It would be unfair on yourself if you expected to turn up to every workout feeling 100%. Often, you turn up to the gym (or wherever you exercise) feeling tired, lethargic and unmotivated. If this sounds like you, pre-workout may hold the power to alleviate your training lull.
There’s science behind it: a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that combining pre-workout with HIIT workouts resulted insignificant increases in VO2 max, training volume and lean body mass while also speeding up the rate at which moderately-trained recreational athletes lost body fat.
That study validates the efficacy of pre-workout supplementation, but if you decide to get in on the action yourself, you need to know how to do it safely and smartly. Below, you’ll find a one-stop guide to pre-workout, you’ll also find a guide to the products that can give you a natural pre-workout boost as well as the OEV-approved products. Consider this article your pre pre-workout.
So, What Is Pre-workout?
If you don’t fuel yourself properly before exercises or hard workouts, you’ll be less energized, weaker, and will fatigue faster than normal. That’s a fact. Pre-workout is designed to help fight this, to help you keep going harder and for longer. So while the supplement can be taken in a variety of formats — from meals to shakes to pills and more — they’re all designed to boost energy levels and increase focus. For many, pre-workout supplements are usually mixed with a drink and taken around 30 minutes before the beginning of a workout. That’s because, by supplying your body with extra carbohydrates, the glucose in the pre-workout helps raise blood sugar levels and supply additional energy during a workout. In short, they’re much more energizing than a banana, shot of espresso, or a black coffee.
What’s in My Pre-workout and Is It Safe?
As pre-workout is designed to help you cruise through a particularly tough workout, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they supply your system with sugar, caffeine and other energy-boosting stimulants.
Still, it pays to read the ingredients label before you invest in a fresh pot of pre-workout. Caffeine is the key ingredient to look out for as the content can vary from mild to way too much, and in extreme cases, high levels of caffeine can cause some pretty serious health issues like anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure. For most, however, pre-workout is a safe supplement to take, but, even at the safe end of the spectrum, its side effects can still cause jitters, itching, and interrupted sleep, which are harmless but still uncomfortable. Our advice: if you’re new to pre-workout, go for half doses, to begin with and see how your body reacts.
What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Look For?
Creatine Monohydrate: Another popular supplement among gym-goers, creatine is included in many pre-workouts due to its potential to increase muscle power and performance during training.
BCAAs: Branch chain amino acids have been found to improve endurance during a workout and increase strength by maintaining cellular energy and supporting protein synthesis.
Taurine: Found in various animal meats, taurine is a sulfonic acid that contributes to the metabolism of fats and fights oxidative stress during workouts.
B-vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2 B5, and B6 all play important roles in energy production and efficiency, while Vitamin B12 supports blood production and Vitamin B3 boosts DNA repair and promote healthier skin.
NO2-boosters (ex. Arginine, Citrulline): Arginine, for example, is a nitrogen dioxide booster and an amino acid that acts as a ‘vasodilator’. Essentially, arginine (and other similar nitrogen dioxide supplements) expand your veins and arteries, making it easier for blood to flow around your body, delivering nutrients quicker and more efficiently.
What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Avoid?
Research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology cited that 400mg of caffeine a day is the upper limit for adults. What does this mean to you? One cup of instant coffee contains 60-80mg of caffeine, but higher quality cups of java contain anything between 65mg and 160mg. Some pre-workout brands spill over the recommended daily dose. ProSupps Mr Hyde NitroX pre-workout, for example, houses an uncomfortable 410mg of caffeine in a 7.5g scoop.
When Should I Take Pre-workout?
The all-important question: if you’re going to boost your performance with pre-workout, when is the optimum time to take it? Just because it’s called pre-workout that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take it pre your workout. You can take them 15-20 minutes before training, but for longer sessions, you could delay until an hour into the session. Always refer to the label of your pre-workout for specifics. In fact, it may be worth cycling your pre-workout intake.
If you continue to take pre-workout on a regular basis, your body can build up a tolerance to its effects, which is why cycling the supplement or coming off it for six to eight weeks at a time to give your body a chance to reset can be a good idea.
The Pros and Cons of Taking Pre-workout
- Improved performance: Research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that pre-workout supplements “have promise as an ergogenic aid for active individuals,” or, in other words, they enhance the performance of people who already exhaust the gym.
- Increased concentration and focus: Pre-workout is packed with caffeine, which is known to enhance cognition. As research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found, caffeine works on people’s arousal, mood, and concentration, so if you want to be focused on a workout, pre-workout is the supp for you.
- The University of Córdoba found the citrulline added to pre-workout could add up to 53 percent more bench press reps in a workout
- In another study, pre-workout containing citrulline was found to give cyclists a 12 percent longer ride before hitting exhaustion
- Negative side effects caused by overstimulation: if the jitters and interrupted sleep we mentioned earlier don’t sound like fun, perhaps give pre-workout a miss.
- You can build up a tolerance with overuse: if taken excessively, your body can become immune to pre-workout’s effects. To avoid this, it’s probably best to save pre-workout for those sessions where it’s either ‘go hard or go home’ or try cycling the supplement once in a while.
- Can cause digestion problems: Ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, creatine, and caffeine can all cause digestion issues. Avoid this by trying different pre-workout supplements until you find one that works for you.
- Scientists have previously linked the original class of energy drinks to diabetes, mental health problems, and kidney damage
Which Pre-workout Should I Get?
With SO many options out there it can be overwhelming. At OEVFITNESS we highly recommend products from PrestigeLabs.ca and DrivenNutrition.ca Both companies have awesome supplement line ups, use top-quality ingredients and are true to label. Products can be ordered online and will be delivered right to your door in 2-5 business days depending on the shipping option selected. Our 2 favorites are:
PreWOD™ Pre-Workout Supplement in 3 Delicious, Easy-Blending Flavors
Go harder, go longer, and get better results from every rep with PreWOD™, the delicious supplement scientifically formulated to boost endurance, create massive energy and maximize blood flow while protecting your body from the effects of peak-intensity aerobic and anaerobic exercise during your workout of the day.
- Complete more reps and recover faster between sets with powerful amino acids
- Supercharge your endurance with fatigue-fighting natural extracts
- Boost your mood and mental energy with safe stimulants
- Stay fit and prevent down-time with antioxidants and immune boosters
- Feel healthy and confident outside the gym with clean,gut-friendly formulas
PreWOD™ helps you bring the beast to every workout…even before you get to the gym. This essential pre-workout supplement helps you get the most out of every minute you invest in your WOD and helps protect you from gassing out and giving up before you’ve completed all your sets.
Powerful mood enhancers DMAE and easier-absorbing Caffeine Anhydrous help keep you motivated. Muscle-protecting Beta-Alanine helps boost your capacity to build lean muscle mass at peak intensity.
Citrulline Malate helps supercharge endurance and fight fatigue by improving blood flow, regulating nitric oxide (NO), and reducing ammonia and lactic acid, the byproducts of protein metabolism that can cause burnout and soreness.
Get it HERE!
Prestige Labs Pre Step 1 + 2 is an awesome option for anyone sensitive to caffeine or for anyone that wants to have complete control of the amount of stimulant they are ingesting. This unique product comes with the caffeine in separate capsules.
Increase endurance to get more reps and rapid results, using the pre-workout power of PRE: STEP 1 & 2.
PRE STEP 1
- L-CITRULLINE: delays time to exhaustion and regulates gastrointestinal side effects
- CREATINE HCI/CREATINE NITRATE: decreases time to exhaustion, produces better muscle contractions, increases performance, and increases blood flow
BETA-ALANINE: increases muscular endurance
- ALPHA GPC: a cognitive stabilizer that increases focus
- N-ACETYL-L-TYROSINE: regulates performance and central fatigue
- ALPHA-AMYLASE: a powerful digestive enzyme
- SYNEPHRINE HCL: boosts your metabolic rate and increases your focus and energy
- THEOBROMINE: bronchodilator – helps you breathe easier
- VITAMINS B-12, B-9, B-6 & B-3: keeps your carbon metabolism on point
PRE STEP 2
- CAFFEINE ANHYDROUS: allows you to systematically introduce caffeine stimulation without losing the critical qualities of Pre step 1
Get it HERE!