Dopamine is the “cocaine high.” You can access its euphoria for free—and minus the negative effects—just by working out. Dopamine is also a precursor to testosterone, which affects the sex drive. Not only does lifting weights make you feel amazing, but it also quickly tones and strengthens your body like no other exercise, building body confidence and strength.
5. Cardio: Running, swimming and biking release endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin boosts your mood (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants). “Aerobic exercise is your natural antidepressant, plus you build up endurance for those marathon sex sessions—which I highly recommend,” says Anami.
6. Yoga: Practicing yoga releases the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA, which has a mellowing effect on both sexes. “It calms you down, takes you inside of yourself and gives you grace and strength,” says Anami. A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine also found that women who went through a 12-week yoga program increased libido and even lubrication. Poses that open the hips and heart (both need to be open for great sex, explains Anami) like camel, bridge, pigeon and lunges are all fabulous, too.
7. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Used mostly to treat women with histories of pelvic or sexual pain, or for post-traumatic birth/injuries and incontinence, this type of physical therapy—which includes external techniques such as deep tissue massage, skin rolling and trigger point therapy, as well as internal techniques—can be crucial for sex, says Gilberg-Lenz. “The muscular sling (when you’re standing up, a network of muscles—a sling—is holding the body together) that is the entire pelvic floor must be activated and must be both strong and flexible. [If it’s] too tight, [it] may result in more pain,” she explains. “Kegels only activate only the smaller muscles around the urethra.”
8. Gyrotonics: Originally called “Yoga for Dancers” and practiced on a mat and chair, this exercise helps to increase flexibility. “Sex requires both strength and flexibility as well as good blood flow,” says Gilberg-Lenz.
9. Orgasms: The more sex and orgasms you have, the more you want to have—and the more other people want to have with you. As you are more sexually active, you radiate pheromones, the chemicals that are released in sweat and bodily fluids, which make you more attractive to others. Sexual energy is like an engine—it’s easier to connect to it when it’s already warmed up.
10. Sexting: Okay, so sexting isn’t actually a workout, but Gilberg-Lenz suggests that when it comes to sexual enjoyment, mental preparation can be just as crucial as physical. “I’m a big fan of [sexting],” she says. “It gets people excited as well as prepped—hormonally and physically.”