What is Pre-workout, and Which One's Best for Me?

If you’re serious about achieving your fitness goals, you’ve probably heard about the significant benefits that pre-workout supplements can provide. From increased energy to enhanced workout endurance and focus, pre-workouts can sound like a miracle supplement that will resolve all of your fitness needs. Amidst all of this hype, it’s essential that you get all of your pre-workout questions answered before you decide if pre-workouts are for you and, if so, which one. So, let’s get started!


What is a Pre-workout Supplement?

As you probably could’ve guessed, pre-workouts are supplements that are engineered to prime you for an intense gym session. They usually come in the form of water-soluble powders and are packed with ingredients that are known to boost energy, increase endurance, increase focus, and catalyze recovery.

Preworkout Ingredients

What ingredients go into a Pre-workout?

The ingredients that go into a pre-workout can vary dramatically depending on the brand and variant you look at. Some brands like to keep it simple while others formulate complex proprietary blends with a more specific function in mind. However, there are three ingredients that form a common denominator amongst typical pre-workouts: Caffeine, Beta-alanine, and Citrulline.

  • Caffeine: Since most of you are probably already pretty familiar caffeine, we’ll keep it short. Caffeine is a common central nervous system stimulant that can be found in, among other things, coffees, teas, many types of sodas, and energy drinks. It has been shown to improve physical strength, increase endurance, and provide mental stimulation.

  • Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body naturally produces it at a rate commensurate with its demand. However, many fitness fanatics like to take it as a supplement or add it to their diet in the form of meat or fish, because it has been shown to increase endurance for high-intensity exercises like weight-lifting and sprints. The increased endurance is a result of the bodies enhanced ability to regulate the accumulation of acid in muscles, which is one of the many causes of muscle fatigue. This is because beta-alanine is a primary ingredient of carnosine, the regulator of acid levels in muscles.

  • Citrulline: L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are both amino acids that are precursors for the production of arginine. Arginine stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator, which expands blood vessels resulting in improved blood and nutrient circulation to muscles. Surprisingly, citrulline supplements are actually more effective than arginine supplements at increasing arginine levels because citrulline is more readily absorbed in the gut. Citrulline can be added to your natural diet in the form of watermelons, squash, melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. The consumption of citrulline supplements have been scientifically proven to increase endurance in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, catalyze the production of growth hormone, and reduce soreness. 

Should I take Pre-workout?

It’s important to keep in mind that most, if not all, of the active ingredients in pre-workout can be obtained through your diet. Drink some coffee before you hit the gym for an energy boost. Eat watermelon as a snack and add some cucumbers to your salad. Make sure your diet contains plenty of meat and fish. The same could be said about protein shakes and practically any other supplement. 

That being said, we all have lives outside of the gym, and many of us are too busy to invest even more time towards our fitness goals. A tub packed with the ideal nutrients for a workout can save time, allow you to focus on your other goals, and make you more explosive in the gym. If you think pre-workout is right for you, it’s time to decide which one.


Which Pre-workout should I buy?

The first ingredient that many fitness fanatics look at when choosing a pre-workout is the caffeine content. For those that really crave an energy boost to keep them fueled and focused throughout a workout, a high caffeine content is a big plus. If you identify with this crowd, you might want to take a look at:

If you workout in the evening and want to avoid consuming too much caffeine late in the day, the following pre-workouts could provide a good balance:

For others, the stimulation from caffeine produces a variety of side effects such as restlessness or nervousness that outweigh its positive benefits. The following pre-workouts contain relatively little to no caffeine:

If you’re focusing on lifting heavy weight, vasodilators are also a great option that contain no caffeine, fight off fatigue, and pump your muscles with necessary nutrients. Here’s a list of the best vasodilators that we carry:

We hope this helped you get a better idea of what pre-workout is and which one is best for you. Check out our vast selection of Pre-workouts and Vasodilators!

Sources:

“Beta-Alanine: Uses and Risks.” WebMD, WebMD LLC, 30 Jan. 2019, www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/beta-alanine-uses-and-risks

Caine, Jonathan J, and Thomas D Geracioti. “Taurine, Energy Drinks, and Neuroendocrine Effects.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, 17 Aug. 2017, www.mdedge.com/ccjm/article/120413/adolescent-medicine/taurine-energy-drinks-and-neuroendocrine-effects/page/0/1.

Hunter, Will. “11 Proven Health Benefits of L-Citrulline Citrulline Malate.” SelfHacked, SelfHacked, 14 June 2019, selfhacked.com/blog/health-benefits-of-l-citrulline/.

“L-Citrulline: Uses and Risks.” WebMD, WebMD LLC, 12 May 2017, www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/l-citrulline-uses-and-risks#1.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2017, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372.

Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín, and Philip M Jakeman. “Citrulline Malate Enhances Athletic Anaerobic Performance and Relieves Muscle Soreness.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132.

Pietrangelo, Ann, and Kristeen Cherney. “The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 7 Aug. 2017, www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body#5.

Schwedhelm, Edzard, et al. “Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Properties of Oral L-Citrulline and L-Arginine: Impact on Nitric Oxide Metabolism.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Blackwell Science Inc, 24 July 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17662090/.

Sureda, Antoni, et al. “L-Citrulline-Malate Influence over Branched Chain Amino Acid Utilization during Exercise.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20499249

Suzuki, Takashi, et al. “Oral L-Citrulline Supplementation Enhances Cycling Time Trial Performance in Healthy Trained Men: Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled 2-Way Crossover Study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 19 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26900386.

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