Modafinil and Working Out | What You Must Know

Tomas Thorne

Last Updated: February 2, 2023

Modafinil and Working Out

Modafinil and working out is an interesting experiment that only the most avid smart drug user would conjure up.

Modafinil’s cognition-enhancing properties have been conclusively demonstrated in the scientific literature and the hundreds of testimonials from biohacking enthusiasts.

But what about the connection between Modafinil and exercise? Could Modafinil prove to be equally effective for both physical performance and mental performance?

There are a variety of answers to both questions, which ultimately demonstrates that working out on Modafinil may or may not be beneficial. It is entirely dependent on the context in which Modafinil is being used.

This article will lay out all of the advantages and disadvantages of combining Modafinil and exercise together, while providing certain scenarios in which taking Modafinil may be beneficial or detrimental for working out.

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Disclaimer: The contents of are for informational and educational purposes only. We do not provide legal advice. Likewise, we do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician prior to consuming Modafinil or related nootropics. Your access to is subject to our full Disclaimer and Terms of Use.

What is Modafinil?

Before diving deep into a discussion about working out on Modafinil, let’s examine what Modafinil is and what it’s currently used for.

Modafinil, which is also known by its brand names Provigil and Alertec, is a pharmaceutical drug originally created in France as a wakefulness-promoting agent.

As of this writing, the FDA has only approved it for three medical conditions [1]:

  • Reducing excessive sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder
  • Reducing excessive sleepiness in patients with obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) (adjunct to standard treatment for underlying airway obstruction)

Although it is not approved for treating fatigue in people with depression or multiple sclerosis, emerging research shows promising results for Modafinil.

While we do not understand exactly how it works, researchers have discovered that Modafinil simultaneously increases dopamine production and blocks dopamine re-uptake. It also works selectively on the hypothalamus to increase its neuronal activity, making it different from stimulant drugs such as Ritalin.

What researchers didn’t know is that Modafinil’s fatigue-reducing and wakefulness-promoting properties could help healthy individuals become much more productive.

Beneficial outcomes such as enhanced memory retention, improved overall cognition, and nonstop focus for 10-15 hours straight were some of the things reported by smart drug experts.

From there, Modafinil has become the drug of choice for people in competitive high-performance career paths: Ivy League graduate students, Silicon Valley CEOs, programmers, day traders, and much more.

Suffice to say, the smart drug craze has begun and Modafinil continues to lead the way because —  it just works!


Modafinil and Exercise | The Basics

So what exactly happens when you start working out on Modafinil?

Let’s see what exists in clinical research before we explore the anecdotal reports of bodybuilders and athletes…

In healthy individuals, Modafinil can shorten reaction time while providing users with the ability to be objectively honest about their performance [2]:

“[Modafinil] prolonged time to exhaustion by 10-15%. The mechanism responsible for this effect is most likely related to a mechanism of action in the CNS that enhanced the level of arousal and vigilance.

[Modafinil] did not cause an overconfidence effect, nor show any disturbance in self-monitoring ability [i.e. a self-appraised overestimation of actual performance abilities]…Moreover, [Modafinil] significantly shortened reaction time and consequently enhanced cognitive efficiency”

And seeing that Modafinil provides patients with an enhanced level of wakefulness, it’s no surprise that core body temperature is elevated with Modafinil use [3]:

“With a greater cumulative dose of the drug, [rectal temperature] remained elevated throughout the exercise period to an extent similar to the increase observed under resting conditions when compared with the placebo condition.”

Not only is your heart beating at a faster rate at rest (i.e. when you are standing still) when taking Modafinil, but it is relatively higher during cardiovascular exercise in comparison to a placebo [4, 5].

But what’s really interesting is how Modafinil reduces one’s perception of exhaustion and fatigue while exercising [6]:

“Acute ingestion of modafinil prolonged exercise time to exhaustion at 85% V̇O2max and reduced RPE [ratings of perceived exertion]. The RPE results suggest that the dampening of the sensation of fatigue was likely a factor responsible for the enhanced performance.”

And since Modafinil is known to result in higher levels of self-motivation, it can possibly help unmotivated individuals maintain better adherence to a workout routine and diet plan [7]:

“…motivational intensity theory predicts that reducing perception of effort during moderate-intensity exercise may help people with very low potential motivation.

These are the people for whom even the moderate effort required by physical activities like walking is too much. Importantly, there are common conditions like obesity and mental fatigue that exacerbate perception of effort during exercise.

Therefore, a psychoactive drug that reduces perception of effort during exercise may be particularly useful for the many people who are overweight and/or exercise after work in a state of mental fatigue.”

On paper, Modafinil should be the perfect pre-workout supplement for a vigorous and intense physical activity.

But what happens in reality when Modafinil and exercise are put together?

Working Out on Modafinil

The best way to describe what working out on Modafinil feels like would be to compile the most commonly reported upsides and downsides from test subjects.

Please keep in mind that any reported experience with Modafinil and hitting the gym is unique to the individual. You may or may not experience any of the outcomes listed below.

Benefits of Modafinil and Working Out

  • Enhanced Mind-Muscle Connection

Modafinil can purportedly enhance your ability to contract your muscles and improve your form. When you combine proper movement with maximum muscle contraction, you will typically see better results in the form of muscle gain and improved strength.

To enhance the mind-muscle connection when taking Modafinil, try to use lighter weights than normal while tuning in on perfect form and strong muscle contraction.

  • Lower Fatigue

Extending from the previous benefit, many gym warriors find that Modafinil dramatically lowers fatigue [8]:

“less fatigue (perception) increased focus on each rep. Basically every rep in every set gets 100% maximized. Feels amazing.”

To be clear, Modafinil does not directly increase strength or enhance performance. The reduced perception of fatigue allows one to push past their physical and mental limits while lifting heavy weights or pedaling furiously on a cardio bike. For some people, this may result in new “personal bests.”

Just like Modafinil offers cognitive benefits and extra energy when working or studying, the smart drug can keep you focused at the gym.

This leads to the next anecdotally-reported benefit…

  • Increased Efficiency In The Gym

The irritability felt by Modafinil users while working on an important task appears to extend towards getting in and out of the gym at a faster pace.

You’ll transition between your working sets faster than you usually would. You get into the gym, workout, and leave without fooling around. As a result, you may get through your workout much quicker than usual.

  • A Lack Of “Muscle Burn”

Many users have said they don’t feel muscular burn while combining Modafinil and working out, especially when a working set is near completion.

While this may lead to plateaus in the gym, please do not take this to mean that Modafinil will make you impervious to injuries. Too much extra push can lead a Modafinil use to accidentally hurt themselves.

A 29-year-old financial advisor by the name of Evan noticed this when taking 50 mg of Modafinil prior to working out [9]:

“At the gym, he feels less tired and says he can achieve a state of zen-like concentration – one that can really help him lean into the dull repetition of bicep curls and squats.

‘On modafinil, it can get easy to get lost in a particular exercise…Every single rep is maximised and focused. It is a much better workout.'”

From the picture being painted, it appears as if Modafinil may be a useful aid for physically active people. But this picture would be incomplete without talking about the potential downsides.

Downsides of Modafinil and Working Out

  • Dehydration Due To Reduced Water Intake

One of Modafinil’s primary side effects is a dry mouth, which arises from forgetting to drink water. The amount of enhanced focus it provides can diminish — if not eliminate — feelings of thirst.

This can be dangerous because you will start your workout dehydrated, especially if you took Modafinil prior to your workout. Without proper hydration, you can risk muscle cramps or even a serious injury.

We recommend drinking at least 0.25 gallons (1 liter) of water if you take Modafinil before going to the gym, and have an additional 0.25 gallons of water to drink while working out. If you feel that your body is lacking in electrolytes, you can opt for drinking Gatorade during your workout instead.

  • Appetite Suppression

This can be an upside or a downside depending on your fitness goals.

Due to Modafinil’s strong appetite-reducing effects, you will likely feel a weaker desire to eat food for several hours [10].

For anyone who is intermittent fasting and/or wants to lose body fat, this would be beneficial. However, for anybody who wants to build muscle and needs to consume a surplus of calories, this effect is detrimental.

Having heard from several research subjects, fasted gym sessions are not optimal. Without getting the proper nutrition needed to fuel a vigorous exercise session, they were at a fat greater risk of injury.

  • Joint Pain

An extremely rare yet possible side effect of Modafinil is joint pain [11].

It is more likely to happen to individuals who are sitting in a chair with poor ergonomic posture for several hours uninterrupted. This will lead to some stiffness that may be masked by Modafinil and not be apparent until the effects of Modafinil wear off.

Should you choose to use Modafinil prior to hitting the gym, it is advisable to warm-up with light cardio or mobility exercises before lifting heavy weights.

Working Out Before Taking Modafinil?

Generally, working out before taking Modafinil is not recommended.

When you combine the “high” from finishing a grueling workout with Modafinil’s ability to enhance wakefulness, you will find yourself unable to fall asleep at an appropriate time. This presumes you are working out in the late afternoon or early evening, and you do not have any plans to pull an all-nighter.

One bodybuilder on Reddit sums it up well in a thread discussing the utility of Modafinil for bodybuilding [12]:

“Don’t take it at 5pm, your mind will be racing if you try to fall asleep that night. If I take it first thing when I wake up (which is the only time I take one) it definitely helps me in a workout no matter what time.”

But if you plan to get in an early morning workout and you take Modafinil shortly after, you may be able to experience its cognitive effects without disrupting your usual sleep cycle.

Our recommendation would be to take your daily dose of Modafinil before noon, regardless of whether you go to the gym in the morning or in the evening.

Should you wish to use Modafinil as a pre-workout aid for increased energy before a morning workout, here are some useful tips to consider:

  • Take your Modafinil dose between 30 and 120 minutes before you go to the gym
  • Consume at least 1 liter of water alongside your dose of Modafinil, and drink at least an additional liter while working out.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine with Modafinil, as you may feel over-stimulated and jittery to the point where your focus is diminished.
  • Make sure you eat a solid nutritious meal with your dose of Modafinil, and then consume another meal right after your workout. You may have to willfully force yourself to do this.

As long as you follow those tips, you should be able to effectively combine Modafinil and exercise together.

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Modafinil and Bodybuilding

Is there anything unique about Modafinil and bodybuilding when they are put together? In the eyes of arduous athletes, there is a distinct difference between bodybuilding and strength training.

Phil Hawksworth, owner of the website “The Introverted Man”, notes a difference in how Modafinil affects him when he is training to gain more strength or build more muscle [13]:

“STRENGTH TRAINING: Modafinil increases focus and increased focus will allow better execution of movements. I’m an Olympic lifter, so technical precision is extremely important for me…I also find that when I do miss a lift, I don’t get annoyed or stressed about it, I don’t kick things or berate myself for making dumb technical mistakes. I just load the bar back up and go again. It’s like it never happened.

BODYBUILDING: For bodybuilding, it will allow you to get a killer mind-muscle connection and really stay present in your body…it seems to dull the burn and fatigue. It’s like you are so focused on doing the movement and contracting the muscle, you don’t have time for other signalling (pain, fatigue). It’s an intense level of focus to where you are pumping reps out piston fashion, without thought for anything else. You will definitely add a rep or two to your set.”

But we do want to talk about a downside of working out on Modafinil that is especially pertinent to bodybuilders, which is why we put it here instead of the earlier section discussing the downsides of Modafinil and exercise…

Modafinil can significantly interfere with your sleep schedule, reducing both the quality and quantity of deep rest you get at night.

Sleep so critical for bodybuilders for two primary reasons.

First, getting in 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night is essential for muscle growth [14]:

“…your body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, including human growth hormone (HGH). During the N3 stage of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, blood flow to your muscles increases, and tissue growth and repair occurs.

During REM sleep, the muscles relax, which can help relieve tension and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. In fact, many of the critical restorative functions in the body—like tissue repair and muscle growth—occur mostly or only during sleep.”

Second, sleep is also critical for fat loss. When a caloric deficit is accounted for, the difference between 8.5 hours of sleep a night and 5.5 hours of sleep a night can dictate how much of your weight loss is fat loss [15]:

“The volunteers lost an average of 6.6 pounds during each 14-day session. During weeks with adequate sleep, they lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of fat-free body mass, mostly protein. During the short-sleep weeks, participants lost an average of 1.3 pounds of fat and 5.3 pounds of fat-free mass.”

If you are a bodybuilder who plans to use Modafinil to enhance their workouts, please be mindful of when you use Modafinil. It can make a dramatic difference in your body compositions and the effectiveness of any diet plan you are on.

Modafinil and Working Out | The Verdict

Putting Modafinil and working out together can lead to completely different outcomes, all dependent on how and when Modafinil is taken.

If used appropriately, you may experience the positive benefits – enhanced mind-muscle connection, increased focus, better adherence to your plan, and reduced fatigue.

But when Modafinil is not used consciously with respect to your workout routine and sleeping schedule, it may be ineffective and in some cases prove to be detrimental for exercise.

Either way, just remember to stay hydrated, eat food, and focus on proper form when using this powerful smart drug in the gym.

P.S: If you're looking to get a great deal, ordering Modafinil from our top-rated vendor.


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  3. McLellan TM, Ducharme MB, Canini F, et al. Effect of modafinil on core temperature during sustained wakefulness and exercise in a warm environment. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2002;73(11):1079‐1088.
  4. Rattray B, Martin K, Hewitt A, Cooper G, McDonald W. Effect of acute modafinil ingestion on cognitive and physical performance following mental exertion. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2019;34(4):e2700. doi:10.1002/hup.2700
  5. The Effects of Modafinil and OTC Stimulants on Physical and Cognitive Performance. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  6. Jacobs I, Bell DG. Effects of acute modafinil ingestion on exercise time to exhaustion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;36(6):1078‐1082. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000128146.12004.4f
  7. Marcora S. Can Doping be a Good Thing? Using Psychoactive Drugs to Facilitate Physical Activity Behaviour. Sports Med. 2016;46(1):1‐5. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0412-x
  8. Working out on modafinil. Retrieved May 17, 2020. r/afinil
  9. Meet the modafinil gym bros. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  10. Makris AP, Rush CR, Frederich RC, Kelly TH. Wake-promoting agents with different mechanisms of action: comparison of effects of modafinil and amphetamine on food intake and cardiovascular activity. Appetite. 2004;42(2):185‐195. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2003.11.003
  11. Modafinil. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  12. Would modafinil be of any assistance for bodybuilding? Retrieved May 17, 2020. r/afinil
  13. Modafinil Workout: How Does Modafinil Affect Your Workout? Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  14. How Sleep Adds Muscle. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  15. Sleep loss limits fat loss. Retrieved May 17, 2020.

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