What's the Point of a Pre Workout?

I was at the gym the other day when someone had asked me a question about pre workouts, "why should i take a pre workout and what does it do?"that's a simple question that never really get's asked. One guy will hear from another guy at the gym how "great" this or that is and then they go and buy it. Everyone gather round for story time and lets learn what a pre workout really does.

Your run of the mill pre workout will consist of a caffeine or synthetic stimulant. Most guys will boast about how insane the energy is from a pre workout. This type of energy is not "real" energy derived from food and the ability to process ATP; caffeine or a synthetic stimulant produce a rush to the Central Nervous System [CNS] telling the body that it has plenty of ATP and thus stimulating a false "rush." This is also why at some point we have a crash. The CNS runs out of false stimulation and our body senses it has even less energy/ATP then before.

A good preworkout will also contain some form of Amino Acid blend. a 2:1:1 or a 4:1:1, this will increase intra workout protein synthesis and according to some research reduce DOMS. A key Amino Acid for athletes who perform endurance/marathon/triathlon training would be Beta Alynine.

I wanna talk about two different studies on Beta Alynine:

First study was done with Beta Alynine during a HIIT training program. The results were increased lean mass gain and fat loss in one study. [1] and in the other were VO2 max increase and muscle mass gain and fat loss ONLY in the beta alynine group. [2] It's important to note that in each study between 4-6 gr were used per day.

I will now refer you too the 3 things your pre workout should have, and the 3 things your pre workout shouldn't have.

The conclusion is that a pre workout will give you fake energy, combined with amino acids for natural energy and increased protein synthesis and recorvery, and hopefully some carbohydrates for a real burst of good energy.

  1. Walter AASmith AEKendall KLStout JRCramer JT. (May 2010) Six weeks of high-intensity interval training with and without beta-alanine supplementation for improving cardiovascular fitness in women. retrieved pubmed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2038612024(5):1199-207.
  2. Smith AEWalter AAGraef JLKendall KLMoon JRLockwood CMFukuda DHBeck TWCramer JTStout JR.(Feb 2009) Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Retrieved pubmed.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1921078811;6:5.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.