Sex: A Training Dilemma
Manny Pacquiao does it, the 2010 English World Cup Team did it, and even the great Muhammad Ali did it! What was it? Abstain from sex before a major competition or bout. But did this work, and if so, why? As it turns out scientifically this may not be the best idea, in fact the opposite may be true.
First there was the belief that sex would rob a competitor of energy from their event. However, a 1995 study that placed men, some of whom had sex 12 hours before and others who did not, on a treadmill showed no difference in oxygen use or how efficiently it was used between the two groups. Further, the average person is believed to burn less than 25 calories during sex, so it is highly unlikely the physical activity does anything to impede energy or performance on “game”day.
Second, several studies examining both men and women after sexual arousal, found that testosterone levels increased significantly in both. Testosterone is known to play a critical role in athletic performance with studies showing it can increase energy, competitive drive, lean muscle mass, muscle strength, metabolism and even lower cholesterol. Conversely, another 2003 study found that males that abstained from sex for a week had a brief rise in testosterone on the 7th day that quickly dropped back to normal levels, resulting in no long term rising effect.
In short, the results show there appear to be no ill effects from sex during training or prior to competition and there may be actual benefit due to a significant increase in testosterone levels and no significant benefits from abstention.
Anecdotally, Oscar De La Hoya in a Playboy interview said contrary to the boxing myth, after having sex the night before he had one of the best fights of his life. Also, lest we not forget, before the infamous crash that brought down Tiger Woods’ reputation, he was playing some of the best golf of his life, and of course we cannot omit one of basketball’s greats, Wilt Chamberlain, who boasted of sex with at least 20,000 women. Perhaps it was the sexual activity that aided in the in ring/on course/on court performance of these greats - at least science seems to agree. So, the next time the moment arises, proceed knowing you are not hurting your training or chances on competition day, but may even be helping your cause!
About the Author
Shaka Smith is a lawyer, actor, NPC competitor, fitness model, and trainer from Miami, FL. His insatiable passion for fitness has brought him success on the NPC stage as he continues his quest for his IFBB pro card, but his desire to help others achieve their fitness goals alongside with his own makes him one to watch. Shaka recently took home fifth place at the NPCs USA in Las Vegas.
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