A close-up of jars of Naughty Boy pre-workout and the gym in the background

Pre-workouts have become very popular in recent years, but are they something you should add to your supplement cupboard, or are they one to leave behind?

What are Pre-Workouts?

Pre-workouts are a multi-ingredient formula that is used to boost an athlete’s energy and performance. Generally, you’ll find a mix of amino acids, caffeine, creatine and sweeteners in a pre-workout powder, which you’ll then mix with water and drink before a workout (hence the name!)

The ingredients in most pre-workouts will increase your blood flow, increase your heart rate and increase blood flow to the skin. The first ingredient to consider is caffeine. Caffeine is known to most of us to boost our energy levels and stamina and this is exactly why it’s in pre-workout. Caffeine has been shown to block pain in the muscles during a workout too, which is good if you want to push your muscles as far as they can go.

Another ingredient is Creatine. Creatine is a chemical your body has naturally, in very small amounts. It is used when you need high energy for a short burst of time. Typically your creatine system can only be sustained for a tiny amount of time and takes a while to be regenerated. Adding a pre-workout containing Creatine to your workout, could improve your high-intensity capacity and help you use that system in your body for longer by replacing what your body naturally makes, faster.

What are the Benefits of Pre-workout?

Pre-workout supplements offer many benefits to people looking to enhance their exercise routines. Here are some key advantages:

Increased Energy

Pre-workout supplements often contain caffeine or other stimulants that can boost energy levels, helping you feel more alert and motivated for your workout.

Enhanced Performance

Ingredients like creatine, beta-alanine, and nitric oxide boosters can improve strength, endurance, and overall exercise performance.

Better Focus

Many pre-workouts include ingredients that enhance mental focus and concentration, aiding in maintaining proper form and technique during workouts.

Reduced Muscle Fatigue

Some pre-workout supplements contain amino acids like BCAAs, which can help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue during and after exercise.

Improved Blood Flow

Ingredients like citrulline and arginine can promote better blood flow, potentially increasing nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles.

Appetite Control

Pre-workouts may help control appetite, making it easier to stick to a healthy diet and fitness routine.

Convenience

Pre-workout supplements offer a convenient way to consume specific ingredients that can support your fitness goals, especially if you have dietary restrictions or time constraints.

Is Pre-workout Good for Cardio?

Pre-workout supplements are typically formulated to enhance energy, focus, and performance during workouts, and they can be beneficial for cardio exercises as well. Many pre-workout supplements contain ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, and nitric oxide boosters, which can improve endurance, increase alertness, and enhance blood flow, all of which can be advantageous for cardio workouts.

Is Pre-workout Good for Your Muscles?

Pre-workout supplements can potentially benefit your muscles by providing a combination of ingredients aimed at increasing blood flow, enhancing nutrient delivery, and boosting energy levels. Ingredients like creatine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and beta-alanine found in some pre-workout products can support muscle performance and recovery.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Pre-workout?

It’s essential to choose a pre-workout product that aligns with your fitness goals and sensitivity to stimulants, as excessive caffeine or other stimulants can lead to jitters, rapid heart rate, or digestive issues. It’s also crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using any supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

Is Pre-workout Best on an Empty Stomach?

The effectiveness of taking pre-workout supplements on an empty stomach depends on the pre-workout itself, alongside individual preferences and tolerance. Some people prefer taking pre-workout on an empty stomach to experience quicker absorption and more immediate effects due to the absence of food in the digestive system.

Most pre-workouts are designed so that you can safely take them on an empty stomach, but there may be some circumstances where you should eat something, wait, and then take your pre-workout. We always recommend consulting the on-pack guidance on your chosen pre-workout before deciding what to do.

How Long Does Pre-workout Take to Kick in?

The time it takes for pre-workout to kick in can vary depending on several factors, including its ingredients and your individual body. Most pre-workouts are caffeine-based and usually take between 20 to 60 minutes to kick in. Other ingredients, like betaine and citrulline, can take a little longer; between 40 and 60 minutes to kick in. But generally, it’s safe to say that pre-workout usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes to start taking effect.

Is Pre-workout OK for Beginners to Use?

Pre-workout supplements can be used by beginners, but it’s essential for newcomers to exercise caution and make informed choices. Beginners may not be accustomed to the stimulants and other active ingredients often found in pre-workout products, so it’s crucial to start with a lower dosage to assess tolerance and avoid potential side effects like jitters, rapid heart rate, or digestive discomfort. Additionally, beginners should prioritize building a solid foundation of proper nutrition, hydration, and workout consistency before considering supplements. Consulting with a healthcare professional or fitness expert is advisable to determine whether pre-workout supplements are necessary or beneficial for your specific fitness goals and needs, as a well-rounded approach to fitness should always be the primary focus, especially for beginners.

Various pre-workout bottles

The Cons of Pre-Workout

All this being said, there are always cons to everything and pre-workout is no different. The caffeine content in a pre-workout is extremely high. It’s recommended that people don’t exceed 400mg of caffeine a day – and guess what? Pre-workout has around 150mg – 250mg in each scoop. With some brands recommending you take 2 scoops in one serving, that your entire daily recommendation in one drink! If you add your morning coffee, your afternoon tea, you’ve soon added up to well over the recommended amount. So it’s definitely worth thinking about how much caffeine you consume throughout the rest of the day as well (as high levels of caffeine can lead to headaches and nausea).

It’s worth noting that some suggested effects of Creatine taken in high doses could cause some issues for your liver and kidneys down the line, but this hasn’t been conclusively proved and there is research to show the safety of a creatine supplement.

The Verdict?

Pre-workout definitely has benefits and, if used correctly, could really boost your performance in the gym if used in moderation. With anything, it’s definitely worth looking at your other intake of caffeine and the other ingredients before jumping in to downing pre-workout at every gym session.

It’s always important to choose pre-workout products carefully, consider your individual needs and sensitivities, and use them in moderation to avoid potential side effects. Consulting with a Healthcare Professional, PT or Nutritionist can help you determine the best pre-workout strategy for your goals and body.

Come check out our variety of pre-workouts at the reception bar. Ready and waiting for you to give them a try.
Love, Team UG