Pre-workout supplements took the industry by storm in the early 2010s. While the hype has died down today, and many of the formulas have changed, pre-workouts are still a staple in many people’s supplement regimens.
By nature, supplements are meant to enhance your training and nutrition program, not act as a substitute for hard work. They are not 100% essential for your workout. Having said that, pre-workouts are formulated specifically to promote energy, power, endurance, and strength, which experienced athletes and beginners alike can appreciate. So, is a pre-workout right for you? Could it help you reach your goals? Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits.
Most pre-workouts are designed for one main thing – energy. The idea is, if a pre-workout supplement can fire you up, you’ll be more motivated to get to the gym, then be able train longer and harder once you’re there. Many pre-workouts use one of the following ingredients to boost energy levels. These ingredients are among the best known for pre-workout energy:
- Caffeine (caffeine anhydrous): Most Americans judge caffeine levels by comparing them to a cup of coffee. An 8-oz. cup of coffee has just under 100mg of caffeine. This should help you evaluate most pre-workouts, which have about 3 cups of coffee worth of caffeine.
- CDP-Choline: This compound is known to enhance cerebral energy and increase levels of several neurotransmitters. *†
- GBB-EEC:Gamma-butyrobetaine ethyl ester chloride (GBB-EEC) is the precursor for carnitine. Carnitine helps your body turn fat into energy, which may boost athletic performance. *†
To help you recover from intense workouts, look for a pre-workout that contains BCAAs, or stack your BCAAs with your pre-workout.
- Amino acids: Taurine, Glycine, and Aspartic acid work to promote stamina.
- Inosine (a nucleoside found in DNA): Helps to relieve tiredness and improve athletic performance
Best BCAA Shredded™ is a great, non-stim option.
Workout supplements that offer nitric oxide support can increase your blood oxygen level, speed up circulation and help you feel a pump in your muscles.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Once you decide you want to try a workout supplement, remember that everyone’s metabolism is different. You may feel the effects within 15 minutes, or it may take a full half hour to kick in. Try eating a meal an hour before your workout, and take your pre-workout a half hour before your workout. Don’t take your pre-workout within two hours of your bedtime.
SHOULD YOU TAKE A PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENT?
Compare how you feel when you take a pre-workout to when you don’t take a pre-workout supplement. If you are getting more energy and better workouts through supplementation, you are on to something. Keep it up! However, if you are sensitive to stimulants or have heart issues, you may want to avoid pre-workouts altogether.