If you enjoy working out or just do it for the health benefits it brings, you might not realize that there are ways to optimize its impact on your body.
This is where pre-workout supplements come into play, and there is a growing market for this type of product at the moment.
Of course, you might be intimidated by the idea of taking supplements proactively and planning your exercise sessions around them. To demystify the pre-workout process and show you that it has advantages for everyone, let’s unpack this topic and explore it more fully.
It’s not just for bodybuilders.
First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that while pre-workouts may have been popularized in part by male bodybuilders who want to pile on muscle mass, that’s not the only audience targeted by this type of product.
There are plenty of women’s pre-workout supplements which have had the dosages of their active ingredients adjusted to cater to those with lighter, leaner bodies and different end goals in mind. These can even be suitable for men who don’t want to go for the full-blown Mr. Universe look but still want to enhance their bodies’ natural attributes during exercise.
It’s not just about getting ripped.
As you might have gathered by now, the purpose of lots of pre-workout supplements goes beyond the accumulation of bulging muscles. In fact, for most people who take them, the primary aim is to bolster their performance and thus allow themselves to push harder and faster to reach new physical benchmarks.
There are a few key ingredients that are common across lots of pre-workout products which are included to assist in this, the most well-known of which is caffeine.
As well as giving you the increased alertness that all coffee aficionados associate with caffeine, it also has proven properties that boost your focus. That means you can give all of your attention and mental acuity to a workout, which might matter even more if you are participating in a team sport that engages your brain as well as your brawn.
Nitrates are another oft-included ingredient of pre-workout supplements, as these are able to up the levels of oxygen which reach your muscle fibers. This, in turn, means that you have more fuel to burn, which can help with workouts that involve explosive force, as well as those that are more to do with stamina management.
Lastly, there’s creatine, the wonder ingredient which crops up in the vast majority of supplements of this kind. Once again, it is tied to an uptick in energy production, and it is also alleged to have a beneficial impact on the amount of time it takes your body to recover post-workout.
So as you can see, your reasons for taking pre-workout supplements can be varied, and you don’t just need to be aiming towards a totally ripped body to be a suitable candidate.
Side effects are a potential concern.
This is the main sticking point for lots of people, especially women, when it comes to considering the pros and cons of pre-workout supplements.
Side effects can be associated with products like this, although, as mentioned earlier, if you choose a product that is specifically tailored to your body type, then you should not really have anything to worry about.
The key consideration should be the amount of caffeine a supplement contains. It may be a stimulant, but if you have too much of it, you could start to feel nauseous, jittery, and even anxious. You probably have a good handle on how your body responds to caffeine if you drink tea or coffee in the mornings, so use this to judge how you will handle products with even more of it in.
For example, a standard cup of coffee will have the equivalent of 95 milligrams of caffeine onboard. A scoop of a pre-workout supplement could have anywhere from 2 to 4 times as much.
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You have to take some responsibility for making sensible choices in this context. Read the label of any supplement before you commit, and also look out for low caffeine or caffeine-free products if you are not comfortable with the potential disruption this might cause to your system.
Creatine can also have side effects, although it has been used so widely in recent decades that it is worth emphasizing just how safe and trusted it is on the whole. One side effect of mentioning is that you might experience more water retention when taking creatine-based supplements. This usually only occurs if you exceed the recommended dose, and again you should choose products tailored to your body type to take this into account.
More broadly speaking, if you have never taken pre-workout supplements before, you could find that the cocktail of ingredients they include are prone to produce odd effects in your digestive system. Until your body gets used to them, taking on plenty of fluids in combination with your supplements will help you out.
Once again, everyone is unique, so while some people might suffer certain side effects, others will be able to jump straight into using pre-workout supplements with no problems whatsoever.
Who should take these products?
If you only workout a couple of times a week and you don’t have any particular fitness goals in mind, then pre-workout supplements might be overkill, especially if it’s a high-caffeine (more than 200mg) kind.
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However, if you are training for a longer period in order to pass some fitness milestone or complete a particular challenge, then the performance boost afforded by pre-workout supplements will be more attractive.
As always, do your research and only buy supplements that come from reputable brands, which in turn have been independently verified as being safe and of good quality. Also, ease yourself in by taking smaller doses to see if any of the ingredients disagree with you.
With all that said, there is definitely no need to be scared of pre-workout supplements. It’s just a case of weighing up your options and going in with an understanding of what they can do for you.