GAIN MUSCLE

The Comprehensive Guide to Pre Workouts 2023

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 22, 2023

Looking to supercharge your workout?

You're in the right place.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to pre-workout supplements.

We're diving deep into the world of pre-workout supplements - the science, the benefits, and everything in between.

Whether you're a trained gym-obsessed athlete or just starting your fitness journey, this comprehensive guide is designed to give you the lowdown on everything pre-workout related.

From the science behind these power-packed supplements to the benefits they offer...

We'll explore the key ingredients and how they work to supercharge your workout.

But we won't stop there.

We'll also take a look at the safety of pre-workouts, the FDA's role (or lack thereof), and the importance of understanding what you're putting into your body.

If they are bad for you or if they have side effects.

And since not all pre-workouts are created equal, we'll guide you through the different types of pre-workouts available on the market, from stim-based to non-stim, nitric oxide, and even organic and vegan options.

We'll also take a peek into the booming pre-workout market, the latest trends, and the impact of pre-workouts on different types of training programs.

So, whether you're looking to boost your energy, improve your performance, or simply learn more about the world of pre-workouts, you're in the right place.

Let's dive in.

Recommended Resources:

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements can be a powerful tool in your fitness arsenal.

They can help you push harder, focus better, and ultimately, achieve your fitness goals faster.

Remember to use them wisely, listen to your body, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Related content:

Key Takeaways

  • Pre-workouts can enhance performance: Pre-workout supplements are designed to improve your energy, endurance, and focus during a workout. They can help you push harder, lift heavier, and train longer.

  • Ingredients vary: The ingredients in pre-workout supplements can vary widely, but they often include caffeine, amino acids, and other performance-enhancing substances.

  • Timing is important: For best results, pre-workout supplements should be taken 20-30 minutes before a workout.

  • Side effects are possible: Some people may experience side effects like jitteriness, increased heart rate, or upset stomach. It's important to start with a small dose to assess your tolerance.

  • Not everyone needs pre-workout: While pre-workout can enhance your workout performance, it's not necessary for everyone. Some people may find that a balanced diet, proper hydration, and adequate rest are enough to fuel their workouts.

The History of Pre-Workouts

Pre-workout supplements have been around for several decades, but they've become increasingly popular in recent years.

The first pre-workout supplements were simple formulas, often containing just a few ingredients like caffeine and amino acids.

In the 1980s and 1990s, bodybuilders and athletes started using more complex pre-workout formulas to boost their performance.

These early pre-workout supplements often contained ingredients like creatine, arginine, and various vitamins and minerals.

In the 2000s, pre-workout supplements became more mainstream, with companies marketing them to a wider audience.

Today, there are hundreds of different pre-workout supplements on the market, each with its own unique formula.

Read more about the history of pre-workouts here

The Invention of Pre-Workout

The concept of pre-workout supplementation has been around for several decades, but the first formulated pre-workout supplement, known as Ultimate Orange, was created by Dan Duchaine in 1982 in Venice, California.

This product quickly gained popularity among bodybuilders, setting the stage for the wide variety of pre-workout supplements we see on the market today.

The Different Types of Pre-Workouts

Pre-workout supplements can be categorized into several types, including:

  1. Stimulant-Based Pre-Workouts: These contain stimulants like caffeine to boost energy and focus.
  2. Non-Stimulant Pre-Workouts: These do not contain stimulants and are often used by people who are sensitive to caffeine or who work out in the evening.
  3. Nitric Oxide Pre-Workouts: These contain ingredients like citrulline malate and arginine to boost nitric oxide production and improve blood flow.
  4. Natural Pre-Workouts: These are made with natural ingredients and are often free from artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.
  5. Vegan Pre-Workouts: These are made with plant-based ingredients and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Benefits of Pre-Workouts

When it comes to enhancing your workout, pre-workout supplements are a force to be reckoned with.

Some of them are packed with scientifically-backed ingredients, designed to be powerhouses to give you the edge you need to push harder, go faster, and recover quicker.

But what exactly are the benefits of pre-workouts?

Let's dive in.

Pre-Workout Benefits

  • Energy Boost: Thanks to ingredients like caffeine, pre-workouts can give you a much-needed energy boost, helping you power through even the toughest workouts.
  • Improved Performance: Ingredients like creatine and beta-alanine can enhance your performance, helping you lift heavier, run faster, and push harder.
  • Enhanced Focus: Many pre-workouts contain ingredients designed to improve mental focus, helping you stay in the zone and get the most out of your workout.
  • Faster Recovery: Ingredients like BCAAs can help speed up recovery, reducing muscle soreness and helping you get back in the gym sooner.
  • Increased Muscle Pump: Nitric oxide precursors, like L-arginine and L-citrulline, can increase blood flow to your muscles, enhancing nutrient delivery and giving you that satisfying muscle pump.

In a nutshell, pre-workout supplements are a powerful tool in any supplement arsenal.

From boosting energy to enhancing focus, improving performance, and speeding up recovery, the benefits of pre-workouts are clear.

But remember, while pre-workouts can give you an edge, they're not a magic bullet.

A balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest are still key.

Related:

The Downside of Pre-Workouts

Like anything in life, pre-workout supplements come with their own set of pros and cons.

On the plus side, they can significantly enhance your workout performance, boost your energy levels, and help you recover faster post-workout.

They can also improve your mental focus, helping you stay in the zone during your workout.

However, pre-workout supplements are not without their downsides. Some people may experience side effects like jitteriness, insomnia, or stomach upset due to the high caffeine content.

And because the FDA does not regulate supplements, the quality and safety of pre-workout products can vary widely.

  • Potential Side Effects: Some people may experience side effects from pre-workout supplements, such as jitteriness, insomnia, or stomach upset. These are often due to the high caffeine content in many pre-workouts.
  • Risk of Overuse: Because pre-workouts can give you a noticeable energy boost, it can be tempting to use them too frequently or in too high doses. Overuse can lead to dependency and may even increase your tolerance to the effects of caffeine and other ingredients.
  • Lack of FDA Regulation: The FDA does not regulate supplements, including pre-workouts. This means that the quality, safety, and efficacy of pre-workout products can vary widely.
  • Potential for Unlisted Ingredients: Some pre-workout supplements have been found to contain ingredients not listed on the label, including potentially harmful substances. Always choose products from reputable brands to minimize this risk.
  • Cost: High-quality pre-workout supplements can be pricey. While many people find the benefits worth the cost, it's something to consider if you're on a tight budget.

While pre-workout supplements can enhance your workout performance and help you reach your fitness goals, they're not without their downsides.

It's always important to do your research and choose products from reputable brands.

And of course, it's crucial to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Check out these resources for further reading:

Common Pre-Workout Ingredients

Pre-workout supplements typically contain a mix of ingredients designed to boost energy and performance.

Some of the most common ingredients include:

  • Caffeine: A stimulant that can increase alertness and reduce the perception of effort during exercise.
  • Creatine: A substance found naturally in muscle cells that helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.
  • Beta-Alanine: An amino acid that can reduce muscle fatigue during intense exercise.
  • BCAAs: Branched-Chain Amino Acids play an essential role in muscle development and repair.
  • Nitric Oxide Precursors: These compounds, such as L-arginine and L-citrulline, can increase blood flow to your muscles, enhancing the "pump" feeling and potentially improving performance.

Read: What Pre-Workout Ingredients to Avoid?

Pre-Workouts and Their Impacts on Different Types of Training Programs

Since there are so many pre-workouts available, it makes sense that some of them are designed for different purposes. Here are different use cases for pre-workout usage:

Strength Training

When it comes to strength training, pre-workout supplements can be a game-changer.

Ingredients like creatine and beta-alanine are known to enhance muscle strength and power, making them ideal for those heavy lifting sessions.

Creatine, in particular, has been shown to increase muscle mass and improve performance in high-intensity, short-duration exercises, like weightlifting. [1]

Endurance Training

Endurance athletes, listen up.

Pre-workout supplements can help you go the distance.

Caffeine, a common ingredient in pre-workouts, has been shown to delay fatigue and improve endurance performance. [2]

Meanwhile, beta-alanine can help buffer acid in muscles, delaying the onset of fatigue during moderate- to high-intensity exercise. [3]

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT workouts are all about pushing your limits, and pre-workout supplements can help you do just that.

Caffeine can give you the energy boost you need to power through those intense bursts of activity, while ingredients like citrulline malate can help reduce muscle soreness, helping you recover faster between workouts. [4]

Bodybuilding

For bodybuilders, pre-workout supplements can help maximize muscle growth and improve workout performance. Ingredients like BCAAs can help promote muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown, supporting muscle growth. [5]

Meanwhile, nitric oxide precursors, like L-arginine and L-citrulline, can help increase blood flow to muscles, enhancing nutrient delivery and muscle pumps during your workout. [6]

CrossFit

CrossFit workouts demand a lot from your body, making pre-workout supplements a popular choice among CrossFitters.

Ingredients like caffeine can help improve performance and reduce perceived exertion, helping you push harder during your WOD (Workout of the Day). [7]

Meanwhile, beta-alanine can help improve muscular endurance, helping you crank out those last few reps. [8]

Remember, while pre-workout supplements can enhance your performance, they're not a replacement for a balanced diet, adequate rest, and a well-rounded training program.

Always listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new pre-workout supplement.

How To Choose and Use Pre-Workout Supplements

Choosing the right pre-workout supplement depends on your individual goals, tolerance to certain ingredients, and personal preference.

Here are some tips to guide you:

  1. Identify Your Goals: Are you looking to improve endurance, gain muscle, increase strength, or lose weight? Different pre-workouts are formulated to support different goals.
  2. Check the Ingredients: Make sure you know what's in your pre-workout. Look for supplements with transparent labels that list all the ingredients and their amounts.
  3. Start with a Half Dose: If you're new to pre-workouts, start with a half dose to assess your tolerance.
  4. Time It Right: Most pre-workouts should be taken 20-30 minutes before your workout for optimal results.

Read:

Understanding a Pre-Workout Label

When looking at a pre-workout label, it's important to understand what the ingredients are and what they do. Here are some tips for reading a pre-workout label:

  1. Check the Serving Size: This is usually measured in grams or scoops. Make sure to follow the recommended serving size to avoid taking too much.
  2. Look at the Ingredients: The ingredients should be listed in order of weight, with the heaviest ingredients listed first. Look for key ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine.
  3. Avoid Proprietary Blends: Some companies use proprietary blends to hide the exact amounts of each ingredient. It's best to choose a product that clearly lists the amount of each ingredient.
  4. Check for Allergens: If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, make sure to check the label for potential allergens.
  5. Look for Third-Party Testing: Some companies have their products tested by third-party labs for quality and purity. This can provide an extra level of assurance that the product is safe and effective.

Research Behind Pre-Workout Ingredients

When it comes to pre-workouts, the science is clear:

Certain ingredients have been extensively researched and proven to enhance performance.

Caffeine, for instance, is one of the most studied ingredients in the world of sports nutrition.

It's been shown to improve endurance, increase strength, and reduce perceived exertion during exercise. [7]

Creatine is another well-researched ingredient often found in pre-workouts.

It's been shown to increase muscle strength and size, improve recovery, and enhance brain function. [9]

However, it's important to note that not all pre-workout ingredients have the same level of scientific backing.

Some ingredients may have limited or conflicting research, while others may not have been studied in humans at all.

Always do your due diligence and research the ingredients in your pre-workout supplement.

Pre-Workouts by Dosages

Here you can find a specific dose of caffeine in pre-workouts. 

Check them out below:

Pre-Workout Finder

Sometimes you just want the answer to "what pre-workout should you get?".

So to solve that, we've created a tool for this. 

Check out our pre-workout finder here.

Pre-Workouts and the FDA

The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, including pre-workout supplements, in the same way it regulates medicines.

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe before they go on the market.

They can claim that their products improve health, function, or performance if they have supporting research, but they aren't allowed to make specific medical claims.

One example of the potential risks associated with unregulated supplements is the case of the pre-workout supplement Craze by Driven Sports.

In 2013, the product was found to contain a methamphetamine analog that wasn't listed on the label.

The company voluntarily stopped production, but the incident serves as a reminder of the importance of buying supplements from reputable sources and the potential risks associated with these products.

While pre-workout supplements can provide a boost of energy and improve performance in the gym, it's essential to use them responsibly.

Always check the ingredients, follow the recommended dosages, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Related Questions:

Safety and Regulation of Pre-Workout Supplements

The safety of pre-workout supplements is a topic of concern for many users.

As with any supplement, it's crucial to understand that the FDA does not regulate these products in the same way it regulates medicines.

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe before they go on the market.

They can claim that their products improve health, function, or performance if they have supporting research, but they aren't allowed to make specific medical claims. [10]

One example of the potential risks associated with unregulated supplements is the case of the pre-workout supplement Craze by Driven Sports.

In 2013, the product was found to contain a methamphetamine analog that wasn't listed on the label. [11]

The company voluntarily stopped production, but the incident serves as a reminder of the importance of buying supplements from reputable sources and the potential risks associated with these products. [12]

The Regulation of Supplements and The Case of Driven Sports Craze

It's crucial to understand that dietary supplements, including pre-workouts, are not regulated in the same way as pharmaceutical drugs.

This lack of regulation can sometimes lead to concerning situations, such as the case of Craze by Driven Sports.

Craze was a pre-workout supplement that was found to contain a methamphetamine analog not listed on the label.

This led to the product being pulled from the market and the company facing legal consequences. [13]

This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of choosing supplements from reputable companies that prioritize transparency and quality control.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about certain bodybuilding products, including pre-workouts, that may contain illegal and potentially harmful ingredients.

In some cases, these products have been associated with serious health risks, including liver injury. [14]

The FDA has also taken action against companies selling products containing synthetic stimulants not approved for human consumption. [14]

It's crucial to be aware of these risks and to choose your pre-workout supplements carefully.

Always do your research before purchasing a new supplement, and consider reaching out to the company if you have any questions about their products or testing practices.

Pre-Workout Supplements: Market Overview and Usage

Let's dig into some trends and market size of pre-workouts...

Market Overview

The global pre-workout supplements market was valued at USD 15.59 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach a value of USD 28.68 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 9.10% over the forecast period (2022 - 2028).

This growth is attributed to the increasing importance of leading an active lifestyle and the proliferation of health and fitness establishments.

The market is segmented based on form, distribution channel, and region.

In terms of form, the market is categorized into powder, capsule, and ready-to-drink.

The distribution channels include online and offline platforms. Regionally, the market spans North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and MEA.

Usage of Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements are used by individuals looking for a boost in energy, focus, and endurance during their workouts.

They enhance the dilation of blood vessels, enabling more oxygen to reach the muscles, thereby resulting in enhanced performance. This makes them particularly popular among individuals who partake in intense exercise regimes.

Market Restraints and Trends

Despite the growing popularity of pre-workout supplements, there are some challenges that the market faces.

The fear of experiencing side effects is a significant barrier to the expansion of the market.

Furthermore, as these supplements are not subject to FDA regulation, consumers are increasingly demanding greater transparency regarding the ingredients in customized blends.

However, the sector expected to experience the highest growth throughout the projection period is the ready-to-drink category, primarily due to its increasing popularity and customers' busy lifestyles.

Pre-mixed drinks eliminate the need for further mixing, which is a significant factor driving customer demand.

Continued Growth

The pre-workout supplements market is a rapidly growing industry, with a promising future due to the increasing focus on health and fitness.

However, the industry also faces challenges in terms of regulatory oversight and consumer concerns about potential side effects.

Despite these challenges, the market is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the coming years, driven by innovation and increasing demand for convenient, ready-to-drink products.

Pre-Workout Supplement Trends

Think pre-workout supplements are just for the gym rats and the fitness fanatics?

Think again.

We're seeing a seismic shift in the market, with a surge in the number of recreational and lifestyle users.

This isn't just a blip on the radar - it's a trend that's here to stay. [15]

From China to India, changes in lifestyle and increases in disposable income are opening up the market to a whole new demographic.

And with the benefits of nutrition-based pre-workout products becoming more widely known, the industry is set to grow even further. [15]

The Power of Social Media: Influencing the Fitness Landscape

Social media isn't just changing the way we communicate - it's changing the way we work out.

With an increase in social media influencers, Millennials are feeling the pressure to look and feel good.

The result?

More time spent working out and a higher consumption of pre-workout supplements to ensure better efficiency and results. [15]

The Market's Future: Growth on the Horizon

The pre-workout supplements market is booming.

Valued at USD 18,266.65 million in 2021, it's projected to reach a CAGR of 4.78% during the forecast period (2022-2027). [16]

And with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a surge in home workouts, the demand for nutritional products to enhance performance is higher than ever. [16]

Looking ahead, the market is set to grow at a robust CAGR of 8.4%, reaching a valuation of US$ 31.5 Bn in 20323. [17]

With a growing preference for organic and clean-label products, the future of pre-workout supplements looks bright. [17]

Where to Buy Pre-Workout Supplements

When it comes to purchasing pre-workout supplements, you have a variety of options available. Here are some of the top online retailers where you can find a wide range of pre-workout supplements:

  1. Dark Labs: Ships from the USA, UK, and PL to various countries. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 10% discount.
  2. Muscle Factory SC: Ships worldwide from the USA. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  3. Muscle Players: Ships to the USA, CA, and UK. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  4. My Supplement Plug: Ships worldwide from the USA. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  5. Nutri Cartel: Ships worldwide from the USA. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  6. Nutrition Faktory: Ships worldwide from the USA.
  7. Ruesco: Ships worldwide from the USA.
  8. Supp Kingz: Ships worldwide from the USA. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  9. Supps Central: Ships worldwide from the USA. Use the discount code FITFREK for a 15% discount.
  10. Transparent Labs: Offers a full suite of all-natural sports supplements that provide 100% formula transparency with science-backed ingredients at clinically tested dosages. Read if Transparent Labs is legit.
  11. Huge Supplements: Offers a wide variety of bodybuilding supplements by Huge Nutrition. They are committed to bringing all athletes worldwide the newest supplements backed by science and genuinely beneficial for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Read if Huge Supplements is legit.

Check out our discounts category for more discounts.

FAQ

What is a pre-workout supplement?

A pre-workout supplement is a product designed to enhance workout performance. It typically contains a blend of ingredients like caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and amino acids.

When should I take my pre-workout?

Most pre-workouts should be taken 20-30 minutes before exercise. However, the exact timing can depend on the specific product and your individual response.

Are pre-workouts safe?

While many pre-workout ingredients have been shown to be safe for most people, some products may contain potentially harmful ingredients. Always choose products from reputable companies and talk to your doctor if you have any health concerns.

Do I need to cycle off pre-workouts?

Some people choose to cycle off pre-workouts to reduce tolerance to stimulants like caffeine. However, this may not be necessary for all ingredients or products.

Can I take a pre-workout on an empty stomach?

Some people can tolerate pre-workouts on an empty stomach, while others may experience stomach upset. It's best to start with a small dose to assess your tolerance.

What are the most effective pre-workout ingredients?

Caffeine and creatine are among the most researched and effective pre-workout ingredients. Other potentially beneficial ingredients include beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Are all pre-workouts the same?

No, pre-workouts can vary widely in their ingredients and dosages. Some may focus more on energy and focus, while others may prioritize musclepump or endurance.

What should I do if I experience side effects from a pre-workout?

If you experience side effects like rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, or severe headache, it's best to stop using the product and consult a healthcare professional.

Are pre-workouts FDA approved?

Dietary supplements, including pre-workouts, are not approved by the FDA. However, the FDA does regulate these products and can take action against companies selling unsafe or misbranded supplements.

Can I take a pre-workout if I'm sensitive to caffeine?

Yes, there are many caffeine-free pre-workouts available. These products can be a good option if you're sensitive to caffeine or prefer to avoid it.

Bottom Line

Pre-workout supplements are more than just a fitness fad.

They're a scientifically-backed tool to enhance your workout, boost your energy, and help you reach your fitness goals faster.

Pre-workout supplements can be a powerful advantage, designed to supercharge your workouts and help you reach your fitness goals.

From boosting energy and improving performance to enhancing focus and speeding up recovery, the benefits of pre-workouts are clear.

However, you have to be careful.

It's crucial to understand what you're putting into your body and to choose products from reputable brands.

With the lack of FDA regulation, the safety and quality of pre-workout supplements can vary widely.

The pre-workout market is booming, driven by an increasing focus on health and fitness and a rise in the number of non-traditional users.

But with this growth comes a responsibility to stay informed about the latest trends and to make smart choices about what we put into our bodies.

Whether you're a seasoned gym-goer or just starting your fitness journey, understanding the world of pre-workouts can help you make the most of your workouts and reach your fitness goals.

So, do your research, listen to your body, and push your limits. After all, your workout is only as good as the effort you put into it.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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