Some athletic coaches and trainers forbid their players from having sex before big games or fights, saying that it puts them at a disadvantage.
“I’ve had doctors give me results on tests. It does lower your testosterone level for a 24 to 48 hour period. It’s been proven,” longtime boxing coach Freddie Roach said in 2012. “Some people say it’s not the sex, it’s the chase. It’s going out looking for that, unless you have a wife at home you don’t have to chase. But Muhammad Ali says he used to be relaxed and he had sex before every fight. I ask my guys to give me 10 days. Ten days of discipline.”
It’s one of the most enduring myths of athletics, but there’s not a lot of science to back it up. But athletes can stop freaking out, because a new study backed by sex toy company Adam & Eve found that sex can actually boost athletic performance. For the study, Adam & Eve enlisted the help of Olympic trainer Dr. Mike Young, PhD, to watch 21 male and female collegiate and national athletes for three weeks and monitor their solo and partner sex habits. Then, they monitored their athletic performance.
The results? Well, they’re just awesome: Athletes who believed that sex boosted their performance were 68 percent more likely to see improvements afterward. And they didn’t even need a partner for it, because those who masturbated increased agility by 10 percent and strength by 13 percent. Partner sex participants experienced 3.1 percent and 0.7 percent increases, respectively.
But here’s the caveat: The only ones who saw improvement were the ones who already believed sex would help performance. Four in 10 of those who thought it bad for competition saw their jumping, power and acceleration abilities diminish after sex.
Basically, it’s all in the athlete’s head. “When it comes to sexual activity and athletic performance it really is a case where an individual’s perception is the same as their reality,” Dr. Young said in the study. “If they feel like participating in a sexual activity will improve their athletic performance then it more than likely will and they should strategically seek out opportunities to be sexually active. Similarly, if an athlete feels like sexual activity impairs their athletic performance then it probably will and they should avoid it at all costs.”
So, listen up, Olympians: Be sure to pack plenty of condoms — and maybe a sex toy or two — when you head to Rio.