If you’ve been struggling with your workouts or you feel like you’ve hit a plateau, then it may be worth trying a pre workout supplement.
There are numerous benefits to using a pre workout, including:
- Energy boost
- Improved focus
- Increase muscle strength
- Reduce muscle tiredness
- Incredible muscle pumps
Those benefits depend on the ingredients used in your pre workout and the dosage.
Some manufacturers will create a “blend” or “matrix”, you should avoid these as they don’t detail how much of each ingredient is in each serving, meaning the supplement could be filled with ineffective ingredients or low dosages, so you won’t feel any benefit when it comes to your workout.
Without further ado, lets take a closer look at 5 ingredients that you should look for in a pre workout supplement:
It’s quite common for gym-goers to drink a black coffee for their pre workout but for quite a lot of people, it wouldn’t be enough to affect their workout. That’s why most pre workout supplements will contain Caffeine and ideally you want between 150mg to 300mg in each serving.
Caffeine Anhydrous is well known for giving you energy and focus but it can also help with your endurance and strength.
Women should be cautious when increasing their caffeine intake, women are less tolerable than men and can sometimes feel dizzy or have an upset stomach. You should start with a smaller serving to test your tolerance before increasing your serving amount.
On days that you’re going to the gym we’d advise avoiding drinking coffee, the body shouldn’t really have more than 400mg in a day.
L-Theanine is a popular including in pre workouts due to its Nootropic benefits. It’s an amino acid that is found primarily in tea leaves, it energizes, calms and motivates you without any of the crashes you can sometimes get with pre workout.
L-Theanine works synergistically with Caffeine by raising hormones in your body that promote relaxation, as a result, it controls the energy given by the caffeine.
If you’re worried you might have a low tolerance to caffeine, then make sure your pre workout contains L-Theanine.
If you’re lifting weights, your goal is to look bigger – that’s where Citrulline Malate comes in. After it’s absorbed by your body, it boosts your nitric oxide levels, this is what dilutes your blood vessels and allows for greater bloody flow.
That boost to your NO levels make your muscles look larger and allows you to work out for longer. As we mentioned earlier, dosage is key and to feel the effects, your pre workout needs to contain 4g-8g of Citrulline Malate.
Citrulline Malate also enhances the use of Branch Chain Amino Acids, a must-have ingredient that we’ve included below.
Creatine is one of the most extensively researched supplements and there are endless studies confirming its benefits and safeness.
Some people will supplement creatine on its own as it has been proven to:
- Improve muscle power
- Increase hydration
- Reduce fatigue
- Enhance cognition
With all those benefits you can see why Creatine is so popular. If you can get around 1g of it in your pre workout then it’s an added bonus.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs 2:1:1)
The 2:1:1 refers to the three amino acids that make up BCAAs – Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
Leucine is included at twice the dosage of Isoleucine & Valine, it’s known to increase strength during workouts as well as preserving lean mass.
Isoleucine aids your metabolism, promotes muscle growth and prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Valine also helps support your metabolism and promotes muscle growth whilst also giving you a slight energy boost.
BCAAs should be supplemented by those who are lifting weights to gain muscle mass.
There are some ingredients that just missed out on our top 5, so here’s a quick breakdown of ingredients we consider an added bonus:
Beta-Alanine: This ingredient causes the “itchy face” you may have read about but that side effect is harmless. Beta-Alanine reduces muscle fatigue whilst improving your muscle strength.
BioPerine: Although not a key ingredient, any decent pre workout should include BioPerine. An extract of black pepper, BioPerine increases the bioavailability of nutrients by increasing absorption.
So there are the 5 ingredients we think you should look for in a good pre workout supplement, and remember, make sure you avoid any proprietary blends and make sure the dosages are high enough!
It’s always worth taking your time to compare different pre workout supplements as some will put a greater focus on energy than muscle building and vice versa – be sure to pick a supplement that supports your workout goals.
Finally, before you take any supplement it’s worth consulting your doctor. The information above is not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness.