Fueling up for your training session requires education, planning, and a solid strategy if you’re looking to push your body and maximize your gains.
And while most athletes and lifters know what they need to do post-workout—generally a good mix of starchy carbs and protein to support muscle growth—a lot of people are left in the dark when it comes to their pre-workout routine.
Do you down a coffee on the way to the gym so you can get through that spin class buzzing? Or maybe you need to scarf back a solid carb-heavy meal an hour before training to hit your squat 1RM.
Pre-workout supplements are one of the most frequently consumed training supplements in the sports nutrition market. Boasting benefits like better energy, more power, stronger endurance, and a faster recovery, it’s no wonder that athletes are cashing in.
But while pre-workouts may be the “it” supplement for a lot of people, they don’t work for everyone. And worse, if you’re investing in the cheap stuff you find lining a lot of supplement store shelves, you may actually be hurting your performance more than you’re helping it.
If pre-workouts are new to you and you want to give them a go, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of pre-workout supplements and what you should know if you’re looking towards them for a performance boost and insane gains.
What Is A Pre-Workout And Why Take It?
Pre-workout supplements are a class of multi-ingredient dietary formulas specifically designed to boost energy levels, support greater adaptation, and improve athletic performance long-term.
While they’re typically found as powders in any flavor you can imagine, they’re also widely available in pills, capsules, and even gels—but don’t get confused between energy drinks and pre-workouts because they are not the same.
Unlike single-ingredient formulas, there’s no “standard” for pre-workouts. They’re generally a blend of ingredients like caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, amino acids, and nitric oxide boosters that synergistically optimize acute exercise performance and training adaptations compared to any single ingredient alone.
Pre-workouts, in conjunction with a good resistance training program, can augment beneficial changes in body composition by increasing lean mass 1
However, their effect on force production, muscular endurance, and aerobic performance are not as well understood, but the potential is there.
And with things like creatine and beta-alanine that can enhance work capacity and prolong fatigue, you know the gains are going to be good.
With many different ingredients and hundreds of pre-workout supplements on the market, it can be hard to distinguish the good from the bad.
Unfortunately for us, downing a scoop of pre-workout in hopes that you’re about to get the best workout of your life can easily turn disastrous if you’re not taking the right stuff. Or worse, if you’re taking too much of it.
While caffeine may increase alertness and has the potential to drive up force production, the major issue with pre-workout supplements is excessive caffeine.
The average amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee ranges from 50-100mg, while typical pre-workout supplements can exceed 400mg in a single scoop. For manufacturers, more is better and moderation doesn’t even hit their radar.
If your body isn’t super sensitive to caffeine, you may not feel the negative effects right away, but for people who are, you’re in for insomnia, nausea, increased heart rate, drowsiness, headaches, anxiety, and jitteriness or nervousness
On top of that, caffeine also has a major impact on certain neurotransmitters by inhibiting the absorption of key nutrients needed for their synthesis.
Caffeine stimulation and exercise-induced stress are also known to burn through catecholamine brain chemicals, low levels of which can decrease athletic performance, poor focus, mood issues, crashes, and fatigue.
Have you ever noticed that halfway through your canister of pre-workout you’re just not getting the same pump as you did with the first scoop?
One of the major problems with pre-workout consumption is reliance.
While becoming “addicted” to pre-workout isn’t quite the same as becoming “addicted” to hard drugs, it elicits much of the same effect in the body and that’s all thanks to caffeine, especially when it’s in excess.
Caffeine tolerance happens when the physiological, behavioral, and/or subjective effects of caffeine decrease after repeated use of the substance to the point where the same amount no longer produces the same effects 3.
Because of this, you need more and more to achieve the same results. Although caffeine tolerance is unlikely to occur with low to moderate doses, chronic consumption of high doses (750–1200 mg/day) can.
Long story short, when you take away the addictive substance and cut back on caffeine (or cut it out completely), you’ll likely feel pretty crappy.
Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include impaired behavioral and cognitive performance, changes in blood pressure, decreased motor activity, increased heart rate (tachycardia), flu-like symptoms (nausea/vomiting, headaches), joint pain, and more
So, while you may be thinking chronic double scoop days are a good way to crank up your training performance, you’re not doing your body any favors in the long run.
Proprietary blends and unproven ingredients
Fitness supplements can be dodgy at the best of times and a lot of times you’re taking a gamble as to what you’re getting when you down a scoop.
For some products, you’ll notice a small symbol on the label that designated the product has been certified by a third-party such as NSF (National Science Foundation), which means its manufacturing process is regulated. However, most supplements aren’t regulated by a government agency and therefore aren’t required to meet strict guidelines for their contents.
Alternatively, rather than seeing the ingredients with corresponding dosages, you’ll see what’s called a “proprietary blend.” While manufacturers may tell you what’s in the blend, they won’t tell you the dosage.
So, typically you’re getting more or less than what you think. For athlete’s knowing what they’re putting into their body is key to supporting optimal performance, but with a propriety blend, you don’t have the exact info so both the dosage and the results are up in the air.
With all of that said, we’re not saying kibosh pre-workout supplements because they do offer a lot of benefits, but we do advocate for a clean and effective one.
As it turns out, the best and most effective pre-workout supplements are ones that replenish what your body is missing rather than pumping you full of pure energy via caffeine overload.
So, we’re talking about giving you the best of the best here. The most modern pre-workout supplement containing 100% natural ingredients that will fire up your workouts like you’ve never experienced before.
Pre Lab Pro® is a cutting-edge pre-workout formula that’s designed to ignite your body for a bigger nitric oxide boost, smarter stimulation, and stronger homeostasis. It stacks on the most advanced and powerful pre-workout ingredients for the ultimate results without the nasty effects that conventional pre-workout supplements deliver.
Here’s what we’re talking about.
Unlike conventional pre-workout supplements the mega-dose caffeine and leave you feeling anxious, jittery, and on-edge, Pre Lab Pro® uses moderate-dose caffeine for fine-tuned stimulation.
Because caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and adenosine antagonist, it works to prevent drowsiness and boost energy, focus, and attention. However, high-dose caffeine can result in overstimulation and major decrements in performance.
There’s a fair bit of research that’s emerged on the benefit of low to moderate doses of caffeine (3-6mg/kg) for performance, suggesting the more isn’t always better 5.
Aside from the obvious list of nasty long-term side effects that come with high-dose chronic caffeine consumption, research suggests that higher doses of caffeine (>/= 9 mg/kg) don’t actually enhance performance any more performance benefits than lower doses.
Research may show that low doses (1–3 mg/kg) do not result in any significant physiological responses (RER, alteration of blood lactate, glucose, etc.) but they still appear to deliver ergogenic effects to athletes 6. Why?
Although low-dose caffeine doesn’t alter the peripheral whole-body response to exercise, it still improves vigilance, alertness, mood, and cognitive processes both during and after exercise with minimal side effects 7.
What’s really interesting is that, when compared to higher doses (6-9mg/kg), lower doses of caffeine elicit greater effects on cognition and brain activation because of their effects on the central nervous system 8.
Long story short, less is more my friends.
Boosters and balancers for stronger homeostasis
With Pre Lab Pro®, there’s no mega-dosing caffeine and depleting the brain of important chemicals needed for performance. We’re talking about the addition of boosters and balancers like:
- L-theanine reduces caffeine jitters and crashes for stronger intensity and a more calm and clear cognitive state
- L-tyrosine to sharpen focus under stress and maintain neurotransmitters depleted by caffeine and intense training
- NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals to top off stores of essential nutrients to support maximum strength, endurance, hydration, recovery, and more
These ingredients combine to replenish the body after intense training and minimize stress, restoring balance to your system and fast-tracking your recovery.
Better strength, power, and endurance
Whether you’re a top athlete or a powerlifter, we’re always chasing the pump; that surge of energy that brings your lifts to life. But unfortunately for most conventional pre-workouts, that pump is fueled by a heavy dose of caffeine that may work in the short term but ultimately ends up killing your performance in the long run.
If you want maximum strength, power, and stamina, scrap caffeine and trade it for nitric oxide.
It’s one of the best natural performance enhancers that signals blood vessels to relax and widen, boosting circulation through the muscles, cardiovascular system, and brain.
Pre Lab Pro® taps the power of NOx with a 2X stack that maximizes all of its workout-boosting benefits. You’re unleashing a massive blood flow surge that boosts workout performance across every body system.
RedNite® is fast and Setria® Performance Blend is extended, so you’re getting a quick and strong NOx boost, followed by a second surge that helps you finish stronger and carries you into post-workout to sustain NOx muscle benefits into recovery.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with taking a pre-workout supplement to boost your energy, drive focus and intensity, and smash your workout. But if you’re taking crappy supplements day in and day out, don't expect stellar results.
Conventional pre-workout supplements are loaded with dodgy ingredients, secret dosages, and excessive caffeine that leave you drained of energy and depleted of everything your body needs to perform and recover.
Rather than playing Russian roulette with your workout supplements, Pre Lab Pro® delivers smarter and cleaner stimulation with none of the risks. So, if you want to dabble into a pre-workout, there’s only one you should consider.
- PS Harty, HA Zabriskie, JL Erickson, PE Molling, CM Kerksick, AR Jagim. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):41.
- P Nawrot, S Jordan, J Eastwood, J Rotstein, A Hugenholtz, M Feeley. Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Addit Contam. 2003;20(1):1-30.
- SE Meredith, LM Juliano, JR Hughes, RR Griffiths. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130.
- KR Sajadi-Ernazarova, J Anderson, A Dhakal, et al. Caffeine Withdrawal. [Updated 2020 Nov 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430790/
- ER Goldstein, T Ziegenfuss, D Kalman, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7(1):5.
- DL Costill, GP Dalsky, WJ Fink. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports. 1978;10(3):155-158.
- LL Spriet. Exercise and sport performance with low doses of caffeine. Sports Med. 2014;44 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S175-S184.
- GL Martins, JPLF Guilherme, LHB Ferreira, TP de Souza-Junior, AH Lancha Jr. Caffeine and Exercise Performance: Possible Directions for Definitive Findings. Front Sports Act Living. 2020;2:574854.