Pre-workout supplements are perfectly formulated with everything you need to maximize your workout. But are you taking them properly to get the most out of them?
Manufacturers pack supplements with ingredients proven to help you get the most from your training. But are you looking to optimize the effects of your pre-workout? You’ll need to take a step back and take a closer look at your habits.
Do you know how often to take pre-workout, how much to take, or when exactly to take it? We’ve got the answers you need to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Here are a few factors to consider when taking a pre-workout supplement:
How Often You Take Pre-Workout
Pre-workout supplements contain a common stimulant many of us know and love, caffeine. It gives a quick shot of the energy and focus we need to tackle the day. With that buzz in your system, you can train vigorously with increased energy and less pain and fatigue.
Are you looking to take a pre-workout supplement that contains caffeine before every workout? It's not always the answer. Here's why…
Taking a pre-workout supplement habitually can cause you to become tolerant to the effects of caffeine. Meaning over time, you'd need to increase your caffeine intake to get the same kick. No sweat, you say? There's plenty of reasons why you don't want to do this.
For example, the maximum recommended intake of caffeine per day is 400g (14 ounces). If you're constantly ramping up your dose, you're going to hit the safety ceiling eventually. At some point, you're going to reach what scientists refer to as an 'insurmountable tolerance’ to caffeine. This means increasing your caffeine pre-workout dose won't enable you to overcome your tolerance to it.
The solution? Relook how often you take your pre-workout with the following tips.
USE YOUR PRE-WORKOUT ON YOUR LEG DAYS
Caffeine has the ability to benefit lower body performance more than upper body performance because lower body exercises often need more 'perceived' effort. Pre-workouts reduce your perception of effort, which is why you want it on your team when you're doing strenuous leg exercises.
ALTERNATE WITH A STIM-FREE PRE-WORKOUT
A stim-free supplement won't contain any stimulant ingredients like caffeine. However, it will still give your workout performance a boost. If you want to increase the effectiveness of your regular supplement, consider this strategy.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there are benefits to taking a pre-workout when not working out. If you have a physically demanding job, a formula that primes your muscles will help you get through the day. If you're a shift worker, you'll benefit from the energy and vitality a pre-workout gives you. To top it off, there are the mental benefits of focus and attention that count if you work in an environment where you need your smarts.
If you’re looking for these benefits, it’s best to choose a stim-free pre workout that will still provide you with necessary endurance and focus, without the heart-racing side effects of caffeine.
It’s also important to consider how often you are consuming pre-workout supplements. Regularly supplementing with a pre-workout product will help maximize the benefits and impact of its ingredients.
There may be a difference in effect when you first take a pre-workout compared to when you always take it. Newcomers to pre-workout may report some stronger side effects while their bodies adjust and get used to a supplement routine.
Taking a pre-workout is not only about the hit of caffeine that improves your endurance and performance. Other ingredients in a formula take longer for you to feel the full benefits. Creatine and beta-alanine need time to build up in your body, for example, so you'll find you'll get the most from your pre-workout when you take them consistently to maintain muscle stores.
There’s no reason to worry about how long the active ingredients stay in a pre-workout, as they’re intended to work effectively when you take the right dose at the right time. Instead, break down the benefits of the ingredients into the short-term (sustain your workout for longer, pump and more) and the long-term (muscle gains and strength).
In short, taking your pre-workout consistently will pay off.
How Much Pre-Workout You Take
It’s important to keep in mind that your workout, your body, and your schedule is different from everyone else’s in the gym. So it makes sense to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how much pre-workout you should take to get the most from it.
Rethink how much pre-workout you should take with these considerations…
DO A BODY CHECK
What's your current body weight? Most studies that have looked at the benefits of caffeine on performance have worked on a dosage of between 3 to 6kg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. This is an excellent range to stay in unless you already consume additional doses of caffeine through other sources like coffee or energy drinks.
But if your habitual intake of caffeine is higher than the recommended range of 200g of caffeine per dose, you'll need to take more pre-workout. Or, you can switch to a formula that has a higher level of caffeine like ProSupps HYDE Xtreme.
What if you're not a coffee drinker and are sensitive to stimulants? Don't put pressure on yourself to take a full scoop right away. Instead, start below the recommended range and build your tolerance from half a scoop up until you find your sweet spot. If you can't shake the jitters and other common side effects of caffeine, reduce your intake until you find the perfect amount that works for you.
When You Take Your Pre-Workout
Take your pre-workout too early, and you're going to start to feel diminishing effects just when you need it most to help you push through your workout. Take it too late, and the caffeine won't have had time to hit your bloodstream until you're into your third or fourth exercise. You'll only begin to get the most out of your pre-workout when you're already well into your session.
The best time to take your pre workout is 30 to 45 minutes before you start working out. This is the average time it takes for caffeine to reach a peak in the bloodstream. Also, consider your gym routine. How long do you hang in the locker room, and how long is your warm up protocol? You only want it to fully kick in when you've moved on to the hard stuff.
WATCH THE CLOCK
Prefer to work out in the afternoon or evening? Caffeine stays in the system between three and five hours. If you typically have a tough time falling asleep or are sensitive to caffeine, avoid taking a pre-workout too late unless it's a stim-free alternative.
Good sleep quality is an essential factor in muscle growth and recovery. If you're not clocking enough z's, you're also preventing your body from getting the most from your pre-workouts.
Want to Get the Most From a Pre-Workout?
We’ve run you through the tips and strategies, but what’s most important is that you take a quality pre-workout. We offer a range of high-quality, independently tested pre workout products, so it's easy to find one that suits your goals and lifestyle.
Choosing a pre-workout that’s right for you is the first step in making sure you get the most out of them in the long run.