Pre-workouts are sports supplements that consist of a mix of nutrients. These substances are usually composed in a handy powder form with which you can make your own shakes. It ensures that you experience an energy boost before you start a workout that motivates you to go hard again in the gym. As the name suggests, you take a pre-workout before you start training, so that your body and muscles have sufficient amounts of all important substances during the training. It sounds nice, but how does that actually work?
In order to find out what the effectiveness of pre-workout supplements is and what exactly it does in the human body, it is important to analyze the different active substances that a pre-workout contains. Pre-workouts often contain multiple ingredients that can vary by product and brand. However, there are a number of substances that are common in most pre-workouts. Therefore, those common ingredients will in any case be discussed.
The effectiveness of caffeine has been proven by scientific research. It provides a less tired feeling and more strength and endurance in the muscles. It gives both endurance athletes and strength athletes that extra push when it comes to delivering top performance. Despite the fact that you only experience that boost of caffeine for half an hour or an hour, the substance remains in the body for a long time, so you can also benefit from it for a long time. On the other hand, some caution is advised if you are sensitive to caffeine, or if you often exercise later in the day. If you take a pre-workout in the late afternoon, you may not be able to sleep well because there is still caffeine in your system.
Creatine has also been shown to be effective in various scientific studies. It has the function of energy transporter in the muscles. In addition, it ensures an adequate supply of the real fuel of the muscles, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Creatine is a substance produced by the body that the body produces to a limited extent. Animal foods contain this substance, especially meat and fish. Creatine supplementation through a pre-workout therefore ensures higher creatine stores in the muscles. This allows you to do more explosive physical exercises for a longer period of time. You stimulate your muscles more, which in the long term results in more muscle mass and better performance.
Beta-alanine, citrulline and taurine
These substances are also common ingredients in pre-workouts, but show inconclusive results in scientific research. The extent to which they contribute to performance improvement probably depends very much on the context in which these substances are used. In any case, beta-alanine is known for delaying the acidification of the muscles. This theoretically allows you to do longer sets with more reps. Citrulline is also said to increase energy in conditional training where endurance plays an important role. For the time being, no firm claims can be made about taurine, as research shows varying results. It is said to stimulate combustion and blood flow, which ensures more available energy, resulting in improved sporting performance.
Conclusion: What does pre-workout do?
Pre-workouts can certainly be useful supplements thanks to a number of active ingredients that have been scientifically researched. However, due to the lack of hard facts about the efficacy of some other ingredients, it is also important to reconsider the context in which you want to use pre-workout. If you're a novice exerciser, it probably doesn't make much sense (yet) to start the pre-workout right away, since you'll make the most progress by simply doing a few exercises consistently. Finally, the more experienced or professional athlete can more easily get the most out of their training with pre-workouts, in order to achieve their sporting goals and improve performance even faster.