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Few things have read me for filth more thoroughly than an astrology meme I once saw on Instagram. It accused Tauruses of routinely categorizing sex as exercise. (Guilty as charged!) In fairness, though, it definitely is—or at least, it can be. If you’re tackling one of the zeitgeist’s most challenging, acrobatic sex positions, you’ve probably earned the right to call sex exercise. (However, if all you’re doing is a little low-key missionary, you probably can’t lump that in with a miles-long run or a 45-minute barre class. Again, guilty as charged.)
I’m not at all trying to suggest that sex shouldn’t, at times, be lazy, snuggly, slow or intimate. It’s an indulgence to be enjoyed—it doesn’t have to be hard work every single time. But it doesn’t have to be romantic and luxurious every single time, either. Sometimes, sex should be intense, challenging, mind-expanding. Sometimes you want to feel as intellectually engaged in the act of sex as you are physically engaged in it.
And when those moments arise, nothing hits the spot like an acrobatic sex position that looks so intimidatingly impossible, you can’t help but feel enticed to attempt it.
To be clear, I am neither flexible, nor particularly strong. Most of the athletic sex positions on this list are too intense for me to even consider attempting. Still, I’m a gal with goals. And if I can dream of running a marathon (despite never having run a 5K) or doing the splits (despite being unable to even touch my toes), I can dream of dangling upside down from my boyfriend’s shoulders while giving him a blowjob (Yes, that’s a real position on this list!).
1. The Snake
I wasn’t lying when I said dangling, upside down, from someone’s shoulders while giving them a blowjob was a real-ass position on this list. The Snake might be the most complicated take on 69 of all time—and it’s undoubtedly the most impressive.
2. The Arch
Most of the reason I can get behind the Arch is that it requires the penetrating partner (i.e. not me) to do the acrobatic work. All the receiver has to do is straddle and squat—something that requires some thigh strength, but little flexibility.
3. The Hill
In the Hill, the receiving partner simply stands against the wall, while the penetrating partner flips upside down and enters them from a handstand position. (?!?) At that point, the receiver should probably step in as a power bottom and manage the thrusting situation (but not too aggressively, lest they topple their hand-standing partner). If the top is able to simultaneously handstand and thrust, they deserve a standing ovation.
4. The Zombie
The Zombie is the perfect position for those of us who are flexible but not too flexible. (Can you bend over and touch your toes, comfortably, with your knees bent? You can handle this.) In this folded form of 69, one partner sits on the ground, while the other stands over them and bends down. This puts the standing partner’s genitalia front-and-center for the sitting partner, and the sitting partner’s genitalia front-and-center for the standing partner. Everyone wins.
5. The Standing Slide
In the Standing Slide, the penetrating partner should scoot up against the wall until only their head and shoulders are touching the ground (the rest of their body should be as straight as possible, leaning on the wall). The other partner should approach them, facing their body and getting as close as possible (chest to knee-ish, depending on height). The receiving partner should then spread their legs a bit and squat until they reach their partner’s penis or strap-on. From there, they can control the depth and speed of penetration. (Think of this as an extremely modified version of reverse cowgirl.)
6. The Superman
About as acrobatic as sex positions come, the Superman requires serious core strength from both partners. Pretend you’re doing doggy style, with your legs wrapped around your partner’s body. Except instead of them kneeling and you lying forward, they’re standing, leaning back, and you’re suspended in mid-air. I’m not sure whether penetration happens before or after this position is assumed, but I’m sure it’s an absolutely bonkers experience for all involved (probably in a good way).
If you’re really excellent at doing bridges, do one, and then have your partner penetrate you. As they do, wrap your legs around their butt, so you’re now half-suspended. Surely they can handle the thrusting from here, but you can always step in as a power bottom if you feel like really demonstrating your acrobatic prowess.
The fact that the Olympus looks easy is a testament to how absolutely demanding the other positions on this list are. Wrap your legs around your partner and have them hold you up—no walls to lean against. To make things extra challenging, only hold on with one arm—let the other wander where it may.
9. The Cradle
Have your partner sit as if they’re doing the butterfly stretch. Then, facing away from them, climb into their lap, and have them lift you up—knees bent, as if you’re doing child’s pose to the air. Since you’re entirely hands-free (limbs-free, really), your partner can take total control of the depth and speed of penetration—leaving you entirely submissive.
10. The Mermaid
Ever lamented that there are no positions where your partner can pick you up and penetrate you from behind? The Mermaid fully understands you. Wrap your legs behind you, around your partner’s legs, and wrap your arms behind you, around your partner’s arms. From there, your partner can squat and lean back just a tad to enable you to hang off of them while they penetrate you. Sure, it doesn’t feel quite as intimate as wrapping your legs around them face-to-face, but it’ll definitely feel like more of an accomplishment.
11. The Wheelbarrow
Remember the wheelbarrow from your youth? Of course someone’s put a sex-based spin on it. Simply assume the wheelbarrow position, but instead of having your partner grab your ankles, have them pull you closer—grabbing your upper thighs, instead. This should make it easy for them to penetrate you—and to control the depth and speed of thrusting. (I don’t necessarily recommend having them walk you around the room from this position as if you’re doing a regular ol’ wheelbarrow, but you do you.)
12. The Golden Gate Blowjob
If you are so incredibly great at arching your back that you can do it, from your knees, to reach your partner’s genitals, the Golden Gate Blowjob will surely become your new go-to. The bedroom equivalent of a party trick, the Golden Gate blowjob requires serious stamina, strength and ability from the giving partner—allowing the receiving partner to kick back and relax.
13. The Helicopter
I have almost no words for this sex position, which is—hands-down—the strangest one I’ve ever seen. As the receiving partner gets gown on hands and knees, the penetrating partner hovers atop, penetrating them from a hybrid plank/handstand position. It’s unclear to me whether the partners stay static and simply thrust from this position, or whether they swivel their bodies to mimic the movement of a helicopter. Either way, the position is equal parts bonkers and intriguing—and it’s sure to have you breaking a sweat.
A version of this article previously appeared in 2019.