There are so many different types of pre-workout drinks out there on the market. They hit you hard with advertising, almost yelling at you to buy their product! You need to look hard and check that ingredient list to make sure you’re getting enough of the right ingredients. Otherwise you’re probably just spending all your money on a tasty caffeinated watery drink. This will get your hydration up and your heart pumping, but do little else – except deplete your bank account.
Caffeine is the cheapest and most common ingredient in pre-workout drinks. Caffeine is known to be a powerful stimulant to get you up and moving – to get you through that last set and push through another rep, or heavier weights. Caffeine has been shown to increase workloads by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering the perception of effort, no matter how tired you are. The amount of caffeine to look for on the bottle is 200-500mg. It’s a fairly big range as every person is affected by caffeine in different ways. If you are very sensitive to caffeine, then you need to look for pre-workout drinks without caffeine. Caffeine can give you the quick energy boost and kickstart you need to get working out. You can get it from a simple cup of coffee or tea, but mixed in with other ingredients you can reduce how much you need to drink.
Beta-alanine will increase your muscular endurance, enabling you to keep up your intensity for a longer period of time. You will need 1.5-5g in your pre-workout drink to get the best benefit from it. You can take beta-alanine before or after your workout, but usually people just take a drink either before and as long as you are taking it sometime throughout your day, you’ll build up your stores. Beta-alanine is converted into carnosine which is stored in your muscles and released when your pH drops. So as your muscles start using up energy during your workout, they get more acidic and the carnosine is released to delay your fatigue. Your carnosine levels need to build up before you start to feel any effect from taking Beta-alanine, so it might take a few weeks before you notice a difference in your workouts.
Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine
Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which manage protein during your workout, creating an anabolic environment. You need protein to build and repair your muscles and the balance between these BCAAs is important to be able to recover well and get in more workout sessions in your week. You want 2:1:1 Leucine:Isoleucine:Valine, all up 5g before you workout and 20g total throughout your day. Leucine in particular has been shown to stimulate the synthesis of muscle protein, so you can just look out for at least 3g of Leucine on your bottle.
Creatine is naturally created in the body, increasing the efficiency of your body to convert ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) into energy. Adding extra into your body will give you explosive strength. It is well documented that creatine increases strength and muscle size as well as evidence showing that it decreases fatigue and may slightly increase testosterone levels along with numerous other benefits. Creatine doesn’t have to be taken before you workout necessarily, but your do need to build up levels stored in your muscles to gain any benefit. Look out for for 3-5g in your pre-workout and 20g total throughout your day. Having carbohydrates added in with your creatine will help its effectiveness as carbs increase insulin, and insulin can help drive creatine into your muscle cells.
Pre-workout drinks can really help to improve your performance and help you stay focused throughout your workout. They can help your body to recover quicker and allow you to bulk up quicker by doing more reps and more workouts throughout a week. You can’t substitute a pre-workout drink for good nutrition and rest however, so make sure your lifestyle habits add up. If you have been doing weights training for awhile and are an intermediate-advanced trainer, then pre-workout drinks are for you. You are already used to hard workouts and the extra supplements can really help you boost up to the next level. It is generally not recommended to start pre-workout drinks if you are beginner as your body will not be used to the stimulants and you are more likely to overwork your body, requiring even longer time to recover or even worse, injure yourself. As always, it is recommended to consult your doctor if you are unsure about what different supplements may do to your body depending on your individual biological make up.
So if you are keen to see more improvements from your work out sessions and you are keen to start drinking supplements, look out for those ingredients listed above. Make sure there are enough amounts of each ingredients to get any benefit from the drink and be careful of ‘proprietary blends’. Companies like to state this instead of revealing their ingredients so as to mask the actual dosage of each ingredient, which is usually high in cheap caffeine and fillers and skimping on the above ingredients. Also watch out for ‘concentrated’ formulas as the ingredients listed above are already in its pure form and can’t be any more concentrated. These are just advertising tricks they use to make you think you’re getting more out of their product. Once you’ve sorted through all the supplement drinks on the market and have found one that suits you, you can start drinking it 30 minutes before your workout and after a few weeks you will really start to see results.
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