by Will Grumke August 31, 2021 5 min read

Every time you hit the gym, you want to get the most out of your training and exercise...

Because working out, moving your body, and exercise all play a role in your results ... no matter what you want to achieve!

But what do you do to make sure that while you’re at the gym or working out ... you are able to perform your best, push yourself, and know that you are getting a little better each time?

Well, that’s where pre-workout supplements, often shortened to just “pre-workout,” can come in handy.

But let's get one thing straight. They are not magic powders or capsules. They do not give you superpowers or allow you to neglect things like your nutrition, rest, and recovery ... and expect to still perform at your best.

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Can they help? Yes! But it seems that all too often, pre-workouts are thought to be the answer to reaching your goals ... but the truth is, they are not.

And when thinking about pre-workouts, it is IMPORTANT to remember that not all "pre-workouts" are the same. They can actually be VERY different depending on the ingredients that are used.

What are Pre-workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements are typically a combination of ingredients that are intended to help your body operate at it's best during physical activity. 

Depending on the type of activity you are doing, or the goal of your workout, the type of pre-workout you want to use can vary ... and the ingredients you will want to look for can be different as well.

Sure, there are some ingredients of pre-workouts like Creatine, Beta-Alanine, and others that have many benefits and can improve many types of workouts ... thus they're very popular and in most pre-workouts...

But the key idea to understand is that typically, pre-workout supplements are intended to give your body a boost in energystrengthendurance, and performance.

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By focusing on your nutrition and recovery ... and then using a pre-workout supplement to help you push harder in your training ... over time, you can start to see faster progress than you would without it.

See, by giving your body the proper food & supplements to fuel your body to perform at its best during your training, and THEN recover properly afterward ... the stronger you can become for future workouts.

How Do Pre-workout Supplements Work?

As their name suggests, pre-workout supplements should be taken prior to the start of your workout.

Typically, you would do this about 30 minutes before you wish to start training.

Pre-workouts are usually taken as drinks, but can also be found in capsules to take with water.

You should only take as much as is directed on the container: taking extra servings doesn’t mean an extra effective workout.

And with that, one key aspect of pre-workout supplements that you need to know about is that not all of them have caffeine or stimulants.

When most people hear pre-workout, they automatically think ENERGY! They think about "getting jacked up" on pre-workout ... and for some, they want that.

For others though, they don't ... and they assume pre-workout is not for them.

But that's not necessarily true! 

There are 2 main categories that pre-workouts can be broken down into ... Pre-workouts with stimulants ... and pre-workouts without stimulants.

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Now, regardless of whether a pre-workout has stimulants or not ... it can still be beneficial for your workout.

Because while energy is a benefit that many seek from pre-workout ... it's far from the only benefit of taking a high-quality pre-workout

Potential Benefits of Pre-workout:

  • Boost energy — More energy means you will feel like working out longer or harder. Which can help you do more reps and more sets, leading to better results if you are recovering properly and have a good nutrition plan. 
  • Increase focusExercise takes as much willpower and mental focus as it does physical strength, and that extra brain-boost can help you push through when things get tough.
  • Supply amino acidsAmino acids, found in protein, work to repair and build muscle, and during training can help prevent muscle tissue breakdown. This can help with improving your endurance and helping you push a little further in your training.
  • Fuel your body— Carbohydrates are your body's primary fuel source. This is one reason why having a meal with protein and carbs before your workout can help with performance. It's also why having carbohydrates as part of your pre-workout can be beneficial.
  • Enhance pump — Some pre-workout ingredients are vasodilators. These types of ingredients can help your vascular system increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient delivery to the working muscle.
  • Increase overall performance — Most pre-workouts will contain different proven ingredients that offer better performance in the gym. Whether it be improving ATP (energy our body uses for explosive movements), or buffering lactic acid ... the right pre-workout can help you work harder and longer during your training sessions.

How Do Pre-workout Supplements Differ?

Because not everyone works out the same, or has the same goals for their workout, and not every pre-workout supplement is the same...

If you shop around, you’ll notice that price differs from brand to brand and product to product, as well as the numbers of servings, flavors, and ingredients.

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Ingredients especially can vary widely between pre-workout supplements.

Here’s a look at a few ingredients commonly found in pre-workout products:

  • Caffeine Anhydrous — A concentrated form of caffeine, a stimulant that gives a distinct energy boost.
  • Theacrine — A stimulant that worksto improve energy, mental clarity, motivation, and mood.
  • Betaine Anhydrous — An amino acid that helps balance hydration in and around muscle cells, giving muscles extra endurance during a workout.
  • Creatine Monohydrate — helps your body recycle ATP more quickly while training. ATP is used for quick, explosive energy during intervals or lifting weights. Creatine can help you recover more quickly between sets so you can push yourself with each one. 
  • Beta-Alanine — An amino acid that helps in the production of carnosine, a compound that impacts muscular endurance during high-intensity exercise by helping to regulate lactic acid buildup. Note: It's also responsible for the "tingling" feeling you may get when you drink certain pre-workouts.

Are Pre-workout Supplements Safe to Use?

Always use pre-workout products as directed.

Pre-workout supplements are intended for adults, ages 18 and older, who do not have a pre-existing medical condition. 

Always make sure to read the warning labels ... and if you have any concerns, consult your doctor, because some ingredients may interact negatively with some medications.

Pre-workout supplements are not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Also, you should never exceed the recommended dosage or serving size of any pre-workout product. 

You will also want to be mindful of your caffeine or stimulant intake if you are taking a pre-workout with stimulants. 

For example, drinking coffee might not make you jittery ... and drinking a pre-workout with caffeine might not make you jittery ... but if you were to drink your coffee, and shortly after drink your pre-workout, it could make you jittery!

The same is true for other supplements, such as a weight-loss product, that may have caffeine or stimulants in it. 

So be careful, and make sure you're aware of how much caffeine you are consuming.

Finding the right Pre-Workout

As we covered earlier on, the purpose of a pre-workout is to help your body perform at its best during your workouts and training.

Keep in mind that before you worry too much about improving performance, you want to make sure you are ready to recover post-workout and have your nutrition plan in order, because that is where the majority of your results are earned.

When you have those things in place, then adding in pre-workout to help you push your body even more during training can be effective, since you will be able to recover better and earn real results. 

Here at 1st Phorm, we have several different pre-workouts to help you find the best option(s) for you ... no matter your goal, preference in workouts, or lifestyle.

That's because we have many team members here at HQ who like to workout in different ways. And just like you, we want to perform at our best and get the best results.

That said, if you have questions or want help finding the right pre-workout for you, give us a call at 1-800-409-9732! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers that are here to help you for free with whatever it is you need!

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Will Grumke
Will Grumke

NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer