Q. How does sex affect weight training and muscle growth? I have heard of boxers who would not have sex with their wives for six months because they were weight training for a fight. Does it have anything to do with a man’s testosterone level?

A. The mythology of athletic depletion and sexual activity goes back to the Middle Ages, when crusading knights were warned to not fall prey to the love interests of damsels, lest their powers be wasted and heathens not be conquered. Today, that same fear is echoed by high school PE teachers, athletic trainers and professional coaches. “No nookie the night before the big game, fellas” — or else you’ll be a noodle on the playing field.

There is no scientific evidence to support these claims, although you will find plenty of anecdotal stories — lots of guys with scary tales about their athletic performance suffering due to sex. Most men have sufficient testosterone and androgen production in general to have a normal sex life and to support weight training, aerobic and anaerobic performance. Besides, the muscle growth resulting from weight training depends on many factors, such as nutrition, rest, training specifics, overload, progression and so on — not just on circulating testosterone levels.

As for the boxers who didn’t have sex with their wives for six months, I would bet it’s more likely due to taking anabolic steroids, which can lead to impotence and shrinkage of the gonads.

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