Written by: Elsie Velazquez cert. personal trainer at Prescription Fitness (Cleveland, Ohio)
Over the years, I’ve been asked many times to give my opinion on pre-workout supplements. Are they safe? Do they work? Are some better than others? The list of questions goes on and on.
First of all, let me start by explaining why people choose to take a pre-workout supplement. Most pre-workout supplements are in powder form and are specially designed to give you a boost in energy, improve endurance, increase strength, and aid in recovery. After reading the enticing labels of these products, it might be very tempting to try one of these supplements before hitting the gym or heading out for a run. It is important to keep in mind that most supplements have caffeine in them.
In addition to the above benefits, pre-workout supplements claim to provide you with vitamins and minerals and to boost your amino acid production. This helps your body utilize muscle activation during a workout, so that it works harder and leads to greater body transformation. In other words, it can help you build bigger muscles more quickly and effectively.
Rather than give my opinion, I will give some pros and cons to adding a pre-workout supplement to your routine.
- You will have more energy. Keep in mind that one of the main ingredients in most powders is caffeine. Some have as high as 500 mg per serving.
- You will be able to lift more weight and do more reps because the supplement will allow your body to work harder. In this case, Creatine is most likely the ingredient giving you this edge.
- You will experience better blood flow (aka pump). The Nitric Oxide or L-Arginine helps with oxygen retention in your muscles. Also helps with reducing lactic acid buildup.
- You may have better mental focus because of the Tyrosine added. This balances out the caffeine.
- Increased motivation may also be a positive experience for some. Goes hand in hand with the increase in energy.
- Because of the caffeine, you will want to time your supplements appropriately. Taking too late in the day may disrupt your sleep.
- Dehydration may be an issue so you will want to increase your water intake. Just as a cup of coffee, pre-workout supplements can signal your kidneys to release water.
- Increased Blood Pressure
- You can experience irregular or increase heart rate which is why they are recommended mostly for strength training. Probably not a good idea to use intense aerobic exercise if you experience this symptom.
- Blood pressure increase is something for those with a history of hypertension. Clear with your doctor before using.
Bottom line for me is that as long as pre-workout supplements are used within the recommended and reasonable boundaries, they can be a way of providing the extra boost you need to get through your toughest workouts. That being said, I suggest doing research and starting off slow. Exercise caution and common sense and you should be good to go! If you have any questions please contact one of our fitness trainers at firstname.lastname@example.org.