If you’re looking to get the best results in the gym, you need to be fueling your body with the best outside the gym. Having a good training stack is key to amping your body up and preparing to train like an absolute animal in the gym, as well as recover during your off time.
While there are many supplements you can add to your fitness stack to boost performance, if there’s one that gets you ready for training—both physically and mentally—it’s a pre-workout.
A well-formulated pre-workout supplement can be one of the most effective ways to enhance focus, boost energy, increase strength, prevent fatigue, and accelerate recovery.
But the thing is that not all pre-workout formulas are created equal. Some are pumped full of stimulants while others are totally stim-free, so what you choose will dictate your results.
With that said, there’s one pre-workout formula that does it all without going overboard on the stimulants.
It continually tops the charts for the best pre-workout, and we’re giving you all the details on why it needs to be part of your training stack and how long it takes to kick in so you can get to work ASAP.
Let’s get started.
Why Take A Pre-Workout?
Nothing says revving your engine for a training session like a good pre-workout. Just like a warmup helps to prime your muscles and get them ready to fire, a pre-workout helps prime both your body and mind to work.
They’re a tailored formula designed to:
- Boost energy
- Increase focus
- Enhance strength
- Increase endurance and stamina
- Maximize blood flow
- Prevent fatigue
- Accelerate recovery
Depending on the ingredients in your pre-workout, some will be better at certain roles than others, but regardless of the goal, there are a few common ingredients—caffeine, nitric oxide boosters, creatine, amino acids, beta-alanine, and B vitamins.
When you combine these ingredients in scientifically-backed doses, the results you see during every single workout will be out of this world. They work synergistically to supercharge your body’s ability to power through the most demanding workouts with ease.
The Top 6 Ingredients For Killer Workout
So, what are the ingredients that can take your workout to the next level?
Creatine is the foundation supplement for anyone looking to maximize muscle growth and performance both in and out of the gym. It’s naturally produced in your body, but the problem with endogenous production is it’s not substantial enough to support high-intensity physical exertion, which is part of the reason fatigue can hit so quickly.
The thought process behind supplementing with creatine is that when you provide your body with enough substrate to continually produce energy, you fight fatigue.
Your muscles convert dietary (supplementary) creatine into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine (PCr), which is then used to synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the main energy substrate that powers all cellular activity, including high-intensity, explosive exercise.
There’s usually a large PCr reserve in fast-twitch skeletal muscle available for immediate regeneration of ATP during high-intensity work.
However, as maximal effort continues, the reserves drain, and energy availability subsequently does too 1. So, supplementing creatine ensures there’s a large pool of substrate to draw on for ATP production.
Long story short, more substrate means better work capacity and greater potential for muscle growth. Keep in mind that creatine doesn’t have to be part of your pre; it can be taken on its own in pure form.
Beta-alanine is another staple in most pre-workout supplements for one reason—like creatine, it can maximize your work capacity. Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid converted into carnosine, an intramuscular buffer that helps prevent muscles from becoming too acidic and fatiguing.
Beta-alanine does this by buffering lactic acid that accumulates in muscles from the breakdown of glucose when muscles are working; when muscle acidity becomes too high, muscles lose their ability to contract, and they fatigue.
But when you increase the building blocks of carnosine production (beta-alanine + histidine), you have a steady supply of substrate needed to buffer acid 2. The more substrate you provide, the better the buffering capacity and the less likely your muscles are to fatigue.
#3 Red Beetroot Powder (nitric oxide)
When it comes to getting the ultimate muscle pump, nitric oxide is how you do it. As a potent vasodilator, NO works to open up your blood vessels and allow more blood to reach working muscles, essentially giving your muscles more fuel to work and improving your work capacity.
And while there are loads of compounds available that boost NO levels, there’s no better natural booster than red beetroot powder.
Beetroot’s beneficial effect on the vasculature is primarily attributed to its high inorganic nitrate content (approx. 250 mg/kg of fresh weight), making it a concentrated natural source to drive nitric oxide production and maximize blood flow 3.
In doing so, it helps to:
- Enhance neuromuscular performance
- Prevent fatigue
- Accelerate muscle recovery
- Support healthy cardiovascular function
- Sharpen cognitive function
Caffeine in a pre-workout can go both ways; too much and you’re jittery, or too little, and it’s not effective. It’s all about finding that sweet spot of maximum precision-tuned stimulation without going overboard.
Caffeine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that, when taken in the appropriate dose, can do a lot for your training—increase focus, boost energy, enhance alertness, improve cognitive function, and more.
But the other significant benefit to low-dose caffeine is that it also stimulates the release of catecholamines that promote fat breakdown and utilization and spare intramuscular glycogen, helping you perform and recover more effectively 4.
To unlock the maximum benefits caffeine offers, Pre Lab Pro® combines natural low-dose caffeine with Suntheanine® L-Theanine, Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, and NutriGenesis® B-Vitamins for the ultimate in synergy.
Because caffeine is so rampant in most pre-workouts and can cause long-term reliance and nervous system damage, you want to make sure you’re supporting your body and counteracting the effect of high-dose stimulants.
Pre Lab Pro® doses up on Ajipure® L-tyrosine to support the synthesis and recycling of the three catecholamines most affected by caffeine intake—dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine 5.
By avoiding depleted or imbalanced neurotransmitters, L-tyrosine sharpens focus and maintains monoamine levels to boost performance, stabilize mood, and prevent fatigue.
And when taken before training, you’re backing the brain chemicals that drive intensity and mental recovery for better overall performance—in and out of the gym.
L-theanine, another amino acid, works alongside L-tyrosine and caffeine to reduce and/or prevent stress-induced mental and physical function impairments.
Unlike other pre-workout ingredients that exacerbate the effects of caffeine, L-theanine helps to enhance them by giving you a calmer, cleaner stimulation that’s precision-tuned for peak performance.
It supports key neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, GABA, glutamate, and serotonin, to maintain calmness, clarity, and motivation through even the most gruesome and challenging workouts 6.
How? L-Theanine works with the excitatory brain chemicals stimulated with caffeine consumption to tone down an overstimulated central nervous system that can interfere with performance and recovery.
But unlike other calming compounds, there’s no risk of drowsiness and sedative effects with L-theanine; it’s all free-form cognitive exploration, reduced anxiety, and improved mood balance with this guy.
How Long Until It Kicks In?
So, now that you’ve popped back your pre-workout, how long until you can hit the gym?
While the results of a pre-workout are going to vary based on individual biochemical composition, on average most people will start to feel the effects of a pre-workout anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes after taking it because that’s typically the period whereby the most active ingredients reach peak levels in the blood.
But generally speaking, caffeine and beta-alanine elicit the most notable effects, with caffeine hitting peak plasma levels anywhere from 15 to 120 minutes after consumption 7; you’ll feel more alert, energized, focused, and ready to power through your training session.
With Pre Lab Pro, we recommend taking one scoop 30 minutes before your workout for maximum effects. And if you’re looking for a bigger pump, double up!
Take two scoops 30 minutes before your workout and see what kind of intensity you can achieve. But don’t exceed two scoops within 24 hours to minimize the risk of any adverse reactions.
When it comes to how long it takes for a pre-workout to kick in, it largely depends on both the amount you’re taking and the ingredients in your pre-workout.
As a general rule, expect a minimum of 30 minutes for any plasma concentrations to work, but it could take up to an hour to see (and feel) the best results.
- M Wyss, R Kaddurah-Daouk. Creatine and creatinine metabolism. Physiol Rev. 2000 Jul; 80(3): 1107-213.
- GG Artioli, B Gualano, A Smith, J Stout, AH Lancha Jr. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(6):1162-1173.
- T Clifford, G Howatson, DJ West, EJ Stevenson. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2801-2822.
- AE Smith, DH Fukuda, KL Kendall, JR Stout. The effects of a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids during three weeks of high-intensity exercise on aerobic and anaerobic performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:10.
- SN Young. L-tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress? J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007;32(3):224.
- CF Haskell, DO Kennedy, AL Milne, KA Wesnes, AB Scholey. The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(2):113-122.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 2, Pharmacology of Caffeine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/