The right trainer and workout plan can help you go harder. Go further. Go faster. But what about before you go to the gym?
Pre-workout powders are often packaged and advertised as a way for hardcore strength builders to make their workouts even more intense. But they’re not just for the pros.
Pre-workout products are for everyone, with all sorts of different benefits for beginners and experts alike.
To get those though, it’s important to know exactly what a pre-workout powder is, how it can impact and improve your workouts, and what to consider before you buy.
Pre-workout powders are different to other fitness supplements like creatine that directly affect your muscles (more on creatine in a little bit). Instead, think of them a bit like having a strong cup of coffee before you head to the gym.
Just like coffee, pre-workout powders boost energy and focus, which in turn helps you push yourself further and harder during your workout.
In fact, caffeine is one of the most common ingredients you’ll see in these products, along with niacin, which turns food into energy, and beta-alanine which slows the rate of muscle fatigue to give you better endurance.
These qualities make pre-workout powders valuable for all training goals – putting a little more in the tank so that every session is one where you’ll have the energy to give your all.
That can work wonders over time, especially if you’re building a schedule with the right number of rest days to support recovery between workouts.
Dry scooping is a trend that’s been doing the rounds on TikTok recently. It’s exactly what it sounds like – putting pre-workout powder straight into your mouth and then either swallowing it without water or washing it down with a few sips afterwards.
There’s no inherent risk to dry scooping compared to pre-mixing it with water.
But the much bigger worry comes from using this method to load up on huge amounts of caffeine that should only be taken in controlled doses.
Online, you’ll see people downing six or more scoops of pre-workout in one go, which is a bit like drinking a pint of espresso.
That obviously won’t feel great. And the possible side effects are incredibly serious, including heart palpitations, heart attacks, and irreversible damage to your cardiovascular system.
It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions around proper use – be it how to mix a powder with water or how much of it to take in one go.
Typically, the instructions will specify one scoop at a time, and to avoid combining pre-workout powders with other caffeine-rich products like coffee or an energy drink.
Overloading your body from multiple sources is only going to lead to the same issues you’ll see with taking too many scoops. Your body will tell you if you’re overdoing things, so listen to it and cut back if you need to.
If you have allergies, you’ll also want to check the ingredients for any products or additives that your body has an issue with.
If you notice specific side effects like a rash, itch, or tingling sensation, you might have a sensitivity to beta-alanine or niacin.
This is quite common and varies from person to person. So if it’s affecting your workouts, consider switching to something different.
While creatine has a direct correlation to performance by providing our muscles with more energy, pre-workout powders make you more alert and focused.
You’ll still need to put in the hard yards to see results, and that means doing the right exercises, using the right form, and having access to the right support.
If you’re interested in combining the benefits of pre-workout with the strength-building properties of creatine, that’s fine too.
You’ll also see some pre-workout powders that include creatine alongside caffeine, niacin, and beta-alanine.
If something like that, or a mixture of different products, appeals to you, then just make sure you’re following all the instructions to get maximum benefit.
A few of the most searched-for products that you’ll see popping up are:
These are all good options. But if you’re looking for a bit more advice on what will work best for you, have a chat with your trainer and see what they recommend.
Whatever type of pre-workout powder you’re interested in, it’s essential to buy it from a trusted source – whether that’s online or offline.
C4 pre-workout powders like this one are great because they’re cost-effective, easy to get hold of, and come with no real side effects for most people.
That being said, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, I wouldn’t recommend having pre-workout within eight hours of your bedtime.
If you’re apprehensive about the effects of any new supplement, then start with a half measure and see how you feel. Taking on an empty stomach can also make it feel more potent, so avoid this if you don’t want to feel it as intensely.
In my experience, pre-workout is better for a strength session than used in a cardio workout or low intensity steady state (LISS) sessions such as a long run or cycle.
Typically you don’t want your heart rate to spike more than necessary in a cardio session, and caffeine is also a diuretic so it can make you need the toilet more- not ideal when you’re 10km from home.
I’ve found that pre-workouts can make me feel nauseous in a cardio or circuit session as well, but it works well for me in a strength setting.
Because these products are always evolving, it’s been known for new powders to arrive in the market with ingredients that are later banned from certain sports or made illegal entirely.
Less reputable outlets will sell these pre-workouts if they can, so stick to known brands or stores like Amazon that adhere to all the relevant substance laws around what can and can’t be sold publicly.
In the right circumstances, pre-workout powders could give you that extra 10% to push harder and go another round.
But getting those benefits starts and finishes with understanding what these products are for and how to incorporate them into your exercise routine in a way that’s safe and sustainable.
If you need any specific advice around the training and health schedule that you want to supplement with pre-workout powder.
Or if you’re looking for other ways to get closer to your fitness goals, become an Another Round member today.
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