The day I got my new mp3 player, I was so excited to train. Mondays for me back in October meant one thing- heavy deadlifts and my back and biceps workout! I got home from school that day, ate a hearty pre-workout meal, and headed out for the gym.

I walked in with my shaker bottle in one hand, and my mp3 player in the other. I look at my playlist and to my dismay, all that I added was 2 Linkin Park CD's. That's alright, I thought, they're not too bad to work out to.

As soon as I put my headphones in, the madness began. I walked through the gym to the locker room without much trouble. I just got a few laughs when I tripped over that Chest machine. No big deal, it's not gonna phase my workout! So I head over to the pullup station - right next to the water fountain.

I use the assisted machine so I can make sure I perform proper repetitions. The thing is, because I am somewhat short, I need to stack up a few calf blocks so my sternum reaches the bar. After this entire setup, I am ready to do my first working set! I'm just focusing on my music when all of a sudden my knee hits the calf blocks and both of them fall with a crash down to the water fountain! It's okay though, I'm sure the cute desk girl didn't mind as she handed the calf blocks back up to me.

After pullups, it is time for deadlifts! I got myself together and was exchanging a greeting with another gym member (I find that this is completely doable even with an mp3 player, just not in this situation).

As I am greeting her, the curl bar that was conveniently placed on the preacher curl station (of all places! What was it doing there?) comes in contact with me and, being the big guy that I am (I am anything but light on my feet) I ended up kicking the bar onto the ground by accident. I laughed and said, "I need to pay attention more often!"

The rest of the workout wasn't too bad. During deadlifts I had to stop the set once or twice to re-adjust my mp3 player, which must have looked silly, especially in my heaviest working sets. Oh well, I know better now. The way out was terrible though. Being the quiet person that I am, I am not used to playing music at a full-blown volume directly into my ears for a long time.

Even though my headphones were taken out, I was still a bit dazed. In our gym there is one very big bodybuilder there who is always really nice and sometimes he even gives me tips. So, I go to say hi, and end up spilling half of my protein shake all over the Chest press machine next to me! How did that happen? It turns out I had left my shaker bottle top open and forgotten about it! The big off-season bodybuilder chuckled and did another set.

The bright side to this was that I had a nice story to share with some of my close friends, who wouldn't be too embarrassed to hang out with me after I told them!

While I could explain it to my friends, I bet the people in the gym were clueless! They must have thought that protein shake was making me a little wasted!

Alcohol & Bodybuilding

First off, I want to make it clear that I was not writing about my experience with alcohol in the above passage. However, I think some people in the gym might have thought otherwise. My complete lack of focus and also my ignorance of my surroundings were both things that alcohol can cause. Alcohol and bodybuilding simply don't mix!

Alcohol consumption is not something that any bodybuilder wants to get involved with because it has many adverse effects on everything we need to gain muscle- hydration, recovery, anabolism, and focus being a few examples.

I know nobody would ever think of consuming alcohol directly before a workout or after one - but even having a few drinks a night or two before a workout can cause a negative impact on you.

This article will go into a few reasons why you should not consume alcohol, or why you should moderate your intake. Not drinking has many benefits in the long term and short term. The calories alone in alcohol can be a setback to many people, but its other effects, which I will discuss later on, are not something you want.

If Drinking Is Good For You, Not Drinking Is Better!

A few servings of alcohol can have some great health and mental benefits. Alcohol in small doses has been proven to enhance relaxation and have some benefits to the heart by thinning the blood. Even with 2-3 cups (beer=cups / liquor=shots) of alcohol, though, there are usually more than 150 calories, and the adverse affects such as dehydration and minimized recovery start to set in. Drinking really is not necessary to your health, and there are more negative effects than positive ones.

There is a saying that goes, "Abstain - and get them gains!"

This suggests the truth - that not drinking has many benefits to progress in the gym. If you were to drink alcohol, it would cause a direct negative impact for a day or two afterward.

A lot of these unwanted results would linger in the body for longer, though, as the body scrambles to get back to normal, and by then you may have already had a few drinks again. By not drinking, you improve the quality of everything you do for the next couple of days.

What You Miss Out On By Drinking

When you decide to take a few cups (beer=cups / liquor=shots) of alcohol one night, you may not realize it, but you are severely diminishing possible performance for the next day.

The following will compare your body's performance after a night of drinking with your body's performance after a night without alcohol - you might be surprised by these facts!


1-2 Days After Drinking

Since alcohol consumption is very hard on the kidneys, drinking will have a negative impact on your body's hydration. Your body's water will go to the kidneys to metabolize the alcohol when it should be used to help process other substances!

Hydration is key to performance in sports or weight lifting because water is needed in all energy-creating reactions. It can take the body awhile to become re-hydrated, so I suggest if you are out drinking, have a glass of water as well, to maintain proper hydration.

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

Since you have not consumed alcohol for the past 1-2 days, you are not seeing any of the negative effects of dehydration. Processing all of the substances in your body is easy, because alcohol is not limiting this at all.

Your performance in your sport or weight lifting routine is steadily improving because you are not hitting any roadblocks due to dehydration.

Mind function

1-2 Days After Drinking

Alcohol diminishes the function of the mind through various processes. It affects many of the hormone functions in the brain within 1-2 minutes of consumption. Besides that, alcohol intake slows glycogen metabolism. This means the brain receives less glycogen, so it doesn't have much energy.

Since the mind plays a large role in any exercise to aid in motivation and focus, decreased mind function due to alcohol should be avoided!

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

Since you have not had any alcohol in your system in the past day or two, your mind function is at its normal level. Your workouts will probably feel much better than they did coming a day or two after drinking!

Protein Synthesis

Anabolism, or protein synthesis, is negatively affected by alcohol. Alcohol hurts the absorption of protein in the body, just like it hurts the absorption of any other substance. Because less protein is being turned into muscle tissue, you are not growing to the fullest!

This decrease in protein synthesis doesn't just slow down growth, it also hurts recovery, because less protein is going to repair muscle tissue.

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

With improved recovery and protein synthesis, you might not see a sudden change, but in time the increased growth and recovery will really make a difference!


Alcohol's blood thinning effects might help the heart somewhat, but don't be mislead - alcohol's negative effects on the heart are more numerous than its positive effects.

Decreased cardiovascular activity can make recovery in lifting and sports more difficult in between sets or drills.

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

Since you have not been drinking in the past day or two, you should feel like you're in better shape. This is because the heart is functioning better!

Strength Performance

Because of many of the aforementioned processes that alcohol can have a negative impact on, strength performance takes a hit as well. When you are not properly hydrated and recovered, how can you expect to perform at optimal strength levels?

Diminished mind function can also be a very bad thing when it comes to strength performance- you might not have the same level of mental focus, as you did while not on alcohol.

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

Since you haven't had any alcohol in your system for the past few days, all of these effects can be avoided. You can finally realize your full potential since alcohol is not hiding it.

Energy Levels

Alcohol tends to limit the metabolism of other substances in the body. One of these substances is the carbohydrate. By limiting carbohydrate metabolism, muscle glycogen levels are limited. This means that fatigue sets in earlier and endurance, strength and speed are compromised.

As I mentioned before, the negative impacts on cardiovascular function also have a negative impact on the body.

1-2 Days After Not Drinking

Without having consumed alcohol over the past 1-2 days, you should notice an improvement in energy levels. Those long sports practices or workouts will probably seem shorter, and of better quality!

The Calories In Alcohol DO Count!

The large number of calories in alcohol is not good at all for a bodybuilder. For those of you with a faster metabolism, you might try to rationalize it that you need the calories to gain weight, but then you also get the negative effects of alcohol. Alcohol isn't really all that nutrient-dense anyway. I have compiled a list of common alcoholic beverages, and their calorie contents.

Calorie Content of Sommon Alcoholic Beverages

Calorie content

Now, let's compare that with how many calories your average exercise session might burn off.

Calories Burned By An Average Exercise Session

Calories burned

Note: This may vary quite a bit, since different lifting activities may burn more or less calories based on what muscle is trained, rep ranges and rest periods. The numbers here are an average amount of calorie burning that can take place.

When we look at these numbers, it becomes apparent that a drink or two can easily be burned off, but any more than that can be difficult to get rid of. These forms of exercise are all very intense and can take a lot of effort, especially if you have to do them on top of your regular workout.

While the calories in the alcohol you consume might be burned off, their negative effects remain in the body, and it will take just as long to return the body to its regular state.


This article went into a bunch of facts that should discourage you from consuming alcohol. Not drinking will really make you a better bodybuilder and improve your results!

You will see an immediate improvement in strength, focus, motivation, intensity, endurance and recovery. The calories can lead to unnecessary fat gain, but that is the least of your worries.

Alcoholism can be the downfall of any bodybuilder. Just a cup or two of beer will have effects on the body's ability to function - not just for the next few hours, but for the next few days!

In the time period it takes for the body to return to normal, which can be anywhere from 3 days to one week, you will still be negatively impacted.

My experience in the gym with a lack of focus can be related to the experience of somebody who is under the influence of alcohol. While I was not drinking, my lack of focus hurt my performance.

This was just an unlucky workout for me. I would never wish to bring this upon myself by consuming alcohol though, knowing how it negatively impacts performance. To maximize performance, know that if you abstain you will improve your gains!


About the Author

Charles (sword chucks)

Charles (sword chucks)

Charles, better known as sword chucks on the message boards, is an avid writer and supporter of

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