May 12, 2016
Can sex make you a better CrossFitter?
By William Imbo
February 14, 2017
We, the human race, are innately sexual beings. In such regards, sexual activities (that are safe and applied correctly) can have a crucial effect towards mental and physical health, including enhanced immune function, stress relief and yes, athletic performance. There was an early belief that engaging in intercourse the night before an event could negatively impact an athlete’s performance. While there are still advocates for the “no sex before competition” belief (Matt Chan has spoken of refraining prior to competition), this theory is largely regarded to be outdated, with no scientific evidence supporting it.
But what about specifically tailoring when you engage in sex prior to a competition, in order to boost performance? There is evidence that this might in fact be advantageous.
The role of testosterone
Testosterone is primarily responsible for muscle growth, which is why we see athletes do all they can to boost their own levels of the hormone, whether this is through supplements, minerals, and in some cases, illegal steroids. Testosterone has a host of other benefits, including the reduction of glycogen breakdown in the muscles during exercise, building blood volume and retaining calcium in the bones. This may explain why athletes go to such great lengths to ensure they have the maximum amount of testosterone in their body-sometimes even more so.
How does this play into sex and performance?
Scientific literature has long-since credited the effects of nutrition, exercise and recovery on muscle growth, and this is well engrained in most people’s knowledge of fitness. But more recent science is starting to seriously examine the correct application of sexual activity as a method of boosting muscle growth—which is where testosterone comes in.
Now, this is where it gets really interesting.
In 2003, Chinese researches conducted a study that involved twenty-eight male volunteers to abstain from ejaculation for a period of one week. Serum testosterone levels were monitored throughout the week, and for the first six days there was no impact on the levels. But miraculously, on the seventh day, the levels of serum testosterone in all participants spiked to 145.7% from the baseline readings. On the eighth day, those levels started to rapidly decline.
So what does this mean?
If we take the study at absolute face value (and granted, this test was only performed on men), than there seems to be a pretty obvious conclusion as it relates to athletic performance. If you can abstain from sexual activity for seven days prior to competition, on that seventh day you should experience a significant increase in your overall strength and performance.
It’s not all a waiting game though. Additional studies suggest you should incorporate sex into your post-workout routine. According to the studies, you can boost the functionality of your immune system to aid in exercise recovery through ejaculation approximately one hour after you have finished your workout. So chin up.
Of course, there’s only one way to find out if this works for you. Good luck trooper.