Finding ways to boost your exercise performance can often be an arduous task which leads to a lot of time spent experimenting with trial and error.

In a perfect world, everyone would enter the gym feeling fresh, energetic and raring to go before an intense session of lifting. The reality, however, is that you will inevitably experience the odd bouts of lethargy and low motivation levels during your training regime.

Many people simply plough through on the days they may be suffering from a lack of mental and physical stimulation, stubbornly grinding their way through a session despite a depletion of energy. But others seek out ways of eliminating the issue completely via nutritional means or supplementation.

There are obviously many foods you can include in your diet to increase your overall energy levels or give you a slight kick, although most of the time the effects of natural foods will be too subtle to notice.

Serious bodybuilders or indeed just passionate gym-goers are constantly looking for that extra edge when training; that significant boost which can help them maximise their efforts on a daily basis.

Pre-Workout supplements are advertised as the quick fix to provide that boost. Often sold in the form of powder – just like whey protein products – pre-workout is mixed with water to form a drink you can ingest just before you head off to train. Then its effects begin to kick in at the start of your session, ensuring you have a burst of motivation and energy which in turn increases your intensity levels.

But just how effective are these supplements and do they come with any adverse risks?

The common denominator – Caffeine 

Most other pre-workout supplements worth their salt contain caffeine. Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant and has been proven to help burn fat, improve concentration, enhance mood, strengthen pain threshold and increase levels of mental focus. The inclusion of this natural ingredient alone in these supplements ensures that they can do exactly what they say on the tin and boost your workouts.

More on Benefits

As we have already touched upon, pre-workout supplements can be a very effective tool to include in your weekly bodybuilding regime. Here I will list the many positive effects these substances can have and how they can help you achieve your personal goals.

  1. Prevent Fatigue – Supplements can help fuel your body during a workout as your energy levels start to deplete, ensuring that your performance levels do not drop before the end of a session due to tiredness.
  2. Speed up recovery – Muscle soreness can be an issue following intense physical exertion which can inhibit your ability to exercise at maximum intensity. A pre-workout powder can help to speed up your muscle repair process, meaning you can train more frequently and without risk of injury.
  3. Muscle growth – The amino acids present in most of the products available online work to aid the repair of damaged muscle fibres following a heavy lifting session. These vital ingredients can provoke protein synthesis, which helps increase lean muscle mass.
  4. Increased Power – These products can make you feel invincible in the gym and capable of smashing personal best’s in term of weight lifted. You will feel stronger and confident in your ability to produce an extra 2-3 reps more than you may usually do, due to the stimulating effect of the pre-workout compound. Additionally, you can enjoy longer and fuller muscle pumps as a result of consumption.
  5. Focus and mental alertness spikes – Creatine and caffeine, in particular, are very powerful substances which can give you a mental edge when training. An hour long session will fly by as your enthusiasm levels peak and your intensity levels stay consistently high, allowing you to get the most out of your time in the gym.

The downside – Side effects

Unfortunately, as with most things that sound too good to be true in life, pre-workout supplements have a dark side.

Because of the powerful effects they can have on your mind and body, if proper precautions are not taken then you may well experience a negative reaction as a result of using these products.

Here are a few of the most common side-effects associated with pre-workout powder:

  1. Dehydration – Some ingredients found in these products are diuretics, which serve to absorb water from your body. Caffeine and creatine, in particular, are well known for causing dehydration which can lead to more serious health issues.
  2. Sleep deprivation – Taking stimulants increases your heart rate and that effect can last for more than 24 hours, which is bound to affect your sleep cycle. Sleeping is a vital part of the recovery process post exercise and particularly important in building muscle. Overdosing with these substances means you risk losing your progress and gains very quickly.
  3. Heart problems – Again the stimulating effect of these supplement’s serve to raise your heart rate and if abused they can absolutely take their toll on your body’s most vital organ. Cardiac arrest, strokes and increased blood pressure are all distinct possibilities if you do not use these products with caution.
  4. Headaches and nausea – These effects can be a result of either abusing doses or an allergic reaction and it is advisable to cease use of any product that causes such issues. Not only is it dangerous to continue taking them after such a reaction but your ability to perform at an optimal level will be severely impaired.

Final verdict

Hopefully, this article has provided you with a greater insight into the world of supplementation and helped make up your mind when deciding whether or not to include these products in your exercise regiment.

There is absolutely no doubt that pre-workout substances can be highly effective in increasing overall performance levels and promoting lean muscle mass, however, vigilance is a necessity.

Everything in moderation is the key, if you use these supplements too often then it will be at the detriment to your progress in the gym and to your overall health. Not only that but your body will become used to them, rendering them completely ineffective and a genuine waste of your hard earned money.

If you can use these products sparingly, only on days when you need that little extra kick and stick to the recommended dose at all times, then there are many benefits to supplementation.

But like anything in the world of fitness and bodybuilding, there are no shortcuts without risks. If you truly want to see the results you crave and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the process, practice self-discipline and avoid getting carried away.

Research pre-workout supplement’s in more detail and find out which ones work best for you, then simply incorporate them into your routine as a powerful aid. Remember that the biggest edge in the gym comes from within, having an unrelenting desire and passion to better yourself.

Happy lifting!

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