You know why you should take a pre-workout. Enhancing performance and getting that extra boost during a challenging workout is a no-brainer, thanks to pre-workout supplements. But to optimize the benefits and know the best one for you, you need to do some homework.
Read on and learn the five critical things you need to know before taking a pre-workout. They will help you achieve your goals by using them properly and safely.
Check The Caffeine Content
A high-caffeine content in the supplement is what gives you the rush of energy that helps you push yourself to the limit. It does this by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
Why take a pre-workout? While you're working out, you feel more energized, alert, and focussed, along with getting that kick in the glutes you're after. Before you take a hit, however, consider the following:
DO A STIMULANT TRIAL
How much caffeine is in a pre-workout supplement? The average formula contains about 200mg (0.007 ounces) of caffeine per scoop. Some people have a sensitivity to stimulants so take it easy especially if you’re new to the pre-workout game. If you're unsure of your tolerance, start out with a half scoop per workout and gauge the optimal amount your body can handle without getting the jitters.
Other possible side effects of caffeine to keep an eye out include insomnia, nausea, increased heart rate, drowsiness, headaches, and anxiety.
If the buzz isn’t working for you, you have the option to choose stimulant-free pre-workouts as well.
INVESTIGATE THE INGREDIENTS
Caffeine might not appear on the label, but this doesn't mean it isn't in the formula. Caffeine is sometimes present in other ingredients such as guarana so keep that in mind when you’re checking out the ingredients.
KEEP A COUNT
Stick to the dose recommendations, and don’t do supplement stacking. It’s not advised you take more than one serving a workout and don't exceed more than two scoops in 24 hours. Remember, if you're ordering a couple of lattes during the day, you need to factor this consumption into your overall daily intake of caffeine.
It’s always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements to get their guidance. It's an excellent step to start with to help you achieve your fitness goals without putting your health at risk.
Match Your Choice to Your Goals
You know what a pre-workout is, but what’s the most appropriate one for you? Pre-workouts are typically taken as an energy boost and to help make your workouts last longer.
They come in many formulations so it can be difficult to find the perfect option for you. To avoid feeling confused or overwhelmed, start by identifying your specific training goals and then match the ingredients to help you get there.
Here are some of the workout ambitions you may want to nail. We’ve matched them with a list of ingredients in many supplements that will help get you there.
You Want to Build Muscle Mass
- Creatine, which supports muscles during high-intensity workouts and heavy lifting sessions.
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), including Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, that support muscle growth and boost recovery, amongst other benefits.
- L-Citrulline helps increase nitric oxide production, allowing blood vessels to expand and provides more nutrients to the muscles.
- Caffeine helps you do more work for more extended periods and remain more focused while you do it.
You Want to Build Stamina
- Beta-Alanine cuts lactic acid buildup in the muscles and helps you push through a workout by slowing the onset of fatigue and boosting power.
- L-Citrulline is a winner in all respects of improving stamina, including boosting blood flow and energy, and supporting your cardiovascular system - as an added bonus, it also produces a more noticeable pump.
- Caffeine is a great training partner if you’re lifting because it gives you quick energy to draw on for high-intensity work.
You Want to Lose Body Fat
- BCAAs have benefits if you’re watching your calorie intake. Your body can tap into them as an energy source instead of accessing energy by breaking down muscle.
Look For Informed-Choice Certification
Not all pre-workouts are free of banned substances. While not all athletes need to worry about this, it can be a concern during competition time. As a customer, you need to make sure what you're consuming is free of ingredients you should avoid. This includes fillers, and worse, substances that appear on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Prohibited List.
Here's a rule of thumb if you have concerns. Take a look at the label and see if the ingredients are clearly listed and easy to see before you buy. If the brand is slack on disclosure, you can bet there's an ingredient in it you want to steer clear of.
Look for a trustworthy pre-workout that is third-party tested and Informed-Choice Certified. This gives you peace of mind that they are free of banned substances thanks to a rigorous, independent testing process.
Learn How to Reduce Side Effects
If you’ve had bad experiences with sports nutrition supplements in the past, know that there are steps you can take to minimize side effects. Here are some potential bug-bears and how taking your pre-workout properly can kick them to the curb.
Pre-workout formulas, except for stimulant-free alternatives, contain high doses of caffeine. Caffeine can last anywhere from 3-5 hours in your system, so factor this into your workout plan to make sure you get the shuteye you need. If you feel you metabolize it more slowly, lower the serving size.
If you have a sensitive stomach, some ingredients used in pre-workout products can have a laxative effect and send you hot-footing it back to the locker room. If a powder isn't adequately diluted, it can lead to a paste forming in your gut, leading to a nasty side effect. Up the H2O in your mix - problem solved. Alternatively, try a pump product.
Among the mix of ingredients in pre-workout supplements are those that help with weight loss by pulling water and excreting it. If you find that you need to urinate more frequently after taking it, up your water intake to replenish water loss.
Make Sure You Watch the Clock
The time you take your pre-workout counts. It's recommended you consume your chosen mix 15 to 30 minutes before you start your workout. If you are taking a formula that contains caffeine, you can count on levels in your system peaking between 30 to 60 minutes after you’ve taken it. Take it too soon, and you’re going to feel flat when you’re pushing through your first few sets.
Now You Know Why and How to Take a Pre-Workout, What’s Next?
You've wised up to the fact that scrutinizing the label of a pre-workout will help you avoid side effects. Now use it properly and ensure you pick the right product to achieve your goals. ProSupps has the perfect pre-workout formula to tick every box.