Nothing beats the feeling of walking out of the gym after you’ve absolutely smashed your workout. Sweat dripping down your temples; veins popping from your arms, and a pump like you’ve ever experienced before. It’s a high that you just can’t beat.
While it’s definitely possible to get that same feeling without supplements, finding a good pre-workout can be like finding a gold mine for your workout. It gets you in the zone and fires up your muscles and mind to focus, push yourself, and ramp up the intensity of your lifts like never before.
For anyone that’s ever taken a pre-workout, you know how addicting that feeling of animalistic power and energy can be, but when it comes to pre-workout supplements, is too much of a good thing real?
It’s one of the questions we hear a lot and we’re here to break it down for you. Can you take pre-workout every day or is it better and safer to cycle?
Let’s get to it.
What Does Pre-Workout Do?
For anyone looking to boost their performance in and out of the gym, a pre-workout is the way to go.
Just as you do a good warmup to prime your muscles for training, a pre-workout helps to prime your nervous system and your mind, and get you into that zone of intense focus and drive. If you’re not fueling your body properly, you’re going to be less motivated, less energetic, weaker, and more likely to fatigue faster.
But with a pre-workout, you’re putting all that aside to ramp up your workout to a level you’ve never experienced before. While a pre-workout supplement can come in a variety of forms—pills, powders, meals, shakes—they’re all designed to boost energy, increase focus, and drive you through even the most intense workouts.
A good pre-workout will:
- Increase delivery of oxygen and key nutrients to support athletic performance
- Enhance removal of waste and metabolic byproducts that cause fatigue
- Boost blood flow for the ultimate workout performance
- Strengthen muscle performance for greater strength, power, stamina, and recovery
- Improve cardiovascular performance for better stamina, cardio efficiency, endurance, and aerobic fitness
- Light up cognitive performance for increased focus, intensity, and motivation
For better performance and recovery, you want cleaner energy and sharper focus without the crash associated with most high stimulant pre-workout supplements.
What’s In My Pre-Workout And Is It Safe?
When it comes to fitness supplements, it pays to read the labels. One of the biggest things you want to be cognizant of when taking pre-workout supplements daily is what’s in them.
Caffeine is one of the key ingredients to watch out for because caffeine content can vary dramatically between products, which can result in some seriously nasty side effects if you’re not careful.
However, there are some staples in a lot of pre-workouts:
Beta-alanine, a staple in most pre-workout supplements, serves as a precursor to carnosine; carnosine is used to improve performance during high-intensity exercise by functioning as an intramuscular buffer that prevents lactic acid accumulation that subsequently impairs muscle contraction 1.
Essentially, beta-alanine’s role in a pre-workout is to boost the carnosine pool, enhance intramuscular buffering, and reduce fatigue to improve work capacity. Studies find that 4-6g of beta-alanine per day over 2 weeks can significantly improve high-intensity exercise performance 2.
Creatine is a bodybuilder's best friend for one good reason—mass. It’s been shown to boost strength and improve body composition when combined with a resistance training program due to its ability to rapidly replenish ATP stores, thus allowing for a faster energy turnover rate, increased training volume, and better recovery 3.
If you’re looking to boost intramuscular phosphocreatine levels, consumption of 3g of creatine minimum from a pre-workout supplement for 28 days may produce improvements in exercise performance and augment training adaptations 4.
There are a few amino acids commonly added to pre-workouts: taurine and the BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine).
Taurine is shown to possess antioxidant, metabolic, and ergogenic effects. When taken long-term, it may increase time-to-exhaustion during endurance exercise and improve muscular endurance during resistance training 5. BCAAs, on the other hand, boost rates of muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle protein breakdown, and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage 6.
Nitric oxide precursors
Nitric oxide (NO) gives the ultimate pump. It’s a signaling molecule that increases blood flow to active muscles and increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to enhance exercise performance 7.
Several NO compounds can be added to pre-workouts (arginine, citrulline, beetroot, etc.), all targeted at boosting levels of nitric oxide to improve the pump and support better training performance. Studies find that doses of 6-8g per day can increase vasodilation and improve exercise performance 8.
But the one we have to watch out for with regards to safety is stimulants, namely caffeine.
Caffeine is a staple in the vast majority of pre-workout supplements and offers powerful stimulatory effects that can improve endurance, power, cognitive function, and time to fatigue 7, 9. However, the thing with caffeine is that in high doses it can be addicting and elicit adverse reactions and effects, especially long-term.
The U.S. FDA suggests that excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to 10:
- Rapid heart rate
- Upset stomach or other digestive disturbances
- Headache or migraine
For healthy adults, 400mg daily, which equates to about 4-5 cups of coffee, is not associated with dangerous, negative effects, however, the FDA does advise that toxic effects, like seizures, can happen with rapid consumption of around 1,200mg of caffeine (0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine).
Is It Safe To Take Pre-Workout Daily?
Whether you need to cycle your pre-workout is wholly dependent on what’s in it.
If it’s a clean supplement with research-backed ingredients that don’t damage the nervous system, cause addiction, or mess with endocrine hormones, chances are you’re probably on the safe side to stick to it daily.
But if it contains excessive stimulants and you’re noticing that you’re just not getting the same pump you did before using the same serving size, chances are your body is adapting and it’s high time to start cycling.
The reason why conventional pre-workouts should be cycled is for two reasons:
- Caffeine sensitization
- Neurotransmitter depletion
What we’re talking about when we say sensitization or adaptation is your body adapting to a specific dosage of caffeine. If you’ve ever noticed that your single scoop of pre-workout isn’t having the same effect that it did the first few times, that would be why.
Caffeine is used as a neurostimulator to increase alertness and constricts blood vessels in the brain by antagonizing adenosine receptors.
Chronic excessive levels of caffeine can lead to adaptation of the vascular adenosine receptor system, likely to compensate for these vasoconstrictive and neuro stimulating effects 11. Some studies also suggest sensitization of adenosine receptors with chronic caffeine use, whereby more is needed to elicit the same effects.
On top of that, caffeine depletes important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating mood and several other important functions.
Studies show that caffeine suppresses the activity of the main inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and modulates GABA receptors, as well as impairing the dopamine pathway in the hypothalamus 12, 13. By modulating these neurotransmitters, caffeine intake can lead to various neurobehavioral effects.
But that’s not all. Chronic caffeine consumption also inhibits the absorption of key cofactors needed for the production of neurotransmitters. These include iron, a key mineral needed for serotonin, GABA, and dopamine synthesis, as well as the activated form of vitamin B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
Caffeine can decrease circulating amounts of B-vitamins, which affects neurotransmitter synthesis in other ways.
Long story short, the ingredients and amounts in your pre-workout will indicate whether taking it daily is a good idea or not.
With something that’s high-stim, it’s probably best to cycle on and off to avoid reliance and interference with performance, whereas with something like Pre Lab Pro® you’re getting full-spectrum support with moderate-dose caffeine for enhanced performance without the side effects.
A Pre-Workout You Can Take Daily
Concerned that you’re going to get addicted to your pre-workout, or the excessively high levels of caffeine might ruin your workout?
Put the worries aside and rather than wasting your time and money on something that could interfere with your performance in and out of the gym, invest in something smart.
Pre Lab Pro® is the ultimate in pre-workout supplements. It’s a next-generation formula that delivers bigger and better results with none of the nasty side effects you’ll get from conventional pre-workouts.
It elevates your workouts to the next level with 2x muscle-pumping nitric oxide (NO) turbocharge + afterburner to achieve peak performance.
And with moderate-dose smart caffeine 80mg, hydrating factors, and restorative essentials, you don’t need to be concerned about depleting important brain chemicals, exhausting your adrenals from excessive stimulants, or poor recovery.
It’s fine-tuned, clean stimulation that pushes you through the hardest workouts with ease. And best of all, the addition of boosters and balancers means it’s totally safe for daily use.
- RedNite® Beetroot Powder
- Setria® Performance Blend (Glutathione + L-Citrulline)
- Natural caffeine 80mg
- Ajipure® L-Tyrosine
- NutriGenesis® Vitamins & Minerals
All of these ingredients combine to increase strength and stamina, drive intensity, boost power and speed, and accelerate recovery. And with only 80mg of caffeine per serving, you don’t need to worry about a heavy caffeine hit that will tank your workout or increase the risk of addiction. It’s optimized with boosters and balancers for the ultimate in clean stimulation.
Pre-workouts can be a tricky thing. You thrive off the rush you get after knocking back a scoop, but eventually, that rush starts to wane and you have to double up on the dose. That’s where a pre-workout gets you, and before you know it, you’re addicted.
Most conventional pre-workouts are high in stimulants that amp you up before trading but can leave you exhausted and addicted in the long run. Rather than taking your chances on a dodgy high-stim training aid, invest in a pre-workout that’s safe for both daily and long-term use.
After all, the last thing you want to do is tank your progress because you’re high on caffeine…
- JJ Outlaw, CD Wilborn, AE Smith-Ryan, et al. Acute effects of a commercially-available pre-workout supplement on markers of training: a double-blind study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:40.
- ET Trexler, AE Smith-Ryan, JR Stout, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:30.
- J Antonio, JR Stout, D Kalman. Essentials of Creatine in Sports and Health. Humana Press, Inc, Totowa, NJ; 2008.
- RB Kreider, DS Kalman, J Antonio, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:18.
- JR Hoffman, NA Ratamess, R Ross, M Shanklin, J Kang, AD Faigenbaum. Effect of a pre-exercise energy supplement on the acute hormonal response to resistance exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(3):874-882.
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- PS Harty, HA Zabriskie HA, Erickson JL, Molling PE, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):41.
- 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.
- RB Kreider, CD Wilborn, L Taylor, et al. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:7.
- MA Addicott, LL Yang, AM Peiffer, et al. The effect of daily caffeine use on cerebral blood flow: How much caffeine can we tolerate? Hum Brain Mapp. 2009;30(10):3102-3114.
- F Alasmari. Caffeine induces neurobehavioral effects through modulating neurotransmitters. Saudi Pharm J. 2020;28(4):445-451.
- Z Zhang, Q Peng, D Huo, et al. Melatonin Regulates the Neurotransmitter Secretion Disorder Induced by Caffeine Through the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021;9:678190.