Whether you’re new to the gym or a pro at lifting weights, you’ll have seen the long lists of supplements recommended to get lean and build muscle.
What about a supplement for before you step onto the gym floor? Why take a pre-workout supplement, how does it work, and how can you make the best choice?
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help you optimise the results of every workout, every time you show up. We all have good and bad days, but using a pre-workout mix can help you get over the bad and make the good, outstanding.
Here is why you should use pre-workout supplements, how they work, and what to consider when choosing one.
When you work out regularly, you need to ensure you give your body the best resources to help it not just recover after exercise, but also work its best when you’re pushing it in the gym. That means ensuring you’re well-nourished and hydrated, and that you have the energy levels to sustain yourself through a 1-rep max effort, for example.
Realistically, however, we often fail to get ourselves to a workout in the best possible shape. Either you won’t have fuelled properly, or you may be tired from a day at work. Regardless, a boost of beneficial ingredients can help you perform your best during your session.
Some pre-workout will contain creatine, a supplement that’s been scientifically proven to directly improve sports performance and training adaptations. Additionally, you’ll be taking in caffeine, which gives you an instant energy boost and added focus.
Finally, taking a pre-workout dose can help level up your weight loss benefits and give you the stamina you need to finish your weightlifting program for the day.
Through an optimal mix of energy-boosting and nutritional ingredients, a good pre-workout will supply you with the focus, stamina, and strength to perform well during your session. This is thanks to the following common ingredients:
Here’s how pre-workout influences your performance in the gym:
When you start your workout, you want to hit the ground running. You don't want to be waiting around for your pre-workout to kick in, so it's important to find the sweet spot. For most people, the ideal time is around 20 to 30 minutes before your workout — this should give the supplement enough time to hit your bloodstream and amp you up ahead of your session.
Something to consider, however, is the 'half life' of caffeine. Generally, caffeine has a half-life of around three to seven hours after ingestion. If you're used to training in the evenings, you want to take half the recommended dose or swap it out for a pre-workout alternative.
If you continue to take pre-workout on a regular basis, your body can build up a tolerance to its effects, which is why we advise cycling the supplement, or coming off it for six to eight weeks at a time to give your body a chance to reset. During this time, there is the option of taking a stimulant-free pre-workout.
Is pre-workout the right choice for you? If you’re ready to give your next workout 100% of your effort and focus but are concerned about your energy levels, then you can count on pre-workout to give you that added boost of stamina and power. You’ll also benefit from targeted ingredients to ensure you hit your muscle-building and fat-loss targets.
A properly dosed pre-workout supplement can provide performance benefits that may help you train harder and longer, allowing you achieve better results over time. However, a pre-workout is only going to work as hard as you do. No pre-workout supplement can make up for poor nutrition or lazy training. Ultimately, you have to put in the work and consistent effort to make sure your training, nutrition, and recovery is on point.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.
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