Exercises that tone arms and legs? Not really my cup of tea. I’m more of a leisurely stroll, half hour of Zumba kind of girl. But exercises that tighten vaginal muscles and improve sex? That’s the kind of workout I can tackle. Yes, I’m talking about a Kegel exercise. Often associated with post-pregnancy and sex, Kegel exercises are used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. And while these vag-strengthening workouts will help improve postpartum sex, learning how to do Kegel exercises can help in other areas of your life as well.
OK, before you drop and give me 20, you should know a little bit more about Kegel exercises and their area of focus. As Everyday Health wrote, Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, rectum, vagina, and uterus. Basically, they keep your nether regions on point. And, as with any muscle, there are several factors that can take a toll on their tone and strength. Pelvic Floor First notes that conditions like chronic constipation, previous pelvic injury, heavy lifting, and an ongoing cough (like the ones that can accompany smoking or asthma), can put a lot of strain on your pelvic muscles and make them weak. And when the pelvic floor muscles are weak, hell is sure to ensue.
For me, that meant letting out a little pee every time I sneezed or laughed. According to What To Expect, being pregnant means putting extra pressure on your bladder, which strains pelvic floor muscles and cause you to leak unexpectedly. Had I added some Kegel exercises into my pregnancy workout, I may not have spent so much money on Tampax products.
But Kegel exercises do more than replace panty liners. They can also prepare your pelvic floor muscles for labor and allow you to better control your muscles during the delivery, according ot Parents magazine. And the same exercises that make delivery a breeze (or, slightly more bearable) can improve your recovery time by promoting perineal healing.
And did I mention that Kegels can also help your sex life, whether you’ve given birth or not? As Cosmopolitan notes , those pelvic floor muscles are the same muscles responsible for the contractions you feel during climax. So the stronger they are, the stronger your orgasms will be. And, if you’re in a heterosexual relationship, you may want to consider practicing your Kegel exercises during sex too. In doing so, your partner will be able to feel the pressure and contractions while inside of you, thus enhancing their experience.
So are you ready to get your Kegel on? Well hold on, because there is still some stuff you need to know. In order to reap the benefits of a vaginal workout, you need to know which muscles to tone. The easiest way to find these muscles is to stop your urine flow while peeing. Those muscles you contracted? Those are your pelvic floor muscles. Once you’re sure you’re hitting the right muscles, you can add these Kegel exercises to your daily fitness regimen (and quickly reap the benefits.)
1. Basic Kegel Move
The basic Kegel move from Everyday Health can be done anywhere, anytime, and nobody will ever know. Squeeze those muscles, like you’re trying to stop your pee, and hold for two to four seconds before relaxing. Do this five to ten times. As you do more of this exercise, you’ll be able to hold for longer periods of time. Make sure you’re not contracting your abs or butt, as that defeats the purpose of the workout.
2. The Butterfly
From Cosmopolitan, this move is a little less discreet. Lie on your back and bend your knees, drawing them up to your chest, and open your legs to the side as far as they will go. Now, inhale, contract your pelvic floor muscles, and tilt your pelvis forward a bit. Release your hold on your muscles and bring your legs back up to center. Three sets of five reps should do the trick.
3. The Bridge
Another Kegel exercise from Cosmopolitan, this one needs you lying flat on your back, making sure your knees are bent and hip-width apart with your arms relaxed by your sides. Lift your pelvis without squeezing your glutes, contracting your pelvic floor muscles in the process. While holding that squeeze, lift your legs in the air, alternating between the left and right. as if you’re marching. Do each leg five times, release your squeeze on the muscles, and relax. Do three reps of this move.