You’ll never have any questions about this insanely popular supplement again after reading this article:
What are pre-workout supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are taken before exercise to deliver nutrients to the muscles and improve workout performance. Stimulant-based products are the most popular type of pre-workout, with many people favoring them for to their ability to enhance energy and focus, although several non-stimulant options exist for those who prefer to avoid that buzzy feeling.
Other common ingredients beside stimulants include performance enhancers such as creatine, beta-alanine and citrulline malate, and nitric oxide boosters such as agmatine and glycocarn.
Common pre-workout ingredients explained:
When choosing a pre-workout supplement it is important to base your decision on the ingredients. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most common ingredients found in pre-workouts and their effects.
Creatine: Creatine is the world’s most popular ergogenic and a staple in many athletes’ supplement regimens. This naturally-occurring compound is instrumental in the synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate – the molecule that captures chemical energy from our food and releases it to fuel processes the muscles and cells).
Caffeine: Never underestimate the world’s best-loved stimulant. When dosed correctly, it can enhance attention, physical performance and muscular recovery. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s easy to build up a tolerance. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine you might find yourself getting jittery or anxious when taking pre-workout.
Beta-alanine: Supplementing with beta-alanine has been shown to increase the concentration of carnosine in the muscles, resulting in decreased fatigue and increased muscular performance. A commonly reported side effect of beta-alanine is “paraesthesia”, known by many as “the beta-alanine tingle”.
Citrulline malate: Citrulline malate is an increasingly popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements. This amino acid compound has been clinically proven to delay the onset of fatigue and reduce muscular soreness. It also increases the amount of arginine in the blood, in turn increasing NO (nitric oxide) production and therefore boosting blood flow to the muscles for improved endurance and muscle pumps.
Arginine: Arginine is an amino acid that can be synthesized in our bodies from citrulline. This process takes a lot of energy, so supplementing with it directly can save energy for more important metabolic reactions. The presence of arginine is essential in the production of nitric oxide and also boosts growth hormone secretion, stimulating muscle growth.
Betaine: Betaine or trimethylglycine is a modified amino acid that occurs naturally in beetroot, quinoa, and spinach. Getting plenty of betaine in the diet and through supplementation can boost strength and power during your workouts and is also believed to benefit those looking to improve their body composition by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat
Taurine: Taurine is often included in pre-workout formulas to improve physical performance. It can help reduce muscle fatigue and acts as a cell volumizer, enabling the muscles to hold more water and thus enhancing strength and muscle gains.
Acetyl l-carnitine HCL (ALCAR): Acetyl l-carnitine is a modified amino acid that supports cellular energy production by assisting in the transport of fat into the mitochondria where it is oxidized and converted into ATP. It is a highly bioavailable form of l-carnitine, which helps to maintain healthy cellular energy metabolism and supports brain function.
Glycocarn AKA glycine propionyl-l-carnitine (GPLC): Glycocarn has been proven to increase nitric oxide levels, boosting blood flow to skeletal muscle and the heart and enhancing oxygen and nutrient delivery, both during and after exercise. Glycocarn also helps control lactic acid levels which improves endurance.
B vitamins: The B vitamins, particularly B6 and B12, are very important for energy and endurance so as well as getting plenty of whole foods in the diet you should also choose a pre-workout that contains them or supplement with a separate B vitamin complex.
How to choose the right pre-workout:
If you want to find the best pre-workout supplement for you, you should begin by thinking about your individual needs and circumstances and considering just what it is that you want to get out of your workouts.
For example, if you’re not used to stimulants, I would suggest starting at the milder scale of pre-workouts. Opt for a strength, power, and pump boosting formula containing ingredients like creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline rather than taking something that has been designed for people who have been taking this stuff for years and years.
*** To avoid developing too much of a tolerance to stimulant-based products, it is worth limiting use to around three times a week. It may also be worthwhile running a non-stimulant product once you have finished a stimulant based one.