Are pre workouts worth it?
Posted on 30th June 2022 at 16:44
Ever wonder if you could get more out of your workouts? Hit more pbs and ensure every time you arrive at the gym you are ready to absolutely smash your session out of the park.
In today’s blog I want to explore pre workouts and assess are they worth it and what are they even made up of?
I am sure most of us have tried a pre workout before or considered giving one a go. Maybe you’ve had a free sample in the post when you’ve ordered some whey only to try it and feel very odd indeed.
Well to assess whether pre workouts are any good or not lets first of all breakdown the main ingredients of most pre workouts and what they do.
We all know this ingredient very well and to be honest this is the most important ingredient of all pre workouts. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and it can be used to improve physical strength and endurance. Taken 30 minutes before training caffeine can really help aid intensity and performance.
Now what people may not know is that the research on caffeine shows you need a lot more than just a strong cup of coffee. A normal cup of coffee will be around 90mg give or take. However, 4-6mg per KG of BW is the correct dose to see a real effect on performance based on current literature. So, when you get a real rush of energy after taking a pre workout this is most likely down to the high caffeine content.
Most pre workouts will contain about 175-200mg of caffeine and that is based on just one scoop, but how many people really only take just one scoop or pre workout?
The next main ingredient in pre workouts is creatine. Creatine is used in the process of energy production in the body particularly for high intensity activity such as resistance training. During periods of intense training creatine levels can be depleted. Creatine also aids with glycogen storage and can be beneficial for endurance training. Creatine is one the most researched sports supplements and has shown many benefits in relation to power, strength, muscle gain and sporting performance.
Now creatine is a supplement that you don’t get an acute response from like you would do caffeine, so timing doesn’t matter as much. Creatine can be obtained via food sources such as meat and fish, but supplementing is an easy and cheap way to ensure you maintain good levels within the body. Most pre workouts contain about 2g of creatine however research dictates that supplementation should be around 5g a day for most gym goers.
So, creatine is a useful supplement to take but isn’t something you need to worry about taking straight before training but just at some point during the day.
Beta alanine is an amino acid which is known as a lactate buffer, it basically help delays the onset of blood lactate so you can work harder for longer. This ingredient is the one you will know about when you take. This is because it can cause paraesthesia which you will feel as a tingling and almost itchy sensation on your skin. This side effect give the feeling that the pre workout is doing something and working.
However what people don’t realise is that beta alanine only really kicks in or offers its benefits in very intense exercise that generally lasts more than a minute. The studies where it has shown most benefits are in things like cycling or running. The average gym goer won’t be inducing much lactate or doing resistance exercises that last more than a minute, so basically it doesn’t really add that much for most unless you like punishing yourself on high rep sets on the leg press (insert being sick emoji).
This ingredient is claimed to help with improved better blood circulation, vasodilation and in essence get better ‘pumps’ in the gym. Now although we all enjoy a good pump in the gym citrulline malate only shows very limited support for improved power output and to reduce fatigue, which are some of its other claims.
It also only shows a mild improvement in blood flow, and this was after chronic supplementation. But like many things the placebo effect is very strong and when you are told something helps with something whether it does or not, in your head you probably think it does help. So, if you think your pre workout gives you great pumps then you probably work harder and as a result get a good pump.
Leucine and glutamine
The last few ingredients of most popular pre workouts are amino acids like leucine and glutamine. Leucine is one the 9 key essential amino acids your body needs and cannot create itself and glutamine is one of the other 11 amino acids found in the body. However, these amino acids being in a pre-workout is not needed as they are very common in high protein foods such as meat, dairy, and fish. Foods that most gym goers will be eating lots of anyway, so supplementing is not needed for most. So basically, them being in your pre workout when you eat lots of protein is a waste of time.
Also, most amino acids get a better response in the body when consumed with their other key amino acids, so consuming just a couple together is probably not worth it.
You can see from the above that pre workouts contain ingredients which can help your training and some ingredients that probably won’t. It is also important to remember that you can take things like creatine on its own and not in a pre-workout, this is also often much cheaper. The other thing to consider is that taking a high caffeine pre workout after 4pm will not do your sleep any good. Some people can also get side effects after a pre workout, I have felt sick on many occasions a couple of hourse after having one. However, I have also taken pre workouts before and had great workouts as a result.
Let me finish this blog by saying you may need to try a pre workout yourself before deciding whether to take them long term. I personally don’t worry about advising them to my clients. Good nutrition, solid hydration, and plenty of sleep are often the best pre workouts going in my opinion.
I hope you have found todays blog helpful, if you want to learn more about how to gain muscle and lose body fat ensure you sign up to my weekly emails.
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