We all want the best results. Whether that be at college or in sports - getting that edge to achieve our goals is something we’d all love to have.
When it comes to the gym, we can get that edge by choosing the correct pre workout supplements. The problem is, that with so many options to choose from, how do we know what to pick or where to get it?
There can be a lot of confusion when you look at all of the options. Brands often use words on the labels like “super results” and “energy explosion” - making us question the validity of the claims and sometimes scares us.
We’ve created a handy guide for you to look through when it comes to making a choice on pre workout supplements. We’ll show you what to look for and what to avoid. Remember though, any choices you make will require you to still have the willpower and work ethic to get results.
What Exactly Is A Pre Workout Supplement?
You’ll normally find a pre workout supplement is a powder which is mixed with a liquid to create a performance enhancing beverage.
It is normally consumed before a workout and serves as a way to improve your energy levels along with several other things (depending on which pre workout you have bought).
For example - depending on your workout goals, you may be aiming to lose weight. If that’s the case, you might have chosen a pre workout that promotes the maximization of fat burning.
You can expect pre workout supplements to all share similar things such as key ingredients etc but you will also notice their own unique offerings (like fat burning, muscle building etc).
They all get your blood moving and your heart pumping which should give you the energy and motivation to smash out your workout - generally, the pre workout supplement will contain caffeine which helps to do this, but not all of them do.
The question is - do they really work? There’s a difficulty in assessing this due to the fact that most of the supplements you can buy contain what is referred to as “proprietary blends” which just means that the amount of a specific ingredient was not listed (for example, 25% caffeine).
Without knowing how much of a specific ingredient is included, you may not be able to make an informed decision on which supplement to buy or even if it is going to work for you.
This is especially important if the pre workout supplement states it contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
You’ll want to know what you’re getting, not just for your own peace of mind with what you’re putting inside your body, but you’ll want to know that you’re paying for what you want.
If you’re getting significantly less than what you’d want - chances are, you wouldn’t buy that product again.
So, How Can You Find Top Quality Products?
Of course, to find the right pre workout supplements, you’ll need to know what to look for. It’s important not only to know what you want - but assess your own needs too.
Determining your own goals will dramatically improve your chances of finding the right supplements. Are you looking to lose weight? Build muscle mass? Improve aerobic fitness?
After you know your needs, you’ll next need to look at what the ingredients are. Be sure to look out for things like:
It is possible to buy pre workout supplements that don’t contain any stimulants, but caffeine can help with certain workout goals. It can give you the energy you need, increase your muscle endurance and anaerobic capacity.
Too little caffeine could render it pointless and a waste of money, whereas too much caffeine can cause serious problems. You’ll want to check with a doctor, health expert or a personal trainer before use.
There are 20 different kinds of amino acids (like L-Tyrosine). They generally help with your anaerobic performances but the same results come from protein-high foods.
If your diet is already high in protein, you may want to choose a pre workout supplement that contains less amino acids.
Beta-alanine is one of the 20 amino acids we mentioned. It’s responsible for the tingling feeling you get after you drink a pre workout supplement. It’s nothing to worry about and tends to disappear quickly.
It improves the effectiveness of muscle repair and improves your recovery from fatigue. It’s a good ingredient to look for if you’re hoping to build muscle mass because it gives you the ability to keep lifting.
This is due to the buffering of hydrogen ions that give you that extra edge and give you an extra few reps.
This ingredient really only helps people with a quick flash of energy. Due to this, it’s not the best ingredient to look for as it provides little to no lasting results.
If you’re the type of person who wants a quick flash of energy for lifting as many reps as possible in a short space of time, then this may help you. But other than that, it has little benefit.
Beetroot extract is of great health benefit and certainly helps with a workout. It improves your nitric-oxide levels and promotes better cardiovascular health. In turn, this can help you workout for longer - especially if you’re doing a cardio workout.
If your goal is to lose weight and your workout involves weight training, then this is the ingredient to look out for. It can help manage your metabolism, along with cementing your body’s progress from the weight training workout.
It’s safe to say that this ingredient will help, if taken correctly and with a good workout plan, to improve your gym performance and lose fat.
Remember though, muscle mass is heavier than fat - so if it looks like you’re putting weight on from the scales - it might be due to building a strong body.
Speaking of metabolism regulation, this is what vitamin B12 can help with too. It tends to be found in fish and protein-high foods such as beef. If your diet is high in vitamin B12, you may not require more of it - but it’s always good to check.
What Should I Avoid?
It’s always good to avoid going over the recommended amounts of vitamins or other ingredients, so by keeping a health diary - this can keep you regulated and you’ll be sure how much you’ve had of certain things.
It’s always good to avoid proprietary blends due to the lack of information they provide. It’s also important to try and avoid any supplements that contain refined sugars - they’re never good to have in your diet, and having them in a pre workout is no exception.
Some supplements contain carrageenan which can harm your gut health - which can mean you stay home and avoid workouts anyway! You’ll want to avoid this.
Be sure to check the labels and consult your doctor/trainer about your health plans.