Do I need a preworkout?
We already know how important exercise is. It not only will help reduce your risks from certain diseases, but the endorphins that get released during exercise are shown to make you happier & help to reduce your stress! Sometimes though, you just need a little pep in your step to allow you to CRUSH that workout.
What is “preworkout”?
Preworkout is a supplement that is taken before physical activity. It is known to help increase your energy, stamina, strength, & endurance.
What’s in it?
There are MANY types of preworkout supplements & each can contain their own laundry list of ingredients; Each company can produce their own proprietary blends. Most preworkouts can contain things like caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine. I personally try to abstain from any supplements that contain creatine &/or beta-alanine. Creatine draws water from your body & stores it into the muscle cells, so it can make you SUPER thirsty. I already drink 100 – 150 oz of water a day… I don’t want to drink any more! hahaha Beta-alanine gives you that “tingly” sensation (paresthesia), which some people enjoy, as it helps them know when their preworkout supplement “kicks-in”. I personally do NOT enjoy the feeling; It makes me feel like worms are crawling under my skin. I personally choose to avoid it.
How do you consume it?
Most preworkouts come in a powder form that can mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of water & shaken to mix. The supplement should be taken ~30 minutes before starting your workout. I typically drink mine when I arrive at the gym while warming up. The WORST thing is when I drink my preworkout on the drive to the gym, only to discover they’re unexpectedly closed; Oh what a WONDERFUL feeling that is… -.- LOL!!
I do NOT like to be rushed… Not even “just” to go to the gym. I wake up at 4am every weekday to get a 5am workout in at my local gym. Even though I’ve been in this “fitness game” since 2007, I even still struggle & need help to get out of that bed so early on a consistent basis. Preworkout gives me the boost I need at the gym when I’m feeling too tired &/or groggy and just need a lil pep in my step to crush my workout.
I prefer “fasted” workouts, which mean, I workout on an empty stomach. Since I workout so early in the mornings, this is the best option for me as I personally do not enjoy the feeling of working out with food in my stomach. Some people swear by working out on an empty stomach, others can’t workout without eating.
If you workout in the afternoons or evenings though, a preworkout supplement may not really be needed. You could instead be utilizing your food consumption before your workout to give you the energy needed to get through that workout. A light meal can be consumed 30min to 1 hour before your workout.
Eating a banana before your workout is a great way to increase your blood sugar levels & boost your glycogen stores. The typical “bro-meal” of chicken/rice/veggies can work as a light meal. Greek yogurt with fruit, oatmeal, smoothie, apple w/ peanut butter, eggs, protein bars & protein shakes are all good examples of something can be consumed to fuel your workout.
Everything is based on your personal circumstances, but if you’ll just be taking a brisk walk, or doing a light 30min lifting session at the gym, I wouldn’t recommend a supplement for a boost at all. If you’ll be lifting heavy weights at the gym, a preworkout supplement can aide in giving you that additional lift that you need.
Taking a daily fat burner can instead take the place of a preworkout supplement. For example, if you take a fat burner supplement when you wake up at ( 4am ), then you DO NOT then want to consume a preworkout powder before a 5am workout. They BOTH contain caffeine so mixing both so close together is not a good idea. If you DO want to consume a preworkout powder while still on a fat burner supplement, make sure your preworkout is caffeine and stimulant free.
Ok… I started taking it… Now, it doesn’t work anymore!
Most preworkouts are stimulant-based supplements so the body will start to become desensitized to the ingredients over time. To avoid that, you should cycle off stimulant-based preworkouts for a month. Instead, you can use a stimulant-free version of preworkout in between cycles. Instant coffee is also another great way to get a boost without using an actual preworkout supplement. NESCAFE CLASICO Dark Roast is my Instant Coffee of choice in between preworkout cycles. They have cute little single use packages that can easily be put into a water bottle & shaken.
Not every product is created equally…
Now that you know what the heck it is, here comes the fun part! PICKING A BRAND! There are a ton of different versions & variations of preworkouts. If it is something that is important to you, you should do the leg work & research to find the one that will work for you. Sometimes it just takes trial & error.
I say all of that to say…
Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put in. No supplementation will make up for poor nutrition and a lack of training. There is no magic potion; You have to still put in work. Supplements can’t really “supplement” your life unless you’re already doing a lot on your own.
Another quick tip? Drink water with BCAAs during exercise!