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Why Does Pre-Workout Make Me Feel Tired? (And How To Avoid It)

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 13, 2023

You've probably been there.

You take your pre-workout supplement, ready to crush your workout, but instead of feeling energized, you feel tired.

I know you’re asking: "Why does pre-workout make me tired?"

You might wonder if it’s because you’re not taking it on an empty stomach or if it may just not have enough caffeine for you.

We'll dig into why these paradoxical effects may happen…

Why Do Pre-Workouts Make Me Feel Tired?

Feeling wiped out after your pre-workout?

Blame it on the stimulant crash and the energy drain from intense workouts.

Dodge this fatigue trap by opting for a stimulant-free pre-workout, fueling up right, hydrating, and cycling your pre-workout.

Remember, your body knows best, so tune in and tweak your routine for peak performance.

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are products designed to enhance your workout performance.

They usually contain a blend of ingredients that can increase your energy, endurance, strength, and focus during a workout.

Common Ingredients In Pre-Workout Supplements

These supplements often contain caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and amino acids.

Each ingredient serves a specific purpose, from boosting energy levels to promoting muscle growth.

Why Does Pre-Workout Make Me Tired?

When it comes to pre-workouts, the energy can increase but what increases at a rapid rate must eventually decrease equally as fast.

The Role of Stimulants in Pre-Workout Supplements

One of the main reasons pre-workout can make you feel tired is due to the high amounts of stimulants, like caffeine.

These stimulants give you an initial energy boost, but when they wear off, you may experience a "crash," leaving you feeling tired and drained.

Stimulants in Pre Workouts

Stimulants are substances that increase the activity of the central nervous system and the body, leading to increased alertness, energy, and physical activity.

They are commonly found in pre-workout supplements due to their ability to enhance performance and focus during workouts.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the most common stimulant found in pre-workout supplements.

It works by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, which prevents the onset of drowsiness and keeps you alert. [1]

Caffeine can also enhance physical performance by increasing power output and reducing perceived exertion during exercise. [2, 3]

However, the energy boost from caffeine is temporary.

Once it wears off, you may experience a "caffeine crash" characterized by fatigue, irritability, and drowsiness.

This is because the adenosine that was blocked during caffeine's effect can now bind to its receptors, leading to feelings of tiredness.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is often included in pre-workout supplements due to its ability to increase muscle carnosine concentrations.

This can help delay muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise, allowing you to train harder and longer. [4]

However, beta-alanine can cause a tingling sensation known as paresthesia in some individuals.

This is generally harmless and subsides on its own, but it can be uncomfortable for some people.

Yohimbine

Yohimbine is a stimulant derived from the bark of the Yohimbe tree.

It's often included in pre-workout supplements, especially thermogenic pre-workouts, due to its ability to increase adrenaline levels, which can enhance fat-burning and energy levels.

However, Yohimbine can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and restlessness. [5]

It's also worth noting that Yohimbine is banned in many countries due to its potential side effects.

Stronger Stimulants in Pre-Workout Supplements

While caffeine is the most common stimulant found in pre-workout supplements, there are other, stronger stimulants that are sometimes used.

These include DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) and DMHA (2-aminoisoheptane).

DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine)

DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, is a powerful stimulant that was originally developed as a nasal decongestant.

It's similar in structure to amphetamine and can significantly increase energy levels, focus, and endurance during workouts. [6]

We’ve explained what DMAA is in this article.

However, DMAA has been linked to serious side effects, including high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks.

Due to these potential risks, DMAA has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and many other regulatory authorities worldwide.

DMHA (2-aminoisoheptane)

DMHA, or 2-aminoisoheptane, is another potent stimulant often found in pre-workout supplements.

It's similar in structure to DMAA and is believed to increase levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the body. [7]

This can lead to enhanced energy, focus, and mood during workouts.

However, like DMAA, DMHA has been associated with potential health risks.

These include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and anxiety.

Furthermore, the safety and long-term effects of DMHA are not well-studied, leading to concerns about its use.

So while these stronger stimulants can provide a significant boost in energy and performance, they also carry potential risks and side effects.

It's important to use these substances responsibly, if at all, and to be aware of the regulations in your country regarding their use.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if it contains potent stimulants like DMAA or DMHA.

The Impact of Intense Workouts

Pre-workout supplements can help you push harder during your workouts.

However, the more intense your workout, the more energy you expend, which can lead to feelings of fatigue afterward.

The Effect of Lower Energy Intake

Pre-workout supplements can suppress your appetite, leading to a lower energy intake.

Consuming fewer calories than your body needs, especially when you're exercising intensely, can result in tiredness.

Symptoms of Pre-Workout Crash

Fatigue

Feeling tired or drained after the initial energy boost from your pre-workout supplement wears off is a common symptom of a pre-workout crash.

Nausea

Some people may feel nauseous after taking pre-workout, especially if they've taken a high-stimulant supplement on an empty stomach.

Learn how to avoid pre-workout sickness here.

Headaches

The sudden drop in energy levels after the effects of the pre-workout wear off can trigger headaches in some individuals.

Muscle Weakness

If you've pushed yourself hard during your workout, you may experience muscle weakness as a symptom of a pre-workout crash.

How To Avoid Pre-Workout Crash

Choosing Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout

One way to avoid the crash is to choose a pre-workout supplement that doesn't contain stimulants.

This way, you won't experience the dramatic energy highs and lows associated with stimulant-based pre-workouts.

Consuming Adequate Calories

Ensuring you're eating enough throughout the day can help prevent the tiredness associated with a lower energy intake.

Limiting Additional Caffeine Intake

If you're already consuming caffeine in your pre-workout, try to limit your intake from other sources to avoid exacerbating the crash.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of tiredness.

Ensure you're drinking enough water before, during, and after your workout to maintain optimal hydration levels.

Not Everyone Reacts The Same

Everyone's body responds differently to supplements.

If you notice that you consistently feel tired after taking a certain pre-workout, it might not be the right one for you.

Don't be afraid to try different supplements to find the one that works best for your body.

Cycling Your Pre-Workout: The Secret to Sustained Energy

Ever felt like your pre-workout has lost its mojo?

Like you're just going through the motions, but the magic is gone?

That's where cycling your pre-workout comes in.

It's like a relationship reset for your supplement routine, keeping things fresh and effective.

Think of it this way: Your pre-workout is like a good cup of coffee.

The first sip is always the best, right? But if you're drinking it non-stop, day in and day out, that buzz starts to fade.

That's where cycling comes in.

It's like taking a coffee break to let your body reset and rekindle that first-sip feeling.

Cycling is all about balance.

It's about giving your body the rest it needs to recover from those intense workouts that your pre-workout fuels.

It's about preventing those unwanted side effects that can creep up with long-term use of stimulants, like sleep disturbances and high blood pressure.

So, how do you cycle your pre-workout? One popular method is the 8-2 rule: eight weeks on, two weeks off.

But remember, everyone's different.

You might prefer a shorter cycle, like 4 weeks on, 1 week off.

The key is to listen to your body and find what works best for you.

And don't forget: During your off weeks, keep that healthy lifestyle going.

Stay hydrated, eat well, and consider natural energy boosters like green tea or beetroot juice.

In the end, cycling your pre-workout is about maximizing benefits and minimizing potential side effects.

It's about ensuring that your pre-workout continues to be your trusty sidekick, powering you through your workouts.

So give your body a break, and keep that pre-workout magic alive.

Do All Pre-Workouts Make You Crash?

Not all pre-workouts will make you crash.

Stimulant-free pre-workouts, for example, are less likely to cause a crash compared to their stimulant-heavy counterparts.

Can Too Much Pre-Workout Make You Crash?

Yes, consuming too much pre-workout can lead to a more severe crash.

This is because the higher the dose of stimulants you consume, the more dramatic the subsequent energy drop will be.

Does Pre-Workout Make You Crash The Next Day?

Some people may experience a "hangover" effect the day after taking the pre-workout, especially if they take it later in the day.

This can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to feelings of tiredness the next day.

Should You Worry If You Crash After Taking Pre-Workout?

While it's not ideal to feel tired after taking pre-workout, it's not usually a cause for concern.

However, if you're consistently feeling tired after taking pre-workout.

FAQs

You may have more questions, so we’ll try our best to answer them here…

Why does pre-workout make me tired?

Pre-workout can make you tired due to the high amounts of stimulants, like caffeine, which give you an initial energy boost.

However, when these stimulants wear off, you may experience a "crash," leaving you feeling tired and drained.

Additionally, intense workouts and lower energy intake due to appetite suppression can also contribute to feelings of tiredness.

How can I avoid feeling tired after taking pre-workout?

You can avoid feeling tired by choosing a stimulant-free pre-workout, consuming adequate calories throughout the day, limiting additional caffeine intake, and cycling your pre-workout.

What does it mean to cycle my pre-workout?

Cycling your pre-workout involves taking the supplement for a certain period, followed by a break.

This can help prevent your body from building up a tolerance to the stimulants, which can lead to more severe crashes.

What should I do if I consistently feel tired after taking pre-workout?

If you consistently feel tired after taking pre-workout, it may be worth considering a stimulant-free option or adjusting your dosage.

It's also important to ensure you're consuming enough calories and staying hydrated.

If the tiredness persists, consider consulting with a healthcare provider.

Are all pre-workouts likely to make me crash?

Not all pre-workouts will make you crash.

Stimulant-free pre-workouts, for example, are less likely to cause a crash compared to their stimulant-heavy counterparts.

Can too much pre-workout make me crash?

Yes, consuming too much pre-workout can lead to a more severe crash.

The higher the dose of stimulants you consume, the more dramatic the subsequent energy drop will be.

Does pre-workout make you crash the next day?

Some people may experience a "hangover" effect the day after taking pre-workout, especially if they take it later in the day.

This can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to feelings of tiredness the next day.

Should I worry if I crash after taking pre-workout?

While it's not ideal to feel tired after taking pre-workout, it's not usually a cause for concern.

However, if you're consistently feeling tired after taking pre-workout, it may be worth consulting with a healthcare provider.

What is pre-workout cycling?

Pre-workout cycling is a strategy used to prevent your body from adapting to the supplement.

It involves periods of use followed by periods of rest.

Why should I cycle my pre-workout?

Cycling your pre-workout helps maintain its effectiveness and prevents the development of tolerance or dependence.

It can also help prevent side effects associated with long-term use of stimulants.

How do I cycle my pre-workout?

A common approach is the 8-2 method, which involves taking the pre-workout for eight weeks, followed by a two-week break.

However, the length of the cycle can vary depending on the individual and the specific pre-workout supplement.

What should I do during my off weeks?

During your off weeks, maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated.

You can also consider using alternative natural energy boosters, such as green tea or beetroot juice.

Will cycling work for everyone?

Will cycling work for everyone?

Everyone's body responds differently to supplements.

What works best for one person may not work as well for another.

It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or a fitness professional to determine the best cycling strategy for you.

Bottom Line:

So, there you have it.

We've dived deep into the world of pre-workout supplements, dissected the role of stimulants, and even explored the stronger, more potent stimulants like DMAA and DMHA.

We've uncovered why these energy-boosting concoctions might leave you feeling paradoxically tired and how to potentially avoid this workout pitfall.

Remember, everyone's body responds differently to these supplements.

What works for one person might not work for another.

It's all about finding what works best for you and your body.

But don't stop here. Continue to educate yourself about the supplements you're putting into your body.

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to fitness and health.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out our other resources.

We're constantly updating our content with the latest research and information to help you get the most out of your workouts.

Stay strong, stay informed, and keep pushing your limits.

Your best workout is just around the corner.

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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