How Long Does Pre-Workout Take To Kick In? Best Time To Take It

Medically reviewed by Dr Dimitar Marinov
best c4 pre workout flavours

We all want to make the most of our pre-workout outs, right? For anyone who wants to feel the energy boost, the pump, and the muscle recovery, pre-workout is a supplement that boosts your athletic performance quite unlike any other product, but getting the most out of it all depends on timing. So, how long does it take to feel that pre-workout kick-in?

Most people must wait 15 to 30 minutes for their pre-workout to kick in. However, various factors contribute to when you’ll start to feel the effects of the pre-workout formula, like how fast your metabolism works or whether you have caffeine sensitivity or not. 

Read on to learn how our bodies absorb pre-workout and how long it takes to kick into action. Let’s go!

What are pre-workout supplements?

Firstly, a pre-workout drink is a dietary supplement that fitness enthusiasts can use to enhance their exercise performance before and during training sessions. Pre-workouts can differ quite a bit from brand to brand, but their main objective remains the same: boost energy levels, improve endurance and enhance focus.

These dietary supplements usually contain common pre-workout ingredients, including:

  • Caffeine: helps you to increase energy levels and focus
  • Creatine: the chemical compound naturally produced in your body (it plays a role in producing energy and increasing your muscular strength)
  • Nootropics: work by blocking or increasing neuro signals to help you focus
  • Nitric oxide: a compound that the body naturally produces from nitrates (helps improve blood flow and gives you a huge pump)
  • BCAAs: branched-chain amino acids help reduce muscle soreness and increase muscle strength
  • Beta-alanine: helps prevent acid buildup in your muscle tissue (improves the endurance of your muscles)

Factors influencing absorption time

Several factors influence how long a pre-workout will take to kick in. While many pre-workout formulas have similar ingredients, our bodies still interact with them differently. To understand how long a pre-workout takes to absorb, we need to consider the following:

  • Meal timing
  • Caffeine sensitivity or tolerance
  • Metabolism

Let’s take a closer look at these factors:

Meal timing

Firstly, taking pre-workout on an empty stomach will absorb much faster and have more potent effects. Because there is no food in your gastrointestinal tract to slow digestion, your body can process the ingredients in the pre-workout faster. Unfortunately, this can cause discomfort for some people because some ingredients in pre-workouts, when ingested alone, could irritate the stomach or digestive system.

Thankfully, you can settle this discomfort with the benefits of taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach by having a small snack just before your pre-workout. Alternatively, you can eat a small meal around 1 to 2 hours before pre-workout. 

Caffeine sensitivity or tolerance

Did you know that your body can build a tolerance to caffeine? Your caffeine tolerance is a huge contributing factor to the effectiveness of pre-workouts. As our bodies adapt to the current level of caffeine we’re consuming, it requires more to get the same neurological or physiological effects. 

So, people who consume large amounts of caffeine daily will require larger doses to get the same kick. For instance, say you’ve been taking a pre-workout supplement for a few weeks now and have noticed it’s not really giving you the pump it used to. The chances are you’ve built a tolerance to its ingredients and need higher quantities to get the same kick.

On the other hand, people with a low tolerance to caffeine will most likely feel its effects quickly. Taking doses in smaller amounts will help increase one’s tolerance until one can take the recommended dosages regularly.


Our metabolism refers to how our bodies process and use the nutrients we ingest. A significant factor contributing to how long a pre-workout takes to kick in is the rate of caffeine absorption. Caffeine reacts very fast with our bodies, especially when taken on an empty stomach. 

Other factors influencing our metabolism are age, sex, body size and lifestyle habits. These will all have a massive impact on how fast pre-workouts activate. Most pre-workout supplements contain other non-stimulant ingredients like L-citrulline and beta-alanine, which don’t rely on the factors above like caffeine does. Thus, your metabolism could process non-stimulant pre-workouts much faster and kick in within 30 minutes or less. 

How do you know when a pre-workout has kicked in?

For some people, it will feel quite obvious when the pre-workout kick starts. You’ll usually start to feel a buzz or increase in energy, and other signs will indicate that the pre-workout has kicked in, like improved mental focus and an increased heart rate.

Many pre-workout supplements will differ slightly, so if you struggle to feel the effects, then consider taking a different one to suit your needs, whether that requires a bigger dosage of caffeine or maybe you need a stimulant-free option. Regardless, there are tons of pre-workout supplements to choose from.

How long do pre-workouts take to kick in?

The average pre-workout will take 30 to 45 minutes to kick in, depending on whether or not you’ve taken it according to the dosage instructions or according to the recommended amount for your body weight.

The best time to take a pre-workout

This largely depends on the pre-workout you are using, but the best time to take a pre-workout supplement is about 30 minutes before you hit the gym to give your body time to process it so you’re pumped when it’s time to train.

How many pre-workouts can you have a day?

For most pre-workout supplements, the maximum daily amount is one serving taken before you exercise. For some stimulant-free pre-workouts, you could squeeze in another one without any hassle. 

Final Thoughts

Pre-workouts should kick in between 30 and 45 minutes, but it’s difficult to say exactly when because we all absorb nutrients at different rates. That said, taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach is one way to promote fast absorption; there may be one or two uncomfortable side effects. We hope this gives you some insight into how long your pre-workout will take to kick in and when you should take it.

Leave a Reply