Whether you are a fitness enthusiast, a so-called gym rat, an athlete or gym trainer, then you’re probably familiar with the many benefits that pre-workouts confer on your body. They can be a veritable but send on those slow dog-days when work and home life is kicking your butt, and you just need a little extra help in getting excited about a workout.
Well that’s precisely what pre-workout formulas do. After you make sure that your chosen product contains the ingredients that are tailored to your fitness goals, the next step is to time your usage so that the energy and focus they provide can last you for the entirety of your workout.
To this end, our experts have compiled this question and answer session to tackle the most common of the former.
Pre-Workout Supplementation: Timing Is Very Important
The ingredients of which the best pre-workout supplements are comprised each have a half-life. This half-life refers to the amount of time they remain in your body and are effective before they are flushed out or decay.
As a result of this half-life, you can tailor your consumption times to the length of time you plan on working out. For example, creatine takes around 30 minutes before it kicks in and up to about 90 minutes before its operational utility is concluded; this means you can benefit from taking creatine between 15 minutes and 30 minutes before a workout to make sure it lasts the entire time.
There are several reasons why you should plan when to take your pre-workouts; we will use several examples with the top ingredients that appear in most of the ones you can buy in the stores.
Maximize Your Available Energy
Although we will use caffeine as the example for this section, keep in mind that this also applies to any of the other ingredients that specifically help increase your muscular endurance and power. When you consume caffeine, it will reach peak efficiency in your bloodstream 15-45 minutes later. Although the effects will remain, they won’t be nearly as intense in the hours after this time span.
Optimal Consumption Time: Avoiding the Crash
Another reason why it’s so helpful to schedule the consumption of your pre-workout supplement is to avoid the crash that may come with certain ingredients.
Take, for example, caffeine again. If you’re like most people, then you’ve experienced the post-coffee-consumption crash that is attendant with imbibing too much at once. Your alertness skyrockets for a time, and then it drops off a cliff later.
The way to avoid this, is to take the coffee (or other stimulant) in moderation; additionally, you should plan to take it so that the peak coincides with your workout. That way, you have enough to carry you through.
Timing Consumption to Avoid Insomnia
One of the worst side effects of not timing your pre-workout powder consumption is an inability to get to bed on time. Because of their effectiveness, it is not uncommon to take workout supplements both before and after a workout; however, if you want to avoid sleep problems you should schedule your consumption well before bedtime.
The general rule of thumb on taking pre-workout supplements is about half an hour prior to your workout. This will give the stimulant enough time to reach peak concentration in your bloodstream so that it is maximally effective for your workout.
Depending on the stimulant – and definitely true for caffeine – you will feel the alertness and elevated activity kick in almost right away; however, you still got about 30 minutes to go before it reaches its zaniness in your system. An ingredient like beta alanine, on the other hand, can take up to 45-60 minutes before it really kicks in.
What’s the Cut-off Time for Taking Pre Workout?
Ideally, this depends on the ingredients in your branded pre-workout. However, since most pre-workouts are intended to provide you with energy and thus contain a stimulant, this advice is pervasive.
The half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours. This means that half of the caffeine that you consume will remain in your system 5 hours after the fact – which of course means you’ll still be feeling some of the effects. Let’s take an example: let’s say use a pre-workout that contains 350 mg of caffeine at 5 PM after work. That means that five hours later, at 10 PM, you’ll still have about 150 mg of caffeine in your system.
It should be clear from this that if you work out too late, you will run into serious jeopardy of being unable to sleep comfortably unless you go to bed after midnight. Therefore, late afternoons or early evenings may not be the best time to use a pre-workout containing similar stimulants. Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t workout – just that perhaps you should regulate usage of pre-workout supplements on your off days. Alternatively, you can also use about half of the recommended dosage of the pre-workout.
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