T Nation

Smelling Salts/ Ammonia


I am creating this topic in the powerlifting section of the forum since you see powerlifters using these all the time.

I have no experience with smelling salts and stuff like that but I am curious and have some questions:

  1. When to use it? Only at a competing/ maximum effort attempt? Frequently when you need help to get fired up in training?
  2. How do I use it as a beginner? I mean are there any tips beside “take a sniff and see for yourself”?
  3. Health concerns/ side effects. Is there something known on this or has somebody had bad experiences?
  4. What should I look for if I want to get some?
  5. What are your thoughts about them in general?

As always thanks in advance.


I don’t use it often and only really bench anymore. Its usually once a month or two if I know I can hit a number but cant get in the zone for it.
You said How do you use it as a beginner, beginner lifter or first time trying it? To use it just give it a smell once or twice when you first get it to see how it is. Then use it for your lift if you need it but don’t use it often your body gets used to it. Thats why you ll see like eric lilliebridge shoves his nose in a bottle of nose tork.
That said if your a beginner lifter I wouldnt use it till your at least strong enough to squat 440+, bench 315+, and pull 525+ cause you really shouldn’t need any hype to lift those numbers depending on size


I bought some just to try, I’d stay away from using them all the time, but great for 1 rep max attempts and competition.

Keep them a little ways away from your nose is my advise lol. I put the cap up touching my nose the first time and oh man are they strong lol.


1: I only use ammonia when I’m going for a max, and I only go for a max in a contest. I don’t ever psyche myself up in training, as I find trianing in that state is too taxing on my recovery.

2: Start with smelling salts. Don’t jump straight to nose tork. Smelling salts will wake up you, nose tork will make you run away.

Crack the capsule, bring it close to your face (like 3-6" away) and inhale slowly your first time.

3: I mean…it’s probably not good for you.

For bad experiences, the first time I used nose tork, I literally threw the bottle away from me and ran from it. A buddy of mine tried it and screamed “my brain is on fire!”

4: Smelling salts, like the kind in first aid kits.

5: Ammonia is WAY more effective than any pre-workout on the market.

  1. I use them when I don’t feel like doing heavy sets, but I have to, so I sniff a bit and lift. I’d say at 95+%
  2. If you haven’t used them - put them like 30cm away from your face so you are not surprised by the smell, cause it really hits you on your first time
  3. It’s use is to open your trachea and fire up your nervous system. Doctors use it to wake you up after passing out. You can get like addicted to it, cause it opens your lungs (so to say) and it kinda feels good, but that’s like one in a million situation.
  4. amonia tablets from the drug store/ nose tork
  5. i like them. They are something that can help you or throw you off. One time i did it for bench and it hit me so hard that my throat started to hurt, my eyes were floating in water and my nose was burning, instead of 3 reps, I barely did 2. If you are going for a PR in comp and that happens, it’d be really sad lol

use it as often as you want, but dont overuse it (1-2 times a month is ok, as mentioned). You don’t need nosetork to do a set of lat pulldowns

  1. I use it personally whenever I feel I don’t have the motivation to go into a hard set or heavy lift, though mostly I’ve only been using it during max attempts to avoid building a tolerance.

  2. DON’T STICK YOUR NOSE IN IT. I made that mistake my first time and it’s akin to snorting salt if you can imagine that. Hold it a decent amount away from your face and you’ll still get a pretty good whiff.

  3. I personally haven’t had any issues but can’t comment on any long term effects that would be present, just don’t ingest it.

  4. Wake up MotherF**ker on Elite FTS is a good option if you’re looking for re-usability, or you could just pick up some ammonia tabs as they are less potent.

  5. I think they’re awesome, they help a lot at meets and they get you in just the right state of controlled chaos before a heavy lift.


I hate using it for bench, it just doesn’t seem to work, but for squat and deadlift it is awesome. Nose Tork is the only kind I’ve used, and I didn’t find it too harsh to be honest. Just don’t stick your nose straight into the stuff, keep it at a slight distance.


Thanks to everyone who has answered. It gave me some insight into this topic. I may try some lighter smelling salts in the future when I train for my next competition (I should have mentioned that I train for strongman).


so I know this is an old thread but I’ve only just noticed it.

I tried the ammonia thing once, just to see what it was like. I took a massive hit from it like it was amyl nitrate and it felt like I’d been kicked in the face. Nose was agony, eyes were streaming, head was pounding. I couldn’t see out my right eye for like 20 minutes.

I cannot for the life of me understand how it could in any way help performance on anything, but I guess I must just be a pussy.


Yours was just too big of a “dose”. It does take a little experience to figure out. Too much knocks you out, too little does nothing, but you get the right dose at the right time and you end up fighting through a rep that you would’ve bailed on were you less furious.


yeah I’m sure I just took way too big a dose. It felt like someone had hit me in the eye with a hammer.


In middle school we used to take a bunch of those from the gym first aid kit and hold it against unsuspecting people’s noses ninja/chloroform-style… usually kids in front of us on the bus. Never knew there was a better use for them until I got more into lifting.