Being in shape helps if you’re going to try certain positions and if you want to have vigorous sex for more than 10 minutes. We reached out to two fitness coaches: Lauren Sambataro, a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, functional diagnostic nutrient coach, and functional health coach (CHEK, NASM, FDN, IFHC) and Shaun Leary, a certified personal trainer (NASM, CPT) to learn how to train for better sex.
If you're doing sex right, it engages the whole body—but there are four specific muscle groups that take on the bulk of the work: glutes; quads; core; and upper body. “Sex is basically a hip thrusting workout,” Sambataro says. “Glutes act on the hip through the action of extension, which is why a hip flexor stretch is equally as important as strengthening the glutes.” Quads are involved in hip flexion, working in opposition to the glutes. "Quads are a good mix of fast-twitch (strength producing) and slow-twitch (endurance producing) muscles, but for sexual purposes, you probably need the endurance (i.e, slow twitch muscles) the most."
Strengthening your core helps you use your other muscles and body parts more efficiently. "Core also strengthens stamina, allowing you to perform much longer,” Sambataro explains. Last but not least, it’s crucial to have a strong upper body for sex, because it supports the weight of your (or your partner's) body. “A strong upper body takes the load off of the legs to allow freedom of movement and mobility," she says. "For kinkier positions, the upper body will support you, upside-down, sideways and backwards.”
Stretching is important, too; a lack of mobility can be a huge bummer once you’re in the mood and the hormones are surging. “Having more mobility and flexibility helps to seamlessly move through positions,” Leary says. Plus, you don’t want to pull anything while in the middle of intercourse.
Here are some specific exercises and stretches recommended by Sambataro and Leary that translate to the bedroom.
Forearm Body Plank Saws
How to: It’s just like a plank, except instead of holding the position, you rotate forward and backward on your feet.
What it targets: “The FBPS stabilizes the core musculature through a dynamic range of motion, and clearly mimics the classic missionary position,” Sambataro says.
How to: We all know how to do a pushup, but head here to perfect your form. When done correctly, pushups don’t just strengthen your chest, they strengthen your entire upper body.
What it targets: “Pushups are an upper body workout that will easily help increase your overall stamina in bed,” Leary says.
How to: There are over a dozen variations of squats. Head here to learn which type of squat is best for your body.
What it targets: “Doing squats, whether with dumbbells or a barbell, are very effective, working your glutes, hamstrings, and quads,” Leary says. “During positions such as reverse cowboy, having strong legs are necessary for endurance.”
Barbell Hip Thrusts
How to: Place your upper back on a bench with a barbell across your hips. While keeping your feet planted, drive your hips upward, squeezing your glutes throughout.
What it targets: Hip thrusts target your glutes. “They’re great for cowgirl/cowboy,” Sambataro explains. Specifically, this exercise is great if you're penetrating your partner from the bottom.
Hex Bar Deadlift
How to: You load a hex bar with weight, grab it with a shoulder-width grip, plant your feet on the floor, and lift while keeping your back straight.
What it targets: “Deadlifts target the entire lower chain, most specifically the back and glutes,” Sambataro says. “Training with the hex bar can reduce back injuries and encourage power in the legs.”
Dumbbell Hammer Curls
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, with palms facing your hips (inward). During the lift, keep your elbows locked so that only your forearms move. Curl the weights up until your thumbs are near your shoulders, then lower.
What it targets: Hammer curls strengthen your biceps. “In positions like suspended congress where the dominant person is holding up the submissive person, having strong forearms and biceps come in handy,” Leary says. “When looking at this position, it looks like a static bicep curl hold.”
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Sprints
How to: Even though swinging a kettlebell between your legs may look simple, it’s easy to do incorrectly.
What it targets: “Kettlebell swings increase glute strength while training power and speed; this allows the hips to forcefully and quickly thrust, which is helpful for positions like doggy style,” Sambataro explains.
How to: Bend your front leg to 90 degrees and have your back leg fully extend out behind you. For a deeper stretch, drop your back knee down to the floor, pressing your hips towards the floor.
What it targets: “These are good for if you are the dominant position in a sexual encounter, and are on your knees thrusting for a long period,” says Leary. “Runner’s lunges will help lengthen your hip flexors and keep them from getting tight during sexual intercourse."
How to: Start in a pushup position. Then step forward with the left leg to the outside of the left hand. From here, you can drive your hips forward, delving deep into the stretch. Hold here, and then return to your starting position. Repeat with the right leg.
What it targets: “The Spiderman stretch concurrently stretches the muscles of the hip, legs, groin, and lats,” Sambataro says.
Upward-Facing Dog (aka Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana)
How to: From downward-facing dog, inhale and rock your body forward into a high-plank position. Align your shoulders, hips, and heels, keeping your core and quads engaged. Exhale and roll forward onto your toes.
What it targets: “Upward-facing dog concurrently stretches and opens the chest and spine, while strengthening the arms, shoulders, and wrists,” Sambataro says.
How to: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee and then bring your right knee into your chest. Hold the position for roughly a minute. Then switch sides.
What it targets: “The figure four stretch is a deep hip-opener,” Sambataro says. “It can be done laying supine (on the back) or standing (best to hold onto something for support).”
This article originally appeared on Men's Health