Ever feel like you’re dragging your feet through a workout?
You can’t match your lifts from the previous week. You can’t crank out the same number of reps. You’re feeling gassed after the first few exercises.
If you’re feeling tired when you show up to workout, your stress level, nutrition, hydration, and sleep habits may be to blame.
But if those things are in order? Then what?
Do your results seem stymied? Are you still sore days after a challenging workout?
You may not be giving your body the fuel and energy it needs to help you crush your workout, speed recovery, and get back to the gym to keep training.
It’s why many bodybuilders and pro athletes of every kind, including football players, motocross riders, basketball players, CrossFit athletes, baseball players, race car drivers, and soccer players, take a pre-workout supplement.
Can a pre-workout supplement really help enhance performance? Here’s what you need to know.
Primary Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplement
If you’ve done even a little homework on pre-workout supplements, you probably know there are many variations on the market to choose from.
There’s pre-made drinks and tablets. But the most popular way to take a pre-workout supplement is in powder form (just add water).
So what’s in a pre-workout drink?
If you picked out a line-up of pre-workout supplements at the store or online and compared the ingredients, you’d find that the best ones have three ingredients in common:
If you’re looking for an energy boost to help you crush your next workout, a shot of caffeine can help.
You know the pick-me-up feeling you get with a morning cup of coffee? It’s like that, only a little better. A typical cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine.
Research shows that caffeine, taken within 60 minutes of exercising can help increase endurance and performance, for high-intensity forms of exercise, as well as strength-power performance.
Dosage: An effective pre-workout drink typically contains up to 500 mg of caffeine, from all sources, including natural ones, in the same serving size.
Want to promote muscle growth, recover from your workouts faster, and keep your hard-earned muscle during a cutting phase?
Citrulline malate is another essential ingredient to look for in a pre-workout supplement.
This compound amino acid helps increase circulation to help you train harder (more reps and sets, heavier weights), and speed muscle repair and recovery so you can get back to lifting.
In fact, in a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, athletes who supplemented with citrulline malate cranked out twice as many reps on the bench press when training to failure, compared to the control group.
Think you could get a better pump if you doubled the amount of reps you complete?
Dosage: The best pre-workout supplements contain an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 mg of citrulline malate per serving.
This is a non-essential amino acid that your body can produce on it’s own through several processes that break down nutrients, including digestion.
And in larger doses (supplement form), it can have a big impact on performance and endurance, especially when you’re working through a set that will take longer than 1 minute to complete like training to failure, a no-rest superset, or high-intensity interval training.
In one study, researchers found that supplementing with beta-alanine could help a sprinter shave 6 seconds off a 1,500-meter finish time.
That might not seem like a lot. But it would be enough to bump the last place finisher in the 1,500-meter event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics to a third-place bronze medal victory.
Beta-alanine helps reduce lactic acid building in the muscles, supports muscle contractions for sports performance, and aids in recovery.
Looking for way to set a PR or get a bigger pump from cranking out extra reps?
Choose a pre-workout supplement that includes beta-alanine.
Dosage: 1,600 to 3,200 mg is ideal for energy, performance and recovery.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplement
If you want to gain an edge on your next workout, a pre-workout supplement can help, as long as it contains the three essential ingredients. Take a pre-workout supplement up to an hour before you hit the gym to:
- Boost energy levels
- Promote lean muscle mass
- Lose belly fat, and increase lean muscle mass
- Trigger protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown
- Improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity needed for muscle growth
- Provide energy to the muscles during exercise
- Reduce muscle soreness from training
- Speed recovery
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve training efforts and provide motivation when you’re thinking about skipping a workout because you’re feeling too tired or fatigued.
If you haven’t used a pre-workout supplement before…
It’s a good idea to experiment with dosage. Some people experience gastrointestinal discomfort if the dosage is too high. And you might experience a tingling effect when you take a pre-workout supplement that contains beta alanine (that’s normal). And too much caffeine can be hard on your stomach, and keep you awake at night if taking it 4 to 6 hours before bed.
Fortunately, taken in the right amounts, a pre-workout supplement can help you hit your training goals, set new PRs, and speed the process to achieving results.
Looking for a pre-workout supplement to get you going? Check out 1UP Nutrition, and use Coupon Code RYAN 20.
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda, and more. From: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372
- Goldstein, E. et al. (2009). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. From: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-5.
- Perez-Guisado, J., et al. (2010). Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132.
- Hobson, R.M., et al. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374095/