With such a wide range of supplements available on the market today, it can be hard to choose the one that is best suited for you and your needs. There are protein shakes, energy bars, sports drinks, and more recently, the rise in popularity of pre-workouts.
Pre-workouts contain a unique blend of active ingredients that have been designed to provide a boost during gym sessions, allowing users to hit their training targets faster. Depending on the blend of ingredients in the pre-workout, it can help improve performance, energy levels, endurance and power during training.
In short, pre-workouts can help you perform more reps, run more miles and lift heavier weights, depending on the formula you choose.
With ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and nitric oxide boosters, pre-workouts have been proven to be great fuel for intense workouts.
However, if you’re new to the world of pre-workouts, it can be quite a daunting task deciding which pre-workout is right for you or how much you should take for optimal results.
While it’s tempting to skip the research, it’s actually an important step to ensure that what you’re taking helps you achieve your goals. Here, we’ve compiled a simple guide of frequently asked questions to help you achieve the maximum benefit at the gym.
1. How do I choose a pre-workout?
As with any form of supplements, the way to choose a suitable pre-workout is to look at the ingredients. Some key ingredients to look out for are caffeine, B-vitamins, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), and taurine.
You will also find other active ingredients, such as nitric oxide boosters like arginine and citrulline. These are ingredients that will not only improve your endurance levels during the workout but also help to minimize muscle fatigue afterwards.
For those who are looking to cut weight, keep an eye out for Afromomum Melegueta. A part of our Dr Jekyll formula, Afromomum Melegueta is known to have a strong thermogenic effect that helps you to burn calories faster.
Regardless of your goals, it is important to respect the daily recommended dosage to ensure that you achieve the optimal effect and avoid any negative side effects.
When choosing a brand of pre-workout supplement, look out for stamps and certificates that back up the manufacturing and ingredients. For instance, you can look out for Informed-Choice certificates that guarantee that the formula is free from banned substances, such as our Mr. Hyde Signature, which is the perfect choice for performance athletes.
2. How should I take pre-workout?
Once you’ve chosen a pre-workout, you should start small to ensure there are no adverse side effects. It’s good practice for your first few tries to half or less of the recommended dosage.
Not only will starting slow give you an idea of the effects of your pre-workout, but it will also give you peace of mind that you won’t be caught off guard and be overly-stimulated. Some people do report feeling tingly or prickly sensations in their body - a normal side effect for pre-workouts. But if you have an adverse reaction, such as blotchy rashes or hives, you should seek medical guidance as early as possible.
Try and take your pre-workout 15-30 minutes before starting your workout, or as indicated by your supplement. This will give your body enough time to digest the ingredients and for the effect to start to materialize.
That said, waiting too long won’t work out either. Like coffee, the effects of a pre-workout will wear off over time. If you take it in the morning, the effects will be long gone by evening, and taking another scoop in the evening may cause you to exceed the recommended daily dosage.
Note that taking pre-workout regularly can cause your body to build up a tolerance. To mitigate this issue, you may consider “cycling” pre-workout, or pausing for a few weeks. This gives your body time to reset again before your next training cycle.
3. What are the side effects of pre-workout?
It’s important to note that there can be unwanted side effects with pre-workouts, particularly if you don’t stick to the recommended dosage or the blend that you are consuming contains ingredients your body may not agree with.
Most of these side effects can be alleviated in a few simple steps but if you are ever seriously concerned, please seek medical advice from your healthcare provider.
One of the most common side effects of pre-workouts is insomnia. Most pre-workouts contain a significant amount of caffeine, used to give you that extra boost during your workout. People who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine may find themselves unable to fall asleep after consuming pre-workout during the day.
As well, if you factor in the other sources of caffeine that you consume during the day, like coffee or pop, it’s not uncommon to find that you exceed the recommended daily amount!
To prevent this, you can try taking half portions of pre-workout or avoid taking supplements well ahead of bedtime. Alternatively, you can switch to a stimulant-free pre-workout formula. This allows you to avoid caffeine entirely while still reaping the benefits of improved power and endurance, and without disrupting your sleep.
Another common side effects of pre-workouts is dehydration, which can lead to unpleasant headaches, dizziness or fever.
Many supplement users will mix their pre-workout formula with about eight ounces of water and consume their pre-workout mix for hydration before their session. Unfortunately, this is not enough water for most heavy hitting gym-goers.
During intense exercise, your body loses a lot of water through sweat and needs a regular top-up of water and electrolytes to keep you training at your optimal level. Without, your body gets depleted very quickly and dehydration can set in.
To remedy this, all you need to do is remember to hydrate before, during and after your workout. As a rule of thumb, post-workout you should always drink one and a half times the water weight you lost from the session.
4. Why is my pre-workout not working for me?
While many have reported significant boosts from pre-workouts, you might be puzzled when you don’t feel a difference in the first few weeks of training. Here are some reasons why that might be the case.
To begin, some supplements just take time to take effect. While some stimulants have an immediate effect, like caffeine's ability to raise your heart rate and improve your alertness quickly, others take time to develop. Creatine, for instance, helps with building muscles and repairing them after intense sessions. But like with any weight training, you will only start to see the effect after a few weeks of consistent training.
Some pre-workout users complain that the effects don't kick in until an hour after they've consumed their supplements. This could be because your body is slower at absorbing the ingredients in your pre-workout mix. Everyone is built differently, and your body may not respond to the blend right off the bat. You may want to experiment with taking your pre-workouts earlier ahead of your workout.
However, if you find that you a not feeling the effects of your pre-workout after taking it for an extended period of time, perhaps the opposite might be true and your body has become accustomed to the supplements.
A good way to fix this is to take some time off to reduce the tolerance effect on your body. If you’re willing to invest in more than one pre-workout, you can also alternate between pre-workouts with stimulants and without stimulants.
Keep in mind that performance is usually relative. It’s good advice to track performance over time to get a clear picture of the effects of your pre-workout.
Without consistent tracking, you have no yardstick for measuring performance and may not be able to see the effects of pre-workout over time. You can measure and track things like weight lifted, reps or sets completed, or muscle gained, or even feelings of fatigue during workouts.
Order Your Pre-Workout
Now that you know a bit more about how to take pre-workouts and ensure they work best for you, it's time to find your perfect blend.
At ProSupps we have a range of pre-workout supplements that have been designed to cater to the full spectrum of gym-goers. Whether you are just starting out or you’re a performance athlete looking to get an edge, our pre-workout range will have something for you.