Sensitive topic, I know - but curious what others have experienced as it relates to changes in libido under increased training load.
I’ll go first. I’m 41, about 3.3 watts/kg, have been cycling for 7 or so years. This is by far my strongest, most structured offseason ever, and I am focused on some difficult goals in terms of performance gains. I have been hitting the base/build/specialty plans with improved consistency, working in a lot (for me) of strength work, lost 20 lbs, sleeping lots, drinking almost no alcohol, eating better than I have in my life. From a training point of view, I couldn’t be happier with the changes I have seen in my body and in my ability to ride further, faster, harder. The guy in the mirror looks and feels better at 41 than he did at 21.
At the same time, I have seen a noticeable shift downward in libido. There are no negative relationship factors - very much in love and very attracted to my spouse. I just have less drive overall.
I couldn’t find a thread on this so I figured there might be others who have a view or a personal experience. How likely is it that the body of an endurance athlete can put so much energy into recovery and rebuilding that it turns down the fire as far as sex drive?
We’ve got some similarities and dissimilarities in relation to each other: I’m late 30’s, 3.3 w/kg, cycling 3 years during which time I’ve lost 100lbs and gained back 30 (20 of which were needed, I’d be super happy with a 10 lb loss only).
I sleep okay-ish, my work life and travel make a consistent 8 hours a night difficult, but more nights than not I get 8 hours and my sleep hygiene is otherwise great. I drink 1x a week most weeks. I trained consistently through last workout period and lifted heavily at the gym and saw a 11.4% increase in w/kg from start of SSBI.
I, too, have seen a noticeable downward shift in libido. Ditto on relationship, my wife is a saint and I’m the luckiest guy ever. I find her attractive and during off season my libido is SIGNIFICANTLY higher. Its odd, during the winter I was the one “propositioning” my spouse, and now it is vice versa. I find myself in the relationship position of working myself up into the mood because my spouse has asked, not because I’m a guy and… hey, I’m a guy.
On the other hand my libido isn’t ABSENT, it is just noticeably reduced. In some ways its actually been a benefit, because our libido’s have not always been aligned.
Not sure what it means, but it hasn’t impacted my relationship or life negatively so I’m okay with it right now. Best of luck to you!
I don’t know about you guys, but i’m almost 33, i’d had a downshift in libido past few years… no issues but i just wasn’t as… hmmm… proactive at going for it as much as i used to.
Ever since i start training for triathlon, i don’t know if it’s the interval training or the progressive calisthenics, or the swimming, but its shot up through the roof.
I’m still around 2.2w/kg as of a few weeks ago but let’s just say the wife has been surprised a few times (unexpectedly) and its surprised me too. I hope i can keep this going. Is it maybe a rise in T levels?
Basically my situation as well. My wife is amazing, and I wouldn’t even talk about this here if it were some kind of wound in our relationship. What you describe is exactly what I’ve been experiencing. Thanks for replying on a sensitive subject!
45, married with kids, high stress job. Also training more and feeling better than ever.
I have not noticed a decrease and sometimes I feel it is increasing, but the ability to consummate is way down unfortunately. I attribute the lack of action to mostly non-training factors, but with respect to training, I would say it is more about presence and priority than physical libido:
Prioritizing good sleep and going for early/weekend rides eats in substantially to opportunity to do it
My focus on training and all things bikes takes up more of my mindspace that I would care to admit. I am sure this makes me less present, though I try.
Long SS/Threshold or hard outside rides can leave me a bit flat for the rest of the day - so it isn’t only the 3 hours but the time afterwards. Also, I get home and need to eat/stretch/shower/analyze ride
On the flip side, the euphoria that comes with successfully finishing Vo2 max workouts increase libido ALOT right after. And feeling better about my body is confidence inspiring.
I generally have the same sex drive as I did when I was 18, which while I won’t complain, doesn’t come without complications. Now, work stress or kid stress? That sh$t makes me want to never have sex again.
I’m in a situation that nearly mirrors yours. I’m 37, sitting around 3.3-3.4 w/kg, still shedding weight (down 28lbs), don’t drink, sleep is average, and have turned up the workouts drastically in the past year. similarly happy with training progress, but my libido has dropped significantly in the past couple years. I also have a saintly (and 14 years younger than me) wife.
I saw a doctor about this and a general lack of energy, and he did bloodwork. Testosterone was low, but a re-test several weeks later resulted in a low/pass. He suggested taking a B complex, arginine, and vitamin D.
Now that I’m hitting the bike hard and cutting body weight, I’ve stopped weightlifting to keep off excess weight. I gain muscle very quickly, having the background of a football (American), Basketball, hockey player. I suspect that my increased bike time and decrease in heavy complex lifts has added to the decline in T as I approach 40. Furthermore, I’ve had a somewhat stressful year as an attorney. I haven’t gone back to my doctor (a new doctor), as time and other health issues have been priority. The libido loss is maddening, and I plan to pursue a solution to it - which may include the addition of natural T building processes, like weightlifting. I definitely won’t be supplementing T, as Therapeutic use still isn’t allowed when racing.
Interested to see how others deal with this seemingly common problem among aging endurance athletes!
I will throw in my 2 cents since a lot of people are losing weight, so I can throw that variable out. I am in my mid 30s, lean, and when i ramp up training, my sex drive is substantially reduced. No performance issues really, but just don’t feel the need. I will say when i stop training, taper, or have a rest week, it shoots back up and I feel like a teenager. I sleep well, drink less when training only because I am busy, 3.5 w/k, triathlete.
I know of no way to ‘deal’ with it. Starting a new relationship now, and I just figured I would be open about it
Stop training for a week or so. Get your partner and go to Bali or somewhere that you. can spend time for,each other only, forget about cycling.
I am 46, I had the same issues especially during SSB2 and Build phase. I took some time off and did rides just for fun. I spent sometime with her and family. That reminded me there is also a life outside other than cycling and I have some other responsibilities
You are OK. Just take some time off
Ps. I know bike comes first but this is also serious
Edited: I have also lost 6kg and sleep between 8 to 10hrs a day.
I believe this is very common. From what I understand cortisol plays a major role. High training volume, especially sweet spot intensity and down, increases cortisol levels significantly, and cortisol reduces testosterone levels. On the other hand, high intensity training, like anaerobic work, and strength training increases testosterone levels. Maybe @chad can clarify the science for us. This seems like a good podcast topic, like eating disorders, sexual health is often kept in the shadows. I personally find periods of long slow distance, have a deleterious effect on libido, whereas training blocks focused on short climbs and sprint power do not.
I respectfully disagree. Quality and quantity both count in my book;)
In all seriousness, almost 20 yrs with my wife and four kids and we’re plenty active. I do notice a slight reduction during a big training block but I attribute it to general lack of energy. Nothing to be alarmed about.
Not having a television at home does wonders too, for the quantity and quality.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m young (25), but I actually face the opposite. My libido goes to the roof after training…
Anyway, I think you guys should check out your fat intake. Sometimes people think you have to cut all fats from your diet in order to lose some weight. However, fats are essential to balance hormones levels especially when you are training hard. Eggs, natural peanut butter, mac oil, avocados, etc. Also, it’s normal that at 40 years old, your libido goes down since your test level is descreasing too. You might want to do a blood work to check if everything is ok.
I’m just a touch older but I think we’re at that age where it can be lower than it was.
Lots of physical activity and stress can certainly impact it greatly. As an example even in very young men things like going through a bootcamp or other stressful indoctrination type military training can reduce it to almost nothing even at a point in life where without the stress it is rarely far from the mind, ok maybe that was just me.
Lately I’ve come to the opinion that while I love cycling, and will continue to put it first in my fitness priorities, I’m also old enough that I’ve got include a few other things pretty much year round to keep my health and fitness well rounded.
@aarontator is right regarding the cortisol levels and anaerobic efforts according me.
Besides low volume plans I will stick to lifting weights twice a week. Starting strength like. Eating my steak, having my bbq and enjoy the time, with my family.
When I was training high volume 10+ hours a week, I also felt no mood to get it on. Still didn’t win races although that’s because cat1 till cat5 are mixed here and segregation is done on age.
Realizing that with lifting weights my libido goes back up, plus actually looking good, my choice was made.
I just turned 34, lost over 50lbs over the last year and I have noticed a decrease in “burning desires” too. But you know what? When the moments arrives and the planets align just right (kids are at grandmas and we aren’t both exhausted), my new found fitness has provided a decisive victory for the quality side of things.
I had issues at one stage with lots of endurance training leading to low T. Started taking zinc and everything was back to normal quick smart. In fact, swung a bit in the other direction and my wife ordered me off the zinc
Masters 55+ rider, empty nesters, high stress jobs, and the more strength training the more I prioritize another type of riding About a year ago I restructured my entire training calendar around sleeping in with my wife on (most) Saturday mornings, and that brought an immediate cease fire to calling the bike “your girlfriend” (not kidding!). I’m pretty much ready for bed by 9:30 because my body needs sleep from all the strength and bike training. Being present making/after dinner is a big deal, make that a priority too.
Speaking from experience. While heavy training has known effect on libido (not sure though, volume or intensity), nutrition and recovery play very important part in restoring it. Make sure you are not losing weight, hit your macros and you should be mostly fine.