These days, in the fitness arena, many people swear by pre-workout supplements– and for good reason. Research indicates that pre-workouts boost performance during workout sessions to ensure that you get the most from every session and reach your overall fitness goals.
The benefits associated with pre-workouts are supported by science, and researchers are constantly finding new ways for athletes, weightlifters, bodybuilders, and gym-goers to augment their workouts.
That being said, even though there is a lot of research supporting the benefits of pre-workouts, there is still some doubt among industry leaders about whether or not they can deliver on their promises. If you’re still not sure about trying them, keep reading to learn all you need to know about these popular fitness supplements.
In this article, we’ll look at the various benefits associated with pre-workouts in general, as well as explain what particular supplements are best for which benefits: strength & power, muscle growth, energy & focus, and endurance.
What Benefits are Associated with Pre-Workout Supplements?
Basically, pre-workouts are designed to help you get “in the zone” prior to and during your workout session to improve your performance and increase results. They increase your energy levels to help delay fatigue and give you the ability to do more than you typically would be able to. Pre-workouts may be especially helpful on those days when you just don’t have the motivation to hit the gym.
Here are just a few more of the benefits that have been associated with pre-workout supplementation:
- Increased strength when lifting weights
- Improved endurance
- Reduced muscle breakdown to ensure you get the most from your weightlifting session
- Improved energy/focus to augment productivity during workout sessions
- Improved delivery and absorption of nutrients to that your body can fuel and repair itself better
- Increased metabolic rate to facilitate the burning of fat
- Creation of optimal hormonal environment, which facilitates a more effective fitness regimen
As mentioned, more and more research is being done on these supplements, which means more benefits are being discovered.
Which Type of Fitness Supplements Should You Be Taking?
Just as you have different workouts to meet different fitness goals, different fitness supplements are used to focus on different areas of fitness. Therefore, in order to make sure that your pre-workout supplements are effective, you need to figure out what your personal fitness goals are. From that point, you can choose a pre-workout supplement based on the ingredients that will help you reach those goals. Below, we’re going to explore four main fitness goals and the best supplement to achieve each one.
Strength & Power
If your fitness goal is to increase your weight lifting capacity, you’ll want to make sure that the pre-workout you choose contains the following ingredients:
If weightlifting is typically your workout of choice, you’ve likely heard of creatine. This is one of the most commonly used supplements in the fitness arena because it has been proven to increase strength and improve performance during a workout.
When you are engaging in strenuous activities, such as lifting heavy weights, your muscles use adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, to facilitate muscle contractions. However, our body has a limited amount of this chemical- only enough to handle a few seconds. In order to create more, your body has to process phosphocreatine, which is where creatine supplementation comes in handy.
By consuming a creatine supplement, you enable your body to produce additional ATP, which gives you the strength to increase your reps or weight that you’re lifting. Ideally, a 5-gram dose of creatine should be taken approximately 30 minutes prior to beginning your workout session. This will give you the boost you need to reach those fitness goals related to strength and power.
Another ingredient that comes in handy when your fitness goals are centered around strength and power is taurine. Though taurine has not been studied as extensively as creatine, research does indicate that there does seem to be a connection between muscle performance and taurine levels in the body. When taurine levels drop, muscle contractions weaken, which means your capacity to lift decreases. Therefore, it seems that additional taurine consumption could potentially increase strength by maintaining muscle contraction when engaging in a strength training routine.
If your primary workout goal is to build muscle mass, a pre-workout supplement can provide your muscles with the support they need while you are working out, as well as improve recovery time. To meet this goal, you need to check the ingredient list on your pre-workout for the following ingredients:
By including BCAAs as part of your pre-workout, you reduce degeneration and breakdown of muscle tissue. BCAAs are absorbed into your muscle tissue and can be broken down quickly when needed for an extra energy boost when required. By providing your body with this critical ingredient prior to engaging in an intense workout, you ensure optimal performance because your body will not be pulling the amino acids from your muscle tissue.
Research also indicates that individuals who consume BCAAs have increased insulin levels- which is an anabolic hormone that prevents the body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy.
According to experts, the recommended dosage for BCAAs is 3 to 10 grams prior to and/or during your workout session.
The second critical ingredient when muscle growth is your primary goal is l-citrulline, which is a nitric oxide precursor. Ultimately, l-citrulline leads to improved delivery of nutrients to your muscles, allowing you to perform at your best and achieve gains much faster.
Energy & Focus
When engaging in a workout- especially an intense one- it’s common to run out of energy in the middle of it. However, this is something you can prevent. If your primary fitness goal centers around energy and focus, you’ll want to make sure that the pre-workout you choose contains the following ingredients:
When it comes to stimulants, caffeine is one of the most common. In fact, it is one that most people consume on a daily basis, especially if they need a boost of energy. While it is critical that you avoid overdoing it, consuming a pre-workout containing caffeine approximately 30 minutes prior to engaging in your workout can invigorate you to power through an intense session as well as improve your overall athletic performance.
The second pre-workout ingredient that supports energy and focus is tyrosine, which is an amino acid that has been proven to improve focus. It supports the production of certain chemicals in the brain to augment attention and alertness. This means that you can focus better on your workout. It is especially helpful in situations where you are under high pressure to perform or when you feel stressed.
When it comes to working out, endurance is critical. The longer you are able to engage in a HIIT workout, the better your strength and stamina. If endurance is your primary fitness goal, you need to look for the following ingredients in your pre-workout supplement:
The first ingredient that we’ll look at for supporting endurance is beta-alanine. It’s important to note that when you work out, your muscles break down your glucose stores, which creates lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up, you experience muscle fatigue.
However, carnosine, which is produced by beta-alanine, prevents the accumulation of lactic acid. Beta-alanine is one of the non-essential amino acids that you can take as a standalone supplement to combat muscle fatigue and improve your results from your workout. Ideally, you should consume 2 to 2.5 grams approximately 30 minutes prior to working out and take an additional dose later on in the day.
The second ingredient that supports endurance is citrulline malate, which is useful because it stimulates the production of ATP- which prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue. In addition, it eliminates lactic acid and other endotoxins, which reduces fatigue. Experts recommend that you take 3 to 6 grams prior to working out.
In the fitness arena, pre-workouts are quite popular- from fitness experts to those who are just starting out. It’s important to note that there are lots of options on the market and it can be difficult to find the right one. Therefore, when you are weighing your options, make sure that you think about your personal fitness goals, as well as how you tolerate ingredients like caffeine and other stimulants.
Hopefully the information we have provided here has been beneficial and helped you reach a decision on the best pre-workout for you. Again, first and foremost, you must determine what your personal goals are to help you determine the most beneficial ingredients.
Also, if you’re just starting out, pay close attention to dosages and stick to the recommendations and make adjustments, if necessary, until you figure out what works best for you.
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