Remember when people used to lift things up and put them down at Planet Fitness? Well, now they’re staying home to lift things… with their vaginas. No, we’re not kidding. Vaginal weightlifting is seriously a thing. As opposed to doing regular kegels like every other human, people with vaginas are attaching heavy objects to kegel balls to weight train their vag and pelvic floor muscles in order to get
tighter healthier faster. Need proof? Go check out the Instagram hashtag #thingsiliftwithmyvagina. I understand if you don’t want to believe it, but this is literally real.
Naturally, we have some questions about these exercises, like “why” and “how” and “who the hell thought of this?” But we also have other, more legitimate questions, like is vaginal weightlifting actually a good idea? We interviewed the founder of vagina gym Kegelbell, Dr. Stephanie Schull, as well as O.school’s pleasure professional and pelvic health physical therapist at YouSeeLogic, Dr. Uchenna “UC” Ossai, to find out whether or not you should start weight training your most intimate muscles.
Who Can Do Vaginal Weightlifting?
First and foremost, are kegels only for people with vaginas? Good news: Any human can do pelvic floor exercises because everybody has a pelvic floor. Whether you’re 19 or 91, you can start kegeling. Yay, equality!
HOWEVER, there are situations where pelvic floor exercises either must be done under supervision or can’t be done at all. Dr. UC says that without a postural and pelvic floor muscle assessment, it’s hard to say if they’ll be beneficial for you. “Depending on your medical condition, you may need to be doing the opposite of kegels. A general rule of thumb is if you have constipation, difficulty emptying your bladder, pain with sex, or any other pelvic pain condition, pelvic floor exercises are typically not recommended.” Schull adds not to use vaginal weights if you’re pregnant, gave birth less than six weeks ago, have a vaginal infection, 3rd or 4th degree pelvic organ prolapse, or have had pelvic surgery in the last three months. Don’t fall into any of those categories? Kegel away.
How To Do It Safely
My preferred form of exercise is to practice breaking limbs and choking people out (aka Brazilian jiu-jitsu), but safety should always be a concern no matter which workout you get into. Here’s how to make sure you’re killing the kegel game as safely as possible.
Kegel exercises, in a nutshell, involve repeatedly contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. People have already been using Kegel or Ben Wa balls for centuries (why am I just now hearing about this?), and they’re basically weighted balls that you insert into the vagina before performing your exercises. There are also other products, like Kegelbell, that have an internal piece and then weighted pieces that are external—resembling the situation in the Instagram above, but a lot less extreme. You’re not just like, inserting a dumbbell into your vagina. Dr. UC says you can’t do these exercises in the mirror at the gym without getting arrested for indecent exposure…so do this sh*t in the comfort and isolation of your home, please and thank you. No one wants to see you weight training your vag next to the dumbbell station at the local gym.
And for those who don’t know (@ me), kegels are way more involved than just clenching. They require proper form and careful instruction like every other workout. Both experts agree that most people do them wrong by holding their breath, arching their back, clenching their jaw, overusing their abs, butt, or legs, or only focusing on just the vagina or anus instead of all three sphincters (the urethra needs to join the party too). Since weighted kegels are way more intense than normal ones, Kegelbell offers instructions on their website with PG-13 videos and guidelines on how to train correctly so you don’t get hurt.
Just like when you’re shopping for sex toys and tampons, you’ll also need to watch out for unsafe products you probably shouldn’t be using. Schull says that some V weights on the market are made of unhealthy materials and include dangerous instructions to wear them for hours or use them for 100+ minutes every week, “creating an unhygienic situation in a place where you definitely don’t want that.” YIKES. But Kegelbell is FDA-registered, made of medical-grade silicone, and the only kegel-assisted weight that stays OUTSIDE the vagina (the attached bulb is the only part that goes inside). Either way, whether it’s a Kegelbell, a dildo, or a menstrual cup, always make sure you wash whatever you plan to stick up there with fragrance-free soap and water before you stick it up there.
So Is This Actually A Good Idea?
To answer the main Q here, should we be doing weighted kegels? According to Dr. UC, who treats people with sexual and pelvic floor dysfunction for a living, the short answer is (generally) nope. “It reinforces the idea that the key to good orgasm or vaginal sex is a “tight vagina,” which is completely inaccurate. “It also lends itself to unnecessary injury, bad movement habits, or faults without proper supervision from a licensed medical provider.” She does vouch that Kegel exercises in general can enhance your sex life, though, among other things. “Having a coordinated and strong pelvic floor can help stabilize your spine and improve pelvic girdle pain, bowel, and bladder function, as well as your sexual response.”
But it’s not just about a tight vag or better sex to Schull, who created Kegelbell after watching her mom experience the pain of pelvic mesh surgery. “How do we expect women to get into the boardroom when we can’t even help them get out of the bathroom? [Weight training is] a natural, effective, and safe way for women to strengthen their muscles so they can stop worrying about leakage and all the other side effects of weak pelvic floors and get back to the life they love.” Cheers, sis.
Research shows that pelvic floor exercises (like weighted kegels) offer lots of health benefits inside AND outside the bedroom. They can help to straighten your posture, keep you from peeing when you jump on a trampoline or laugh too hard (embarrassed to admit at age 26 I have the *worst* bladder and do both of these things), and prevent internal organs from failing…which definitely sounds important. And yes, kegels promote intense orgasms, increase natural lubrication, and enable a stronger “squeeze and release” to amplify sensations during penetrative sex or masturbation. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Schull claims kegeling can even boost your confidence. “When you have a deep connection with these important muscles, and they are strong, it gives you a profound sense of power. Feeling stronger and more in tune with your body is never a bad thing!” *immediately starts kegeling to gain power and increase crippling low self-esteem*
After speaking with both of these experts, it seems like vaginal weight training can be a good idea as long as you’re smart and safe about it. When done correctly and consistently, weighted kegels are just super-kegels that work to keep your pelvic floor healthy, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and treat or prevent any related dysfunctions down there. But you don’t really need to add weights necessarily to get these benefits. Whatever you do, please don’t add these exercises to your circuit at the normal gym unless you want to get banned from your local Equinox (maybe not a bad idea, considering current recent events tbh).
Images: Kegelbell, GIPHY, Twitter @ramencult, @shannynmoore