You’ve probably seen people walking around campus or at the gym taking swigs from their colorful (and surprisingly noisy) shaker bottles. Chances are, many of those people are drinking pre-workout—a supplement mix designed to increase energy, focus, and strength during exercise. With so many people jumping on the pre-workout bandwagon, you’re probably wondering, “What is this stuff and do I really need it?” Those are great questions and we’ll be answering them today! Here’s everything you need to know about pre-workout.
First things first, what exactly is pre-workout?
Pre-workout supplements (often called “pre-workout” or just “pre,” if you’re really cool) are multi-ingredient dietary formulas that are meant to be consumed 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. Typically, they come in powder form and are designed to enhance your athletic performance so you can get the most out of your workout sessions.
While every pre-workout supplement will differ, common ingredients include caffeine, branch chain amino acids (BCAA), creatine monohydrate, L-citrulline, and beta-alanine.
People may choose to take pre-workout before a variety of workouts, from weight lifting to an interval-heavy cardio session.
Does pre-workout actually work?
That sounds great and all, but does pre-workout actually, you know, work? As it turns out, pre-workout is more than just a fad—science shows it actually lives up to its claims. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that combining pre-workout with HIIT workouts resulted in significant increases in VO2 max, training volume, and lean body mass. The study also found that pre-workout sped up the rate at which moderately-trained recreational athletes lost body fat.
The benefits of pre-workout
What do you do when it’s time to workout? Do you groan and drag yourself to the gym while giving yourself the all-too-familiar pep talk about how you’ll feel better once it’s done. Yeah, we’ve all been there. That’s where pre-workout comes in. It helps boost your energy, motivation, endurance, and power so that you can see better results from your workouts—and feel better while doing it.
Based on research and testimonials from countless people, all signs point to pre-workout being a beneficial tool for improving the effectiveness and enjoyment of your training sessions. Here are some specific reasons you should include pre-workout in your training routine:
- Increases energy
- Improves focus and alertness
- Increases mental readiness and motivation
- Leads to better athletic performance
- Improves blood flow
- May lead to stronger muscles
- Stimulates fat loss
- Helps you recover faster
Choosing a good pre-workout supplement
Clearly, there is a lot to be gained from taking pre-workout. It’s important to note, however, that not all pre-workout mixes are created equal. To ensure you’re using a safe, effective product, always choose a supplement that is transparent about its ingredients. The key beneficial ingredients your pre-workout should have include:
- Caffeine (or caffeine anhydrous) for focus and energy
- L-arginine and L-citrulline for increased blood flow
- Creatine monohydrate for increased ATP production and muscle growth
- Betaine anhydrous for protein synthesis and improved hydration
- Beta-alanine for fatigue management and reduced lactic acid build-up
The bottom line
Pre-workout works by supplementing a range of chemicals to your body that increase energy, endurance, blood flow, and power. It’s an easy, grab-and-go option that will help you get as much out of each trip to the gym as possible. If you’re looking to up your workout game and maximize your results, taking pre-workout is an absolute must!