What to Look for in a Pre-workout


Caffeine is widely used around the world and has a huge amount of studies proving its effectiveness in a sport setting. Caffeine works as a CNS stimulant, the result being a feeling of having more energy. It has been shown to:

-increase power output

-increase volume

-reduce fatigue

-increase testosterone

-increased energy expenditure and calorie burn from moving around more

Be aware of building a tolerance tolerance. If high doses of caffeine are regularly taken (remember certain fizzy drinks, green tea and even chocolate can add to this number), the stimulant effects are reduced. At this stage, it may be appropriate to cycle off caffeine for several days to reset tolerance so that you are able to continue utilising the performance enhancing effects. Caffeine should also be avoided at night to avoid issues sleeping and, therefore, recovering from workouts.



Although not required pre-workout, as it simply has to be taken consistently to be present in your system, having a pre-workout with creatine added simplifies your supplement stack. Creatine supplies the energy source that your muscles need to contract and work.

A 5g dose is sufficient to reap the benefits.



Converted to arginine in the kidneys which leads to greater amounts of nitric oxide in the blood. Increasing blood flow to the muscles and 'pump'.

Citrulline Malate may also reduce muscle soreness and allow you to do more reps by removing the byproduct of lactic acid from your muscles.

There is also a psychological benefit to observing a pump while training by increasing motivation and confidence in the gym.

1,000 mg of citrulline, three times a day with meals, for a total daily dose of 3,000 mg is suggested as optimal.



Increases muscular endurance in the 8-15 rep range. Being able to train at a higher volume will increase the rate at which you can make gains.

Beta-Alanine is responsible for the tingling feeling that some pre-workouts give you (paresthesia), this is safe, but you may want to reduce dosage if it causes discomfort.



Carbs, if not already ingested in a solid meal:

Carbs, when combined with protein, are considered to be the optimal fuel for exercise. If this is not possible, a maltodextrin or dextrose supplement may be helpful.


There are plenty more ingredients that are common in pre-workouts, such as B vitamins, but these in particular you should be aware of.

Read details of supplements before you buy them. We are all different and will react differently to different dosages and blends of ingredients. Find a product that is transparent about exactly what is in it and keeps artificial colourings, sweeteners and 'filler' ingredients to a minimum.

Proprietary blends are another warning sign. These will not give you a full breakdown of each ingredient, so you cannot monitor your reaction to certain dosages.


Pre-workout supplements

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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