There are a lot of things that contribute to good sex: solid communication, mutual respect, lube, and foreplay. And according to clinical sex counselor Eric M. Garrison, author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex, that list includes strengthening your core.
“Most sex positions require some level of core strength, so a stronger core might make more positions available to you and your partner,” he tells Health. Standing positions and woman-on-top positions in particular require a lot of core strength, he adds.
The core is also the body's stabilizing foundation, explains Joseph Corella, founder of 567Broadway!, a dance fitness class set to Broadway hits in New York City. “A strong core takes stress off your lower back, stabilizes your spine, and helps your arms and legs be stronger and more powerful.” As a result, he says, toned abs can help reduce risk of injury in and out of the bedroom.
Your core also technically includes the pelvic floor muscles, and Garrison notes that these muscles contribute to sexual functioning and satisfaction. "Some women will find that squeezing their pelvic floor muscles during sex makes the sex more pleasurable and the orgasm more intense," he says. "But you need to have those muscles in order to activate them, that’s why he says ab moves could lead to more orgasms."
Of course, he says, "there are plenty of people who have strong cores and pelvic floor muscles who are having terrible sex, just as there are people who have weak cores having amazing sex." But if a weak core is limiting you in the bedroom, strengthening those muscles may help, he tells us. If that’s you, here are four core-strengthening moves that will give you a boost in the bedroom.
Missionary may sound like the ultimate lazy-girl position, but it actually requires some core strength, especially if you want to wrap your legs around your partner or lift your hips to find the perfect angle, explains Garrison. To prep your midline for this classic position, try an ab move that also keeps you on your back: the hollow hold.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your feet and legs elevated two to six inches and draw your belly button into your spine to engage your abs. Lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground and, if possible, straighten your arms overhead, says USA Powerlifting coach Kyra Williams. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then longer as your core gets stronger. “To make it harder, add a rock by keeping your core right and then rocking back up and down,” Williams suggests.
Planks are a go-to core-strengthening move, but Williams says they also strengthen your glutes, shoulders, and upper back. That’s why incorporating this movement into your exercise routine can make positions that require both core and upper body strength more accessible, such as doggy style, leaning cowgirl, and reverse missionary.
How to do it: Start in a push-up position, then lower down to your forearms so your elbows are under your shoulders. Keep a flat back and tight core to make sure your hips aren't sinking or your butt is in the air. “Pretend like you’re trying to hold in your pee—or do a kegel—so that you’re actually engaging your deep core muscles and pelvic floor,��� suggests Williams. Aim to stay here for 30 to 60 seconds.
“Most standing sex positions require both core and lower-body strength,” says Jess O’Reilly, host of the podcast Sex With Dr. Jess. So, if you enjoy positions like standing doggy style or standing lotus, or enjoy receiving oral while standing or getting it on in the shower, add the dead bug into your workout routine.
“The dead bug works your core, legs, and also your hip flexors,” says Betina Gozo, a Nike Master Trainer. “It also helps with general coordination and proprioception.”
How to do it: Lie down on your back with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle and your knees above your hips. Hold your arms straight so that they are perpendicular to the floor. Engage your core by drawing your rib cage down. Now, extend your right leg straight into full extension so it is in line with the ground while simultaneously extending your left arm back so your bicep is by your ears. "As you do this, keep your opposing leg and arm frozen until you bring back the right leg and left arm back to start and switch to that side," Gozo says. Return to start. That’s one rep. Aim for 12 to 18 total reps, alternating sides.
To make it easier, Gozo suggests keeping your arms frozen above you and only moving your legs.
"Performing oral sex also requires a degree of abdominal fitness,” says O'Reilly. The inch worm will work your entire core, making it easier to kneel between your partner's legs and give them oral. And because the move also strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, receiving oral while standing will become easier too. Win-win?
How to do it: Start standing with your feet hips-width apart. Hinge forward, then bring your hands to the floor in front of you, as close to your toes as your hamstring flexibility will allow. Then, walk your hands out into a high plank, trying to keep your heels on the floor as long as possible (Williams says this will stretch your hamstrings and calves). Walk your feet back to your hands and return to standing. That’s one rep. Aim for three sets of five reps.