Could Your Sex Life Be Messing With Your Workouts?

Beautiful fitness woman boxing with red gloves
Lots of fighters abstain from sex the night (or the week) before a fight. (Image: EpicStockMedia/iStock/GettyImages)

Can having sex before an intense workout or race affect your athletic performance? Well, that all depends on who you ask. There are several theories about the impact sex has on exercise, and while a 2017 study concluded that chronic strenuous exercise can lower a guy’s libido, not as much is known about the impact sex has on your workouts and athletic performance.

So the real question is whether or not spending some time between the sheets leads to a less-than-stellar workout the next day?” Best guess: probably not.

Where Does This Idea Come From?

Much of what has been written about the impact sex has on exercise is anecdotal and rooted in myths passed on from different traditions. Take boxing, for example. Olympic medalist and UFC champion Ronda Rousey told Jim Rome of SHOWTIME Sports that she has “as much sex as possible” the night before a big fight. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali was known to say no to sex before stepping in the ring.

Both are world-class athletes with winning records, so who’s right? That seems to be the burning question.

Whether it’s the belief that sex will deplete valuable levels of testosterone, distract an athlete from focusing on a given sport or simply drain a person of the energy needed to get through an intense workout, the idea that sex negatively impacts exercise performance has been around for hundreds — or even thousands — of years.

“I suppose if there is anything like an old wives tale in sports, the notion that having sex the night before an athletic performance will weaken the athlete would be at the top of the list,” says Lawrence Siegel, Ph.D., a clinical sexologist and sexuality education consultant.

“This can be traced back to Aristotle, who believed that orgasm robbed one of vitality and warned athletes against having intercourse before an event.”

Attractive heartbreaker and his lover
Maybe right before a workout isn’t the best time for a romp between the sheets. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/GettyImages)

The Pros and Cons of Sex Before Workouts

Despite these deep-rooted beliefs, very few scientific studies (especially large-scale ones) have examined how sex can improve or impair athletic performance. So we let the experts weigh in with their thoughts about sexual activity in the days (and hours) leading up to a workout or athletic event.

What Do YOU Think?

Has sex impacted your workouts? Do you notice a difference if you release some pent-up energy before heading to the gym, or do you find you hit it harder if you abstain from a little action between the sheets? Share your thoughts, questions and stories in the comments below!


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