Think of it as the hormonal thrill of victory. When your testosterone rises, your muscle tissues are stimulated, your coordination and mental ability improve, and you feel more self-confident—all things that will help you in a competitive setting, the study explains. And so your T levels may spike after a victory in order to prepare you for another challenger, the researchers speculate.
Related: 3 Steps to More Testosterone
So why doesn’t your testosterone increase when you defeat a friend? Evolutionarily speaking, forming coalitions or partnerships was a good strategy for staying alive, explains study coauthor Dr Mark Flinn, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri.
If your T raged every time you faced off against an ally, that allegiance probably wouldn’t last long, he says.
Although preliminary, Flinn’s research suggests playing (or even watching) sports that pit you or your team against strangers or rivals could up your T levels so long as your squad is victorious. Winning non-athletic competitions at work – say, beating out a competitor for a contract or job – could also increase testosterone, especially if women are present, the research shows. (T tends to spike when you’re competing for a woman’s attention, Flinn explains.)
So should you start challenging strangers at the gym? You could, but it won’t do you any lasting good, Flinn says. Any differences in T levels will be very short lived, he adds.
This article was originally published on MensHealth.com