Besides whey protein and creatine, pre-workouts are one of the most popular sports supplements taken by athletes of all levels and disciplines.
Pre-workouts can provide an acute ergogenic effect that can help athletes run faster, push further, and fatigue less quickly.
For footballers specifically, pre-workouts can improve performance through increasing alertness, motivation, strength, endurance capacity, technical skill, and decision making - factors that could make the difference between hitting the target or hitting the post!
Though, with so many pre-workout supplements on the market, how do you know which one is best?
This article explores why pre-workout supplements are beneficial for footballers and the best pre-workout for this athletic population. Let’s get started!
What is a Pre-Workout?
First, let’s establish what pre-workout is and why it’s beneficial for athletes and gym-goers.
A pre-workout is classified as a supplement, or a combination of supplements that are designed to enhance athletic performance. A good quality pre-workout can provide both acute and chronic benefits when taken 30-60 minutes before a workout or activity.
While many pre-workouts are often marketed and tailored to strength athletes and bodybuilders looking to enhance muscle mass and strength, there are also many benefits for endurance athletes.
Some of the best pre-workouts will contain ingredients that help improve stamina, increase VO2 max, buffer muscle acidity, and delay fatigue.
Pre-Workout for Football
There is ample research surrounding the benefits of taking pre-workout, more specifically caffeine, for football players.
Caffeine is thought to improve the physical and technical elements required for the sport, such as enhanced sprint performance, reactive agility, and passing accuracy, particularly in sleep-deprived states.
During a football match, players may experience progressive fatigue, which gradually declines the capacity to perform physical and technical skills.
Pre-workouts, or caffeine, can help reduce time to exhaustion and reduce symptoms of progressive fatigue by maintaining the key aspects of physical performance.
So, whether you are playing a quick 5-a-side game after work, or playing in the Champions League Final, a pre-workout supplement would be a worthwhile supplement to add to your stack to boost your game performance!
What to Look For In a Pre-Workout
When seeking a pre-workout supplement, what exactly should you be looking for?
First, it’s key to ensure the supplement in question has research-demonstrated ingredients tested in humans.
Poor-quality pre-workouts too often have ingredients which are not backed by science or human clinical trials. The best pre-workouts should have ingredients that are validated by scientific research in humans, not just rodents.
Abiding by this principle alone will slim down your options of good-quality pre-workouts. So, look out for credible sources backing up the efficacy of the ingredients!
Second, the pre-workout supplement you are looking at should have clinical doses of all ingredients.
Even if the pre-workout in question has all the best ingredients, they would be ineffective if they are not appropriate doses. For example, beta-alanine is a popular ingredient in pre-workout formulas and has been shown numerous times to provide many ergogenic benefits.
However, if the product only contains 1g of beta-alanine per serving, it would be pretty useless. It has been shown in clinical trials that doses of 3.2g daily is the most effective dose!
Finally, the pre-workout should have no proprietary blends. This is a popular method manufactures use to hide the doses of certain ingredients in their products.
It is essentially a blend of many different ingredients with no disclose regarding how much of each ingredient you are getting. While this is perfectly legal, supplement companies can take advantage of this to load up on ingredients in small doses, costing them less money.
In summary, choosing a pre-workout which has scientifically proven ingredients and doses, as well as no proprietary blends, is the way to go.
So, how about ingredients? What should we be looking for?
Key Ingredients in a Pre-Workout Supplement
The best pre-workouts would ideally contain the following ingredients:
Caffeine is usually the key ingredient in many pre-workout supplements. This is what will elicit the greatest ergogenic result before your workout or activity.
Caffeine provides energy and delays fatigue while promoting more efficient and prolonged muscular contraction. This key ingredient will make you feel more focused, energized, and motivated, leading to improved all-round performance.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. It has been shown to play a role in regulating certain brain chemicals and is often taken to strengthen the mental aspects of exercise.
L-theanine promotes a relaxed, though alert, mental state, leading to clearer thinking, positive mood, and better cognitive clarity.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid known to play a role in helping to produce certain neurotransmitters and strengthen resistance to fatigue and stress.
This amino acid can sharpen mental focus under stress and maintain neurotransmitters that are often depleted by caffeine and intense training. This also helps to reduce the common side effects associated with caffeine, such as jitters.
Beetroot is one of the most underrated ingredients for improving sports performance. Being a rich source of dietary nitrate, beetroot can raise nitric oxide levels, which in turn relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow throughout the body.
Beetroot helps to fuel and boost muscle cells, reduce the oxygen cost of exercise, and support overall cardiovascular function.
Look out for some essential vitamins and minerals in your pre-workout product, which can contribute more to your training session than you may think!
Some notable micronutrients include vitamin D, potassium, iron, and B-vitamins.
L-citrulline is an amino acid which plays a big role in nitric oxide production. It provides a similar effect to beetroot, dilating blood vessels to improve blood and oxygen flow around the body.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect muscle tissues during exercise, as well as support immune system defences and delay fatigue.
Beta-alanine works to buffer muscle acidity during intense exercise. We have all experienced “the burn” before due to the lactic acid buildup - beta-alanine helps to buffer this, ensuring we can push a bit harder for a bit longer.
The most heavily research sports supplement, creatine, has been shown to increase strength, power, endurance, and speed by helping to replenish ATP (energy) more rapidly.
It is worth noting that when looking for the best pre-workout supplement; it doesn’t have to contain all the ingredients in this list. This list is simply a selection of the most effective ingredients.
You may find some pre-workouts do not contain creatine or micronutrients, and others may not have caffeine. Though, the main takeaway here is that the best pre-workout for you contains at least some of these ingredients in the appropriate doses!
The Best Way to Take Pre-Workout
Pre-workout works best when consumed 30-60 minutes before exercise or activity. This would allow the body some time to digest and absorb the ingredients to produce peak performance.
Most pre-workouts will provide an acute effect, such as boosted energy and improved performance outcomes. However, the larger-scale performance-enhancing effects may not be noticed for a few weeks.
For example, the effects of creatine, and often beta-alanine, require a bit more time to work!
The Bottom Line: The Best Pre-Workout for Football
This article has hopefully helped you narrow down your options when it comes to choosing the best pre-workout for football.
In summary, you want to look out for a pre-workout supplement that has research-validated ingredients in the proper doses and has been demonstrated to enhance athletic performance, such as strength and endurance.
Our top pick is Pre Lab Pro, the next-gen pre-workout formula that combines the most effective pre-workout ingredients that promote a wide range of strength, cardiovascular, endurance, recovery, and overall health benefits that help boost your fitness goals!