Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Should You Be Using a Pre-workout Supplement?


First let’s determine what is in pre-workout supplements and whether or not you need those ingredients and whether or not your body can use them.

If you look at a dozen different pre-work out supplements you’ll probably find a dozen different formulas with many of the ingredients difficult or impossible to pronounce. Don’t get confused over all this. Much of it is often just marketing mumbo-jumbo.

There are only five ingredients you should be concerned with. Anything above that may be “effective” but the benefit is probably not worth the price. Any ingredient only has to be marginally beneficial to be labeled “effective”.

I’m going to be different (just because) and start at the bottom of the list in terms of pre-workout effectiveness. Just because an ingredient is at the bottom of the list of five doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ineffective. It may mean there is simply a better, more effective way to get that ingredient.

By the way, never, ever buy any supplement labeled as a “Proprietary Blend”. That means they don’t want you to know what’s in it!


A big word that simply means they have the effect of dilating your blood vessels allowing for increased blood flow by increasing the nitric oxide in your bloodstream. Common sources (ingredients) are L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and Beetroot.
Do they work? Maybe-maybe not. The problem is nitric oxide works for some people and not at all for others.

4.Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most studied and researched ingredients ever. There is no doubt that Creatine is very effective and safe.
Creatine helps saturate your muscle cells with the fuel needed for your workout.
It’s lower on the list only because there is little or no research showing Creatine is any more effective pre-workout than any other time of day. When you use Creatine seems to make little difference.
The other reason Creatine is low on the list is that it’s cheap and recommended dosage is very small. (5 mg a day-about one teaspoon). By itself, 1000 grams (about a year’s supply) will cost you about $15.00. (About $0.075 per day)


Beta-Alanine  works by buffering Hydrogen Ions (Hydrogen Ions are what causes the burning discomfort in the muscle as you fatique) giving you the ability to keep your intensity up for longer periods of time. Higher intensity means more volume which means better gains.
Beta Alanine is on the lower end of the list, again, because it doesn’t matter whether or not you use it pre-workout or at some other time during the day.

2.BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

BCAA’s regulate protein metabolism, increase protein synthesis, and suppress protein breakdown. BCAA’s may also reduce muscle soreness. Consuming BCAA’s before your workout is the most effective time.
However, BCAA’s are usually not necessary in supplement form if one is consuming sufficient protein in their diet. (About 1 gram per pound of body weight)

That brings us to the number one ingredient in pre-workout formulas and the most effective;


Caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. Not only does caffeine make you more alert, it also lessens the perception of pain/discomfort. That means you can exercise longer and harder with the help of caffeine.
Caffeine positively affects endurance by delaying fatigue. It allows you to perform a harder more demanding workout without feeling it.
Some people believe caffeine aids in fat burning. But, alas, there is no evidence of this.
Caffeine does not provide energy. It merely stimulates you. It is not a substitute for actual energy provided by nutrients in food.
How much caffeine? Caffeine affects people very differently. You’ll have to find your proper dosage by trial and error. Typically, about 1 mg per pound of body weight comes close. If you are a heavy coffee drinker already, it will take more. Eight ounces of regular brewed coffee contains between 97 and 200 mg of caffeine.

So, should you be using a pre-workout supplement?

 You have to decide. Most contain ingredients that you can get elsewhere (including a balanced diet). Some ingredients can be taken any time of day not just pre-workout.
But maybe you like the convenience of getting all the ingredients in one place. Or maybe you don’t like the taste or the high acid content of coffee.
And if you workout in the evening be aware that the effects of caffeine can last 8 hours or more.


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