Bodybuilders were already on the scene by the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s that Muscle Beach became overrun with juice heads. Interestingly enough, the moniker “juice heads” stems from pre-workout supplements. With an entire group of people earning a label based on what they drink, rather than what they do, it’s safe to say that pre-workout drinks closely trailed the boom of bodybuilders.
The entire lives of these men revolved around how pumped they could get their muscles. Admirers and manufacturers, alike, were taking notice. With big names like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva crediting the success of their workouts to coffee, it wasn’t long before somebody concocted the liquid gold that would give these men even greater gains.
In 1982, the world was introduced to the first multi-ingredient pre-workout supplement (MIPS), Ultimate Orange. The company found wild success amongst gym-goers looking to beef up their routine. Where icons had previously boasted that coffee fueled their workouts, they couldn’t deny that Ultimate Orange gave their workouts an even greater boost.
How could it not? Coffee was just good old plant matter and caffeine. Ultimate Orange, however, contained far more than caffeine. The inclusion of ephedra, which is essentially a form of speed, ultimately caused the manufacturer to find themselves in the midst of multiple lawsuits by the early 2000s.
Sure, ephedra was giving these men and women all the energy their bodies could muster to motor through a workout. However, it turns out that there’s only so much watered-down speed that your body can handle before it starts having adverse effects. Some who had been drinking the liquid crack for nearly two decades learned first-hand that heart attacks were one of the most severe side effects of continually ingesting ephedra.
Alas, the FDA finally stepped in, putting ephedra on the list of banned substances. Now, years later, Ultimate Orange sill thrives while adhering to the ever-changing rules of the FDA. So while you can still get your hands on the MIPS that started it all, you would be hard-pressed to find an ephedra-containing formula nowadays.
With new research being conducted concerning how MIPS affects men and women differently, manufacturers are now starting to cater to women, or at least try to. With there being so many different formulas, many containing undisclosed amounts of ingredients, it is nearly impossible for scientists to run the proper tests and to conduct the necessary research.
However, with the tidbit of research that has been done regarding MIPS, along with the knowledge of which vitamins and nutrients women need, manufacturers have a pretty good starting point.
Most formulas are engineered to cater to the masses. What this means is that most pre-workouts for women are intended to aid in maintaining a healthy weight or burning fight while maintaining muscle. Alternatively, the majority of men who use MIPS are attempting to bulk up and become more vascular.
The ways in which you can benefit from your pre-workout supplement are multitudinous. Perhaps, after reading this, you’ll decide to stick with a regular formula that works for both men and women. If that’s the case, you will likely experience multiple benefits including:
What’s even more exciting is that with formulas now changing for women, women can receive even further benefits from their pre-workout supplements. If you opt for a formula specially formulated for women, you may experience these additional benefits:
You can thank a variety of ingredients, and oftentimes a certain combination of them, for all the benefits you gain when using MIPS. For example, chromium and biotin make a great pair in MIPS for women, as this combo works to burn fat and preserve muscle mass.
Many companies will lower the dosage of certain ingredients in formulas for women. While this may seem like a rip-off, it’s done with good intentions. The theory here is that women will get all of the fat-burning benefits, without becoming too bulky or too vascular.
Manufacturers will also often add additional ingredients, just for women. However, these ingredients can differ greatly amongst different formulas. Some of the additional ingredients you want to see in your pre-workout supplement are:
Aside from that, L-Glutamine is your small intestine’s primary source of metabolic fuel. It also works to protect your gut and keep you free of infections like sepsis.
You know that Vitamin C is important when you’re sick, but maybe you didn’t realize how critical it is to weight loss and muscle maintenance. Not only does vitamin C play a critical role in metabolism, but it is also necessary for the production of L-carnitine and collagen, which is required for proper wound healing.
By now, you’ve likely come across more than one ad featuring the latest Biotin product, proclaiming that it can bring new life to your hair, skin and nails. As it turns out, this vitamin can also bring a boost to your workout. It plays a key role in the metabolism of fatty acids and thermogenic metabolism during workouts.
The latter form of chromium has proven to enhance insulin. This can make a huge difference in your workout regimen, as Chromium can greatly assist in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
This miracle supplement can nearly do it all. Studies are now showing exactly how beneficial this can be to workouts. It has the capability to increase your maximum oxygen consumption, speed up recovery time, and protect from and assist in the recovery of muscle injuries.
You may have noticed that none of these ingredients are detrimental to a man. However, the reason that these key ingredients are added is often to increase fat burning. This will be a welcomed gift for women who struggle with stubborn belly fat that just won’t budge no matter what they throw at it.
In addition to these bonus ingredients, there are quite a few components that you want to ensure are in your pre-workout supplement. While it would be difficult to find a pre-workout including every single item in this list, it certainly shouldn’t be hard to find multiple formulas containing the majority of the best ingredients.
Other than being known to burn fat and improve cognitive function, this popular drug has also proven to give people a performance boost in the areas of endurance, power and resistance.
Since agents are what you’re looking for, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for a couple of the ingredients that can help generate nitric oxide in your system. Arginine and citrulline are the two key players in the pre-workout game. Other companies include a dietary nitrate in their formula, which really stretches out your endurance during high-intensity workouts.
Taurine, specifically, is the key amino acid you want to see on the label. Why though? As it turns out, taurine has antioxidant and ergogenic effects, in addition to having a positive metabolic effect.
Just a little goes a long way. You only need 1.5 grams of taurine to see a significant difference during your fat-burning sessions.
If that weren’t enough to sell you on what a powerful ingredient betaine is, take into consideration that it also has considerable effects on energy and strength. The recommended dose of betaine is 1.25-2.5 grams per day.
Note: Most pre-workout supplements do not contain a full dose of betaine. You may consider searching for a specialty formula or supplementing with betaine.
Carnosine’s job is to act as a sort of muscle buffer, which is crucial to getting through a workout where the goal is to max out on weight. To ensure that you’re doing all you can to keep your muscles from tapping out, consider opting for a supplement that provides at least four grams of β-alanine.
Because of this, creatine is one of the most popular ingredients found in pre-workout supplements.
As research proves, regularly supplementing with creatine can greatly increase the amount of creatine within your muscles. As far as workouts go, creatine has been credited with speeding up recovery, improving exercise performance, preventing exercise-related injuries, and aiding in thermoregulation.
Perhaps the greatest benefits to be gained from creatine supplements are the ones to your general health. Creatine is so powerful that it often has positive effects on serious health issues including heart ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases.
The real question is ‘why wouldn’t they?’ You know that creatine can boost your workout performance, and even that creatine can positively affect certain health issues. What you don’t realize is that you’ve just started to scrape the surface when it comes to all of creatine’s benefits.
While creatine comes with a lengthy list of pros, some worry about the threats that chronic supplementation can pose. Unfortunately, a few horror stories took root and now some consumers question the safety of this supplement. You can rest assured knowing that most of these claims have little to no basis in fact.
You’ll notice that sexual effects are absent from the above list. While it’s certainly true that a handful of male users have complaints of their libido being negatively affected by creatine, there is zero scientific evidence supporting the claim. Granted, this could be due to the lack of studies carried out in this specific area.
When you weigh all of the many benefits of creatine against the few potential side effects, perhaps you will be more inclined to take these users’ claims at face value. It’s important to remember that individuals experiencing low libido may be showing symptoms that are related to the use of other supplements, herbs or drugs.
Women, specifically, have not reported experiences with low libido when supplementing with creatine.
The short answer here is no. Since creatine is naturally produced in the body, it is not directly detrimental to your health. However, creatine’s relationship to the female menstrual cycle is an interesting one.
There is no evidence supporting that creatine affects your period. Rather, different stages of your menstrual cycle can affect your creatine production and activity.
What’s even more fascinating is that creatine has an anti-depressant effect on females. These effects are further strengthened when ovarian hormone levels are raised.
After that in-depth synopsis on the wonderful powers of creatine, let’s not forget that that’s just one ingredient that makes up pre-workout supplements. In all reality, pre-workouts are packed full of ingredients that are capable of providing a number of services.
Some formulas are designed to help you bulk up your muscle mass while others are designed to burn through fat and shred weight from your “problem areas”.
If your goal is weight loss, consider investing in a formula that contains a couple of these powerful fat-burning ingredients:
Due to the vast array of pre-workout ingredients and the endless combinations of them, researching MIPS isn’t an exact science. While there is an abundance of studies and research regarding the specific ingredients, it’s tough for scientists to get a thorough read on the complex combinations of all existing pre-workouts.
That being said, there are a handful of studies supporting the claim that pre-workout supplements can be a benefit to all. One study that has been run by multiple professionals questions the effects of MIPS on muscle endurance and mood. The National Institute of Health is just one source to publish their findings that pre-workout supplements do, indeed, have a positive effect on both of these areas.
Other studies take a very honest look at pre-workout supplements, revealing the benefits along with the shortcomings.
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that while caffeine-containing MIPS may help give fatigue the boot, they have little to no impact on strength. In practice, this translates to consumers being able to lift the same amount of weight, while successfully increasing the number of repetitions they can complete during any given workout.
Interestingly enough, researchers are finding that pre-workout supplements have a tendency to target a specific area of your body during your workout. When conducting two entirely separate studies, both Michael Cameron and Andrew Jagim found evidence that supported each other’s claim.
The ending results confirmed that consuming MIPS prior to a workout allowed the consumers to maximize their repetitions only when exercising an isolated region. As it turned out, both men and women saw an improvement in number of bench press repetitions, but their repetitions of back squats remained unaffected.
One additional study supported their claim while verifying that varying regions of the body could also benefit from pre-workout supplementation. It was curious that these participants benefited in a different area. While they achieved an almost insignificant increase in bench press repetitions, just the opposite was true when it came time to do the leg press.
Sadly, research surrounding the safety and benefits of pre-workout supplements for women is scarce. However, researchers have revealed a study in which female participants saw an increase in both resting metabolism and diastolic blood pressure immediately following the consumption of a pre-workout. The regular inclusion of MIPS prior to workouts also improved post-workout focus, anaerobic activity and upper body muscular endurance amongst these individuals.
As is true with any other caffeinated beverage, pre-workout drinks are known to cause the jitters for more than a handful of consumers. Often, the adverse effect is due to an excessive amount of a particular ingredient or the pairing of additional dietary supplements.
Because there is an endless combination of ingredients, those who chronically ingest pre-workout supplements could potentially be putting themselves at risk for some pretty serious health risks. Thankfully, the following adverse effects are experienced rarely:
Note: Both ephedra and DMAA are FDA-banned substances. DMAA can also be listed as ‘dimethylamylamine’ or methylhexanamine’. If your pre-workout supplement contains either of these ingredients, you are at a much higher risk of experiencing extreme adverse effects.
The research is out and the verdict is in: the addition of pre-workout supplements presents far more rewards than risks. With the recent introduction of formulas designed specifically for women, this statement is made truer.
If you choose to include MIPS as part of your daily routine, consider that what works for your friend down the street may not work for you. Be sure to choose a product with your end goal in mind, but also with your overall health in mind.
If your weight has reached a plateau or you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of that rut at the gym, consider adding a fat-burning and endurance-boosting pre-workout beverage. Who knows? If you’ve been eating clean and sticking to your exercise routine, this may be just the boost that your workout and your body needs.
Pre-workouts – exactly what is meant by this term? Does it refer to the actual pre-workout exercises you might engage in to stretch your muscles or, in essence, a warm-up for the big workout? No, pre-workouts refers to the powdered drink mixes available to those who wish to give a boost to their workout routine.
Pre-workouts are typically geared toward those who wish to build muscles, but pre-workouts can provide benefits to anyone who wants to improve the performance of their workout.
According to dietician Jessica Crandall, “There’s really no good definition of what a pre-workout supplement is – and a lot of companies are just slapping it on products because it is ‘in’ right now – but in general, it’s a product that’s intended to boost energy levels, generally through a combination of B vitamins, carbs, and antioxidants.” In fact, further research shows that while some of the aforementioned ingredients are beneficial to those who partake in a pre-workout, there are those that can actually be harmful in the products as these are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Some pre-workouts include complex carbohydrates, but there are those that contain caffeine and amino acids or beet juice. The amino acids typically found in pre-workouts include:
Let’s take a look at arginine. Arginine is also known as L-arginine. It is naturally present in many healthy foods such as peanuts and eggs. That might lead you to believe that arginine is a safe supplement, right? Somewhat, but not in all instances.
Arginine can be made synthetically in a laboratory, so that means that it is not considered a natural amino acid. While this doesn’t make arginine harmful, it can make for some issues if the arginine in your supplement has been scientifically produced.
Citrulline is another amino acid that is often present in pre-workout supplements. Another non-essential amino acid (meaning that, like arginine, it can be reproduced synthetically in a lab setting), citrulline is used to increase the amount of arginine in one’s body. In other words, the kidneys convert citrulline to arginine in the body. The intended effect is the dilation of blood vessels to improve circulation during the workout.
Ornithine, like citrulline in how it changes in the body, converts itself to citrulline once taken in the digestive system. It is also a non-essential amino acid, and, as such, can be reproduced in a lab just as citrulline and arginine.
It is because these amino acids can be reproduced synthetically that they can pose harm to those who ingest them without proper research and recommendations.
One supplement that is often a part of pre-workouts is beet juice. Beet juice is all-natural, cannot be reproduced in a lab, and has many health benefits.
Frankly, pre-workouts are very trendy right now. Some of this is based on the fact that research is showing the benefits of extra circulation during the workout, but some of this is attributable to the fact that word-of-mouth has been a big factor in promoting the popularity of pre-workouts.
Bodybuilders have been using pre-workouts for decades. Creatine is one of the most popular pre-workouts, and it’s a product that has been on the market for quite some time. Just as creatine is full of amino acids that are meant to do the same thing as the aforementioned amino acids are intended to do in pre-workouts, so are those who are preparing for a good workout more inclined to use pre-workouts.
Proponents of pre-workouts boast that not only do the aforementioned amino acids increase blood flow, but they also increase the heart rate and increase focus so that you can maintain the intensity of a workout.
However, sports nutritionist Jordan Moon says that in the average person, unless the individual is continuously pushing him or herself to the limit of each workout, he or she is unlikely to reap any real benefits from using a pre-workout.
Varying pre-workouts provide a wide range of benefits to the individual. If caffeine in any shape, form, or fashion is included in your pre-workout (some forms of caffeine include guarana or taurine), you will definitely feel a boost during your workout. A 2012 study conducted by researchers and published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance found that men who took a pre-workout that included caffeine were better able to lift heavier weights, bench press higher weight amounts, and deadlift more than if the man did not take a pre-workout supplement. Those who participated in more aerobic exercises such as running found they were able to increase the intensity of their workouts. It should be noted, however, that, as the user became more tolerant of the high level of caffeine in his or her pre-workout, the feelings of extra energy lessened.
The aforementioned creatine is still a popular ingredient in most pre-workout supplements. In fact, creatine offers the greatest benefit to the athlete when compared to other pre-workouts.
Creatine is meant to do two things – first, it draws fluid from the plasma in skeletal muscles, which actually improves the function of muscles during an intense workout; next, creatine increases the production of energy in muscle cells. Again, this improves the performance of muscle as the individual works out. Furthermore, research shows that creatine helps to lessen the incidence of dehydration and muscle cramps resulting from dehydration during a workout. In 2002, a study published in Nutrition showed that athletes who used creatine were able to definitely increase their body mass while also providing a power boost during activities such as quick sprints.
The only drawback to creatine is this – those who use creatine must do so on a regular basis. In addition, like the aforementioned amino acids arginine, citrulline, and ornithine, one must ensure that they are pushing themselves to the limits of their workouts to reap the greatest benefits of creatine.
B vitamins are often found in pre-workout supplements. Niacin, a mineral found naturally in many foods, is one such member of the B vitamin family that is regularly added to pre-workout formulas. Niacin is known for producing something known as the “niacin flush” – a condition in which the blood flow to muscles is increased as well as one’s propensity for sweating. Combined with what appears to be an enlargement – even a subtle one – of the muscles, the appearance of sweat and a reddening of the skin may make the individual feel as if he or she is indeed increasing muscle mass immediately. This is really an illusion, although it may give the benefit of encouraging the individual to keep working out as he appears to be accruing visible results.
Again, most people who decide to take a pre-workout do so in the form of a shake, energy drink, or, when possible, they mix a powdered form in water. There are some pill forms of pre-workout supplements, and there are those who actually purchase empty capsules (most are made from vegetable oil and dissolve quickly in one’s system) then fill the pre-made capsules with a pre-workout blend. There are those who make their own pre-workout shakes as well using beet juice or other natural ingredients. Whatever type of pre-workout you choose is completely up to you the user.
Pre-workouts should really be viewed as something that will help to prepare you for a great workout. Compare it to drinking coffee just as you wake up – it gives you a boost and helps you to get going in the morning. The same theory is behind a pre-workout. Pre-workouts, especially for beginners,
First, you’ll have an increased energy level – at least at the beginning of your workout. However, as you go further into the workout, you’ll feel the effects of your adrenaline pumping, and you’ll be able to complete the lift, the run, or the aerobics you’re working on.
Next, you’ll find that your pre-workout gives you greater power throughout the workout. If you’re using a pre-workout that contains the blood vessel dilating amino acids mentioned previously in this article, then you’ll see this benefit quickly. The increased blood flow feeds the muscles and makes them not only respond to the workout but also with greater strength.
Finally, you’ll find your endurance grows as a result of using a pre-workout. You’ll be able to workout longer and at a higher level of intensity than if you simply begin a workout with no pre-workout at all.
Ok, so now you understand exactly what a pre-workout can do for you as a beginner. However, there are some ingredients that you should look for in a pre-made blend that are beneficial to you. You should also be on the lookout for certain ingredients that can be harmful to the user.
First, let’s discuss caffeine. Caffeine is a natural ingredient that can give you just the right amount of an energy boost. In fact, you’ll find that caffeine is the common ingredient in most pre-workouts. The ingredient names are as follows:
A word of caution, however – many companies include much more caffeine than they should. This can be a problem for those who might have undiagnosed heart conditions or even if a healthy person takes in high amounts of caffeine, he or she may end up developing a great tolerance to caffeine – so much so that the user has to ingest huge amounts of caffeine to feel the same effects as before.
You want to make sure that the caffeine quantity in the supplement you are considering contains no more than 200 mg of caffeine. Once you go above 200 mg of caffeine, you risk, developing a tolerance that can weaken your pre-workout eventually. Furthermore, if you read that the amount of caffeine in your pre-workout is above 365 mg, then avoid that product. That is considered an unethical amount of caffeine in a pre-workout, leading to tolerance of caffeine over time and the potential for heart problems in those who have a tendency to such conditions.
Creatine should be a part of your pre-workout. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, manufacturers and fitness experts alike acknowledge the fact that creatine has always had a positive impact on one’s workout and ability to build muscle. Note – creatine CAN be taken after one’s workout, but it is also a great ingredient for a pre-workout. You’ll want to
The aforementioned citrulline is an amino acid common to most pre-workout blends, and the reason why is that it helps to boost the endurance that you need to push through a tough workout. Look for the ingredient L-citrulline malate on the label. This amino acid increases circulation and the ability to garner more oxygen by muscles during a workout. In fact, the malate in this ingredient is directly responsible for giving energy to the muscle cells. You want to see a range of 5000 to 8000 mg of L-citrulline malate in the ingredients list of your preferred pre-workout.
While some researchers promote the inclusion of beta-alanine in your ingredients list for a pre-workout, this writer is somewhat reluctant to do so. Frankly, beta-alanine in certain amounts is a precursor to amphetamine, which can prove to be dangerous. It is not regulated by the FDA, and, therefore, I refrain from saying that this is the proper ingredient to look for in a pre-supplement blend.
Another natural amino acid that helps to do many of the same things as citrulline and the other amino acids listed previously falls under an “umbrella” term known as branch chain amino acids or BCAAs. Unlike citrulline and ornithine, these three amino acids are essential because they can not be synthetically reproduced. They include:
The best time to take these amino acids is before a workout, and they will provide the user with
Although each of these ingredients not only boosts your workout, they also aid in the recovery of your muscles after a workout.
One interesting point from one researcher is this – even if a person is taking pre-workout supplements to boost their energy and performance during the workout, he or she must also consider one’s daily diet as well as the supplements.
If you plan to work out regularly and boost your muscle mass or simply increase lean muscle mass, you should be following a high-quality protein diet that includes a healthy amount of whole foods – whole grains, chicken, fish, and more.
Finally, you are always cautioned before beginning any workout regimen to get a physical in order to rule out any health conditions that might be aggravated by intense workouts. Failure to do so then ingesting some of the ingredients present in a pre-workout can result in serious health problems. Therefore, if you have one of the following health issues, you might want to avoid pre-workout supplements, particularly those with caffeine:
Other things you might want to know as a beginner taking a pre-workout are as follows. First, taking a pre-workout should feel like drinking an energy drink. You shouldn’t be overly jittery after, nor should you have an extreme boost in energy. You may get a headache as a result of the high amount of caffeine present in many pre-workouts. You may also be dehydrated, so drink plenty of fluids. You may also find that you are having more frequent bowel movements as a result of taking pre-workout supplements. This is very common as the stimulants in the pre-workout stimulate your entire body, including your intestines. You may experience a racing heart, again another effect of the large amounts of caffeine in a pre-workout. If you find that this sensation is too overwhelming for you, then back down on your dosage.
While pre-workouts have a wide variety of benefits – even if nothing more than prompting you to give it your all during an intense workout, there are side effects of using pre-workouts. In fact, some of them can be quite dangerous.
First, let’s look at the rather innocuous and, let’s face it, more annoying than harmful side effects of pre-workouts. First, you may experience insomnia as a result of using a pre-workout, particularly if there’s a great deal of caffeine in the formula. This truly is annoying, but, many nights in a row without rest can cause problems in your health. Therefore, find a pre-workout that is not chock full of caffeine.
Next, you may also suffer from diarrhea or other digestive issues (increased bowel movements, for instance). Again, this is more aggravating than harmful to you. However, you should use caution as too much diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Speaking of dehydration, this is another side effect of using a pre-workout. However, you can combat this by drinking plenty of fluids. Continuing to take in the proper amount of fluids can also prevent the cramping sensations that many complain of when regularly taking a pre-workout.
One final annoying side effect of using a pre-workout is the often mentioned tingly or prickly skin sensations that go along with the practice of taking in beta-alanine. Again, this writer is not a fan of this particular ingredient in a pre-workout supplement, so, if possible avoid this side effect by avoiding pre-workout formulas with beta-alanine in the ingredients.
Next, let’s look at the more serious side effects of using a pre-workout. First, extreme amounts of caffeine in some pre-workout formulas can lead to heart health conditions. Sometimes these side effects include a racing heart or a temporarily increased heart rate. However, when one has an undiagnosed heart condition, this increased heart rate – n matter how fleeting it might be – can actually be rather dangerous. In fact, extreme amounts of caffeine can lead to an irregular heartbeat which may require medical intervention to correct.
In some cases, using a pre-workout regularly can also lead to high blood pressure. Don’t confuse this with an irregular heartbeat. Increased blood pressure might need to be treated with medication (and many blood pressure medications often cause complete lethargy
One factor that puts many off from taking a pre-workout is the person’s propensity for getting a headache afterward. The increased blood pressure due to taking in high amounts of caffeine can cause these headaches, but some simply do not respond well to the stimulants in pre-workouts very well. Headaches aren’t just painful, but they can prevent you from enjoying life aside from your workout. They may also be attributed to dehydration, so, prevent headaches by drinking plenty of fluids and staying away from the pre-workout supplements with high amounts of caffeine or other stimulants.
Pre-workouts are usually safe if you will read the labels on the pre-made mixes and don’t exceed the recommendations. Across this site, you’ll find a variety of pre-workout supplements that have worked amazingly for beginners. Some of the reviews are extensive and cover the various ingredients that have been mentioned here.
Most athletes would consider pre-workout supplements to be very beneficial for building muscle and losing weight. If you’re a beginner who is taking a look into supplementation for your workouts, be sure to let us know what your thoughts are of taking pre-workout, and if you’ve found it beneficial!
Pre-workout supplements have become so popular that it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t so widely available. When hitting the gym with your body-building pals it would be hard to find just one in the group who doesn’t have a particular brand that they love to guzzle down before an intense workout.
However, multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, a term that scientists have shortened to MIPS, were only introduced a few decades ago, back in 1982. In the early 1900s, they were arguing about the harms and benefits of drinking coffee, particularly in regards to staying in pristine physical health. Fast forward to 2019 and we’re having the same debate, it’s just over pre-workouts this time around.
By the early 1980s, it had become widely accepted that a pre-workout cup of coffee would only help burn fat and build muscle. This belief became so engrained in the body-building community that famous lifters such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane would religiously drink a cup of coffee with their breakfast before hitting the gym.
Another iconic figure, Sergio Oliva, was often spotted toting an entire thermos of coffee at the gym. He would drink coffee throughout his workouts because he noticed that it gave him more energy and made him sweat more.
Around this time is when the world also started to see other supplements being introduced to the body-building scene. While some were adding harmful supplements to their regiment, others were exploring with natural supplements like niacin. No matter which supplements were taken, the goal was still the same: gain more energy, build more muscle, burn more fat.
This combination prompted the introduction of the first pre-workout supplement, Ultimate Orange. Before long, Ultimate Orange became all the rage at the gym. It seemed like just about everybody had jumped on the pre-workout bandwagon.
Could you blame them? People were constantly coming out of the woodwork, proclaiming that Ultimate Orange was a gift from the heavens.
Users of the product were all reporting increased muscle mass, accelerated fat burning, and the mysterious ability to pump out even more repetitions when lifting heavier weights! The verdict was in, and gym-goers loved the benefits they were gaining from this product. That is, until, the company found themselves immersed in a range of lawsuits beginning in the late 1990s.
Alas, the handful of heart attacks that people were swearing were related to consuming ephedra, an ingredient in the original Ultimate Orange formula, did not stop the masses. Too many people had jumped on board and seen too many results from using this product. It was too late to turn back at that point.
Now, years later, regulations are still constantly being tweaked on what’s allowed and what is banned from being included in pre-workout supplements. Due to regulations, they are, arguably, far safer than they once were.
The wide range of benefits that can be gained from regularly consuming pre-workouts is what’s caused them to continue to rise in popularity. Some typical benefits enjoyed by consumers of MIPS include:
The widespread use of proprietary blends, which are not required to provide a breakdown of dosage amounts, makes it quite difficult for studies to be conducted comparing different pre-workouts. However, the National Institute of Health has determined that MIPS do, indeed, have a positive effect on muscle endurance and mood.
One study, reported by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, suggests that using pre-workouts actually has a very minimal effect on strength. However, they also point out that ingesting caffeine-containing pre-workouts can combat fatigue during workouts. This means that while you may not notice that you are able to increase the weight you lift, you will likely be able to knock out more repetitions with less of a struggle.
One very interesting thing about pre-workouts that has been discovered is that they don’t seem to benefit your entire body during any given workout session. Two separate studies were conducted by both Michael Cameron and his team and Andrew Jagim and his colleagues. Both studies found that while pre-workout supplements seemed to aide both male and female participants in completing a much larger number of bench press repetitions, there was no apparent effect on the number of back squats they were able to complete.
Alternatively, when conducting his own study, Brandon Spradley found that when his participants took a pre-workout supplement they were able to significantly increase their repetitions when doing the leg press, but there was only a very minimal increase in bench press repetitions.
One thing that researchers agree on is that different pre-workouts can have vastly different effects. While many of these supplements have many ingredients in common, they greatly alter the amount of certain ingredients. For example, one supplement may only have 50 mg of caffeine while another has 300 mg of caffeine.
This is what makes it so difficult to research pre-workout supplements. There is plenty of known information on the individual ingredients that go into pre-workouts. However, due to the varying amounts of these ingredients and the plethora of supplements, it would be nearly impossible to give a general ruling on how safe or beneficial pre-workouts are.
This is why scientists and health professionals urge users of pre-workout supplements to research the supplements they plan to use.
For now, the majority of scientists and researchers agree that MIPS, in general, are safe. However, it is important to note that the formula changes from one brand to the next, and higher doses of certain ingredients could be damaging for some.
It is also important to note that pre-workouts are only intended to be used for short periods of time, with a break in between continuing use. When using pre-workouts on an ongoing basis, or when pairing them with certain other supplements, they have the potential to become damaging to some individuals.
Due to large amounts of caffeine, pre-workouts are known to cause overstimulation, or a case of the jitters. However, due to the varying combinations that can be found in different formulas, some more serious adverse effects have been experienced by those who regularly ingest MIPS. These include:
As is mentioned on the nutritional label, if you have any concerns, you should consult your physician regarding the consumption of pre-workouts. If you experience severe heart palpitations or heightened gastrointestinal pain, you should immediately quit ingesting any and all pre-workout supplements until you discuss your symptoms with a physician.
When adding pre-workout powder or beverages to your workout, you want to be intentional to thoroughly examine the list of ingredients. Often, you will notice that ingredients and their amounts are hidden under monikers like “proprietary blends”.
Even if all you care about is the effectiveness of the formula you choose, you want to stay away from products containing large levels of unknown ingredients. While the ingredients may not be harmful, they are likely to be ineffective.
If an ingredient is hidden, it’s impossible for you to know the true amount. If you’re somebody who tosses back a pre-workout several times a day, there’s no way to know if you’re actually ingesting four times the recommended amount of L-arginine, for instance. Maybe that’s what’s causing that bloated and gassy stomach at the gym, as it’s a common symptom of overconsumption.
While side effects of pre-workout supplements are often due to overconsumption, other times these side effects can be related to ingredients that you want to try to avoid. What you will find are a few common food additives that have been linked to potential health risks. You’ll even find ingredients that have been outlawed by the FDA!
After learning which ingredients can be harmful, it’s important to remember that pre-workouts aren’t all gloom and doom. There are supplements out there that contain all of the good stuff and none of the bad; you just have to hunt to find them.
Below you will find the list of ingredients that you should ensure are present in your pre-workout. Keep in mind, higher doses of certain ingredients will give you a better boost during your workouts.
In theory, adding pre-workout supplements to your workout regimen is a great plan. In fairness, it isn’t necessarily a bad plan. In reality, it’s a plan that requires necessary research to ensure that you have no adverse effects.
For those interested in introducing MIPS into their routine, knowing all of the upsides and downsides should prepare you in choosing one that will best suit your needs. While an overwhelming amount of formulas contain one or more ingredients you should avoid, not all of them contain harmful ingredients.
Alternatively, the clean pre-workout formulas that exist can be a fantastic addition to your routine. When going this route, it would be hard to present an argument against the benefits of pre-workout supplements.
Most medications and supplements, alike, come with risks. The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is whether the reward outweighs the risk
The vast majority of people want to either get in great shape or stay fit. In pursuit of those goals, many of us have tried all kinds of things, ranging from new workout routines to exercise machines that look like they were created by some kind of mad scientist.
People have also often turned to using supplements to aid with those aforementioned goals. Run a quick search online and you should be able to find all kinds of supplements formulated to help you work out more effectively.
Relatively recently, a new type of supplement has emerged – one known as the pre-workout.
This article will focus specifically on pre-workout supplements. You’ll be able to learn more about their origins, what they’re for and whether or not they can actually back up the claims they make. The potential side effects that come with taking pre-workout supplements and the precautions you are urged to follow before consuming them will also be outlined.
Pre-workout supplements are relatively new entities in the wide world of fitness, so it’s best to learn as much about them as possible.
Before we dive deeper into the history of pre-workout supplements, let’s first take this opportunity to define what it actually is. As its name suggests, a pre-workout supplement is something you consume prior to exercising.
We’ll get into the specific reasons why people consume pre-workout supplements, but generally speaking, these items are meant to improve your physical performance. If you’ve found yourself struggling at the gym or whichever venue you prefer for exercising, the pre-workout supplement is marketed as something you can take to help change that.
You would imagine that a product such as that would have been offered several decades ago. Technically speaking, some sports drinks and beverages can provide benefits similar to what you can get from pre-workout supplements, but they still aren’t the same thing.
With no pre-workouts available back then, many people developed a routine of drinking coffee before exercising, which is interesting considering the ingredients included in most supplements of that type. We’ll get to that later though.
Focusing strictly on products that are considered as legitimate pre-workout supplements, the first one didn’t come out until the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, the first product to be recognized as a pre-workout supplement was invented in Venice, California – appropriately enough, it’s also the city that serves as home to Muscle Beach – back in 1982.
The product in question was named “Ultimate Orange” and it instantly became a hit among workout aficionados. Per Physical Culture Study, the product originally formulated by Dan Duchaine became wildly popular because users claimed that it provided all kinds of benefits. Users who swore by “Ultimate Orange” claimed that the supplement could help with shedding body fat, increasing muscle mass, and improving focus.
Understandably, many people took notice of a supplement that was supposed to provide such remarkable benefits. Bodybuilders in particular were enamored with “Ultimate Orange.”
Right now, you may be wondering why “Ultimate Orange” is no longer stocked on shelves if it could offer such tremendous benefits. Well, the reason for that is because it had a problematic ingredient.
“Ultimate Orange” featured an ingredient known as ephedra and the inclusion of that aforementioned substance was pointed to as the reason why users of the supplement suffered from sudden heart attacks, according to lawsuits filed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The first pre-workout supplement went from being known as this kind of wonderful exercise aid to something that caused the people who used it to suffer from real health problems.
One would think that the monumental failure of the first pre-workout supplement would cast a negative light over these products that they would struggle to recover from, but that wasn’t really the case. That’s due in part to the fact that “Ultimate Orange” did not remain as the only pre-workout supplement on the market for long.
Even before the controversy surrounding “Ultimate Orange” emerged, some developers were already working on other supplements. The company known as Experimental & Applied Sciences came out with their own supplement that prominently featured creatine back in 1993.
Soon enough, more supplements that offered the benefits of creatine hit the market and the aforementioned substance was also being used in other blends. By the dawn of the new millennium, you could find various supplements that made use of creatine.
Creatine-based supplements would also encounter more competition at the turn of the millennium. Newer supplements began featuring ingredients such as arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (arginine AKG), arginine malate, and citruline malate became more prevalent.
People gravitated toward supplements containing the previously mentioned ingredients because they were capable of making blood vessels bigger for a short period of time. Bodybuilders fell in love with the supplements because they allowed them to pump more as they worked out.
This time around, there was no other shoe that would drop. The supplements infused with arginine AKG, arginine malate, and citruline malate were not suddenly hit by controversy. Instead, they would play a pivotal role in the growth of the pre-workout supplement industry.
Products that made use of those ingredients, such as “NO-XPLODE” from BSN soared in popularity. It didn’t hurt that the aforementioned product secured an endorsement from none other than former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman.
In the years since, pre-workout supplements have been placed under intense scrutiny with many still doubting their efficacy. Even so, it became very clear that there was a thriving market for pre-workout supplements.
These days, you can now find all kinds of pre-workout supplements, with some even claiming to offer specialized benefits that separate them from their competitors. The pre-workout supplement industry may have gotten off on the wrong foot due to the eventual failure of “Ultimate Orange,” but one product was not enough to bring the whole thing down.
Now that we’re done diving into the history of pre-workout supplements, let’s answer one of the most pertinent questions regarding these products.
The question: How should you take a pre-workout supplement?
It seems like such a silly question at first, but there is genuine confusion surrounding how pre-workout supplements should be consumed in order to maximize their benefits. In this part of this article, we’ll talk about some tips that will help you get the most out of the supplements you’re using.
This seems like a given, but many users of pre-workout supplements can become so firmly entrenched in their routines that they fail to consider making adjustments once they start consuming something new. That’s a big mistake obviously and you should always be ready to adjust if doing so is required.
As a general rule, look at the label of the pre-workout supplement you’re using before consuming it. The manufacturers may have already included instructions for how to consume it properly, including specific guidelines for how much you need to use. Sometimes, the manufacturers may also indicate how often you should consume the supplement throughout the day.
This is a simple step, but it can be incredibly beneficial to you in the long run.
Let’s assume that the manufacturers didn’t include everything you need to know regarding consumption on the label of the supplement. How should you approach your pre-workout supplement consumption then?
There are some general guidelines you can follow, starting with the amount of the supplement you should consume with each dosage.
According to Built with Science, there are two specific factors you must consider when deciding how big or how small your dosage of a particular pre-workout supplement should be. The two factors are your weight and the amount of caffeine you ingest on a regular basis.
Caffeine is among the most popular ingredients featured in modern pre-workout supplements, so there’s a great chance that the one you’re considering using contains a fair amount of it. If you already consume your share of caffeinated beverages throughout the day, you don’t want your caffeine levels to suddenly spike because of the pre-workout supplement you’re using.
The site notes that it’s a good idea to consume somewhere around 3 to 6 mg of caffeine for every kilogram (equivalent to approximately 2.2 pounds) you weigh. Following that will help you get more from the caffeine you’re ingesting.
Now, if you would rather not complete math equations, which is completely understandable, the easier thing to do is to start with a lower dosage of your pre-workout supplement. You can start with half a scoop of the supplement per dose and then see how your body reacts to it.
If your body is responding well to that dosage, but you feel like you can still handle more caffeine, then move up to a larger serving. Continue to up the serving until you hit that point where you are satisfied with the boost you’re receiving from the caffeine.
By the way, even if you don’t consume coffee or other caffeinated beverages regularly, you should avoid using too much of the pre-workout supplement right away. Placing too much of the pre-workout supplement into your drink can be a shock to your system.
Working out when you’re still feeling full is not a good idea, but then again, it’s not like exercising on an empty stomach is a wise move either. Avid coffee drinkers likely know a lot about how unpleasant it can be to suddenly introduce a large amount of caffeine into your system when you haven’t eating anything for a while.
Simply put, you should not take your pre-workout supplement if you’re feeling hungry.
To protect yourself from any issues that may emerge as a result of consuming caffeine on an empty stomach, Bodybuilding.com recommends eating a meal before downing your drink. It doesn’t have to be a full blown lunch or anything like that. In this scenario, a small meal should be enough to prevent the unpleasant effects of consuming caffeine while you’re hungry from rearing their ugly heads.
You should also eat that small meal at least 30 minutes before you take your pre-workout supplement. There are no real restrictions for what you should or shouldn’t eat. Eating healthy would obviously be best.
Still, you may want to avoid fiber-rich foods ahead of drinking your pre-workout because they could have an impact on how effective the supplement is.
Now that we’ve established that you need to eat before you take your pre-workout, let’s talk about exactly when you should consume your preferred supplement. Since it is a “pre-workout” supplement, many may logically conclude that consuming it any time before they start exercising should be good enough.
That is not the case however.
The thing about most pre-workout supplements is that their ingredient blends don’t really start working until after they’ve been in your body for a while. By drinking your pre-workout supplement just before you start exercising, you’re not really benefiting from it right from the start. You may even be done with your exercise routine before the benefits of the pre-workout supplement can kick in.
Give the ingredients in the supplement the chance to work by downing your drink about a half hour before you start working out. An hour may be better in some cases.
If you have to take a long drive to the gym from your home or office, you can consume your pre-workout supplement before you get in your car. It is worth noting that you won’t suffer from any negative effects if you take the pre-workout supplement too close to the time you exercise, but you won’t be benefiting from it either.
For the same reason that you should refrain from drinking coffee before heading to bed, you should also avoid pre-workout supplements if you’re planning to exercise close to the time you usually sleep. Fatigue won’t be enough to help you feel asleep in this case.
We’re not talking about just a few minutes here. Caffeine tends to stay in your system for quite a while. Even if it’s already been 6 hours since the last time you drank something with caffeine in it, the substance can still impact the length of your sleep.
What all this means is that you should stick to drinking pre-workout supplements during the daytime, or whenever you are awake for the longest stretch of time. You can still exercise at night if you want to, but just avoid drinking your pre-workout supplement so that you don’t run into problems when you’re trying to fall asleep.
One last tip that will help you in your quest to maximize the effects of your chosen pre-workout supplement is to simply stop using it every now and then.
By continually using the pre-workout supplement, you can build up your tolerance to the substances it contains. As your tolerance grows, the effectiveness of those ingredients will lessen. The supplement that may have granted you a noticeable boost before may no longer have the same effect if you use it non-stop over the course of many months.
When you start to notice the supplement’s effects weakening, discontinue using it for at least one week. If you don’t want to completely eliminate the pre-workout supplement from your routine, you can opt to just lower your intake of it for a certain period of time and then ramp it up again when your tolerance has dropped.
Specific examples of pre-workout supplements may claim to provide a variety of additional benefits, but generally speaking, all of them are intended to accomplish certain things above everything else.
Pre-workout supplements are supposed to:
Some pre-workout supplements may claim that they can also help you burn fat and provide cognitive benefits. Those are just additional benefits though. The benefits mentioned above are still the ones that are promoted by the vast majority of pre-workout supplements.
To understand how pre-workout supplements manage to offer those benefits, it helps to look at the ingredients they contain. It is important to note here that the ingredients utilized by pre-workout supplements are not completely identical, but there are certain substances that will appear often on their labels.
Those ingredients are:
Let’s take a closer look now at how those ingredients can help during your workouts.
There are three different types of branched-chain amino acids, with those being isoleucine, leucine, and valine, according to Healthline. The three of them can do all kinds of good things once they enter your body.
Leucine in particular is capable of creating a pathway that can improve muscle synthesis and growth. People looking to bulk up will obviously love that benefit, but that’s not the only thing you’re getting from BCAAs.
Just as important is the effect that BCAAs can have on your muscles after you exercise. The soreness you experience following a lengthy workout is believed to be caused in part by damage being done to your muscles. Your muscles aren’t being ripped apart or anything like that, but small tears may show up on them.
BCAAs can help reduce the amount of soreness you feel in your muscles by decreasing the amount of protein breakdown that takes place. Thanks to that, the damage done to your muscles can be reduced significantly and you may not be as sore the day after you exercise compared to how you felt before.
We all know that caffeine can help you stay alert and put some pep in your step, but that’s not the only thing it can do. As an ingredient in pre-workout supplements, caffeine can also work to effectively reduce fatigue.
ScienceAlert notes that caffeine is capable of offering that kind of benefit because of the way it’s structured. It closely resembles the chemical known as adenosine. Adenosine usually affects brain activity and typically causes fatigue.
The reason why having caffeine helps in this scenario is because it can take the place of adenosine. The caffeine can link up with the adenosine and dull the latter’s fatigue-causing effects. With caffeine flowing through your body, you won’t feel fatigued as quickly as you did previously.
Creatine can provide all kinds of useful benefits once it enters your body.
Via this study published on BioMedCentral, creatine has been found to be a consistent source of ergogenic benefits. In case you’re not familiar with the term, ergogenic refers to things that are designed to improve endurance, performance, and stamina.
It’s the kind of substance that you want inside your body if you are about to take part in high-intensity training. Furthermore, studies have also shown that creatine can help you avoid injuries.
Nitric oxide boosters may not be as commonly found in pre-workout supplements as BCAAs, caffeine, and creatine, but they remain highly beneficial to people. As their name gives away, these boosters increase the nitric oxide levels inside your body. That’s important because having high levels of nitric oxide in your body can be helpful in some important ways.
Per this study posted on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website, there have been findings which suggest that higher amounts of nitric oxide in the body can improve the rate at which oxygen and other nutrients are transported to the muscles.
With the muscles receiving more oxygen and nutrients faster, they can hold up better to strenuous exercise and the rate at which they recover can similarly improve.
Pre-workout supplements are not miracle drugs. While they are indeed capable of offering numerous benefits, they may also present some side effects.
The number one side effect you have to worry about if you’re planning to use pre-workout supplements is feeling jittery. Drinking coffee can cause some people to experience jittery sensations. Since caffeine is a prominent ingredient in both coffee and pre-workout supplements, it should come as no surprise that you can also experience jitteriness from consuming too much of the latter.
To avoid those jittery sensations, you should first see how your body will react to the consumption of the caffeine present in the pre-workout supplement you have purchased. As discussed earlier, you can start by taking smaller doses of the pre-workout supplement until you have found that point at which you are consuming just the right amount of caffeine.
Some of the ingredients used in pre-workout supplements may not pair well with your body. According to Healthline, beta alanine and niacin are two specific ingredients that can cause you to have adverse reactions to the pre-workout supplement.
It’s important to clarify here that the adverse reactions you may have amount to tingling sensations and red patches appearing on your screen. They aren’t life-threatening side effects, but they can still be bothersome to deal with.
Ingesting smaller portions of the pre-workout supplement at different points throughout the day as opposed to consuming a larger dose in one sitting can help you steer clear of tingly sensations. Meanwhile, using pre-workout supplements that don’t feature niacin should stop the appearance of red patches on your skin.
One of the more interesting developments pertaining to the pre-workout supplement industry is that while it has already grown quite significantly, projections indicate that it may experience an even more remarkable period of sustained growth in the coming years.
This article from Future Market Insights suggests that the increased awareness and the growing emphasis on leading a healthy lifestyle are factors contributing to the continued expansion of the pre-workout supplement industry.
Interestingly enough, it seems that more and more people are starting to use the ready-to-drink variants of pre-workout supplements. People are also showing greater interest in multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements.
Don’t be surprised if the industry is eventually dominated by those two specific types of pre-workout supplement sooner rather than later.
Pre-workout supplements have the potential to be terrific additions to your workout regimen, but it is important to be careful with them. Take note of the tips mentioned above regarding how to consume pre-workout supplements if you want to benefit from them in the best way possible while also avoiding some of the side effects they can cause.
It is important to reiterate here that taking pre-workout supplements alone will not help you achieve your fitness goals. Still, they can make realizing those goals a more manageable task and that is reason enough to give them a try.
Pre-workout supplements, also referred to as pre-workouts, typically contain a blend of ingredients – most commonly caffeine, B vitamins, creatine, and amino acids, that are designed to work together to improve physical stamina and during exercise and training for greater results.
Many brands offer pre-workouts in various forms, including liquids, drink mixes, tablets, capsules, and bars; however, each brand differs in ingredients and amounts, which means one brand may be more stimulating, or intense, than other.
Pre-workouts are used by both men and women who are looking to get fit and maintain a sleek, toned body.
Pre-workout supplements have long been used by fitness gurus, trainers, bodybuilders, athletes, gym-goers, and individuals alike for the increased energy they provide that help users improve their performance during even the most grueling exercise session.
Many fitness gurus and trainers use pre-workout supplements as part of their own workouts for a boost of performance in the gym, and some also recommend pre-workout supplements to clients, so they get the most of their workout.
Many bodybuilders and powerlifters also use pre-workouts before heavy lifting, which requires intense strength and focus. The amino acids contained in pre-workout supplements also help improve muscle growth and recovery faster post-training.
Some athletes have been known to use pre-workouts as part of a low carb diet when trying to burn body fat. Some athletes also use them prior to short burst exercises, such as swimming and sprinting, which can otherwise lead to exhaustion and a decrease in physical performance.
Some gym-goers use pre-workout supplements prior to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Crossfit, which includes a vigorous mixture of aerobic exercise, bodyweight exercises, weight lifting and other exercises that require a high energy throughout. Some people also use pre-workouts to lower their risk of injury during training, as well as to increase their tolerance for more intense training.
Many ingredients in pre-workouts are supported by research as beneficial when used as part of a workout regimen. In fact, the ingredients in pre-workouts have been shown to provide the following benefits:
Pre-workout supplements often contain some type of caffeine, which is the same ingredient found in coffee and tea, which have long been used to combat decreased energy and mental fatigue.
Many studies show that, when taken as a supplement, caffeine increases energy and endurance during exercise and sport activity, as well as reduces fatigue for improved mental clarity and mood. Caffeine’s effects are said to be due to the stimulating action it has on the nervous system, which thus increases energy and mental alertness.
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Choline, and Huperzine A found in some supplements are also believed to improve brain function.
Some ingredients found in pre-workouts, such as Caffeine and Green Tea Extract, help you lose weight by helping your body burn fat for fuel.
Research shows that caffeine helps you burn brown fat, or good fat, which helps boost energy and heat in the body, thus burning calories and leading to weight loss. Research suggests that it also helps turn white fat, or bad fat, which is associated with obesity, into brown fat where it is more easily burned, which further facilitates weight loss.
Creatine is also commonly found in pre-workouts.
The body naturally creates creatine, which is mainly reserved in the skeletal muscle, where it contributes to muscular strength and the production of energy. However, in supplement form, it is derived from amino acids, which, when ingested, boosts creatine levels in the muscular tissues for increased energy. It also improves muscle size and strength, which is why it is often a favorite of power athletes and bodybuilders.
In fact, some studies show that creatine improves maximum strength by up to 15%. Meanwhile, other studies show
that creatine can also improve muscle retention and increase muscle mass, depending on your muscle creatine stores.
Pre-workouts also often contain various B vitamins, such as B12 and B6, which promote energy and keep your metabolism in check, thereby helping the body effectively process fats, carbohydrates, and protein, so they are used for energy as opposed to being stored as fat, which helps support a healthy weight.
On the other hand, studies show that low levels of B vitamins can negatively impact athletic performance.
Beetroot juice root is also usually found in pre-workout supplements and is beneficial for increasing nitric oxide, which opens the blood vessels, enabling more blood to flow through the body, thereby improving cardiovascular performance, which puts less strain on the heart during intense training.
One study conducted on competitive cyclists showed that after consuming about 17 ounces of beetroot juice just under 3 hours before embarking on a 2.5 mile cycling endurance test, the cyclists performance improved by over 2 percent, concluding that beetroot juice supplementation lowers the oxygen demand of exercise and improves performance in endurance sports.
Some supplements may also contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), such as leucine, which help promote muscle protein synthesis, or the process of building new proteins or muscle mass, which is important for adaptation and recovery following exercise.
According to one study, after consuming a 5.6-gram BCAA drink following resistance training, participants showed more than a 20% increase in muscle protein synthesis as compared to those who had none. These effects were further enhanced when combined with other amino acids.
Another study showed that BCAA was also effective at preventing muscle soreness and fatigue following exercise.
L-arginine is another BCAA commonly found in pre-workout supplements, which increases growth hormone secretions. In fact, studies show that L-arginine is effective at increasing growth hormone levels by more than 90%, while L-arginine used in combination with exercise was shown to improve growth hormone levels by up to 200 percent.
B-alanine, taurine, and betaine are naturally occurring amino acids that are also commonly found in pre-workouts, which on their own, provide various benefits that research shows are only heightened when combined.
B-alanine is naturally produced in the liver and is responsible for managing nerve signal function. When used as a supplement, it may improve physical performance, as well as help stave off the onset of neuromuscular fatigue.
Taurine is mostly found in the brain, organ tissues, and muscles, where it acts as a neurotransmitter that regulates the transfer of nutrients throughout the body and maintains cell membranes. As a supplement, it is believed to help improve athletic performance and regulate metabolic function.
Betaine maintains normal liver function and also helps process fat. In supplement form, it has been shown to increase muscle size, improve body composition, and work capacity in over 20 participants of a six-week study.
Pre-workouts can benefit you ultimately by improving your stamina, energy, and body composition; however, depending on the ingredients, as well as their use, they can cause harmful effects on the body. In fact, when considering incorporating pre-workout supplements into your workout and training regimen, there are some precautions to keep in mind that will help ensure you make the transition as safe as possible for best results, including:
The main concern with pre-workout supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA, which means they are not held to strict research standards, regarding their safety and effectiveness.
This means there is always a risk that the supplement may contain unknown compounds, including banned substances, such as ephedra, synephrine, or bitter orange, and Dimethylamylamine, as well as unknown amounts of certain compounds, which can be unsafe, as product labels can be misleading or inaccurate since the product is not strictly monitored. However, the FDA will remove a product from the market or ask the producer to recall the product on their own, if they deem a supplement unsafe. Regulatory actions will also be taken by the FDA along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against supplement companies who make falsified or unsubstantiated claims regarding their products.
Companies can, however, offer independent assurance that their products do not contain banned substances and do contain the labeled amounts of ingredients by hiring a third-party certification company, such as NSF, to verify their claims, which will then result in the product being stamped with the third-party certifier’s official logo.
Some pre-workout brands contain up to 400mg of caffeine per dose, which is equivalent to consuming four cups of coffee prior to your workout. However, for some individuals, this can be excessive. Meanwhile, other products contain high doses of guarana, which is a plant extract that behaves similar to coffee beans but with double the amount of caffeine per gram, which can also be excessive for certain individuals.
Caffeine in excess can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which can lead to heart issues. It can also disrupt your sleep cycle and cause nausea and gut issues, as well as dehydration.
Therefore, it is recommended only consuming 3 grams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight to lower the risk of adverse reactions. You should also be sure you are not ingesting caffeine from other foods and drinks throughout the day, which can cause your caffeine intake to be too high for the day.
High levels of creatine, which is also a diuretic, can cause dehydration similar to excessive caffeine; therefore, you should monitor your intake of creatine, as well.
Nitric oxide in high doses can also cause some individuals to experience mild cardiac issues.
Lastly, B-alanine can sometimes overstimulate nerve cells, especially in high doses, which can cause tingling sensations; therefore, experts recommend starting with the lowest dose and then working your way up to see what works best for you.
It is also not uncommon to experience jitters as well as headaches when first taking pre-workouts, which usually only occur in individuals who are sensitive to certain ingredients or if you exceed the daily recommended dose. It is also not uncommon to experience itching when first taking pre-workouts that contain B-alanine because it stimulates the nerves, which can cause you to become itchy and flushed in some spots. However, it typically only lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.
Some pre-workouts, especially powders, drink mixes, and bars, also contain sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, to add sweetness sans the calories; however, some individuals are sensitive to artificial sweeteners, which can cause intestinal issues. Furthermore, sugar alcohols have been known to cause bloating, as well as diarrhea and gas, which can affect your workout.
Some ingredients contained in pre-workouts may hinder the effects of certain medications. For instance, some medicines used to treat ulcers, such as Tagamet HB, actually cause caffeine to remain in the body longer, which increases the risk of side effects from caffeine.
Therefore, if you are considering pre-workout supplements and are taking prescribed or over the counter medications, be sure to consult your physician to be sure it will not have a negative interaction with your medications.
Since pre-workouts hit the scene and become popular, they have been a subject of research regarding their efficacy and safety, which have also raised the eyebrows of many consumers. However, the fact is, pre-workouts, though not for everyone, are deemed safe and effective, when used as prescribed and taken in the right amounts.
In fact, research shows that it is only products that do not list the ingredients in their “proprietary blend, that are of main concern because the ingredients and amounts are not clear, which makes it hard to determine if key erogenic ingredients are present and in sufficient amounts to render them effective. Otherwise, to find a well-formulated brand, simply check that it lists individual ingredients, uses branded ingredients, is free of banned substances, and it contains dosages based on research.
For best results, experts recommend taking the supplement at least 30 minutes prior to your workout, which will enable you to feel the energy boost right before your workout. During this time, beginners, or if you are trying a new product, should also time when you feel the boost of energy to determine how long it takes your body to digest the ingredients, so you can time it for future workouts.
It is also recommended that you take a break from the product every so often to prevent your body from adapting to it, which will decrease its effects. In fact, experts recommend anytime you stop feeling the energy boost to go off the supplement for anywhere between 2 to 3 days to a month to get the boost back. Furthermore, taking a pre-workout supplement for over 28 days is deemed unsafe as researchers have not yet studied the long-term effects of pre-workouts.
When taking pre-workouts, staying well hydrated can help reduce the risk of side effects. In fact, experts recommend consuming at least 100 ounces of water a day to help prevent side effects.
If your goal is to lose weight from your workout, consider choosing a pre-workout that includes fat-burning benefits, which will enable your body to get the nutrients it needs without consuming too many calories and carbohydrates before your session. Otherwise, eating too many calories and carbohydrates prior to your workout can prevent you from losing weight.
If you are looking to gain muscle mass, consider a mass gainer pre-workout supplement to help you put on weight. Experts also recommend eating a meal high in carbohydrates and carbs at least an hour prior to your workout to help increase muscle mass. However, avoid foods with a high fiber content, which can alter your digestive system and affect your training.
Pre-workout supplements are not a quick fix, which means you still need to focus on proper nutrition to both get and maintain results. In fact, according to experts, these supplements are for individuals who already have their nutrition in check and are just looking to improve small little problem areas where they can.
As we discussed, there are different types of pre-workouts for different types of goals; therefore, understanding your goals will help ensure they get the best product for you. For instance, for cardio workouts, look for ingredients like B vitamins, BCAA, Taurine, and Beta-Alanine, which will help you get the most of your workout.
On the other hand, if your goal is to do some serious lifting, consider supplements with Arginine, Citrulline, GPLC, and Pycnogenol. Meanwhile, to build muscle, look for ingredients like Creatine, BCAA, Nitric Oxide, Carnitine, Glutamine, Beta-Alanine, and Betaine, which have been proven to increase muscle mass.
To burn fat, consider supplements that contain Caffeine and Green Tea Extract, which have been proven to provide weight loss when combined with regular exercise.
Finally, remember Caffeine, Green Tea, B vitamins, and Guarana have been shown to increase energy as do Yerba Mate, Tyrosine, Rhodiola, Taurine, Rosea, and Schisandra Chinensis.
When in doubt, seek expert advice.
Not only can a sales professional help you choose the best product for your goals, but since some supplements contain ingredients that can cause side effects, they can also alert you of such issues before purchasing a pre-workout product. Furthermore, the list of banned substances is ever-growing, which they can update you on to help prevent you from purchasing a product that includes banned substances. Also, not all pre-workout supplements are approved by sports regulating bodies, so if you are training for an event, be sure the supplement is approved.
When it comes to are pre-workouts bad for you, as we just witnessed, the majority of studies show that the main ingredients in these supplements have been found safe and effective for improving energy and stamina, building muscle, and burning fat as part of an exercise routine. In fact, caffeine, one of the main ingredients found in pre-workouts, was also shown to improve mental clarity for better focus during training.
However, because some ingredients and doses can cause adverse effects in some individuals, it is best to begin with a low dose of the product to see how it will affect your body before graduating to the recommended dose. Some experts also suggest simply purchasing the ingredients individually or in smaller quantities, which will enable you to control the dose to test how they will react in your body.
When purchasing pre-workouts, remember, since they are not FDA approved, they are not regulated, which means they can contain banned substances, as well as other contaminants, which can render them unsafe. You should also check that the ingredients listed are present in sufficient amounts to ensure the product is effective. For added safety, you should look for the logo of an official certifying third party, such as NSF, USP, or Informed Choice, which means it has been thoroughly tested by the third party to ensure its purity and quality.
Lastly, when selecting the best pre-workout for you, knowing your goals ahead of time will help you select the right supplement for you. It is also best to consult a doctor prior to taking supplements, especially if you are taking other medications, to ensure your safety and to prevent allergic reactions, and under no circumstances should you ever take supplements while pregnant or nursing without your doctor’s permission.
Quite a considerable number of people workout specifically for either weight loss or muscle gain. However, many may not see the results that they want with a typical workout, especially after several weeks. Much of this can be despite them performing exercises that are specifically geared for both of these.
Despite this, quite a large number of people mightn’t know where to turn to help boost their weight loss or muscle gain with their workout. While there are a few things that can be done, one of the more effective can be to start using pre-workout supplements, which have become increasingly popular in the past few years.
With there being quite a considerable number of options on the market, many people may feel overwhelmed at which pre-workout supplements they should take. While there can be a significant number of high-quality options you can choose, what you should focus on are the ingredients that are used in the supplements.
This is primarily because specific ingredients that are better suited to both weight loss and muscle gain. As a result, choosing products with certain dosages of these ingredients will be much more beneficial for an exercise routine that’s focused on them.
Aside from the various benefits that certain ingredients will have for a workout, people using them will also need to think about their potential side effects. Much of this can be focused on the size of the dosage their getting, as well as which other supplements they might be taking, among several other factors.
As such, there are a variety of things that you’ll need to know when determining which pre-workout supplements you should take. The primary factor in this will be the ingredients you should focus on, although there can be a variety of other things that should play a role in your decision.
Many people may wonder why pre-workout supplements can be important, especially for muscle growth and weight loss. Outside of these two areas, there are quite a large number of reasons why they can be vital to your overall workout routine.
Much of this will focus on how effective these workouts are, as well as in the initial recovery stages that you should expect after exercising. While these supplements can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the majority are designed to give you an energy boost immediately before, and during, your exercise routine.
Alongside this, they can help improve your cognitive focus. While this mightn’t seem as though it’s an essential aspect of your workout, it can play a vital role in how efficient your overall routine is. In many cases, being mentally prepared before and during your exercise routine can make quite a significant difference in how well you exercise.
The primary reason for this is that mental fatigue can be just as detrimental to your exercise routine as physical fatigue. As a result of this, it’s something that should be avoided as much as possible.
There are also quite a large number of other reasons why these pre-workout supplements can be beneficial, and often vital, to your exercise routine. One of the largest of these is that some of the supplements can help improve blood flow, which should have a domino effect on the benefits that you’ll see during the workout.
Many pre-workout supplements will also be able to improve your endurance levels, which should mean that you can exercise for longer without seeing any adverse effects. Alongside this, some will also be able to reduce the number of adverse effects that many people may see after prolonged workouts.
This will be especially true for muscle recovery and regeneration once you’ve finished exercising for the day. Many people will often feel a certain amount of soreness and stiffness in the hours, and possibly days, after a long workout. However, this should be minimized by taking a variety of supplements, although this will vary depending on their ingredients and dosages.
Many people will wonder how pre-workout supplements will affect their muscle gain, as they mightn’t see the link between certain ingredients and muscle development. While there can be a variety of answers to this depending on the ingredients, there are a few common reasons that they can help.
Perhaps the largest of these is that the supplements can help improve your overall performance during the workout, which will be seen in several ways. The most significant of these is that they’ll help to minimize or overcome both physical and mental fatigue while you’re exercising.
These can often be the largest hurdles to overcome when working out and which can prevent many people from seeing the results that they’re looking for. The majority of this can be dependant on the active ingredients that will be used in the supplements, although the majority of high-quality products will have a combination of the most beneficial ones.
Alongside this, you should see an increased amount of blood flow to your muscles during your workout, which will provide several benefits. Much of this can be seen delivering oxygenated blood and specific proteins to your muscles, which should then have a positive impact on muscle growth.
Many of these supplements will also have a positive impact on your energy and endurance levels. As a result of this, you should be able to exercise for longer than you would have without them. Typically, this will mean that you can see much larger results in a shorter space of time than you would have if you weren’t using the supplements.
While some supplements will claim to have additional benefits for muscle growth, as well as weight loss, these can often vary drastically from one product to another. As such, you should put a certain amount of time and energy into researching whether specific supplements will be the right one for you.
There are quite a large number of supplement ingredients that you’ll be able to take advantage of to increase your muscle gain. However, this doesn’t mean that each ingredient will have the same impact as the rest, or provide as many results as the others.
In contrast, there is a variety of them that will have much more of an impact on muscle gain than the rest. This should mean that you should look for a few specific ingredients when you’re choosing the supplements. Each should have several benefits alongside muscle gain, with some even helping with weight loss and other areas.
There are a few specific ingredients that you should look for.
Citrulline Malate is an amino acid that’s naturally produced in the body. However, this often isn’t created in the levels that would provide the benefits that many people will need for muscle gain. As a result, the majority of people can take advantage of the ingredient to help improve their overall muscle gain.
There are quite a large number of benefits to including this in your diet, with the majority of these focusing on improving your performance rate and energy levels. Alongside this, Citrulline Malate should also help reduce your recovery time, as it prevents the formation of lactic acid in your muscles.
While this build-up shouldn’t be avoided completely, it should be reduced by quite a significant amount. As a result, you should see much less stiffness and soreness the morning after your workout.
The ingredient should also help boost the number of other amino acids in your system while also improving how your body uses them. This will have a domino effect on your overall workout, which should mean that you’ll see more significant gains over time.
Citrulline Malate also stimulates the production of L-Arginine, which further enhances the use of amino acids in your body. These will ensure that you’ll see greater size and strength gains with your exercise routine.
Creatine monohydrate is an ingredient that’s been used in bodybuilding for decades. As a result, there’s an extensive amount of research on how it can help boost muscle mass, with this also being seen in the results that it’s had for quite a significant number of people.
There are a variety of reasons why this is the case, with much of this being driven by Creatine monohydrate helping to increase the ATP generation in your muscles. This increase will then have a variety of noticeable benefits for your workout. One of the more notable ways that this can be seen is in improved resistance to muscular fatigue.
This should subsequently result in you being able to perform more exercises during your session, as well as being able to perform them for longer. Alongside this, you should see enhanced energy levels during your workout, which should subsequently mean that you’ll be able to perform more effectively during your workout.
Furthermore, you should also see an increase in your sprinting capability alongside your overall strength level. Much of this should be seen quite quickly, with the various benefits being increased over time. As a result of these, you should see yourself performing much more effectively with each of your workouts and being able to lift much larger weights quite early on.
Betaine Anhydrous is another amino acid that can have quite a large impact on your blood flow during a workout. Much of this will be seen in helping to deliver more oxygenated blood to your muscles, which should then play a role in how quickly you see an improvement in muscle mass.
There are a large number of ways that Betaine Anhydrous will benefit muscle growth, with the enhanced use of natural proteins being prominent. These can have quite a significant role in how quickly muscles will grow. As such, being able to stimulate this growth can be essential, which is the primary area where this ingredient shines.
However, there are a few other notable areas where this can help improve your muscle growth. Perhaps the largest of these can be seen in the better utilization of energy in your muscle cells. This will not only help increase the size of your muscles but also their strength, which can be quite a large benefit.
You should also see an improved work capacity when you’re exercising. Alongside this, Betaine Anhydrous should also help you reduce the amount of fat on your body. This should then result in a leaner body mass while also helping you to lose weight.
While Alpha GPC doesn’t necessarily focus on your muscles, there are quite a large number of benefits to using it for a workout. The majority of these will focus on your cognitive functions when you’re exercising, such as helping to improve your focus and mental drive.
As such, you should be able to avoid much of the mental fatigue that’s often associated with long workouts, especially over several weeks or months. However, there are a few other minor benefits that Alpha GPC will have on your muscles themselves, with the majority of these focusing on improving the release of growth hormones.
Alongside stimulating the release of human growth hormones (HGH) in your body, Alpha GPC should also improve acetylcholine levels within your muscles. While this may play a relatively minor role in overall muscle growth, it’s something that can be quite beneficial in the long-term.
Despite this, the majority of the benefits that the ingredient will have on your workout will be seen in improved focus and an increased drive while you’re exercising.
Vitamin B12 is a naturally occurring vitamin in your body, although it’s often not produced enough for many people to see the results they want. This is especially true in the short-term, although the levels that it occurs naturally in may be helpful in the long-term. Despite this, many people may want to increase their Vitamin B12 levels with supplements to increase muscle gain.
While a diet will provide a certain amount of this, it can often be impossible to improve your intake of it enough through food alone. As such, consuming it as part of a supplement can be well recommended. There are a variety of benefits to taking a certain amount of this as part of your pre-workout supplements.
Much of this will be seen through an increase in red blood cell production, which will have a variety of benefits. The largest of these can be seen in an increased amount of muscular endurance, which should mean that you’ll be able to prolong your workout and increase muscular gains.
Alongside this, you should see improved energy levels and faster recovery times, both of which will be quite beneficial in the short- and long-terms.
While each of the above ingredients should have quite a large impact on your muscle gain, many of us will want to focus more on weight loss. Though some of the above will be able to do so, there are a variety of others that will be geared more specifically toward this.
As such, they should be ones that you’ll want to look for in your supplements. In many cases, you may be able to find supplements that will include ingredients that help with both weight loss and muscle gain, which can be quite a large benefit.
When looking for products that will help with your weight loss, however, there are a few notable ingredients that you should look for.
Caffeine can have quite a large impact on your overall workout, with this being seen in a variety of ways. One of the most significant of these is that it should increase your energy levels, which should mean that you can exercise for considerably longer than you may have without it.
Alongside this, it should also help you improve the amount of exercise that you can do per session. As a result, you should be able to maximize the effects of each workout, both in terms of muscle growth and weight loss.
However, the majority of the benefits caffeine should be seen on your metabolism. This is primarily because the ingredient should help to kickstart and speed this up, which should result in your body burning more calories and fat cells, even when you’re not exercising.
This should subsequently maximize the amount of weight you lose while exercising. However, it should be noted that much of this will be seen in the long-term, although the energy increases will be seen almost immediately.
By including caffeine in your pre-workout diet, you should see an increased athletic performance, which will then help you work toward your overall goals.
Yohimbine is a compound that’s created from Pausinystalia Yohimbe, a plant species that can have quite a large number of benefits. The majority of these will be seen in weight loss, as acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This means that it should have quite a large impact on the fat-burning activities in your body.
Much of this will be seen when taken in careful doses immediately before your workout, with this primarily being done in the absence of insulin. There are a few notable reasons why this has been effective in helping improve weight loss, with the first being that it helps to stimulate the release of catecholamine.
Alongside this, it helps to block the alpha-2 adrenergic receptors that are typically seen in adipocytes. When combined with the improved levels of catecholamine that you should see, you should be able to burn quite a significant amount of fat cells while you’re exercising.
However, this is something that should be carefully monitored when you’re taking it, with many experts recommending relatively small doses, especially when mixed with a large number of other ingredients.
One of the largest questions that many people may have about pre-workout supplements is when they should take them. This is something that many people wouldn’t know much about, which can often lead to a variety of mistakes. Some of the more common of these are either taking them too early or leaving them until too late.
Should you take the supplements too early, then many of their effects will be gone before you start exercising, or even be minimized during the workout. As a result of this, many people mightn’t be able to take full advantage of them during their exercise routine.
Taking them too late can provide much of the same adverse effects, as the supplements mightn’t take effect until you’ve gotten much of your workout done. As such, you could end up wasting the majority of the supplements’ benefits by not knowing when to take them.
While much of this can depend on which supplements you’re taking, there are a few general tips to when you should take the pre-workout supplements. Alongside this, you may also need to consider which ingredients are included in the products, and how fast your metabolism is, both of which can have quite a large impact on when you should take them.
Despite this, there are a few typical rules of thumb for when you should take them. The majority of experts recommend taking the pre-workout supplements approximately 30 to 60 minutes before you start exercising. By doing so, you should be able to ensure that their primary ingredients are kicking in when you begin your workout.
In some cases, you may be able to take the supplements approximately 90 minutes before you start exercising. However, there can be a variety of factors that will play a role in this, with the most notable being your metabolism and the key ingredients in the product.
Caffeine, for example, will typically take between three and five hours to start breaking down in your body. As a result, you should be able to use caffeine up to a few hours before you start exercising.
With supplements that contain large amounts of caffeine, however, it’s recommended that you take them earlier in the day. The primary reason for this is that the ingredient can have a detrimental impact on your sleep, which should be something that you may want to avoid.
This is because high-quality sleep can be just as vital to muscle growth, as it gives your body time to recover after exercising.
Alongside each of the above, many people may wonder if they should take pre-workout supplements every day. In the majority of cases, you should take the supplements before every workout, as this will ensure that you’ll see the benefits of them with each session.
While the above will typically be the case with most pre-workout supplements, you should check the instructions that will come with the product. This is primarily because different products may have various timeframes before they begin kicking in. As such, it’s often recommended that you take them when the manufacturer says you should.
Alongside this will be the various safety instructions that should come with them. The majority of these will focus on dosages and which other supplements or ingredients you can take them with.
When determining which pre-workout supplements you should take, there can be quite a large number of factors that you’ll need to consider. While much of this will focus on your goals, such as muscle gain and weight loss, there may be several other things to look at.
For example, the frequency of your workouts, how intense they are, and a variety of other factors will play quite a significant role. As such, choosing the right ingredients and supplements will only have a certain impact on how fast you see results.
This should mean that you’ll need to take a more holistic approach to exercise and look at the full picture. For example, you should ensure that you’re doing the right exercises for your goals, as some will be much better for muscle gain than others. Alongside this, there will be a few specific exercises that can be much more useful for weight loss than others.
By including each of the ingredients in your pre-workout, however, you should be able to maximize the results you see with each workout. This shouldn’t mean that you should expect to see them straight away. While the ingredients should help to speed up the process, it can still be time-consuming and take a considerable amount of effort.
However, this should reap a considerable number of rewards in the medium- to long-term, and you’ll be able to see the results that you’re looking for several weeks after you initially start taking them.
While each of the ingredients above should have a positive impact on your workout, you should always check the supplements before you buy them. The primary reason behind this is that different products will have various active ingredients and in different dosages.
Alongside this, many may have ingredients that you may want to avoid and which may be harmful to your workout. As a result, a significant amount of research should be needed to ensure that you’re using the right pre-workout supplements.
When choosing your next pre-workout supplement, be sure to look for these key ingredients. There are lots of supplements that are high in sugar content and produce little to no results in enhancing your performance during a workout.
Be sure to check out our reviews of the various supplements available on the market for more information on which supplement may be right for you.