If you need another reason to make this the year you start lifting weights, experts say it could help your performance outside of the gym, too.
From helping you lose weight to improving your mood, boosting your energy levels and, of course, making you stronger: there are many well-known benefits of strength training.
But with this type of workout gaining so much popularity over the past few years (the hashtag #strenghttraining has a whopping 5.2 billion views on TikTok), some have started to wonder if there are other not-so-well-known benefits.
One question, in particular, is whether it has any effect on libido. The short answer is absolutely, strength training can impact your sex drive – and positively so. Let’s dive into the reasons why.
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It helps balance out your hormones
Research shows that resistance training can increase testosterone in young, healthy women. Although testosterone is usually associated with men, it also plays an important role in women’s health. And considering its alternative name – the ‘sex hormone’ – it’s clear to see that it plays an important role in sexual health, specifically.
But that’s not the only way strength training helps restore and maintain hormonal balance.
It also stimulates the production of oestrogen (the other sex hormone), which can be especially beneficial for menopausal women, as oestrogen levels tend to plummet during this life stage.
It improves blood circulation
Strength training increases blood circulation, which helps ensure that your whole body receives a healthy supply of oxygen and nutrients. This, of course, includes your reproductive organs.
As more blood flows down there, your sexual arousal and responsiveness improve (which helps enhance lubrication), the muscles in your vaginal walls relax, and your chances of reaching an orgasm increase.
“For women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), resistance training has significantly increased overall scores on the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) – a score that self-reports quantified female sexual dysfunction in six domains – with improvements reported in desire, excitement and lubrication domains,” Dr Ben Condon, a GP at Juniper, adds.
It’s an effective stress reliever
Stress and anxiety can significantly dampen sexual desire. The truth is that when you have too much on your mind, it can be hard to make time for intimacy – and many of us have struggled with this before.
There’s also a physiological response to stress. It puts your body in flight or flight mode, which triggers the release of cortisol (otherwise known as the stress hormone) and epinephrine. Both of these hormones, when in excess, can lower your libido.
This becomes an even bigger challenge when you’re dealing with chronic stress, as your body is constantly focused on trying to survive and ends up disregarding non-essential functions such as sexual arousal.
The good news is that there are many effective ways to lower your stress levels and improve your mental well-being – one of them being strength training (or any other type of exercise, really).
“Resistance training has been shown to reduce pain and total depression and anxiety scores in women, which has a positive impact on all facets of a woman’s life, including their sex life,” explains Dr Condon.
It reduces cortisol levels, boosts your feel-good endorphins and keeps your mind off whatever is stressing you out – even if it’s just for half an hour.
It makes you feel more confident
Last but not least, strength training can have a massive impact on your confidence.
“Positive body image associated with regular exercise has been associated with improved sexual well-being,” says Dr Condon.
Whether it is because you’ve achieved a new PB, are one step closer to your dream physique or are simply proud of the healthy routine you’ve created (and stuck to), fitness progress often leads to a boost in self-esteem.
Feeling strong, fit, and confident can influence your comfort and performance in the bedroom, translating into a more satisfying intimate connection.