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GET YOUR HANDS IN SHAPE
I started out to be a sex fiend, but I couldn't pass the physical. —ROBERT MITCHUM
First things first: Let's get your hands ready for all the excitement. Put a little effort into honing and toning their talents before you hit the sheets and you will be like a sports star who has taken care to train before stepping into the ring. If you want to be able to keep the pleasure going long into the night, then the solution is simple: Your hands need a little exercise.
Consider this chapter a personal training program for your hands. These miniworkouts (which are used by sexological bodyworkers and massage therapists) will make your hands stronger, faster, more flexible, and even more fine-tuned to feeling subtle sensations than ever before. What's more, they take only a few minutes to do and don't require a gym membership-any old place from your living room to your car is fine. For optimal fitness, each exercise should be performed at least once a day for one to two weeks to bring your musculature and sensitivity up to speed; after that, you can do them once per week to maintain your hands' pleasure-inducing performance levels.
While having to worry about getting yet one more body part into shape may seem like a drag, think of it this way: It's all for the pursuit of pleasure. What endeavor could be more worthwhile? Once you see the results, you'll be very glad you did these drills.
Exercise #1: Play Ball Get a tennis ball, racquetball, or buy one of those squishy "stress balls" you often see strategically placed near the register at drugstores (no doubt to alleviate the mounting tension that comes from waiting for a prescription refill). Close your hand around your ball of choice and squeeze as hard as you can for three seconds, then relax. Repeat at least ten times. This will strengthen the muscles in your palm and fingers, helping you to knead your partner for a sustained session without wimping out.
Exercise #2: Towel Twister This exercise will strengthen your wrists. Holding an end of a hand towel in each hand, twist the towel as much as you can, as if you were wringing water out of it. Hold for five seconds, then reverse directions. Repeat ten times.
Exercise #3: The Upper Body Booster This exercise will increase overall upper body strength. Keeping your legs straight, bend over and place your palms on the floor so your body forms an upside-down V (if you have ever taken a yoga class, you may recognize this pose as the Downward Dog). Lean your weight onto your palms and press them into the floor, making sure to spread your fingers as wide as possible. Hold for ten seconds; repeat five times.
Exercise #4: The Finger Stretcher This exercise will stretch the muscles in each finger individually, as well as the corresponding tendons running down into the wrist. Holding one hand out in front of you, palm facing forward as if to say "stop" to oncoming traffic, grab its thumb with your other hand and pull it back for a second, then release. Then pull back your index finger, then your middle finger, and so on. Then switch hands.
Exercise #5: The Rubber Wrist Pull your thumb down toward the inside of your wrist and hold for a count of ten. Then grab your four fingers and pull them back toward the top of your wrist for the same amount of time. Respectively this will stretch the top and bottom of your wrist for more all-around flexibility. Perform each stretch twice.
Exercise #6: The Forearm Flexor Get down on all fours; the fingertips in both hands should naturally point forward. Rotate one of your wrists inward so your fingers are pointing back toward your feet. Then slowly lower your butt toward the floor; this will stretch the underside of the forearm you just rotated. Switch hands-and once you pull that off, try doing both hands together. Perform each stretch twice.
Exercise #7: Don't Follow the Leader Except for your thumb, whose raison d'être is to do its own thing (thus the term "opposable thumb"), the rest of your fingers prefer to stick together: If one moves, they all want to move with it. This follow-the-leader tendency can be a problem when you try to do certain techniques we teach that require a high level of dexterity, and that's where this exercise can help by forcing your fingers to break apart from the pack. Here's how to do it: Gently rest your hand palm down on a tabletop. Lift your index finger one inch off the surface, then let it fall back to the table. Repeat ten times, then do the same thing with your middle, fourth, and fifth digits. Your ring finger, you'll find, is the weakest of the bunch. But over time all your fingers should improve.
Exercise #8: The Coin Flip This exercise will also increase your dexterity, but be warned: It takes practice. That said, those who master this move will have a pretty cool party trick up their sleeve to impress random strangers. Extend your hand palm up, place a quarter on your index finger and then flip it onto your middle finger, then flip it onto your fourth finger, then your fifth, then send the coin back the way it came. Once you have mastered this move, try it on the knuckle side of your fingers instead.
Exercise #9: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow For this exercise you'll need a book, ideally one with really thin paper (a telephone book is ideal), and a long strand of hair. Open the book and place the hair on the center of any page; then carefully flip a page so it's covering the hair. While you probably have a decent idea of where the hair is hiding underneath that page, pretend you don't-and force your finger to find it. Gently run your index finger across the page, feeling for the hair. Once you find it, flip a second page on top and see if you can still feel where the hair is. Continue adding pages until you can't feel the hair anymore. Then repeat the exercise with your middle finger, fourth finger, and pinky. The next time you try this exercise, push yourself to find the hair by adding even more pages. This technique will improve your "palpation skills"-aka the ability to pick up on very subtle sensations.
Exercise #10: The Balloon Press This exercise will improve your ability to feel subtle differences in pressure, so that you can avoid pushing muscles in your partner's body past his or her comfort zone. Inflate a balloon, then slowly sink your fingertips into it. The surface should give pretty easily at first, less so as you press deeper. At some point you should feel the sensation shift from your bending the balloon's surface to stretching it. This change also occurs if you press your fingers into any muscle in the body (including those in the vagina and anus). At first the area will give easily, but if you keep going there will come a point at which you feel like you're stretching it-and since that can be painful, it's best if you don't cross that line. Practice on the balloon and you'll soon be able to pinpoint the difference.
Exercise #11: Armed and Ready Once you have mastered the hair-in-the-phone-book and balloon workouts we think you're ready to try out one final exercise on the human body-either yours or your partner's. To start out, get your hand hovering a couple of inches over your (or your partner's) forearm, close enough so that you can feel the warmth emanating from the arm. Then, moving at a snail's pace, slowly close in so you can feel the arm hairs. Then close in further so you can feel the skin, then deeper until you feel the layer between skin and muscle, then even deeper until you can feel the muscle, then the bone. Then, just as slowly, loosen your grip and reverse your way back to your starting position, feeling for each layer as you go. Do this exercise slowly and it will hone your sensitivity in a whole new way.
From the Trade Paperback edition.