[From the book Gym Psych: the Insider’s Guide to Health Clubs, by Maury Z. Levy and Jay Shafran (Fawcett Columbine, 1986)]
They used to call it the broad jump. In 1968, at the Olympics in Mexico City, U.S. jumper Bob Beamon shattered the existing world record with a leap of twenty-nine feet two and one-half inches. Some seventeen years later, the rest of the world is still trying to come close. What was Beamon’s secret? How did he prepare himself the night before the big jump? With sex. Beamon had intercourse the night before. Hell, he screwed his brains out. He was very cool about the whole thing. Afterward, he admitted the sex, and his only comment was, “What do I do now?” Oh, a cigarette usually does the trick, Bob.
There’s always been some mystery, if not confusion, about sex and sports. Different athletes handled it in different ways. Muhammad Ali always stayed celibate for six weeks before a fight. Did it help? Ali thought so. And it’s hard to argue with his record. But for those of you, men and women alike, who are more concerned fighting the battle of the bulge than the heavyweight championship, there are some things you should know about sex and athletics.
Sex isn’t all that taxing. Intercourse, even at its most passionate, burns up about 250 calories an hour. And unless you’re going for a world record in the sack, it’s unlikely that you’ll lose more than twenty-five calories, since the average lovemaking session lasts about five minutes. (Did you ever wonder who times these things? And where do they hide?)
To put those twenty-five calories into a gym perspective, you’ll burn off about twice that in your preworkout warm-up and stretch. For those of you not yet in the gym, it takes about twenty-five calories to walk up a flight of stairs. So if your bedroom is on the second floor, you’re burning just as much energy going as you are coming. So to speak.
Some athletes fear that sex will ruin their concentration. Actually, just the opposite might be true. Sex, like exercise, is a good way of venting stress—of losing a lot of pent-up negative energy.
You have to know something about how the body works to understand this. The adrenaline flow, the heightened blood pressure—the same biological process that gets you pumped up for sports—also gets you pumped up for sex.
This is where the brain comes in. The brain plays traffic cop. Once the juices start to flow, the brain sends them to the areas involved in the specific activity. And since the body can only concentrate fully on one stimulus at a time, you’re unlikely to see a man get an erection doing a bench press.
This bodily flow of one-way traffic also explains why after what seems like an exhausting workout, most people still have lots of energy for sex. In fact, while getting those juices flowing without draining the vital organs, the workout now becomes a very interesting and very effective form of foreplay. And there is data, dating back to Kinsey, that shows the sex drive and sexual frequency of an athlete exceeds those of the general population.
Lately, there’s been some speculation about internal stimuli. You might have picked up on this if you watched the Olympic marathon. Some of the runners interviewed talked about a mysterious “natural high” that comes over them at a certain point in the race. Some said it was like a cocaine high—you just sort of float along, aware of things outside your body, but Read the rest of this entry »