If you’ve ever either dabbled or invested fully into the fitness industry, then you’ve undoubtedly encountered countless advertisements for pre workout concoctions and supplements. These things have been proven by multiple studies as well as direct user experiences to aid your body in a variety of ways: including muscle repair with substances such as creatine and amino acids, mood enhancement using a variety of natural vitamins and minerals, and the necessary boost of energy to help you power through workout.
Some of the essential characteristics of a viable pre-workout supplement are the boost of energy they provide as well as the aid they provide in recovery time from a strenuous workout. Ideally, not only will they provide more energy for your muscles to work out in the gym (for example; you can also engage in physical activities that don’t require gym of course), the best pre-workouts will also provide a buffer against pain and injury. Although we will get more in-depth later on in this comprehensive article, you can expect a good pre-workout supplement to aid you in activities as diverse as CrossFit, bodybuilding activities involving the bench press, dead lift and squat, and the most popular physical activity of all – running.
The huge plenitude of available pre-workout supplements that you find either on the shelves of dedicated nutrition stores, or general supermarkets, will have creatine to help boost extra muscle growth, as well as caffeine to work as a powerful stimulant. There are many other beneficial additives depending on the brand – some supplements even improve the quality of your sleep as well as your ability to focus during your workout sessions.
The Basics of the Pre Workout Supplement
When we say basics – we really mean that we are getting down to the very basics of what a pre-workout supplement entails. In essence, this means you should expect the following for pretty much any pre-workout supplement worthy of the title: it should provide your muscles with more ability to conduct a workout, it should help you with your physical endurance, it should flood your cells with the necessary energy, and it should aid you with the concentration necessary to focus on movements. Most of the ones that you will find on the market possess these qualities and more, depending on the brand and the cost.
For optimal results, you should take the pre-workout supplement before your exercise (hence the name). Although the exact time varies, a good rule of thumb is to imbibe it 30 minutes beforehand so that the vitamins, nutrients and minerals can flood your cells and be effective in the workup to come.
With that said, pre-workouts can be distilled into two different major types: there’s the non-stimulant based supplements that are geared towards bolstering the performance of your muscles – these tend to contain beta-alanine and creatine. As you might’ve guessed, the other option is the stimulant based pre-workout supplement, which tends to possess substances such as ephedrine and caffeine for the purposes of elevating your concentration in providing you with energy for the workout.
Pre Workouts Are Used By Nearly Everyone
You may associate the usage of pre-workout supplements with high-level athletes; however, in reality they can be used by any adult engaging in virtually any level of exercise. This includes bodybuilders, powerlifters, professional athletes and even those who exercise casually – as long as you work out at an intensity that’s enough to elevate your heart rate.
Even more specifically, pre-workouts go a long way in elevating the levels of energy that you have to bring to bear on your activities. You can use them to help you put on some extra muscle, or to reach for higher limits in your exercise activities. Because of their success in the marketing that derives from the latter, we are starting to see pre-workout supplements being used by people who are trying to lose weight, as well as by people or trying to improve their energy levels for non-workout activities. Consider this short list of known supplement users:
- Weightlifters and bodybuilders
- Professional and amateur athletes
- Runners and power walkers
- CrossFit athletes
- General workout enthusiasts
- People interested in weight loss
A Few Benefits of Pre Workout Supplementation
Although many pre-workouts have quite a few beneficial ingredients inside, the primary things that they confer are usually standard: you can expect them to funnel more of the energy needed to complete a workout, and afterwards, ingredients that help your body recover faster.
Beyond the above, the benefits you get vary from formula to formula. Although the name suggests that the best time to take such a supplement is prior to your workout, the fact is that results vary between individuals. Because of some of the other ingredients contained in the formula, you might benefit from taking your pre-workout both before and exercise routine, and afterwards to help you sleep better. Additionally, due to their ability to use muscle fatigue, some pre-workouts are actually better taken post workout. For example, creatine confers many benefits when taken both before and after you workout. It can improve your strength and energy for the workout ahead, and then flood your muscles with tissue-repairing enzymes after the workout is concluded. The following is a short rundown of notable benefits of the general pre-workout supplement:
- Confer an increase in muscular power
- Improve your endurance
- Improve your mood during and after working out
- Provide extra energy
- Reduce post-workout fatigue
- Help with breathing
- Better focus
One of the more surprising benefits of the pre-workout supplement is its ability to improve your breathing. This comes from the fact that it dampens the effects of muscular fatigue; furthermore, they provide your body with the ability to increase oxygen consumption, which translates to an increased work output during your exercise. Not only can you do more, you will feel less tired after doing it.
Best Pre Workout Supplement Options
Since every athlete has a range of preferences, the specific pre-workout that you take should be something that you carefully consider. For example, if you primarily engage in high-intensity workouts over a short period of time, then a supplement containing the primary active ingredient of caffeine might be your best bet. It will shuttle the stamina and energy that you need for your workout quickly into your cells and muscles.
However, if you tend to work out later and are more into endurance activities, then perhaps a caffeine-centered workout supplement is not the best idea – at least not at that time in the day. In the following, we will review some of the best pre-workouts that we’ve encountered; you will find that they prioritize different things.
1: XWERKS Ignite – Most Comprehensive Pre Workout Supplement
XWERKS Ignite is a top-of-the-line pre-workout supplement that has pretty much revolutionized the arena; it has effectively changed the game with its full-spectrum spate of ingredients that are tailor-made to help you maximize your workout. With XWERKS Ignite product, you will imbibe ingredients that help you enhance your focus, provide you with prodigious amounts of energy, and even elevate the motivation you have to give it your all in your exercise routines.
The effects are so substantial that professional athletes are known to use XWERKS Ignite – this goes for top players in intensive sports like soccer, football, hockey and basketball.
XWERKS Ignite Ingredients:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B-12
- Rhodiola Rosea
- CarnoSyn Beta-alanine
2: Ghost Burn – A Thermogenic Pre Workout
Ghost Burn is quite possibly the most thermogenic pre-workout supplement that we’ve reviewed on this list. It is definitely one of the ones that we recommend for you to take before it workout, because of the jolt of sustainable energy with which it will bombard your muscles. You will find that your output is a lot more prodigious with this one; in that you can do more at a lower cost physically.
What gives Ghost Burn the ability to confer such an impressive effect? Top ingredients such as ashwagandha, a caloric burn seed extract, high quality L-Carnitine to confer both muscular and cognitive (improved focus, for example) benefits during and after your workout. Additionally, Ghost Burn is infused with 300 mg of caffeine per scoop. The 600 mg dose of Ashwagandha has an excellent effect in reducing your cortisol stress levels.
Ghost Burn Ingredients:
- Vegan-Friendly Ingredients
Ghost Burn also has quite a few other ingredients that are trademarked and can be seen on their label – which they promise has full transparency.
3: Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train
Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train is a highly-regarded pre-workout supplement that is specifically geared towards both enhanced training ability and more rapid recovery from your workouts. As such, it actually works very well whether you take it before or after your exercise routine – particularly because it contains just a little bit of caffeine so that it won’t keep you awake well into the night if your workouts are scheduled in the late afternoons.
How does it accomplish this? Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train is chock-full of ingredients that are known to flood your cells to induce increased muscle growth, muscle recovery and muscular endurance that’s available right away during your workout and after. The supplement is filled with amino acids and antioxidants – along with other ingredients listed on the product label with full transparency – and its effects will be felt throughout the day.
It’s also known to increase your mental alertness and focus during and post workout; these effects are derived from the small amounts of caffeine and the considerable amount of the amino acid derived from mushrooms, L-theanine. L-theanine is known to regulate electrical nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain through your body.
Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train Ingredients:
- Vitamin C
- Betaine Anhydrous
- Citrulline Malate
- Amino Acids L-Taurine, L-Tyrosine and L-Arginine AKG
4: Pre Lab Pro Pre Workout Supplement
Pre Lab Pro is a pre-workout supplement that is often highlighted due to its completely natural ingredients that are geared towards facilitating intense workouts. With that said, even casual exercisers can find use with this robust supplement.
A smattering of the ingredients that it contains is L-arginine, citrulline malate, a modest dose of caffeine and beta alanine for the essential amino acids that are known to increase muscle growth. When combined together, all of the above agreements and more show significant improvements in energy levels.
Perhaps the best part about Pre Lab Pro is that it is specially designed for both women and men, and neither is it relegated to the extreme athlete – basically means that any fitness level needs to apply. You can rest assured that there are no side effects when using this supplement.
Pre Lab Pro Ingredients:
- Pink Himalayan Salt
- L-Tyrosine amino acid
5: Transparent Labs Pre Series
Transparent Labs Pre Workout is some serious pre-workout fuel that is highly regarded in the athletics industry and has secured its place as one of the best supplements on the market to take before an exercise routine. Although it has many positive effects, the primary ones include improved focus, a sustained spike in energy levels, and it confers a reduction in muscular fatigue post workout.
Although this is not terribly important to serious athletes, Transparent Labs Pre Workout is known to have a distinctly superior taste than other pre-workout supplements. This of course makes it a pleasure to consume – which means you use it more often.
Because Transparent Labs Pre Workout lacks caffeine, one of its many benefits is that it will provide you with energy without any of the jitters that are sometimes associated with caffeine consumption. Basically, you can focus without worrying about developing a headache later. This has ancillary effects such as an improved mood and a dampening of anxiety levels.
Transparent Labs Pre Workout Ingredients:
- L-Tyrosine amino acid
- BCAAs (branched chain amino acids
- Citrulline Malate
- Betaine Anhydrous
6: Cellucor Pre Workout
Cellucor is a specially-designed pre-workout powder that is geared towards bolstering the serious athletes’ high-intensity workouts. As such, the ingredients that comprise it are the expected ones to bolster energy and endurance; you will see the positive effects it confers to muscle performance throughout the workout and afterwards during the recovery phase.
Cellucor has a host of branched chain amino acids, including citrulline malate and beta alanine. There is also a prodigious infusion of caffeine as well as minerals that improve the blood flow through your veins. This latter effect, in particular, is very important for delivering oxygen to tendons and muscle sites to increase performance. As mentioned above, the increased blood flow is also directly responsible for post workout recovery.
C4 Original Pre Workout Supplement
C4 Original is yet another highly-regarded pre-workout supplement that’s geared towards improving focus and energy during your workout phase. If you are at all familiar with the common ingredients in these types of supplements, then it will become immediately apparent to you that the ingredients contained in C4 Original are precisely the ones that enhance the growth of muscle, provide you with greater endurance during the workout, and bolster your power levels. The manufacturers are so confident in their products that you can get a 30 day money back guarantee if you report that the supplement did not help you.
C4 Original Ingredients:
- BCAA L-Arginine
- CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine (trademarked)
C4 Extreme Variant
C4 Extreme is a robust pre-workout supplement that is often marketed as a more extreme version of the original (hence the name). It contains many of the same ingredients – just in greater quantities: these include creatine, caffeine in the branched chain amino acid beta alanine. As a slight advantage over its predecessor, C4 Extreme also possesses arginine and nitric oxide; together these extra elements add another level to your performance during the workout session via the provision of extra energy to your muscles. Additionally, it is geared towards high-intensity workouts so that you minimize the time frame while getting a more explosive workout.
Because of the significant doses, C4 Extreme is actually marketed to women and men differently; that is to say, there are two versions – women are advised to take one, whereas men are advised to take the other as labeled on the product. For easy consumption, C4 Extreme can be mixed into milk, fruit juice or water. Adjust the doses according to your workouts in the coming days/weeks.
C4 Extreme Ingredients:
- BCAA L-Arginine
What Is the Reasoning Behind the Above Product Reviews?
It’s important to understand what went into the reasoning behind our reviews of the pre-workout supplements listed above. Primarily, we consider the ingredients and the value that they bring to the public; taste is important but secondary in our assessments. It is imperative that every single one of the supplements we choose are highly regarded by members of the fitness industry.
Although there are quite a few factors that can go into selecting the right choice for yourself, some of the ones that should not be compromised are the quality of ingredients (they should be natural and safe) and an ability to deliver the expected results. That’s why we included a separate section listing the primary ingredients in each selection; take care to review these to make sure they contain the ones that have been demonstrated through numerous medical health trials to be effective. Also, compare the listed price with the ingredients, to make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
As an avid exercise enthusiast myself, I have tried numerous different pre-workout supplements and have determined that taste should not be overlooked. If it is too chalky or there’s an unpleasant aftertaste, this will affect your usage rate. So although it’s definitely not about the flavor over the effectiveness, it’s still an important factor whether or not the pre-workout powder you choose can mix smoothly with fruit juice, milk or water so that there are no inhibiting clumps remaining.
Additionally, just because a particular pre-workout supplement may be more expensive than another doesn’t mean you should cross it off your list of possibilities. Simply put, some of them are denser than others insofar as the beneficial ingredients that they contain are concerned. This is where brand-name comes into play; others before you have used them are determined that they are valuable enough to pay a little extra. Always pay attention to the refund policy of the company, because the ones that are above-board will usually have a generous policy that gives you enough time to test their product for a few weeks at least. With that said, let us see the price per serving of the supplements listed above:
Popular Pre Workout Supplements – Cost per Serving:
|Cellucor C4 Extreme||$1.30/Serving|
|Transparent Labs Pre Series||$1.60/Serving|
|Crazy Nutrition Pre-Train||$2.89/Serving|
Pre Workout Basics:
When searching for a pre workout supplement, there are a few basics you should consider: the product should provide you with the energy you need to power through your workout and start claiming your fitness goals. Due to the success that athletes have experienced in using them, these supplements have recently become all the rage with the average person.
Are Pre Workout Supplements Necessary?
Although pre-workout supplements can be very beneficial in elevating your energy levels and in the post workout recovery phase, they are of course optional and not necessary. That’s why they are called “supplements”; they may enhance what you can already do. In fact, some people have prodigious natural levels of energy and don’t really need a pre-workout. It is quite possible to obtain the focus and energy without using them.
Best Time to Take a Pre Workout
Although many of the pre-workout supplements on this list can be taken both before and after a workout, there’s a reason why they are called “pre-workouts”. For athletes and casual exercisers, the best time to take is prior to your workout – up to about 30 minutes in order to allow for time for the essential nutrients and minerals to be digested and shuttled throughout your body. You will experience increases in both your physical and mental strength when you do this.
Alternatively, some people restrict imbibing pre-workout supplements as part of their breakfast long before their midday workout. It can even be advisable to take your supplement after dinner – as long as it doesn’t contain enough caffeine to keep you awake at night. This is especially true for supplements that contain creatine, so that they can flood your muscles throughout the night and prepare you for the next day’s exercise routine. Some experts advise that endurance athletes fare best when they take their pre-workout right before their run; whereas for weightlifters and bodybuilders, you can reap greater benefits by taking it post workout.
There are other factors that can go into your decision. For example, if you haven’t worked out in a long time, then you may not need to take a pre-workout – but this depends on the person. If the exercise routine in which you plan to engage is not especially intensive, then you can also probably do without the supplement.
Safety First: What’s the Skinny on Pre Workout Supplements?
A common question that we face is whether or not pre-workout supplements are safe. Keep in mind that, as substances which don’t make any nutritional claims, they are not presided over by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A good rule of thumb is to see them as an option akin to taking caffeine or other common stimulants. There do exist medical research studies showing that pre-workouts can be bad for some people – but generally speaking, it has been shown that the benefits outweigh the known risks.
For your particular situation, you should apprise yourself of the potential side effects before you imbibe any supplement – that goes for pre-workouts, multivitamin tablets and stimulants. The first step to getting the potential risks is to know and understand the effects of the ingredients contained in your preferred product.
What Ingredients Exist In Pre Workout Powders?
When searching out a list of the ingredients for your prospective pre-workout supplements, you should take an account of what the research says on those ingredients. This means that you should know which ones could be detrimental to your health, as well as which ones may be ineffective.
Most pre-workouts come in either powder or liquid form; in the case of the former, the powders are generally micronized and will dissolve easily in your drink of choice – whether this is fruit juice, water or milk. These forms ensure that the essential ingredients can be transported to the site in your body where they can actually be useful.
Of all the potential ingredients contained in any pre-workout, the most common are the amino acid beta alanine, natural caffeine, and creatine. You will have an admixture of other branched chain amino acids as well as stimulants. Sometimes, there will be a trademarked formula inside.
In addition to the above, you will find a host of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that work together in the supplement to help you meet your daily recommended values. One of the chief ones appearing in many pre-workout supplements is of course protein; this is a substance required for muscle growth, maintenance and repair. Another helpful mineral is fiber, which helps you move out all the things you eat in a healthy bowel movement. Additionally, fiber is known to help prevent colon cancer, gas and constipation and hemorrhoids.
Another common substance is Vitamin C; this is well known to provide huge benefits to bolstering your immune system – which is especially important during the pandemic of the past few years. Vitamin C plays a big role in healing wounds as well as helping your body to produce the collagen necessary to keep your skin youthful and pliable. You will find that many pre-workout supplements also contain healthy doses of iron for its ability to shallow oxygen to your muscles during your workout routine.
Although good old-fashioned H2O is essential before, during, and after a workout, coconut water benefits from an extra infusion of electrolytes that can be especially refreshing immediately after your workout is concluded. Check the label carefully to see whether or not your pre-workout contains milk protein – just in case you’re lactose intolerant. If you do not suffer from this limitation, the milk protein is a full-spectrum amino acid option that repairs tissue, builds muscle, and supplies you with extra energy for your workout.
Peanut butter is yet another awesome source of muscle-building protein; however, it is not recommended that you take this too soon before a workout, as peanut butter takes a while to digest and would otherwise rob you of the energy you need to get those extra reps in. As a result, it’s usually a better idea to either take. Butter well before a workout (a few hours), or as your post workout concoction. In addition to aiding muscle repair, recovery, and maintenance, peanut butter also has energy-restoring carbohydrates as well as healthy fats.
What About Creatine?
As you’ve probably heard, creatine is all the rage in the fitness industry – you’d be hard-pressed to find a supplement that does not contain it as one of the ingredients on the label. However, you should know that creatine is actually found naturally in plenty of foods; in fact, your very own body produces it and uses it to strengthen skeletal muscle. The foods that contain are fish, meat and eggs in moderate quantities.
As for the utility of creatine, it is like a battery that is geared more towards power than energy. The chemical reaction that presides over this energy transfer from your cells to your muscles is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Of special interest to you is the fact that creatine is specifically geared towards boosting intense physical action over a short period of time: basically, explosive activities. It gives you the ability to do more in a shorter amount of time, thereby being favored to enhance strength and improve muscle mass due to the extra power output.
There are numerous studies showing that creatine is a reliable choice for those wishing to increase their speed, power, strength, agility and endurance. An added benefit is that it also actually reduces the recovery time necessary in between intense workouts. And censure gaining lean muscle mass, you are inevitably also losing weight as the muscle replaces the fat. Creatine is such an excellent supplement that you will see results whether you take it in capsule form or powder form before and after an exercise session.
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