Once I was introduced to pre-workout drinks/supplements and felt their impact I was hooked. Not in the “addicted” sense of the word, but probably close to the denying alcoholic saying that of course I can train without it but why should I?
Pre-workouts really do work – or at least some of them do. Some are even too powerful as they lead to problems with falling asleep. Others have been banned on charges of containing illegal substances. So, no wonder that people use them a lot, they do make a tangible difference.
They make such a big difference that the only real question remains – why would you train without them? Why limit yourself from awesome workouts when all it takes is a sip from a fountain of training-nectar?
I for a very long period had a hard time coming up with an answer going against using pre-workout supplements. To be honest I had some very good workouts and made good progress. But it also gave me something else that I had not signed up for; sleepless nights.
Being young, totally focussed on training and progress in that area, I accepted the trade-off.
But growing older I came to question that trade-off. Sure, training was and always would remain a big and important part of my life, but good sleep and ability to think clearly throughout the day had slowly moved up on the list of priorities.
To start with I just reduced the dosage as I was too attached to the buzz and energy of the stuff. But over time I gradually started having trainings without any pre-workout supplements. I think it went by gradually and more reflected other priorities in my life than a deliberate choice to avoid pre-workout supplements. But looking back now I think it is probably 3-4 years since I last used anything at all.
So, did it make a difference? The easy answer would be to say no – pre-workout supplements is primarily placebo. But as mentioned earlier there is an effect. So yes, it did make a difference. But I am more at peace with the trade-off. Training is no longer one of my main priorities – or it is – but I am more relaxed with regards to the effects/outcome. I no longer need to be the strongest, fastest or best looking.
Hence squeezing out the last few percentages is no longer worth the trade-off of not getting good enough sleep. That part alone, the not enough sleep, may even wash out the gains made from more energy during training. If recovery is sub-optimal then the extra effort is wasted.
I have thought about using pre-workout in the weekends where I train earlier in the day or perhaps try to look for something without caffeine – if that is possible. But for now, I rest in the fact that it is perfectly fine to train without it. I do not have to attack everything at a 110% percent.
So, happy training. Even the workouts where you are tired and could have pushed out more with pre-workout. Your body is telling you something. Listen. Accept and feel good about the fact that you are training at all.