Now that you know the basics about what supplements are all about, it’s time for us to turn our focus to the specifics of things so you can nail down your very own supplement protocol. The first type of supplement that you should learn about and consider are pre-workout supplements.
If you are going to be putting in a good amount of time and effort with your workout program, it’s a must that you are making sure that you are going to reap as many rewards as possible. With pre-workout supplements, you will do just that.
Let’s take a closer look at give you the details you need to get started successfully.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Still not quite sure you have a firm grasp over what these pre-workout supplements really are?
Basically, they are anything that will help you put in a better performance during your exercise session. There are pre workout products out there that will accomplish different goals, so this isn’t going to be a black and white answer – it’ll depend upon the product you choose.
Some of the main areas that pre workout supplements aim to assist with include:
Increasing your energy and focus so that you can push harder with each set while in the gym or go that extra mile while doing your cardio training, increase
Enhance Blood Flow
Enhancing blood flow to the muscle tissues, increasing the level of vascularity and size you experience (also commonly referred to as the ‘muscle pump’)
Improve Immune System
Increase the rate of tissue rebuilding by speeding up protein synthesis and making your immune system as strong as possible
Increase Fat Burning
Boosting the rate of total fat burning that takes place in the body during the workout session so you can get leaner more quickly.
So as you can see, it’s not a cut and dry answer here. You can have your pick of what goals and objectives you want to reach with your workout program and then select a pre-workout product that will help you get the job done.
However you slice it, pre-workout supplements are designed to help you push the barrier on success.
Cautions Before Using Pre-Workout Supplements
Now, before we get into the details on what pre-workout supplements are available and how you should be using them, it’s important that we do make a few notes so that you are fully informed as you begin.
First, realize that many pre-workout products are stimulatory in nature, meaning they are going to stimulate the central nervous system to get the response that they’re aiming to obtain.
Now, this can be a great thing, depending on how you look at it. Most people will find the stimulatory pre-workouts are more powerful and they do notice a greater effect while using them.
This said, they aren’t without their drawbacks. Any form of nervous system stimulation is going to pose a greater risk of side effects, so you may start to experience a few things that you aren’t used to.
Caffeine is one of the primary ingredients in many of these stimulatory pre-workouts so you’ll experience all the potential side effects related to caffeine consumption.
This can include:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of dizziness
Bitter orange is another ingredient often found in some pre-workouts that can increase heart rate and blood pressure significantly, so if you have health concerns in either of these areas, that’s also something to be very aware of.
Beta-Alanine or Niacin
Finally, you may also come across beta-alanine or niacin in some pre-workouts, especially those aimed at enhanced vascularity and focus improvement, which can make your skin feel slightly tingly. Some people find this helps their workout, others find it’s uncomfortable and need to discontinue the product because of it.
So just be aware that there are some potential side effects to using pre-workouts. Always do your research, reading customer reviews and look at the ingredient listing to see if there’s anything you may feel can cause you problems.
Then, start with the lowest dose to gauge your reaction before bringing it up.
Now let’s move forward and break the pre-workout options down by goal.
Design Your Pre-Workouts For Your Goals
As you go about making a selection for your pre-workouts, it’s going to be important that you are taking your goals into account. The goals that you have set for yourself will establish which products you should be using for optimal success.
It’s also vital to remember that you don’t necessarily only need to use one product either. Many people will ‘stack’ pre-workouts, combining two together.
Just always keep in mind that you must make sure there are going to be no ingredient interactions or that you are doubling up on ingredients as you do so. For instance, if you take two products with 200 mg of caffeine each, chances are you won’t be feeling so great. Always check dosages of ingredients first before combining.
For Increased Energy
For increased energy, the most common ingredient you’ll find in the supplement is caffeine. Caffeine, as we all know, provides a quick pick me up whenever you need it. Caffeine will also increase mental alertness, therefore helping you focus in on the session you’re doing better as well.
Another ingredient you may see in pre-workout products for increased energy is guarana. This is basically another form of caffeine, just the herbal variation. The risk of side effects will be just the same as regular caffeine, so don’t let yourself think that just because it’s ‘natural’, you won’t need to worry about that.
Finally, you may also come across L-Tryosine in your pre-workout energy based product. This amino acid is going to increase the levels of dopamine, epinephrine, as well as norepinephrine, all which help to stimulate the CNS and provide energy enhancement.
For Fat Loss
The next goal that you may have and want to use a pre-workout for is fat loss. If fat burning is the name of your game, caffeine can come in helpful here again. Caffeine will not only help you work harder during the session, as we noted above, therefore burning more calories overall, but it can also increase the rate of release of fatty acids from the fat cells during exercise, assisting with the weight loss process.
Furthermore, many people find that using caffeine will increase their overall time to fatigue, so they may potentially be able to do more overall work in each session they complete.
Another fat loss ingredient you may come across is Bitter Orange. This has very similar properties to the once highly used ephedrine supplement, which many knew as a powerful weight loss aid.
You do need to be very careful when using products with Bitter Orange as it will increase heart rate and blood pressure as we explained above.
Generally speaking, the fat loss products tend to be the harshest on your system as they are aiming to not only boost energy, but increase the metabolism as well, so there is more potential for side effects.
That said, they definitely can help speed up the process, so many people do consider and go on to use them.
You also might find an appetite suppressant built into your fat loss pre-workout as well such as Hoodia Gordonii. This will help reduce feelings of hunger, not just during the workout, but for the rest of the day as well and can therefore help you maintain your reduced calorie diet more effectively.
For Muscle Building
If your goal is to build muscle, you’ll want a slightly different pre-workout mix to help achieve success. Your goal won’t be to speed up your metabolism as much or burn fat because you are aiming to achieve the opposite: build muscle mass.
Therefore, your products will be more oriented around performance increases (increased strength, decreased fatigue) as well as faster protein synthesis so you can rebuild muscles back up faster than before.
The post workout supplements, which we will talk more about in another chapter are also going to be highly directed towards increasing your rate of protein synthesis as well.
So for pre-workout, the energy enhancers mentioned above can work well and will often be found in products you see.
In addition to that, amino acids are often utilized, more specifically branched chain amino acids. These are the ones that are specifically used by the muscles during exercise and will help you rebuild yourself back up stronger more quickly.
Then in addition to that, you will also typically see creatine making an appearance in your pre-workout nutrition.
Creatine is the precursor to the high energy molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is what will fuel each and every muscular contraction that takes place in an intense workout session.
Once your ATP runs out, your workout intensity will come to an abrupt end. So by using creatine, you help ensure your stores are fully saturated so you can continually produce that ATP for a longer period of time, doing more work and building more muscle.
Creatine basically helps you boost the intensity of the overall session, which is just what you want in a pre-workout muscle builder.
Finally, the last type of supplement you should be considering is the pump/vascularity pre-workout products. These typically go hand-in-hand with the muscle builders so you will sometimes find the target ingredients combined in a stacked product.
These products aim to dilate the blood vessels, which then means more blood, nutrients, and oxygen will get into the muscle cells, allowing you to perform better and recover faster after the workout is over.
These also typically help provide a nice dose of motivation as well as they will inflate your muscles, making them appear larger. Finally, the increased blood flow also tends to boost concentration levels and therefore can also prompt you to put in a better overall performance.
The three primary ingredients you will see in your pre-workout products that will achieve this effect include niacin, which is a B vitamin, beta-alanine, as well as the amino acid L-Arginine.
You may not find all of these in one product, but generally a combination of two are going to be found for optimal results.
As an added benefit, if the product also contains creatine, then the increased blood flow is also going to allow the creatine to get into the muscle cells more quickly so that it can exert full benefits.
Taking the time to choose your pre-workouts based around your goals is important so that you are purchasing products that will help.
Always run through the ingredient list to see just what the product aims to do. Very often if you are shopping for a pre-workout these supplements will be all lumped together as ‘pre-workouts’ so it’s up to you to look at the ingredients and decipher how they are best going to help you and whether your needs will be met.
Also remember that pre-workouts are typically going to come in powder form, so you’ll be mixing them either with water or with your pre-workout shake. It is beneficial, in most cases, to use them with a fast acting carbohydrate whenever possible as that will spike insulin and allow the pre-workout to get into your system faster than it otherwise would.
Aim to take them around 30 minutes prior to your session starting so that they can kick in and you will feel their full benefits.
While you don’t need pre-workout supplements to get results from your program, they definitely can help out.