Pre Workout

When To Take Pre Workout: 4 Secrets to Boost Your Energy and Performance

pre workout timing
Written by Carl Lombard

If you are here it’s because you don’t know when to take your pre-workout, and that is hindering your real potential. In the next few minutes you’re going to discover the 4 secrets that will show you how to use your pre-workout like professional athletes do, to obtain the same excellent results:

  1. Boost your energy levels through the roof
  2. Take your performance to the next level
  3. Improve your psychomotor skills

In summary, mastering the art of taking pre-workout will make your workout sessions more effective. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner bodybuilder or an elite-level boxer looking to get an extra edge. Once you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll have a new weapon in your arsenal to make a noticeable difference in your workouts.

Secret #1: Know The Best Time to Take It

Let’s dive into the matter right off the bat: The best time to take it is 30-60 minutes before your workout session. It will allow the nutrients to get to your muscles. But worry not, because you are going to learn the science behind our claim.

Your Body Needs Time to Process the Pre-workout Ingredients

First, you need to learn what the most common pre-workout ingredients are. Below, find the list along with the estimated times that your body needs to process each ingredient:

  • Caffeine: Your body needs approx. 45 minutes to process it and reach peak concentration in the blood (source)
  • Creatine: Your body takes up to 60 minutes to absorb creatine into the bloodstream (source)
  • BCAA: Your body takes approx. 30 minutes to process BCAAs and reach peak concentration in the blood (source)
  • Citrulline: Your body needs between 60 to 120 minutes to experience a significant nitric oxide increase (source)

We can also add in other special ingredients such as Beta-alanine, but the timing of them is not as critical, as they need a higher intake duration to kick in. In the case of Beta-alanine, it takes between 4 to 10 weeks to raise carnosine levels significantly (source).

Therefore, the best time to drink pre-workout supplements is between 30 to 60 minutes before working out, to allow all the ingredients to reach max concentration in the blood, and hence, unleash all of their effects.

Secret #2: Know The Different Types of Pre-Workout and The Effects of Caffeine

Now that you have an idea of the ingredients that most pre-workouts contain, you know that the majority contain caffeine, and even though it’s excellent at boosting exercise performance, it restricts your time window to take it.

The Issue with Caffeine

We have seen that caffeine takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes to reach peak concentration in the blood, but according to research, it can stay in your body between 3 to 7 hours (source).

Therefore, you should avoid caffeine pre-workouts when your time to go to bed is near, because it will diminish your sleep quality and affect your circadian rhythm.

In fact, the following study found that consuming caffeine 3 hours before going to sleep provoked a ~40-min phase delay of the circadian melatonin rhythm in humans.

The consequences?

Disrupting your circadian rhythm has serious side effects (source):

  • It leads to weight gain
  • It reduces thinking speed (think psychomotor skills and dexterity)
  • It causes impulsive behavior
  • It affects sleep quality, and hence, hinders muscle recovery from working out

The solution? A non-caffeine pre-workout supplement. Let’s talk about it in detail.

Caffeine vs. Non-Caffeine Pre-Workouts

Of course, it’s only an alternative in case you don’t tolerate caffeine or if your unique time to work out is at the end of the day. The main difference is evident, and it resides in the composition.

The best non-caffeine pre-workouts usually contain a combination of the following ingredients to substitute the effects of caffeine:

  • Citrulline
  • Taurine
  • Tyrosine

Citrulline is especially powerful because it will help you to boost the blood flow in your muscles (source).

Secret #3: Know How to Time Your Pre Workout

By now you know when to take pre-workout and the science behind our advice, as well as how you can substitute caffeine with excellent alternatives that contain key ingredients such as citrulline and taurine.

However, you have to time your pre workout according to your own situation, because we all are different, and hence, you need to tailor the timing.

Start by following our recommendation and take your pre workout 60 minutes before working out. Stick to it for at least one week.

Don’t feel a difference?

Try to take it 45 minutes before working out. Likewise, you must monitor your reaction and see how well you perform in your chosen activity, be it by measuring your endurance levels, strength in your RMs, generation of power in punches or kicks, etc.

In a nutshell, make the timing yours!

Secret #4: Know How Long Does Pre-Workout Last

The timing is essential, but you also want to know how long your pre-workout effects will last, in order to use your time wisely.

In general, the pre-workout will unleash and maintain its peak effects for 1 to 2 hours. Nonetheless, it depends on the exact formula of the supplements. For example, in the case of caffeine, the top effects start to wear off after 60-90 minutes.

Therefore, you must track your performance and how you feel, to know how long the effects last in you.

However, how can you know that the pre-workout is working? Be aware of the following effects:

  • Increase in muscle energy
  • Tingling sensation
  • Boost in focus and motivation

Track how long such effects remain, and you will know with certainty how long the pre-workout lasts in you.

And it’s powerful information because it will allow you to plan your workouts in a more efficient way, to take advantage of the time window of extra energy, strength, focus and motivation.

A Note On Pre Workout Side Effects

To conclude, it is fair to talk about the side effects because one option is to talk about the good side and leave it right there, which is not responsible, and a completely different and better option is to talk about the warning and possible cons.

Therefore, pay attention to the following side effects that you may experience, but fortunately, the majority of people don’t have to undergo them:

  1. Make you feel nervous and jittery, it happens due to caffeine, but the quickest way to solve it is to take a non-caffeine pre-workout
  2. Provoke digestive upset, it happens due to certain ingredients, and therefore, ensure to read the ingredients list before buying, to make sure that none of them will cause digestive upset or allergic reactions in you. Furthermore, in case you’re taking it on an empty stomach, you can take it alongside a small meal or a protein shake
  3. Cause mild water retention, principally due to creatine because it’s an osmotically active substance (source)

Congrats! Now You Know When to Take Pre-workout and How to Use it Like a Pro Athlete

You’ve successfully discovered the 4 secrets that will help you to use pre-workout supplements like a pro athlete, and yes, you will obtain amazing results.

Now it’s time to transition from theory to practice.

Apply our secrets to get excellent results, be it in weight lifting, running or your sport. It doesn’t matter, the secrets will help you to take your performance to the next level.

If you have any question or doubt about your pre-workout, and you want help to time it perfectly, feel free to comment below to help you out!

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Carl Lombard

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