Imagine the perfect workout session where you effortlessly hit your personal bests, maintain razor-sharp focus, and experience an adrenaline-fueled pump that leaves you feeling invincible. That’s the power of a well-formulated pre-workout supplement!
As more fitness enthusiasts search for ways to enhance their exercise performance, pre-workout supplements have gained popularity for their ability to boost endurance, concentration, and muscle-pumping prowess.
Let’s explore the most effective ingredients for each purpose, so you can tailor your pre-workout supplement to your unique needs.
Which pre-workout ingredients can help boost your energy?
Pre-workout supplements are like the secret sauce to energising your workouts, and they often feature a cocktail of invigorating ingredients.
Caffeine is a beloved ingredient known for its focus-sharpening, energy-amping, and strength-boosting prowess. Pre-workout supplements showcase caffeine in various forms, from caffeine anhydrous to di-caffeine malate (Infinergy) or even the all-natural version straight from coffee beans.
Note: Recommended dosages span from 200mg to a whopping 500mg, but it’s essential to know your body’s limits before crossing the 100mg threshold. To play it safe, experts advise consuming 4-6mg per kilogram of your body weight.
High-quality pre-workouts not only enhance energy, boost performance, and provide a powerful pump, but they also support the body in burning fat during high-intensity exercise. Yohimbine is an excellent ingredient for this purpose. As a potent compound that impacts specific receptors in the body, it promotes fat breakdown (lipolysis) and raises free fatty acid levels during and after workouts. This process enables your body to burn more fat while exercising and even afterwards.
Note: To maximise Yohimbine’s benefits, it’s advised not to exceed a daily dose of 20mg. It’s crucial to find the right dosage, as excessive amounts can cause anxiety, nervousness, and jitters.
Synephrine, also known as bitter orange, works similarly to ephedrine but with less potency. This ingredient aids in fat-burning and blood flow improvement when added to pre workout powder. It’s recommended to take 10-20mg of synephrine up to three times daily.
Note: Isopropylnorsynephrine, a more effective fat-burning substance related to synephrine, can also increase energy. The typical dosage ranges from 5mg to 20mg.
N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate, a stimulant often compared to the now-banned DMAA, offers an energy boost and euphoric sensation, though less potent. While research is limited, pre-workouts generally contain between 50mg and 350+mg of this ingredient.
Wondering which pre-workout ingredients can help you stay focused?
These days, most pre workout supplements come with ingredients specifically designed to boost concentration and mental clarity. Some popular focus-boosting pre-workout ingredients include Huperzine-A, Alpha-GPC, tyrosine, and citicoline.
Similar to Alpha-GPC, Huperzine-A is a cognition-enhancing, cholinergic substance that works by reducing acetylcholine breakdown. This helps improve focus and strengthens the mind-muscle connection. To reap its benefits, aim for a dosage between 50mcg and 400mcg.
Alpha-glycerophosphocholine, or Alpha-GPC for short, is a brain-boosting substance that enhances thinking. Pre-workout supplements often include it to increase focus and overall strength. For optimal results, consider taking 600mg of Alpha-GPC.
As an amino acid, tyrosine plays a key role in converting it into chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline in your body. It’s added to pre-workout mixes to help sharpen memory and focus during intense workouts. For best results, take between 500mg and 2,000mg about 30-60 minutes before exercising.
What pre-workout ingredients give you a pump?
Many pre workout formulas aim to enhance the pump you feel during workouts by including ingredients that improve blood flow and relax blood vessels. This improving blood flow allows more blood to reach your muscles, resulting in those epic pumps. Several common pre-workout ingredients are used, including glycerol, agmatine sulfate, citrulline, and arginine.
This naturally occurring alcohol is used in pre-workouts in its powdered form. Glycerol attracts and retains water in your blood, creating massive muscle mass and helping athletes exercise longer. Trademarked glycerol ingredients like GlycerPump and GlycerSize contain 65% glycerol for reduced clumping and better mixability. The studied effective dosage is 1.2g per kg of body weight.
Note: Glycerol isn’t essential but aids in hydration and pump production. No pre-workouts contain the max effective dosage due to clumping and mixing issues. Consider supplementing separately, like creatine.
L-citrulline is an amino acid that increases arginine and ornithine levels, helping recycle ammonia and produce nitric oxide for better muscle pumps. You can find citrulline naturally in watermelon. It’s suggested to take 2 grams three times a day, with or without food.
Originating from the amino acid arginine via decarboxylation, agmatine sulfate has the potential to improve blood flow by relaxing blood vessels, resulting in larger pumps. Although the exact mechanisms behind this process aren’t entirely clear and need more investigation, the suggested dosage falls between 1-1.5 grams.
L-Arginine, an amino acid, is essential for athletes seeking high stamina and reduced muscle damage during intense anaerobic exercises. It produces Nitric Oxide, which expands blood vessels and increases blood and oxygen levels in body tissues and heart muscles, improving workout stamina. Additionally, L-Arginine boosts muscle growth, reduces post-exercise lactate and ammonia levels, and supports speedy tissue recovery.
Note: Take 3-6g of L-Arginine about 30 minutes before strength or training session or 1-3g for endurance workouts as a pre-workout supplement. However, ensure your total daily dose does not exceed 18g.
Nitrates can be found in some pre-workout supplements as beet extract. They transform into nitric oxide in your body, potentially improving blood circulation and creating a muscle pump effect during strength training. The suggested amount is 6.4-12.8mg/kg, which is about 436mg for a person weighing 68kg.
Wondering which pre-workout ingredients can boost your endurance?
Many pre-workout supplements are packed with ingredients specifically designed to help endurance athletes work out harder and longer. This leads to bigger gains and improved physical performance.
Beta-Alanine, the renowned blood flow enhancer, is here to make its mark. It not only grants you that extraordinary sensation but also fine-tunes your focus during workouts. And as if that weren’t enough, this ingredient is a precursor to the amino acid carnosine, potentially elevating your cognitive performance and turning you into a true athlete.
Note: To get the most out of Beta-Alanine, aim to take between 3,200mg and 6,400mg daily, and time it just right by taking it about 20 to 30 minutes before you hit the gym.
Mainly derived from tea, theanine is an amino acid often paired with caffeine to create a relaxed yet alert sensation, known as “smart caffeine.” Pre-workouts use theanine to reduce jitters and anxiousness caused by caffeine. The recommended dosage ranges from 50mg to 200mg.
Also known as baking soda, Sodium Bicarbonate is a mildly alkaline salt that can boost endurance by decreasing acidity in active muscles. This helps you work out longer and push yourself harder. Studies recommend taking 0.3 grams per kg for about 60-180 minutes before exercising for the best results.
Note: Some people might experience side effects like bloating, vomiting, and gas. To minimise these effects, try taking Sodium Bicarbonate with a meal high in carbohydrates, splitting the dose into smaller portions throughout the day, or using enteric-coated capsules.
This organic acid not only amps up your endurance and reduces muscle fatigue, but it also takes your gym performance to the next level. And if that weren’t enough, it stabilises lipids and membranes to reduce body fat while bolstering your antioxidant defence systems. But wait, there’s more! Taurine keeps your heart, brain, skeletal muscles, and even your peepers in prime condition.
Note: To experience the full taurine extravaganza, aim for a daily dosage between 500mg and 2,000mg.
Acetyl L-Carnitine is a nonessential amino acid that’s ready to dominate your energy metabolism and fat breakdown game. With a suggested daily dosage of 500 to 2,000mg, this versatile ingredient offers a range of benefits that you’ll love. From elevating your cognitive performance to helping you rebound from muscle soreness and stress like a champ, Acetyl L-Carnitine has got it all covered.
Curious about which pre-workout ingredients can help you gain power?
When it comes to building muscle and strength, generating adequate power is key for progressive overload. Many pre-workout supplements include ingredients that boost power output, such as ElevATP, creatine, and betaine.
This patented blend of ancient peat and apple polyphenols is designed to increase your body’s natural ATP levels. By doing so, it helps enhance your power and strength during workouts. For pre-workout supplements, consider taking 150mg of ElevATP.
Creatine is the buzzword in fitness circles, with athletes and bodybuilders singing praises. With its remarkable muscle-sculpting, strength-amplifying, and workout-elevating powers, it’s no wonder that Creatine is a must-have in many pre-workouts. While your body is a natural creatine factory, churning it out from other amino acids, glycine and arginine, you can also score some from delectable sources like red meat and seafood.
Note: Research suggests that just 3 to 5 grams per day (30 mg per kg of body weight) is enough to keep your muscles stocked and ready for action.
Betaine – also known as Trimethylglycine – is a non-essential amino acid that cosies up with foodie favourites like quinoa, sweet potatoes, beets, and spinach. Despite the inconclusive research landscape, betaine is thought to pump up nitric oxide production levels and supercharge power output. To possibly savour its perks, opt for a daily dosage of 2.5 to 6 grams, conveniently portioned into two separate servings.
What pre-workout ingredients improve absorption?
Pondering the secret to amplified pre-workout ingredient absorption? BioPerine and Astragin are two popular absorption-enhancing ingredients you’ll often find in pre-workouts.
A potent component sourced from long pepper or black pepper, BioPerine is a patented ingredient that unlocks your body’s potential to assimilate an array of substances with finesse, from herbal extracts and branched-chain amino acids to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When it comes to pre-workout supplements, treat yourself to a dose ranging between 5mg and 20mg of this wonder ingredient.
Made from Astragalus membranaceous and Panax notoginseng plants, Astragin is a patented ingredient that aids the body in absorbing nutrients, vitamins, essential amino acids, and fatty acids more efficiently. In pre-workout supplements, the recommended dosage for Astragin ranges from 25mg to 50mg.
How to choose the right pre-workout?
To make an informed decision, consider the ingredients that target different aspects of your workout, such as energy, endurance, pump, power, and absorption. Here are 9 essential tips to guide you in choosing the right pre-workout for your needs.
Tip #1: Know Your Goals
First, figure out your main fitness objectives, like muscle growth, fat loss, or increased endurance. Then, pick a pre-workout with ingredients tailored to your goals – such as caffeine or theobromine for energy, and taurine or theanine for endurance – to set you on the right path.
Tip #2: Find Your Sweet Spot
Start with a lower dosage to see how your body reacts to stimulant ingredients like caffeine. Gradually increase the amount based on your comfort level, and be mindful of the recommended dosages for each ingredient to avoid potential side effects. A personalised approach will make your workouts more enjoyable.
Tip #3: Do Your Homework
Research the key pre-workout ingredients and their benefits. Look for scientifically proven ingredients with effective dosages. Steer clear of proprietary blends that hide ingredient quantities, making it tough to determine their effectiveness. Knowledge is power, so fuel your workouts with science-backed ingredients.
Tip #4: Go the Extra Mile
Some pre-workouts offer additional perks like improved absorption (Astragin, BioPerine) or enhanced power output (creatine, ElevATP, betaine). Choose a pre-workout that meets your specific requirements to make your workout experience even better.
Tip #5: Trust the Crowd
Read user reviews for insights into particular pre-workout effectiveness and potential side effects. Talk to fitness professionals or friends with similar workout goals for personalised advice. Use others’ experiences to find the ideal pre-workout for you.
Tip #6: Transparency is Key
Opt for pre-workouts with transparent labelling so you know precisely what you’re consuming. Avoid pre-workout products with hidden ingredient amounts or “proprietary blends” that may not disclose individual ingredient dosages. Knowledge is power, so make informed choices about what goes into your body.
Tip #7: Prioritise Quality
When selecting a pre-workout, opt for one that boasts high-quality ingredients and proven dosages. While it may be tempting to go for a cheaper option, always remember that quality and effectiveness should come first. Think of your body as a high-performance machine that deserves the finest fuel for exceptional results.
Tip #8: Add Some Flavour
A delicious and easy-to-mix pre-workout can turn your fitness routine into a more enjoyable experience. To find a product that pleases your palate, read reviews and ask for recommendations. Transform your pre-workout ritual into a delightful experience you’ll eagerly anticipate each day.
Tip #9: Evaluate Your Personal Dietary Needs
Ensure the pre-workout supplement you pick aligns with your particular dietary needs. Take a look at the label to spot any allergens or ingredients that might not fit your diet. Remember, embracing your individual needs is important and selecting a pre-workout that promotes your overall health and well-being.
Final Thoughts on Pre-Workout Ingredients
Choosing the right pre-workout supplement is crucial to unlocking your full potential and achieving your fitness goals. By carefully considering your unique needs, preferences, and objectives, you can select a product that fuels your workouts and elevates your overall athletic performance.
Remember to prioritise quality ingredients backed by science, invest in pre-workout formulas with transparent labelling, and consider additional benefits that cater to your specific requirements
As you embark on this exciting journey, never forget that knowledge is power. By educating yourself on the ingredients and their benefits, you can make well-informed decisions that ultimately lead to success in your fitness journey. So, embrace the world of pre-workout supplements, and let it propel you towards becoming the best version of yourself.