While boxing supremo Muhammad Ali claims to have gone for six weeks without sex before big fights, researchers claim that no research done on the matter has found that sex reduces physical strength, power or endurance.
“When we test people in the lab, we are examining “tests of performance”, but in competition, psychology very likely plays a much more important role,” a major newspaper quoted Ian Shrier, a professor in the department of family medicine at McGill University in Canada, as saying.
“Those who claim it decreases performance usually say it is because it decreases focus or aggression or tension. There are no studies that have examined this,” Shrier said.
A review of studies on the issue suggests that sex the night before competition has no effect on results.
In one study, which has been published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 14 married male former athletes were given a grip strength test the morning after sex, and the same test having abstained from sex for six days.
The results showed that neither muscle strength nor muscle endurance to be negatively affected by sex the night before.
A follow-up study at Colorado State University on 10 fit, married men aged between 18 and 45 tested grip strength, balance, lateral movement, reaction time, aerobic power, and oxygen efficiency - sex did not impact negatively on any of these tests.
The theory that sexual frustration makes people more aggressive, and that sex saps testosterone - an athletic performance-related hormone - out of the body, has never been scientifically proven.
“Even if that theory is correct, most people currently believe there is an optimal level of aggression or focus - too little and you don’t do well, too much and you don’t do well,” Shrier said.