The Coregasm Workout

The Revolutionary Method for Better Sex Through Exercise


By Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH

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The Coregasm Workout is a revolutionary new book that provides natural, safe, and effective techniques for enhancing sex through fitness. Developed by leading sex researcher, educator, and columnist Dr. Debby Herbenick, The Coregasm Workout introduces simple, science-backed exercises to make working out more fun and sex lives more satisfying. Debby has developed The Coregasm Workout based on her deep background in health science and unprecedented research on exercise-induced arousal in order to bring fitness and sexuality closer together. Her fact-based methods are specifically designed to improve orgasm and have been tested, refined, and proven by real women, for women.

The Coregasm Workout will help improve your sex life—and help you enjoy exercising more often—through four C.O.R.E. principles:
Challenge yourself through cardio, reps, and resistance
Order matters: it’s not just the kind of exercises you do, but the order in which you do them
Relax and receive: be open to the experience of coregasm
Engage your lower abs, muscles often strongly linked to coregasm

Fun, fascinating, and useful, The Coregasm Workout offers new exercise techniques for women who want to stay sexy, healthy, and fit, and enjoy the benefits of the gym in the bedroom.



YOUR HEART RATE’S up, your breath has quickened, and you’re feeling warm and flushed. Excited, even. Blood is pumping through your body. You feel amazing, as if you could do this forever. There’s a tension in your body, and you’re somehow feeling both relaxed and energized at the same time. And yet this tension will soon break free to feelings of euphoria as your whole body tenses and then relaxes.

Does the above sound to you like sex? Or exercise?

There are many similarities between sex and exercise. You might even think about sex as a form of exercise. After all, sex is often fun and recreational. It’s something most of us do as part of our leisure time, at least during certain years or decades of our lives. Also, having sex burns calories, gets our heart rate up, and improves flexibility.

It so happens that we can enhance our sexual desire and arousal through exercise (not just through sex), and this can make workouts more fun or motivating. Would you like to know how? Then read on.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise is good for our sex lives. People who walk or jog, who swim or do yoga, tend to have better sexual function than those who don’t exercise too often. How so? For one, exercising with some regularity can help you feel better about your body. Physiologically, exercise can also improve your flexibility for your favorite sex positions and improve blood flow throughout your body. (Strong blood flow is important for women’s vaginal lubrication, men’s erections, and arousal in general.) But our research suggests exercise has even more potential to improve our sexual lives than has previously been realized.

I work as a sexuality researcher and educator at Indiana University’s School of Public Health and The Kinsey Institute. It’s my job to think about sex! And as a lifetime fitness enthusiast, I often think about exercise and how it matters for our cardiovascular (heart) health, our mood, and its potential to improve our sexual lives. For the past five years, I’ve merged these interests by studying the fascinating and—until now—rarely discussed topic of exercise-induced orgasms and arousal. I’ve incorporated what I’ve learned from this research, and from surveys of and interviews with many women and men, into The Coregasm Workout.

I wrote this book to help you, the reader, learn to explore and appreciate your body and its unique and beautiful shape, size, and sensations. I want to share with you what I’ve learned about how fitness can help boost arousal, improve your sex life, and better connect you to the “core” of your being—literally. In learning how arousal and orgasm function in our bodies, we can create happier, more satisfied relationships and sex lives. To that end, this book also offers safe, fun exercises that both strengthen your core and just might awaken parts of your sexuality you didn’t even know existed. And this applies whether you exercise often or rarely.


If you’ve never heard of exercise-induced orgasms (also called “exercise orgasms” or “coregasms,” as they tend to arise from exercises that engage the core abdominal muscles), you’re not alone. Although people don’t often talk about exercise arousal and orgasms, the scientific research I’ve conducted at Indiana University indicates that far more people than one might guess have had such experiences. In our 2014 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB)—a large, nationally representative survey of 2,000 Americans’ sexual experiences—we asked men and women if they had ever had an orgasm from exercise, such as running, walking, yoga, or working out at the gym. The results? A full 10 percent of women and men had experienced orgasm from exercising! Even more people have experienced arousal from exercise, or stopped just short of orgasm. The fact that exercise arousal and orgasm are not all that rare wasn’t a complete surprise to me. After all, I’ve been researching this topic for several years. I also give talks about sex around the world—and no matter where I travel, if I mention exercise-induced arousal or orgasm someone will say, “That happens to me, too!”

Exercise orgasms and sex orgasms are both similar and different. Exercise-induced arousal and orgasm seem to arise mainly from body movements and intensity during exercise. Coregasms result from engaging certain muscle groups under certain conditions. Exercise orgasms feel physically similar to sex orgasms in the sense that both kinds of orgasms feel pleasurable and uniquely calming. Of course, emotionally exercise and sex orgasms are quite different, since sex orgasms have layers of feelings like love, lust, attraction, memories, or relationship issues associated with them.

It turns out that exercise-induced arousal and orgasm are just part of how the human body works; they’re not necessarily about sex at all. The fact that physical exercise produces feelings of arousal in so many of us can provide clues to how orgasm and arousal work in the human body, and these clues can only improve our sex lives. For this reason, my colleagues and I have conducted a series of studies focused on better understanding the coregasm phenomenon. The findings described here derive from surveys conducted with more than three hundred women who experience exercise-induced arousal or orgasm, interviews with more than twenty women, a U.S. national study of two thousand women and men, email correspondence with eighty or more women and men, and studies in which we tried “teaching” women how to change the way they exercise in order to enhance their own arousal or orgasm.

Now, some might wonder what sort of people have coregasms. Are they particularly outgoing? Are they bold exhibitionists? The answer to both is no. In our experience with this research, conducted online and in person, we haven’t found any common denominator among people who have exercise arousal or orgasm: they are adult women and men, from ages eighteen to their eighties; of all races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, and religions; living in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Iran, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States, among other countries. It would seem that exercise orgasms could be experienced by anyone anywhere—including you.

Immediately after our first coregasm study was published, I started receiving emails from people who wanted to share their story of experiencing arousal and coregasm. Many said they’d searched for years for information explaining how or why they happened. These emails have continued to pour in week after week and month after month to this day. Many of the correspondents state that coregasm is a positive part of their lives, something they wish weren’t so secret or taboo. Given that both the personal anecdotes and scientific data confirm that exercise arousal and orgasm are neither weird nor rare, they need not be taboo.

We’ve also been regularly asked whether people who have these interesting exercise experiences are in some way sexually different from people who don’t. The bottom line: no—at least not from the data collected so far. The women we interviewed in our research were, in many ways, sexually similar to other women in the world who don’t have orgasms from exercise. That is, some coregasmic women had also experienced orgasm in sexual situations, but some had not. Of those who had, some could climax during vaginal intercourse or oral sex; others could orgasm only from masturbating. Interestingly, some women who reported having had an exercise-induced orgasm, or “EIOs” as we call them, learned to have orgasms during sex by using their experience with exercise-induced arousal and orgasm and translating that knowledge into their sexual activities. And it makes sense: both sex and exercise involve practice and learning. If you want a good sex life, it takes time, experience, and communication. It takes practice!

Similarly, fitness is something we all have to practice or work at. And while some of us are naturally thin or strong, no one is naturally fit. In addition, the way we become fit changes with age and life circumstances.

We can think of sex like this too: in terms of what comes easily, what we work at, and what changes with the seasons of our lives. Although some women’s orgasms first came to them without any effort at all, most of us have had to learn how to orgasm—especially during intercourse. (Not an easy feat for most of us!) Many, too, have needed to learn how to boost our desire or arousal as our lives evolved: after having children, after starting or ending a romantic relationship, or simply with age. And of course the way we approach our sexuality shifts throughout our lives as well. When we’re very young, practicing good sexual health might mean bravely going to the gynecologist for the first time, insisting that a partner use a condom, or getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI). In the next life phase, sexual health might include choosing a caring sexual partner, planning our families, making peace with our changing bodies, and learning to ask for what we want in bed. Like exercise, our sexuality is a lifelong practice—something we attend to and (we hope) get better at.


So, how can we utilize fitness to improve our sexual practice? In 2010, when I first set out to study coregasm, we learned that people generally had exercise orgasms and arousal from certain kinds of exercises (very often, ab exercises) and certain ways of exercising. In the years since our study, my colleagues and I have continued trying to unravel the various mysteries surrounding exercise-induced orgasm and arousal. Our subsequent research indicates that the sweet spot seems to lie in working the core abdominal muscles and in certain features of a workout that are unlike any other.

How does that translate here? I’ve taken the key lessons I’ve learned from our studies and distilled them into the Coregasm Workout, a fun, flexible, mind-body–connecting exercise program that you can use to enhance your personal fitness as well as your sexual exploration. With its “C.O.R.E. Principles” and select exercises to guide your workout, this book has been designed for various levels of physical ability and sexual function—with the hope that, with practice, you’ll feel better about both exercise and sex.

This book isn’t about how to get off at the gym. Rather it’s about how exercise can help us feel more closely connected to our bodies. What you do with your arousal is up to you, but learning to explore it through exercise can be helpful at many stages of life, including times when arousal and desire seem harder to come by.

Quite simply, my hope for The Coregasm Workout is that more people learn the truth about exercise arousal and orgasms and see these experiences as some of the many diverse ways that women and men experience their bodies and their sexual response. If you want to explore your body and its potential through exercise arousal, then I hope you’ll find the tips, techniques, ideas, and encouragement here helpful to you. If you already experience arousal or orgasm from exercise and you enjoy it, then great! If you experience it and would like to control when or whether it happens, you’ll find suggestions here as well. I hope, too, that some women are able to learn from their exercise experiences and find new ways to further enjoy or embrace their sexuality in all its splendor.

May you find a positive place for the Coregasm Workout in your life.



                  It’s for those who like mysteries, enjoy sex, and don’t mind getting a little sweaty.

                  It’s for those who want to better connect with their bodies; develop a stronger, fitter core; and explore the potential for an improved sex life.

                  It’s also for those who seek a little motivation to exercise. Many of the women in our research have reported that the feelings of arousal motivate them to work out more often or more strenuously than they otherwise would.

                  And, finally, this book is for those who’ve long wondered how and why they experience exercise-induced arousal or orgasm—and whether others experience it too.

       You’ll find all of it here. By focusing on the kinds of exercises described in this book you can strengthen your core in the name of sexual exploration.


The one thing bugging me is I read a lot of things saying “we don’t know if female ejaculation exists” or “if coregasm is real” and I am like, “Yeah, they are; I’ve experienced those things.” It just seems there’s a lot that’s unknown about orgasms, something women have been experiencing for a long time.


    CHAPTER 1    


IN THE PAST century, several landmark research studies have challenged and transformed the way we think and talk about female orgasm. These studies have (thankfully) taken us far away from two previous notions: the idea that masturbation is unhealthy, and Sigmund Freud’s suggestion that orgasms from clitoral stimulation are “immature.”

In their groundbreaking 1953 book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Indiana University’s Alfred Kinsey and his research team shocked Americans by revealing what was then quite scandalous data—data that prompted men to loosen their ties and women to clutch their pearls. These pioneering researchers revealed that many women masturbated, had sex before marriage, and experienced orgasms from oral sex, vaginal sex, and other kinds of sex. Dr. Kinsey also provided an early description of orgasm occurring during exercise, but he had so few reports of this fascinating phenomenon that it received only a few sentences, leaving it largely unnoticed, ignored, or forgotten by scientists for decades. Kinsey wrote:

Some boys and girls react to the point of orgasm when they climb a pole or a rope, or chin themselves on a bar or some other support. Some boys and girls find their first experience in orgasm in this way, and some of them engage in exercise with the deliberate intention of securing this sort of satisfaction. Some, on the other hand, are embarrassed and avoid climbing and other types of activities which might induce orgasm in public places, and then the gymnasium instructor may be puzzled to understand why these individuals rebel at engaging in the scheduled exercises.


Instead, the quest to understand female orgasm continued with a focus on the genitals, specifically the clitoris; indeed, we could call the 1960s and 1970s the Age of the Clitoris. This was when Masters and Johnson—William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson—highlighted, among other things, the important role of the clitoris in female orgasm. But while the clitoris achieved notoriety, both in scientific research and in people’s conversations about sex, the erotic potential of the vagina became fairly neglected or dismissed—to the chagrin of women who preferred or more readily responded to vaginal stimulation.

But that changed when, in 1982, Alice Khan Ladas, Beverly Whipple, and John Perry published their groundbreaking book, The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality. This book, based on extensive research, described the erotic potential of stimulating a woman through the front wall of her vagina. The G Spot dramatically shifted the conversation, demonstrating to the world that, in fact, there are many ways for women to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm.

For the past few decades, these areas of research have made up nearly the entirety of the public’s understanding of female orgasm: that it occurs mostly in response to stimulation of the clitoris, the vaginal canal, or the G-spot. This remains true even though scientists have looked into other pathways to orgasm. For instance, research also indicates that orgasms can be triggered by breast stimulation or through fantasy—sometimes dubbed “thinking off” in magazines or blogs—but these kinds of orgasm are mostly treated as “second best” to clitoral, vaginal, or G-spot orgasms, or even considered oddities.



       The name originates in the wake of a 2006 article in Men’s Health magazine in which fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove described unique experiences he’d had in the gym, and the story of a female client who had orgasms when she did hanging leg raises. After the article was published, Men’s Health received emails from other women saying they, too, had orgasms while exercising. Dave Zinczenko, who was then the Men’s Health editor-in-chief, has been quoted as saying, “Since the story ran, at least half a dozen women have emailed us to report that they experience orgasm during the exercise . . . It’s a core exercise, so we’re calling the result ‘coregasm’.” And that they did, in a March 2007 online article written by Adam Campbell. News of the coregasm quickly spread from Men’s Health to Page Six, and then to various websites, with headlines like A Good Reason to Work Your Core and The Simple Leg Exercise that Could Replace Your Vibrator.

And yet an increasing number of research teams, ours included, have been showing there are many different ways to experience orgasm. Genital orgasms are just the tip of the iceberg! Understanding the many pathways to orgasm is important for developing a better understanding of the complex and sometimes elusive experience of our bodies working to create pleasure. Which brings us to why I am fascinated by coregasm and imagine you will be, too. Consider the following benefits from learning more about exercise arousal and orgasm:

          Understanding how exercise-induced orgasms work may provide important clues to how orgasms work more generally (even the sexual kinds of orgasms).

          Understanding exercise arousal may help therapists, doctors, and nurses create better programs to help people enhance their arousal or orgasm, particularly when they have sexual difficulties (such as after childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy, or certain treatments for cancer).

          Gaining more insight into exercise orgasms will help us provide answers to the millions of people who experience them, and also reassure them that they are not weird or alone in their experience.

All of these seem like good reasons to me and, one hopes, to you as well. Most of us hopefully experience sexual difficulties from time to time, or our partners do—which can affect us too. The more we can learn how our bodies work in terms of arousal and orgasm, the more we can take advantage of this knowledge to create happier, more satisfying relationships and sex lives.

Read on to discover answers to some of the big questions you probably have about this fascinating phenomenon and how they might relate to you.


In one of our interview studies, I asked women who had had experiences with both coregasms and sex orgasms—whether from masturbation or partnered sex—how their exercise orgasms felt in comparison. Were their exercise orgasms stronger or weaker than other orgasms they experienced? More or less pleasurable? More like orgasms from clitoral or vaginal stimulation? And so on.

One description of what an exercise orgasm feels like came from a young woman who described her exercise arousal and orgasm as “really smooth, not really strong. . . . It’s not like a kicking and hitting kind of feeling. . . . It’s really smooth and pleasant.” In contrast, she said that her orgasms from masturbation felt quite different—“really strong, hot, sweaty, and they make me feel comfy and satisfied.”

Candace described her exercise orgasms as feeling “very internal, like there is no real external stimulation, I feel it from the inside. It starts in the lower abdomen, I would say. And then it is kind of a weightless tingly feeling in my legs and then like if I concentrate really hard, it almost feels like the vaginal walls are contracting.”

She was quick to point out that her exercise orgasms weren’t “sexual.” Rather, she said they were a pleasant internal feeling, almost like the tingly pleasant sensations you get from a massage, and yet it was very clearly an orgasm. At the time I was conducting these interviews, I didn’t fully understand these tingling sensations several women described. Though I’d often experienced exercise arousal since my early teens, I’d not yet experienced orgasm while exercising. Then one day, about four years into our research, an orgasm surprised me while I was working out (and without my meaning to make it happen). I felt tingly sensations in my lower abs and then throughout my core abdominal muscles, then finally in the genital area. It was clearly an orgasm-like feeling, but it didn’t feel sexual to me in any way. It felt more like an internal body massage or tingle in the way that a back massage feels lovely and sensual but doesn’t feel sexual—at least to me.

Jane made a particularly good observation about how, and possibly why, her exercise arousal feelings differ from intercourse arousal and orgasms. Jane said her exercise arousal felt closest to her vaginal intercourse arousal, just less intense. When I asked her why she thought that was, she said that her arousal from both exercise and intercourse felt “more dull.” She said, compared to masturbation, “the muscles are more tired, I think, in a good way. Except when I have sex I think I squeeze those muscles more because there’s something to squeeze and . . . I think that’s what I’m doing when I’m exercising, so it feels similar to that.” She described the intense arousal she feels at times while hiking as pleasurable. “It’s just not as intense,” she told us. “It’s like the lead-up to an orgasm when you’re having sex. That’s what it feels like.”

That nearly everyone had a similar story of exercise arousal resembling vaginal stimulation suggests the experience is related to the internal workings of the body—like muscular and nerve activity, for example—rather than, say, to external stimulation of the clitoris.

One of the more descriptive comparisons we’ve received came from a woman who tends to experience arousal from squeezing her thighs and tightening her core muscles (specifically her abs and back). She wrote that the type of overall pleasure she gets from exercise—“adrenaline, endorphins, loss of control, overwhelming physical concentration and joy”—are very similar to what she feels during sex or masturbation:

I have occasionally masturbated while thinking of the physical feeling of riding a downhill mountain bike—the fast turns and jumps into the air and reaction to the trail beneath me are similar for me somehow to the physical interaction one has with a partner during sex. It’s like an incredible physical conversation where you move and react without thinking or talking. Also, I believe there is a similar rush of endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine, etc., involved in both.

That this woman’s arousal can be induced by squeezing her thighs and tightening her core muscles leads to our next topic: Just how does all this happen, anyway?





On Sale
Jun 9, 2015
Page Count
225 pages
Seal Press

Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH

About the Author

Debby Herbenick Ph.D, M.P.H. is Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She is a widely-read sex columnist and her work has been covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post and on the Today Show. She is also the author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. Debby likes in Bloomington, Indiana. Please visit her at

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