Ever been dragging from a long day of work or errands and realized you still had a leg work out to fit in? At this point you conference with your exhausted body—maybe you can just put it off until tomorrow, right? Looking at your day planner you realize tomorrow just isn’t an option. You have to hit it today—it’s time to mix up the magic potion that will turn you into a rep-cranking machine that feels no pain. If you are like me you love the superhuman powers that a good pre-workout supplement will provide. I have tried almost every one and have my favorites—I am sure you do as well.
Once you have trained with a good pre workout it can be hard to motivate yourself to train without it. Many of them even advertise this with some phrasing of “Once you experience the rush of Brand XXX you won’t ever want to train without it.” Yeah, great for the companies’ bottom line but where does that leave us? Unfortunately, with any supplement your body will build up a tolerance—it just won’t deliver the same results as that first experience. In addition, constant stimulant use can overtax your adrenal glands and can leave you feeling worn down, wrung out, and even depressed. Here are some tips to get the most out of your preworkout stimulant consumption without overdoing it and experiencing the negative side effects.
- PICK YOUR SPOTS
I am as guilty as anyone on this and it is just so tempting to want to use it for every workout. Who doesn’t want to lift more, run faster and feel like you could keep going all-day? I choose two workouts each week—always with legs and sometimes with another large body part like chest or back. If I am doing a smaller body part like arms or running sprints I will get by without. I use it sparingly—when I need it most and can get the most out of it.
- ALTERNATE DIFFERENT PRODUCTS
By constantly alternating products you don’t allow your body to build up a tolerance to any one substance. I will use a pre workout supplement one training session (legs on Monday)) then a fat-burning thermogenic pill for the next workout (chest on Wednesday) then maybe a triple expresso right before High Intensity Interval Training (sprints on Thursday). I constantly keep my body guessing and never use the same supplement time after time. When I finish a container I will buy another different product that I have not used for a couple months—another way to keep my body from building up a tolerance.
- TAKE A B12 SUPPLEMENT
I have found taking sublingual B12 prevents your body from getting run down from the effects of using stimulants regularly. Besides strengthening your immune system B12 will provide a great source of non-stimulant energy and drive to help fuel your workouts. B12 is a great complement to balance your use of stimulants.
- PERIODICALLY RESET YOUR RECEPTOR SITES
I have found taking an allergy pill such as Benadryl every couple weeks is helpful to clean your slate and reset your receptor sites. Taking caffeine stimulants regularly will, over time, dull your bodies’ ability to feel a pickup. By resetting your bodies’ receptor sites you will regain the ability to get a maximum effect from the supplement.
- DON’T OVER DO THE AMOUNT
When you start taking a new stimulant be careful to start with a smaller amount and see what is best for your body. Taking too much is bad for several reasons. The goal of a stimulant is to give you an added boost not have you spinning out of control with your heart trying to burst through your chest. By starting with small amounts you give yourself more room to build a tolerance—plus you won’t go through the product as quickly. Taking as little as possible to get the wanted effect is the best long term strategy.
- TAKE PLANNED DAYS OFF AND DO AN ADRENAL CLEANSE THREE TIMES PER YEAR
This connects back to tip number one—use stimulants when you need them and take a break when you don’t. Days I don’t train I avoid stimulants so I will get the most out of them when I do use them. Think of using stimulants as driving your car in turbo gear—a ton of fun but you can’t do it all the time. Try to break up two or three days on with at least one day off and think about doing an extended rest (a week or two every couple months) to reset your bodies receptors and adrenals. By taking the necessary breaks you will appreciate the workouts when you do use pre workout stimulants and get the most out of your “turbo” gear.