There comes a point in every fitness enthusiast's life when they sit back and ponder, "Should I be using a pre-workout?" More often than not, the answer is usually, "yes" and they invariably begin to use a pre-workout, or at least try it. But committing to using a pre-workout supplement doesn’t mean you’re always using it well.
Getting The Most Out of Your Pre-Workout Supplements
There’s more to these supplements than simply slamming a bottle full of it back before your next set of reps. Seeing as we are a leading provider of high-quality sports nutrition products, we thought it important to explore some of the ways you might be using your pre-workout supplements incorrectly and then offer up some tips for using them the right way. Let’s take a look at these popular supplements.
Just What Is a Pre-Workout?
One of the first places that athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness fanatics stumble is understanding what a pre-workout is and what it does for them. By having a better understanding of what they are, you can use them more effectively.
In simple terms, pre-workout supplements are formulated to increase your ability to perform at the gym. By using a unique balance of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals, pre-workouts are designed to help you boost your strength, and build more muscle. The result is that you can work out longer and harder, leading to greater gains at the end of each session.
Should Everyone Use a Pre-Workout?
Traditionally, pre-workout supplements have been secluded to the realm of "elite" athletes and bodybuilders, but really anyone could benefit from using a pre-workout. If you’re interested in improving your level of fitness, whether you’re brand new to the gym or a seasoned regular, a pre-workout can help them reach their fitness goals faster.
The Benefits of a Pre-Workout
We’ve already covered a lot of these in a previous blog, but for those who might have missed it, here’s a fast recap:
- You’ll feel more energetic and alert. That’s because pre-workout supplements like our HAILSTORM make use of ingredients like creatine, which increased the amount of stored energy in your muscles.
- You’ll work out longer and harder. That’s in part because of other ingredients like Nitrates and Beta-Alanine which improve your blood flow and limits the accumulation of lactic acid on your muscles.
- You’ll see greater gains. With the right combination of Branch-Chained Amino Acids, your body can recover more quickly from your exercises, ensuring you maintain the muscle mass you built.
But Are You Using It Properly?
Once you’ve decided that a pre-workout is a good fit for your exercise needs, the next step is to examine how you’re using it. We’ve found that many gym-goers simply take a supplement because they’ve heard it works. There’s a ton of ways you can misuse a pre-workout, limiting their effectiveness, and even hindering your ability to exercise properly. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid and how you can fix them.
First Mistake: You’re Taking it at the Wrong Time
The name "pre-workout" can be a little deceiving. We often see gym-goers throw back a whole shaker bottle of their supplements as they walk up to a weight bench and then start lifting. This isn’t the best way to use a pre-workout. That’s because you’ll start to feel the effects while you’re well into your second, third, or even third set of exercises, meaning you’re not getting the most out of your workout. Plus, many of the stimulants that are used in pre-workouts take three to six hours to leave your bloodstream, meaning that taking it right before your exercises could mean that you’re too jittery to relax and recover.
Some have the opposite problem where they take their supplements too early. In this case, you’ll find that you’ve just begun your exercise routine and you already feel worn out. This means that you don’t finish your sets because you lack the energy.
When Should You Take It?
Timing is critical when it comes to effectively using a pre-workout. That’s because these supplements typically need 30 minutes to an hour to fully active within your body. The combination of ingredients, minerals, and stimulants all interact with your body in different ways. By taking it 30 - 60 minutes prior to hitting the gym, you’ll feel the full effects by the time you start your first set of exercises.
Second Mistake: Your Pre-Workout Is Lacking
Nearly every sports nutrition brand and even a lot of other brands have their own pre-workout supplements. But not all of these supplements are made equally. In fact, a lot of them over promise and under deliver. You expect a lot from yourself while at the gym, so it’s not unreasonable for you to expect the same of your pre-workout.
What Should Your Ingredient List Look Like?
With so many supplements lacking proven ingredients, it’s critical that you scrutinize the details and ingredients of your pre-workouts. So, what are the "can’t miss" ingredients in your pre-workout?
- Beta-Alanine: This ingredient helps you to build lean mass while shedding body fat. It also reduces muscle fatigue and increases your work capacity
- Creatine: Supplementing with creatine has been shown to help with improving the size and strength of your muscles by increasing cell volumization and protein synthesis. This reduces the amount of time you need to recover.
- Caffeine: A little caffeine can go a long way in motivating you to push through one more set or stay at the gym just a bit longer. It also offers enhanced focus and clarity, helping you to perform exercises properly.
Third Mistake: You’re Taking a Pre-Workout On an Empty Stomach
It’s not uncommon for some who take pre-workout supplements to look at the ingredients list and think that it’s a meal in and of itself. But taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach might actually have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for.
Seeing as supplements make use of stimulants, taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach is not unlike drinking a large coffee on an empty stomach. You’ll feel jittery, nervous, and agitated. This could interrupt your focus on your exercises, meaning you’re not effectively using your time at the gym. Not only that, if you’re hungry going into your workout, you might be tempted to overeat after you leave the gym, negating any of the results you worked so hard to develop.
So What Should You Eat With Your Pre-Workout?
This isn’t to say that you should wolf down a three-course meal before every trip to the gym, but it does mean that you should have a light meal or a snack around the same time you take your pre-workout supplement. If you’re worried about feeling bloated or stopped up, just avoid snacks and meals that are high in fiber. A simple meal can help you avoid the jitters and crash you might experience otherwise.
Fourth Mistake: You’re Taking Too Much
When it comes to sports supplements, there can be too much of a good thing. Your pre-workout has a suggested serving size for a reason. By taking too much, you can actually develop a tolerance to the supplements. That means you have to take more and more over time to get the same results. Not only is this an expensive habit to break, but it can also leave you feeling sick.
How Much Should You Take
Take the recommended serving and no more or less. Realistically, adding a little bit more, or cutting out a bit every now and then won’t undo the results, but you shouldn’t make it a habit. These serving sizes are formulated to offer you the best results possible. Some pre-workout supplements can be taken more often than others, but generally, you’ll only take one once every 24-hours.
Find Your New Standard Of Excellence With Supplements From Axis Labs
The right pre-workout supplement can make the difference between a simple trip to the gym and the productive workouts you’re looking for. At Axis Labs, we’ve designed a line of pre-workout supplements with your needs in mind. Made from lab- and gym-tested and proven ingredients, our products are some of the best available. Cut the jitters, find your focus, and crush your sets with products like Creatine Ethyl Ester, HemodrauliX and HAILSTORM. Try them today!