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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
June 12, 2023
Unfortunately, those days when you show up to the gym feeling fatigued, weak, or slow are inevitable. Whether it’s due to a lack of sleep, a busy week at work, or sore muscles from a previous workout, it’s never a good feeling heading into a workout session feeling unmotivated and energy-less.
Fortunately, a supplement is available that can improve your energy, stamina, and even recovery: pre-workout! If you’re not familiar with the pros and cons of pre-workout supplements, you will be after reading this. We have taken a research-backed, unbiased approach to discuss the benefits and safety concerns of pre-workout for lifters and athletes alike.
In this article, the topics we’ll go over include:
If you’ve ever considered taking pre-workout or are hoping to learn more about a supplement that can provide your workouts with a much-needed boost, this article has got you covered.
Let's start by defining what pre-workout is. Pre-workout is a supplement taken before a workout that enhances athletic performance during exercise. In addition, it can help alleviate muscle fatigue after a tough workout, helping you to recover more quickly.
It typically comes in powder or pill form, is mixed in water, and should be consumed between 30 minutes to an hour before a workout. Recreational and competitive athletes alike use pre-workout supplements, which when done correctly, contain a blend of quality ingredients linked to enhanced workout performance.
As a side note, while BCAAs, creatine, and beta alanine are common ingredients, these ingredients don't actually make much sense in a pre-workout. Creatine and beta alanine are saturation ingredients that need to be dosed every day to be efficacious and you are not going to be taking pre-workout every day, so you'd also have to supplement them on the side. As for BCAA's and when to take them, you should be getting plenty from your protein.
We won't discuss ingredients in-depth in this post, but if you want a clear explanation of all that and what ingredients to look for in a good pre-workout, check out this article on pre-workout ingredients. In addition, it's important to read up on some of the most effective pre-workout ingredients, like GlycerPump, alpha-GPC, and Betaine, so you know what to expect and how much the dosing should be.
Every pre-workout will have a slightly different formula, with different dosages, but the general pros and cons still apply. If you do want to educate yourself more on what makes for a really good pre-workout, then definitely read that article in the aforementioned link.
Due to its increasing popularity, pre-workout has been the focus of much research. The overall takeaway? There are a ton of great benefits to taking a pre-workout supplement.
Here’s how taking a pre-workout can benefit you:
Evidence shows that for healthy individuals pre-workout is safe and won't cause health issues. However, pre-workout contains stimulants, such as caffeine, that may not be suitable for those who are sensitive to the effects or have underlying health conditions.
If you have an underlying health condition, are prone to sensitivities, or don't like planning, here are a few cons to keep in mind.
Research has shown that pre-workout is not harmful to healthy adults11. A group of gym-goers took a pre-workout every day for six weeks, and in addition to seeing positive results in the gym, it proved to be safe and tolerated well by the participants. Cardiac tests and nutritional assessments were conducted and showed nothing unusual11.
Separate research showed that taking up to two doses of pre-workout a day for 28 was safe for men and women with no negative effects on the heart, liver, or kidney functions12.
However, if you have high blood pressure, an abnormal heart rate, heart disease, neurological disorder, diabetes, an autoimmune disease, or are pregnant, pre-workout may not be safe for you. It’s important to speak with your doctor before consuming any workout supplements.
As a side note, we don't recommend using expired pre workout if it has an odd odor, looks weird, or is moldy. The odor and appearance may just cause it to look and smell strange, but the mold can be potentially dangerous and should be avoided.
Due to its wide range of benefits, pre-workout is great for anyone trying to improve their physical fitness. Whether you are trying to build muscle, increase your running or cycling endurance, or shed a few pounds, pre-workout benefits can help you achieve your goals.
Those who will benefit from pre-workout include:
Ladies, looking for specific benefits for you? We discuss this (and much more) in our article: The Complete Guide to Pre-Workout For Women.
Remember, if you are a healthy individual with no underlying health problems, pre-workout is safe for consumption. However, pre-workout may not be suitable for everyone, mainly due to its caffeine content. If you fall into one of the below groups, speak with your doctor before consuming any supplements.
Avoid taking pre-workout if you:
Unless you have an underlying health condition or don’t do well with caffeine, taking pre-workout will benefit everyone from a competitive athlete to a recreational strength trainer to an endurance runner.
With benefits such as increases in muscle and lean body mass, increased strength, energy, and concentration, and less fatigue and faster recovery, this supplement deserves a place in your pre-workout routine.
Looking for a great pre-workout to boost your aesthetic and performance goals? Check out the Best Pre-Workout Supplements on the Market!
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