Athletes and hard training individuals who are looking for an edge in their training have long turned to supplements for an extra boost. In recent years, pre workout supplements have gotten popular as a way to boost training intensity and reduce fatigue.Unfortunately, many of the popular pre workout supplements on the market don't contain the proper amount of the ingredients to be effective as they are under dosed. Another big issue is the potentially harmful and unhealthy amounts of caffeine, artificial sweeteners and harmful fillers.
So let’s take a look at the top 10 pre workout supplements that can help you and what the research really says.
Now before I get into it, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the overall importance of training and nutrition. While every supplement below can help you, they won’t have a positive benefit if you aren’t eating and training properly. Follow these four rules for a better looking high performance body.
-Train three to five days per week with a progressive program
-Consume starchy carbohydrates in line with your goals, don’t just blindly eat carbohydrates.
-Focus on eating whole food sources of protein and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil.
-Aim for 6-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Now let’s look at the top 10 pre workout supplements for a better workout, in no specific order.
Countless studies have demonstrated beta alanine’s unique ability to increase muscle strength, power, endurance,growth and maybe even aid in fat loss. This non essential amino acid is naturally occurring in beef and poultry, beta alanine is used by muscle fibers and combines with the amino acid histidine to form carnosine.
Having higher levels of carnosine increases gym performance by increasing the muscles ability to buffer lactic acid during intense exercise. As you perform every rep, acid increases in your training muscle which makes that muscles ability to contract more difficult as your workout goes on. So by pushing out acid, beta alanine helps you to train longer and makes it an ideal pre workout supplement.
Studies also show that beta-alanine helps to minimize the strength loss during your workout. Think about it this way, the longer you can maintain your muscle strength the greater you can train at the end of your workout.
Optimal Dose: 2 grams 30 minutes pre workout and 2 grams post workout.
It seems like everyone these days is taking creatine for an exercise boost but are they taking it the proper way? At this point we KNOW that creatine works for increasing muscle power and strength as well as acting as great cell volumizier. A 2013 study in The Journal of The International Society of Nutrition found NO significant difference between two groups when lean mass, body fat and muscle strength were measured when groups either took creatine pre or post workout.
The traditional gym science has been to take creatine post workout as it appears to be effective when taken with protein and carbohydrates. Since creatine is relatively inexpensive, I choose to recommend 5 grams pre and post workout because I want creatine in my body bookending my training.
Optimal Dose:5 grams pre and post workout.
Typically referred to as a amino acid, carnitine is actually an ammonia containing compound formed in the liver and kidneys from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine is most well known for its role in transporting fat which is why some consider it a fat burning supplement but it really isn’t. Acetyl-l-carnitine is known for its brain boosting benefits and its role in energy production. When taken pre workout, and away from food, it may increase your ability to focus which is why it's a recommended pre workout supplement.
Studies using this amino acid have consistently found increases in workout energy and endurance as well as increased muscle pumps. Citrulline also delays exercise induced fatigue by clearing fatigue substrates and increasing recovery between sets. When compared to the popular pre workout supplement arginine, citrulline malate actually increases the amount of arginine found in the blood more than direct arginine supplementation. Additional studies on citrulline malate taken pre workout show a boost in growth hormone levels.
Optimal Dose:2-3 grams per day
Branch Chained Amino Acids
Used for years to increase muscle size due to their ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis,BCAA’s can also help delay intra workout fatigue. During a workout, the neurotransmitter serotonin signals to the brain that your body is getting fatigued which leads to lower levels of muscle strength and endurance. Studies show that BCAA’s taken pre workout help to lower fatigue during training.
Optimal Dose:2 grams pre and intra workout.
A naturally occurring nutrient found in beets, betaine is a relatively new supplement with exciting research. A 2010 study from the University of Connecticut found an increase in muscle strength by 25% and muscle power by 20% in subjects who used betaine during exercise. A 2013 study at the College of Springfield found that after 6 weeks of betaine usage, subjects increased their muscle mass by 4 lbs, arm size by 10 percent and decreased body fat by 7 percent. The researchers speculated that Betaine also increases muscle protein synthesis.
Optimal Dose-3 grams per day
The most popular legal drug in the world, caffeine has potent workout benefits in addition to waking you up early in the morning. A recent study showed that when subjects drank a cup of coffee 30 minutes prior to exercise they were able to store post workout carbohydrates more efficiently. Additional studies show the potent benefit of caffeine for delaying brain fatigue during a workout when direct caffeine was consumed pre workout.
Optimal Dose: 12 ounces 30-45 minutes pre workout
According to studies this amino acid significantly increase VO2 max, exercise time to exhaustion and maximal workload in just seven days. After 14 days, subjects experienced increased strength and decreased muscle soreness. Taurine also works to hydrate muscle cells by increasing cell volumization. Cell volumization is a powerful signal for muscle anabolism.
Optimal Dose:1-3 grams per day
One of the newer pre workout supplement available, huperzine A blocks chemicals that increase brain fatigue. By doing this, nerve impulses signal muscles faster for stronger contractions and reps. Huperzine A usage also increase the time it takes to reach muscular threshold limits.
Optimal Dose:50 mg’s per day.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Sure, we’ve known that omega-3 fish oil is a vital supplement for managing inflammation, boosting heart health and increasing insulin sensitivity, among a variety of factors. But I bet you didn’t know that omega-3 fish oil is a great pre workout supplement since it increases blood flow and vasodilation which brings blood to working muscles during training. This is key for both endurance and strength levels
Optimal Dose: 2 grams 30 minute pre workout.