When Justin Harris visited elitefts in London, Ohio last weekend, he sat down with Dave in the S4 Compound for a special live Q&A. Through the official elitefts Facebook page, Dave and Justin responded to questions from both Facebook and Instagram users. For those of you who missed the live stream, we are now sharing several of the best clips from their conversation. Today's topic is pre-workout energy.
Instagram user alter3d_beast asks:
What's the best food for energy pre-workout and are there specific macro and micronutrients drug free lifters need more of?
In the discussion responding to this question, Justin points out that if you really want to derive energy from food, you need to look at an entire day before training, not the 60-minute pre-workout window the day of the session. While it is true that the carbohydrates you eat are stored as glycogen (and hence used for energy), this is a time-consuming process. You cannot simply eat carbohydrates immediately before a workout and expect to have sufficient glycogen. You must think well in advance and consume the proper nutrients ahead of time.
In addition to this, Justin explains that the best source of pre-workout energy isn't food — it's actually a drug, and a legal one at that. Caffeine 30-40 minutes pre-workout is the safest and most reliable source of energy. It doesn't have to be a fancy pre-workout or even coffee; simple caffeine tablets work as well as anything.
However, as innocuous as caffeine may seem, Dave and Justin acknowledge that there are very legitimate harmful effects of reliance on pre-workout stimulants. For maximum hypertrophy, Justin claims it can be harmful to be overly-stimulated during a workout. Similarly for strength, Dave believes that stimulants can often reduce a lifter's ability to auto-regulate training. If you use high doses of caffeine to help you fight through a training session after a long day, you may be more likely to overlook your body's signals that you should back off or reduce weight. Additionally, your body's adrenaline response during a training session should not be the same as during a powerlifting meet. When this happens, you have skewed your training percentages and your expected arousal level for an entire training program.
So what's the real reason for anyone to use a pre-workout supplement? To help lifters who aren't self-motivated get in the gym. If you have self-motivation, it shouldn't matter if you have all the caffeine in the world, or none at all.