Not every day is a great day when it comes to working out. Sometimes we feel a bit sluggish, lack motivation and can even suffer from fatigue midway through our workouts. This is probably why pre-workouts have drawn so much attention in recent years. They are fast becoming one of the most popular and widely used supplements in fitness and health. They are certainly a fan favourite when it comes to memes but the question remains, are they effective and are they worth you parting with your hard-earned cash? Read on to find out if pre-workouts are the supplement for you.
What is a pre-workout?
Pre-workouts are supplements designed specifically to improve reaction time, delay muscular fatigue and improve endurance (Spradley et al, 2012). While ingredients in pre-workouts will vary from pre-workout to pre-workout, the following are effective for improving your workouts and should be looked out for:
Caffeine provides you with much need energy for exercise and can reduce the rate of fatigue. This means you will be able to power through your workout, shift more weight and ultimately make more gains in the gym. It is important to note that pre-workouts shouldn’t be taken too late in the day as this could affect your sleeping patterns, keeping you up all night.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are an effective way to prolong your workout and delay muscular fatigue. This is because branched-chain amino acids are quickly absorbed by your system helping your improve protein synthesis and minimise protein degradation.
Beta-alanine will help you complete more sets and do more reps by improving your muscular endurance. This added volume also means that you will be able to make progress in the gym. Familiar with that tingling sensation you get when you take pre-workout supplements? That is a consequence of consuming beta-alanine in large quantities. Simply reduce your dosage to minimise this side effect.
Our bodies produce creatine naturally and it can even be found in large quantities in fish and meat. Consuming creatine gives your muscles a significant boost of energy, which will allow you to lift heavy weights.
According to Jacob Wilson, citrulline can help you make serious gains. It has the ability to increase ATP (energy) for the muscles during exercise and during recovery. What’s more, it can also induce muscle protein synthesis.
Just like most substances produced in a lab there can be some side effects to taking pre-workouts. These will vary from person to person but also will vary depending on the ingredients used in the particular brand of pre-workout you’re using.
Similar to coffee, pre-workouts can affect your sleeping pattern and keep you up all night. It is recommended that pre-workouts are not taken less than 8 hours before bed.
There is a tendency by some users to exceed the recommended dosage, which is dangerous for your health.
Both caffeine and creatine are diuretics meaning they absorb water. Exceeding the recommended dosage can and most likely will lead to dehydration and hence should be avoided.
Are you getting enough bang for your buck?
Looking at those ingredients, it’s plain to see the benefits of taking a pre-workout. However, let’s recap. According to Layne Norton, a good pre-workout will offer the following benefits:
- Reduces excessive muscle damage so you can train harder, longer, and recover faster.
- Increases blood flow and nitric oxide production, leading to a better pump and more nutrients to your muscles.
- Improves subjective feelings of well-being, potentially allowing you to train harder.
We offer a range of quality pre-workouts, which we have tried and tested ourselves. They each have the Powerhouse seal of approval. Browse our online store today or simply pop in to find an effective pre-workout for your fitness regime.
Wilson, J. (February, 2017) Enhance Your Performance with Citrulline
Spradley et al, Ingesting a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, B-vitamins, amino acids, creatine, and beta-alanine before exercise delays fatigue while improving reaction time and muscular endurance, Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012; 9:28.