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Kegel Exercises for Women (Step by Step with Images + PDF)

exercise guide Apr 15, 2024

You’ve heard of kegels. These magical pelvic floor moves meant to prevent urinary incontinence and increase pleasure sensations during sex. 

But despite the overwhelming amount of research proving their efficacy, you’ve also heard, perhaps from a friend of a friend, that they do not work.

So what gives?

In this article, I’m going to argue that, perhaps, your friend’s friend is likely doing kegels wrong.

More importantly, I'm going to teach you, step by step and with images, how to properly do kegel exercises for women. 

So let’s get going. 


Kegel Exercises Step by Step 


Kegels, developed to prevent urinary incontinence by Dr. Arnold Kegel back in 1948 have gained popularity in recent years due to their… err… sexier effects.

Namely, making penetration feel amazing.

But, how do they work?

Simple. These are your pelvic organs from the side. You have your bladder (which holds your pee), your vagina leading to your uterus (which in case of pregnancy would hold your baby), and your rectum (which holds your fecal matter).

And that green hammock that supports all of these organs is your pelvic floor muscles.

These muscles are like any other muscle in your body. When they’re weak, they have trouble performing their activities correctly.

And in the case of the pelvic floor, this means that they have trouble keeping the tubes connecting to your pelvic organs nice and tight.

This leads to urinary incontinence, gas passing, and loss of that oh-so-delicious sensation of friction in the vagina during sex.

But why do these muscles get weak in the first place?

Your pelvic floor muscles can weaken for a variety of reasons, including pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, aging, and chronic diseases.

But luckily for you, just like any other muscle in your body, you can build them back up again with pelvic floor exercises, or kegels!

Kegels are simple pelvic floor contractions, or pelvic floor lifts. Just like you would lift your leg in during a donkey kick, or you would lift your arm in during a bicep curl, you lift your pelvic floor muscles during a kegel.

And doing so, consistently,
will make these muscles strong again.


Doing Your First Kegel


To do your first kegel, sit on a chair with your back straight, and the soles of your feet on the ground.

Then follow these instructions:

  1. Inhale gently through your nose.

  2. As you exhale, imagine you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing, or you’re trying to hold in a fart.

    Notice how it feels like you’re tucking in, or pulling from your anus? This is what a pelvic floor contraction or kegel should feel like.

    It’s the complete opposite motion of pushing out, like you would do when delivering a baby.

    And this is what a lot of women get wrong – they push out instead of pulling in.

  3. Inhale again through your nose as you release that pull. Completely let go of that contraction, and relax your muscles.

Congratulations, you just did a Kegel!

Something that tends to happen when we perform our first Kegel is that our glutes (our buttcheek muscles) will also want to get involved.

Try to see if you can do another Kegel, only this time, make sure you focus the movement solely on your pelvic floor, without engaging your buttock muscles.

Now, if you still don’t feel like you’re quite getting this movement, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a urogynecologist. They’ll be able to test whether you’re performing these exercises right, and will assist you if you’re having trouble.


Your Beginner’s Kegel Workout


To get started strengthening your pelvic floor, perform the following program this week:

Perform 3 series of 10 Kegels, exactly like we described above, 4 days this week.

This means that on each of these 4 days, you’ll be doing 30 repetitions of this movement.

After each set of 10, make sure to rest for 1 to 3 minutes, before starting again.


It’s important that as you perform these Kegels or pelvic floor contractions, you do so while practicing good breathing form.

Just like we explained above, you want to exhale as you contract, and inhale as you relax your muscles. This might feel counterintuitive at first, but it’s crucial if you want to avoid injury.

Without getting too technical, you’re breathing in a way that aligns your thoracic diaphragm (the one under your lungs) with your pelvic floor diaphragm (the muscles that we’re working on). If you were to inhale as you contract, you’d be placing too much pressure on your core muscles, risking injury.

It’s also important that you breathe gently through your nose, not your mouth.

And, the most important aspect of proper breathing is: never, ever, hold your breath while performing Kegels. You want air to be flowing in and out of you naturally.

Even if at first you can’t quite match your exhales with your contractions, at least make sure that you’re breathing in and out naturally through your nose.


After you perform your 3 sets of 10 Kegels on any given day, you should spend 5 to 10 minutes relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.

This means, you want to make sure you’re not holding to any contraction, and your muscles have completely let go.

The best way to do this is by adopting some of the following pelvic floor stretching positions:

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

  • The Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)

  • Yogi Squat (Malasana)



Now that you understand how to properly perform a Kegel, you can follow this basic workout for a couple of weeks and it’s likely that you’ll already notice a difference in your pelvic floor muscles, especially when it comes to issues like urinary or fecal incontinence.

But if your goal is enhancing the sensations you feel during sex, this is only the first step you can take in your journey of pelvic floor mastery.

As we’ll cover in the next section, there’s an infinite number of exercises you can do with the muscles surrounding your vagina that will increase the pleasure you’ll feel during sex.

Now, whether you decide to become a Vaginal Goddess or not, you can still increase the difficulty and effectiveness of this beginner workout.

One way to do this is by performing it throughout different positions.

For instance, after 2 weeks of performing this workout sitting on a chair, you can add an extra set of Kegels, and perform each of the 10 repetitions across these four different positions:

  • One set of 10 Kegels sitting down (like you’ve been doing so far)

  • One set of 10 Kegels laying down, facing up

  • One set of 10 Kegels standing up, with your hands pressed against a wall for stability

  • One set of 10 Kegels on all fours

The idea here is that you perform these 10 contractions across different pelvic floor angles, and across the different positions you generally adopt during sex.

Expect some positions to be more challenging than others. For example, performing Kegels on all fours is much harder than performing them sitting down. This is because your pelvic floor muscles are more stretched out when you’re on your knees with your legs further apart.

A second way to increase the difficulty of these workouts is by increasing the number of repetitions you perform per set. For example, after a couple of weeks, you can aim to perform 15 repetitions of Kegels per set, or even 20. 

After you master each of these levels of workouts, your best way to continue progressing is to add different pelvic floor exercises to the mix.

Before you jump straight into Pompoir or vaginal gymnastics, you can start out by performing different Kegel variations.

The Different Types of Kegels for Women PDF


What you just learned how to do is a simple Kegel, or a short contraction.

But this is far from everything that your pelvic floor muscles can do – in fact, a short contraction is the very first exercise women learn in the art of Pompoir or vaginal gymnastics.

You read that right. 

You can become a vaginal Olympic gymnast if you wanted, capable of squeezing, whipping, milking, locking, or even twisting your partner, to elicit divine levels of pleasure for the both of you.

The very first step in this journey is learning the different Kegel or contraction variations.

Lucky for you, we’ve developed a completely free PDF teaching you all of this.

Click here to download it – it’s 100% free. 


Signs of Overdoing Kegels


Provided you’re performing these exercises following proper breathing technique and adequately stretching after each workout, it’s unlikely that you’ll be overtraining your pelvic floor.

However, a simple sign that you’re overdoing your Kegels is feeling any sort of pain or soreness in your pelvic floor muscles.

While some of these workouts might be challenging for a complete beginner, they shouldn’t feel painful.

If they ever do start feeling painful, make sure to stop, and skip the next two days of training to allow your muscles to recover. This alone should give you plenty of time to relieve that soreness feeling.

However, if the pain persists, you might have overtrained your muscles to the point of them not being able to fully relax. This is called a hypertonic pelvic floor, where the muscles are unable to release that tension.

Some women are simply more prone to developing a hypertonic pelvic floor. However, by following proper breathing techniques, stretching your muscles after workouts, and avoiding training every day, you can prevent this from happening in most cases.

If you believe you might have a hypertonic pelvic floor, make sure to set an appointment with a pelvic floor physician or a urogynecologist. They’ll give you some exercises (sometimes called “reverse Kegels”) to help you release that tension. And if the muscles are too tight or locked up, they’ll be able to help you relax them manually.

Don’t worry. Even if you are someone who’s more prone to developing a hypertonic pelvic floor, in most cases, you can still perform pelvic floor exercises safely by being extra mindful of rest periods and relaxing your muscles after training.

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