We’ve all been in that situation before where you’re trying to push through that wall of grogginess and lethargy during your last set.
Maybe you can only go to the gym straight after work when you’re already tired, or maybe you’re just not a morning person and your morning cup of joe just doesn’t give you the pick me up you need to finish your workout.
Pre workout could be the purchase that finally gets you seeing results in your performance and giving you the motivation you need to achieve your gym goals.
Pre workout can seem like a scary thing, there can be high amounts of caffeine involved and, if you’ve ever bought protein supplements, you know that the supplement industry is full of jargon, science, and potential health risks – there’s no better time to be informed than when your own health is on the line.
A simple question you might seek the answer to is how long does pre workout last? If you are taking a pre workout you will want to manage your energy so that by the time you get home the buzz has worn off and you can get the equally valuable sleep you desire.
We have listed everything you need to know about pre workout before you buy.
What Is Pre Workout?
A pre workout supplement, commonly referred to colloquially as ‘pre workout’, is a multi-ingredient dietary formula engineered to boost energy with stimulants and increase athletic performance with supplemental vitamin combinations.
Typically, pre workouts come in powdered form and are usually mixed with water or other diluting agent and consumed orally 30 minutes before a workout.
There’s no generic list of ingredients that compose a pre workout as different companies prioritise different things. We’ve gone through some of the common ingredients here:
Creatine is a chemical compound already stored in our bodies, in our skeletal muscle, that can regulate energy reserves and also affects muscle strength – Creatine shares many commonalities with amino acids.
Creatine is favoured among bodybuilders and strongmen, not only because it makes your muscles pop more when under its effects but, it temporarily increases your muscles strength enabling you to lift harder when lifting weights and in other high intensity workouts.
Creatine can be regulated by testosterone and, by nature, your diet. So, vegetarian weight lifters particularly enjoy creatine supplements as they will have naturally lower reserves due to their diet.
Creatine can lead to increased muscle mass, strength, and recovery, when used responsibly. Creatine monohydrate is the most common supplement form of creatine and is widely available.
Caffeine is the old friend and foe of the working adults around the world and is a supplement you’re probably already aware of. This popular stimulant is reported to affect mental alertness, high intensity performance, fat burning, and blood regulation.
Caffeine is technically a drug, which throws off the nervous nellies among us, but is in everything from chocolate to soda, so isn’t something to be too paranoid about consuming.
However, large amounts of caffeine can be dangerous; caffeine can affect sleep, anxiety, and heart health. Your caffeine intake should be responsibly managed based on your age, weight, and general health. Around 400mg of caffeine is the recommended dose for an average male.
Nitric Oxide Precursors
This can sound pretty scary to the non medically trained, but there’s no reason to fear. Nitric oxide is naturally produced by your body to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow when the body is under stress.
Pre workout contains what are known as ‘precursors’ to nitric oxide, these precursors are common compounds that encourage the production of nitric oxide in your body.
Some common precursors are L-arginine, L-citrulline, and natural sources of dietary nitrates such as beetroot juice.
While these ingredients are likely harmless, there are a few small studies that link nitric oxide levels with athletic performance and recovery in young men.
There’s certainly no evidence that these specific supplements will cause any damage to your body, but there’s little evidence that they will help your athletic performance in such a short term capacity, and are potentially a marketing ploy.
How Long Does Pre Workout Last?
The length of the effects of pre workout will differ widely depending on your dose, the specific compound of ingredients you are taking, and your own health. In general the effects of pre workout could last from anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
The general half life of the ingredients commonly used in pre workouts is around 4 – 6 hours, this means that the trace elements of these chemical compounds will be in your system for 4 – 6 hours but won’t necessarily carry the effects for that long.
Most people take a pre workout around 30 minutes before they start exercising and peak after an hour.
The best way to predict how long it will last is by experimenting with dosage. Always start small and build up so that you get the longevity you want out of the pre work out you are taking.
If you need a point of comparison, think about how much caffeine you consume on a daily basis and how your body reacts to it.
If you can barely hack a chocolate bar without bouncing off the walls, then maybe consider another supplement or simply take a smaller dose for your needs.
If you drink 10 cups of coffee a day, firstly, consider if that habit is healthy, then consider if your tolerance to caffeine might be higher.
Other Potential Health Dangers
Pre workout is generally safe for the general gym go-er, if you take into account your specific health condition.
However, not all pre workout can be safe and it’s important to be aware of the potentially dangerous factors that could cause pre workout to last longer and potentially affect your health.
Always check the ingredients, and be aware of the dangers, before adding a pre workout to your workout routine.
Added Sweeteners And Sugars
Often, pre workout ingredients will include some form of sweetener or sugar to enhance taste. While this is common, it does cause an issue as some companies don’t factor this into your caffeine intake and could potentially cause dosing issues.
We recommend avoiding products that contain a high sugar content or include artificial sweeteners.
On a lighter note, sugars and sweeteners are known to cause some bloating and general bowel and intestinal distress. This is worth considering, as getting gassy in the gym will affect your performance and comfort.
As mentioned, we all consume caffeine in some form in our regular lives, whether that’s through coffee, sweets, or fruit – it can be so easy to overdose on caffeine as we consume it everyday. Caffeine is also the main cause of the energy boost from pre workout.
Your regular run of the mill pre workout could contain anywhere between 1 – 2 cups of coffee which could be half your recommended intake, so if you’ve already been at work that day, for example, you could easily push your dosing too far.
Some pre workout products will contain more caffeine for a bigger kick, soa always be sure to double check your own consumption of caffeine, and the amount of caffeine present in the product, before consuming a pre workout.
Supplement Quality And Safety
It can be hard to admit but, as with most purchases, the more you pay the more quality you are getting, for the most part.
This unfortunately means that that cheap pre workout you picked up at the gas station could potentially contain inaccurate or misleading information about their product.
So when you are considering your dosing, you may not have accurate information which could take the dosing out of your control.
Moreover, in states of the US, and some countries if you order from abroad, dietary supplements aren’t as closely regulated as you think. This could lead to the quality of ingredients being reduced and misleading information being left unmonitored.
If you are an athlete this should be particularly important to you as some low quality supplements could contain trace elements of banned substances and PEDs that have potentially been manufactured in the same factory/lab.
Many people opt to take supplements that are FDA approved and also tested by a third party for side effects.
In general, pre workouts are safe. If you take the correct dose for your health conditions, it’s likely that the pre workout should wear off after at least an hour.
But you should always take into account your own health, age, weight, and personal dosing situation before consuming any drug or supplement.
It’s especially important to make sure you are taking a tested and quality approved product that has gone through the necessary regulation and testing before consuming any drug or supplement.
Pregnant women and children should never take pre workout or any other product that has a high level of caffeine.