We all hit the gym with a goal — fitness. Sometimes it can be quite disappointing when you exercise every day but overly see and feel the inadequacy from the results. This is why most people result in using pre-workout supplements to ensure that they get the most from their training. It is believed that these pre-workouts boost energy, muscle strength, and stamina to keep exercising.
However, before using any pre-workout supplement, carry out some research to ensure that you are getting the right results. The guide will help you in understanding different supplements, and the impact each has on training performance.
Pre-workout supplements contain a range of ingredients, including caffeine, creatine, guarana, L-arginine, taurine, and BCAAS, among others. Now the big question is, do these supplements really work, or are they just a perception to make people believe that they are supercharged? Before we go into details on tackling this question, get to learn more about the ingredients of pre-workout supplements.
Common Ingredients of Pre-Workout Supplements
Every pre-workout supplement comes with a label showing its ingredients, and as a first-timer, it might be a bit confusing to decide which is best for you. Some usually come with a blend of different ingredients. The best advice we can give is that you must know your needs and then keep it simple. That said, here are a few pre-workout ingredients you should look out for.
Caffeine is usually recognized as a buzz ingredient and is known for its ability to boost metabolic rate, enhance endurance, and decrease fatigue. It is one of the best performance booster. However, caffeine can be dangerous if you take too much than you need — stick to a low or moderate dose. Taking 3 mg for every kilogram you weigh could be a perfect dose. For instance, if you weigh 85 kilograms, you should take about 250 mg of caffeine, which is roughly two and a half cups of coffee.
Creatine is that supplement you will find in almost all pre-workout supplements. It is popularly known for bodybuilding. The supplements are useful in enhancing muscle growth, strength, and also performance. The best way to achieve high results with creatine supplementation is taking them consistently — at least 5 grams per day. You must also commit to your workout routine for this to give the best results.
Pre-workout supplements containing L-arginine are right for protein synthesis. It produces nitric oxide, which is an element that helps in relaxing blood vessels, facilitating better flow and oxygen circulation in the body. This feeling and relaxation will keep you going during your routine exercises.
This is a natural amino acid, and it helps in promoting nerve signal function. When used through a pre-workout supplementation, it improves athletic performance by delaying neuromuscular. However, beta-alanine needs to be taken in moderation to avoid overstimulation of nerve cells, causing paresthesia. You may consider taking it in the form of a tablet to control intake.
Taurine is also a natural amino acid found in body muscles, organ tissues, and the brain. It helps in stabilizing cell membranes, regulating nutrient transportation, and as a neurotransmitter. Most pre-workout supplements containing taurine comes with a blend of caffeine to maximize athletic performance in the user.
BCAAS are branch-chain amino acids, and they help in improving protein synthesis. This means that by using BCAAS pre-workout supplementation, you are maximizing bodybuilding with reduced protein breakdown. You also benefit from delayed muscle soreness when you are exercising, which means getting back to training anytime with little to no physical and mental fatigue. BCAAs are part of EAAs —amino acids that your body cannot produce, yet they are essential in improving performance during workouts.
Other ingredients include:
- L-theanine: For improving mental focus
- Nitrosigine: For better blood flow in the body and decreased muscle damage
- L-tyrosine: Used as a fatigue resistance
- Betaine: For strength and quickened recovery
- Huperzine-A: For increased mental energy levels
- Beetroot extract: For boosting endurance and training drive
When Should You Take the Pre-Workout?
Just like the name suggests, you should take these supplements before you hit the gym — 30 minutes prior is perfect. However, consider your bedtime. If you take the pre-workout less than two hours before your bedtime, that’s a disaster.
They might disrupt your sleep, which means you will be sleep deprived in the morning, and your energy levels for morning exercise is affected as well. The bright side is that most packages come with an instruction on when is the right time to consume the pre-workout. Read and follow every instruction there-in.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements
- You get to enjoy improved performance, including those moments when you lack motivation.
- Improved focus and determination — a distraction from staying fit will not be a thing anymore once your endurance is boosted.
- You can get heightened muscle building from reduced protein breakdown.
- Prevents premature fatigue through the boosted energy levels — you do not tire easily.
- They help you to recover faster from a workout, and therefore, go back to training sooner and harder.
With these benefits, you should know what you need from the pre-workout and therefore go for the right ingredient supplementation.
The Downside of Pre-Workout Supplements
Most pre-workout supplements are safe and efficient for improved performance during exercises. However, this does not mean that they are absolutely risk-free. Here are the main risk factors to consider before buying a pre-workout.
- Most contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. While these are good for adding flavor, they may cause discomfort or intestinal distress to some people. Such feelings can significantly distract your training. Try different quantities of these sweeteners so as to monitor your tolerance.
- Adverse impacts of excessive caffeine. While caffeine supplements are good in improving training performance, too much of it can cause anxiety, reduced sleep, and increased blood pressure. The excessiveness comes when you are taking coffee throughout the day and still end up taking supplements before workout.
- They may come with compromised quality and safety. Most countries, USA included, do not regulate dietary supplements, and it is easy to find misleading information from a pre-workout. Therefore, try and buy supplements that have been tested and approved by third parties such as USP or NSF international. Also, always confirm the ingredients contained in the product you buy.
Now, Should You Use Pre-Workout — or Will They Work for You?
The first thing you must remember is that pre-workout supplements should not be used as an easy way out. They may not work if your low energy levels come from external factors. For instance, if you are sleep deprived, dehydrated, have poor eating habits, or you are just lazy, pre-workout is not for you.
Work on these issues first, take the pre-workout supplements, and then hit the gym. They have proven to work for some people, and therefore can work for anyone, all other factors put into consideration. Remember, most supplements are expensive but, if you can get value for your money, why not try them.
The bottom line is, pre-workout supplements are effective, and if at all the formulas are working for you now, you have no reason to stop. Only ensure that you are mindful of the amounts and the ingredients you are taking per day or session of workout.