Many people find it difficult to get active and stay active. A lack of energy is a common reason why.
To get an extra boost of energy for exercise, many people take a pre-workout supplement.
However, a multitude of supplements is available, each containing many ingredients.
Because of this, it can be confusing to know what to look for in a pre-workout supplement.
It Depends on the Type of Exercise You Do
Man Drinking Pre-Workout Supplement
When considering a pre-workout supplement, it is important to think about your goals and the type of exercise you normally take part in.
Typically, individual ingredients found in pre-workout supplements will only improve certain aspects of exercise performance.
Some ingredients may increase strength or power, while others may boost your endurance.
Each of the seven supplements below targets a specific type of exercise.
Knowing which ingredients are best for certain types of exercise will help you find the supplement that may work best for you.
Here are the 7 most important ingredients to look for in pre-workout supplements.
Different ingredients in pre-workout supplements improve particular aspects of exercise performance. Some will help you increase strength or power, while others will help increase your endurance.
Creatine is a molecule found in your cells. It’s also a very popular dietary supplement.
Most sports scientists consider creatine to be the number one supplement for increasing strength and power (1).
Research has shown that it can safely increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance (1, 2, 3).
Studies have reported that strength gains from a weight training program are about 5–10% higher on average when people take creatine as a supplement (2, 3, 4).
This is probably because creatine is an important part of the energy production systems inside your cells (5).
If your muscle cells have more energy when you exercise, you may perform better and experience greater improvements over time.
If you want to increase muscular strength, creatine is probably the first supplement you should consider.
A recommended dose starts with 20 grams per day, which are split into multiple servings during a short “loading” phase when you start taking the supplement.
After this phase, a typical maintenance dose is 3–5 grams per day (6).
Creatine is one of the most studied sports supplements. It is safe to consume and can increase muscle strength and power, particularly when combined with weight training.
Caffeine is a natural molecule found in coffee, tea and other foods and beverages. It stimulates certain parts of the brain to increase alertness and make you feel less tired (7).
It is also a very popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements.
Caffeine is effective at improving several aspects of exercise performance.
It can increase power output, or the ability to produce force quickly. This applies to different types of exercise, including sprinting, weight training and cycling (8, 9, 10).
Studies have also shown that it can improve performance during long-duration endurance events, such as running and cycling, as well as during intermittent activities like soccer (10).
Based on many studies, the recommended dose of caffeine for exercise performance is about 1.4–2.7 mg per pound (3–6 mg per kg) of body weight (10).
For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this would be 200–400 mg.
Caffeine is considered safe at these doses, and the suspected toxic dose is much higher, at 9–18 mg per pound (20–40 mg per kg) of body weight (11).
However, doses of 4 mg per pound (9 mg per kg) of body weight may cause sweating, tremors, dizziness and vomiting (10).
Caffeine can produce short-term increases in blood pressure and may increase restlessness, but it does not typically cause an irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia (10, 12).
People respond differently to varying amounts of caffeine, so it is probably best to start with a low dose to see how you respond.
Finally, it may be best to limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day due to its anti-sleep effects.
Caffeine is consumed by many people around the world. It is safe at moderate doses and can improve various aspects of exercise performance, including power output and performance during long-distance events or team sports.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps fight muscle fatigue.
When acid starts to build up in your body during intense exercise, beta-alanine helps combat the acid (13).
Taking beta-alanine as a supplement increases its concentration in the body and may improve exercise performance.
Specifically, this supplement may help improve performance during intense exercise lasting one to four minutes at a time (14).
However, it may not be effective for improving exercise that lasts less than one minute, such as a single set during a weight-training workout.
Some evidence shows that this supplement may be effective for long-term endurance exercise, but the effects are smaller than for exercise lasting between one and four minutes (13, 14).
The recommended dose for improving exercise performance is 4–6 grams per day (13).
Based on existing research, this dose is safe to consume. The only known side effect is a tingling or “pins and needles” feeling on your skin if you take higher doses.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps fight fatigue in your muscles. It is most effective at improving performance during short bursts of intense exercise lasting one to four minutes.
Citrulline is an amino acid produced naturally in your body.
However, consuming citrulline from foods or supplements can increase your body’s levels. These increased levels may be beneficial for exercise performance.
One of the effects of citrulline is increasing blood flow to body tissues (15).
In the context of exercise, this may help supply your exercising muscles with the oxygen and nutrients they need to perform well.
One study showed that cyclists biked about 12% longer before exhaustion when taking citrulline, compared to a placebo (16).
Another study assessed the effects of citrulline on upper-body weight training performance. Participants performed about 53% more repetitions after taking citrulline, compared to when they took a placebo (17).
Taking citrulline also significantly reduced muscle soreness in the days after exercise.
There are two main forms of citrulline supplements, and the recommended dose depends on which form you use.
Most endurance exercise studies have used L-citrulline, while most research on weight training has used citrulline malate. A recommended dose is 6 grams of L-citrulline or 8 grams of citrulline malate (16, 17).
These supplements appear to be safe and do not produce side effects, even at doses of 15 grams (18).
Citrulline is an amino acid produced naturally in your body. It is also found in some foods and available as a supplement. Consuming citrulline may improve aspects of endurance and weight-training performance.
Pre Workout Supplements are designed to take before workouts to get more strength, energy, focus, pump and endurance. So if you’re lacking sleep, feeling tired, weak or it’s just not your day – pre workout supplements can help you turn an average workout into a great workout! Because when it comes down to training you want to be able to push yourself through the workout as hard as possible and get the most out of every workout!
Pre workout supplements can make a difference if you use them correctly. But pre workout supplements are definitely not magic pills that will make you lift 100lbs more then your current maximum lift! You still have to push yourself really hard if you want to achieve something in the gym! If a supplement company claims that their product is magic, don’t give them your money!
You probably won’t need a pre workout supplement if you are going for a few minute jog, but if you are training hard in the gym, lifting heavy weights, they will give you some great benefits and you will get worth your money.