First Person: The Spike Odyssey

A couple of weeks ago, we got the idea of recruiting random T-Nation readers and letting them each try a particular Biotest supplement. They would then detail their experiences in diary form, hence this new column titled "First Person." This first installment was written by Kevin Kuzia, a Connecticut-based contract lawyer. Kevin professed a dislike for stimulants of any kind, so we thought he'd be a good candidate to test Biotest's Spike®. Here's what he had to say about Spike®:

Burt and Loni. Michael and Lisa Marie. Me and stimulants. Some things just aren't well suited. So, when I got the chance to try Spike® for the first time, I approached the offer with more than a touch of trepidation.

See, while I was growing up, my Mom would always tell me that I was the "sensitive one" in the family. I don't know if it was because I was the biggest family reader/geek, the fact that I went out of my way to be nice to people, or the fact that I would often take people's comments a little too much to heart. Regardless, I just tend to feel things a lot stronger than most, I guess, with all of the glorious benefits and pains that go along for the ride. Always have, and likely always will.

My sensitivity was never limited to my heart and passions, though. I'm also fairly sensitive to things I put into my body, especially stimulants. When you're a little more "intense" than most like I am, anything meant to crank people up can hit you double, leaving you shakier than Don Knotts on a hooker and crack binge.

The following is my day-by-day account of what it was like to be Spiked for the very first time...

Day One (Sunday) – Into The Abyss

8:39 AM Took my first Spike® (just one pill, not two) with breakfast and was just waiting for something to hit me like a blindside safety blitz. Hmm, 20 minutes later and I'm expecting some kind of caffeine-like kick, but so far nothing like that... yet... I do feel something in a more subtle fashion. It's like a slow build-up, but it's clean and not jittery in the slightest. Damn, I'm also feeling the need to be productive. Immediately. It's like I look around my apartment and see a lot of things to do and the energy to get cracking on all of them. Things I've been putting off for a few weeks are suddenly right in front of me on my desk and as soon as my fingers stop dancing lightly over my keyboard, I'm on them.

10:25 AM I could sit here and wax poetic about how I feel right now, drawing upon classic quotes from literature to better express myself... but all I really need is a single word: clarity. See, I tend to be a little too tightly wound and that kind of stress has a tendency to cause me to lose focus, even on the weekends. In fact, it's almost like it can be worse on the weekend when I don't have the frenetic pace of work keeping me distracted from the underlying stress.

The weekend comes and its like I feel anxiety aftershocks a lot of the time. Everything becomes a little grayer and the edges become a little more rough. Right now, it's like the rough edges have been smoothed away with fine grain sandpaper and a nice little breeze has blown away the fog. It's nice, it's subtle. Plus I feel like I wanna shake my groove thang to the Nelly song playing on my iTunes... err, you know in a manly, chick magnet kinda way.

11:15 AM Decided to get in a workout. Nothing major, just a little light cardio. Absolutely breezed through it. Spike® combined with the Rudy soundtrack made it a piece of cake.

Day Two (Monday) – Return to the Trenches

6:10 AM Alarm goes off. Damn. I gotta get outta bed and I'm none too thrilled at the prospect. Advanced German Volume Training is calling me, so I roll out of bed, throw down 2 Grow! bars and pop a Spike®. Curious to see what we get on a lifting day.

It's funny because I had a strong workout of chest and back, but again, it's not as if I was hit by a ton of bricks when the Spike® kicked in... and that's what I liked. It's like my eyes just opened up a little wider than usual and I was able to just hit each superset, boom-boom-boom.

8:30 AM Arrive at work for the REAL test. After spending a week on vacation and then most of last week out of the office on business travel, I was more than a little curious to see if the Spike® made a difference in my first days back in the office. I don't know about you, but those first days back are always brutal for me. I tend to get too little done while I listlessly shuffle around most of the day. I knew things were different when I was discussing the results of my business trip with a co-worker. The thoughts were firing in my head so fast, my mouth could hardly keep up. You would think that nothing was ever as interesting or exciting as explaining the technical details of a document generation process. OK, OK, I know, there probably IS nothing more exciting than that, but imagine that amplified and we'll be on the same page.

The morning and early afternoon just sailed on by. I typically get the yawns just after lunch but they never kicked in today. Actually, it was even more remarkable than that. I'm one of those people who always seems to yawn when I see someone else yawn... yet when a co-worker standing in my cube did it this afternoon... nothing. Absolutely nada. Maybe coincidence, but it still caught my attention.

Day Three (Tuesday) – Leg Day

"Look at you... sitting there all smug and bright yellow like you own the damn cupboard... yeah, it's been a good couple of days and no freaky side effects... but today is leg day, so you better bring it strong or not at all..." I didn't want the Spike® to rest on its laurels because of a few good days – today would be ugly... today is leg day. AGVT leg day with 10 sets of 5 supersets. (NOTE: Lest you be concerned, Spike® does not cause side effects whereby you strike up conversations with your supplements. I was this deranged well before taking the product, believe me.)

Well, Spike® came through like a champ. It's not so much a feeling of wanting to go into the gym and rip the iron apart, but more perfect clarity of what I need to get done and how I'm going to do it. Somewhere around set 7 or 8 of front squats, when I might have felt like caving, I just kept going and kept pumping out rep after rep.

Work. It was nice to have results just like yesterday – I had a much smoother transition back into the office after being out for a while. Things just seemed a little easier than usual.

Day Four (Wednesday) – Off Day

I decided to sleep in, do my cardio after work, and not take any Spike® today just as a comparison to my Spiked days. Got a lot of good sleep from the night before and went off on my day. I felt good most of the day, but still felt a little of the post-lunch dive (remedied with a Diet Pepsi Vanilla). A little less spring in my step than the last few days.

Day Five (Thursday) – Rested and Spiked

I think this was a telling day for the effects of Spike® because I was taking it while well-rested. Sure, it did a bang-up job in making me feel alert and motivated when I didn't get very good sleep (on that alone it's a winner), but how would it make me feel when I was feeling good to start? I can safely report, pretty damn good. Had the AGVT arm workout and really went at it this morning. The other thing I noticed was just a nice, general sense of well-being too that carried into the early afternoon at work. The work mayhem rolled off my back a little more easily.

Also noticed that as a girl in my gym yawned in front of me... yet again... I didn't yawn. Sure, I could totally be convincing myself the Spike® was doing it, but I still found it interesting. Honestly, I always yawn when I see someone else do it. Hell, I've even had uncontrollable yawns watching a friggin' sleepy lion on the Discovery Channel.

Day Six (Friday) – Weekend Prep

No lifting this morning, just Spike® with breakfast and off to work. Had back-to-back-to-back morning meetings where I needed to be either a significant or primary contributor. Breezed through each one with nary a hiccup. I think I even did a pretty good job with my lunchtime presentation to the department interns (no small feat since I'm sure they would rather just be enjoying their chow).

Day Seven (Saturday) – The Final Day

I decided on adding a new wrinkle to the Spike®-athon and I feel stupid for not having tried it before. Spike® is great at providing focus, but it ain't making ya smarter. Spike®, like any good artist, can only work with the materials presented to it and apparently I am a dried out, rock hard piece of neon green Play-doh at times.

My inspiration was to take my XBox for a morning spin before hitting the gym. I went with a game I had not played in a while but it one of the purest at putting your eye-hand coordination/reflexes to the test. Yes, that's right... SUPER MONKEY BALL DELUXE! (OK, sometimes I'm just not in the mood for Halo.)

For those of you uninitiated into the ways of Monkey Ball, it's originally a Japanese video game where you... well... direct around monkeys trapped inside these oversized hamster balls. It's weirdly addictive, like a proteinpowda thread – you can't figure out why you like it, but there ya are. It's pretty stripped down – you basically use the thumbstick alone to direct your simian of choice around lots of kooky racing courses.

It's simplicity belies the inordinate amount of concentration to do well. Think about it – how much control would you have if you were trapped inside a ball rolling around some freaky cartoon track chased by baboons? Err, anyway. I got the idea after reading about a top New York City surgeon who would practice to fine tune his skills for laparoscopic surgery (surgery using a tiny camera and instruments controlled by joysticks outside the body) by playing this samegame.

And you just thought I was an über-geek. Yeah, who's the geek now? Hmm? What's that? Oh, it's still me? Damn.

So in went the game and off I went. People, if you like playing video games or (God forbid) you take your performance in them very seriously, try popping a Spike® pre-game. You'll be amazed at how much crisper everything is. You tune everything else out beautifully and just play the game.

It's not like a burning, jittery focus you get if you shotgunned 3 Red Bulls before playing and are now paranoid that your roommate is an undercover CIA operative – it's smooth, clear, and remarkably calm. Maybe some people like something that makes them want to climb the walls. Me? Not so much.

Well, after a stimulating XBox session, I went into the gym and tore it up today. I'm transitioning to a new lifting program next week, so today I decided to "fool around" on an upper body day. Best incline benching of my life. Everything felt so easy. Color me Spiked!

What can I say? I'm a Spike® convert and I'm curious as to how many other areas Spike® will come in handy. Soccer starts up again for me in a few weeks, so you best believe I'm going to see what those little yellow buggers can do for me out on the pitch.

So, I'm happy to find out that me and Spike® are not Burt and Loni. Maybe more like Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova – a match you don't think should fit, but just seems to work fine anyway.

Herein ends my (recorded) Spike® odyssey. In the timeless words of Homer from his own Odyssey, "There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep." The words are done and it's time for bed.