If you exercise regularly, there will be days where you need an energy boost. Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or you are just having one of those days. Whatever the reason, you may be tempted to take a shot of pre-workout to get you through your next workout. Before you do, consider these points.
Pre-training supplements contain a variety of ingredients designed to boost your energy and focus. The actual ingredients vary from product to product, and from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, unless stated, most of these supplements contain a lot of caffeine.
The actual amount depends on the product in question, but you can bet that it’s at least as much as a really strong cup of coffee.
Other common ingredients include:
- Beta-alanine – an amino acid that can help buffer the build-up of lactic acid
- L-arginine – a vasodilator that opens up your blood vessels for better circulation
- Creatine – for increasing levels of ATP, your muscle’s energy source
- Branch chain amino acids – another source of energy and also good for reducing muscle breakdown
Before taking a pre-training supplement, you should ask yourself whether you have any known issues with any of the ingredients. For example, if you are hypersensitive to the effects of caffeine, you should probably avoid high-caffeine pre-training supplements.
Assuming you have decided that you want to try an energy-boosting supplement, what effects can you expect? Most supplements of this type take 15-30 minutes to get to work but, once they kick in, you should notice the following effects:
- Increased mental focus. You should find you can concentrate more clearly and are more focused on your workout.
- More weight and/or more reps. A good pre-training supplement will give you the energy you need to train harder and that normally means you can lift more weight or do more reps.
- Faster recovery between sets. You’ll probably feel like you are itching to get into your next set and may even need to rest less than normal.
- Better pump. Increased blood flow to your muscles will mean they swell and feel more pumped than usual. This is a good indicator of a good workout and better muscle growth.
- More determination. Some people find that pre-training supplements make them more determined to train hard, often translating to increased aggression. This is useful when you are faced with an especially tough workout or want to lift heavy weights.
So, should YOU use a pre-workout?
Pre-training supplements can help you train longer and harder than normal and can boost your energy when you are otherwise feeling down. However, if your energy levels are low because you aren’t getting enough sleep, aren’t eating properly, or have been working out too hard without a break, you should use this type of supplement with caution.
If you are constantly tired and feel like you have to use a pre-workout all the time, you may need to take a long look at your lifestyle rather than try and fix it with supplements. You should also avoid taking pre-training supplements if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or if your doctor has told you to avoid stimulants