By Isadora Baum
You’ve probably heard of barre, a ballet-inspired workout that blends Pilates, dance, yoga, and technique driven exercises that focus on strengthening small muscles you may neglect in other types of training. But many guys have zero interest in trying a barre workout, thinking it’s exclusively reserved for women.
Think again, though, because you can totally benefit from taking barre. Not only will it build lean muscle, but it also may be able to improve your sex life. Which makes sense, when you think about it: the pulsing, tucking, and holding motions that are key to barre also work out the pelvic floor muscles, which are key to orgasm.
What is barre?
Barre class is basically a mixture of ballet, pilates, and yoga. It mostly focuses on the lower body, such as the thighs, gluteal muscles, and legs, as well as the core. Most exercises are done at the bar.
“In comparison to strength training, which focuses on improving more massive movements (e.g., squatting), barre works toward enhancing smaller, ‘isometric’ movements,” says clinical sexologist Dr. Damian Jacob Sendler.
Those “isometric” movements are a form of strength training in which you apply tension without contracting the muscles — and they can lead to greater gains in the bedroom. Here’s the low-down on barre and why you should sign up ASAP. Leggings are optional.
1) It improves your circulation and increases the strength of your erections.
It’s no secret that ballet dancers are in really, really good shape. “In one classic study from the 1980s of a group of professional ballet dancers, barre exercises increased the amount of calories burned, improved normal oxygenation of the heart muscle, and improved core strength of the leg muscles,” he says.
Improved oxygenation allows the brain and heart to work better together and utilize oxygen more effectively, he says. And that plays a role in “driving greater sexual performance in attaining and maintaining an erection for more extended periods of time,” he adds.
Better circulation = more blood flow to the penis. “Blood plays the central role in causing penile engorgement, so healthy flow of the blood into penile tissue ensures successful erection,” he explains.
2) You have more stamina and can hold positions for longer.
You’ll get your heart rate up with each pulse and hold, which helps to build endurance in general. “This may be air squats, lunges or holding a plank posture for 1-3 minutes,” says Dr. Holly Richmond, also a clinical sexologist. “Improved cardio means increased stamina in the bedroom—you can have more sex and for a longer duration,” she says. (And hey, that’s the dream, right?)
3) You become more flexible.
Greater range of motion and flexibility is another key feature of barre workouts. “Being flexible allows you to get into and hold various and more challenging sexual positions,” says Richmond. You can get deeper, spread your legs wider, and bend with ease. So, if you’ve been tempted to try a few “advanced” sex positions, barre might just help you get there.
4) You’ll have stronger orgasms.
“Perhaps most specific to barre workouts—and one of the reasons I chose them after I had my children—is how effective they are for strengthening the pelvic floor,” says Richmond.
This benefit isn’t just specific to women. Research backs this up, indicating that weak pelvic floor muscles are associated with erectile dysfunction.
Many barre exercises utilize squeezing, pulsing, thrusting and holding of the muscles in the glutes and hips, which strengths those crucial pelvic muscles, Richmond says. To really reap the benefits, you can also throw kegel exercises into the mix while you’re working out.
“Essentially, you just have to squeeze your pelvic floor like you are trying to stop peeing with every isometric barre pulse. After 4-6 months of barre workouts, most of my patients (men and women alike) report stronger orgasms,” Richmond says.