Pre-workout refers to a supplement that claims to boost workout performance. This supplement, usually a powder, is mixed with water and taken up to 30 minutes before a workout. By the time you start working out, you should feel like superman.
Now, that’s an exaggeration, but based off what I have felt and seen in the gym, pre-workout can give you a massive boost to a workout. In the past, a banana or a small snack like that was the best pre-workout. Nowadays half the gym can be seen with different colored bottles filled with their favorite pre-workout. So it is time for you to join the pre-workout craze?
Every Pre-Workout is Different
Companies have their own formula they think is best. If you pick up two different pre-workouts and look at their labels, they use different amounts of ingredients and some include strange ingredients. However, nearly all pre-workouts have the same core of ingredients. These include:
1. Caffeine: The basic energy booster everyone knows about. Pre-workouts contain on average 150-300mg of caffeine per serving. A cup of coffee contains about 100mg, so a serving of pre-workout is like drinking a couple cups of coffee.
2. Beta-Alanine: A non-essential amino acid that aids in production of carnosine. This compound reduces lactic acid accumulation allowing you to workout more intensely for a much longer period of time.
3. Creatine: One of the most extensively studied and debated supplements in the past 20 years. Creatine is found mainly in your muscle cells and produces energy for intense exercise. Taking creatine as a supplement increases your creatine stores allowing you to lift heavier weights, workout longer, and recover faster.
4. Vasodilators: Vaso refers to blood vessels and dilators means enlarge. Vasodilators increase the diameter of your blood vessels increasing blood flow to your muscles. These give what people call a “pump” when working out.
Many pre-workouts have different types of vasodilators and other compounds meant to improve performance. For example, beetroot is used as a vasodilator in many. Another is yohimbe bark extract found in Mr. Hyde by ProSupps.
What Should I Get?
Before buying any pre-workout, you should do a bit of research to see how people like the product. There have been times I bought a pre-workout, hated it, and was stuck with the tub. So make sure if pre-workout is something you want to try, that you get something people respond well too and tastes good. Here are some popular pre-workouts that I would recommend:
Probably the most popular pre-workout on the market. If you are new to pre-workout I would recommend trying this. Its cheap, only has ~100mg of caffeine, and gives a good boost in the gym. I like C4 because nothing about it is extreme. It gives a good pump and focus without having you feeling wired.
For the more experienced caffeine user and lifter. Each serving has a whopping 425mg of caffeine along with a healthy dose of beta-alanine and vasodilators. This pre-workout gives you more of a superman feeling compared to C4.
Made by the same company as Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll is a more mellow form of the pre-workout. It only contains 100mg of caffeine. However, it does contain BCAAs which aid in muscle growth and reduces muscular fatigue. Although it may not give the same boost as Mr. Hyde, it will definitely perk you up for the workout and keep you going.
Side Effects and Precautions
Everyone responds to pre-workout differently. Some common side effects of pre-workout include: headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, and high blood pressure. If you have any health conditions, definitely consult your physician before taking pre-workout. Keep in mind the wide variety of ingredients used in pre-workouts means while you may respond poorly to one, a different one may yield better results.
Also, any cardio or cardio-based workout does not need pre-workout. Taking pre-workout and performing a HIIT program or any cardio could be fatal! Your heart is simply being pushed too hard. So, want to hit a new max? Take pre-workout that day. If you’re more tired than usual, then take pre-workout.
Is Pre-Workout Necessary?
The short answer is no. Sadly, there are a lot of people that need pre-workout just to workout. You shouldn’t depend on pre-workout for a good workout. If you have a really grueling workout compared to what you normal do, or you feel like you’re dragging your feet to get to the gym, that’s when you take pre-workout. There are many alternatives to give you a boost in the gym. A small snack 30-45 minutes before the gym can give you the energy you need to get through that workout. A few examples of good snacks are: bananas, peanut butter, chocolate milk, and potatoes. If you are worried about weight gain but love snacks, read about these healthy snacks you can eat without feeling guilty. Your body also needs fuel after you hit the gym. A quick guide to weight loss post-workout shakes will help feed your muscles to promote growth while keeping the weight down.
Pre-workout is a great way to boost your energy and performance in the gym. However, it should be used only when you really need it. Otherwise, tea or coffee combined with a small snack could provide you with plenty of energy. Check out Modern Fit for more articles and workouts.