There is a proper way to take pre-workout, and naturally, you want to get it right to supercharge your training. Unlike a protein supplement which you can consume at any time of day, it’s recommended you take a pre-workout 30 minutes before you hit the gym.
If you're a gym regular, you'll know why you use a pre-workout. It supplies your body with glucose, caffeine, and other ingredients that boost energy. So to enjoy their benefits, it makes sense that they have to be in your bloodstream before they're going to help you cruise through a challenging workout.
Does it matter if your timing is off, and you only manage to get it down the hatch right before you pick up your weights? Most of the active ingredients take between 30 minutes and an hour to hit your bloodstream. So, if you're sipping on your supplement in the locker room as your pre-fuelling plan, you need to rethink your strategy.
Want to know when you should take pre-workout? To optimize the effects of your supplement, let's look at the role of the ingredients. Also, the pros and cons of taking it ‘on time’, and other factors to consider, depending on your formula of choice
The Power of Protein
Let's look at the journey of pre-workout through your system. You swallow it, and it goes through your stomach. The small intestine absorbs the amino acids (proteins), and they move into your bloodstream. You don't get the effect until this point.
The nitric oxide (an essential amino) goes to your muscles to help create pump and vascularity. You can perform harder and stronger. The effects of pre-workout lasts in your body between three to six hours. If muscle support is the benefit of a supplement you’re focussing on, timing isn’t such an important factor.
You can take a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement as a versatile, anytime protein. Mix it into your breakfast plan to kick-start muscle protein synthesis or as a meal replacement or snack. You can use it before and after training or even as a nightcap to support muscle growth while you get some shuteye.
Weigh Up Your Body
While it’s recommended to take a pre supplement at least thirty minutes before you exercise, it's not an exact science. Our bodies are all different. Your metabolism, weight, fat-to-muscle ratio, gender, and how much food you have in your body will affect how long pre-workout takes to kick in.
Play around with the timing to experiment with what works best for you. You could even take it without eating for a couple of days before your workout to get a real sense of the time it takes to move from your mouth to your muscle tissue and bloodstream. This will help you find the timing sweet spot to get the best results.
The Caffeine Kick
Caffeine is a common hero product in pre-workout supplements. There are the physical benefits, with it clocking up a 1.5 to 5 percent increase in performance for athletes. It helps with bursts of activity, suppresses pain, and boosts neural transmissions, sharpening focus, mental alertness, and reaction time.
Although you may start to feel the buzzy effects of caffeine within 15 minutes of consuming it, it takes between 30 to 60 minutes for caffeine levels to peak in the body. When you're powering through heavy lifts, you want your caffeine levels to climax. Therefore the stimulating effect will peak too, exactly when you need that support to help you push through.
You don’t want the chemicals to only kick in when you’re getting to your fourth or fifth exercise.
If you're getting your sweats in during the morning, taking pre-workout during your pre-gym routine at home works out great, timing-wise. However, if you're on an after-work schedule, there's the matter of caffeine metabolization to factor in.
It takes between three and five hours for your body to reduce the concentration of caffeine in your system. Take it too late in the day, and you're possibly going to struggle to get to sleep until it's out of your system.
If you want to avoid building up a tolerance to the stimulants in your supplement, consider alternating the days when you take it or mix it up by alternating with stimulant-free options.
Muscling in On Power
What does a pre-workout do to your body? If you're on a mission to up your fitness routine to achieve your beast mode, you may choose a formula that offers a full house of benefits, including:
- Enhanced blood flow and energy
- Increased strength, power output, training endurance, and focus
- Reduced recovery time
A specialized pre-workout may contain ingredients like caffeine, calcium, niacin, creatine, beta-alanine, N-acetyl tyrosine, and Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA). You should take a supplement like this 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. However, some of the ingredients in pre-workout have a time sensitivity attached to them, like caffeine discussed above. Here are a few others…
Niacin (vitamin B3) causes the capillaries to expand in the body, leading to its signature buzzy ‘niacin flush’. Taking niacin immediately after a meal can reduce the flushing sensation. Timing your pre-workout supplement after you’ve had a snack can help if you’re building up your tolerance to niacin.
Lifters enjoy the muscle-building benefits of creatine. Taking creatine after your workout gives you the most edge. But the consensus is that you'll see the benefits whatever time you take it in a pre or post-workout supplement.
If you take beta-alanine before a workout, you benefit from an increased mental focus and nervous system response. You want to queue up that tingling feeling you may get from beta-alanine to enjoy the effects during your workout. In which case, you want it to enter your system 15 to 20 minutes before you start your sweat session.
GABA is very effective in inducing growth hormone production in the body. When taking GABA, growth hormone secretion peaks between 60 and 90 minutes, which is why it's beneficial to time your GABA intake about 30 minutes before training.
The Final Word
There’s more you need to know about when you should take pre-workout. You can delay your pre-workout for lengthier or more intense workouts and only take it about one hour into the workout. This strategy will help you prolong your endurance but remember not to overdo it.
Maximize the effects of your supplement now that you know when you should take a pre-workout
If you’re using a pre-workout that contains a stimulant like ProSupps, Mr. Hyde Signature, you’ll want to time your intake around when your caffeine levels climax.
Take some time to investigate the ingredients served up in pre-workouts and choose a pre-workout that helps you achieve your goals.