We asked experts how frequently and intensely you would have to have sex to train for the Olympics.
Photo by Studio Firma via Stocksy
With her husband/coach screaming and gesturing intensely on the sidelines, Katinka Hosszu claimed Olympic gold for Hungary in the women's 400-meter individual medley this weekend. Before Saturday, she had never medaled in the Olympics, though she had competed before. Her win this time might have had something to do with her newfound training strategy, a profile in the New York Times suggests. Her spouse helped her refine her technique, up her weight training, and eliminate fast food and added sugar from her diet.
But there are many different ways to train and tweak your way to peak fitness. Ideally, there would also be some shortcuts. One longstanding myth is that sex is as good as moderate exercise. So could vigorously sexercising get you just as ready to compete?
There are surprisingly many health benefits to sex, including lower blood pressure and improved heart health, and experts suggest that sex could also keep you in shape. "Depending on the couple, they could absolutely work sex in as a part of their exercise regimen," Dr. Joseph Pinzone tells Broadly. "In a couple who has robust sex often, it would probably do some good for them in the long run, measurably." Pinzone adds that varying sexual techniques—which can target different muscle groups—could also get you toned. "Some of those positions are going to work your core, depending on who is on top and who is on the bottom. Some are are going to be able to work your upper body and your lower body. You're going to have a variety of muscles work in any sexual encounter, but its efficacy obviously depends on the frequency."
So exactly how much sex would you need have in order to get ripped? A 2013 study published in the journal Plos One suggests that a session of sex could be "considered, at times, as a significant exercise." The study asked 21 heterosexual couples to wear an armband during sex to measure their energy expenditures. After analyzing the data, the researchers, lead by Dr. Antony Karelis, found that the average energy expenditure during sexual activity was 101 kCal in men and 69 kCal in women. (Nice.) Compared to a 30-minute exercise session, that's not so impressive: The energy expenditure in men was 276 kCal, whereas for women it was 213 kCal.
However, some men in the study were able to reach an energy expenditure during sex much higher than the average—306.1 kCal. In other words, if you focused on sex with the intensity and dedication that Hosszu put in to clenching the 400m IM, you could actually burn a fair amount of calories.
But, Karelis tells Broadly, you would really have to be dedicated to a strict sexercise regimen to become an international gold medalist sex-haver. "You will need to have a significant amount of sex to equal pretty much any Olympic training," he says. "Olympic athletes train at a high intensity and burn a lot of calories, whereas sex may be a moderate intensity at best and does not last that long (25 min) and burns few calories (100). You would probably need to have sex all day to equal the amount of training that a marathon runner does."
Indeed, Olympic athletes spend hours training every day. Having sex all day, every day, for four years would be no less exhausting than hitting the gym—and there's no way you'd be able to avoid a UTI.