Have you ever taken a pre-workout supplement too late and not felt it kick in until you’re halfway through your workout? Have you ever taken a pre-workout too early and experienced a caffeine crash during your heaviest lifts?
Pre-workout timing can definitely make a difference in your workout performance and results.
If you’ve been wondering, “How long before a workout should I take pre-workout?” keep reading. We’re answering this and other common pre-workout questions.
Why Pre-Workout Supplements?
Before we explore the specifics of how to use pre-workout, let’s address some common questions.
Why pre-workout supplements? Why include these products in your routine at all?
Pre-workout isn’t required to have a good workout. It can make a difference, though. Here are some benefits pre-workout supplements offer:
- More Energy: Pre-workout supplements are best known for increasing energy levels and putting some pep into your step before you hit the weights or hop on the treadmill
- More Stamina: Many people find that their endurance and stamina improve when they use pre-workout before tough training sessions
- Better Mood and Focus: Pre-workout can help your focus and mental clarity and may also boost your mood so you feel more positively about your workout
- Better Pumps: Many pre-workout products contain blood-flow enhancing ingredients that produce more noticeable pumps and support optimal recovery
How Long Before a Workout Should I Take Pre-Workout?
If you’re taking a pre-workout that contains caffeine, timing is particularly important.
Take it too early, and you’ll end up with a caffeine crash. Take it too late, and you won’t feel the effects until later on in your training session (or maybe even not until your workout is over).
Most people feel the effects of caffeine pretty soon after consuming it. In fact, 99 percent is absorbed within about 45 minutes of ingestion. However, it reaches peak effectiveness, on average, after about 30-60 minutes.
With this information in mind, you can see why most experts recommend taking pre-workout about 15-30 minutes before your workout. Taking your supplement in this window gives your body a chance to absorb the caffeine and allows you to enjoy maximum benefits during the most intense part of your workout.
What About Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout?
If you’re taking a caffeine-free pre-workout, the 15-30 minute window is still recommended.
You might not need to worry about caffeine absorption. However, taking your pre-workout during this timeframe still gives you an adequate amount of time to absorb the other active ingredients, such as Beta-Alanine, and feel them kicking in as you move through your warm-up and into the harder parts of your training sessions.
Pre-Workout and Sleep Interruptions
It’s worth noting that caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours. Let’s say your pre-workout contains 200mg (or 0.007 ounces) of caffeine. That means, 5 hours after you take it, you’ll still have about 100mg (or 0.0035 ounces) of caffeine in your system.
If you’re working out in the morning, that’s not a big deal. It may even make your transition into the office a bit smoother.
If you’re working out at 5 pm, though, having 100mg (or 0.0035 ounces) of caffeine in your system 5 hours later, when you’re trying to wind down for the night, could be more of an issue.
In addition to timing your pre-workout supplementation so that you consume it within 15-30 minutes of your workout, make sure you’re also not taking it too close to bedtime, especially if you tend to struggle with insomnia or other sleep issues.
For those who work out in the late afternoon or evening, a stimulant-free pre-workout may be a better choice. You could also mix stimulant-free and stimulant-containing pre-workouts for a less intense dose of caffeine.
How Often Should You Take Pre-Workout?
Is it safe to take pre-workout regularly? How often should you take pre-workout?
For most people, it’s safe to use pre-workout supplements before every workout.
As long as you’re not exceeding the safe upper limit of caffeine consumption (400mg or 0.014 ounces per day) or taking pre-workout too close to your bedtime, you likely won’t experience any serious side effects.
That being said, there are benefits to taking breaks from caffeine-containing pre-workout products.
Pre-Workout and Caffeine Tolerance
When you cycle off of caffeine regularly, you’re less likely to build up a tolerance to it.
Basically, your body gets used to a certain dose of caffeine and stops reacting as strongly to it. This, in turn, means that you’ll need to increase your dosage to continue to experience the same effects.
It doesn’t take long to build up a tolerance to caffeine. One study even showed that it takes just 1-4 days.
How do you know if you’ve built up a tolerance to caffeine?
The most noticeable sign is that you’re no longer feeling energized after you take your typical dose of pre-workout powder. If you’re feeling sluggish during your training sessions, or struggling to perform at the same level you once were, it might be because your body’s no longer responding to the caffeine.
If you feel that you’ve built up a tolerance to caffeine, you may want to take a break from using a caffeine-containing pre-workout.
Consider switching to a stimulant-free product for a couple of weeks to give your body a break and help it recalibrate. When you go back to a regular, caffeinated pre-workout, you’ll likely find that you feel more energized and have an easier time noticing its effects.
You might find, too, that you don’t have to take as much pre-workout to experience the same benefits. You could possibly decrease your dose a bit and still improve your energy levels and performance.
How Do You Know the Exact Ingredients in a Scoop of Pre-Workout?
When people flip over a pre-workout container and read the ingredient label, they often find themselves asking questions like, “How do you know the exact ingredients in a scoop of pre-workout?” or “How much of each of these ingredients am I getting in a serving of pre-workout powder?”
For those who buy pre-workout from reputable manufacturers, it’s actually easier than you might think to figure this out. On the back of each ProSupps pre-workout, we include a breakdown of how much of each ingredient is included per serving.
We don’t use proprietary blends, and we believe in full transparency. This helps our athletes to feel confident about what they’re consuming.
When Taking Pre-Workout, Should You Start with Multiple Supplements?
If you’re just getting back into the gym after a long break or you’re just starting your fitness journey, it might be tempting to throw everything but the kitchen sink into your supplement regimen and pre-workout routine. We typically don’t recommend this approach though.
When taking pre-workout, should you start with multiple supplements?
Generally, no. We recommend picking one pre-workout product to start with and seeing how you react.
By incorporating products into your routine one at a time, it’s easier to pick up on how they affect you. If you experience unpleasant side effects, you won’t have to guess which product is the culprit.
Time to Level Up Your Pre-Workout Routine
You now know when to take a pre-workout supplement so you see the best results during your workout. Keep the tips outlined above in mind so you can use your pre-workout wisely and get the most out of it.
Don’t forget, too, that a high-quality pre-workout drink can make all the difference when it comes to leveling up in the gym and earning your results. That’s why ProSupps offers a full range of pre-workout supplements to meet everyone’s unique needs.