Do you want to maximize your results? Are your workouts feeling sluggish and weak? Then you should definitely start using a Pre-Workout Supplement.
This can be taken in either a pill or liquid form. I suggest the liquid form of Pre-Workout (powder in water), because drinking it is the most effective way to metabolize its ingredients. Pills can work…but they are not nearly as effective.
For best results, you should finish sipping on your Pre-Workout drink 30 minutes before your training session. Your body needs this much time to effectively absorb all of the Pre-Workout ingredients. Even though you might feel it before then.
Also, keep in mind that pre-workout isn’t some magical substance that will suddenly allow you to lift 6 times your body weight or buldge out of your shirt. Just like any other supplement it can help you as part of a balanced workout and nutrition program. It can help you push through those 2-3 extra reps on each set, which will improve your gains exponential.
What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Pre-workout is an over the counter supplement that contains a combination of several safe, and potent ingredients. It is designed to give you a metabolic and stamina boost during your workouts. This means that your anabolic, and energy levels will be substantially higher with the right formula. This is what you can expect from a good pre-workout formula…
- Increased Protein Synthesis
- Increased Strength & Power Output
- Increased Energy & Focus
- Reduced Fatigue During Exercise
- Increased Muscle Recovery
- Improved Performance
What are the Typical Pre-Workout Ingredients?
Most Pre-Workout Supplements have a TON of stuff in them. Quite honestly, most of what they have is garbage. There is zero federal regulation in the supplement industry.
This leads to quite a few supplement companies putting in massive amounts of useless ingredients. These same companies then claim that their product is the best out there…because it has more than 25, 30 or 40 ingredients.
Be very careful when a Pre-Workout supplement says it uses a “Proprietary Blend.” This means that nobody else has this exact combination of ingredients.
The problem with this term is that the serving sizes and ratio of key ingredients are not fully disclosed. Sometimes the ingredients themselves are not even listed in the formula. This means that you won’t know exactly how much, of what ingredient…is in their formula.
The good news is that I am going to make choosing a Pre-Workout formula easy for you.
There are only 4 Key Ingredients you need to watch out for. Make sure these are included in any formula you purchase. There are a LOT of ingredients that “kinda help.” But the 4 I am about to list, are definitely going to help you get leaner and stronger.
Essential 4 Pre-Workout Ingredients
Optimal Dose for “Sporting Disciplines”: 200-400 mg or 1.8-2.7 mg per kg of body weight) (source)
We all know caffeine gives you energy. But the reason it is a “must have” ingredient is because caffeine acts as a powerful ergogenic aid (source). This means it is an overall performance booster…in both shorter and longer exercises bouts.
Caffeine will give you the energy boost you need, to “feel” like you are going to have a phenomenal workout. This psychological boost, as well as the physiological “ergogenic kick” will allow you to have a seriously intense lift, and a better overall workout.
#2 Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Optimal Dose: 5 mg
BCAA’s are the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are the building blocks of protein. Your muscles are protein so you need BCAA’s, especially right before your workout.
BCAA’s increase the rate of protein synthesis, which is the process whereby biological cells generate new proteins. (source) They also decrease the rate of protein degradation in a human muscle.
All of this has a positive anabolic effect on your workouts. Meaning your hormones like testosterone and growth hormone will naturally rise during your workouts. This will give you substantially more strength and power for your lifts.
#3 Creatine Monohydrate
Optimal Dose: 5 mg
Creatine increases overall power output. It does this for brief periods of time, during high-intensity exercise bouts. (source) This means you will lift heavier weights, and be more explosive as you lift those weights.
You can find creatine in protein-rich foods like meat and fish. creatine is also naturally found and produced within your own body.
The only problem is the amount of naturally occurring creatine is not enough to give you the “power boost” you are looking for in the gym. If your goal is to be lean and strong…you should supplement your diet with additional creatine.
That is why it is imperative to make certain that your Pre-Workout formula has a healthy 5 mg’s of creatine in it (Or at least add it yourself).
Optimal Dose: 1.5-5 mg
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid. Just like a BCAA, it is building a block of protein…so it will help you build quality muscle.
Beta-Alanine also increases overall athletic performance by increasing your explosive energy output and capacity. (source) This happens because the amino acid buffers a hydrogen ion (H+), and this allows the human body to keep it’s intensity level higher…for a longer period of time. This results in more muscular endurance during your lifts.
One of the reason I included Creatine and Beta-Alanine together on this list, is because these two ingredients supplement each other. Creatine will give you a more powerful, and explosive lifting ability. Synergistically Beta-Alanine will give you the ability to lift longer. This means you can lift more weight, for a longer period of time…with Creatine and Beta-Alanine combined. A match made in gym heaven!
Like I said before, there are a LOT of Pre-Workout formulas on the market. All you need to do is make sure that any formula you buy has the 4 I listed here. Stick with those 4, and you can’t go wrong!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to put them in the comment section below…and I’ll help out anyway I can!
Do you recommend a pre-workout supplement for all types of workouts? I’m going to be cycling across the USA in the Spring, and I’m wondering whether a pre-workout supplement could help out, right at the beginning of the day, before we start cycling. We carry a lot of weight, and climb a lot of slow mountain climbs (not like road cycling), so it’s less cardio, more strength training on the legs – I guess.
Hard question to answer. Personally, I use it before lifting weights (and sometimes cardio/conditioning). You probably won’t see a sustained difference all day as a pre-workout is designed to work over an hour or two long workout (I think there are better options). That being said, I’d test it before you get out on that cross-country bike trip. That way you know beforehand.
Very helpful source for me. I was really looking for this kind of information since I am planning to work on my weight and I really think this kind of supplement is a good assistance for me.