Understanding and Using Pre-Workouts Effectively
Pre-workouts are supplements that provide users with a massive energy boost to help them improve their overall performance in the gym. The main ingredient responsible for this energy boost is caffeine.
Pre-workout exists in two categories: stimulant and stimulant-free. The main difference between a pre-workout with or without stimulants is pre-workouts that have stimulants contain caffeine and stimulant-free pre-workouts do not.
Just because caffeine is a key ingredient for boosting energy levels, does not mean that stimulant-free pre-workouts won’t give you energy. In fact, they are great for improving your level of alertness and blood flow, especially when coupled with ingredients such as beta-alanine.
Pre-workouts can be purchased in various forms. More often than not, they are available in a powder to be mixed together with water, just like a protein shake. Other forms of pre-workout supplements include pre-made drinks or pills.
As the name states, pre-workouts are taken before a workout. For maximum effectiveness, it is recommended to consume your pre-workout at least 15 to 30 minutes before you start your workout.
With definitions out of the way, we can tackle whether pre-workouts are right for you and how to use them properly in your gym routine.
Can Pre-workout Products Make You Stronger?
The main reason why hardcore gym-goers swear by pre-workouts is their enhancing effect on training performance.
Pre-workouts produce energy for you and give you the endurance and stamina needed to work out longer and harder.
An added benefit of pre-workouts is that they get you motivated to hit the gym. On days when you just don't want to get out of bed, pre-workouts help you feel more driven than normal. You can still perform even when your mind is telling you to hit the snooze button.
Not all pre-workouts are created equally. Keep an eye out for beneficial ingredients such as amino acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, carbohydrates, and caffeine in your pre-workout. These ingredients are scientifically proven to provide you with an energy boost when you need it most.
As with any product, ingredients vary and it is always a good idea to check the labels of the supplements carefully and analyze the key ingredients before purchase. Our store has a full range of pre-workouts perfect for a range of gym-goers: from those who are just starting out to performance athletes. All our products are third-party tested and, where appropriate, checked for banned substances for elite athletes.
Are There Benefits to Taking Pre-workout When Not Working Out?
Generally, there aren’t many benefits of taking pre-workout supplements when not working out. While you might be excited to get that added boost of energy to start the day, the dangers and side effects may outweigh the benefits.
The effects of taking pre-workout when not working out vary based on the specific ingredients in the pre-workout you are consuming, how you’re consuming your pre-workout, and how your body responds to it.
Starting with a trusted brand is key. Over time, you will become familiar with the ingredients used in your supplements and how your body reacts to them. With that knowledge, you can be confident that you are consuming them in a safe manner.
Potential Risks of Consuming Pre-workout
Ever had too many cups of coffee coupled with a lack of sleep? That overly stimulated or jittery feeling is one of the potential side-effects of consuming pre-workouts. If you find yourself overly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, stick to stimulant-free pre-workouts.
Besides overstimulation, other side effects of consuming pre-workouts include headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia. You can try to alleviate these unwanted symptoms by pairing your pre-workout supplement with a small snack.
As caffeine is found in many variants of pre-workouts, sleep may be easily disrupted or delayed when supplements are taken in the evening or close to bedtime.
Lastly, those with pre-existing heart conditions or high blood pressure should be wary and consult their doctors before consuming pre-workouts. Similarly, those who are on medications or those who are already taking other supplements should talk to their physician before adding pre-workouts to their routine.
How to Properly Use Pre-workout Supplements
Take Your Pre-workout Supplement in Advance
In order for pre-workouts to do their job, it is crucial for you to know when to take your pre-workout supplements. If you take the recommended dosage of pre-workout supplements based on your body weight, you should be able to feel that energizing boost from about 30 to 45 minutes after consumption.
Therefore, it might be a good idea to consume your pre-workout supplement before heading to the gym so the effects of the energy boost hit as soon as you start your workout routine. Depending on the product, the added energy should last between three to six hours - long enough for you to finish a seriously hardcore workout.
Understand What Ingredients You’re Looking For
There are plenty of pre-workout supplement products on the market making it a confusing choice to select the one for you. Some of the most important ingredients to look out for are caffeine, creatine, and amino-acids.
- Caffeine is the most common pre-workout ingredient and is one of the main contributors to that boost in energy and focus. You will want to check the amount of caffeine in each serving as some have significantly more caffeine than what you may be used to in your daily cup of coffee. For those that work out at later in the day or are sensitive to caffeine, you can opt for a pre-workout supplement that does not have caffeine stimulants in it.
- Creatine helps with muscle building and is naturally available in your muscle cells. Many pre-workout products contain creatine to accelerate the production of your muscle cells when you’re lifting weights or doing high-intensity exercises.
- Branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, helps to control how protein is utilized in your body. This ingredient helps you to build muscle and reduce the fatigue and damage to your body after a workout. With stronger and less fatigued muscles, you can improve your endurance and train at a higher intensity for longer periods of time.
- Other important ingredients to look out for include beta-alanine and nitric oxide. Beta-alanine reduces the effects of lactic acid buildup in your muscles. It decreases the burning sensation you experience during intense activity, which allows you to push at a higher intensity level for longer. Nitric oxide boosters work to improve blood circulation, which helps your body to become more efficient in the transport of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles during exercise.
Know What Type of Pre-workout Works for You
The fitness industry is saturated with all types of pre-workout supplements and you might need to try a few types before you find the one that works best for you. Everybody is different; the pre-workout that your friend uses may not work best for you.
Pre-workout powders are the most popular way to consume pre-workout and they are widely available on the market. Simply pour water into a scoop of your pre-workout powder and mix it together to form a tasty sports drink.
You can also add the powder to your smoothie ingredients to make a pre-workout smoothie. The extra nutrients available in your morning smoothie ingredients can add to your workout by giving you a boost as well as help to reduce any unwanted side effects.
Alternatively, for those who want a quick pre-workout option, there are pre-made drinks available so that you can spend more time at the gym instead of in the kitchen.
Many experts recommend that athletes consume a full meal about two to three hours before their workout routine. If this isn’t possible, eating a small meal half an hour before your session can also provide you with what you need.
Pre-workout meals that include carbohydrates and proteins will fuel and energize your body ahead of your gym session. If you are short on time, consider a pre-workout snack such as a protein bar, fruit with Greek yogurt, a banana, a smoothie, or almonds.
There’s no shortage of pre-workout products on the market today, which provides you with lots of options to choose from. Consult your doctor, determine your fitness goals, analyze each product's ingredients, and check product reviews before settling on a supplement that works best for you.
Monitor how well your body reacts to your chosen pre-workout supplement and what, if any, side effects come along with it, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. If your body doesn’t respond well to your first choice, try changing to a stimulant-free pre-workout.
When used correctly, pre-workouts can greatly impact your performance at the gym, leading to higher energy, longer endurance, and increased muscle building.