The 16 Most Awkwardly Sexual Exercises
Although plow pose is a calming stretch for the shoulders and spine, it can be hard not to feel a bit self-conscious with your butt that high up in the air in yoga class. Remember, though, everyone else in the room is also hoisting their booties above their heads, so chances are no one’s looking at yours (especially since turning your head in this pose could strain or pull a muscle, damage compromised discs, or pinch a nerve).
How to: Lie face-up with knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms on either side. Soften knees and press arms into the ground to reach feet up toward the ceiling and then back behind you any amount that feels good on your neck. When feet are on the ground behind you, take hands in a clasp on the mat. Hold for 1 to 5 minutes.
As if thrusting your pelvis up into bridge pose weren't provocative enough, enter bridge rolls: tilting the pelvis up while slowly rolling through the spine as the hips lift and lower. This sexy move is a keeper since it pulls double-duty by strengthening the lower back, abs, and glutes while simultaneously stretching the back to release tension. [Tweet this awkwardly sexual exercise!]
How to: Lie face-up with knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart, and arms by sides, palms facing down. Engage abs, tilt pubic bone toward the ceiling, and slowly begin lifting hips and back off the floor (imagine lifting each individual vertebrae up one at a time) into full bridge pose. Hold for 1 count, then slowly lower back to start position. Do up to 10 reps.
A Pilates and barre standard, the less-than-ladylike clamshell is one serious sculptor for the hips, glutes, and inner thighs, making it a great joint-friendly alternative to lunges and squats.
How to: Lie on right side with knees bent in front of body, toes pointed, and hips, knees, and ankles stacked. Keep torso in a straight line from hips to head. Extend right arm straight overhead and rest head against arm. Bend left arm, pressing palm against the floor in front of chest for balance. Engage abs and, keeping ankles pressed together, lift feet off the floor in line with hips. Keeping hips stacked and big toes touching, raise left knee to the ceiling. Lower to start position, squeezing inner thighs together. Do up to 20 reps; repeat on the opposite side.
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Dive Bomber Pushup
The dive bomber pushup may look like something out of the Kama Sutra, but it's a legit exercise. Even though doing them may make you feel like a stripper, it's always good to mix up your pushup variations, and these build upper-body and core strength.
How to: Start in an inverted V position with hands and feet shoulder-width apart (use a wider stance with the feet to make the move easier). Bend arms and lower chest toward the floor, scooping body close to the floor, then arching back and ending with chest lifted and hips and thighs a few inches from the floor. Reverse the motion to return to start position. Build up to 3 sets of 10 reps.
It takes a lot of patience and practice to master the open-leg rocker, and some of that time will be spent getting over the fact that you’re holding your legs spread-eagle. The flexibility- and core-control-building benefits of this mat Pilates move are well worth the effort. [Tweet this exercise!]
How to: Sit with knees bent. Lift feet, pointing toes, and balancing on sitz bones. Grab hold onto outsides of ankles, engage abs, and extend legs, opening body into a 'V' shape with legs slightly wider than hips. Inhale and round back into a C-curve, bracing abdominals in tighter to spine as you roll back onto shoulder blades, lifting hips and bringing legs overhead. Exhale and, using momentum and maintaining C-curve, rock back up to sitting position, keeping legs straight throughout the move. Do up to 6 reps.
When your yoga mat is in front of a hot guy's and you find yourself hesitating to do cat-cow ("Hey, what do you think of my butt?" is a pretty bold opening line), focus on how moving between these two poses gently works your abdominals while also stretching your spine.
How to: Come to all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. On an inhale, look up and arch spine, lifting tailbone and rolling shoulders away from ears (cow). As you exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round your spine (cat), relaxing head toward the floor. That's 1 rep. Continue alternating for up to 10 reps.
Take a basic bridge, add a stability ball, and you get an additional core challenge and increased range of motion, both of which make for better, faster results. But you have to admit: This move looks like—and pretty much is!—a giant pelvic thrust.
How to: Sit on a stability ball. Slowly walk feet out until head and shoulders are resting on the ball, positioning feet hip-width apart under knees and extending arms so fingertips lightly rest on the floor. Lower hips toward the floor, stopping a few inches above the ground. Pause, then engage abs and press up through glutes and legs to lift pelvis up in line with hips. Lower hips to start position. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Whether you do kneeling kickbacks from all fours on the floor or on a machine, you may draw some attention from the guys around you. Keep it up, though: The more you do this knee- and hip-friendly move, the better your bum will look when its up in the air or in tight clothes.
How to: Come to hands and knees. Bring forearms to the floor so elbows are under shoulders and clasp hands together. Flex one foot and curl heel in close to body, lifting knee slightly off the floor. Extend leg up and behind body, aiming to make a line from heel to head as you press out through heel and squeeze glutes. Bend knee back under hip without touching the floor. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps. For added resistance, wrap a resistance band or cable around kicking foot and anchor band with hands.
Adductor Foam Roller Massage
While it's a key area to foam roll to help improve your range of motion and mobility during workouts, performing a little self-massage of the adductors (inner thighs) in public can be a little embarrassing (especially when you let out a hurts-so-good sigh…oops!).
How to: Lie facedown propped up on elbows and bend left knee out to the side of hip with the foam roller positioned underneath inner left thigh. Using upper body, slowly roll along inner thigh, holding for up to 60 seconds if you find an area of particular tension. Repeat on opposite side.
Quadriceps Foam Roller Massage
Foam rolling your quadriceps can leave you in another slightly compromising position (and probably groaning again), but working out the kinks in the front of your thighs could help relieve knee pain and release tension in this heavily worked muscle group.
How to: Lie facedown. Position the foam roller under the front of the thighs with both legs extended out straight and place hands on the floor with arms extended. Slowly roll from just above the knee (avoid going over kneecap) toward hips, holding for up to 60 seconds if you find an area of particular tension.
An amazing hip-opener, inner-thigh stretcher, and lower-back-tension reliever all in one, happy baby pose has a tendency to make you feel a little…exposed.
How to: Lie on back and bend knees, hugging them in toward chest. Take outer edges of feet in hands, reaching knees toward armpits. (If this is too much, take hands to the back of thighs.) Keep spine long and lengthen tailbone toward the floor. Rock softly from left to right if that feels nice. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Inner-Thigh Ball Squeeze
As if all the pelvic tilts in barre class weren't enough to make you giggle, then the instructor goes and tells you to put a ball between your legs. And squeeze it. In pulses. Silly as it may seem, however, the inner-thigh ball squeeze really does shape up your inner thighs, glutes, and abs.
How to: Stand in Pilates V position: heels touching and knees and toes slightly turned out. Place a Pilates or playground ball between inner thighs and bring hands to hips or hold onto a barre or back of a chair with one hand for more stability. Engage abs and raise heels a few inches off the floor. Squeeze inner thighs into ball and tuck tailbone under, then release slightly so tailbone returns to neutral and thighs relax some but not enough to drop the ball. Repeat in a pulsing rhythm. Complete for 60 seconds or 30 reps.
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The fact that you need to spread your knees wide and squeeze your butt cheeks to do frog in Pilates may tempt you to skip it, but if you want a shapely, perky tush, keep it up, girl.
How to: Lie facedown with arms bent, chin resting on backs of hands. Bend knees and open them to the sides, flexing feet and pressing backs of heels together. Engage abs and lift knees a few inches off the floor, driving heels straight up to the ceiling. Lower knees. Do up to 10 reps.
Is it just us, or is it slightly awkward being adjusted in yoga class while in downward dog—you know, when the instructor starts pulling your hips toward hers? Granted, she's helping you get the most out of this great total-body stretch, which also strengthens the arms and legs. But still.
How to: Come to all fours with hands slightly in front of shoulders. Tuck toes under, lift knees off the floor, and raise tailbone up and back (imagine aiming it to where the wall meets the ceiling behind you), pressing chest back toward thighs and straightening legs as much as possible (heels may need to remain lifted off the floor). Drop head to keep neck long and press into knuckles of forefingers and thumbs to alleviate pressure from wrists. Hold for up to 3 minutes.
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Salacious as the peek-a-boo-esque Pilates straddle criss-cross is, it's a serious way to stretch and strengthen the inner thighs. [Tweet this exercise!]
How to: Lie on back with legs extended above hips, toes pointed, and knees slightly turned out. Cross right leg over left. Engage abs and straddle legs open to sides, then quickly bring legs together, crossing left leg over right. Do 10 to 15 reps, alternating legs.
It can be a blast doing the fun—and surprisingly effective—thigh-dancing move in barre class. And chances are the intense thigh burn you work up will distract you from what it looks like.
How to: Kneeling on a mat or padded surface, place a Pilates or playground ball (this move can also be done without a ball) between knees with legs hip-width apart, and sit hips back onto heels. Arms can be held overhead, in front of body, or bent side to side for more obliques action. Keeping hips back toward heels, trace a half circle back and forth with hips from side to side. Dance for up to 60 seconds.
Model: Lauren Goodman, Mega Models