An energy-boosting supplement, pre-workout is designed to kick things up a notch and give you the edge in the gym.
While it will depend mainly on the type of pre-workout you use, the energy boost you receive can vary in duration.
While it’s hard to say for sure, given the various ingredients used in different pre-workouts, you can expect the effects to last as long as 2-3 hours after taking the energy-boosting supplement. This is by no means a definitive answer, so take it with a grain of salt.
Pre-workout can be a valuable asset for those who like to hit the ground running as soon as they get to the gym.
If you struggle to work yourself up to the right frame of mind for lifting heavy, you’re not alone.
Just like with any activity, even if it’s something you look forward to, it can take a short while before you’re fully energized and ready to go.
To shorten the length of time you need to wait before your energy spikes, a pre-workout is a good option.
Usually made with a blend of vitamins and stimulants, pre-workout gives the similar jolt you would expect from your morning cup of joe, only strong enough to sustain you through a grueling workout.
How Long Does it Take for Pre-Workout to Kick in?
This is a common question with pre-workout supplements, and it makes sense that you’d want to know how long you need to wait before you get the rush of energy you need to hit the weights.
A typical pre-workout will take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to kick in as a general estimate.
As such, it’s a good idea to take the pre-workout while you’re still preparing to head to the gym.
If you wait until the last moment to take the pre-workout, you might find that you grow frustrated as you lift weights with no noticeable difference in your energy level.
The reason for this short delay for the pre-workout to take effect is that the nutrients and minerals need to be directed into your blood stream from your stomach before they can work their magic.
The nutrient-rich formula should then stay in your body for 2-3 hours afterward, giving you plenty of time to finish your workout before the effects wear off.
Bear in mind that if you enjoy doing your workouts in the evening, you’ll want to time your pre-workout so that it works its way out of your body before you intend on going to sleep.
Common Ingredients in Pre-Workout
The first, and arguably most important ingredient category of pre-workout supplements is stimulants. Stimulants are compounds that increase your heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow. These are used to increase endurance, muscle strength, and decrease fatigue. The most common stimulants are caffeine, guarana, green tea extract, yohimbine, synephrine and theobromine. These work to increase power output and decrease fatigue by acting on the nervous system.
Other ingredients are often combined with stimulants in pre-workout supplements to induce vasodilation. Vasodilation is the expansion of blood vessels, which allows more blood flow to muscles, increasing endurance and decreasing fatigue. This can be increased by ingredients such as citrulline malate, beta alanine, arginine, and l-tyrosine.
Creatine is found in many pre-workout supplements because it has been proven effective at increasing strength, muscle mass, and power in successive bursts. Creatine works by increasing the energy stores in muscle fibers. The more energy is stored in the muscle, the more work can be done.
Finally, pre-workout supplements often contain ingredients that decrease fatigue and limit deactivation in the body. These can be anything from anti-oxidants, to ingredients that increase oxygen utilization. The most popular ingredient in this category is beta alanine.
Making the Most of Your Pre-Workout
As you might imagine, there’s a right way to take pre-workout, so if you want to make the most of it, here’s what you need to pay attention to.
One of the most important factors to bear in mind if you want to get the most out of your pre-workout is the timing.
If you take the pre-workout at the wrong time, you might miss your window of opportunity.
Timing the pre-workout right will depend on the amount of time it takes to kick in, which is usually anywhere between 20-45 minutes.
If you’re still not sure after taking a pre-workout whether or not it’s working, look out for the following:
- A Burst of Energy
- Mental Clarity
- Extra Sensation on the Skin
If you experience one or more of these sensations, then you know that the pre-workout is starting to take effect.
So with all this in mind, what’s the best time to take the pre-workout?
The best way to calculate this is figure out how long it’ll take you to pick up a weight from the moment you take the supplement.
If you have a home gym, this will be easy, but if you have traffic to worry about on your way to the gym you could take it with you.
To get the most out of a pre-workout, you don’t want to go mixing it with anything else.
A pre-workout on its own is all you need for a significant energy boost, which means leave the caffeine for later.
In fact, you shouldn’t really eat or drink anything other than your pre-workout since it could leave you feeling overstimulated or full.
The dosage of a pre-workout is crucial for optimal results.
Stick to what the label says, and you should be fine.
While this may seem obvious, it can be tempting to up the dose if you feel like the pre-workout isn’t working as it should.
Alternatives and How Long They Last
Pre-workout is a great way to boost your energy levels and improve your performance in the gym, but it might be too much for your body to handle.
If you find that the large dose of caffeine and other energy-boosting ingredients in a pre-workout causes you to experience headaches or other side effects, it might be worth considering these simpler alternatives.
Coffee is the most obvious alternative for pre-workout, as we can all relate to that sorely-needed caffeine boost it can provide us when we most need it.
Coffee is one of the best ways to get one of the most common stimulants into your body, plus it tastes great and is a lot more affordable than pre-workouts.
Caffeine works by blocking a neurotransmitter in your brain, which stimulates your body into action.
The downside of coffee is that some will already be desensitized to caffeine, so it won’t be enough to provide the boost they need to crush it at the gym.
Creatine is another common substitute for a full-on pre-workout, and the best thing about the powdered supplement is that you can combine it with your morning smoothie or shake for an energy-boosting effect.
If you want to supercharge your energy levels without using a pre-workout supplement, creatine is a good way to go about it.
While creatine will improve your ability to generate force, though, it won’t provide the same stimulation as caffeine or a pre-workout would so you’ll have to find another way to get pumped up before the big lift.
Smoothies may seem like an odd alternative for pre-workouts, but they can work well if you’re looking for a short-term sugar rush.
While we often think of a sugar rush as a bad thing, the glucose can be just what we need to power through a workout when it comes from healthy fruits.
Some of the best fruits to throw into your smoothie include bananas, blueberries, and apricots.
The downside of smoothies is that you will be consuming a significant amount of sugar, so you can’t rely on it as a daily pre-workout replacement if you’re concerned about consuming too much.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre Workouts
How long does pre workout take to wear off?
Generally, it takes between 2-3 hours for pre-workout to wear off and leave your system.
This should give you more than enough time to power through your workout routine.
It also means that if you plan on sleeping after an evening workout, you need to time your supplementation well.
Is pre workout bad for you?
Pre-workouts aren’t necessarily bad for you, but there are some commonly reported side effects associated with them.
These side effects include headaches, stomach ache, skin irritation, and a sensation of tingling.
Pre-workout will also raise your heart rate, which can potentially be problematic when combined with strenuous cardio-based activity.
How often should I use pre-workout?
It’s up to you how often you use a pre-workout, and many people choose to take it on a daily basis, or before every workout.
The main thing to consider is whether or not you experience side effects when you take the supplement.
If you regularly get stomach issues or headaches, for example, you might not want to take it so regularly.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Pre-workout is like rocket fuel that can propel your gains in the gyms and skyrocket your success.
If you’re fortunate enough not to feel side effects when you take it, then you can feel free to use it before every workout for the best results.