There are many kinds of supplements on the market. You may see individuals at the gym with water bottles filled with a shake, and you may even see an advertisement at the gym selling a supplement powder.
Supplements can help to improve your performance in the gym, but it can also help to maintain your body outside of the gym. It can be intimidating to know what supplement to use or what kinds of supplements even exist.
This guide should help you begin your research by offering insight into the differences between pre- and post-workout supplements.
Do Supplements Really Help My Workout?
Supplements contain a variety of ingredients that have been shown to improve workouts and enhance the effects of working out. In one study, supplements were given to users who coupled the supplements with training.
Those who used the supplements for six weeks saw an increase in energy levels, concentration, and performance. They tired less easily during high-intensity workouts and had a greater focus during their workouts.
Depending on the ingredients, pre-workout ingredients target different parts of the body to improve your workout. Some ingredients improve blood flow, while others aim to improve focus or stamina during exercise.
Pre-workout supplements aim to improve your performance during exercise; on the other hand, post-workout supplements aim to help the body recover and reinforce the after effects of exercise. Post-workout supplements help muscles rebuild and can improve muscle synthesis.
What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements consist of formulas that are aimed to improve your workout and exercise regime as you work out. They can give you an increase in energy and they are aimed at improving athletic or fitness performance.
The ingredients in pre-workout supplements can vary, but many different supplements have similar active ingredients. Many best pre-workout supplements contain caffeine.
The caffeine acts as a stimulant to improve cognitive function and improve physical output levels. Together the stimulant helps the athlete to focus, which in turn leaders to higher intensity workouts or longer workout sessions. Therefore, those who use pre-workout supplements will see better results because of more intense exercise.
Pre-workout supplements are taken 30 minutes to an hour before a workout to maximize physical performance.
What are the Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements?
The benefits of the pre-workout supplement are dependent upon the kind of supplement taken and the main ingredients in the formula consumed. While there are minimal studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-workout supplements as a whole. The ingredients in pre-workout supplements have been shown to benefit workouts.
The primary goal of most pre-workout supplements to focus the body’s attention and increase energy output levels. Caffeine allows for this level of focus and increased endurance, but other ingredients also benefit the body and improve workouts
Creatine is commonly found in pre-workout supplements. Creatine is an amino acid that is mostly found in the muscles, and it is also found in some parts of the brain. The body stores creatine in the muscles and later converts creatine into energy. Many athletes consume creatine to build muscle and improve muscle energy output.
Some pre-workout supplements have beta-alanine, which is also an amino acid that helps in muscle building and endurance. Beta-Alanine helps to decrease lactic acid buildup, so runners, cyclers, and lifters can either exercise more or increase their reps.
These are just a few of the benefits as specified by some of the ingredients commonly found in pre-workout supplements. Researching the ingredients and their benefits will help to establish the benefits of a specific supplement formula.
Should I Take Pre-Workout Supplements?
Users should always do research before taking a pre-workout supplement. Supplements can be beneficial to the body, but they may not be beneficial to everyone.
Those who are sensitive to stimulants, such as caffeine, may find that these supplements cause negative side-effects. Those sensitive to caffeine may also experience jitters followed by crashing, or it could cause a headache.
Pre-workout supplements can help to improve exercise and energy output levels, but other supplements may be aimed to build muscle. The best path to taking pre-workout supplements is to first understand the results you want.
Knowing what you want from a pre-workout supplement can help guide you to the right supplements for you. Finally, it is always helpful to consult with a physician to make sure that the supplements you take are agreeable with your body and your medical status.
What are Post-Workout Supplements?
Post-workout supplements are formulas that specifically designed to be taken after a workout. These supplements aim to speed up and boost recovery of the body after exercise. Post-workout supplements commonly use amino acids and proteins, which help build and shape muscle.
Post-workout supplements, because they target the muscles, can also help with sore or achy muscles that occur after a workout. The post-workout supplements can help the body quickly rebuild the muscles while preventing the loss of protein inside the muscles. This leads to reduced soreness.
Some post-workouts have ingredients that help to maintain the higher rates of metabolism experienced during and after workouts. These supplements aim to both improve strength and the speed of the metabolism.
What are the Benefits and Should I Take Them?
Similar to pre-workout supplements, different post-workout formulas contain different ingredients. These ingredients are aimed to enhance or improve specific aspects of the body.
Many post-workout supplements are branched chain amino acid (BCAA) formulas or blends. The most common amino acids used in these blends help the body digest food, speed up the metabolism, repair muscles, repair body tissue, and promote the regulation of the body’s organs. These amino acids are important in rebuilding and maintaining the muscles after workouts.
Post-workout supplements can contain B6, B12, and vitamin C. All three of these are known to help the body recover from stressors, including the stress of a workout. These vitamins help the body recover and feel fatigued for a shorter amount of time.
There are many benefits to taking supplements that are intended to be consumed after a workout. Know the ingredients in the formula and understand how those ingredients interact with the body.
Post-workout supplements can do wonders for the body, and users should also research the supplement before taking.
What’s the Difference Between Pre- and Post-Workout Supplements?
The difference between pre-workout and post-workout supplements in when they are taken and what they are used for.
Pre-workout supplements are always taken before a workout. These supplements aim to improve exercise as it is being undertaken. Pre-workout supplements are primarily intended to increase focus and energy while increasing output. By improving the intensity or longevity of the workout, an athlete can experience increased results.
Post-workout supplements are taken after a workout. They are aimed at helping the body recover, rather than improving performance during a workout. These supplements help the muscles to build or to reduce muscle loss.
A simple way to remember is that pre-workouts are taken for energy and focus while post-workout supplements are taken for recovery.
Finding Supplements for Your Lifestyle
It is easy to see how supplements can help improve your workout. The goal is to find a supplement that works for you and your lifestyle. If pre-workout supplements do not work for you, then perhaps a post-workout supplement can help you achieve your goals.
Always consider your fitness goals and research which supplement and ingredients will help you safely achieve those goals.
Adam Steel is the chief editor at legwork.guide. He is an aspired personal trainer, sporadic runner, avid gym-goer and currently training to do his first marathon and a 100-mile sportive.
FDA. “Information for Consumers on Using Dietary Supplements.” FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements/information-consumers-using-dietary-supplements
Kedia, A. W., Hofheins, J. E., Habowski, S. M., Ferrando A. A., Gothard M. D., & Lopez, H. L. (2014). “Effects of a pre-workout supplement on lean mass, muscular performance, subjective workout experience and biomarkers of safety.” International Journal of Medicine and Science, 11(2): 116-126.
National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. “Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Performance.” NIH, 2017, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance-HealthProfessional/