A rookie or a veteran at the gym, you will probably have heard or seen Pre-workout Supplements. As the name suggests, you take these supplements before you train. Mixed pre-workouts often come with tasty, refreshing flavours, bright colours, and over-the-top names to pump you up for your training session. Alternatively, you can take the individual ingredients of Pre-workout Supplements so you can better control how much you consume and optimise your performance.
Caffeine is probably a universal active ingredient in Pre-workout Supplements. Caffeine is an ergogenic aid, meaning, it is a performance enhancer that stimulates your nervous system. Many studies have found that caffeine not only improves athletic performance, it also reduces recovery time.
You can benefit from the effects of caffeine if you consume it within an hour before you train. It works by widening your blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow and nourish your body. If you still feel sleepy right before a morning workout or drained when you arrive at the gym from work, caffeine can help restimulate your nervous system to lower drowsiness and fatigue. It will also help you have better focus so you can get better power output and mind-muscle-connection.
Many pre-mixed Pre-workout Supplements vary in caffeine content, so you have to check the label. You can also go for coffee or tea instead. Consuming around 3 mg per kg of bodyweight before your workout is enough to help you at the gym.
There are already countless studies on creatine, and all of them have found it to be safe as well as an effective supplement for athletic performance. Your body naturally makes about 1 gram per day creatine, mostly in the liver and kidneys. About 95% of creatine is found in your skeletal muscles. Without going through the biochemistry, creatine works by replenishing your ATP levels. ATP is what your body uses as an energy source. Thus, supplementing your body with creatine can help produce more ATP so you can go harder with your workouts. It is most helpful in explosive activities like sprinting, jumping, and Olympic weightlifting. Between 3 to 5 mg of creatine is enough to give you that extra boost.
If creatine is helpful for explosive movements, then beta-alanine is helpful for endurance activities. Lactic acid builds up in your muscles when you go for a long run or high reps on your lifts. It gives you that burning sensation that only goes away when you stop and rest. Beta-alanine helps by increasing your carnosine levels. Carnosine will act as a buffer against lactic acid, relieving the pain and allowing you to keep going further. About 3 mg of beta-alanine is enough to help you squeeze more time into your training.
Arginine or Citrulline
Arginine is an amino acid utilised by the body to make nitric oxide or NO. Like caffeine, NO widens your blood vessels and allows more blood to reach and nourish your muscles. It also allows you to get a better pump. Some Pre-workout Supplements have citrulline instead, which your body converts to arginine.
Whether you are choosing pre-mixed Pre-workout Supplements or the individual ingredients, taking some before you hit the gym can benefit your training session. However, keep in mind that these are still supplements. What will benefit your performance is proper nutrition and recovery.
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