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When it comes to Rider-on-Top, people fall into one of two camps. “There’s those who feel like hot sh*t while on top and those who hate it,” says Texas-based sex educator Goody Howard, who’s been teaching a class, RIDEology, on the divisive position for over a decade. “There’s really no in between.”
What is the Rider-on-Top position?
Also known by the unnecessarily gendered term “Cowgirl,” Rider-on-Top involves the receptive partner straddling, squatting onto, or lying on top of their partner while being penetrated vaginally or anally. Basically, it’s the opposite of Missionary!
But this polarizing position has an important perk: “It puts the receptive partner in control of the rhythm, depth, and angle, which not a lot of penetrative sex positions do,” says Howard.
So if you’re in the unenthused camp, Howard urges you to give it another chance. “The position is way more customizable than people realize,” she says.
Luckily for you, she and three other sex educators agreed to share their top tips for customizing this position for maximum pleasure.
Benefits of Rider-on-Top
There’s no mystery to why some people are head-over-headboard for it. It allows for easy-peasy:
- eye gazing
- lip locking
- clitoral stimulation
- skin-to-skin loving
- Clothes: off or on?
- Kneeling vs. squatting
- Clitoral stimulation
- Perfecting the rocking motion
- Pillows for support
- Reverse riding
- Sex chairs
- Sex on the floor
- Booty plugs
She recommends dressing for the occasion: “The friction of seams on seams can be super pleasurable for someone who enjoys external stimulation.”
But do yourself a favor and swap your cotton skivvies for satin or silk ones. “Cotton will chafe; silk will feel slippery,” she says.
Word of warning: Watch for and avoid zippers at all costs.
“The first time many people try a Rider-on-Top position, they mimic what they see in porn and plant their feet on the bed,” says Howard. Sure, if you’re flexible AF and have glute strength for days, doing Chair Pose on your partner’s D(ildo) can be hot.
But if you’ve got arthritis or, ya know, you aren’t a powerlifter, all that strain on your lower-body joints and muscles can be… distracting.
Fear not — Howard’s got an alternative: “Place your knees on the bed so that you’re kneeling over your partner instead of squatting on them.” You can stay upright or lean forward onto your palms or forearms for support.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The clit should be given as much attention as any other area of the body — if not more attention.
When it comes to touching, you have options. You can use your trusty hand(s), or you can rifle through your nightstand for a toy.
Another unrealistic image you often see in porn is the top partner bouncing forcefully up and down for what feels like forever. While bouncing can be great, you can access different angles and sensations by rocking back and forth or even from side to side.
“Think about stroking the shaft with your canal, not jumping on it,” says King.
It can also be a lot easier to involve your clit when you’re rocking instead of bouncing.
(Note: this motion will also help keep your chest tissue from bouncing about, which can be painful for some people.)
If kneeling feels caustic on your knobs, “put pillows under each of them,” suggests Howard.
Speaking of pillows, King suggests having the penetrating partner “pop a sex pillow or wedge under their [booty].” This will allow the receiving partner to draw them deeper inside, she says.
Sex isn’t about going hard all the time — it can also be soft and slow! This variation is nice for taking a breather and feeling the sweetness of being skin-to-skin with your boo.
“This is especially ideal for those who masturbate on their stomach, because this positioning replicates that,” says King. “From here, if you have a vagina, try sliding your body up and down to create a rubbing motion against your clitoris.”
If the friction of your partner’s pubes begins to irritate your love-button, it’s totally kosher to have a talk with them about trimming their pubes, says Howard.
Doing Reverse Rider on your knees allows you to easily shift your bod forward and back so you can find that just-right spot. And most importantly, “it allows their partner to see ass, which is ALWAYS a great view,” says Howard.
This reverse position is also nice if you’re someone who can get into a rhythm better without your partner watching the many stages of your sex face.
You can also take a lying-down position in reverse. And if you’re into booty play, this will give your partner all the access they could imagine to give it some love.
Feet are an erogenous zone too!
Another perk of Reverse Rider-on-Top is that you’re in the right neighborhood to suck on one (or five) of your partner’s toes. If mouth-on-foot isn’t your idea of a good time, try wetting a finger and then gliding it between their toes.
You don’t have to be able to support your entire body weight to make this position work, says body-positive sex educator Carly S., founder of the sex-toy review site Dildo or Dildon’t. “There are plenty of aids you can incorporate that’ll help do that for you.”
She recommends a sex chair like this one or this one (both can hold up to 300 pounds). You’ll position the chair legs on either side of your partner’s hips and climb on top, aligning your bits with theirs. “The chair will support your weight, and the elastic straps are bouncy so you can move up and down more comfortably,” she says.
If your partner is bigger-bodied, the firmer surface of the floor will make it easier for you to rock your own body back and forth, says Carly S. “Beds are soft, which makes it harder to get leverage.”
Plus, there’s something exciting about having sex in a new location. And if the floor feels too hard, roll out a yoga mat for extra cushion.
Either partner can get pleasure from using a butt plug, but if you have a vagina, wearing one can make you feel extra full, says Stubbs. The plug can also help press your G-spot forward, increasing the odds that your partner hits it while thrusting.
If you’re a vagina owner strapping on for Rider-on-Top, “a butt plug will still create a symphony of sensation,” says Stubbs.
If you have a penis, “a butt plug can stimulate your prostate and create a full pressure,” she adds.
Stubbs has a motto: “Try everything three times.” If you’ve given Rider-on-Top a few chances — and tried some of the tips above — and you’re still not into it, move on! There are SO many other positions out there.
If your partner loves the feeling of you being on top of them, give Lotus (sometimes called Yab Yum) a shot. “Have your partner sit back against the headboard or sofa back, then crawl on top of them and use the headboard or sofa to help you move.” This is a great alternative because it still puts the receiver on top, says Stubbs.
No matter what position you and your sex mate get up to, always remember to check in with them about how it feels and keep them in the loop about how it’s going for you. Communication is the sexiest position of all.
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. Follow her on Instagram.