Excercise and the Male Libido

Having a high sex drive is something that is extremely stereotypical of the male gender. Now, libido is something that fluctuates from person to person. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean that you need to be wanting sex every single day in order to be ‘normal’. Though, it’s understandable that you may be troubled if you continuously are uninterested in sex.

Now, what affects the male sex drive?

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Age
  • Medication
  • Diet
  • Body composition
  • Exercise habits

You may not think it but the way you choose to train your body can have a direct affect upon your sexual desire.

Research

A recent study looked at endurance training in particular, and its effect on male sexual libido. The researchers created an online survey questionnaire based upon pre-existing validated questionnaires in order to assess physical characteristics, exercise training-habits and the libido of those taking part. The participants were then categorised in terms of having a low, normal and high libido which were then separated into two groups: a high/normal score group and a low score group.

The results showed that both training intensity and duration were the most significant factors when determining which group each participant was placed into. Those with the lowest and mid-range training intensities ‘had greater odds of a high/normal libido state than those with the highest training intensity’. Similarly, participants with the shorter and mid-range training durations ‘also had greater odds of a high/normal libido score than those with a greatest duration’.

The researchers were forced to conclude that ‘higher levels of chronic intense and greater durations of endurance training on a regular basis’ is ‘significantly associated with a decreased libido’ in men.

Testosterone

The lead researcher stated that endurance training can have significant effects on the male reproductive system and in particular, testosterone. They stated that in endurance-trained men, their resting testosterone levels are lower than those in untrained men. These lowered levels of testosterone can disrupt the reproductive and androgenic (male sex hormones) processes and thus, sexual libido.

Another study looked closer at testosterone levels and luteinizing hormone (one of the hormones which control the human body’s reproductive system) in relation to endurance training. Luteinizing hormone is produced in the anterior pituitary gland and stimulates the production of testosterone and consequently, sperm. The researchers measured serum total testosterone, luteinizing hormone, cortisol (stress hormone) and weight in 15 previously sedentary males. They then set them a 6-month course of training to a point where they reached a weekly running mileage of 56 km/week average.

What were the results this time? The total testosterone levels decreased. Cortisol levels also reduced but the luteinizing hormone levels stayed the same. The participants weight did drop, however.

This means that though the men did lose weight and increased endurance, their sex drive, libido and testosterone levels dropped.

does cardio lower testosterone

Interestingly, weightlifting can actually increase your sex drive. Exercise and lifting weight has a positive correlation with testosterone production. Obviously, this is only when practiced in moderation and without strict diets. Similarly, with endurance training, lifting weights at an intensity that is too high and too frequent can negatively affect your sex drive.

So, if you’re someone who has a low sex drive, you might want to look at whether you’re overtraining. It simply means doing too much exercise for your body to handle. This may be because of training too often or not resting enough.

What to do?

If you think this is you then you need to look at four things:

  • Sleeping pattern, duration and quality
  • Training frequency and intensity
  • Diet, macronutrient and micronutrient levels
  • Stress and anxiety levels

All these will heavily impact your level of libido so it’s important to make sure they’re in check before doing anything drastic.

At the end of the day, endurance training is not inherently evil. The research clearly states that negative effects are only seen in those that train too frequently and at an intensity too high for their bodies to handle. This will be the same with any form of training.

However, if you’re looking to boost your sex drive, then you may want to focus more on weightlifting and a bodybuilding style of training. Lifting heavy weights is a great way to improve your strength, improve your metabolism, become more capable, lose weight and put on some muscle mass. A combination of both styles of training alongside adequate rest and recovery will give you the best outcome.

The main thing to remember, as the Bible says is to use, do and have everything in moderation. Anything will have an adverse effect on your health if done in wrong way.