Likely, most of us strive to be "good in bed" for our sexual partners. But sometimes, figuring out how to improve our sex lives both for ourselves and our significant others can feel overwhelming.
While communicating and listening to your partner about their needs is absolutely crucial for a fulfilling sex life, there are exercises that can improve your stamina, flexibility, and ability to connect with your partner.
"People don't think about sex as exercise, but it is," Dr. Amy Hoover, a physical therapist and advisory board member for the functional fitness company P.volve, told Insider. "You don't have to be in great shape to do it, but you don't have to be in great shape to start a fitness class either."
Insider compiled a list of 11 physical and emotional exercises couples can use to have better sex, approved by fitness and sex experts.
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For better sex through exercise, the obvious place to start is strengthening your pelvic region, including your hips, core, and butt.
One of the best and simplest exercises to do this is the glute bridge, according to Michael Bultman, a personal trainer who coaches for Park Slope Community Fitness and City Strong.
Anyone can do this exercise. To make it more challenging, you can try variations like using a single leg or adding weights or resistance bands.
The focus, according to Bultman, should be getting more awareness of your hip region and developing a good range of motion, not necessarily trying to be faster or more forceful.
Practicing this movement develops your core and hips to improve flexibility but also muscular endurance. This can help you not only get into a variety of sex positions, but also maintain them, increasing the odds that you and your partner will have a good experience (and perhaps an encore).
"We can almost always have sex the first time, the key is getting them back for more," Bultman said.
In addition to those benefits, glute bridges can also help you develop a bigger, stronger butt, an asset for attracting a partner in the first place.
Bird dogs (also called quadrupeds) can help build balance and core strength, both of which are important for good partnered sex.
It's also great for keeping your spine healthy and preventing or relieving lower back issues — nothing ruins sex quicker than unexpected aches and pains.
This exercise can also be especially helpful if there's thrusting involved in your preferred sexual activity, according to Bultman.
During the bird dog exercise, squeeze your glute at the top of the movement, and then think about engaging the same muscle in the bedroom.
"If you've ever been lucky enough to watch yourself thrust in the mirror, you want your cheeks to squeeze together," Bultman said — that visual can help you provide a strong, powerful motion during sex.
For a slightly more challenging version of this exercise, you can lift your knees off the ground for single arm, single leg plank balance. Or, try a side plank to work on each side of your body individually, which can be useful for correcting imbalances.
Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises
In addition to other benefits, all the above exercises also work your pelvic floor. That's one of the most helpful strategies for improving your sex life for any gender, according to Hoover.
"We all have pelvic floors even if the anatomy is different," she told Insider. "Being able to consciously tighten and release your pelvic floor can help make sensations more intense during sex for you or your partner, or make you more comfortable."
The old-school strategy for working your pelvic floor is Kegel exercises, or just practicing clenching and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
The key is to figuring out what it feels like to contract your pelvic floor. A common cue is to imagine think about the sensation urinating and stopping the flow mid-stream, Hoover said.
If you're struggling with this, don't be shy about consulting a pelvic health expert for help.
It can also be useful to actually look at the area in question by angling a mirror at the perineum, the area between the genitals and the butt.
"We don't have a visual with the pelvic floor the way with do with biceps or quads," Hoover said.
Fire hydrants (also called dirty dogs) is a great exercise for working your inner and outer thighs, butt, and core all at once.
It can help keep your groin, hip flexors, and hamstrings flexible and active.
This is important for increasing mobility and preventing injury in any sexual activity that involves spreading the legs, according to Bultman.
As a bonus, spending time on your hands and knees for this and similar exercises can also develop wrist and forearm strength and flexibility, which can be helpful for certain sex positions, including ones involve lying on top of a partner.
If you have access to weights, deadlifts are a great exercise for building full body strength. The movement is particularly helpful for building a powerful core, hips, and glutes.
And, while most people don't think of weight lifting as being a cardio exercise, it can definitely improve all kinds of stamina, including metabolic conditioning, so you can last longer during any intense activity, Bultman said.
Practicing proper deadlift form will also help you master the hip hinge, a foundational movement that will make you better able to control your pelvic area both in and out of the gym.
Many common exercises in yoga also come in handy off the mat. Helpful yoga poses that translate to the bedroom include chaturanga, or low plank, and cobra pose.
These stretch your back, hips, and arms all at once, while also strengthening those muscles.
In addition to improving stability and flexibility, yoga is also key for cultivating a mind-body connection.
This can be particularly true for men, who tend to lack intuitive awareness of their movement. As such, they can sometimes have trouble being attuned to their partner, and might rely on fast, forceful movements when sometimes a more fluid and rhythmic approach is needed.
"Men like to think being big, smashing hard, is the right thing to do, but in this case, the motion in the ocean is the more important thing," Bultman said.
Your favorite cardio
An oft-overlooked aspect of getting hot and heavy is that your breathing and heart rate spike, too. That means it can be helpful to practice exercises that build stamina, your ability to sustain effort over time, whether that's running, rowing, jump rope, or swimming.
These types of movements can also help you learn about pacing yourself, so you don't expend too much energy right out of the gate and slow down before you cross the finish line.
"The goal of sex is not just to have it, but to have it for a while, so you need some cardiovascular endurance," Bultman said.
Explore your partner's body
Dr. Shannon Chavez, a sex therapist and K-Y spokesperson, told Insider small physical exercises to familiarize yourself with your partner's body can also be important to have more fulfilling sex.
Before you and your partner go at it, take some time every day to appreciate their body and touch them. Ask them what feels good and where they like to be touched without feeling the pressure to make them orgasm.
"Daily bonding builds feelings of safety, closeness, and connection," Chavez said.
These 30 minutes a day can help you and your partner feel more comfortable with each other, making sex feel more organic and less like a performance.
"Explore your partner's body and take your time. Be mindful and present with what you are experiencing," Chavez said. "Learn to relax during sex and enjoy the connection moment by moment and let go of the outcome."
Start your date nights with sex
Another emotional exercise Chavez suggests trying with your partner is scheduling sex. An easy way to do this is making sure your date nights start with sex.
While it may feel odd at first, make the concerted effort to make sex a priority can help ease any mental blocks you and your partner might be having towards it.
"We schedule everything in life that is a priority," Chavez told Insider. "Sex should be something that is planned so you can anticipate it, prepare for it physically, mentally, and emotionally, and be mindful of how to get in the right headspace to have a good experience with your partner."
Get a massage or consider masturbating before you and your partner have sex
Masturbating or getting a massage before you and your partner have sex could be a fun experience for the two of you.
If you and your partner trade-off giving each other erotic massages or masturbate in the same room, it can loosen you both up provide some foreplay before the main event.
"Take your time and prime your body through self-pleasure and massage," Chavez said. "Triggering an orgasm before partnered sex can make it easier to experience an orgasm with other forms of stimulation."
Communicate with your partner about your sexual concerns
The age-old saying is true, communication is absolutely key. Talking to your partner about your sexual concerns and desires will help clue them into how to please you.
If you address these issues head-on, they can take the blame off of an individual partner and leave less room for any resentment.
"Communicate your sexual desires and interests rather than making statements like, 'do you want to have sex right now?' Put in the effort to seduce each other, make eye contact, and be sensual together," Chavez said.
This is always important, but it's crucial if you or your partner is dealing with an injury, has recently given birth, or otherwise may have specific needs.
"Be upfront about what you can comfortably do," Hoover said. "And if you're the partner, know that someone who is hurting may be afraid of giving up control so be aware of what is comfortable for them. Ask them."