Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know About Kegels

kegels illustration
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

There's no shortage of full-body workouts available on the internet, but far too many of them leave out the muscles most crucial to making sure you're constantly having incredible sex: the humble kegel muscles.

If you've got a pelvis, you've got kegel muscles -- and you ought to know how to use them.

Here's your essential guide.

Kegel muscles, explained

A lot of people think kegels are a woman's thing; and those people would be only half-right. We've all got kegel muscles (technically termed pubococcygeus muscles or PC muscles) -- they stretch between your pubic and tail bones, so they're providing all the backup to your pelvic organs (read: S-E-X organs). PC muscles are largely responsible for maintaining erections; and when you orgasm, PC muscles have the most contractions -- meaning they're also responsible for providing a lot of stimulation to a woman's clitoris.

Over time, your pelvic muscles are negatively affected by pregnancy, childbirth, constipation, chronic coughs, aging, and being overweight. The "kegel exercises" you've heard people murmur about (so-named after the doctor who developed the workout) can actually help to reverse that damage. Similar to how strengthening muscles around a shoulder supports joints and tendons in that part of your body, stronger kegel muscles offer great support to the bladder, rectum, small intestine, and uterus. For all of these reasons, properly strengthened pelvic muscles equate to mind-boggling climaxes, improved sexual health, and significantly reduced side effects of old age like incontinence.

How to exercise your kegel muscles

There are a few different techniques for exercising this part of your body -- from low-level flexes throughout the course of the day, to full-scale vaginal weight-lifting (we'll get to that in a minute). Basic pelvic-floor muscle training is super easy to do, and can be done while at your desk, lying in bed, riding in a car, or sitting in a fast-food joint eating a burger.

First, you'll need to figure out which muscles you're dealing with. You can easily do this by stopping pee in mid-stream next time you're using the bathroom. Bingo! (Note: it's not advised to actually use bathroom breaks to exercise these muscles, as you can cause backflow of urine which can incite a nasty UTI. The more you know!) Nothing should be obviously moving on your body when you're flexing. Done properly, people around you won't have a clue what you're up to.

Here's the workout: just tighten those same muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and relax for the same amount of time. The Urology Care Foundation recommends working your way up to three sets of 10 reps a day.

Next-level kegels for women: vaginal weight-lifting

Those of us with vaginas can pursue a more extreme kegel workout through resistance training, aka vaginal weight-lifting. To get insights into this practice, we went to the best source out there: Kim Anami, a sex and relationship coach and bona fide VAGINAL WEIGHT-LIFTER. Anami is capable of lifting 10lbs with her vagina, and having 20 orgasms in a row.

"PC/vaginal strength is everything," she says, "[but] don't do kegels. They're useless. Lift weights instead. The difference between doing what people think of as kegels and weight lifting is the equivalent to going to the gym, staring at a weight rack, waving your arms and legs in the air, and then leaving. Or, you go to the gym and press weights. Which is going to build muscle and strength? The original kegel exercise was actually designed with an object inside the vagina to create resistance and feedback; i.e., a weight. The 'air-squeezing' technique that most people today think of as a kegel, isn't actually a kegel. It's a misguided and ineffective modification."

There's a toy for that

If you want to follow Anami's advice and jump-start your vaginal weight-lifting career, you can start by using sex toys expressly designed for PC-muscle exercises.

The Lovelife Krush offers resistance training for your vagina -- plus it has crazy sensor technology to track your ever-expanding grip. The Lovelife Krush also has a motor in it that creates vibrations sure to make you forget you're actually exercising. Using toys like this works the vaginal wall and PC muscles harder; providing faster, most noticeable results.

Another toy for this kind of resistance training is the Jade Egg. The product is pre-drilled so you can thread a piece of string or dental floss through it, insert the egg, and then hang an object from it (other eggs, or heavier objects...).

Next-level kegels for men:

Men who get serious about working their PC muscles are going to get better, longer-lasting hard-ons. And if that's not enough (it is!), pelvic exercises can prevent premature ejaculation issues while ALSO making it possible for you to experience multiple orgasms. That's one hell of a hat trick!

"Kegel exercises are like the core workout for your sex life," says filmmaker and artist Gregor Schmidinger, whose exhaustively researched Sex God Project explores all aspects of male sexuality. "It's the unavoidable foundation if you want to have a stronger erection, last longer, and experience more intense and even multiple orgasms as a man." Here's a four-week-long PC workout regimen for men that Gregor designed himself (reprinted here with his permission).

Week 1

  • Warm-up, 10 sets -- Contract PC muscle for five seconds, five-second rest
  • Standard contractions, 10 sets -- Contract PC muscle firmly 30 times, then take a one- minute rest
  • Flutter, three sets -- Contract PC muscle quickly and repeatedly for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds

In week two, add the following exercise at the end of the basic routine: contract your PC muscle firmly and hold for one minute, then rest for one minute.

In week three, increase the duration of the last exercise to two minutes. And in week four, add five sets of 20-second PC contractions, with 30-second rests in between.

Done right, you can feel the results in the first 24 hours

"With vaginal weight-lifting," says Anami, "you (and your partner) can feel the difference in one day. I've had partners remark on my increased strength and agility immediately. I have seen women eliminate 20 years of urinary incontinence issues in one week. Menopausal women get their lubrication back in a few weeks, without the aid of hormones or drugs. Women have their first G-spot or squirting experience within weeks of starting a vaginal weight-lifting practice."

Here's Anami's short list of how your sex life benefits from strong PC muscles:

  • More and better orgasms -- of the deep, life-changing variety
  • Increased sensation and pleasure

And specifically for the ladies:

  • Ability to experience female ejaculation
  • The strength to give a male partner a hand job... with her vagina.
  • Ability to shoot ping-pong balls across the room -- "an essential life-skill for all women," Anami says
  • Perpetual wetness

"If you aren't tapped into your sexual energy," Anami says, "you are running at a deficiency. From the bio-chemical benefits of orgasm -- energy booster, antidepressant, weight loss, immune-boosting -- to the overall lubricating effect of being well fucked, a happy sex life will turbocharge your existence."

Can't argue with her there.

Check out Kim Anami's FUKME video on "The Epidemic of Sexually Unfulfilled Females" here. And for her free video about vaginal kung fu, click here.

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Nicole Caldwell is Thrillist's Sex & Dating editor and now has a new cocktail-party trick to work on. Follow her on Twitter: @nicolemcaldwell.