Does Pre-Workout Give You High Blood Pressure?

Medically reviewed by Dr Dimitar Marinov

You’re ready to hit the gym, but if you want to get that skin-splitting pump, you know you’ve got to take your pre-workout. As you go about your routine, a thought hits you – do pre-workouts give you high blood pressure? This is a good question, especially if you already struggle with high blood pressure.

Most pre-workouts contain that little miracle worker we know and love – caffeine. It’s known for giving you an energy boost and speeding up your heart rate, so when you use it, your blood pressure will most definitely increase.

Let’s dive into the topic of how pre-workouts increase your blood pressure and whether it’s something you should be concerned about.

What are pre-workout supplements?

Pre-workouts are dietary supplements, often found in powder or pill form, that you can take before you train to improve your workout performance. How do they do this? Pre-workouts contain ingredients that can increase your energy levels and give you razor-sharp focus to get you working out to help you reach your peak.

What are some common ingredients in Pre-workout Supplements? 

Pre-workout supplement ingredients can differ depending on the function the product is trying to help you achieve or according to dietary restrictions. That being said, there are a few ingredients that you’ll find in most pre-workouts. These ingredients include:

  • Caffeine: this stimulant aims to enhance your focus and alertness and increase your energy levels. It also can reduce the perception of effort during exercise, making things feel easier than they are
  • Creatine: aids the production of ATP to give your muscles a good fuel supply with the aim of increasing your strength, increasing muscle growth and power output
  • BCAAs: Branched-chain amino Acids play a vital role in protein synthesis and help your body repair damaged muscles and reduce muscle cramps and soreness after exercise
  • Nitric Oxide Boosters: an ingredient that dilates the blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow to optimise the efficiency of nutrient transportation around your body, leading to more energy being processed faster
  • Beta-alanine: the amino acid that regulates the acids in our muscles while we train and buffers lactic acid to delay fatigue for better exercise capacity

Do pre-workouts give you high blood pressure?

Most pre-workouts contain stimulants, which can increase your blood pressure and could increase the risk of high blood pressure. An excellent example of a stimulant that raises your blood pressure is caffeine. But how exactly does it do this? 

Caffeine blocks adenosine, the hormone in your body responsible for keeping your arteries wide so blood can flow efficiently. It also increases your heart rate, which forces more blood to flow through your arteries. Therefore, taking a pre-workout with caffeine causes narrower arteries and an increased amount of blood to push through, and as a result, you’ll experience a short-term spike in your blood pressure. 

Another way pre-workout raises your blood pressure is from the effect that caffeine has on the adrenal glands. Evidence also shows that caffeine can cause your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which raises your blood pressure. The same goes for other energy-enhancing ingredients like guarana and green tea, which both have caffeine in them. 

Other Potential Pre-Workout Side Effects

Most pre-workout supplements are generally safe, and when used according to the dosage directions, people usually don’t really experience any side effects. But everyone is different, and that means there is a chance that supplements could affect people differently. So, besides an increase in blood pressure, there are a few other side effects you could experience from taking pre-workout supps, especially if you’re taking it in high doses.

Pre-workout supplements:

  • May cause headaches
  • May cause you to feel jittery
  • May cause liver issues
  • May cause a harmless tingling or itching sensation
  • May cause diarrhoea and cramping
  • May disrupt sleep patterns or cause an energy crash

Most of these side effects are rare and are often associated with specific ingredients that can be avoided. For example, a tingling sensation is often a side effect of beta-alanine. This pre-workout ingredient regulates the acids in your muscles to help delay fatigue. Another example is caffeine, which can cause jitters, insomnia, headaches, and an energy crash when it wears off. 

How long does a pre-workout increase your blood pressure? 

Taking pre-workout supplements can cause your blood pressure to spike up to 250 mmHg while you exercise. There’s no exact time allocation for when your blood pressure will return to normal. Still, doctors suggest taking a reading 30 minutes after training to check your blood pressure, and if it hasn’t dropped, then take it a few hours later again. If your blood pressure hasn’t settled after a significant amount of time, we suggest you get that checked out by a doctor.

Are Pre-Workouts Safe?

Generally, yes, many pre-workout supplements are safe to take. However, if you have an existing condition like high blood pressure or heart issues, then consult a doctor before you start taking pre-workout supplements. 

Final Thoughts

Pre-workouts are designed to improve your exercise performance, so they will raise your heart level and blood pressure. One of its main ingredients, caffeine, is well known for giving the body a kick start when taken. But in doing so, it also raises your blood pressure. So, do pre-workouts raise your blood pressure? Yes, they do, but your blood pressure should return to normal when the pre-workout wears off.

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