By definition, a pre-workout is a form of supplement that you consume before you start working out, sports competition or training practice. It is designed to help you perform better during workout and also helps to keep your body stable after the session, especially if the exercise involves intense workout. In any sports nutrition, a pre-workout is included as important addition to enhance the athlete and improve performance.
But many don’t understand why it is always necessary to have a pre-workout as some of us believe it is still possible to have successful workout sessions even without a pre-workout. So, how important is a pre-workout?
Reasons to use pre-workout
You might be among many people who wonder why it is necessary to always add a pre-workout supplement. What many skeptics don’t know is that with a pre-workout supplement, it is easier to achieve your fitness goals. It helps you to explore your full potential while training and can be a perfect way to unlock your mind and the ability of your body to go beyond limits that you would not cross under normal conditions.
A pre-workout is a key ingredient especially among sportspersons in highly competitive sports, and this can be an essential motivation to success. Below are some key elements of a pre-workout that make it essential.
While working out, you use a lot of energy, and it would be difficult to successfully perform intense workouts without some form of assistance. This is what a pre-workout brings to the table. It enhances your energy supply so you can work out longer and more intensely. It gives you the energy to explore your limits and go beyond your usual performance level.
If you have to look for a supplement, it is recommended to choose one that contains caffeine, which offers a powerful energy boost. Additionally, caffeine also provides you with the mental focus you need to stick to your fitness goals. Some other ingredients you will find in supplements include choline bitartrate and L-tyrosine, which have a sensory effect.
In addition to giving you the energy to work out, a good pre-workout will also be made with ingredients that lean on performance enhancement. Those that contain ingredients like creatine monohydrate are the most suitable especially for sporting activities. Multiple clinical studies have observed that the ingredient helps to increase muscle build up and gives the user better muscle endurance.
Therefore, it is recommended you look for a pre-workout with at least 3 grams of this ingredient for optimal results. Something else that should be in your pre-workout is beta-alanine, which is usually recognized as having a tingling sensation. Beta-alanine helps to boost levels of muscle carnosine, and this in turn prevents fatigue and also enhances the strength-building process.
Improved muscle pump
You might also be motivated to learn that a pre-workout can help you to achieve that pumped look. It will give you instant appearance of muscle as it increases size and vascularity, also referred to as “pump”. Some scientists have investigated different pre-workouts and their findings indicate that they could be beneficial in the muscle-building process. This is achieved through a continuous addition of nitric oxide, which stimulates blood flow.
A pump is achieved when more blood is directed into the muscles. Your muscles need blood for oxygen, so when there is a constant supply, it’s a direct benefit to the muscle-building process. There are few ingredients you should watch for that stimulate blood flow. These include L-citrulline and L-arginine, which give you an explosive muscle pump that helps your muscles to perform optimally.
For fat loss, pick a pre-workout that contains caffeine. According to several studies, caffeine has been shown to help in metabolism by speeding up the process by up to 10%. This means you would lose weight faster if that is your goal because caffeine enhances oxidation, which is a key process in burning fat. It boosts the ability to burn calories, and the best part is that while it speeds up fat oxidation, it spares muscle glycogen through the creation of a suitable intracellular ionic environment.
Research conducted at the Yale University on effect of the intracellular ionic environment showed that using caffeine can help you improve the ability to burn calories while working out. Therefore, a pre-workout that contains caffeine is a suitable choice for those who are having weight loss as a primary goal. It will help you reach this goal faster and with better results.
How to use pre-workout supplements
There are many common mistakes people make when using pre-workout. For your pre-workout to give maximum performance, you should take it 30-45 minutes to your workout session. This is to ensure your body is prepared to tackle the challenge, and the time also allows the body to absorb the supplement fully so when you get to the training venue you are fully charged to take on the training session. While working out, ensure you are sufficiently hydrated and also consider taking short breaks and you will enjoy the amazing benefits of using a pre-workout.
Watch your dosage
There are a few mistakes you are likely to make while using a pre-workout. One is taking more than is required. Ensure to always check your recommended dosage as overdosing might come with severe side effects. Don’t exceed the maximum even by a little bit. If it happens that you have to consume more for same results, it could mean your body has built tolerance. To prevent this from happening, it is advisable to cycle your supplements.
Cycling your pre-workout
Immediately you discover the perfect pre-workout, you should not consider taking it on a daily basis. Many powders require that you cycle them for maximum effectiveness. Otherwise, your body will build tolerance especially if you are taking stimulants. Be observant of the performance of the pre-workout and when you notice it is not bringing the same benefits, you should consider taking a break or swap some ingredients to help in resetting your tolerance.
Don’t snort a pre-workout
This might look strange, but there are people out there who believe that by snorting the powder the pre-workout is absorbed faster. You might have noticed the many videos in which people snort their pre-workout supplements, but the truth is the way they do it is wrong and should be discouraged. The powder might kick in quickly but it might not be as effective. Plus this makes you look like a coke head, so to achieve effectiveness make sure to follow the recommended methods of ingestion. Each pack comes with usage instructions, and I believe this is not too much to read especially where your health is at stake.
How to choose a pre-workout supplement
Although you might know the benefits of taking pre-workouts, it is also necessary to know how to pick the right one. This is a problem among many people as they are confused by the many pre-workouts available in the market and cannot make the right choice. The first thing you need to understand is that you don’t just pick a pre-workout, but you choose one that is designed to satisfy the specific needs you have. Here are some of the things you might want to consider.
When to use pre-workout
As you might have discovered, different pre-workouts are tailored to help you achieve different things. The kind of training you are undertaking is an essential consideration that could help you pick the most ideal pre-workout. If your focus is on getting a lot of energy, you should go for a supplement whose ingredients help you to achieve just that. In another example a few paragraphs up here, we have seen caffeine helps in weight loss, so someone who is taking a supplement with the hope of losing weight would need to choose a pre-workout that has this ingredient.
Tolerance to stimulants
We all have different tolerance levels when it comes to using stimulants. One of the considerations you have to hold when choosing a stimulant is your tolerance level as this helps you to pick the perfect pre-workout. Know how often you use stimulants and energy drinks.
Why do you need a pre-workout?
You should also ask yourself if you indeed need any pre-workout and if so for what reason. If you are not performing well at the gym due to lack of energy, you might be justified to use a pre-workout, but taking it just because others are doing might not be a good idea. Know why you need a pre-workout before you go for one.
Types of pre-workouts
There are two main categories of pre-workout supplements – one that is stimulant based and the other for muscle building. The two have been discussed below in detail.
- Stimulant-based pre-workouts
Stimulant-based pre-workouts are the most popular choice you have out there that you might want to try out. You can easily tell if the pre-workout is stimulant-based by just observing its jug size or the serving size recommended. Most stimulant-based pre-workouts are packaged in small containers and usually weigh about 0.8 pounds.
These are suitable when you are having a workout that is so tough that you lose a lot of energy in the process. For example, during Olympic lifts, you lose a lot of energy and it would be ideal to try a pre-workout supplement to revamp your energy supply. Stimulant-based pre-workouts also come in handy when you want to lose body fat because this is one of the functions they perform so well. In this category you will find the best pre-workout for women that will help during workout sessions to ensure one does not get worn out by loss of energy.
- Muscle building pre-workouts
The second category of pre-workouts is muscle-building pre-workouts, which are quite underrated because these don’t usually offer the high amounts of energy you need for intense exercise. These come in bigger containers and the reason is because you are supposed to get bigger doses of the ingredients that help in muscle building and recovery (e.g. amino acids and creatine). You can sip on to this category of pre-workout as you go about your workout because they don’t work like stimulant-based supplements that you have to take before the exercise session.
If you are looking to use pre-workout supplements, it is advisable to first understand how they work. There are many types in the market and each is made for a specific purpose, so it is necessary you also identify the reason you need a pre-workout. Knowing why you need one will help you pick the right one and use it well. The guidelines discussed here are sufficient to help you take your workout to the next level.