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Pre-Workout Supplements – Your Essential Guide

Pre-Workout Supplements – Your Essential Guide

Pre-workout supplements are one of the fastest-growing and bestselling categories in the supplement market today. Before you train it’s crucial that you provide your body with the exact nutrients it needs to perform at its optimal level. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about pre-workout supplements!

Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements

The Benefits of Taking a Pre-Workout Supplement

There are lots of different types of pre-workout products to choose from. Your pre-workout supplement should positively benefit you in three key areas:

  1. Muscular endurance and strength.
  2. Pump and vasodilation.
  3. Energy and mental focus.

What’s In a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Here are some of the main ingredients you will find in your pre workout supplement:

1. Nutrients


Carbohydrates are important in any athlete’s prep routine, particularly if your workout is highly intense and exceeds one hour. Carbohydrates refuel your muscles and are then stored as glycogen. The depletion of glycogen is associated with fatigue and tiredness. By fuelling up your body with the right supplements, you can ensure that your body stays pumped.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and is vital for your body to deal with metabolic stress. Anytime you’re putting the body under a stress load, having Vitamin C in your system will help you to push your body to the limit. Vitamin C has also been proven to reduce an athlete’s likelihood of developing coughing or wheezing before and after exercise.

Vitamin B6 and B12

According to a recent report from the National Institutes of Health in the United States, vitamin B helps the body form red blood cells and get/make energy from food. It can also help reduce inflammation and regulate mood and sleep patterns. In short, this vitamin allows your body to calibrate the essential bodily processes that need to be in place so that you can feel strong during your workout.

BCAA Blend

Branched chain amino acid (BCAA) blends are made up of a mixture of three important amino acids:

  1. Leucine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Valine

The body uses amino acids to help digest food, promote growth also repair damaged muscle tissue after intense workouts. BCAA are mainly found in eggs, meat and many other protein sources. BCAAs are easily absorbed into the blood stream unlike wholefood proteins. BCAAs quickly raise your blood levels which provides your muscle tissue with readily available fuel it needs to carry out protein synthesis.

2. Brain Boosters


This amino acid enhances focus, elevates mood and even boosts sex drive. Additionally, evidence suggests that Tyrosine improves concentration during exercise.


This nutrient is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for signalling muscle contractions and other brain activity. Choline also helps improve memory.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is natural supplement that has a range of nootropic benefits. It is known to boost concentration and mental clarity and improve many facets of memory function.

3. Strength Boosters


Most pre-workout supplements contain creatine. Creatine draws fluids from the blood plasma into the skeletal muscle, which can improve muscle performance. It also boosts energy production in muscle cells.

What is Creatine?


Beta-Alanine, an amino acid, enhances muscular strength and endurance by increasing your body’s levels of carnosine. Beta-Alanine allows you to train harder for longer. This amino acid is the building block of Carnosine. Carnosine is a molecule shown to buffer the production of lactic acid in the muscles. What this means for you is more reps and more sets. This will lead to lean muscle gains.


Cordyceps is a Tibetan fungus that helps boost immediate strength by contributing to your ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) cycle. By combining cordyceps with creatine, you’ll have greater immediate strength for your workout.

4. Energy Boosters and Stimulants


When consumed pre-workout, caffeine can be integral in making a long session feel more effortless. Several studies have shown that taking caffeine can provide a physical boost before a workout. Caffeine can help you lose weight by increasing the amount of energy your body burns throughout the day.

Caffeine also:
  • Promotes muscle endurance
  • Enhances anaerobic performance
  • Improves strength

Make sure you double-check the caffeine dosage on your supplement label – if you take too much you can feel nauseous and/or restless. Ensure you take a non-caffeinated supplement if you’re sensitive to caffeine.


Theobromine increases nitric oxide synthesis within the body. Unlike caffeine, theobromine has three methyl groups instead of two, and the presence of an additional methyl group slows the clearance of theobromine from the body. This makes theobromine a longer acting substance compared to caffeine.


Synephrine is one of the main active compounds found in bitter oranges. The benefits of synephrine include increased energy levels and metabolic rates. It has also been proven to promote weight loss.

5. Nitric Oxide and Pump Boosters


Arginine is an amino acid that converts in your body to nitric oxide (NO), a gas molecule that allows your blood vessels to expand so that more oxygen, blood and nutrients reach your working muscles.


Increases muscle cell volumisation by drawing more water inside the muscle cells. It also increases muscle fullness. Glycerol also assists in pulling more water into your blood vessels, increasing their vascularity and dilation.


may convert to arginine more effectively than supplemental arginine.

Agmatine Sulfate

Agmatine is a metabolite of the amino acid L-Arginine. It supports

6. Fat Burners

Green Tea Extract

Green Tea is one of the most popular and effective natural fat burners on the market. Green tea extract contains high amounts of caffeine and catechin polyphenols, which has been shown to significantly increase fat utilisation and energy expenditure. Give yourself an edge in your workout by looking for a supplement that contains a large percentage of EGCG.

Vitamin B6 and B12

According to a recent report from the National Institutes of Health in the United States, vitamin B helps the body form red blood cells and get/make energy from food. It can also help reduce inflammation and regulate mood and sleep patterns. In short, this vitamin allows your body to calibrate the essential bodily processes that need to be in place so that you can feel strong during your workout.


How To Choose
A Top Quality Pre-Workout Supplement

Quality: Check the manufacturer and if there have been any concerns.
Ingredients: A variety and potency of ingredients will ensure the best effectiveness.
Reviews: Read up and find out if anyone else uses your pre-workout supplement.

How to Take Your Pre-Workout Supplement

Like with all supplements, only take the suggested amount and not more. Always follow the instructions for mixing amounts and when to take your pre-workout. You want focus and energy, but not too much! To determine how to break down your pre-workout supplement intake, consult a sports nutritionist as recommendations will vary depending on your individual training routine and goals.

Best Time To Take Your Pre-Workout Supplement

When To Take Your Pre-Workout Supplements

It typically takes caffeine and other ingredients 30-45 minutes to be absorbed into your body. This gives your body the time to focus and energise itself before you start your workout. We would therefore recommend taking your pre-workout supplement 15-30 minutes prior to training. This is particularly helpful for morning workout people as you don’t have to worry about your pre-workout supplement lasting. However, if you prefer working out later in the day, it’s important to remember that caffeine is completely expelled from the body after 4-6 hours.

Taking a pre-workout late in the evening may keep you up past your bedtime! Over time, your body develops small resistances to the effects of some amino acids and caffeine in pre-workout supplements. By cycling on and off your pre-workout supplement (take a week off every two months) you will allow your body to feel the full effects of your pre-workout.


The Bottom Line

Supplements are immensely helpful performance boosters that provide you with enhanced performance in your training. However, keep in mind that they are intended to supplement a healthy and balanced diet. Now that you know the facts, it's time to put them into practice. Always ensure that you check the label of your favourite pre-workout supplement. Avoid anything that doesn’t have research behind it and always be wary of supplements with long ingredient lists.