Getting sweaty (outside the sheets) is actually a major turn-on—science says so. Studies consistently show that exercise equals a higher sex drive and better sexual function, says Mary Claire Haver, M.D., an ob-gyn at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
But, it turns out there's actually a workout that's best for doing exactly that: strength training.
How Exercise Boosts Your Sex Drive
First things first: whether you're a cardio queen, diehard runner, devoted yogi, or free-weight warrior, any exercise is both good for you and your sex drive.
"If someone is sedentary and starts exercising in any form, they will see an improvement in their libido," says Haver. (Wondering what's messing your sex drive in the first place? It might be one of these five surprising things.)
There are three reasons exercise is (literally) bangin' for your sex life: first, if you're exercising regularly, you'll be feeling better, looking better, and have an all-around better body image, says Haver. Second, exercise increases blood flow both short- and long-term to your sexual organs (and the rest of your body), as well as increases lubrication. Third, exercise is the best way to slash stress—which is the number one libido killer for women, according to Haver. (BTW, if your issue is less about getting revved up and more about reaching the finish line, listen to what our sexpert has to say.)
Why You Should Pick Up the Weights
But why is strength training king? It's all about testosterone—a.k.a. the hormone responsible for your sexual arousal (and, coincidentally, the key hormone for muscle development).
"There's an interesting cocktail of hormones that our body makes when we exercise," says Haver. That includes adrenaline, endorphins, and testosterone, which all get a boost from any type of workout.
With strength training, it turns out that our testosterone levels go up more—a lot more—than they do when we're just jogging or on the elliptical, she says. "We think that this increase in testosterone level is what triggers the higher libido." (P.S. did you know the FDA approved a "female Viagra" pill?) That's right—not only does strength training make you look amazing (just take a peek at these strong, sexy ladies and try to disagree), but it makes you feel sexy as hell too. Talk about a win-win. (P.S. no, lifting weights won't make you bulky.)
Tap Into Your Natural High
Want to make the most of your post-workout sexual energy surge? For one, you should know that the best time to take advantage of those endorphins is right after you hit the gym. So bring bae along with you, then reward him/her with a round-two sweat sesh.
"If you really want to improve your libido, and if you're going to do strength training, your biggest bang is right after, because your testosterone levels are at their highest, your lubrication is at its highest, and your endorphins are at their highest," says Haver. "That will continue throughout the day, but your peak is going to be in that first hour or so after exercise."
One caveat: Don't overdo it. "People who overexercise to the point of fatigue won't see these benefits," says Haver.
That goes for training too much in general (total fatigue doesn't do anyone's sex drive any good) and for workouts that are particularly grueling. If you do a crazy-tough workout (the kind where you can barely get out of the car after driving home), your body is will go into a panic and recovery mode. It will mount an anti-inflammatory response to repair your muscle tissue—and all that post-workout energy and blood flow is going to that tissue instead of your sex organs. (Here's how to help your muscles recover so you can hop back in the sack, stat.)
Your fool-proof plan? Strength train three or four times a week to keep your libido riding high, says Haver, but, as always, listen to your body.