This week’s post is about pre-workout supplements. I will discuss what a pre-workout supplement is, what ingredients are found in it, it’s safety, best brands of pre-workouts in Lebanon and finally, it’s effect on performance as compared to a regular cup of coffee.
What is pre-workout?
A pre-workout supplement can be used to enhance fitness performance and focus. It is, however, mainly used for bodybuilding. Most pre-workouts include one or more of the following ingredients: caffeine, beta-alanine and/or creatine.
What are some of the other ingredients commonly found in a pre-workout?
- Creatine: increases physical performance and strength
- Beta-Alanine: decreases fatigue during high intensity training / reduces muscle fatigue during weight training
- Taurine: helps muscle hypertrophy, reduces muscle damage, speeds up recovery
- Caffeine Anhydrous: increases alertness, improves concentration and focus, boosts energy.
- Acetyl-L Carnitine: contributes to enhanced exercise performance and recovery
Are these supplements safe?
Pre-workout supplements, like any type of supplements, have side effects, it is a personal choice whether these side-effects are desirable or not. For instance, some pre-workout supplements can make you anxious, lead to insomnia, lead to dehydration and adrenal fatigue.
Whether these potential side effects are worth the potential performance enhancing benefits is an entirely subjective matter. I personally find that as long as I stay hydrated (increase my water consumption throughout the day) and take my pre-workout supplement in the morning/early afternoon, it does not negatively affect my sleep/hydration.
Also, try not to consume any additional caffeine sources if you find that you are anxious or dehydrated from the pre-workout. If you must have a cup of coffee, just make sure to space it out a few hours after your initial pre-workout consumption.
How long before training do I take them?
You should aim to take your pre-workout between 20-30 minutes before your training session.
Pre-workout vs cup of coffee: which one is better for performance?
Performance-wise, I find that both a coffee and pre-workout provide a similar boost in energy and focus. However, pre-workout wins for me because it provides more hypertrophy related benefits. By that, I mean that the creatine and additional ingredients help me get more of a pump. As somebody who wants to gain muscles on my lower body, this means that the preworkout will help increase my squat , deadlift and hip thrust reps. I’ll also enjoy some of the positive effects with cognition that will last throughout the day.
My choice to take a pre-workout does not mean I don’t experience the side effects, it just means that the positive effects of the pre-workout outweigh them. With that choice, however, comes the responsibility to take a correct dose, to hydrate, take it longer than 6 hours before sleep.
Coffee alone is also super effective for performance, I will take a few weeks off of pre-workout and just have a shot of espresso. It just does not win in terms of hypertrophic benefits. If there is a major benefit of a pure coffee source, it is that the energy is cleaner, it does not make you crash, and it feels more natural. If that’s your cup of tea, then chose coffee instead of a pre-workout!
What pre-workout brands do you recommend?
Here are my favourite pre-workout brands and products, in no particular order (not sponsored). You can find all of these in Lebanon. Make sure the distributor is getting legit products. Yes, counterfeit products are a problem here, and yes, they risk giving you bad side-effects (due to the ingredients not being regulated).
1) 1UP nutrition’s All in One pre-workout
2) Musclepharm’s Assault pre-workout
3) Cellulor’s C4 Original pre-workout
4) Cellulor’s C4 Ripped pre-workout
Hope you guys enjoyed this post on pre-workout supplements, let me know what you thought of it in the comments section below!