The latest fitness craze women have been buzzing about isn’t something you would find on a list of fitness classes at your local gym. It’s not squats, Zumba, or Jazzercise—it’s Kegel exercises. You might have heard of Kegels before, but to refresh your memory: Kegel exercises target the muscles that form the pelvic floor. Naturally, this can help you improve your love life by making it easier to climax and enabling more powerful orgasms.
You may find that Kegel exercises allow you to have more powerful or multiple orgasms, too! It also opens up the path to use different types of strap-on dildos. Kegel exercises also foster greater control of your bladder, which is why they’re frequently recommended for women who experience urinary incontinence after childbirth . These exercises may decrease incontinence up to 80% , and effects may last a decade if done correctly . Pelvic floor exercises can also help with fecal incontinence  , vaginismus  , and prolapse of the pelvic organs .
Incontinence can show up as leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, or have sex.
Note that Kegel exercises help both if you have urinary stress incontinence or mixed incontinence . Doing these exercises incorrectly can lead to results that you don’t want , which we’ll touch on after we discuss the techniques. Furthermore, if your PC muscles are hypertonic (too tense), Kegels are not for you.
These techniques are not just for women, either. Men can also exercise their pelvic floor muscles to increase the size and intensity of erections and reduce premature ejaculatory occurrences. And doctors recommend exercising your pelvic floor if you have bowel issues.
However, the following Kegel exercise training plan is just for the ladies.
- FIRST THINGS FIRST
If you’re totally new to Kegel exercises, let’s start with the basics. Like, what muscles do Kegels work out, anyway? These exercises target your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, rectum, and vagina  . The pubococcygeus muscle, also known as the PC muscle, is a specific muscle you’ll want to target by doing Kegels, whether you’re a man or a woman .
How do you find your pelvic floor muscles (PFM)? Try to stop yourself mid-stream the next time you have to urinate . The muscles you use to do this are your PC muscles. Although this is an effective method for locating your Kegel muscles, you risk harming your bladder if you regularly do this . You also use your PC muscles when you stop passing gas .
Before you begin your Kegel exercise routine, make sure to completely empty your bladder. Doing exercises with a full or partially full bladder can cause pain and potential leakage and increases the risk of a UTI .
PERFECT YOUR TECHNIQUE
It can be tricky to isolate your Kegel muscles since it feels more natural to flex them simultaneously with muscles in your thighs, buttocks, and abdomen. The best way to do this, according to The Mayo Clinic, is to lie down flat on your back and take deep breaths in and out while performing each set.
Don’t hold your breath  . This will help you keep the rest of your muscles relaxed and improve your concentration while preventing additional pressure . Counting out loud may help you from holding your breath .
- Step 1:Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for five seconds .
- Step 2:Relax and exhale for five seconds.
- Step 3:Repeat this exercise five times, and then try it for 10 seconds.
To make sure you aren’t accidentally incorporating other muscles into your routine, place one hand on your stomach to make sure it’s relaxed the entire time.
- PULL-IN KEGELS
There are tons of variations on Kegel exercises that allow you to vary up your routine and get a better workout. The pull-in Kegel is one popular example.
To do this exercise, Doctor Dorothy Fairley recommends imagining that you are sitting in an inch of water and your vagina is a vacuum trying to suck it all up. Tighten your buttocks while pulling up and tilt inward at the front. Hold this position for five seconds, and relax. Repeat the entire exercise 10 times, for a total of 50 seconds.
Practice until you are comfortable doing this four times per day, then increase your reps by five every week. Stop increasing once you’ve reached 40, and within three months you should feel yourself gaining full control. At this point, you can decrease your exercises to just 10 reps, four times per day.
- PELVIC CLOCKS
Pelvic clocks offer a long list of health benefits, including:
- Improved circulation to the pelvic organs.
- Reduced stiffness and congestion from prolonged sitting and standing.
- Increased pelvic flexibility.
- Enhanced balance.
- Better awareness of spinal stability.
To do this exercise, lie on your back, making sure that your pelvis has a full range of movement. Bend your knees up, keeping your feet flat on the floor, and your spine straight. Pretend there is a clock on your lower abdomen, with 12:00 at your navel, 6:00 at the start of your pubic bone, and 9:00 and 3:00 at either hip bone.
Rock your hips forward and backward, bringing your bellybutton down to your spine and then up at your pubic bone. Rotate your hips so that the 3:00 side is lower, and then tilt your pelvis until the 6:00 is in the lowest position. Move around the clock, hitting every number until 12:00 is the lowest position again. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times, then reverse in the opposite direction 2-3 times.
When you’re ready for a more advanced workout, Wetzler recommends varying your routine by going from 1:00 to neutral, 2:00 to neutral, and so on around the clock. Repeating a small movement, such as 3:00 to 4:00, five to six times can help you feel the pelvic activity more intensely.
For more instruction on doing this exercise, watch this video:
- KEGELS AND SQUATS
Some women incorporate both Kegel exercises and squats into their routines. You may know squats for their ability to provide you with a round booty, but they may also contribute to PFM strength. Proponents of squats claim that only doing Kegel exercises will tighten your PC muscles but not lengthen them, which is also necessary. Squats may also be an option for women with hypertonic pelvic floor muscles.
People who do squats for PC muscle strength advocate a full, sustained squat (also known as a deep squat), which will pull the sacrum and lengthen your PFM. In a full squat, your knees will be higher than your butt.
- INCORPORATING EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
Once you get a little more experienced with your Kegel exercises, you can mix things up with some exercise equipment designed specifically for targeting these muscles, such as Kegel balls. These items can make it easier for you to perform exercises and to get feedback.
Kegel balls, also known as Ben Wa balls, vaginal balls, or pleasure balls, ensure a focused workout of your vaginal muscles. They can be found at virtually any sex toy shop, and are highly affordable—usually costing less than $15. Traditionally, the balls were separate beads, but now they’re usually connected and much larger, often with an internal ball that’s designed for involuntary muscle contractions and to provide pleasure.
Newer Kegel balls like those from Lelo and Fun Factory are made from hypoallergenic silicone, which is important because they can be sanitized, and you can easily find single balls if you prefer using them to double-ball models. The retrieval cord also makes the balls easier to use, and the larger size provides more feedback to the user. Plus, some women consider these to be enjoyable when used as sex toys. Vaginal balls may include replaceable balls, so you can replace them with balls of a different size or weight.
Another option is a vibrator that’s shaped like one or two balls that you can insert to do your exercises or use for pleasure. You might even be able to have an orgasm without using your hands thanks to these devices and Kegels.
Once you acquire your Kegel balls, you’ll want to thoroughly wash and dry them, then apply lube to ensure a more comfortable insertion.
Get into a comfortable, relaxed position—either sitting or standing—and gently push them into your vaginal opening. Make sure not to push them too far, since they could cause pain or irritation to the cervix. Close your legs to keep them in place.
Isolate your Kegel muscles and use them to practice the standard exercise, squeezing the balls with these muscles, holding it for a few seconds, and then relaxing your hold. Then try to move the balls back and forth. Having the Kegel balls inside you might feel strange at first, but you’ll find that you get used to the feeling—sort of like wearing a tampon. Aim to keep the Kegel balls inside for at least 15 minutes per day, up to an hour for maximum results.
SMART KEGEL TOYS
Another option thanks to technology is the smart Kegel toy. These toys are “smart” because they connect to your phone via Bluetooth so you can see how well you’re doing and get help with exercises. Previously, doctors might use instruments to get this sort of biofeedback, but you can do it at home thanks to smart devices.
Minna’s kGoal was among the first, and Gvibe also makes smart Kegel balls. Lovelife, Elvie and We-Vibe are among the other manufacturers that have created smart Kegel toys. They’ll cost more than regular Kegel balls, but many people find the feedback and exercise aids worthwhile. You can also find copycat devices on Amazon for lower prices, but they may not be as dependable as smart toys from reputable makers.
Make sure that the app is compatible with your phone before you invest in a smart Kegel device.
If you want something totally different, the Intensity is a device that you insert and inflate to exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Vibrance has a more medicinal appearance than the smart trainers made by sex toy companies, but it presents another option. Studies show that women who use it have significant improvement in PC muscle strength .
STAYING ON SCHEDULE
Like all physical exercise, your best bet for staying disciplined and getting the results you want is to incorporate Kegels into your daily routine. Luckily, Kegel exercises are quick, easy, and can be discrete when you need them to be.
Although lying down is ideal for isolating your Kegel muscles when you’re first starting out, once you get the hang of it, you can do them basically anywhere and at any time: at your desk, relaxing on the couch while watching TV, and even while you’re stuck in traffic.
The flexibility makes Kegel exercises more convenient, but it might not promote discipline, making it easier for you to just simply forget to do them. An even more effective way to keep up with Kegels is to add them to a more solid part of your daily routine—like brushing your teeth or eating dinner. If you start coupling these activities, you’ll be much less likely to forget.
DON’T OVERDO YOUR KEGELS
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends repeating your Kegel exercise 10 times, three times a day—ideally morning, afternoon, and night . To be clear, that’s a total of 30 contractions per day.
Like other muscles, you run the risk of straining your Kegel muscles when exercising too frequently or intensely. Though consistency is important, you don’t want to increase the number of sets you perform in a single day. This can cause pain or discomfort during urination, bowel movements, and sexual intercourse.
SEEING RESULTS OF KEGEL EXERCISES
Kegel exercises are so easy and effective, there’s no excuse why women of all ages shouldn’t be doing them to dramatically improve their sex lives and their health overall. The first step is simply to get to know your body and gain a better understanding of the intricacies of the female anatomy. Remember that results aren’t typically instant and you may not experience the most powerful orgasms ever, but it’s worth the wait if you stay disciplined and optimistic.
Women can start to see urinary improvement as a result of Kegel exercises at between 3 and 6 weeks    . Most women should feel results by three months. You’ll have greater control over your bladder and your muscles will feel stronger. It will become easier to do Kegel exercises, so you can do them more often and for longer (be careful not to overdo it, of course!).
Your partner may also feel a difference during sex.
If you’re concerned about your routine or would just like a little advice, talk to your doctor about planning a more effective routine. A medical professional can offer biofeedback training, which involves a monitoring device to determine how successful your muscle contractions are and the length of time you were able to hold these contractions . One survey shows that getting biofeedback helps women reduce incontinence by 75.9% compared to the 51% reduction in incontinence in women with only verbal feedback . This is one reason why apps are so useful for Kegel exercises.
Your doctor might even be able to provide electrical stimulation to automatically contract the correct muscles , which can help you reproduce the effect on your own after some experience with the feeling.
Once you start to experience the awesome effects of this exercise, you can maximize you and your man’s pleasure by teaching him how to work out his own pelvic muscles. These exercises, when performed by men have been shown to help them achieve stronger erections and gain greater control over ejaculation. A man can also improve his prostate health by doing Kegels . That’s a win-win for you both!
WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS
Scientists and doctors are getting on board with technology as an aid in Kegel exercises. In fact, a team of urologists from the University of California, San Francisco developed an app that enables users to track their exercises and sessions . The app also tracks other signs of urinary health. It’s likely more tools will become available, or you can consider one of the smart devices we mentioned above, which already have their own apps.
One study shows that electric stimulation might be able to help the function of pelvic floor muscles. A study split women into three groups, one which did not receive electric stimulation, one group that received 15-minute electric sessions, and a third that receive electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles for 30 minutes. These groups also performed Kegel exercises.
The results of the study showed that women who received 15 minutes of electric stimulation in addition to their exercises showed more improvement in urinary stress incontinence . Due to the small sample size, researchers concluded that “there was not enough statistical power to state this unequivocally.” However, future studies could look at the efficacy of combining electricity with pelvic floor exercise on a larger scale.
Another study showed that doing Kegel exercises isn’t just good for pleasure and urinary function: it can also help your heart ! So keep on squeezing (and relaxing).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why are they called Kegels?
A: Kegel exercises are named after Arnold Kegel, the doctor who is known for recommending them to his female patients as a solution for incontinence in the 1940s  . He also invented the perineometer, a device that measures the strength of contractions in the pelvic floor .
Q: How do you say Kegel?
A: Dr. Kegel’s name is pronounced “Kay-gll” and so are the exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You might hear people talking about kegel exercises and say it similar to “key-gll,” however.
Q: Can you overdo Kegels?
A: Kegels work out your muscles. Like any workout, a break is necessary so that your muscles can rest and heal. Otherwise, you might wind up feeling sore. Another side effect of overdoing pelvic floor exercises is overly-tense muscles, which is why doing Kegels is a bad idea if you already have a condition such as a hyptertonic pelvic floor. This condition is also known as nonrelaxing pelvic floor and occurs when your PFM are too tight .
If you overdo your Kegels, the tension can lead to discomfort, too. So make sure you’re doing a full relaxation count when doing kegel exercises and that you allow your muscles to rest in between. Perhaps give yourself a day off!
Q: Is it possible to do Kegels wrong?
A: Yes. The wrong form for an exercise can lead to muscle damage and, in the case of pelvic floor exercises, contribute to incontinence. Researchers are looking for ways to make it easier to do Kegels .
Q: What equipment do I need to do Kegel exercises?
A: Nothing! You can do them on your own in any location . However, you can buy toys to make them easier or more fun and to get feedback and track your improvement.