Pre-workout supplements: why and how to use them

You’ve been eyeing up the pre-workout supplements, but you don’t know their ingredients and effects? Read this article and learn all about their advantages and a lot more.

pre-workout supplement


When you've been working or studying all day, you might get so tired mentally by the time you get to the gym that your concentration will fail you and you won't be able to get as much out of your exercises as it takes to make progress. That’s when a pre-workout supplement comes in handy, to boost for those two hours, help you concentrate, and also to supports muscle pump, energy supply, as well as recovery.

It’s crucial that when you start your workout you should be physically and mentally focused. If that’s not the case, your workout won't be intensive enough for you to make any progress. Whether you're tired or simply skipped the meal before hitting the gym, you can throw out your workout. But there’s a solution to such emergency. Sometimes you wouldn’t even imagine you could get yourself together, but just take some pre-workout supplement and in five minutes you’ll rip those weights apart!

What pre-workout supplements contain

You’ll find a wide range of pre-workout supplements on the shelves. Should you look for them, you'll also find them as nitrogen oxide boosters. They mostly contain a number of natural ingredients; a most common active ingredient is caffeine, but many contain arginine, too, responsible for boosting nitrogen oxide levels. These ingredients have a vasodilating effect, which means the nutrient transport to muscles speeds up, as does the removal of waste materials, thus supporting recovery. Your muscles get the energy they need more easily, so they can work more effectively.

Many pre-workout supplements also contain creatine monohydrate, responsible for gaining energy from nutrients and regenerating energy, so you'll endure intensive physical stress longer.

Beta alanine and citrulline malate may also be among the ingredients; they enhance endurance and persistence, so you can do your workout longer without acidification and losing your energy levels.

What pre-workout supplements are good for

What do you expect from your workout if you don’t pay attention to how your muscles work, whether you use them in the entire range of movement, whether you have the necessary training load or you can reach the level you hit last time, or whether you can even exceed it? If you’re not mentally focused during your workout, thinking about your evening programme, tomorrow’s workload or studying, if you wait five minutes between sets, you may as well forget about progress. Of course, it may not be laziness or the lack of interest, but simply mental exhaustion which also hinders physical work. That’s when a pre-workout supplement can help you a lot.

When you drink these water-soluble powders or take them in capsules, you’ll slowly start to feel that tingling in your body which makes you grab those weights. Pre-workout supplements will make you feel alive, boost your circulation and make you feel like there’s nothing else in the world only those weights and you. You’ll feel how your muscles get plenty of blood, how they pump and how each rep takes you a step closer to big muscles. You’ll be able to work with heavier weights and with more endurance, and get the most out of yourself even though half an hour earlier you were considering going home instead and skipping your workout.

The increased load will certainly also improve your results when building muscles mass. But you may also want to use pre-workout supplements when you want to lose weight, because they boost you and help your concentration even when your carb intake is low, and you’ll feel the results of your workout in your pumped-up muscles.

pre-workout supplement

Which is the best one for you?

You should first look at the composition of pre-workout supplements. If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid those containing caffeine; if you have circulatory issues, such as high pressure, avoid those with creatine. Try and test them to find the best one for you. If your goal is to lose weight, look for sugar-free versions. If you go for bulking, sugary versions are OK, too. For cardio, we recommend ones that contain citrulline malate; again, creatine may not be a good idea here, and you won't need any arginine, either.

There are powder, water-soluble, capsule and tablet versions, too. All of them are fine; the question is which one is more convenient for you to carry, drink or take. You like the fruity flavours of drink supplements, or you'd just swallow a tablet? If you choose a capsule or a tablet, take it a little earlier, as fluids reach the digestive system sooner. There is no difference between their effects.

When and how to take pre-workout supplements

For best effect, pre-workout supplements should be taken about 20 minutes before workout. 2 or 3 hours earlier, as you like, have some solid food, then you can drink your shake after workout, and again have some solid food within an hour. The recommended dosage will be indicated on the packaging; be careful with supplements containing caffeine, especially if you also drink coffee during the day or do your workout late in the evening.

Can you overdose pre-workout supplements?

Pre-workout boosters typically contain a lot more caffeine than an espresso, and you’ll need to take that into account. Also, the caffeinated version is not a very wise choice for evening workout, because it may not let you sleep at night. It’s definitely not recommended to take larger quantities just because your body is bigger, or because you work harder that an average gym-goer.

If you take too much of it, you may experience shaking and nausea, but if you keep to what is indicated on the packaging, there will be no problem. If you’re not used to the ingredients yet, you should begin with half a serving and then increase the dosage.

If you take a pre-workout supplement regularly or for every workout session, you should take a break after a month or switch to other active ingredients to avoid getting used to them.

Other natural ingredients to boost your energy levels

Meats, seeds and nuts and certain vegetables contain a number of active ingredients which can help you increase your level of strength.

The problem with energising foods is that they don’t contain the necessary active ingredients in such concentration and purity as pre-workout supplements. Also, the absorption of active ingredients from food is slower and more difficult.

The best solution is to eat purely, foods of adequate quality and quantity which don’t put excessive stress on your digestive system and contain nutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) which will support your workout, as well as your recovery, and that should be completed with a pre-workout supplement that boosts your workout just at right time.

If your goal, progress and change are important to you, but after a hard day’s work you don’t have enough concentration and strength left, try pre-workout supplements and boost yourself to your workout like you've never thought you could!

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