Kegels can be done anywhere, anytime, without breaking a sweat. And the best bit is the benefits of “Kegeling,” for women of all ages (and men, too!) means a stronger pelvic floor and orgasmic joy. So set aside just a few minutes a day to give your pelvic floor the stamina of Shakira and brawn of Beyoncé. Here’s how to master the art of Kegeling.
A brief history of Kegels
Kegel exercises were developed by gynecologist Dr. Arnold H. Kegel to help women stop urine leakage by exercising their pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. Stress incontinence is especially common with women in late-stage pregnancy and after childbirth (both vaginal and by C-section), but other factors like genetics, obesity, abdominal surgery, and aging can factor in, too.
While Dr. Kegel was mostly focused on helping women with incontinence, the exercises he pioneered also strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) — the muscles responsible for those delicious contractions you experience when you orgasm. Put that together with the fact Kegeling also benefits men by helping curb premature ejaculation, and you’ve got the perfect exercise to up everyone’s sex game.
Mama’s got a squeezebox (daddy does too, actually)
Doing a Kegel is simple: you contract and release your pelvic muscles. Doing it correctly, however, is a little tricker. The key is to make sure you’re squeezing the right muscles. The best way to identify your “Kegel muscles” is to practice while peeing (yep, really). Let a little urine out, then stop the flow. Notice you’ll feel the contractions more in the back than in the front of your pelvis (thank you, Harvard, for that Ivy League insight), which means you’ve got the right muscles activated. Word of warning: don’t practice more than that — Kegeling while peeing can lead to difficulties with urination and can lead to a bladder infection.
Other crafty ways to identify your Kegel muscles include pretending you’re trying to avoid farting or acting as if you’re tightening your vagina around a tampon (yep). Men can try the stopping urination or gas-passing tactic for finding the right pelvic muscles. (Again, thanks to Harvard for such, well, vivid examples!)
Get your squeeze on
Once you know which muscles you want to work, now it’s just a question of making yourself comfortable and getting your Kegel on. Initially lying down might be best, but you can Kegel in any position (seated, standing, squatting, etc.). There are two main variations of the exercise:
- The hold and release: Contract your Kegel muscles and hold them for three to five seconds (or longer), then release slowly.
- The pulse: Contract your pelvic muscles as fast as possible.
Either way, according to the Mayo Clinic, you’ll want to do three or more sets of 10-15 reps every day. Keep in mind that this is an isolation exercise, so you want to focus on only contracting (pulling in) those pelvic muscles, not your abdomen or your butt cheeks. You should see and feel the difference, especially if you’ve been grappling with some incontinence, within a few months. Winning.
Keeping up with your Kegels
Given you can do these exercises anytime, anywhere, make a conscious commitment to sneak some Kegels into your day. The idea is to connect a trigger to your Kegels, so do them when you finish morning meditation, before lunch, or during an evening Netflix binge.
And if you want to take your Kegeling to pro level, there are plenty of Kegel instructors available. Try Ben Wa balls (we like Luna Beads’ version), or for more high-tech options, Bloom Kegel Exerciser by We-Vibe is great for working it by adding in accoutrements and good vibrations. And if you feel like you need a personal Kegel trainer to keep pushing you while also keeping track of your progress, of course, there’s an app for that.
Beyond the Kegel
Once you’re hooked on priming your pelvic floor for better performance, you may want to seek out other ways to build your strength. Many of the yoga poses that help relieve period pain including Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose), Virabhadra (Warrior III), and Malasan (squat), also help tone your pelvic floor. Pilates exercises, including scissors and bridge, are great vaginal muscle boosters. And dancing, particularly if it brings in core strength like belly dancing, ballroom dancing, or samba, is great for your pelvic floor.
Take note: if you are experiencing urine leaking and incontinence that Kegeling doesn’t take care of entirely, be sure to talk to your doctor. There are also non-invasive as well as surgical treatments to help strengthen your pelvic floor.
All hail the power of Kegel exercises, the kind of daily booty call we can all get behind.