One of the first reactions I usually hear or read online, when someone is asked about taking a pre-workout, "Oh, I only need coffee." While that is surely an acceptable answer, to me, it has been an answer for those uninformed or unsure about what exactly a pre-workout can/will/should do for you.
I am not going to get into this debate, as much as I would love to. Instead, I will discuss the ingredients that go above and beyond "caffeine and a banana" for a pre.
Pre-workouts are any supplement that is marketed and used before you workout. There are so many out there. So many of them have completely different ingredients from the next. But, my go-to list is what I consider the most important ingredients in the preworkout mixtures I purchase.
Beta-Alanine 3.2-4 Grams
Betaine 2 Grams
Black Pepper Extract 10mg
What Do They Do?
L-Citrulline may increase blood flow by increasing nitric oxide production. It may also produce positive effects on muscle by stimulating protein synthesis and decreasing amino acid breakdown. This is the bad boy that helps give you the PUMP. Citrulline may increase oxygen content in the muscles and improve exercise performance. Both endurance performance and weight training performance may be improved by taking supplements.
Taurine plays several important roles in your muscles and may aid various aspects of exercise performance by reducing fatigue, increasing fat burning and decreasing muscle damage.
Arginine is to increase nitric oxide levels in the blood, leading to an increase in blood flow, which can stimulate the always-desired "pump." Arginine can also reverse many arterial diseases. Arginine, is what gives me a greater bloodflow. I notice better vascular prominence after my workouts with 5-6 grams of Arginine or AAKG.
Creatine helps you be your fastest, strongest self. It helps muscles make and circulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that releases energy used for muscle contractions. Normally, ATP supplies a high level of energy to your muscles, but only in short bursts. Because it plays a key role in making ATP, creatine supports immediate energy production during exercise, which can boost your overall athletic performance. This is not always in a preworkout and is actually beneficial to cycle off of it for a while.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. Your body uses it to produce carnosine, which helps improve exercise performance. It will increase carnosine, which reduces the acidity in your muscles during high-intensity exercise delaying the onset of fatigue. This is what gives you the tingle!
- Improved muscle endurance, strength, power, and force
- Increased natural production of human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) production
- Enhanced muscle oxygen consumption
- Moderate increases in total repetitions and volume load in compound exercises
- Enhanced anabolic endocrine profile and protein synthesis
Caffeine boosts mental alertness and sharpens focus, which can speed up your reaction time and enhance your overall performance as you push through heavy lifts. When taken in doses between 100 to 400 milligrams, it has thermogenic properties—meaning it revs up your metabolism, allowing you to torch maximum calories during your workout and throughout your day. Caffeine is the number one, natural, metabolic booster. It increases your caloric expenditure. Research shows that caffeine can temporarily boost your metabolism by up to 16% over one to two hours. In addition, several studies have shown that caffeine can help your body burn more fat as fuel. However, this effect appears to be stronger in lean people than obese people
L-Theanine has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, where it acts as a non-sedative relaxing agent.
Specifically, L-Theanine works to block the binding of L-Glutamic Acid to Glutamate receptors in the brain, which results in the release of specific neurotransmitters that work to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
L-Theanine has also been shown to improve attention and mood when combined with caffeine.
When used before exercise, L-Theanine has been shown to improve reaction times and reduce feelings of tiredness and mental fatigue.
As these combined effects are highly desirable for athletes competing in high stress, performance based sports, L-Theanine has become very popular with elite professional athletes.
Black Pepper Extract is usually in the form of a product called Bioperine®. Our bodies don't always absorb and utilize ingredients the way they were theoretically supposed to. This is where black pepper extract comes in and is necessary in any good pre supplement. It's been shown to enhance the assimilation of other ingredients, ensuring your body does utilize those ingredients to the fullest extent.
While this list is not exhaustive or even possibly THE BEST of items that will work for YOU in a preworkout, but these are effective ingredients and dosages that have worked for me to achieve the best lifts possible. Obviously, it's possible to achieve the look and feel and lifts you desire without any pre-workout, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't venture into a good pre before your lifts. Pre-workouts WILL help boost your workouts beyond what your body would normally do with nothing in your system but your food and macros pushing you through. But, why not push each workout higher through the use of a pre. Getting those extra reps, those extra pounds and the blood pumping supplements that can possibly feed your muscles to a higher degree. You are going to leave the gym with a greater pump than without supplementation.
**Sites used to gather information: AlphaLion.com, GNC.com, Healthline.com, TransparentLabs.com, Aminoz.com.au**