Physically Challenging Sex Positions to Try at Your Own Risk

challenging sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Missionary, doggy style, woman on top: those are basically the primary colors of humping. I was challenged by Thrillist to try a more extreme approach to penetration, with these five physically challenging sexual positions.

I wasn’t going to go it alone. How could I? First, I asked four folks who work with bodies for a living to study each proposed position, and highlight some attributes or dangers. And then, I begged my SO to be my partner.

The experts

Eric Shilland, doctor of osteopathic medicine, family medicine doctor, neuromusculoskeletal specialist, owner of Solace Health
Amanda Bazille, Pilates instructor at Portland's Studio X Fitness
Erica J., a Portland-based sexological bodyworker
Anna May, a Chicago-based pole dance instructor at The Brass Ring

the hanging harden sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Position 1: The Hanging Garden

"It looks like there could be a lot of compression in the lower lumbar, so the penetrator would really have to use some core and gluteal strength to support the extension. Each participant is doing a ton of work to hold the recipient up and that person has to have a good deal of flexibility and control through the hips, in order to get a good flow going." -- Amanda

"My first thought is that the position on the left looks really dangerous for the penetrator! They'd have to have Olympic abs and core strength to be in that pelvic/knee position! Yikes! I would put them in a wider stance and maybe use a table behind them instead of a low couch so they could rest their elbows on it for support. As long as the penetrator is sturdy, she can go to town." -- Erica

I was terrified, and kept bouncing around. There’s about a 40lb difference between my partner and me, so this might be more ideal for a great size difference between us (his comment: "My lower back hurts."). I honestly kept thinking I was going to fall backwards. Oh, and I had to clasp my hands behind his back so that I didn’t tear the skin off of his shoulders. I’ve actually done this one before with someone who weighed about 100lbs more than me, and so it was much easier for them to lift me.

the crab squat sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Position 2: The Crab Squat

"This one runs the risk of penile fracture. When the penis is engorged, a forceful sidebending of it can result in rupture of the corpus cavernosum, the capillary-filled chambers that cause erections. This can occur if an overly enthusiastic lover brings their pelvis down wrong after their partner has slipped out. Nothing ruins the mood like a nice ER visit. Google images at your own risk, you can't unsee that." -- Eric

"This is a great position! While it looks challenging, this one actually is the easiest and the juiciest in terms of actual pleasure. Ideally, they rock back into this position from her being on all fours and him on his knees first, thus a nice power-dynamic swap. He gets into the position and the visual stimulation of her ass bouncing on him will occupy the part of the mind that would otherwise be saying ‘I’m in a weird position, I hope that I don’t collapse.’ If he loses his balance and collapses and they fall, it could be dangerous; she needs to be able to quickly dismount." -- Erica

"I can’t hold this position very long. I lasted about a minute and a half like this, and not because I came. My neck felt a bit pinched, and she couldn’t thrust very hard, because it would push me down. Man, I am so out of shape." -- My partner

This is reminiscent to squatting over a stranger like a lazy lap dance, except here I’m being penetrated. This position felt familiar and strange, and my thighs started to burn after about 30 seconds. Otherwise, not bad.

The wheelbarrow sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Position 3: The Wheelbarrow

"The biggest risk here would be a neck injury if the woman gets dropped onto her head. You would definitely want to make sure your partner has the brawn and balance to pull this off smoothly." -- Eric

"Obviously the penetratee is at risk of falling flat on their face, so it will require a good job with the upper traps, pecs, and serratus to stabilize the thrust from the back. The penetrator here just needs to be able to really tune in to what the penetratee can handle in this case and not overdo it. Great teamwork!" -- Amanda

"My lower back hurts, but much less. At first I was worried that I would drop you on your face, but we formed a good angle, and I feel like we pulled this off for the longest amount of time." -- My partner

This one was easier than it looks, once you get into position. Lift one leg up at a time, and lean forward. It shouldn’t take much strength, if you get your angles correct. However, I can see his feet, and I’m immediately grateful that he has cute feet. I typically hate looking at people’s feet, so that could be a caveat worth considering.

the arch sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Position 4: The Arch

"This one looks pretty safe, besides being a nice strength workout for the penetratee. I suppose you could get a trapezius strain. Or the Earth could get hit by an asteroid while you're fucking. You have about a one in 2 million chance of dying from that." -- Eric

"The third picture has got most of the work going to the penetratee, who must be able to really open up their front body and stabilize against the thrusting. The penetrator here has some work going to their arms to assist the other person’s tabletop position. Let’s hope penetrator has good knees!" -- Amanda

"This is, hands down, the easiest for me, and once we got in a good rhythm, it went pretty smoothly. We actually had to take a break from this one, because I felt like she was getting close." -- My partner

I have good upper-body strength, so this was manageable for longer than two minutes, but it might be impossible for people who don’t regularly lift weights or do pull-ups. I felt like I had six chins but, luckily, he thinks my Jabba the Hut look is cute.

the g-force sex position
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Position 5: The G-Force

"The penetratee will feel more stable in this position if they actively push into the surface underneath, by pressing the scapulae flat against the surface and down -- and by engaging the triceps to press the elbows down into the surface as well, comparable to a candlestick/shoulder stand pose. If the penetratee wants to rock against the motions of the penetrating partner, this position could ultimately prove to be an endurance challenge for the penetratee’s hamstrings and calves. This could be a physical challenge and an excitement; if the partners enjoy the sensation of each other's muscle tension, that sensation of resisting each other's movements and fucking into each other could be great fun." -- Anna May

"This is great if you go slow; I had a great view of your underboobs, and it was nice to use my penis at a downward-pointing angle, as long as you didn’t bend too far back.” -- My partner

I was worried about rug burn. But otherwise, I like this one as well, the angle of the penis put increased pressure on my G-spot. I would do this one again. Can we do this one again?

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Elle Stanger is not licensed in any of the dangerous activities in which she partakes. Follow her but proceed with caution: @ElleStanger.