A romp between the sheets might leave you hot and sweaty, yet it doesn't usually rack up the calorie burn or muscle building prowess of a gym session. But what if you could bring the gym to the bedroom and make sex more of an actual workout?
“Depending on what you like to do, most of sex is ultimately planks and squats,” says Timaree Schmit, PhD, a sexuality educator and American Aerobics and Fitness Association certified fitness instructor. “Even if you’re just holding a squat over someone with repeated thrusting, anything you do for a long time is a degree of endurance and cardiovascular work. For somebody who just wants to mix it up or make a sport out of sex, it’s ripe with opportunities for that.”
Before you get started, consider a few safety suggestions. “I recommend intelligent footwear for what you’re doing,” Schmit says. “If you’re going to be holding yourself on one leg, don’t make it harder by wearing high heels!” Make sure you have a sturdy grip on anything you plan to hold onto—like fitness straps or pull-up bars (go you!). And be mindful of how you're wielding any other gear. “You don’t want anyone getting clanked with a weight!” Schmit says.
Whether you're really committed to your gym routine, a hardcore multitasker, or the competitive type who's always up for a challenge, we dare you to give one of these sex position fitness feats a try.
Up the burn of classic guy-on-top sex with this move, which puts the control in your hands—err, feet. Get into the missionary position, keeping your feet flat on the mattress or floor and lifting your hips to control the thrusting. Press up through your heels as if you're doing a glute bridge, explains Ashley Mader, PhD, editor and founder of SHINE: Sexual Health in a New Era. Missionary-style sex can work the same muscle groups as planks, if your partner resists the urge to rest his bodyweight on you.
Glute bridge woman on top
Find a firm ottoman or large cushion that can support your partner’s back. With his feet flat on the floor, have him press up through his heels into a glute bridge. Straddle him so you're on top with your feet flat on the floor. Using your core, quads, glutes, and hamstrings, squat up and down, says Eric Marlowe Garrison, a clinical psychologist trained in sex counseling and a former group fitness instructor. Since you're in charge of the pace and depth, being on top gives you more of a core and arm workout, says sex therapist Angela Skurtu, co-host of the About Sex podcast and a former YMCA aerobics instructor.
Wall-sit reverse cowgirl
With his back against a wall, your partner can bend his knees and lower himself into a classic lower-body exercise: the wall-sit. Face away from him like in traditional reverse cowgirl, then squat over him to control the action. You’ll both feel it in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, says Garrison, also the author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex. Kick it up a notch by balancing on your toes for an added calf workout, he says.
Grab a chair and have your partner take a seat (he gets to relax for this one). Lower yourself over him into chair pose—yes, the yoga move—and squat up and down for a serious core and quad workout, Skurtu explains. “I joke to clients that one reason for sex can simply be you didn't go to the gym and you could still use some exercise,” she says. “But sometimes it’s better than the gym . . . like, I hate squats—but not during sex!”
A good workout tests your sense of balance, and so does this sex move. Start on all fours and have your partner lift you by the pelvis as if you were going to compete in a wheelbarrow race, Skurtu says. Keep your palms flat on the floor for an arm and ab workout; he’ll make extra gains by holding some of your weight. Make it even harder, she suggests, by balancing on a stability ball instead of the floor.
Perch yourself at the end of a table or counter at the right height for your partner to enter you from the front. Engage your abs and lift your legs into a V-Up position, Mader says—and see how long you can hold it. You'll find a whole new meaning to eight-minute abs.
This one's for true power(-lifting) couples only. Start with your partner sitting down and you draped across his front in a 69 position, Garrison says. Slowly lean forward as he stands up and lifts you around the waist, until he's fully standing and you're upside down, your legs on his shoulders. Wrap your arms around his legs or lower body to take on some of the workout, or let him support your entire weight if you need a break. If your heights allow, try placing your palms flat on the floor like you're doing a handstand to make this an even more taxing arm, shoulder, and core move.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
Not ready for a wild position?
Make regular exercise feel more sexy instead. "If you think of sex as all the foreplay, interaction, and back and forth between a couple, you can incorporate a lot of exercise,” Skurtu says, whether it’s playfully chasing each other in a game of flirty tag, signing up for naked yoga together, or finding a private spot to skinny dip and get in a swim. “There’s more to sex than just positions,” she adds.
Sexing up your workouts gives you the chance to be adventurous and test your boundaries. “Think of sex in the same way we use a playground,” she says. “There’s not only one way to use the monkey bars. Consider this an opportunity to experiment and be creative.” That creativity doesn't just spice things up in the bedroom, she says; it also introduces gain-making muscle confusion to your romp.
At the end of the day, sex obviously shouldn’t only be about getting more exercise—but it can still be a part of an overall fitness-oriented lifestyle, Mader says. “Sex is like an active recovery day!”