Bill Starr, ‘Sex and the Barbell’, Defying Gravity How To Win At Weightlifting (New York, 1981), p. 24.


I once wrote a piece for the “Behind the Scenes” section in Strength & Health magazine dealing with the subject of sex before competition. I thought that I was quite obviously tongue-in-cheeking the presentation and made the comment that lifters would do well to lay off sex during the final week before a meet. As it turned out, I was not obvious enough as I received numerous letters and a few phone calls from irritated wives. It seemed that many lifters took my advise as gospel and denied their ladies any sexual gratification in the week prior to the contest. I have often suspected that many of these lifters merely used my words as an ex-cuse and most likely were doing a bit of hankey-pankey on the side at my expense.

This response struck me as rather strange, but when I went to do some researching on the subject of sex before competition I found that the athletic community has always ad- vised participants to abstain from sexual ac- tivities before athletic performance. At least this was the general philosophy until recently.
A recent Playboy interview with Pete Rose emphasized this concept. Pete felt that sex before a game drained him of valuable energy and would adversely affect his perfor- mance on the playing field. I believe that this attitude is prevalent in professional sports. At the base of the concept is that a horny athlete is in fact more aggressive than a sexually satisfied one. That it is best to go into athletic competition with the hormones overloaded rather than depleted. A conservation of life forces, so to speak.

My observations and opinions on the sub- ject differ from the more typical, but they are based on what I consider solid ground. I have studied the subject as much as time will allow. Penthouse, Playboy, Oui are all read with the singular intent of adding to this body of knowledge. Seldom do I take time to look at the pictures. If you buy that, how about a deal on a ’69 Pontiac? In reality, there is very little hard-core (no pun intended) evidence on the subject at hand. Whatever evidence I have dug up is primarily from talking to lifters through the past twenty years. A n d believe me, they are always ready to spend time talking about sex.

Assuming that some professional athletes and advisors are correct in their assumption that a sexually satisfied individual is not as aggressive as one who has his horns up, I do not believe the general concept applies to weightlifting. Hockey maybe. Football possibly, but not competitive weightlifting. Weightlifting is not a sport where ag- gressiveness is needed in order to perform favorably. That is not to say that the com- petitor should not attack the barbell, but rather that the attack must be controlled. The weightlifter’s role is quite unlike that of a linebacker in football. The weightlifter’s con- trol is more mental, he cannot charge without abandon. Each movement must be precise and it must be remembered that the energy expended in the sex act is little more than that expended doing calisthenics. That is, unless you got in a Texas Death Match with a couple of twins. That’s a hormone of a different color.


Individual Variance


This particular theme is repeated so many times in this series that perhaps the reader is tired of the comment, but I once more need to emphasize the fact that individuals are dif- ferent. And this concept does relate to sexual activities, just as it does to diet, rest, and training loads.

It holds true that some athletes do perform better if they abstain from sex in the final days before competition. Others definitely do not. For the latter group to abstain is a handicap, not an asset.