When it comes to pre-workout drinks, there is much debate as to whether they are worthwhile and whether they have a place.
Pre-workouts are something that to be honest are not going to make or break your progress. They are something to consider once you have the basics nailed. Once you are consistently hitting your protein & calorie requirements, getting enough sleep and progressively overloading your training with both increases in loads and volume, you may start to see a very small benefit.
So what are the main things in a pre-workout that are actually working and may be helping you make progress.
Most pre-workouts have caffeine in them, but you need to make sure it has enough in it. anywhere between 4-6mg per kg of bodyweight is about right. So for an 80kg male, you will need between 320mg-480mg. Alternatively you can just take caffeine tablets to get the right dose you need
Again, most pre workouts contain creatine, even though you dont need to take it just before you workout to see any effects. Creatine can be taken any time of day, however it can be easier to just have it pre workout so you dont forget. Make sure it has around 5g of creatine in a serving.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Beta-Alanine. I don’t get on with the tingling feeling. But I’m yet to find a good pre workout without it in it, and there is good reason for that. It’s because it is shown to improve performance in exercise bouts that last between 30-180 seconds, which for most of us is the exact amount of time it takes for our exercises. Most pre workouts have around 2-3g per serving and that would work for most people.
Other than those three, the rest of the ingredients in most pre-workouts won’t do much for you other than maybe give you a bit of a buzz before you train.
I do like pre-workouts, I think they help you focus on training, they make you “feel” ready for training and can be a nice way to flavour your drink during exercise.
We just have to be aware that they probably aren’t contributing all that much to our progress and if money is tight, our focus should definitely be elsewhere.