PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT IS A PRE-WORKOUT?
In the simplest of forms, a pre-workout is a supplement designed to get you to your goals, fast – be it to deadlift your body weight, strip excess fat or power harder at Crossfit. A fitness-world magic potion of sorts.
“Pre-workout supplements are a hot topic among athletes and gym goers right now,” says registered dietitian at Doctify, Katherine Kimber.
“However, although they may play a role in enhancing the performance of well-trained athletes, for most people, a well-balanced diet – especially one which is timed appropriately – should be enough. At the end of the day, a deficient eating pattern cannot be out trained – or out supplemented.”
So, in essence, maxing your nutrition naturally then kickstarting your workout with something as simple as a banana and an espresso shot, could produce similar – if not better – results (at a reduced cost and while ticking off one of your five-a-day; #multitasking).
But, if that is the case, and pre-workouts aren’t really necessary, why all the hype? After all, surely all those pre-workout powders, gels, liquids, bars, tablets and chewing gums that you’ve seen on the market can’t be a waste of money.
“While some pre-workout supplements may contain safe energy-boosting ingredients, others, especially those containing high doses of ingredients, could be pointless and potentially harmful,” Kimber says. Furthermore, not all the ingredients have scientific support behind them.
So, when it comes to what pre-workouts are worth your attention? Read on.
PRE-WORKOUT INGREDIENTS: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
According to Kimber, there are only three key players worth zooming in on.
What it does: Obvs, right. These give you energy to ensure you can perform at your best.
Kimber says: “Your body relies on its carbohydrate stores (glycogen) for fuel during a workout so, along with a regular eating pattern and balanced diet, consuming carbohydrates pre-workout would be a good way to ensure energy levels remain topped up.”
Maximise the benefits: Consume 15g carbohydrate at least 30 minutes before you work out.
What it does: Need an instant pick-me-up? This is just the ticket.
Kimber says: “Caffeine is a stimulant that has been shown in research to support maintaining high-intensity exercise of 20-60 minutes for longer, with reduced feelings of fatigue. Doses as low as 1.5mg/kg (around an 85-100mg cup) have been shown to be effective.”
Maximise the benefits: Have caffeine 15-60 minutes before you start exercising.
What it does: This is one of the most popular performance-enhancing pre-workouts. Especially for those of you wanting to smash your metcon. It’s also one of the safest pre-workout supplements.
Kimber says: “Studies suggest that it may increase exercise capacity and muscle mass during high-intensity, intermittent training.”
Maximise the benefits: Research suggests taking creatine monohydrate after your training is could be better than consuming it before.
Maybe you’re looking for energy and focus to get off the couch and into the gym. Maybe you’re looking to take your gym session, workout class, or at-home training to the next level. What if there were something out there that could help you crush your workouts no matter what your training level or goal? There is.
WHAT IS A PRE-WORKOUT?
On a practical level, pre-workouts are designed to help you increase training volume and intensity so that you can get more from each workout session. In time, those extra reps, sets and minutes spent add up to major gains. When you see your hard work pay off, the more motivation you have to train. And the more you train, the more progress you continue to make.
So, when combined with the proper training regimen and nutrition program, taking a pre-workout can offer that extra push–not just to workout today, but to do it again tomorrow, then again the day after…
WHO SHOULD TAKE PRE-WORKOUT?
Traditionally, pre-workouts have had a reputation for being exclusive to the highly advanced gym-goer whose sole focus is to get as muscular as possible. But the truth is, pre-workouts can help just about anyone who wants to improve his or her fitness levels–from the beginner all the way to the hardcore gym buff.
In a nutshell, pre-workouts can benefit you if:
– You want ‘focused energy’ before a workout
– You’re starting a program and/or trying to take it to the next level
– You want to lose weight
– You want to build muscle and strength
– You want to improve your performance–in the gym or for sport