You close your bedroom door. Turning on your computer, you open the browser in incognito mode, as you always do. You type in the words and click on “Search”, hoping to get some relief. But today, even Google fails you.
You still don’t know for sure if masturbation will limit your muscle gains!
Well, look no further because your search ends here! By the end of this article, you’ll probably have a definitive answer to one of THE MOST important questions in a guy’s life.
The Science of Wanking Off
Let’s start at the beginning. The general belief (read Bro Science) is that fapping causes a reduction in testosterone levels. But why should that be a problem?
Testosterone plays a massively important role in helping to build muscle mass after a ‘stimulating’ workout. The higher the testosterone levels, the better your potential for gaining muscle. A man with testosterone levels of 1000ng/dl simply needs to look at a bunch of weights and he’ll put on tonnes of muscle mass in no time. On the other hand, take a man with T-levels around 200ng/dl and he’ll have to work harder and harder, day in and day out, before he gets to see even the slightest increase in muscle mass.
Fun Fact : Men have naturally higher T-levels than women which is why they put on muscles more easily as compared to women. Also, women are more reactive to even small increases in testosterone as compared to men.
Coming back to your question: Does masturbation actually affect muscle gains?
There have been numerous studies conducted in the hope of finding a conclusive answer to just this question.
In one study, the subjects had to abstain from doing the nasty for 7 days straight. Fortunately, this sacrifice was not for nothing as they did in fact see a slight rise in their testosterone levels.
Another study did the same thing but for 3 weeks! That’s right, the men were told not to touch themselves for 3 straight weeks. As hard as it might have been, they did manage to adhere to the instructions given to them. Even here, the subjects saw a slight increase in testosterone levels. At the end of the duration, in both the studies, the men ‘let go’ and saw their testosterone levels drop to below normal for around 20mins or so after which it came back to baseline.
Here’s what happened. When you finally do achieve release, your dopamine levels fall, the prolactin levels see a spike, your heart rate rises and the testosterone levels fall briefly.
If that sounded a little too sciencey, let me break it down in layman’s terms:
- Dopamine is a hormone which is responsible for emotions like pleasure and pain. Dopamine restricts the production of prolactin. When dopamine levels fall, prolactin levels go up.
- Prolactin interferes with the secretion of testosterone. So when prolactin levels rise, the testosterone levels fall.
Workout tip: If you work out immediately after you’ve been “hands-on”, your heart rate will rise higher as compared to working out before blowing your load.
How relevant is this information from a bodybuilding perspective?
Masturbation in itself does not affect performance. The rise or fall of testosterone levels were only found immediately before and after the male subjects finished “burping the worm”. These changes are so negligible that they will have absolutely no direct impact on your performance in the gym. Even these changes were temporary. The total testosterone levels remain the same.
Looking at masturbation as the sole contributor to low T-levels is like missing the woods for the trees. The majority of men who have lower testosterone levels don’t need to stop spanking the monkey. They just need to alter other aspects of their lifestyles.
Factors that actually affect testosterone levels:
- Activity levels : Any form of exercise (resistance training being the best) has shown to increase the testosterone levels compared to a sedentary lifestyle.
- Lack of Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin-D, Cholesterol, Saturated fats causes a fall in testosterone production.
- When you eat at a big deficit for an extended length of time, your body will shut down or at least slow down a majority of the non-essential mechanisms of the body, testosterone production being one of them.
- Heavy drinking and smoking
- When you skip or deprive yourself of sleep, the insulin sensitivity goes down, cortisol levels rise and testosterone levels fall. Overall, the levels of catabolic hormones in the body rise while those of the anabolic hormones fall – not a good sign.
So go ahead and enjoy your ‘me-time’ as much as you want. It won’t affect your progress in your bodybuilding endeavors. Just make sure that you don’t indulge in self-love to such an extent that you’re too tired to get out of bed and actually hit the gym or it leaves you too exhausted to work out to the best of your abilities.
Do spare the rod every so often so you’re left with some energy for actually lifting weights as well.
Written by Coach Nachiketh Shetty