Question from Valvolt about evening training stimulants
I know that you prefer to train in the morning, before work. But if you were compelled to train in the evening, what would your approach be? What kind of supplements, pre-workout or activation rituals, etc. would you use or, in general, what things would you do?
- Valvolt Nova
Let's start with pre-workout stimulants before an evening training session, because I get that question a lot.
Common choices include things like caffeine, ephedrine & its adrenic beta-agonist cousins, yohimbine, nicotine, DMAA, and even illegal shit. Other choices include the universe of flavored powders we know as pre-workout formulations which contain:
- Kitchen sink fulls of absolutely useless ingredients.
- Misleadingly named common ingredients that we already know are useless.
- Actually useful ingredients that are in laughably small amounts. (seriously 15 mg of Tyrosine? I take 15 grams some times.)
- Shit loads of caffeine and possibly sugar, which is what feeds the placebo response.
You can read more about my thoughts on proprietary pre-workout supplement formulations peddled to idiots here on this page: Tricking Supplements V. So anyway, here is my personal approach for using stimulants pre-workout before evening training,
So what's a normal amount of normal stimulants for me? 150-200 mg of caffeine combined with 25 mg of ephedrine. (for more information on ephedrine, read this page.) Those are normal amounts of normal stimulants. What's less? 75-100 mg of caffeine and 6-12 mg of ephedrine. What's a weaker stimulant I might use? 2 mg of nicotine in the form of lozenge or gum, stacked with nothing else. (Note: I rarely use Nicotine, see this page for more info about my experience with Nicotine and other supplements).
What makes a session important? If you're worried about insomnia from all the stimulants you took too close to bedtime, the session is not important: skip stimulants. If you don't care about sleeping that night or recovering/adapting or your health or whatever you have to do the next day, if you just want to perform your best no matter what, then the session is important: take lots of stimulants.
What's a dangerous amount of dangerous stimulants? I'm not answering that! lol
Now let's contrast this with my morning, early afternoon training stimulant usage.
You may notice that I never trick without stimulants. That's true. They are a crutch. And I don't care that I am 100% dependent on them. Nor do I care what people think of me because of this. I can count on my hands the number of times I've tricked without stimulants in the past few years: 1 time. I almost didn't make it out alive, so I vowed never to do it again. Without stimulants, I cannot trick. At all. Okay, seriously, I might be able to aerial... and backflip... I hope. I wouldn't know anymore actually. So if we're talking about tricking of any kind, any time of day, I'm going to be taking stimulants. Now let's talk about nutrition.
Evening training nutrition
You can read the details of my workout drink formula here. If I'm training in the evening and it's the only session I will have for the day, I'll drink that formula (which usually contains extra amino acids). But if it's the 2nd session of the day, I might skip it; After all, I've had all day to pack food down my throat, and I really don't want another workout drink since I had one earlier during my afternoon training.
Also, I'm comfortable lifting weights on a full stomach, so I will eat right up to when it's time to train and I make sure to eat more than my intuition tells me to eat. As for tricking, I hate tricking on a full stomach, so I will stop eating about 2 hours before I go tricking and try to eat exactly the right amount of food earlier in the day. Sometimes I fuck that up by not eating enough, and I get hungry during the session, but the stimulants help reduce the hunger since they have anorectic properties. What type of foods and meals? Nothing different than I would usually eat, except I might eat less fruits and vegetables for the meal immediately preceding or following the session.
I've actually gotten some shit from people about posting pictures of these type of simplistic meals which contain no organic matter. As if I don't eat any fruits or vegetables at all...
Does it really matter if I'm only eating fruits and vegetables for 3 of my 5 meals during the day than if I ate them for 5 of my 5 meals during the day, if I end up eating the same amount in the end? Hmmm? OF COURSE IT WON'T MATTER! Damn you people, I'm not going to get cancer because I don't want to Broccoli load pre-workout.
Evening pre-training rituals
Now that we got past foods, supplements and drugs, what are some other miscellaneous things I'd take into consideration regarding evening training?
If I'm training in the evening after work, I WILL NOT go home first. I will go straight to the gym after work. If I'm training at home, then I WILL NOT stop anywhere on the way home. I will go straight home after work. It's a very important rule I follow. Whatever the case, STRAIGHT TO TRAINING. Change in the locker room or your car, have everything already with you, make sure that wherever place you came from you were able to feed yourself properly. STRAIGHT TO TRAINING. If you fail to do this you will fail to train most likely. All the dedicated training adults I've ever known have emphatically agreed with me on this one.
Another thing to discuss is evening training anxiety. There is something peculiar about evening weight training at the gym during a work week that makes me somewhat anxious. I might be thinking about what else I have to do that night to get ready for work the next day, and that I still have to make my way home, or I feel like I'm doing something I should have done earlier in the day, like I'm late for something and need to catch up. Also, the gym is busier in the evening from everybody getting off work to train. This human traffic makes me anxious. So with all these things together, I have a tendency to unconsciously rush things. I try my best to recognize this when it happens and combat it by not paying attention to the time or to those around me, and instead, paying attention to my body, claiming my space, and ensuring I get full rest periods between sets despite the fact I feel like someone wants to use the space or machine I'm occupying. So fuck them. Consequently, this anxiousness during these situations makes me less inclined to take stimulants. I don't get this anxiety when I trick at night or lift at my home at night, and I never really got this anxiety before I got a job. When you have to be up for work in the mornings you may feel this edging you too.
Anything else? I could talk about napping before evening training? Should you nap before you train in the evening? Not unless you have the urge. I wouldn't make a habit out of napping anyway, unless you're facing an unavoidable limitation: such as: you've become an old person or you've become a dog. Or you've become an old dog. Or you've become an old Basset Hound, a breed of dog notorious for lounging.
The urge to nap should only be an occasional occurrence for younger people, maybe a couple moments per week, not something you feel every day. I say this in spite of how excited people get about the circadian rhythm of alertness and the mid-day dip: which is hyped and pushed to the point we see it almost as a religion nowadays, rather than what it is more often than not: an excuse for people living unhealthy and boring lifestyles who crash everyday.
So that's about it. I hope something here teaches you something new and that if you haven't already you give ammonia inhalants a try.
Had an Interesting few weeks reading your articles, really pushed me to train harder. For the first time ever I joined a gym, been there a few weeks now and have a ex-bodybuilder friend helping me train, I’m in it for the tricking gains as I am 6’3 and skinny. I don’t feel I would suit a large build. Back on track… I was wondering if you could help, after a good workout I tend to recover extremely quickly according to how I feel but during my workout I experience muscle fatigue extremely quickly, normally during my 2-3rd set I can’t squeeze the last few reps out, this is with every muscle I have worked on. Is there any reason for this, sorry for the essay and thanks for all the great articles.
Hi Ash, it’s normal to have a harder time getting the last few reps of your working sets in if you are really working at maximum capacity or training to higher levels of failure, or not resting enough between sets. So nothing unusual here. :-)
Ahaha! On ammonia inhalants, Richmond et al. note that “It is also recommended that AIs should not be used to aid head and neck injuries due to the risk of a sudden, unexpected reflex”.
Juji, do you agree with Richmond et al. that the AIs are merely psychological? In that they help you get psyched up but lack any actual physical effects contributing to performance.
No I disagree completely that they are merely psychological. What kind of psychological boost can they give you if you’re unconscious? How is “waking up” merely a psychological boost? The unconscious person just needed a placebo? But even if they were merely psychological, does it matter? They increase performance instantly, the mechanism does not matter to me. I’ve heard a number of ideas about their mechanism and I just don’t really care anymore to know exactly why they’re working. And if they were indeed dangerous, I would be dead by now already, (or at least have some sort of perceptible suffering or discomfort).
I’ve been following you for a couple of years Juji, (when you had the old website etc) – and I’ve seen a few of your ‘mixes’, protein supplements etc.
I’d really like to try a couple of these myself, problem is I live in Australia, will see if anywhere sells the stuff locally.
I did try a couple of these “pre-workouts” – It’s odd but I do find some of them give me a hell of a boost, but it could just be the sugars. Best pre-workout food for me is instant noodles :p – I’ll change that soon, I need to start provisioning meals weekly..