The Polls: Sex, Drugs, and Abs

We Asked, You Answered

Check out what our fans think about ab training, sex, pro bodybuilding, kettlebells, steroids, and much more.

The Instagram Polls

T Nation® coaches and experts spend a lot of time telling you what they think. But we also want to know what you think about various bodybuilding topics. Luckily, Instagram has made this easier.

The Stories feature on Instagram allows us to conduct two-answer polls, and we’ve had some fun with this. (Check out our page: T Nation® Instagram.) Here are several of our recent polls along with some tips.

Note: In fairness, we can’t say these polls represent all T Nation® readers. More accurately, it reflects the opinions of people who answered polls on T Nation®’s Instagram. Some of our readers may not use Instagram, and some of our Instagram followers may not read every post on the main site. Still, there’s a lot we glean from the polls.

Abs and Direct Training

Based on the Instagram comments, it looks like many of the people who make up the 39% of “no’s” are skipping direct ab work because they believe the big compound lifts like squats and deadlifts will train their abs sufficiently.

You can’t blame them for thinking that, but there’s more to the story. A while back there were several studies that concluded that squats and deadlifts “activated” the core muscles nicely.

But many missed the nuances in those studies. The lumbar multifidus, transverse abdominis, and quadratus lumborum core muscles were trained the hardest by squats and deads… not the muscles you think about when you think “abs” – the rectus abdominis (6-pack) and the obliques.

As Coach Nick Tumminello has noted, the boring ol’ push-up activates the abs and obliques more than squats or deads (based on EMG testing). You also “activate” your abs when you take a post-cheat day poop, but that’s not exactly hypertrophying them.

Yes, the abs need to be BUILT. Diets don’t build or strengthen abs, they just make them more visible. You wouldn’t tell someone who wanted big traps to just eat less so his puny traps will show up better, right? Same with abs. Abs need some direct training for aesthetics, strength, and athleticism. Lots of workout ideas here: Big, Thick, Chunky Ab Training.

Abstinence For Gains?

Okay, 49% of you guys are just crazy. Or maybe just really, really dedicated to building muscle? Many of the commenters were also pretty honest, saying, “Um, I’m already going without sex, so I may as well get the muscle!”

This poll was just for fun, but for the record giving up sex doesn’t lead to more muscle growth. The studies basically tell us that sex can temporarily lower male testosterone levels a little, but prolonged abstinence (several months of no action) might do that too.

Also, sex right before a competition (or leg day) isn’t ideal for men. You might be a little, um, drained. There’s also some evidence that being a little horny before you train could actually be a performance booster. Anticipation for sex may raise testosterone levels a bit.

Now, post-workout sex might help with recovery, especially for women. The ladies actually benefit from pre-workout orgasms too, which lead to pain desensitization, less anxiety, and better focus according to Dr. Jade Teta. But men may temporarily lose some of their aggression, and aggression is handy on deadlift day.

But let’s get real. There’s more to life than muscle, and good sex is one of those things. Don’t leave your significant other hanging because it might (but probably won’t) lead to slightly better gains.

The Kettlebell Conundrum

This seems about right. Kettlebells have become another tool in the toolbox, but not everyone has access to them. Many also seem to associate KBs with CrossFit surprisingly, even though kettlebells have been around in their current form since at least the 1800s. The muscle mags starting writing about kettlebells years before CrossFit existed.

As with all things fitness, trends come and go. This sums up the kettlebell trend nicely:

Kettlebells are superior to barbells and dumbbells… for a few things. But of course you don’t have to use them to get big and strong.

Competitive Bodybuilding

Let’s talk bodybuilding… competitive bodybuilding. It may surprise you that this is a divisive topic. You’d think fans of a muscle-building site would be fans of the “sport” of muscle building, right? Not so much.

Most who didn’t like competitive bodybuilding said that the drug use had just gone too far and that the physiques had gotten bloated and ugly. But an overwhelming majority still had a lot of respect for the “classic” look.

If you think about it, lifting weights is sort of like riding a bicycle. You may love to ride your bike but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can name a single professional bicycle rider. The fun and the reward is in the doing, not the watching.

Still, 29% said they’ve either competed or want to compete someday.

The 71% who had no desire to compete cited the rampant steroid use, thought flexing in their underwear on stage was creepy, or just admitted they didn’t have the body for it.


Oddly, this poll triggered the nastiest debates in the comments. The most common comment was, “The 77% are liars!”

But why lie in an anonymous poll? Perhaps those with their panties in the twist assumed that following a site called “T” Nation meant that you used steroids. Strange because, last we checked, testosterone was a natural hormone produced by both men and women – an awesome hormone that we write a lot about, usually outside the context of injecting it in copious amounts.

Or maybe the 23% who do use have developed a psychological bias. They assume other people are doing or thinking what they’re doing or thinking. This is called the “false-consensus effect” in psychology.

Related surveys have shown that the majority of bodybuilding magazine and website readers don’t use steroids and related drugs. They just want the lifting and nutrition information.

But then things got interesting with this poll:

Although the previous poll was full of the usual folks yelling about “cheating” and “tiny balls,” it seems that more than half of respondents would use steroids themselves if the legal risks were removed. Hmm…

Stimulate to Annihilate?

Well, it looks like 50% of people are wrong! Which 50%? Well, who are we to judge?

Stimulants have their place, but most T Nation® experts agree that you need to save them for when you really need them rather than making them a daily pre-gym habit.

If you’re consuming a double-dose of your favorite pre-workout and not feeling much, or feeling even more tired soon after, then it’s probably time to “clean out” and take a break for while, or switch to a new one with different ingredients. We like Spike (on Amazon). No sugar, no crash, and great flavors.

Home vs. Commercial Gyms

Looks like most people would rather have a nicely equipped home gym. It makes sense: more freedom to do what you want when you want, no waiting around for equipment, no distractions, the ability to blast any music you want and train without a shirt, etc.

But most studies show that home fitness equipment goes unused. Of course, these studies are conducted on “regular” people who buy fitness gear from infomercials and Sears, not on hardcore barbell monkeys.

In the end, it comes down to personality type. Some lifters thrive in the solace of their garage gyms. Others need the regimented schedule of getting into the car and going to a gym.

Many also do better in an environment where they’re surrounded by others, and they discover that there are actually more distractions at home: family, chores, TVs, computers, Lazy Boy recliners, the refrigerator, etc. Also, it’s hard to meet women in your garage.

Do what works for you, just be aware that it’s easy for home equipment to become dust collectors and expensive coat racks.

Vote in the Next Poll!

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