Almost all of you know about protein shakes after the gym. Right?
When you come out of the gym, your muscles are likely to be tired due to exercise.
A protein shake is what provides them with the necessary nutrition to recover faster.
But have you ever thought about giving your muscles a boost before the workout session?
Yes, we’re talking about pre-workouts!
Most sports professionals like to take a booster before exercising… some form of pre-workout?
Well, that’s expected, because pre-workouts as we so casually call pre-workout supplements are being increasingly used by gym-goers, fitness experts, and even those who exercise at home.
The popularity of most pre-workout supplements has significantly skyrocketed and rightfully so since they have the propensity to boost your physical and mental capabilities during workout sessions.
Since you’re on this article, we guess you are looking to find out more about pre-workouts.
So, in this article, we will cover some facts and look at common pre-workout ingredients, such as beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate to hopefully answer most if not all of the questions you have.
Here's What's In Store For You...
What is a Pre-workout Supplement?
People who are fitness fanatics must know what a pre-workout supplement is.
But for those who don’t, a pre-workout is a dietary supplement or energy drink that enhances your energy (gives you an energy boost), focus, exercise performance, and work capacity so that you can ace at the gym.
Pre-workout supplements are formulated with ingredients that dilate your blood vessels.
This dilation will then cause your muscles to have efficient blood flow throughout your workout or enhance athletic performance.
Pre-workouts also help to reduce or delay muscle fatigue and build muscle mass.
A pre-workout supplement ingredients list typically includes caffeine and other stimulants.
Caffeine stimulates energy and can aid in boosting your strength levels and achieving your fitness goals.
There are many supplement companies and brands that excel in making high-quality pre-workouts to improve performance and facilitate weight loss but there is no one magic ingredient that one has and the other doesn’t.
Most pre-workout brands use the same or very similar basic composition/ingredients. A few of the most common ingredients that you may find in your typical pre-workout are:
- Arginine- Arginine increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body, therefore boosting blood flow to your muscles and exercise performance.
- Beta-alanine- Beta-alanine also serves to combat the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles and reduce muscle fatigue when you exercise.
- Caffeine- research suggests that caffeine can be instrumental in improving workout performance. Consuming caffeine, such as drinking coffee, may increase your daily energy levels and mental focus as it is a known stimulant. However, too much caffeine intake can adversely affect your health, even in healthy adults.
- Citrulline- Citrulline is an amino acid that can improve one’s athletic performance as it encourages increased blood flow to the muscle tissues.
- Creatine- Creatine can increase muscle strength during workout sessions. It can also be found naturally within your muscles, as your body produces it.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)- Vit B3 provides your muscles with the fuel they need to keep going throughout your workouts to facilitate muscle growth.
- Tyrosine- Tyrosine helps to enhance your endurance.
- Taurine- increases muscle strength and force, which enables them to work harder for longer periods.
- Sodium bicarbonate- helps to combat lactic acid build-up in your body, preventing early muscle fatigue.
The majority of the ingredients above are amino acids.
They are used because pre-workout supplements are purposed to deliver to you fast-absorbing proteins that can easily reach your bloodstream and provide you with the required energy and strength.
In addition to these ingredients, pre-workout supplements are made with flavors, colors, and sweeteners to impart a better and enjoyable taste to them.
Most of the pre-workouts are available in powder form. You can administer them by mixing them with water or your favorite juice.
There are some sold in the form of capsules and drinks.
Each form is equally effective to take and can work well for you. You can choose one at your ease.
Just drinking coffee isn’t going to provide you with the necessary boost you need before a workout session.
So, that’s why people are gravitating towards trying a caffeinated pre-workout supplement instead.
How Long Does It Take For Pre-workouts to Kick In?
One thing that is very important and requires the greatest attention is the time you take to experience the effects of a pre-workout.
Whenever you consume something or whatever other way it enters your body, it doesn’t start working immediately.
It has to pass through certain organs and undergo digestion to reach your bloodstream. At that point, it starts working.
So, you won’t be doing justice if you take in a pre-workout while entering the gym or right before beginning with your exercise program.
The timing is very important so that you don’t take it either too early or too late and miss out on its benefits.
Many studies have been carried out to examine how long pre-workout takes to kick in.
We have found that several of them suggest that a pre-workout must be taken 20-30 minutes before beginning your exercise session.
This is the average time for a pre-workout to start working and its nutrients to reach your blood and cells through your digestion.
Fitness experts also suggest that pre-workouts take almost 30-35 minutes to reach their peak level in the bloodstream.
To make sure that you are feeling the effect of the pre-workout you’ve taken, you can take it 40 minutes or 1 hour before the gym and begin exercising when the effects are noticeable.
When you notice a tingling sensation in the muscles, a sudden increase in motivation, and an upsurge of muscle energy, these are a few signs that your pre-workout has started to work.
Some people think that consuming a pre-workout right before the gym is fine as it will start working in the warm-up session.
Well, this is a wrong concept. You need to have an energy boost in the warm-up session and for that taking a pre-workout 30 minutes before is fine.
Also Read: Top Nitric Oxide Supplements & Pre-Workouts
How Long Does a Supplement Last?
Are you stuck at ascertaining how long pre-workout will last in your body?
Well, that’s a tricky one to determine since the duration is different for each ingredient in your pre-workout. It all depends on their half-life and processing.
This refers to the time when half of the ingredient has been used within the body.
For example, the half-life of caffeine is 3-7 hours and that of arginine is 1-2 hours.
This means that caffeine will be left with half of the amount taken in after 3-7 hours and half of the arginine will be used in 1 or 2 hours.
Similarly, the half-life of beta-alanine is 25 minutes and that of Citrulline is around 1 hour. However, creatine has a span of 3 hours.
Since the duration of all the ingredients is different, the processing time of pre-workouts varies a lot.
If the half-life of the ingredients of a pre-workout is high, it is likely to stay within your body for long as the ingredients will take time to be consumed and leave the body.
Factors that Define the Exact Duration
There are several factors that help define the exact duration of pre-workout effects. These include:
- Number of servings consumed in a particular time
- Amount of ingredients per serving
- Body mass of the consumer
- Level of activity to be carried out
- How sensitive is the consumer to caffeine
Generally, how long pre-workout lasts is for 2-3 hours because most of the ingredients are consumed almost completely at this time.
Within 24 hours and even less, your body will process all the ingredients, and whatever is left passes out in your urine.
However, if you are still noticing significant effects after this time, try consuming a smaller dose next time or speak to a healthcare professional to provide medical advice on a recommended dose, particularly if you have concerning health conditions.
The same goes for healthy people. It’s also important to speak with your doctor when taking medication.
Since most of the ingredients in a pre-workout are water-soluble, their excretion is not usually a problem.
The manufacturers especially avoid including nutrients that end up being stored in the liver and cause problems.
Also, the half-life of caffeine is pretty long, consuming pre-workouts before a night gym isn’t recommended because it can trouble your sleep and cause you to have a sleepless night.
So, watch the caffeine content in your pre-workout supplement.
If there is too much caffeine in the one you currently use, opt for one with a different formula that won’t affect your sleep; this way, you can workout at night and still get enough sleep.
Benefits of Pre-workout Supplements
There are several advantages to gain from taking pre-workout supplements, some of which we have already mentioned. Here are a few others:
- provides a sudden boost in anaerobic peak power
- enhance muscular endurance
- enhance overall mood by interacting with your nervous system
- help to build lean muscle for healthy body weight
- reduce fatigue to help you go the extra mile
- provides extra energy for heavy lifting
Possible Side Effects
Pre-workouts have greater benefits than negative effects. However, there are still some inadequacies reported with the regular use of pre-workout supplements. The two major concerns with pre-workouts include
- Caffeine toxicity
- Niacin toxicity
These two are little harmful components if taken in excess.
A high amount of caffeine can trouble your sleep, cause nausea and skin allergies, and sometimes heart abnormalities.
An excessive intake of niacin can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerously low level. It can also initiate multiple organ failures and damage your liver badly.
The majority of the safety concerns with pre-workout supplements depend upon the amount you intake and the frequency.
Therefore, it is always suggested to consult a reliable nutritionist and fitness expert or healthcare professional before starting with pre-and-post workouts.
Best Pre-workout Pills
No doubt there are many pre-workout supplements on the market and they all have a mixture of proprietary blends, such as beta-alanine and other amino acids.
Their pre-workout formulas may vary slightly depending on the specific group that they cater to.
But overall, they all act in a similar manner to expose you to benefits like increased muscle mass.
Here are the most highly recommended pre-workout products:
- Transparent Labs Bulk – has roughly 180 mg of caffeine per serving and contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.
- Powher Pre-Workout for Women– contains a proprietary blend of plant extract.
- VITAL PERFORMANCE™ PRE– Designed for athletes looking to crush their upcoming workout.
- Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged – formulated with high levels of caffeine, B vitamins, and BCAAs.
- Performix SST Pre-Workout-made with plant extracts to improve your blood flow and enhance focus during exercise sessions.
Taking pre-workout is highly encouraged and from this article, it’s easy to understand why.
Without even looking too hard, we could see that the benefits certainly outweigh the risks associated with these supplements.
Being formulated with amino acid and other quality ingredients allow for easy absorption and quick results.
This is ideal for exercise and athletic performance, as you won’t have hours to wait around for your pre-workout to kick in.
Since you are considering using pre-workouts, there are several steps to take, the first is research, which you are doing now, otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.
The next is selecting the ideal product.
You may need to select more than one and speak to your trainer or doctor about them for informational purposes.
Thirdly, be consistent, as this is the only way you will have results. We wish you the best on your fitness journey!