Flow State At The Gym

Yesterday I was working out and entered an altered state where i pushed myself physically far past my previous strength and endurance limits towards the end of my workout. I believe that i entered a chemically/hacked flow state using a combination of environmental inputs (pre workout and intra workout supplementation, music), and activity high intensity weight lifting and High intensity interval training. After 45minutes of heavy lifting (5x5 protocal for flat barbell bench press, seated close grip row, overhead push press, weighted chinups), i did High intensity interval sprints (21km/h at 5% incline) for 45 seconds on 45 seconds off for 4 sets followed by pushups/pullups to failure. It was as if nothing could tire me out.



My pre-workout supplementation consisted of:

200mg caffeine

8mg of ephederine

325g of Yohimbe extract (can't remember the extract percentage off the top of my head)

5g of citrulline malate

4g of beta alanine

6g of L-tyrosine

500mg Rhodiola Extract standarized to 3%


My intraworkout supplementation consisted of

15g of BCAA

2g of citrulline malate


During my workout i was listening to hardstyle music which usually hovers around 150beats per minute.


I believe the supplementation preloaded my body with all the precursors necessary for to release most of the neurochemicals involved in flow (See below)


Pre Workout Neurochemical Up regulation:

200mg caffeine- Stimulates dopamine, cortisol

8mg of ephedrine- Stimulates cortisol and no-epinephrine

325g of Yohimbe extract (can't remeber the extract rating) Stimulates cortisol

5g of citrulline malate- Precuror to arginine, which is the precursor to nitric oxide

4g of beta alanine - has not neuro chemical impact i'm aware of

6g of L-tyrosine- Up regulates no-epinephrine and dopamine

500mg Rhodiola- Up regulates serotonin


My intraworkout supplementation consisted of

15g of BCAA-  no neuro-chemical effect i'm aware of but benefits athletic endurance

2g of citrulline malate- Precuror to arginine, which is the precursor to nitric oxide


The preworkout and weight lifting would have had me in the first stage of flow struggle where stress hormones are elevated. I believe that the cirulline took a greater amount of time to convert to nitric oxide due to the two steps to convert over and hence toward the tail end of the workout i enjoyed the second stage of flow release ( nitric oxide flooded my blood removing stress hormones and introducing dopamine and noephinerine). This allowed me to enter a state of flow where i was totally focused on the athletic endeavor i was involved in (HIIT at the end of the workout). The high speed and physical challenge introduced novelty (i don't normally do HIIT) and danger (you don't want to fall off a treadmill going 21kpm). The workout would have also released endorphins which would also be worked into the flow state. Rhodiola is highly serotonergic which means increases circulating seretonin. I could have also worked 5HTP into the mix. The only neurochemical that i didn't preload for were anadamide (i don't know of any legal way to upregulate it in the body). The loud fast music would have also increased my heart rate and may have had an impact on my brain waves because of the clean electronic sounds, however, this is not something i know a great deal about. I do believe that the music did have a synergistic effect.



This was a wonderful accident. The only reason i recognized this as a flow state, was because i studied Steven Kotler's work and am a skydiver and familiar with the feeling of flow. I wonder if this supplementation/musical protocol can be used to push athletic performance in other areas.


  • NickatNickat
    edited March 2015

    Like the sentiment behind your stack and what you are doing with it.  Have used most on the list one time or another but not combining in that alignment you're using. The ephedrine and rhodiola are the exception. 

    Rhodiola is something that is very appealing. Beta alanine send bodily tingles of motivation even before the workout has started. The caffeine and L-Tyrosine are very much an integral part of mental stimulants that work well without having to drink too much strong coffee that`s a week substitute anyway. It bloats and sits pretty uneasily on the stomach before activity too. If there was something to add to the stack maybe combining L-theanine. It`s awesome with a 2:1 ratio on caffeine alone and worked wonders when combine with L-Tyrosine too. The BCAA seems a little excessive at 15g and that would be the one to cut if anything.

    As a skydiver with the clouds that are already hurtling past you before landing it does seem strange that your combination of chemical makeups resemble anything that resembles flow state.

    It will be interesting to see what effect it has on others and if it continues to be repeated with you. Until then will be keeping both feet on the ground and trying to retain the dopamine highs. Loud music at 150bpm can do ;-)

  • Note to those with blood pressure issues.  Yohimbe can dangerously raise BP ins some folks.  To be honest, I think it has no useful place in a pre workout stack.   Add it to caffeine and ephedrine and bad things could happen.


    Everything else looks good.  I used a similar stack for years with decent results.   Would definitely cycle it though.     

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