What Does Pre-Workout Feel Like?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 13, 2023

Pre-workouts can help take your workouts to the next level. 

They are designed to increase energy, focus, and endurance levels, providing a boost that can help you push through intense training sessions.

But what does pre-workout feel like?

In this article, we dig into the effects of these supplements and how they can enhance your workout experience.

What are Pre-Workouts?

Before we dive into the experience of using pre-workout supplements, let us first understand what exactly pre-workouts are.

Pre-workouts refer to a category of dietary supplements that have been specifically formulated to support physical performance and enhance exercise routines.

They often come in powder or pill form and are typically consumed before commencing a workout session.

They typically contain a combination of ingredients, which are formulated to deliver specific effects.

The goal of these supplements is to improve energy levels, increase focus, boost endurance, enhance muscle pumps, and optimize workout performance as a whole.

Why Use Pre-Workouts?

Pre-workouts contain ingredients that are designed to speed up all aspects of your workout performance. 

From recovery, to focus and energy, pre-workouts can help reduce fatigue and help you keep focused during your workout. 

One of the primary reasons people use pre-workouts is to increase their energy levels before entering the gym.

Pre-workout often use stimulants like caffeine, which can delay fatigue and keep you alert and concentrated during your workout.

What Does Pre-Workout Feel Like?

So, what does taking a pre-workout actually feel like?

Let's break down the experience into physical and psychological effects, and consider potential long-term implications.

Immediate Physical Effects 

Shortly after consuming a pre-workout supplement, you might start to feel a rush of energy.

This is often accompanied by an increased heart rate and a warming sensation throughout your body.

Some users also report experiencing a tingling sensation, particularly in the skin - this is usually due to beta-alanine.

And there may also be a flushing sensation, which comes from niacin (vitamin b3).

Psychological Effects

Mentally, you may feel more alert and focused.

This heightened concentration can make you feel ready to tackle even the most challenging workouts.

Many users also report feeling more motivated and driven to push their physical limits.

Of course, this varies between pre-workouts. 

Long Term Effects

In the long run, consistent use of pre-workout supplements can lead to improved workout performance and potentially faster progress toward fitness goals.

However, it's important to remember that supplements are just a tool and should be combined with a balanced diet and consistent exercise.

Differences in Individual Experiences

Remember, everyone's body is unique, and the effects of pre-workout can vary significantly from person to person.

And this can also depend on the tolerance of the person and the history they have with stimulants and pre-workouts. 

Factors Influencing Individual Reactions

Several factors can influence how your body reacts to pre-workout, including your body size, tolerance to stimulants, metabolism speed, and even your general state of health.

Your sleep and stress can also play a big contributing factor since if you don't get enough sleep, then you'll have less energy in general.

Varying Tolerance Levels

Individuals with a higher tolerance for caffeine or other stimulants may not experience as intense effects as those with a lower tolerance.

How Does Pre-Workout Help Exercise Performance?

Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your exercise performance in several ways.

Enhanced Energy and Focus

The caffeine and other stimulants in pre-workouts can give you a much-needed energy boost, particularly for early morning or late-night workouts.

They also help improve focus, allowing you to maintain better form and concentration throughout your session.

Some pre-workouts don't contain stimulants at all and instead, they only use ingredients that will help performance without increasing your heart rate. 

These types of pre-workouts are either called non-stimulant, stimulant-free, or nitric oxide boosters. 

Increased Muscle Endurance

Ingredients such as beta-alanine and citrulline can help improve muscular endurance and strength.

This means you can perform more repetitions and sustain higher intensity levels for longer periods, leading to more effective workouts.

Citrulline and similar ingredients can help reduce soreness and speed up the recovery process. 

Improved Metabolic Efficiency

Some pre-workout supplements may also contain ingredients that help increase metabolic rate, aiding in fat loss and improving energy efficiency.

Potential Side Effects of Pre-Workouts

Like any supplement, pre-workouts are not without their potential downsides.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects may include restlessness, insomnia, digestive upset, and in some cases, a crash in energy levels once the supplement wears off.

It's important to be aware of these potential effects and balance the benefits with the potential drawbacks.

Mitigating Negative Effects

By following recommended dosage guidelines, choosing high-quality supplements, and listening to your body's signals, you can mitigate many of these potential side effects and risks.

Increase in Jitteriness

Depending on the ingredients, you may experience some level of jitters. 

One of the stimulants that may cause this is caffeine but this is sometimes combined with other stimulants so it can have a compound effect on nervousness and jitters. 

If you're experiencing jitters, then you can reduce your caffeine dosage to 200mg as recommended here.

While some pre-workouts may have 300mg of caffeine or more, if you're not used to taking those levels of caffeine then the levels of jitters may be higher than what users report. 

Tips For Using Pre-Workout Supplements Safely

Like any supplement, pre-workouts are not without their potential downsides.

Dosage and Timing

To maximize the benefits and reduce potential side effects, it's essential to pay attention to dosage and timing.

Most supplements should be taken 20-30 minutes before exercise, but always follow the instructions on the label.

Check the dosages of each stimulant, to ensure you can tolerate it. 

Even then, you should always take half a serving or less to assess your tolerance and sometimes manufacturers can make mistakes with their ingredients. 

You just don't know until you experiment with the servings yourself. 

Picking the Right Pre-Workout

With the vast array of pre-workout options available, it's important that you choose one that meets your specific needs and fitness goals.

To be safe, look for pre-workouts with a clear, transparent label that doesn’t rely on proprietary blends, so you know exactly what you're consuming.

Take a look at these FDA-approved pre-workouts

FAQs about Pre-Workouts

Like any supplement, pre-workouts are not without their potential downsides.

Is it normal to a feel tingling sensation after taking pre-workout?

Yes, it's an effect that's caused by an ingredient called beta-alanine.

It's harmless and it'll subside after an hour or so.

Another ingredient that may cause a flushing sensation is niacin (vitamin B3) which is also harmless. 

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

Yes you can but you can choose a pre-workout with the amount of caffeine that you'd like. 

There are also pre-workouts without stimulants that you can choose from. 

Can pre-workouts make me go to the bathroom?

If the pre-workout has stimulants, then yes it can stimulate colon contractions. 

Other ingredients such as sweeteners may also cause digestive discomfort.

How long does the effects of pre-workouts last?

The peak of the energy from pre-workout usually lasts anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on the ingredients.

The half life of the stimulants, especially caffeine ranges anywhere from 4-6 hours, meaning you'll still have some caffeine in your system for a good 8-12 hours.

So that's why it's recommended to take your pre-workout as early as possible in the day so it doesn't disrupt your sleep, or find a pre-workout with less stimulants. 

Can I take pre-workouts on an empty stomach?

Yes but this also depends on the individual. 

Some people may experience stomach discomfort if they take it on an empty stomach, while others have no issues.

For the most part, you can take a pre-workout on an empty stomach

Can I become dependent on pre-workout supplements?

As with anything, it's possible to become reliant on the psychological boost pre-workouts provide.

However, physical dependency is unlikely if used responsibly.

Similar to coffee, withdrawals from caffeine may occur if you take a break from pre-workouts.

Can Pre-Workout Give Me a "Head-Buzz"? 

The "head buzz" sensation often associated with pre-workout supplements can be attributed to the high caffeine (or other stimulants like eria jarensis) content present in these products.

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing neural activity and alertness.

This stimulation can result in a heightened sense of awareness and a temporary rush of energy, leading to the "head buzz" effect.

Bottom Line

So, what does pre-workout feel like?

It's a unique experience that varies from person to person, but generally, it's described as a heightened state of readiness for physical activity.

It can help improve your focus, energy levels, and overall workout performance.

However, it's essential to remember that supplements should not replace a balanced diet and regular exercise but should be used as a tool to enhance these foundational aspects of fitness.

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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