Have you recently started using a pre-workout supplement? Are you worried that you’re not getting as much out of it as you could be?
If you want to maximize your results from your pre-workout, keep reading for more information on pre-workout drinks. We’re also sharing 9 tips that can help you get more out of these supplements.
Before we dive into tips for enhancing the effects of your pre-workout, let’s touch on the benefits of pre-workout.
Why pre-workout? What can a pre-workout drink do for you?
The following are some of the most popular reasons people have for using pre-workout products:
- Increased energy
- Increased stamina
- Better blood flow (which means more noticeable pumps!)
- Faster post-workout recovery
- Increased fat-burning
- Faster muscle growth
- Increased muscle strength
When Should You Take Pre-Workout?
“When should you take pre-workout?” is a common question we hear from athletes and gym-goers.
This makes perfect sense to us. After all, proper timing is one of the most important steps you can take to see these and other great results from your pre-workout.
Most experts recommend taking a pre-workout about 15-30 minutes before you start exercising. This is especially true for pre-workouts that contain caffeine, which reaches its peak effectiveness within about 30-60 minutes.
If you take your caffeine-containing pre-workout 15-30 minutes before training, you’ll get to enjoy the greatest amount of benefits from it and won’t miss your window of opportunity to crush your workout.
How Often Should You Use Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout supplements, both those that contain caffeine and those that do not, are generally considered to be safe. Some people are concerned about using them before every workout, though, because they don’t want to build up a tolerance to the ingredients.
Have you ever wondered, “How often should I use pre-workout?” or “How long should I use it before taking a break?”
If you’re using a caffeine-containing pre-workout drink, it can be helpful to cycle off every few weeks and give your body a bit of a break. During these off-periods, you can use a stimulant-free pre-workout instead to give yourself an energy boost and avoid feeling sluggish while training.
Top 9 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Pre-Workout
Beyond timing and frequency, there are many other techniques you can use to maximize the results of your pre-workout supplement. Here are 9 of our top recommendations:
1. Read the Ingredients List
If you want to see positive effects from your pre-workout, you need to make sure it contains the right ingredients.
This is why products that just list a proprietary blend on the back and don’t give any details are so problematic. How are you supposed to know what you’re taking?
The following are some of the most important ingredients to look for when reading pre-workout labels:
- Caffeine: A central nervous system stimulant that increases energy and focus
- Beta-Alanine: An amino acid that reduces lactic acid buildup and helps you fight fatigue
- L-Citrulline: An amino acid that improves blood flow, which produces more energy and more noticeable pumps
- Creatine: A compound found in the muscles that increases endurance and supports faster recovery
2. Take the Right Dose
How much pre-workout should you be taking before you start training?
For most people, the recommendation on the back of the package (in most cases, one scoop) works great.
However, if you’re very sensitive to caffeine or other ingredients in your pre-workout of choice, you might be better off starting with half a scoop. This is especially helpful if you’re using a high-caffeine pre-workout.
Taking a “low and slow” approach makes it easier for you to avoid potential pre-workout side effects (insomnia, anxiety, jitters, digestive issues, etc.).
3. Make Sure You’re Hydrated
If you’re dehydrated (even mildly), you’ll likely feel fatigued or experience difficulties focusing during your workout. By prioritizing hydration, you can ensure your brain and body are firing on all cylinders.
Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your training sessions. You don’t have to carry a gallon jug around at all times or do anything drastic, but drinking water consistently throughout the day will help you to avoid dehydration, fatigue, and sluggishness.
If you’re looking to further maximize your hydration, in addition to mixing your pre-workout drink with water, you can also sip on an electrolyte drink while training.
Electrolytes are minerals that support optimal hydration and help to prevent issues like muscle cramps and fatigue. Adding this type of drink mix to your water will enhance its taste and give you more bang for your buck.
4. Fuel Properly
Some people feel fine exercising on an empty stomach. If this is you, that’s great!
For many athletes and gym-goers, though, especially those who do high-intensity cardio or heavy lifting workouts, it’s not enough just to take a pre-workout supplement before training. They need some food in their stomach to fuel their workouts and prevent them from hitting a wall.
If you think you might feel better eating before training, make sure you’re consuming some simple carbohydrates before your workout. Fruit, oatmeal, rice cakes, and toast are all good high-carb options that will provide easy energy.
Avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber, as they can cause digestive issues or make you feel overly full.
5. Be Consistent
This tip might seem contradictory at first. After all, didn’t we say at the beginning of this post that it was beneficial to cycle on and off of pre-workout?
Taking a break from pre-workout can indeed help you to avoid building up a caffeine tolerance. When you’re not on a break, though, it’s important to be consistent, especially if you’re taking a pre-workout drink that contains ingredients like L-Citrulline and Creatine.
L-Citrulline and Creatine don’t immediately produce results after taking them once or twice. You need to be consistent and let them build up in your system before you notice improvements.
6. Stack Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Pre-Workouts
For those who are sensitive to caffeine, as well as those who simply want to experience the benefits of both stimulant-containing and non-stimulant pre-workout supplements, a good compromise is to stack these two products.
Take a half scoop of each, for example. That way, you get some caffeine for extra energy, but you also get the pump-enhancing benefits of a stimulant-free product. It’s a win-win!
7. Create a Pre-Workout Ritual
Taking a pre-workout supplement can provide a lot of benefits both during and after your workout. However, your pre-workout drink shouldn’t be the only component of your pre-workout routine.
Having a series of steps that you go through before you start training can help you to get your mind and body prepared to exercise. By following a routine, you also give your pre-workout drink some time to kick in, which allows you to experience the maximum effects from the caffeine and other ingredients.
8. Find a Flavor You Enjoy
It’s much easier to be consistent with your pre-workout and make it a regular part of your routine if you have a product that tastes good.
Look for a pre-workout flavor that appeals to you and that you think you’ll enjoy taking before each training session. If you mix other supplements with your pre-workout, make sure it complements those products’ flavors, too.
9. Prioritize Sleep
Yes, pre-workout supplements can give you energy and help you to feel more alert. It can only do so much, though.
At a certain point, if you’re not getting enough sleep, even the strongest pre-workout on the market won’t be able to make up for it.
Make sure you’re not using pre-workout as an excuse to not prioritize sleep. Aim to get 7-9 hours each night so your muscles can recover (remember, during deep sleep is when your body produces the most growth hormone).
Get More from Your Pre-Workout Today
As you can see, there are lots of steps you can take to maximize the results you get from your pre-workout supplement.
Whether you’re trying to build muscle, gain strength, burn fat, or just feel a little more energized, the right pre-workout, paired with the right pre-workout ritual, can make all the difference.