We all want to have the best sex possible. That’s a given. But in the modern world, all those hours we spend hunched over our computers or staring down at our smartphones aren’t doing our bodies any favors — and our sex lives are suffering as a result. Personal trainers will be the first people to tell you how important it is to stretch and it’s not just a problem for your not-so-great knees or preventing workout injuries.
After all, when we don’t stretch, we’re restricting our body’s range of motion. By stretching, our range of motion improves, and we’re able to move in ways that might not have been possible before, says Vince Sant, certified International Sports Science Association trainer and co-creator of the fitness platform V Shred.
And the best part? “Arousal and blood circulation have a direct correlation,” he says. “Stretching your hip and leg area sends large amounts of blood flowing through the pelvic area.”
Now that’s something to strive for! Plus, to get these benefits, you don’t have to spend hours in a fitness studio, especially if you’re time-strapped. The six stretches below are recommended by experts specifically to improve your sex life. Do them on the regular, and the results just might blow your — and your partner’s — minds.
Best For: Doggy Style
How to Do It: On your hands and knees, round your shoulders down and your back up toward the ceiling while pushing through your arms; your chin should tilt down, says Long Beach–based personal trainer Andrea Lowell. That’s the Halloween-silhouette “cat” part of the stretch.
Then extend to the “cow,” which is the opposite position. Still on your hands and knees, transition to an arched back, face tilting up, and “push that booty out and up as far as possible,” she says.
“When doing this move, consider your perineum your guide,” Lowell says. “In cat, you want to tilt your pelvis down as you round your back, so your perineum is pointing to the floor. Then, in cow, tilt your pelvis up to try to get that perineum up to the ceiling.”
How Often: Do 10 reps of cat/cow per day. “It’s a great way to start the morning and can be done in bed or on the floor,” she says.
Why It Works: “It encourages arm and shoulder stability for you but will also provide a new range of motion for your hips the more you practice it,” Lowell says.
Bonus Sex Tip! “Feel free to try a modification of it by slightly tilting your pelvis up and down with your partner the next time you’re in doggy style to rock his world,” she says.
Best For: Pretty much every sex position. “This stretch is actually quite versatile,” says New York City–based personal trainer Anthony Nehra. “It’s good for any position where you’ll need to spread your legs, be on all fours, or straddle another person, so that covers a lot of ground.”
How to Do It: Get into an all-fours position. Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders, and spread your knees as wide as you comfortably can, he says. Rock back and forth gently, pushing your hips and butt back toward your feet. Continue rocking for 30 seconds, then sit back into the stretch and hold for another 30 seconds.
How Often: Repeat the stretch for three to four rounds, resting for 30 seconds between each round, every other day. “Always listen to your body, and don’t push beyond your limits,” Nehra says. “Repeated practice will gradually increase your flexibility.”
Why It Works: “The frog stretch will open up the hips and bring laxity to the adductor muscles, allowing you to spread your legs wider,” Nehra says. “In addition to the flexibility benefits, this position will fire up the core muscles and glutes — always good for sex!”
Best for: Woman on Top
How to Do It: “Take a wide stance and point your toes out 45 degrees,” Sant says. “Keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips and your knees behind your toes, lower your butt straight down toward the ground until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press into your heels to come back up to starting position.”
How Often: Repeat 10 times about four times per week.
Why It Works: This move is a double whammy for those of us who like to be in charge: It “improves flexibility and builds thigh strength,” Sant says.
Anjaneyasana (Low Crescent Lunge Pose)
Best for: Any position! It’s “able to really properly engage your pelvic floor so you can get that squeezing sensation during sex,” says Bizzie Gold, personal development expert and founder of Buti Yoga.
How to Do It: Step your right foot forward, bringing the knee to a 90-degree angle. The left leg is extended, with the sole of the foot relaxed, oriented toward the ceiling. Engage through the pelvic floor and lengthen through the crown of the head as you extend the arms up overhead. “You have to be properly engaged through the pelvic floor and fight impending gravity,” she says.
Hold for five inhale-exhales, press back into child’s pose (sit back on your heels, bring your torso down to your thighs, and extend your arms straight out on the floor), and then do it on the other side.
How Often: Do three rounds of five inhale-exhales per side.
Why It Works: In addition to strengthening the pelvic floor, this pose opens up the hips, Gold says. Plus, yogis consider anjaneyasana to be “heart opening,” which helps combat that all-too-common hunched position after spending too much time at a desk. Heart opening is also important for sensuality: “Having that experience of fully extending your heart center — instead of being in that energetically closed position — helps you connect with your partner,” she says.
Best For: When You’re Trying a New Position
How to Do It: This one’s complicated but worth it! On a mat, sit back on your heels, the tops of your feet flush to the mat, and exhale as you reach your arms behind your back and interlace the fingers, Sant says. Pull your shoulders away from your ears and squeeze the shoulder blades together, pressing the sternum outward. Inhale, arching the chest up to the ceiling. Exhale and hinge forward, lowering your forehead down to the mat.
Lift your arms up as high as possible, fingers interlaced and palms pressed together if you can, Sant says. Inhaling, lift your hips and roll onto the crown of your head. Press your arms forward, fingers still interlaced, but let the palms separate. Hold. Afterward, squeeze the shoulder blades together as you slowly move into the initial seated position.
How Often: Hold this position for two to six breaths, directing your breathing into the belly and chest; do three to four times per week.
Why It Works: This move is a lumbar extension that stretches the forward curve of the lumbar spine in your lower back. “You will be using your lower back a lot during sex, and making sure the lower back is prepped for activity will prevent any pulled muscle or embarrassing moments,” Sant says.
Best For: When You’re on the Bottom “This may seem on the surface like the laziest, easiest place,” Sant jokes. But, “if you want to do it right, you still need strong glutes and hamstrings to adequately lift and thrust.”
How to Do It: On a mat or other soft surface, lie on your back and place your arms by your sides, Sant says. Raise your legs so they point straight up toward the ceiling, perpendicular to your torso, with knees aligned over hips. “You can have bent knees, but if you straighten the knees, you will also stretch the hamstrings with this exercise,” he says.
Then, pull your navel in toward your spine. Inhale. Then exhale as you lift your hips a few inches off the floor, keeping your legs pointed straight up, really pulling in the lower abdominal muscles during the lift, Sant says. Don’t lift your head; keep it resting on the floor. Slowly lower your hips back to the floor, inhaling on the way down.
How Often: Repeat 10 to 12 times in a row for one set; work your way up to two sets. Do three to four times a week.
Why It Works: Yes, you’re stretching the hamstrings and engaging the butt, but there’s a bonus for your core: “The hip lift is a good ab exercise to strengthen your major abdominal muscles as well as the deep abs,” Sant says. “It is less stressful on the back than some ab exercises, such as crunches.”
A version of this story was first published March 2019.