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ammonia odor when training?(38 posts)

ammonia odor when training?DougSloan
May 7, 2003 9:38 AM
When I'm doing a hard workout on the trainer, even with big fans on me, I sense a strong odor of ammonia, almost like those things you use to wake people who are knocked out. Is this normal, or something to be concerned about? Thanks.

I'd call it a normal thing that you shouldOldEdScott
May 7, 2003 9:41 AM
be concerned about. Indicates you're overdoing. You're eating your own muscle.
Time to change your diaper, Doug!! ;) nmrollo tommassi
May 7, 2003 9:43 AM
They are called Depends...........nmMR_GRUMPY
May 7, 2003 9:53 AM
or, "Oops, I s*** my pants." (SNL) nmDougSloan
May 7, 2003 10:00 AM
"Oops, I crapped my pants." nmLowend
May 7, 2003 10:26 AM
that's right, can't say s*** on television :-) nmDougSloan
May 7, 2003 10:30 AM crap doesn't smell like smells like crap...nmIFTreedog
May 7, 2003 10:48 AM
see what you started, Rollo? nmDougSloan
May 7, 2003 10:49 AM
hee heeeee!!rollo tommassi
May 7, 2003 11:53 AM
start heree...JS Haiku Shop
May 7, 2003 9:44 AM
js5280 "Weight diet vs. training" 2/9/03 4:35pm

and a search of the board for "ammonia" will net more useful stuff.
May 7, 2003 9:55 AM
I'm certainly not overtrained, in fact, far from it. But, it is only during hard Computrainer sessions. Thing is, I never notice it on the road, just the trainer.


Have you asked the next guy in the pace line? nmdzrider
May 7, 2003 10:10 AM
LOL! that would be one question i'd like to hear asked! nmJS Haiku Shop
May 7, 2003 10:14 AM
not overtrained... in the long-term sense, but...MrDan
May 7, 2003 5:38 PM
as other posters have said, you are cannabilizing your protein. It's not that you're overtrained in the sense of being "burned-out" and not having motivation, but rather over-trained for that session. I wouldn't worry about it too much if you're just doing it as an occasional interval work-out to bring on your peak. No more than twice a week if your base is in, and only easy recovery rides other than that. Doing alot of tough work-outs like that CAN bring alot of good results even if your base isn't in yet, ( I did nothing but high-intensity workouts 3x week for two months and that was all I could take... took two weeks off and started back on a more normal course and it's been great ever since. A real jump-start.) but you'll really feel when you have to ease-off into more normal work-outs as the over-training will start to set-in.
cool; so you are saying, "smell the burn"? ;-) nmDougSloan
May 7, 2003 7:10 PM
cool; so you are saying ...MrDan
May 8, 2003 8:14 AM
yes, smell the burn, but note as someone has said below, you can definately expose yourself to getting sick if you overdo it. Your immune system will become weakened, and may put you out of the running for a while...! I would often feel "flushed" for the rest of the day, and had to make sure I was getting enough rest, hydration, and eating right. Much better to ease up into the intervals than do what I did - I was on the edge (of getting sick) and needed alot of extra sleep to make it work.
or search google for "protein and ammonia" (nm)ColnagoFE
May 7, 2003 10:04 AM
I've got the same problem...Nater
May 7, 2003 9:45 AM
and was wondering about some metabolic disorder or something along those lines. The odor is worst for me after a hard/long ride and I get in the shower. When the water hits my head/face/hair, sometimes it's nearly overpowering. Any docs out there that might know if it's a problem? I was wondering if it had something to do with riding on an empty or nearly empty stomach. Most of my rides are in the 5:30PM to 8:00PM window...a long time after lunch and before dinner.
Ammonia and showeringRedPat
May 7, 2003 9:52 AM
The reason you smell ammonia so strongly when you shower after a hard ride is due to the chemistry of the ammonium ion. Without getting all Mr Science on you, the soap raises the pH and that produces ammonia gas from the dissolved ammonia in your sweat. Now, the ammonia comes from metabolic breakdown byproducts. There are a number of processes that produce ammonia as waste, and higher intensities tend to produce a lot of it. I notice that I can tell if I went anaerobic during my ride by the amount of ammonia smell when I shower. Perfectly normal, though.
Can other people smell it?filtersweep
May 7, 2003 10:59 AM
I could have written that post-

I agree- I don't smell it on the road. I thought that the relatively confined area of the shower concentrated the odor.

Also, I thought the odor came from within- it seems it literally is IN my nose. Can other people smell it? (spare me the juvenile comments ;)

I smell it after longish cardio gym workouts in the winter, and after intense rides (avg HR usually above some arbitrary number).

I am very surprised there is not more information about this phenomenon available.
Me too...FTMD
May 7, 2003 11:09 AM
Very powerful once I hit the hot water, but at no other time.
Me too...FTMD
May 7, 2003 11:51 AM
Very powerful once I hit the hot water, but at no other time.
same here nmDougSloan
May 7, 2003 2:45 PM
May 7, 2003 9:54 AM
Don't ask me to define it; I can barely spell it.
Just read about it in one of the little handouts I got from Hammer Nutrition.

See p. 24:
here's the text from that referenceJS Haiku Shop
May 7, 2003 9:57 AM

When exercise goes beyond 90 minutes, you
need to incorporate protein also into the fuel
mix. After about 90 minutes, and until you
stop your activity, about 10-15% of the calories
you burn will come from protein. This process,
called gluconeogenesis, is unavoidable, and if
you don’t supply protein in your fuel, your
body will literally scavenge it from your own
muscle tissue. This is called catabolism (muscle
breakdown), known informally but quite accurately
as “protein cannibalization.” It can cause
premature muscle fatigue (due to excess ammonia
production from the protein breakdown
process) as well as muscle depletion and postexercise
soreness. Protein cannibalization also
compromises your immune system, leading to
increased risk for colds, flu and other diseases.
Extra! Beautiful hypothesis slain by ugly fact!Dale Brigham
May 7, 2003 11:29 AM
Muscular protein is indeed catabolized during prolonged exercise, acounting for up to 5-10% of energy demands. The putative principal reasons (if ya' wanna get all teleological about it) for protein catabolism are 1) to regenerate molecules called Kreb's Cycle intermediates that are necessary for complete oxidation (burning) of glucose, and 2) to generate molecules (alpha-keto-glutarate) necessary to help transport ammonia out of the muscle and to the liver, where it can be converted to urea (nice diagram here:
Lastly, there's lots of protein (amino acids) in muscles, it burns real good, and hungry mitochondria ain't too choosy.

All of this makes good sense for why ingesting protein (or amino acides) during exercise ought to be great for improving performance during prolonged endurance efforts. Small problem: it has not been shown to help in properly-designed and conducted scientific studies. For a good discussion among scientists who actually have conducted such studies, go here:

As in the case of many nutritional supplements that have been tested for possible performance enhancement, a nice-looking hypothesis explaining why something ought to work does not at all guarantee that it will deliver as promised. There is clear consensus that water and carbohydrates ingested during prolonged exercise improve performance (compared to eating/drinking nothing). If it's hot and sweaty, ingesting salt (sodium chloride) also helps (hyponatriemia can clobber ya'). Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.

Don't muddle the discussion with facts! (nm)MikeBiker
May 7, 2003 2:18 PM
In MO, NH3 smell on ride = meth lab nearby (nm)Dale Brigham
May 7, 2003 9:56 AM
LOL! you need to get out (of MO) more! nmJS Haiku Shop
May 7, 2003 9:57 AM
had this happen when I increased proteinColnagoFE
May 7, 2003 10:02 AM
Ammonia is a byproduct of protein digestion. My guess is if you are in excess of what you use and work out at a high intensity you start to excrete the ammonia in your sweat. I notice it when doing squats and deads mostly...or intervals on the trainer indoors.
May 7, 2003 10:48 AM
There is a guy that I race against, that had the same problem. The problem went away when I suggested that he wash his shorts and jersey every other week, instead of once a month.
not the issue hereDougSloan
May 7, 2003 10:58 AM
My clothes and body are clean. It seems to be coming from my breath when training hard only.

Doesn't sound right,,,,,MR_GRUMPY
May 7, 2003 11:19 AM
Even though I'm usually an expert on everything. You might want to see someone on this. It's probably nothing, but you never can tell.
I have the same problemStraightblock
May 7, 2003 10:59 AM
But it's because my trainer is in the garage near the cat's litter box.

Geez, I thought I was the only one in Fresno still riding the trainer. What was it yesterday, 78°?
May 7, 2003 11:07 AM
just squeezing in a hard session while kid watching. Not a weather issue. In fact, I'm getting ready to do 30 miles right now...

time? Just waitStraightblock
May 7, 2003 11:22 AM
Two kids for me. With their multiple activies, I'm on the trainer twice a week at 5am, and try to get a regular road ride in on Saturday. And, of course, the Sunday-after-church family ride to McDonald's or Taco Bell for lunch.

Once school's out, though, I mix before-work rides and weeknight group "Happy Hour" rides. I'm also promising myself to try to commute once a week during the summer.
My wife refers to it as the "metal smell" (nm)sidley
May 7, 2003 11:26 AM