The utility of the pre-workout powder/supplement is all in the name – by taking it before you launch into your exercise session, you will fuel your body with the power, endurance and focus necessary to put your best foot forward. In this article, you’ll find out what pre-workout is, as well as how long you can expect the benefits to last after taking it.
Understanding What a Pre-workout Does
Before we launch into the many benefits of taking pre-workout supplements, we first have to establish exactly what a pre-workout is. In essence, they are powders, pills or energy drinks containing many ingredients that synergize for the purposes of increasing the athletic performance and energy of the person who uses them. They accomplish this by shuttling the multi-ingredient formula to the cells of your muscles. As denoted by the name, the best time to take a pre-workout is usually just prior to your gym session or athletic event.
Due to the skyrocketing popularity, it can be a bit of an overwhelming experience to choose a pre-workout supplement on the market. They contain many, many ingredients – but you cannot go wrong by sticking with the basics, which include BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), the stimulant caffeine, creatine, valine, beta alanine, leucine and isoleucine, L-Taurine and L-Leucine. Below, will go through the benefits conferred on the human body by some of the ingredients listed here, as well as other popular ingredients not listed but which are usually combined for maximum effect.
BCAAs [Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine]: Valine, isoleucine and leucine are just a few of the many branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are so-called due to the fact that you have to imbibe them from the foods and drinks you consume, because your body cannot produce BCAAs naturally. As such, they are delineated as “essential amino acids”.
It is especially important to consume the listed branched chain amino acids and others because of how they bolster the metabolic response of muscle tissue. Indeed, valine, leucine and isoleucine makeup anywhere from 20 to 35% of your muscle tissue; together they play a dominant role in metabolism, energy production, and muscle health – additionally, these are the amino acids most responsible for helping your muscles into your physiological stress by producing energy to help them manage the stress, and by building them back during the post workout recovery phase.
Basically, by consuming veining, isoleucine and leucine in either protein powder or pre-workout supplements, you can significantly reduce catabolism (a process in which your body eats its own muscles for energy if it’s not getting enough to sustain them), and speed up muscle recovery so you can get back in the gym. Additionally, these BCAAs reduce post workout soreness while at the same time stimulating the growth of muscle tissue.
Caffeine: As you probably already know, caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world – hundreds of millions of people use it every morning in a cup of coffee with which to start the day. Because of its effectiveness, caffeine is included in most pre-workout supplements; in fact, it is often combined with L-Theanine in these supplements because the combination increases your attention and focus on the task at hand. Together, this combination also dampens your muscles tendency towards fatigue, enhances your reaction time and stimulates the central nervous system – all of which clearly improves your overall workout.
Creatine: Out of all the supplements on this list, creatine is doubtless the most common – you will probably find it in every single pre-workout supplement on the market. In fact, creatine monohydrate is one of the supplements that has legions of medical research behind it in terms of efficacy. The function of this substance is to provide the muscles with extra energy for prodigious performance routines. This means intense exercise and heavy lifting. Your body produces some creatine naturally, and you can get small amounts from your diet if you consume broccoli, milk, red meat etc. If you want to engage in prolonged high-intensity workouts, then creatine is a supplement that will power you through.
L-Citrulline: L-citrulline is one of the amino acids produced by the human body – which means that it is considered a non-essential amino acid. The mechanism of its creation by your body begins in your kidneys before it is shuttled to your heart and immune system by your blood vessels. Your kidneys convert L-citrulline into the essential amino acid known as L-arginine and the nitric oxide that relaxes your blood vessels. Because of all these abilities, you’ll find that L-citrulline is a common ingredient in pre-workout powders. Not only does it boost your performance in rigorous activities, it also facilitates the transfer of nutrients to the most needed site in the body through the blood.
Additionally, L-citrulline optimizes the function of your lungs since the blood vessels can transport nitric oxide more easily throughout the body. There have actually been several-reviewed studies done on this; the end result is that L-citrulline helps to assuage your muscles from post workout soreness, and improves anaerobic performance during an athletic event.
Beta-Alanine: Beta alanine is yet another non-essential amino acid produced by your body without the need for outside sources. However, when you do infuse it with more of this substance from a pre-workout supplement, then you will find that your muscle recovery in the post workout phase is much smoother than normal. This is especially effective for bodybuilders and weightlifters; beta alanine will activate the production of extra carnosine in the body, allowing you to train at a sustained level of high-intensity. The mechanism by which this works is that the beta alanine counteracts the buildup of lactic acid, thereby allowing the muscle to continue working at high-intensity for longer. You will find the benefits are significant as your muscle grows back in the post workout recovery phase (as in, in the weeks and months to come).
The Utility of Pre-Workouts
The verdict is out on the utility of pre-workout powders and supplements: they are confirmed to elevate your performance in athletic activities such as weightlifting, bodybuilding, running, cycling and a myriad of other events. As recently as 2018, a Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition comprehensive review denoted the large amount of evidence showing that muscular endurance/ability is greatly influenced when aided by pre-workout supplements taken before hand. Additionally, there are cognitive benefits – particularly in the elevation of the mood of the participants. Basically, they help you have a great attitude prior to your workout.
The review also showed that pre-workouts are comprehensively safe to imbibe – even when ingested frequently. It is important to note that all of these research studies were carried out with pre-workout supplements within the context of a resistance training program. Additionally, post workout muscle soreness and fatigue were significantly attenuated with the consumption of pre-workouts before the exercise sessions.
How Long Can You Expect Pre-Workout Supplement Results to Last?
And now we get to the payoff of this particular article. As is the case with pretty much any composite of several ingredients, the length of time your pre-workout last is contingent on the half-life of the individual ingredients. On average, you can expect such ingredients to persist for between four and six hours after you take it. It may be of greater interest to you to know how long you can feel the effects however: consensus and research shows that the effect persists for 1-2 hours.
For example, let us consider beta alanine and creatine. When combined in a pre-workout powder, they each take 30 to 45 minutes before they start to have an effect – this is why it is recommended that you take them about half an hour before a workout. Once they do kick in, they reach peak efficiency around 60 minutes after you first imbibed them. For another example consider the stimulant caffeine; it takes about 30 minutes before you really start to feel this-as evidenced by the fact that a cup of morning Joe usually takes about this long to confer alertness as you sip it. Similarly caffeine’s effect is peak’s right around 60-90 minutes after you took your last sip.
You can expect most pre-workouts to persist in your system for up to about four hours – which is why some of them, it is not recommended that you take them if you workout close to bedtime. This of course depends on the particular stimulant use, as well as how much. It also explains why most professionals recommend taking a pre-workout about half an hour before your workout; this all but guarantees that you will benefit from the effects powering you throughout your entire gym session.
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