There are 3 different pathways pre-workout formulas act on to make you feel ready to hit the gym, according to strength coach Charles Poliquin.
The Adrenal Pathway
This stresses the Adrenals overtime causing them to produce more cortisol. Over relying upon this pathway by use of caffeine and other stimulants leads to a hindered recovery ability due in part to decreased testosterone production. It generally just makes you feel like shit overtime, your sleep quality goes down, workouts suffer, your digging a hole!
The Brain Pathway
Drive, attention span, and focus are a result of activating this pathway. Supplement recommendations to follow
The NO2 Pathway
Supplements that stimulate this pathway increases blood flow and oxygen transport as well as buffering muscle pH.
So my advice is to limit reliance upon the Adrenal Pathway, and put more focus on the Brain and NO2 Pathway when needed. How do we do this?
Taking supplements that enhance certain neurotransmitters (how your brain communicates with the body) is a great way to get yourself ready for a grueling workout.
Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that crosses the neuromuscular junction and initiates muscle contraction.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives you motivation to get up off the couch and exercise.
Acetyl-l-Carnitine, Tyrosine, and Alpha GPC
These compounds can be purchased on their own, and offer a safe alternative to constantly relying upon stimulant heavy pre workout formulas. You also have the choice to make your own pre workout formula, utilizing these compounds with caffeine.
My favorite pre workout stack:
- Cold brew coffee
- Acetyl-l-Carnitine (3g) , Tyrosine (3g) , and Alpha GPC (600 mg)
2) Cold Showers
This brave method of getting ready for a workout, also works triggering a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters. I think of it as turning off the instant gratification switch in my brain and flipping on the delayed gratification switch.
Turn the faucet on cold and hop in. Try to stay for AT LEAST 2 minutes.
3) Breathing Exercises
There are a few exercises to choose from. If the purpose is to mentally prepare for a workout I recommend
Breathing in different positions is also a great way to initiate proper diaphragmatic breathing patterns necessary during certain types of exercise. Most people “breathe wrong” (the difference of chest breathing and stomach breathing). Learning proper breathing mechanics can REALLY assist in your squat and deadlift strength as well as many other movements.