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Why Powerlifters/Weightlifters Use Ammonia

Let’s set the scene:
You are at the gym going about your typical workout routine when you see across the gym a huge muscular guy just about to put up a set that weighs more than you, so you decide to watch. Just before the guy begins lifting you see him put something under his nose, sniff, and then make a face as if someone slapped him across the cheek. “What was that?”or “Is this guy using drugs at the gym?” might be the questions that come to mind, but since the guy is an absolute goliath and is in the zone you decide not to probe. This leaves you still wondering about what the heck was going on with that guy.

Well, after reading this article you won’t have to wonder anymore.

The easy answer is that he is sniffing smelling salts, which traditionally consist of ammonia and essential oils. The reason for using these being simply put that when you sniff smelling salts it opens up your airways and releases adrenaline, which in return can help you lift more weight and help fight off fatigue.

This reaction comes from the irritation of your nerve cells and mucus membranes in your nose, which causes a fight or flight reaction. This results in a sudden burst of energy and a slightly muted sense of pain helping you to lift more than you would in a normal set. When you smell the ammonia and it irritates your nerves it ultimately activates your CNS and it triggers a release of adrenaline that gives you more perceived strength. On top of this, your heart rate rises, your more alert, and potentially less susceptible to pain, all of which help when lifting.

There are studies out there claiming that there is no benefit from using smelling salts, but I would retort that claim with the idea that if it didn’t do anything why is it so prevalent among professional athletes?

Smelling salts do not fall on the list of PEDs for powerlifters and weightlifters and they can be seen being used prevalently in these types of competitions. Almost every professional powerlifting organization allows the use of smelling salts.

Bottom Line:
Smelling salts will not solely help you win a championship, but they will be able to help you get closer to reaching your goals. If you use smelling salts and combine them with the skills and strength that you have built, you can perform better at a meet, competition, or at the gym.


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