If someone told you that you could improve your sex life just by doing a few little exercises, would you do it? Sure, you'd do it. Kegel exercises may sound strangely clinical, but these genital workouts can dramatically improve your sex life. "These exercises are the best way for women to learn to have orgasms, or multiple orgasms, and for men to maintain greater control over ejaculation," says sex therapist Ava Cadell, Ph.D. The Kegel's strange name comes from Arthur Kegel, the 1940s gynecologist who first suggested that strengthening the pelvic floor or "PC muscles"—the support muscles of the genitals—could make sex more intense and orgasmic for women and men.
But the Kegel exercises are about more than sex: "By strengthening the PC muscles, women improve tone in their lower backs and vagina—which can be helpful during and after childbirth—and men may improve the health of their prostates," Cadell says. The exercises also strengthen the urinary tract, important for preventing the dreaded urinary incontinence. (Consider the exercises insurance against ever having to buy Depends.)
Sold? Get ready to start squeezing more out of your sex life in two steps.
Step One: Identify those muscles.
Unlike, say, our biceps, which are visible and easy to isolate, our PC muscles are hidden from view, and since most of us don't pay regular attention to them, they can be tricky to identify. So try to activate them first. "The easiest way to do this is to stop the flow of urine when you are peeing. The muscle that stops that flow is the PC muscle," says Cadell. "Women can also put a finger in their vagina and men a finger on the shaft of the penis to get a feel for the muscle and how it expands and contracts."
Step Two: Work It.
Now that you've discovered your PC muscle, you can start working them anywhere anytime—during a boring meeting at work, in your car during a traffic jam. "That's the beauty of these exercises," says Cadell. "No one has to know you're doing them." Cadell recommends doing what she calls "slow Kegels" and "quick Kegels" three times a day. For a slow Kegel, tighten the PC muscle—once again using the same motion you would to stop a stream of urine—and hold for a slow count of three. Then relax. Repeat this motion ten times. To try a quick Kegel, tighten and relax the muscles in rapid pulsation up to a count of 10. As with any new workout, your muscles may be tired and achy at first, but as they grow stronger you can increase the number of repetitions by sets of 10.
Kegels for Him
Just when you thought there was one muscle in the body you didn't have to worry about bulking up, it turns out men can exercise their PCs by, yep, you guessed it, lifting weights.
Okay guys, first you need an erection to do this one (we'll assume you know how to get to that point). Once hard, clench and unclench the PC muscle. "As you do this, your penis will move upward toward your stomach and back down again," says Cadell. "Practice a while. When you've got that down, try draping a washcloth over your erect penis and lifting that ten times. Then you can graduate to a hand towel. Do ten lifts, and then relax. If you want more of a workout, increase the number of lifts, not the amount of weight."
Kegels for Her
This ladies-only Kegel can also be done solo. "Lie down on the floor. Take a deep breath, clench the PC muscles and pull up the pelvic floor, slowly, like an elevator stopping at each floor," says Cadell. "Make sure you are using your PCs, though and not clenching your butt. Don't lift your pelvis off the ground but rather visualize this elevator as the muscles tighten from the entry to your vagina up to your abdomen. When you've slowly lifted that pelvic floor, push out." Send that elevator up and down 10 times, and then you're done.
Weird Exercises, Delightful Results
"It takes about a month before you notice results," says Cadell. Women may feel more sensitivity; men can gain more control during sex. Not bad for a 10-minute workout.