I have a secret for intimacy: lift weights.
I was complaining about neck and shoulder pain and my then-boyfriend suggested lifting weights. He had the build of a high school football player and a history of weightlifting, but he’d fallen out of the habit. We bought two bright red 15-pound kettlebells to use at home. They sat in the living room where we could see them.
For a couple of evenings a week, we’d do our sets, taking turns. He said I looked “hot as hell” while I was doing my reps. Sometimes he’d have his eye on his phone — but he’d look up and beam.
I’d do 20 reps each, using the balls in five different ways. Then I’d collapse on the couch, and it was his turn. I got to beam at him. (Yes, sometimes he went first.) If one or both of us was energetic, we’d repeat the sequence again.
Those workouts boosted my ego, and helped with the aches and pains.
It’s a good move for your sex life, too.
At least in men, we know that muscle-building can produce spurts in testosterone for 15 minutes to an hour. We don’t know if that temporary rise has other effects, but it can feel great. Some routines are ideal for this purpose. Keeping rest periods between sets under two minutes will maximize the increase in muscle mass and testosterone.
Women, please don’t fear weightlifting is unfeminine. You don’t have to worry about looking bulky — remember Michelle Obama’s arms. Strong is sexy.
This goes at any age. Older women especially need to work out to prevent natural loss in muscle mass with age.
Middle-aged men sometimes worry about their testosterone. Their partners might worry, too.
You both should know that declining testosterone isn’t inevitable. Measurable testosterone stays level from age 50 to 99 for half of all men, according to a major study.
In the half that do see declines, men vary in when they start to feel symptoms.
It’s something to think about in part because low testosterone increases the chance of heart disease and makes heart disease more dangerous. In fact, research supports giving heart patients testosterone medication.
Is your man putting on fat and losing muscle? Does he have insomnia, or is he depressed? Has he lost body hair? Those are all symptoms of testosterone getting too low. Younger men with arthritis, type 2 diabetes, or infertility should ask for a test. Obesity is another risk factor.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, low testosterone is one reason a man might lose interest in sex. He could flag because he’s bothered by problems at work or in your relationship. He could be having erectile dysfunction.
Some men will be angry or hurt if you suggest a doctor. Others won’t talk about their emotions. Before you start nagging or chasing him to “talk,” you might try bonding over kettlebells. In our case, lifting weights together was one of the sweetest things we did.
Maybe, as with us, he’s fine, and you’re the one who feels awkward about lifting weights. Would you like his support or company? Let him know. Any kind of physical fun — ping pong counts — is good for romance, and that’s good for your health.