The Science Behind Pre-Workout Supplements: Do They Really Work?


If you’re a keen gym-goer, you will have heard of pre-workout – but have you ever thought about how it works? Pre-workout contains a variety of ingredients that can help enhance your workout in different ways, from increasing focus to replenishing nutrients lost. They could be classed as a type of supplement, to help your body through a hard workout to build essential proteins and replace electrolytes. Supplements play an important role when it comes to nutrition, whether that’s protein-based supplements, creatine, or the best greens supplement – they can all help you perform to the best of your abilities. Below, we’ll take a closer look at pre-workout supplements and whether they actually work.

What does pre-workout do?

From the name, you can guess that a pre-workout is a substance that can be taken before your workout to help you get the most out of it, to perform and train at your best. You can take pre-workout in the form of a powder, drink, or protein shake – whichever way you prefer. Depending on the brand you choose, your pre-workout may be made to have differing effects. For example, some contain caffeine to aid concentration and energy, while others are caffeine free and focus on increasing blood flow. If you train hard, and regularly, introducing a pre-workout to your routine could be a great option so that you can get the most out of your session. Pre-workouts can enhance performance, increase energy, and help you improve.

Key ingredients

So, what type of ingredients makeup pre-workout? Again, depending on the brand you choose the ingredients in your pre-workout may differ – but here are a few of the most common that tend to be included in a variety of brands.

  • BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids, often abbreviated to BCAAs, are included in pre-workout supplements, and are made up of three essential amino acids, isoleucine, leucine, and valine. When they are taken in the form of supplements, they enter the bloodstream directly. They help to build protein around the body.
  • Caffeine: Many of us reach for coffee when we need a bit of energy in the morning, supplements can help us achieve the same feeling of alertness as it contains caffeine. Being able to focus throughout your workout is essential, so taking pre-workout can help with this.
  • Creatine: This is a non-essential amino acid and can be taken in the form of a pre-workout to help restore the creatine stores within the muscles that are lost during exercise. Creatine can also help to enhance performance during training.
  • Electrolytes: When your body sweats, you lose electrolytes. Pre-workout often contains these so that you can replenish what is lost, especially if you’re working out for a long time.

When should you take it?

Pre-workout should be taken before your workout to ensure that you’re getting the best from it. The way that you take your pre-workout, and the way that you take it can differ depending on the brand you choose. Make sure that you stick to the instructions on the label so that you can benefit from your chosen brand. You should take your pre-workout 30-60 minutes before you train, which will allow it to work best. You should be aware that pre-workout can also affect your sleep – if you’re working out at night, the caffeine may mean you struggle to drift off.

Is it safe?

Because pre-workout enhances your performance, some may think that it’s unsafe. It’s always best to follow the instructions on the label carefully so that you can get the best effects your chosen brand can offer, without harming your health. Generally, pre-workout is only harmful when it’s not used correctly, which is why it’s so important to make sure you’re using it as instructed, as part of a healthy lifestyle and training plan. You should also ensure your brand is free of contaminants and any substances that you are unsure of.



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