Okay, truth be told, all of us on the Weighting For Warriors team have a bad habit of using coffee as pre-workout. And we're pretty sure we aren't alone.
So what's the big deal? Is pre-workout even necessary?
Let's break it down and get the scoop on another popular workout supplement.
What is Pre-Workout?
Unlike protein powder, which has an obvious key ingredient and straightforward use, pre-workout supplements are harder to attach a definition to. If we were going to umbrella-term it, it's something you take 15-30 minutes before your workout and is supposed to boost your energy and performance.
Pre-workout exists most commonly as a powder drink mix but can also be found in the form of chews, capsules, and canned drinks.
The ingredients used in one supplement can be vastly different from the ingredients in the next. What's more troubling is that most of the ingredients used are listed as a part of a "proprietary blend "that doesn't disclose the actual amounts of each ingredient used.
The most common ingredient among pre-workouts is caffeine. Caffeine is supposed to improve endurance, delay fatigue, and lower perceived exertion. You know, as it does for every other aspect of your life. This means, in terms of the loosest definition possible, coffee is pre-workout. But by those terms, sodas and energy drinks also fall into this category.
Other common ingredients in pre-workout supplements include amino acids, B vitamins, creatine, artificial sweeteners, and nitric oxide precursors.
Creatine is a chemical compound that your body naturally produces to assist with energy production and muscle strength. Pre-workouts often are creatine-based to augment the amount of creatine your body already produces. Creatine supplements also exist on their own because studies have shown that an increased supply improves recovery time, muscle mass, strength, and overall performance.
Nitric oxide is another compound your body naturally produces. Your body uses a combination of L-arginine, L-citrulline, and dietary nitrates like beetroot juice to create nitric oxide. Since the compound is used to relate blood vessels and improve blood flow, many pre-workouts will include ingredients used to produce nitric oxide. Small studies have shown that this can assist the transport of oxygen and nutrients to your body during exercise, but more research needs to be done.
Why Use Pre-Workout?
In short, to maximize your energy and performance during a workout. Most people who use pre-workout use it before nearly every workout.
You may not need pre-workout to hit your workout hard every time.
You may only need pre-workout some of the time to hit your workout hard every time. If you have a system that already works for you, then don't mess with it.
If you're looking into pre-workout because you're tiring out quickly during exercise. We suggest trying every other possible option first.
→ Are you drinking enough water?
→ Are you getting enough sleep?
→ Are you getting enough protein?
→ Are you getting enough carbs/calories in general?
If you answered yes to all these and you still feel sleepy at the gym, pre-workout may be the way to go.
Choosing A Pre-Workout
If you're looking to try pre-workout, it's essential to pick one based on ingredients. Stay away from artificial sweeteners or vague ingredient lists. If a lot of caffeine makes you jittery, steer clear of a caffeine-based supplement.
To be extra safe with What you're putting in your body, buy supplements from a reputable brand. For instance, get a pre-workout with a stamp from Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure the ingredients list is accurate.
Many large brands will offer sample packets that you can order to see how your body responds to a given pre-workout. This also allows you to discover what kind you like best.
If you have any questions, we're always here to help. Reach out and we can get you on the best nutrition plan for your body.