Most of us work out to lose weight, prevent disease or strengthen bones. But here’s another reason to exercise: Your sex life will rock. Here are 7 workouts that have fringe benefits in bed…
If your fitness routine could also kick up the ‘ole sex life a notch, you’d do it in a heartbeat, right? Well, what are you waiting for? These workouts will get your heart pumping and the you-know-what thumping:
What’s involved: Running, biking, swimming, aerobic step class, power walking. The same old cardio routines can step up your sex life. These include any activity performed for 30-60 minutes a day, where your heart is working at 65%-75% of its capacity (and you can still talk to the person next to you).
Bedroom benefits: Regular cardio workouts build stamina by improving your oxygen consumption. They also boost your body’s ability to bring oxygen into your muscles, which in turn burns calories and breaks down nutrients into energy.
And that helps you in the sack. “Not only will you be able to last in bed without getting tired, but you’ll also recover faster and be able to go again,” says trainer Jeanette Jenkins, creator of The Hollywood Trainer (www.thehollywoodtrainer.com) line of fitness DVDs.
Here’s another benefit: Cardio workouts improve blood flow, which helps not only your heart but also all those naughty bits that become deliciously sensitive when you’re aroused.
2. Interval Training
What’s involved: This is cardio on ‘roids: Whatever you’re already doing ? biking, running, power walking ? give it your all for 1-2 minutes. Slow down for 2-5 minutes, then speed it back up. Repeat throughout your workout.
Another option: Running hills or stair-climbing. (Do the real thing or set the program on your treadmill, elliptical machine or stair-stepper.) These exercises build quads, hamstrings and glutes, the big muscles used during sex, Jenkins says.
Bedroom benefits: Short bursts (or intervals) train your muscles to go full-tilt for brief spurts without petering out.
“When you’re getting close to orgasm and you’re in a great position, you can hold that position without the muscles getting fatigued or cramped,” Jenkins says. “You don’t want to lose the enjoyment of that moment because your muscles are too fatigued to keep going.”
3. Qigong (aka Chi Kung)
What’s involved: Qigong, a close cousin to tai chi, combines a series of slow, flowing movements with breathing exercises for a total body workout that improves balance, flexibility and muscle strength. Best of all, qigong is so easy that anyone ? regardless of age or fitness level ? can jump in and get started.
Bedroom benefits: Along with sculpting your body so you look fabulous naked, one of the more esoteric benefits of a qigong workout is that it promotes the free flow of chi (“life-force” or “energy”). According to Chinese medicine, chi moves the blood, which has obvious advantages in the bedroom.
“If chi is flowing better through your arms and legs, you can bet it’s going to be flowing better through your genitals,” says Palm Springs tai chi/qigong trainer Scott Cole, creator of the Breath & Chi Kung DVD. “It’s like opening up the pipes.”
The theory is that blocked chi causes illness, stress and tension, which can certainly put a damper on desire, not to mention performance.
“If your chi is blocked, your joints and muscles can be tight.” Cole explains. And you’re probably not breathing very deeply.
“Shallow breathers tend to have more shallow orgasms or they orgasm infrequently or not at all,” he says.
People who do a lot of qigong report more explosive (even multiple) orgasms. And for guys (and the women who sleep with them), there’s the added benefit of rock-hard erections that last longer and spring back faster for an encore performance.
“I’m 47 and I get erections like I’m 22,” Cole says. ‘Nuff said.
4. Cardio Striptease
What’s involved: A sexy dance class in which you work your butt ? and your shirt ? off. OK, we’re kidding about the shirt. In public, keep your clothes on.
But along with the bump-and-grind choreography, you’ll learn some moves “to sex up taking off your clothes,” says Tricia Murphy Madden, fitness director for Denali Fitness in Seattle and developer of the Urban Striptease workout.
Bedroom benefits: You can give your guy the lap dance of his life. Besides toning hips, abs, inner thighs and tush, the class is a workout for the spirit.
It will give you the self-confidence to bare all and move your body in sensual ways that strippers have in spades ? no matter your body type.
“The people you’d assume at the beginning of class would never be willing to get up in class and perform the routines in front of the others generally will feel comfortable performing at the end,” Madden says.
She loves to tell a story about a student who got up and started dancing in front of an appreciative crowd at a party.
“At that moment she felt sexy, attractive, powerful and strong,” Madden says. “For her, it doesn’t matter what she looks like or what her size is.”
What’s involved: A mat workout that focuses on stretching and flexibility, yoga takes you through a series of poses (called asanas) while you concentrate on controlling your breathing.
If you’re new to yoga, look for “gentle,” “stretch” or “flexibility” classes. If you’ve done it before, try vinyasa or step up the pace to give you a cardio workout too.
Bedroom benefits: You know the Kama Sutra, the book of sex positions for people made of rubber?
It was written for “people actively doing yoga,” says Bethany Lyons, regional group fitness manager for Crunch, New York, and creator of the Yoga Body Sculpt DVD.
Even if you never twist yourself into a pretzel, regular practice can stretch muscles and make them more flexible, so you can easily rest your ankles on your partner’s shoulders without pulling a hamstring. Or get a wider, um… spread that you can hold for a while.
“The key to enjoying sex in any position is to be comfortable in it,” Lyons says. “If you’re shaking or feeling overextended, there’s nothing relaxing or sexy about that.”
What’s involved: Most Pilates classes focus on the mat workout, though you might find some that still make use of the traditional Pilates machines, called reformers.
The floor exercises, which incorporate many movements from yoga, use your own body weight for resistance training to tone muscles without adding bulk. (Think about the long, lean limbs of a dancer’s body.)
“Pilates really targets women’s trouble spots: the hips, the abs, the thighs, the waist,” says Kristin McGee, creator of the MTV Pilates and Pilates for Beginners DVDs.
Bedroom benefits: By strengthening your core – which includes everything from shoulders to butt ? Pilates also reinforces your pelvic floor muscles, the same ones you use in Kegel squeezes.
That yields huge dividends in the bedroom because an orgasm is essentially your pelvic floor in spasms. When those muscles are toned and strong, you get intense, shuddering waves of pleasure during a climax.
“If you can lift and contract your pelvic floor, you can feel more,” she says.
Not sure what she’s talking about? Think of inserting a tampon.
“You want to pull the tampon in and up,” McGee says. “You want to keep on developing that lift through your transverse abdominal muscles. And you want to work your inner thighs, which are also connected to your pelvic floor.”
That inner thigh-pelvic floor strength will heighten your pleasure, especially if you’re on top. That’s because “you’re going to be lifting that pelvic floor and working your clitoris by using your inner thigh and leg muscles to rock forward and back,” McGee says.
Got that? It’ll lead to really deep or multiple orgasms.
What’s involved: You can learn the samba, the national dance of Brazil, at a ballroom studio class, gym or from a DVD. In lessons with a partner, you’ll get skilled in moving together ? and carry that newfound knowledge from the dance floor to the bedroom.
Bedroom benefits: Samba is incredibly sexy and flirtatious to start with; there’s even a movement called the Belly Button Bump that symbolizes having sex. The dance is all about moving your hips around ? side to side, front to back and in circles ? which focuses on the pelvis.
Learning how to make hip circles “stirs up awareness of that area, increases strength and flexibility, and can really help stimulate fun in the bedroom,” says Kimberley Miguel Mullen, a dance professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles and creator of the Dance and Be Fit: Brazilian Body DVD. Samba is the basis for her workout.
“The exercises help you learn the movements, which in turn can increase your sexual fun,” she says.
There may be something to the bump and grind. “The running joke is that babies born in October were conceived during Carnival,” Mullen says.
Presumably to parents who did an awful lot of samba.