Knowing when to take pre-workout is crucial for your bodybuilding and fitness goals to really maximize the effects of this great supplement.
Using a pre-workout supplement can prove to be quite useful in your quest for big gains. As a source of fuel for energy, muscle pumps, and overall performance, these supplements have the ability to work wonders for you when it comes to elevating your workouts to new levels. Pre-workout aids are some of the greatest supplements to use to get past that drained, sluggish feeling and into that powerful mindset to see growth seriously occur.
Knowing the ins and outs of pre-workout is important for many contain artificial ingredients and plainly things you just don’t want in your body. What the ingredients are, how to properly use pre-workout, and when to take it are all fair questions that you should know the answers to. Let’s take a closer look at pre-workout and see what this energy boosting, muscle building supplement can do for you.
What Is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout is a supplement designed to give you a much needed energy boost for intense focus and serious muscle pumps for your workouts so you start to really see big gains come to fruition (1). By increasing your heart rate, pre-workout can get your blood pumping and hit you with laser focus to really maximize big gains. Key ingredients in pre-workout include caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, BCAAs and L-citrulline, all meant to provide you with energy, focus, and stimulate protein synthesis (2).
With an increased heart rate and reduced fatigue, you can work harder and longer for more calorie burn leading to weight loss and a change in body composition to really see that desired physique start to pop. On top of all of this, a good pre-workout can enhance recovery so you bounce back faster for your next workout.
Just to recap, benefits of pre-workout include:
- Increased focus and energy for more intense workouts
- Reduced fatigue for longer training sessions and calorie burn
- Muscle pumps for strength and muscle gains
- Enhanced recovery for quicker bounce back
When Should You Take Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout usually takes around 30 minutes to kick in fully so taking this supplement in the window of 30-60 minutes before your workout is ideal. Allowing it time to settle in your bloodstream and start to take effect is the intended goal and while the caffeine may hit you quickly, the other ingredients like creatine may take a little longer. Staying hydrated is key when taking pre-workout and also watching your caffeine intake because many of pre-workouts are high in caffeine. For those sensitive to caffeine, thankfully there are stim-free pre-workouts to try!
Benefits Of Pre-Workout With Cardio
Pre-workout is often most associated with big lifts, but it can be useful for cardio depending on the situation. Since pre-workout supplements offer increased energy and endurance, they can help with cardio activity and ultimately help you see gains (3). Since you are working muscles during cardio, the benefits of pre-workout with protein synthesis do take effect, but they may not be as strong as if strictly lifting. Doing more steady state cardio and taking a pre-workout supplement can be still be helpful when it comes to duration, productivity, and focus.
Pre-workout may be more useful when it comes to cardio training like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), where the focus in on shorter, more intense bursts of activity. With increased energy and focus, on top of elevated stamina, performing HIIT after a consuming pre-workout can work to build muscle and shed unwanted fat by relying on fat stores for energy (4). The benefits of pre-workout along with HIIT can show an increase in oxygen consumption and improved lean body mass.
One concern with pre-workout and cardio is that both can elevate your heart rate. Cardio is already an activity that pushes blood and gets your heart racing and the caffeine in a pre-workout supplement can only elevate caffeine levels. This is where a stim-free pre-workout may be useful.
Cardio: Before Or After You Lift?
Before we get into this, it should be said that some people have a certain preference to do cardio before weightlifting or prefer to lift before cardio, so whatever feels comfortable for you is what you should stick with. With that said, for those trying to gain muscle, lifting first is a better bet because you will have more energy to use. You will then rely on reserves, preferably fat stores, to power your cardio increasing your chances at weight loss.
Performing cardio before a workout can work to increase your body temperature to get you primed and ready to lift. With increased oxygen and blood flow pumping through you, your chances at an effective lift increase. The only downside is some of those glycogen stores will be used up and your lifts may seem harder to achieve (5). Doing a shorter cardio warm up to get the blood flowing will enhance your lifts and will promote a better cardio session after to really see a change in body composition.
National Bodybuilding Co. is a relatively new company who has already started to make waves in the supplement game with their great products. Stage Ready Pre-Workout is their premiere pre-workout supplement to deliver muscle pumps, enhance stamina, and offer a big boost in energy to elevate performance. An advanced and effective formula, this product can hydrate your muscles and act as a buffer for muscle tissue, raise nitric oxide levels and boost neurotransmitter synthesis. With so many benefits, this pre-workout had to win the GI Supplement Awards for Best Pre-Workout of the Year.
Check out National Bodybuilding Co. Stage Ready Pre-Workout and the other finalists for Best Pre-Workout in the GI Supplement Awards here!
Pre-workout supplements are really solid fitness aids to help power your workouts to where you want them to be. By working to increase energy and focus and provide for muscle pumps, you will power through any tough workout despite the grueling day you may have had. Knowing how to properly use pre-workout is important and taking it at the right time will only enhance the intended effects. While cardio and weightlifting are both crucial for your growth, look into what you want out of your workout to strategically place each in the right spot for maximum gains. All in all, pre-workout can help you see growth and is a supplement you should try in your quest for big gains.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Kedia, A. W.; Hofheins, Jennifer E.; Habowski, Scott M.; Ferrando, Arny A.; Gothard, M. D.; Lopez, Hector L. (2014). “Effects of a Pre-workout Supplement on Lean Mass, Muscular Performance, Subjective Workout Experience and Biomarkers of Safety”. (source)
- Harty, Patrick S.; Zabriskie, Hannah A.; Erickson, Jacob L.; Molling, Paul E.; Kerksick, Chad M.; Jagim, Andrew R. (2018). “Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications and performance outcomes: a brief review”. (source)
- Ellerbroek, Anya C.; Antonio, Jose (2019). “Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements on Strength, Endurance, and Mood”. (source)
- Roy, Brad A. (2013). “High-Intensity Interval Training”. (source)
- Burke, Louise M.; Kiens, Bente; Ivy, John L. (2004). “Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery”. (source)