These Sex Positions Could Basically Be Classified As a Workout
In a way, the missionary position is the physical equivalent of the old "I'm busy washing my hair" excuse—it's the brush-off used when you're lazy, tired, or just not that interested. But despite being one of the most passive contortions, this position can still make for pretty good workout sex.
"It depends on how enthusiastic you are about it, but missionary can be great for the core muscles," says Stacy Berman, a New York City-based certified fitness trainer and founder of Stacy's Boot Camp. "If your partner is thrusting toward you, you want to have an equal and opposite thrust back, and that requires a lot of core strength. It actually will start burning."
Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching and immediate past president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, agrees that you'll definitely be feeling it in your abs. "You can strengthen your core by focusing on pelvic lifting using your core, not your lower back. That's where women tend to get stuck—they tend to rely on their lower back to give them propulsion." (The risk of which isn't a joke, either. Worst-case scenario, you could throw out your back or sustain some other injury—not exactly a bedroom turn-on.)
The missionary position can also provide a good butt workout. "The more she does buttock squeezes, the more she could accentuate her riding toward him to give herself a good glute workout," says Britton.
As with the missionary position, penetration-from-behind sex engages the receiving partner's core because they have to stabilize themselves on all fours, says Berman. You'll also be working your quadriceps and glutes to help brace yourself against the impact.
However, you can use a modified position to get a good arm workout, too. Rather than having your hands flat on the bed, "if the woman has her hands on a wall in front of her and sort of uses her upper body to help thrust, that would be a good shoulder and upper body workout," says Berman.
With a standard cowgirl position, the lower part of the receiving partner's legs are braced on the bed or floor, which will engage the butt and core for heart-pumping workout sex. (BTW, core strength is super important.)
"Much like riding a horse, she's going to flex her lower abs and pelvic muscles," says Yvonne K. Fulbright, a certified sex educator and author of Touch Me There! "Pressing into the man's abs and sides with her quads or calves can engage those muscles as well."
Modifying the cowgirl position can work additional muscle groups. "To make it even more intense, she can come up onto her feet, almost like a squat over him. That's all butt, legs, and hips," says Berman. "If she gets up onto her feet and leans onto her hands, she'll also have to use her upper body to balance." (P.S. cowgirl is one of the best positions for clitoral stimulation.)
Like the missionary position, the lotus sitting position is one of the more passive sex positions. However, many of the same muscles worked in the cowgirl position are going to be used in this contortion, making it ideal workout sex: the core is engaged to stabilize the body, and the glutes are worked during thrusting. (Related: Try These 7 Tantric Sex Positions for More Intimacy)
Standing is one of the more challenging positions because often the receiving partner has to allow the partner to lift them in some way, says Britton.
If the partners are facing each other in this workout sex position, core, and upper-leg strength comes into play: If the receiving partner is standing on one leg, those leg muscles are worked to keep her upright, and core muscles are engaged to keep balanced. If they're wrapping both legs around the partner, they'll need good arm strength to hold onto the partner. And regardless which one of these contortions they're in, "she has to have stamina, if she's standing," says Britton.
If the partners are facing the same direction, the same muscles engaged in doggy-style are used: the receiving partner work their core for balance, and their arms can be worked if they're bracing against a wall or headboard and using them to help thrust. (You'll want to master this move for shower sex.)
According to Britton, the scissors workout sex position is the least strenuous of all—there's no suspending of body weight, and it generally makes for gentler and slower penetration (which would explain why it's often recommended for pregnant women). "Scissors is for when you're tired, not for being an acrobat in bed," she says. Still, that's not to say you won't still be engaging muscle groups.
With your legs intercrossed with your partner's, there's limited movement for both people, so a lot of inner-thigh strength and core stabilization will be at work. "When you squeeze your inner thighs, the core will naturally contract as well," explains Berman. (Outside the bedroom, build inner-thigh muscle with these exercises.)
With the bridge, the receiving partner is facing upward, using all four limbs to hold their body weight off the bed. All our experts agree: This pose is not easy. (Related: 10 Yoga Poses That Double As Sex Positions)
"This is a highly advanced position," says Britton. "She needs to stabilize herself so as he's thrusting in and out, she doesn't crash."
Even if you pile a tower of pillows under your back to help support your weight (which Britton recommends), you'll still definitely be working your buttocks and inner-thigh muscles, says Fulbright. "This is going to work all of it—her biceps, triceps, abs, glutes, quads, calves. Unless she's really strong, she shouldn't expect to hold this position for long." (You'll need a lot of strength when using a sex swing too.)
Adds Berman, "If you're going from cowgirl to this position, your butt will start burning after five minutes."
The arch is a modified bridge pose, with the receiving partner resting on their shoulders while using their legs to hold the lower body off the bed. (Related: How to Activate Underused Glutes [Because Yours Are Probably Sleeping])
"In many ways, she's using the same muscle groups as for the bridge, only working them harder because she's using less to hold herself up," says Fulbright. Your core muscles, glutes, and thighs are all worked in the arch. However, Britton considers this a much safer workout sex position than the bridge: "There's no strain on the neck or shoulder region, which can seize up." (If you get neck pain from these moves, try these remedies.)
Sure, you might hate doing lunges at the gym while your personal trainer is telling you to do "just five more," but you might not mind them so much when they're being used for workout sex.
As the name might suggests, the lunge sex position has the receiving partner sitting on top of the other partner, with one leg planted in front and the other leg extended behind in between the partner's legs. This move is good for the quad, front of the leg, hamstring, core, and butt, says Berman. "It'll also work the deep stabilizer muscle of the leg in the front—both inner and outer thigh—as well as stretch the back leg's hip flexor," she says. "That's great because most people sit at a desk all day, and this way you can stretch it out."