Can Sex Decrease My Gains? - The Muscle PhD

Can Sex Decrease My Gains?

Sexual activity and its relation to performance is a common debate around your local gym residents, and one you’ve probably debated with yourself. And while it is a generally awkward question, we actually get asked about it from time to time on totally unrelated posts. You know the questions we’re talking about, you might’ve come across them in our comments section. We might be talking about a ketogenic diet or calf muscles, and somewhere in the comments you could find somebody asking this very important question.

“Will sex decrease my gains?”

It’s actually not as simple as most people think. Your local gym coach might go on and on about how you should never get intimate with another person as long as you want to achieve your goals. Here? We believe that this is absolutely untrue. However, without beating around the bush, here’s the truth: It depends. If you want to learn more about how much it depends, then read further!


There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when talking about acts of intimacy. Studies show that the act of having sex has actually been shown to raise testosterone levels, so just looking at that, you can theoretically say that it helps with long term gains and training. Higher resting testosterone levels have always been related to muscle mass. So yes, having a healthy sex life can be beneficial for overall growth.

Breaking the Myth

There are a lot of athletes who believe that getting intimate with someone during your contest prep is going to destroy your gains. Here? We believe that’s total nonsense. But every myth often has a grain of truth. Granted, when it comes to the act of being intimate, you do raise your testosterone levels, but remember that you also get a huge dopamine response. Once you raise your dopamine levels and you get that euphoric experience it gives, you’ll inevitably get a little bit of a downer, you’ll get sluggish, tired, and probably want to go to sleep.

Imagine going to the gym while feeling like that, you open the front door and you’re yawning, do you think you’ll get a good workout? If you’re doing intimate acts right before you train, you’ll get that downer response, and you’re not going to be able to train as well.

Timing Matters

However, you could always use that downer effect to your advantage, a huge part of your lifestyle if you’re looking to compete is getting good sleep. If you’re being intimate before going to bed, then theoretically speaking you’re going to sleep better! Better sleep would raise testosterone, and helps stimulate your growth hormone as well as muscle recovery.

The Yerkes-Dodson Law

Have you ever thought about what happens if you’re around someone you’re attracted to? Once you’re attracted to someone and you get aroused, you actually fall into one of the examples of the Yerkes-Dodson Law. This law basically goes like this: As arousal goes up to a point, performance goes up.

If you’re feeling that downer effect we stated previously and you’re yawning throughout your exercises, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to focus on your bench presses for example. Your focus is going to be dispersed, and as a result your muscle tension isn’t going to be as high. Instead of thinking about lifting weights, you’re going to be thinking about anything else throughout your session.

However, once your body or mind gets aroused, studies show that it doesn’t really matter what causes the arousal. Can being attracted to someone be a distraction in the gym? Absolutely. Can it also raise your arousal, and can general arousal increase your lift? Definitely!

However, if you start focusing more on your gym crush, you might lose focus on your lifts. This is the downside of the Yerkes-Dodson law, where the arousal can become too great and actually impair performance.


The next time somebody claims they know better reference that getting intimate with your significant other will harm your gains, how about you tell them a few of these facts? 

Fact: The act of being intimate before you work out will lower performance.

Fact: Sexual activity before going to bed will lead to better sleep, increased testosterone, and enhanced recovery.

Fact: A healthy intimate life is good because it raises your overall testosterone.

Fact: Arousal at the gym will boost performance – to a point.


We’d like to end this by saying that you’ve got to balance everything out, since even if you’re keeping a tight lock on yourself, something’s got to give. Remember, while your physical condition is extremely important, stress levels can negatively impact it. Stress has a non-generalized impact, and it can and will impair your gains if you get it high enough.

We hope that finally answers your burning question! We’ll see you next time you need some bodybuilding knowledge

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