Even the most experienced athlete can find themselves overwhelmed when staring down the pre-workout aisle at a store. There are countless products, all of which claim to be the best of the best. With so many different brands, compositions, and ingredients, it can seem daunting to pick out the right pre-workout for you. Plus, while some people may dedicate themselves to trying every pre-workout on the shelf, not every athlete has the time or the patience to wait around for results, nor do they want to pay for several brands of pre-workout only to realize they didn’t pick the right one for them.
Our team has worked together to research the best pre-workout supplements out there, so you can know what to look out for when choosing your pre-workout. We’ve taken into consideration things like overall fatigue, increased strength, and recovery times, as well as the best pre workout bang for your buck, so you can rest assured you’re picking out the right pre-workout for your needs.
At a Glance
- Pre-workout supplements use amino acids to naturally boost your workout intensity.
- By increasing your overall energy production, you can optimize your muscle building during your workout.
- Pre-workout supplements also help reduce overall fatigue, allowing you to recover faster and workout harder.
Key Ingredients to Search Out
Pre-workout ingredients are all about naturally boosting your body. Your body is a well-tuned machine, and you want to make sure that what you put in your body is the best of the best. Thankfully, pre-workouts aren’t based on steroids or any of those other finicky ingredients, but how can you tell if you’re looking at the real deal for maximum muscle boost?
Creatine monohydrate is a key ingredient to be on the lookout for. This molecule has been heavily studied across sports science and is theorized to boost your strength during resistance study in one such study. This means you can boost your lean muscle production from the get-go, with decent results.
Beta-Alanine is another pre-workout ingredient you should be sure is in your pre-workout of choice. This product can decrease the lactic acid build-up after your workout, helping decrease overall recovery times, as well as soreness. This also allows you to keep working out for longer than usual, letting you get even more out of a single workout session before you have to throw in the towel.
Everyone knows caffeine can give you that added boost in the morning, but what about in your pre-workout? Caffeine can help you focus on your daily workout regimen and can motivate you. It can also help increase your power and has the bonus of being an appetite suppressant, perfect for those looking to target that fat burn.
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid, which means your body does produce some amount of it. However, it has been connected to nitric oxide levels in your bloodstream, meaning it could increase the overall blood flow to your muscles while working out. While this amino acid can be found in supplements aiming to boost your muscle size, it can be useful for building lean muscles as well and may contribute to overall workout output with extended use.
BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids are a lot simpler than the name implies. These sets of three amino acids can’t be made in your body, meaning you need to get them from your diet or through supplements. Many post-workout shakes have these ingredients in them, but taking them before your workout can potentially help with muscle fatigue, especially when doing resistance training.
What Ingredients to Avoid
In general, pre-workouts contain natural ingredients that you can find in your daily diet, so overall they’re quite safe to use, so long as you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Of course, you should always consult with a doctor or nutritional specialist before starting any supplement or pre-workout regimen.
It is worth noting that beta-alanine can make your hands itch slightly. As far as side effects go, this one is fairly benign, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of it before starting a new product. Keep in mind the side effect shouldn’t last for long, so if it’s unbearable or ongoing, it may be an allergic reaction that requires medical attention.
Also, anyone with a heart condition should talk to their doctor before taking L-citrulline, as it directly impacts the blood flow in your body and could complicate things with your medications. Be sure to keep your doctor up to date with all medications and supplements you’re taking, especially herbal supplements, as you never know what may cause an adverse reaction.
Are Pre-Workouts Necessary for Everyone?
In general, the average athlete doesn’t need pre-workout right out the gate. Pre-workout is for helping you maximize your muscle gain and performance, and only offers results once you’ve hit a certain level of fitness. If you’re a gym rat who spends more time lifting weights than almost anything else, pre-workout is probably a good fit for you. However, people heading to the gym once or twice a week will probably not notice a distinct difference in their performance levels.
Pre-workout is also a situational aid, meaning if you’re looking to pump some iron, you’re going to want to pack that pre-workout. However, cardio days or recovery days don’t need as much boost, meaning you can skip the pre-workout and aim for something a bit more recovery-focused. It is important to note that combining pre-workout and post-workout supplements alternating with your workout intensity can lead to significant benefits. It’s all about planning your workout around keeping your body healthy and slowly increasing your intensity.
When looking for a pre-workout supplement, be sure to check the ingredients and weigh your options. While pre-workout formulas can be found in a wide range of types and with countless claims, it’s what’s inside the bottle that truly counts. Look for natural ingredients, a lack of fillers, and quality components to ensure you’re able to take your workout to the next level.