Whether you’re a newbie at the gym or if you’re looking to step up your strength, knowing your way around supplements can not only help you increase your performance but also help get you well-enough rested and recovered to hit the gym full power for the next session.
Although you might be consuming a well-balanced diet, adding an extra dose of vitamins, minerals or nutrients can help give your body the boost it needs in its recovery stage—which is where muscles are actually built and strengthened.
For all you need to know about supplements—from their ingredients to their purpose and everything in between, this article can help introduce you to a few need-to-know basics that can help you choose the right one for your workout and target strength.
Why Take Pre-Workout Supplements?
Especially if you’re new to the weightlifting or training world, you might want to know the actual benefits of workout supplements.
Because they’re taken before the workout, the supplement is known to take effect while you exercise, giving you that “pump” that helps you lift stronger and longer.
What are the actual effects of the supplements? Well, it delays muscles fatigue—which can help with pretty much any workout—and improves your reaction time—which can be effectivity with something like a speed and agility workout.
It also increases your muscular endurance, allowing you to complete more reps or carry on through the full workout without getting tired as you normally would.
Are Pre-Workout Supplements Necessary?
There can be multiple numbers of scientific studies that show the benefits of pre-workout supplements. However, when it boils down to it—it’s all about personal preference and finding out what works for you.
Scientifically, however, pre-workouts definitely improve workouts—especially if you’re known to be a good candidate.
Although not completely “necessary”, pre-workouts can be a great addition to your nutrition if you’re trying to build endurance, fight fatigue, want to feel, that pump or want to speed up recovery.
Top Pre-Workout Ingredients
Before you reach out for any pre-workout on the grocery stock shelf, make sure you familiarize yourself with the various ingredients.
For example, there are a few different make-ups of pre-workouts that are popularly chosen as ingredients to a successful pre-workout.
Here are a few of our top pre-workout ingredients:
Found most commonly in coffee but can also be in sodas and other beverages, this wake-me-up ingredient is also quite popularly placed in the complex of pre-workout supplements.
You already know that caffeine can help you stay awake studying late at night for an early morning test or giving you that wake-up call in the morning before work but how can it help for a workout?
When it comes to exercise, caffeine has a direct effect on your power, which can come in handy while sprinting and weight training.
If your pre-workout contains caffeine, make sure that you’re not taking in more than the recommended amount—for example, for a 150-pound person, 200–400 mg is recommended.
Especially since everybody responds differently to various degrees of stimulants, you should start with a small amount and increase slowly.
Already produced in your body, creatine is used in a workout supplement to help improve your power and strength, with a direct effect on your muscle mass and overall performance.
Since it’s already a crucial part of the energy production systems found in your own body’s cells, the implementation of creatine impacts your body directly—working with your own system instead of sending in something foreign.
For the average weightlifter of gym-goer, the recommended amount of creatine in a pre-supplement shouldn’t be more than 20 grams a day.
If you’re trying to build muscle mass by performing lower reps and higher weight, it’ll give you the explosive strength and pump you need.
To not break it down too technical and talking about the branched-chain amino acid molecules, we’ll explain BCAA’s in terms that you can apply to your workout.
It’s no secret that you need protein—fortunately, BCAA’s are found generally in protein-enriched foods, especially those of animals—so if you’re vegan or vegetarian, your pre-workout supplement might be your only opportunity to get a big enough dose in!
BCAA’s are designed to promote muscle growth, as well as improve the performance of your endurance and decrease fatigue—both mentally and physically.
This ingredient is also something to look out for if you want to prioritize your recovery. Especially since BCAA’s can be found in everyday foods, you want to make sure that you are keeping within the range of 5-20 grams a day (including your entire daily diet, as well as your pre-workout supplement).
For another type of amino acid, Beta-Alanine can help fight against the acid that normally comes with digestion, short-term muscular endurance, as well as help improve your performance, overall—especially if you’re engaging in intense exercise that goes for short bursts.
You’ll want to keep your consumption limited to about 4–6 grams per day.
A component that holds similar effects to that of caffeine, Theacrine helps increase energy levels as well as keep fatigue at bay.
Not related to pre-workout but also highly beneficial, Theacrine can help improve your health—which means that you’ll have a better overall fitness journey.
Dynamine has a direct effect on your energy and your focus—it’s also popularly sought-out as a mood-booster, as well. Since it impacts and increases your dopamine levels, this can give you uplifting feelings of euphoria—which are great when you’re working out.
Choosing a Pre-Workout Supplement
Before you pick out the perfect pre-workout supplement, take a look at the following things to be aware of:
Especially since proprietary blends don’t label or name all the ingredients, it can be assumed that the exact amount or every single component is not made aware to the public.
Although some companies use the term “proprietary blends” to protect their formula from other supplement competitors, it can also be hiding an ineffective mix.
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to surprise intaking 400 milligrams of caffeine per day.
Not only does the implementation of artificial ingredients add nothing to your nutrition or pre-workout process, but it can also actually be harmful to your health.
Check your pre-workout product to see if it contains artificial dyes, flavors or sweeteners.
Top Selling Pre-Workout Supplements
Instead of doing your own research on choosing the perfect pre-workout supplement, here are a few top contenders:
For explosive energy and increased focus, C4 contains a few active, productive ingredients like Beta-Alanine.
With caffeine, Beta-Alanine, and other active ingredients, this pre-workout helps keep you laser-focused, increase your endurance, and improve your power.
For a pre-training formula with all the potent ingredients you need to help improve your energy levels as well as increase alertness, strength, and stamina, GAT Nitraflex has the muscle-building components you need to perform, like Citrulline malate, Arginine amino acids and Calcium.
If you’re putting in work at the gym, you’ll need a pre-workout supplement as powerful as you are. To implement into your nutrition plan it’s important to know not only what’s productive in your pursuit of strength but also what works best for you.
We hope this article has helped you in learning what’s what when it comes to the best supplements for muscle recovery.