There are three ways to pump up your penis i.e., facilitate a serviceable erection. The first is by manipulating nitric oxide levels, which we talked about here. The second, as you'd guess, is keeping your testosterone level high(er). We covered that here.
There's one last component of sexual vascular health: lifestyle. And no, I'm not talking about taking naps or avoiding stress and tobacco and all that common sense stuff. The kind of lifestyle changes I'm talking about involves blowing out your pipes, i.e., your blood vessels.
Remember, being able to achieve and maintain an erection is all about hydraulics, and the more blood you can allow into your penis, the better your erection. Sure, NO opens up the arteries, but NO supplements or foods are like Liquid Plumber – they'll open the pipes up a bit, but once in a while you need a real plumber to clean everything out.
What we're talking about here is sexual vascular health, or, more accurately, overall vascular health.
If the heart works well and the pipes are clear, erections are as effortless as snow falling on a meadow, or, more aptly, a wall of water from a torrential storm rushing through a town and washing away all the townspeople.
This association between cardiovascular health and erectile function is so strong that the inability to attain a strong erection is sometimes interpreted as one of the first signs of heart disease.
First, let's take a look at the best type of exercise for erections. Sadly, it's not weight lifting. Quite the contrary.
Resistance training, particularly high-intensity resistance exercise, has been shown to increase arterial stiffness by a somewhat scary amount (up to 11%). This increased stiffness may make it harder to achieve a stellar erection.
It may have something to do with how the circulatory system responds, over time, to the Valsalva maneuver (trying to breathe out against a closed windpipe) that a lot of lifters practice, either inadvertently or consciously.
By no means am I suggesting you stop lifting. I am, however, suggesting you add a strong cardio component to your training because aerobic exercise has been shown to increase endothelial (the inner lining of blood vessels) pliability, and that's good for erections.
Look, as a lifter, I too grappled with this information for a while. I didn't like it, but instead of grousing about it, I developed a simple 11-minute "penile health" aerobic workout that I do three times a week, either right after my weights or independently of them.
I appropriated (polite word for ripped off) the idea for the 11-minute workout from an article in the New York Times, but I adapted it slightly to my purposes. It's not that hard, but it doesn't have to be. Just set a timer for 11 minutes and do the following:
- 1st minute: Jumping jacks
- 2nd minute: Burpies
- 3rd minute: Fast walking in place, or in circles, while swinging arms
- 4th minute: High-knee running in place (or actual sprints, if you've got the space)
- 5th minute: Fast walking in place, or in circles, while swinging arms
- 6th minute: Walking lunges
- 7th minute: Fast walking in place, or in circles, while swinging arms
- 8th minute: High-knee running in place (or sprints)
- 9th minute: Fast walking in place, or in circles, while swinging arms
- 10th minute: Bodyweight squats, one per second
- 11th minute: Fast walking in place, or in circles, while swinging arms
Of course, most any type of aerobic work will do the trick, as long as it's done regularly – except maybe for bicycling. The blood vessels and nerves that feed and communicate with the penis can get smushed by a bicycle seat, especially after long or frequent rides. The damage can take months to heal.
I can psychically feel the anguish being felt by thousands of Peloton bike owners or SoulCycle riders who just read this, but I'm not sure you people should be able to breed anyhow. Kidding! Sort of. Look, if you can't give up those activities for the sake of your penis, just make sure you ride standing up as often and as long as you can.
As far as bike riding in general, some of those new, weird bicycle seats with the middle scooped out supposedly shift the pressure away to less vulnerable spots of your taint.
Back in 1948, a gynecologist by the name of Arnold Kegel invented a series of exercises to build the pelvic floor muscles of older women so that they wouldn't suffer from incontinence.
Somewhere along the way, urologists figured out that the exercises might also work to improve sexual function in men. Sure enough, the research backs it up. Doing Kegels for three months has been shown in some studies to be as effective as Viagra.
The great thing about Kegels is that you can do them anywhere without anyone knowing what the hell you're doing. Watching TV with the in-laws? Kegel time. Waiting for your training partner to finish his set? Work those pubococcygeal muscles! Do them standing up, sitting, or lying down, it makes no difference.
The movement, as it's conventionally done, involves clenching the muscles you use to stop from having a bowel movement or peeing. In doing so, you need to refrain from clenching any other muscles like your abs or buttocks.
There's a better way to do it, one that requires quite a bit more muscle control. Rather than just trying to shut down your pee hole and butt hole, concentrate on trying to "retract" the penis into your body. Granted, you'll only be able to pull it in a one-fourth to half an inch, but it's much more specific than just clenching the entire pelvic floor and sphincter muscles.
There are two general themes to Kegels, slow Kegels and fast Kegels. For optimum results, practice both.
- Focus on the muscles at the base of the penis and try to retract the penis towards the body and hold for 5 seconds.
- Release over the course of 5 seconds.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
- Repeat 2 more times.
Ideally, do three such sessions a day.
- Quickly retract and relax the pubococcyegal muscles as quickly as you can.
- Do as many as you can until you peter out (har har!).
Again, shoot for three sessions a day.
You can also do "weight-assisted" Kegels. While I've never read about them in any serious journal, a friend of mine told me about them and they kinda make sense. A warning, they're kind of weird, but they might work.
When Kegels get too easy, you can add weight to the exercise. While there appear to be all kinds of weight apparatuses for the penis available on the internet, they appear to be for the implausible purpose of lengthening your penis. You could, however, repurpose them to use for weighted Kegels.
My friend, however, MacGyvered it. He says he nabbed an old gym sock from his girlfriend, flattened it out, and cut a dime-sized hole right through both sides near the top of the sock (about an inch below the stretch band).
He then put a "weight" in the sock, whether that weight is a jar of pimple cream or a tube of toothpaste, and then stretched the holes in the sock and slipped his penis into it so that it looks like an old man at a deli wearing a napkin around his neck.
Then, to prevent the sock from slipping off, he takes a spare shoelace and ties it around the sock, just underneath the penis. Presto! A penis under load! He then performs the standard Kegel protocols and uses the muscles at the base of the penis to slightly retract it and the weight attached to it.
Let me know if you try it. On second thought, don't tell me about it. In fact, don't ever tell anyone about it.
No, I'm not talking about eating oysters or any bogus aphrodisiacs. A pro-sexual diet has largely to do with establishing and maintaining blood vessel health, i.e., a healthy, pliable endothelium throughout the entire body and not just in the penis.
Supplements like niacin (100 to 200 mg. every day) and fish oil, or prescription drugs like the diabetes/longevity drug metformin can do wonders for endothelial health, but they can only take you so far. What you need is a diet jam-packed with polyphenols.
Polyphenols are chemicals found in plants that are often collectively called phytochemicals. Depending on what source you believe, there are at least 500 of them but possibly as many as 8,000 and they have, individually and probably collectively, amazing effects on the animals that eat them.
You know when someone says this fruit, vegetable, or plant is anti-inflammatory? Or that it prevents or fights cancer? Or that it stabilizes blood sugar, improves fat metabolism, treats cardiovascular disease, prevents Alzheimer's, or improves the efficiency of the bacteria in your digestive system?
It's all because of polyphenols. And yes, fruits and vegetables contain lots of them, but they aren't the only food groups that contain them.
There are two really broad classes of these polyphenols – flavonoids and nonflavonoids. The flavonoid group can further be broken down into six dietary groups:
- Flavones – Found in abundance in citrus fruits, celery, and parsley.
- Flavonols – Rich sources include broccoli, blueberries, and kale.
- Flavanones – These are found in citrus fruit and mint, among other places.
- Isoflavones – Commonly found in vegetables and fruits in general.
- Flavanols – Apples, grapes, teas, and cocoa are rich sources.
- Anthocyanidins – Found in abundance in blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant.
The non-flavonoid group can also be broken down into four different classes:
- Stilbenes – The well-known compound resveratrol (found in high amounts in Rez-V™)is a stilbene. It and its cousins are commonly found in red wines, apples, pears, plums, peaches, and other foods.
- Phenolic Acids – These are found in coffee, teas, cherries, blueberries, and a bunch of other fruits.
- Lignans – Rich sources include kale, broccoli, berries, and whole grains.
- Other polyphenols – This non-specific category includes ellagic acid from berries and curcumin.
For optimum health and optimum endothelial function, you want to ingest representatives of all of these polyphenol groups. In fact, you want to wallow in them. But different foods have different polyphenols in different concentrations. There probably isn't one food that has optimum amounts of all of them. That's why we need to diversify.
We need to put less focus on counting servings of fruits and vegetables while focusing more on counting food groupings that contain different kinds of polyphenols.
Following are the "polyphenolic" food groupings, along with some high-phenol representatives of each group. In an ideal erection world, you'd have multiple servings of some of these groupings (fruits and vegetables) – and at least one serving of each of the other groupings – every day:
- Vegetables – Artichokes, potatoes, rhubarb, yellow onions, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, celery.
- Fruits – Berries, apples, apricots, plums, pears, grapes, cherries (the darker the fruit, the higher the polyphenol content).
- Whole Grains – Buckwheat, rye, oats, barley, corn, wheat, rice.
- Nuts, Seeds, Legumes – Black beans, white beans, pecans, almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, chestnuts, hazelnuts.
- Fats – Virgin olive oil, sesame seed oil, dark chocolate.
- Beverages – Coffee, tea, red wine, cocoa.
- Spices – Oregano, rosemary, soy sauce, cloves, peppermint, anise, celery seed, saffron, spearmint, thyme, basil, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, garlic.
Unfortunately, if you're like most men, your daily polyphenol intake consists of the blueberries that were in the muffin you had with your morning coffee. I get it. It takes a lot of work to eat well, let alone eat representative foods from seven different food groups.
A sensible and, in some ways, better alternative is to ingest a couple scoops of Superfood every day. The product is an array of 18 strategically chosen freeze-dried fruits and vegetables.
What they do is remove all the water from the fruits and vegetables. Each product is individually quick frozen so all water turns to solid ice. It's then subjected to warm temperature and a vacuum so that the water turns to vapor and is essentially pulled out of the fruit or vegetable, leaving everything intact.
That means the pigments and phytochemicals have been well preserved and that the ingredients retain the identical phytochemical content, enzymatic activity, and bioactivity of fresh products.
For most men, Superfood could prove to be the best pro-erection supplement they'll ever use.
All the things I've listed are supplements, drugs, or foods that can improve vascular sexual health, but I haven't touched on what not to eat; what foods might impair vascular function.
In general, you want to avoid inflammatory foods, which, for the sake of brevity, we'll consider to be anything that comes in a box and is enclosed in wax paper, or any food that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
You should also avoid any food that contains a lot of fat. As evidence, a small study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating a meal that contained 1 gram of fat per every kilo (2.2 pounds) of body weight really gummed up the works. Three hours after the meal, the participants exhibited a reduced ability of their endothelium to expand and increase blood flow.
Again, erections are all about blood flow and pressure. They're like the wacky, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men you see in front of car dealerships, but park a Toyota Tacoma on the air hose and you get a half-inflated wacky tube man and everyone walks away disappointed.
Ideally, your pre-sex meal should consist of the following:
- TC's Boner Salad (described here)
- Baked/broiled fish or a roasted chicken breast
- A side of white rice (easy on the gut and doesn't lead to much gas formation)
You might also want to avoid alcohol. Yeah, it's hard for most people to have sex without first having a drink or two. The alcohol of course eases inhibitions, thereby setting the stage for really good sex.
But then there's the flip side of pre-sex alcohol: impaired performance and impaired sensation. Alcohol often leads to weak or weaker erections and it often stymies orgasm, especially in men. I suspect that a good percentage of alleged cases of erectile dysfunction are just "whiskey dick," "beer dick," or "Cabernet Sauvignon dick," whatever the case may be.
Of course, alcohol may help with premature ejaculation, but not being able to splooge at all is a frustrating possibility.
If, however, drinking alcohol is part of your pre-sex ritual, try to limit it to one or two ounces of alcohol, i.e., one or two beers or glasses of wine. That, or have a little pre-sex weed. Marijuana has the vasodilatory properties we're looking for, which means that it might actually enhance erections and, like alcohol, blunt inhibitions.