Let’s talk supplements… specifically, pre-workout supplements…
In fact, let’s cut right to what I know you want to know: 1) yes, I love taking a pre-workout supplement and think the benefits are superior to that of caffeine alone and 2) I’m sharing exactly which pre-workout product I’m currently using and loving.
When taking a pre-workout of any type, I suggest looking at a few things. What are the ingredients? Will these ingredients actually benefit me during my workouts? What is the stimulant amount? Below, I will elaborate on those and share what benefits I am noticing, suggestions on exactly when to take your pre-workout, and the product that is checking all my boxes.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TAKING A PRE-WORKOUT?
- ENERGY: the obvious reason is that I neeeeeed that little burst of energy to get me through a tough workout
- VASODILATION/INCREASED BLOOD FLOW: the ingredients dilate blood vessels to allow blood to circulate easier, bringing oxygen and other crucial nutrients into the muscles that we are breaking down during a workout
- MUSCLE PUMP: I also notice a greater muscle pump and ability to make that mind/muscle connection thanks to certain key ingredients
- BCAA: brand chain amino acids help promote an anabolic/muscle-building state while assisting in recovery and soreness
- COLLAGEN: you will find solid amount of collagen snuck into this particular pre-workout product, giving you a great bang for your bunk
PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS VS CAFFEINE (IE: COFFEE)
Just like the name implies, pre-workout supplements are those taken prior to a workout with the goal of allowing you to achieve a greater workout. How exactly? Well, that all depends on the specific pre-workout product. The one ingredient most often found in a pre-workout supplement is caffeine or stimulant ingredients used to boost energy levels.
Unlike drinking a cup of tea, coffee or any typical caffeinated beverage, pre-workout products also contain a cocktail of other ingredients. It’s important to look and these ingredients and understand why they’re added. Like I mentioned, many ingredients are used for the stimulant effect and others are used to help maximize the muscle pump. Working out increases our heart rate, dilating the veins and creating a greater flow of blood transported throughout the body. If you see these veins and arteries as a highway system, imagine that pump ingredients add an additional lane to a busy highway… the flow of oxygen-rich blood moves more efficiently and faster to the muscle cells. All of this enhances the overall workout as well as the muscle recover (=better results).
Between pregnancies and nursing for the past 3+ years, I’ve taken caffeinated drinks (ie: coffee) prior to workouts. I recently got back into the pre-workout game and I cannot tell you what a difference it’s made in my overall workout quality, energy, focus and endurance.
How much caffeine should I take?
The amount of caffeine you should look for in a pre-workout is a very personal thing. It also depends on many other factors. For example, how much caffeine are you consuming throughout the day via other drinks, such as coffee, soda, tea, etc. The other factor is personal preference; some individuals love a high stimulant pre-workout that mainly focus on providing energy throughout the workout while others look for pre-workouts with a “medium” amount of stimulants and other ingredients to enhance the workout (this is where I am at).
I find that my body responds very well to about 125-150mg of caffeine 15-30 minutes before a workout. This amount of caffeine provides me with just the right boost to get me going and ready for a workout without giving me jitters. The common used term “jitters/jiterry” is in reference to when one consumes too much caffeine and they feel literally jittery. This is also your bodies way of telling you to slow it down with the caffeine.
My personal preference is 200-250 mg per day (125-150 mg in my pre-workout and another 50-75 mg throughout the day if need be).
WHEN TO TAKE A PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENT
THE PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENT I CURRENTLY USE
I am currently taking THIS pre-workout by Vital Proteins.
The Ingredients I love:
- Creatine Nitrate
I like to recommend pre-workout products that enhance the muscle “pump” more than those that simply serve as a stimulant, which this product perfectly achieves. Personally, I prefer “pump” style pre-workouts to enhance my physical fitness, endurance and focus during a workout as well as recovery benefits.
Stimulants in a pre-workout supplement in lower amounts are my preference because stimulant style pre-workouts, by nature, almost defeat the purpose of the supplement. Stimulants are vaso-constrictors, which work to do the opposite of dilating the veins, inducing less of a pump (remember a pump is a good thing). This particular pre-workout product deliver 140 mg of caffeine per serving, which is the ideal amount for me: just enough energy without the jitters.
BOTTOM LINE ON PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS…
I notice a definite difference in my workouts when I take an actual pre-workout supplement prior. The ideal timing to consume is on the way to the gym of 15-30 minutes prior to beginning my actual weight training. The Vital Protein’s Pre-Wave product is the one I am currently using and loving. Not only does it provide the exact ingredients I desire, but it is a brand I trust (so key with supplement companies). Right now, my current flavor is lemon grape, but I’ll keep you posted as I try more.
Thank you to Vital Proteins, a brand I love, for sponsoring this post; as always, all opinions are honest and my own.