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How Many Pompoir Exercises Are There? Part 2

Jan 19, 2024


In the first part of this discussion, I explained why there are several pompoir exercises by comparing the pelvic floor muscles to any other muscle in our body.

Just like we would train our legs using a variety of different exercises, we can (and should) train our pelvic floor muscles using a variety of different exercises.

In this second part, I want to expand on this idea, because I believe (from a purely anecdotal perspective) that the levator ani muscles, the ones we train during pompoir, are uniquely versatile in the way they can move. 

Take this with a giant grain of salt. I am not a doctor, nor am I a certified PT. 

I’m just someone who’s been successfully training women for a few years on this very rare, very niche practice, and who’s been fascinated by the results.

What follows is the argument for my hypothesis, based on my experience and the experience of fellow students of the practice, and explained through my limited understanding of muscle biomechanics. 

My goal is to further develop the science behind vaginal training by teaming up with actual researchers, doctors, and PTs – in other words, people who are way smarter than me.

Hopefully this is the first step in getting their attention.


The Hypothesis: Why are there so many vaginal exercises?


As I mentioned above, I believe the levator ani muscles are uniquely versatile in the way they can move.

Let’s take three completely different pompoir exercises to illustrate this: rubbing, rocking, and whipping.

rubbing, the lateral walls of the vaginal canal contract and relax in alternation, simultaneously.  As the muscles on the right side of the vagina contract, the muscles on the left side of the vagina relax, and viceversa. The motion “flows”, as in, the muscles are in constant movement.

During rocking, the front wall and the back wall of the vagina take turns to squeeze to the middle. First, the front wall presses to the center, then the back wall presses to the center, and so on, and so forth. As one wall presses, the other one relaxes by default, and it gains traction to press to the center again.

During whipping, the lateral walls of the vagina are squeezed sequentially, starting from the lower level (near the entrance), then the center, and then the top (near the cervix). Just like rubbing, the motion is performed in a “flow”, as in, the muscles are in constant movement.

Just by looking at these three very different exercises we can learn a lot from how the levator ani muscles can move. 

From the get go, we see a difference between the motion of contracting or “lifting” versus squeezing or “flexing”. 

We also notice a differentiation between the regions of the muscles (front wall, back wall, left wall, right wall, and the three vertical levels up). 

Lastly, we see that each of these movements can be performed simultaneously with another, or alternating with another, or even while a different movement is being actively performed by another region of the muscle.

Let’s break down these three key concepts, and see if we can understand how they play a role in the alleged versatility of the levator ani muscles.


Types of Muscle Contractions


A muscle contraction is the generation of tension within the muscle cells. And this can happen whether the muscle is moving or not. 

We call the contractions that generate force by changing the length of the muscle isotonic contractions. And these isotonic contractions can be concentric (which means they generate force by shortening the muscles) or eccentric (which means they generate force by lengthening the muscles).

When we talk about “contracting” in pompoir, we’re referring to an isotonic, concentric contraction. We also call these type of motion “pulling”, or “lifting”, as it feels like a vertical movement up, and we’re shortening the vaginal canal.

On the other hand, when we talk about “releasing”, “relaxing”, or “opening up” in pompoir, we’re referring to an eccentric contraction. We’re lengthening the vaginal canal.

But there’s also another type of contractions called isometric contractions. These contractions generate force without changing the length of the muscle.

Think of what happens to your arms when you’re carrying a heavy box. Your arms aren’t moving, but you can feel them tensing up and generating force to hold the weight of the box. This is an isometric contraction.

Squeezing is a crucial motion in the art of pompoir, as it is typically the turning point for most students. Once the student masters squeezing and can easily differentiate it from contracting, she will find that she can approach all the other, more complex exercises with ease.

We believe squeezing is a type of isometric contraction, rather than an isotonic one. The feeling of squeezing is similar to the “flexing” of a muscle, and flexing a muscle is essentially an isometric contraction performed against internal resistance.

Some type of squeezing is involved in 50% of all pompoir exercises.

In this aspect, pompoir training combines all types of muscle contractions as a fundamental aspect of the practice, which is not the case for all muscle training programs.

This is the first reason why I believe there are so many pompoir exercises we can master.


Muscle Regions


Going back to our exercise examples, we can see that different regions of the muscle are being activated in each move.

Rubbing involves the lateral regions of the muscle, while rocking involves the anterior and posterior halves. And whipping involves the lateral regions but at different vertical levels of depth.

But is this true? Can different exercises activate certain regions of the muscle better than others?

The answer is yes. This concept is well documented and it’s called regional hypertrophy.

This study compared the effects of smith machine squats vs leg extensions for growing the quadriceps.

While both exercises were similarly effective at targeting the quad muscles, each exercise was better at activating different regions of the quad.

The smith machine showed more activation of both the proximal and mid quad, while showing very little activation of the distal quad. On the other hand, leg extensions showed less activation of the proximal and mid quads, but dramatically overperformed in distal quad activation.

How does this compare to the levator ani muscles?

Well, the evidence we have is purely anecdotal, because there haven’t as of yet been any studies performed on advanced pompoir training. At least not in our program (hopefully soon!).

But what we do know is that there are different regions within the levator ani structure.

And any pompoir student will tell you, moving the anterior wall of the vagina fees entirely different than moving the posterior wall. As it feels entirely different to move the muscles on the left side of the vagina than it is to move the muscles on the right side. And all of this feels completely unique when done at different depths of the vaginal canal.

In fact, we regularly speak about the 12 unique “zones” of the vagina, which we could also call the 12 muscular regions of the levator ani. 

In this sense, we could theorize that a similar chart of regional hypertrophy could be made when comparing two different pompoir exercises.

You might think that identifying 12 unique zones of a muscle seems like an overreach.

But when we look at other muscles, we can see how this makes sense. 

For starters, the two lateral halves of the vagina are much closer to each other than our other pairs of muscles.

If we look at our chest muscles, for example, we have the right pec, and the left pec. So the “left and right” sides of the vagina, are simply the two halves of the levator ani structure, like we have for any other muscle. 

Then we can go into muscular regions. Back to the chest example, we tend to speak about the upper pecs, the lower pecs, the outer pecs, and the inner pecs. These regions are made up of muscle fibers going from different directions, and the same can be said about the muscle fibers surrounding the vaginal canal.

The fibers at the front of the vagina are not going to run in the same direction as the fibers on its sides. That’s why different exercises will target the different regions more effectively.

And if we go one layer deeper (literally!) we also make distinctions in terms of the position of each muscle within a muscle group.

Back to the pecs, the pectoralis major is the front layer, closer to the skin. But we also have a lower layer called the pectoralis minor, and the subclavius muscle.

The same thing happens with the muscles surrounding the vagina.

Those that are closer to the entrance will be activated more effectively through certain exercises, and those closer to the cervix will be activated more effectively through other exercises.

So, the second reason why I believe there are so many pompoir exercises that we can master is that there are many regions of the levator ani muscles that we can work on, and students are taught to identify 12 of them. 




The last point I want to make has to do with how the different regions of the muscle synchronize when we’re doing a given pompoir exercise.

Think of what happens when you lunge forwards with your right leg: your right glute is completely extended, while your left glute is shortened to help you stabilize.

Both glutes are generating tension, although most of the resistance is placed on the front leg, working out the right glute more effectively.

The same thing is true for pompoir exercises. Only that because there’s a lot less separation between the different walls of the muscle, it feels as though it is one single muscle performing all of these crazy moves.

But it isn’t. 

While you do a concentric contraction with the right wall of your vagina, you could be doing an eccentric contraction with the left wall.

While you squeeze the entrance of the vaginal canal, you could be lifting at the deeper layer of the muscle.

While you lift with the frontal wall, the back wall could stay completely neutral.

On top of that, you could combine these three planes of movement into a single exercise.

Now, theoretically, we could do this with other muscles as well. But we don’t because it wouldn’t be very functional.

It’s not very effective to be doing a step up with the right leg, essentially stretching the muscle, while we’re also doing donkey kicks with the left leg.

You can try it, but if your sense of balance is as bad as mine, chances are you’ll fall on your butt!

In this sense, every pompoir exercise is much more functional, because it creates a unique sensation during sex.

Students are encouraged to try these different combinations, because each of our bodies is different, and each of our partner’s bodies are different as well. We never know which exercise is going to end up becoming our favorite when we bring it to the bedroom.

So, the third and final reason why I believe there are so many pompoir exercises is because students are encouraged to combine the movements of the different regions of the levator ani in a variety of ways, because it’s functional for us to do so.


There’s Still A Lot to Learn


As I hope I made very clear throughout this article, none of what I wrote about today has been scientifically proven.

And the truth is, it will probably be a while until a large-scale study can analyze in depth the biomechanics involved in a structured pompoir workout.

The sample size of women who know how to do this is very small, and a study of this nature would require electromyography to be as accurate as possible, which might seem quite invasive to many of them.

My intention here is to provide some theories as to why this practice seems to be so vast, and why we’re still discovering new exercises today.

I’m happy to be proven wrong if it means we’ll have more research done on this wonderful training.

Have a good night, goddess!

– Bel


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