Updated: Nov 28, 2018
There are three common 'P' words in fitness. The infamous post-workout protein, the coveted muscle pump, and of course, pre-workout.
While the focus is normally made to the actual workout and post-gym routine, prepping for your workout is just as important as finishing it. Without proper fuel, your glycogen stores (your body's first energy source choice) are rapidly deleted. Once this happens, your body turns to muscle as its next closest source of energy. Practicing a nutritionally sound diet can help ensure you have the energy and stamina needed for your workout but as we all know that doesn't always happen.
This is where pre-workout comes in handy. Designed to boost sports performance and help you achieve your optimal levels of training, pre-workout is composed of several key ingredients that work together to help you to not only train longer but harder.
Caffeine, a common ingredient in pre-workouts, has been shown to be an effective performance booster in both endurance and HIIT training. Studies have shown caffeine can increase your "work load" by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering your perception of effort. It has also been shown to blunt muscle pain, allowing you to train beyond your normal pain barrier. Also an active ingredient in fat burners, caffeine can assist in the "I don't want to blues" when you need a quick pick-me-up before the gym.
Another common ingredient in pre-workout are BCAAs. Fostering an anabolic environment, meaning your body draws energy from your glycogen stores instead of muscle, BCAAs are key when it comes to regulating protein metabolism. Providing immediate protection against catabolism, (muscle breakdown,) BCAAs may also help decrease the delayed onset of muscle soreness.
Other ingredients like beta-alanine promote muscle strength, power and can enhance muscle endurance. While ingredients like L-arginine and L-citrulline help lead to an increase in blood flow, which can stimulate the always-desired "pump."
Having more energy during a workout is an obvious benefit of supplementing with pre-workout; however, the benefits far exceed a quick boost in performance. Be sure to check with your trainer or local supplement store manager about what product may be best for you and your goals. Pre-workout may not be for everyone but knowing your options never hurts. Besides, what do you have to lose but a few extra calories?