When you’re trying to add muscle or build endurance you might consider what you eat, how much you sleep, and even how often you masturbate or have sex. But how much does sexual activity affect your gains?
The short answer: Not very much. If you’ve ever wondered how sex can hurt or help your workout, this video from the PictureFit YouTube channel offers a good explainer, including addressing the big myth that worries a lot of athletes out there, which is that sex or masturbation lowers your testosterone levels and causes a decrease in your gains.
Testosterone is an androgenic hormone that plays a crucial role in building muscle for both men and women. High levels of it can allow for more muscle protein synthesis, or muscle growth. Practicing abstinence can elevate your testosterone levels, yes, but there’s no evidence that suggests it will increase your gains, and the effects of having an orgasm on testosterone levels have actually shown to be non-existent.
Basically, sex and masturbation aren’t detrimental or helpful when it comes to moderate or intense exercise in any way. Your heart rate elevates for several hours after having an orgasm, and it can elevate even more if you work out post-sex or masturbation, but that’s about it. There’s no reason to limit your sexual activity while you work on building the body you want.
This story was originally published in October 2016 and was updated on February 10, 2021 to add a new cover photo and meet Lifehacker style guidelines.