Fuel Your Workouts: the Purpose of Pre-Workout Supplements

Whether you go to the gym or rely on home gym equipment to perform your workouts, you can’t expect to turn up to every training feeling 100%.
Sometimes you will do it feeling tired, lazy and unmotivated and that is where a pre-workout supplement can help you.

Many think that the benefits of pre-workout supplements are the same as the benefits of protein supplements. However, as serious athletes become more aware of what is available to enhance their training efforts, they understand that they have very different objectives. Protein supplements provide all the essential amino acids your body needs to repair damaged muscle and grow new muscle fibres while pre-workouts are a supplement that improves energy levels, focus and stamina for endurance.

supplements pre workout

Pre-workout supplements include ingredients like caffeine to give you a little burst of energy for motivation and to keep going during a workout, a mix of nutrients and vitamins to increase blood flow and pump oxygen to your muscles, and also contain amino acids to help your build muscle as you work out. When combined with the proper nutrition program and training regimen, a pre-workout supplement can offer you that extra push to perform your workouts in top condition every day.

When buying a pre-workout supplement, you can’t just get the first product you come across and hope for the best. There are some important things you need to consider in order to choose a good product.

Check the Caffeine Content

The main ingredient in most pre-workout products is caffeine, the reason why they are often called pre workout caffeine supplements. Unless a pre-workout supplement is labelled”stimulant-free”, it will contain caffeine. In addition to giving you energy, caffeine improves mental alertness and sharpen focus, which can speed up your reaction time and enhance your overall performance as you push through heavy lifts.

However, to be beneficial, caffeine needs to be consumed in the appropriate amount. Too much of it can cause you to experience things like a racing heart, tingling, high blood pressure and even nausea. How much is too much caffeine in pre-workout, you may ask? According to experts, the safe daily caffeine limit for an average adult is 400 mg. So, when shopping for pre workout caffeine supplements, you’ll want to check its caffeine content to ensure you’re not exceeding the safe daily limit. If you’re taking other sports supplements, check the ingredient labels to make sure you are not getting more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. Any more than that could lead you to start feeling the side effects.

caffeine supplement

Check the Ingredient List

Effective ingredients you’ll want your pre-workout supplement to contain are:

  • BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) – help improve endurance, support muscle protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown.
  • Creatine Monohydrate – a naturally occurring compound with endurance-boosting and strength-inducing abilities.
  • B Vitamins – vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B6 helps support energy production while B12 plays an important role in blood regeneration and a healthy metabolism.
  • Taurine – a sulfonic acid that supports the breakdown of fat and helps reduce oxidative stress during exercise.
  • Nitric Oxide Booster – dilates the blood vessels for better blood circulation, leading to more efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery.

Right Time to Take Your Pre-Workout

The purpose of pre-workouts is to maximize your training experience. So, to get the most of them you need to make sure you take them at the right time, which as the name suggests, is before your training. Take it too early and you may run out of steam before the workout is over. Take it too late and you may not feel the supplement’s effects while you’re training. Best results are achieved when the supplement is taken between 15 to 30 minutes prior to beginning the workout. When planing a longer and more intense workout, you can take your pre-workout supplement about one hour into the training. This will help prolong your endurance. But make sure you check the directions on the packaging to ensure you’re not overdoing it.

To help avoid building up a tolerance to the stimulants in your pre-workout supplement, some experts recommend alternating the days on which you take a pre-workout. You can also develop a fixed schedule where you take the supplement before some workouts and not before others. On the days you’re not using a stimulant-containing pre-workout, you can use a stimulant-free product instead to get an energy boost without any caffeine.

Signs that the Pre-Workout Supplement is Working

Once you start taking pre-workout supplements, you should be able to notice increased muscle and increased strength in a relatively short amount of time. How long these changes will take will depend on the type of training you do, your training goals and your own body. However, most individuals begin to see some of the effects of these supplements almost as soon as they start taking them.

Some main things you’ll notice are sudden increases in energy level, you’ll become more focused on your workout and you’ll be able to increase the amount of weight you lift and the number of reps you can handle. Note that beta-alanine can cause tingling sensations and you’ll likely feel this right away.