If you’ve ever struggled to get through an entire workout or lacked the motivation to get yourself there in the first place, pre-workout is like a Godsend.
It’s like the liquid gold of gym supplements that gives you a much-needed jolt of energy while also increasing muscle mass, performance, and recovery to help you reach your fitness goals.
While pre-workouts give you the ultimate lift in your performance, like any other type of fitness supplement, moderation is still key.
It may sound pretty contradictory considering we want you to train harder, so using a pre-workout should help accomplish that, but taking it every time you train (especially if you’re doing doubles) may come with some risks.
So, the million-dollar question that everyone wants to know: How often should you take pre-workout supplements?
We’re talking everything you want to know about pre-workout supplements and what you need to consider to determine if yours is safe to consume daily or if you should cycle on and off now and again to keep your performance up.
Let’s get to it.
The Most Common Pre-Workout Ingredients
When it comes to the ingredients in a pre-workout supplement, some pretty standard ones run the show:
1. Nitric Oxide Boosters
If you’re looking for one of the best pumps of your life from a pre-workout supplement, compounds that boost nitric oxide (NO) will give that to you.
NO plays an important role in vasodilation, which basically opens up the floodgates for more blood, nutrients, and oxygen to access working tissues 1. Better oxygenation means better performance.
Nitric oxide also plays a critical role in mitochondrial respiration during exercise, responsible for regulating energy production.
So, with better blood flow, you get more energy, better physical performance, greater muscle mass, and better recovery. It’s a two-for-one deal that athletes just can’t pass up.
Some of the most common NO boosters you’ll see in pre-workout supplements are arginine, citrulline, beta-alanine, and, more recently, red beetroot powder.
And with these guys, there’s little concern about long-term supplementation, but they may come with mild side effects from increased blood flow.
If you ever feel like you’re constantly dragging yourself to the gym and struggle to get through your workouts, a stimulant pre-workout may be needed to give you that extra boost.
Caffeine is by far the most common addition to the pre-workout lineup that helps to improve focus and energy, increase alertness, stimulate fat burning, and reduce fatigue 2, 3.
The mechanism behind this is the release of catecholamines—cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine—that put the body into fight-or-flight mode (essentially, stress mode) that helps to prepare the body for action, thereby increasing performance.
But caffeine can also help to spare muscle glycogen by increasing serum concentrations of free fatty acids for fuel, which contributes to better post-exercise recovery from exhaustive exercise due to higher rates of glycogen accumulation 4.
However, because most pre-workout supplements contain caffeine in high doses, you get symptoms like jitters, anxiety, nervousness, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and even nausea.
In any case, be mindful of how much caffeine (or other stimulants) is in one serving of your pre-workout.
Many pre-workout supplements are notorious for high stimulant content, which, over a long period, can deplete important neurotransmitters and nutrients.
When you add balancers into the mix—that is, compounds that help to counteract the adverse effects of caffeine and other ingredients—you drastically increase body function and, thus performance.
The neurotransmitters most profoundly impacted by caffeine are:
Because caffeine causes an increase in virtually all of these neurotransmitters, it can lead to changes in how the neuroendocrine system works.
When you artificially elevate levels of anything in the brain, the body tends to react by altering its composition to account for the change.
This is how the body builds up a tolerance for caffeine, for example, meaning we eventually need more and more to elicit the same effect. And when you cut back, you suffer withdrawal symptoms.
When you include things like L-tyrosine, L-theanine, and vitamin/mineral complexes in pre-workouts, you can help to balance out the effects of caffeine and intense training on the body.
Essentially, you support neurotransmitter production and replenish nutrient stores most depleted by physical activity.
How Often Should You Take Pre-Workout?
This is where pre-workout supplements get a little tricky. For the most part, the ingredients in pre-workouts aren’t inherently dangerous and won’t cause issues long-term or derail your progress, but the sticking point usually comes with stimulants.
Stimulants like caffeine will affect everyone differently, so some may find that they feel fine taking their pre-workout regularly, while others feel they need to cycle.
As a general rule of thumb, your ingredient list should indicate how often you should take your pre-workout; if it’s a daily thing or every other day kinda deal.
So, the answer to this question isn’t a straight one—it depends on the kind of pre-workout you’re taking. If it’s something super high in stimulants that can cause long-term issues to your nervous system, then cycling on and off it is probably a good idea.
If you’re taking something like Pre Lab Pro that supplies moderate-dose natural caffeine with compounds that help mitigate the nutrient-depleting effects of caffeine on the body, taking it daily isn’t an issue because there’s no concern over long-term complications.
One of the most significant issues with pre-workouts, though, is dependency. Because caffeine is an addictive substance, downing your scoop daily can mean your body becomes reliant on it to get your workout done (and that’s what we want to avoid) 5.
This dependency, though, isn’t only just physical—it’s also mental. And this mental dependency can become a cause for concern in the long run when your motivation to work out relies only on your pre-workout.
We’re not totally anti-pre because, hey, everyone needs a good boost and a bit of a pump to crush that workout like an absolute animal, but we advise for safe use.
As long as you’re not consuming excessive amounts of caffeine and you aren’t experiencing any short- or long-term side effects, taking a pre-workout supplement before every workout session will provide you with performance benefits.
And if you want one that’s going to do a stellar job, we’ve got only the best.
Pre Lab Pro: The cleanest, safest pre-workout supplement
Designed to take your workouts to the next level without the typical side effects of most pre-workout supplements, Pre Lab Pro is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
It’s intelligently formulated to supercharge your workouts, and then smoothly downshift your physiology post-workout so you can get on with your day and get a head start on recovery.
Pre Lab Pro uses only the cleanest, premium-quality, safe, and healthy ingredients with balancers to counteract the effects of caffeine and high-intensity training.
With moderate-dose caffeine, it’s safe for daily use without reliance, overstimulation, and other side effects typical of high-stim formulas.
With Pre Lab Pro, you get:
- RedNite® Beetroot Powder—Improved neuromuscular performance, fatigue resistance, enhanced muscle energy, healthy cardio performance, and sharper cognitive function
- Setria® Performance Blend—Strong and sustained nitric oxide boost for improved strength, power, speed, and endurance plus a faster start on muscle growth and recovery
- Natural caffeine—Moderate-dose caffeine stacked with boosters and balancers for maximum workout benefits and minimal side effects
- Ajipure® L-Tyrosine—Supports brain chemicals that drive athletic intensity and mental recovery, while sharpening focus under stress and replenishing neurotransmitters depleted by caffeine and intense training
- Suntheanine®—Supports relaxed alertness, positive mood, and cognitive clarity plus enhances the effects of caffeine to promote calmer, cleaner stimulation
If you’re picking up any old pre-workout supplements from the shelf, taking it daily can be a risk to both your long-term health and performance.
But if you’re investing in something that’s superior quality with clean, research-backed ingredients, dosing up on your pre-workout daily isn’t an issue.
With Pre Lab Pro, you’re getting nothing but clean, safe, and effective ingredients combined to form one of the most cutting-edge pre-workout supplements on the market.
It gives you an animalistic energy boost to unleash your inner beast in every training session—no ifs, ands, or buts.
- R Bescós, A Sureda, JA Tur, A Pons. The effect of nitric-oxide-related supplements on human performance. Sports Med. 2012;42(2):99-117.
- TE Graham, LL Spriet. Metabolic, catecholamine, and exercise performance responses to various doses of caffeine. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1995;78(3):867-874.
- A Nehlig, JL Daval, G Debry. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992;17(2):139-170.
- DJ Pedersen, SJ Lessard, VG Coffey, et al. High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008;105(1):7-13.
- S Cappelletti, D Piacentino, G Sani, M Aromatario. Caffeine: cognitive and physical performance enhancer or psychoactive drug? [published correction appears in Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(4):554. Daria, Piacentino [corrected to Piacentino, Daria]]. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(1):71-88.