What Is Pre-Workout?
If you’re looking for a boost before a gruelling workout at the end of a long day, or maybe before the start of your day when you’ve yet to fuel up, pre-workout supplements are an obvious solution. But what’s in these magic, legal blends that make them work for you? What do they do, and do you need one?
Pre-workout blends combine several supplements that are geared towards preparing your body for an optimal workout. Sounds obvious, right? But surely you wouldn’t blindly reach for the first thing that said ‘pre-workout’ on it without finding out what’s inside?
Your body needs certain things in order to effectively develop muscle. Protein and carbs are the building blocks of building your body, and even if you’re not a so-called bodybuilder, everyone from long-distance runners to weightlifters absolutely need their protein to function properly and turn that workout into results. On top of protein and carbs, other things are considered essentials in many weightlifters’ arsenal.
No matter what the exercise or sport you train for, the idea of pre-workout supplements is to give you a kick-start and enhance your performance. This means increased energy levels, heightened strength and endurance and better mental focus.
Pre Workout Ingredients
The most common ingredients in commercial pre-workout supplements include creatine, caffeine and BCAAs.
This isn’t the same as having an extra cup of coffee or tea to wake you up. Caffeine as a supplement is a serious boost to your system, making you both physically and mentally alert for what’s waiting in the gym.
This plant extract is often blended with caffeine in energy drinks. Its high-caffeine potency has been linked to improved libido as well as a jolt to your energy levels and concentration.
This is a favourite in many weightlifters’ lockers. Creatine helps to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides your body with the energy for muscle contraction. It helps you to gain and maintain metabolically-active lean muscle tissue.
It is proven to enhance high-intensity performance, best suited to sprints and bursts of energy, making it ideal for weight-lifting.
Branched-chain amino acids are the essential nutrients your body takes from protein in food. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are key amino acids in stimulating protein synthesis and regulating the metabolism of protein. Basically, they build the proteins that your body needs to build and maintain muscle tissue.
Along with the above, an array of vitamins are commonly found in many pre-workout blends. Keeping your immune system on track and your workout plan on schedule. There are no excuses for missing leg day now!
Do I Need Pre-Workout?
So, are pre-workout blends for you? It’s important to note that they are not essential for an effective workout. In terms of needs and musts, protein, carbs and water are at the top of your list. As with many supplements, it is a good idea to evaluate your exercise aims before experimenting.
If you are hitting the gym for a high-intensity workout or heavy weightlifting session ahead of a busy day at work then a pre-workout energiser will certainly be advantageous. By considering what you need before your workout you can get a better idea of what will actually work for you.
You might consider choosing which supplements you could take on their own. For example, for explosive training and weightlifting, creatine is highly beneficial and you may find better results by regulating a separate dosage, rather than taking it in this blended form.
When comparing pre-workouts, treat the back of the tub as you would the ingredients of food and check which of the beneficial supplements you’ll be getting, how much of the product is synthetic filler, and what the doses are.
Take Home Message
Because of the high caffeine content, pre-workouts come with heart health warnings similar to those of energy drinks. When using caffeine as a supplement (as with all supplements) you should consume it alongside a balanced diet and make it work for you, as opposed to taking it for the sake of it.
The targeted energy of caffeine can result in a highly efficient workout when focussed at the gym; without, you may find it difficult to sleep and so taking into consideration your sleeping pattern and daily caffeine and sugar intake is recommended.