NO STRAIGHT ANSWERS • HEAD COACH XN'S BLOG

​Head Coach and Next Level founder Christian Matyi – a/k/a "XN" – gives notoriously complex answers to even the most simple of questions.  He'd always rather you "think more" than "know more." So you can only imagine what'll happen when there wasn't any question even asked . . . 

You never know what his many years of coaching will inspire him to claim as "relevant" to your progress. 

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"Caffeine sometimes makes me feel sleepy!"

Recently, I chatted with one of the athletes regarding a counterintuitive phenomenon: pre-workout drinks (and particularly caffeine) sometimes causes the OPPOSITE effect of what you'd expect.  A burst of caffeine suddenly makes you feel oddly groggy; like you could nap instead of work out.

Well there's a possible reason for this: adenosine build-up.

Now, this is only MAYBE a reason.  I'm about to speak "dummy science" – meaning what I'm sharing has merit as a thought exercise and clue-finder only.  I'm not gonna cite this idea, and it may not be technically precise.  But the concept is one worth thinking about – and worth researching the REAL science.  

Okay back to adenisone.

When cells are overworked (particularly brain cells), you begin release this hormone. It basically attempts to shut cells down. It's mother nature's fail safe to prevent stress injuries: if the will of the animal pushes past the point that is healthy for cells, adenisone supersedes the will of the animal and puts the cells to sleep.

This is a protective device. If a cell is pushed to a certain limit, it will die.  The body doesn't want that.  And as much as you think you can keep going, trust me, you don't want that either.  Sure, you got more done, but also damaged cells in the meantime.  So you emerge worse, not better.  It would be like cutting off your arms for a million dollars; sure you'd have the money, but would you enjoy it nearly as much as if you earned it slower and still had the hands to count it?

Adenisone is a good thing.  It sticks up for our real needs when we refuse to stick up for ourselves.  The longer you work a cell, the more adenisone enters the system.  it is a losing battle against this hormone, because the more you push, the more gets released and the sooner cells shut down beyond the control of your mighty will.  Your body knows what will get you ahead even if your stubborn-ass brain doesn't quite get it.

Now, one way to temporarily stymie the system is stimulation.  And the favorite for athletes is good old caffeine.  Caffeine can temporarily reverse the effect of adenosine, and while adenisone levels are low, caffeine can overpower the cells.

But remember: the longer cells work, the more they release. And caffeine will keep them at work longer.  The added, artificial stimulation caused by the caffeine actually signals the body to release more adenosine.  On top of that, the extra work you made possible by the caffeine also stimulates adenisone release.  You are literally speeding up adenisone release.  So while you have a temporary reprieve from grogginess, you are meanwhil building up the motherload of all shut-downs . . .

At a point, SO much adenisone is released that even caffeine or other stimulants become ineffective. There is just too much of the go-to-sleep hormone built up in your body to fight it's effect.  

And that heavy-ass dose of caffeine suddenly puts you over the edge, and you feel sleepy.  That last scoop of pre-workout, last dup of coffee or last caffeine pill is the straw that broke the camel – or rather, the dose that napped the bodybuilder.  

The only way to flush adenisone is a few days of solid sleep. (It drains just as gradually as it rises.)  

And what athlete WOULDN'T want to recoup and get stronger, faster, smarter and better?  Indeed, you really ought be sleeping long before the adenisone shut-down crops up.

Now, a lot of people who like intensive activity (be it hard working business types or muscle-obsessed hardcore lifters) do not like the idea that their will is not the all-powerful source of action in the body.  Any time there is a concept presented which suggests there is something they can not control, they get MORE willful, and try to find a way to "beat" nature's elegantly evolved systems.  And when it comes to the idea that their body will put them to sleep against their iron-clad will, they just won't have it.

Look, while I appreciate animal drive, it is useless if it is deteriorating results.  Such endless self-demand only looks pathetic if it is setting you backwards on your path.  You are only being willful to prove some point that means nothing to anyone but your ego.  Get some balls, toughen up and go to sleep.

It's remarkable how often I have to suggest that; as if athletes think that their body were endless and that endless work never hurt.  

Tired is not a weakness. Tired is a clue.  Your body wants to get more awesome than you are allowing it.  So much so, it is saying "fuck your caffeine, and your iron will."  It doesn't need another workout to get better; it needs a goddamned nap.

Now, like I said, this is presented in "dummy science" terms. (Which is my FAVORITE kind of science!)  The concepts here are on point, even if here and there I may have way oversimplified the mechanisms.  But they are oversimplified for effect; I am concerned that a sensible suggestion meet your ears, and not concerned whether some stroingly-vetted scientific factoid of gleaming perfection meets your eyes.

If you get groggy after a hit of caffeine, the best thing for you to do is listen to your body's real needs.  It wants to grow via rest and repair at that moment, not by perpetual work.  It will be back up and ready to attack in a few hours. 

Your body's will is always smarter than your own. Your body always wants the excellence your stubbornness often undermines.  Your body knows the path to your greatness, and sometimes it's not on the map you just drew out.  

Now go drink a coffee and grab a nap.