Many of us swear by our pre-workout of choice. Claim that it’s the reason we crushed it today at the gym. And on day’s when the tub runs empty or you just forget to take it, our workouts suffer.
I have taken my fair share of preworkouts (raise your hand if you remember the original NO Xplode and Jack3d 3d formulas). There is a few that i really do like and when it’s actually a good flavor, even better. And sometimes I like to up the dosage when I really feel like having my face melt off.
The truth is, however, that most pre-workouts can be broken down into 3–4 ingredients. The information below is geared towards those that don’t want to deal with the added stimulants or for those wanting/willing to try something new.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of good pre-workouts out in the market right now. However, many of us don’t have the $40 – $60 to spare. The below is merely alternatives to the pricey options. You could realistically buy them separately and save yourself some dolla dolla bills. Or perhaps you just want to take a better hold of what goes into your body.
Ingredient 1 — Beta-Alanine (aka Tingling)
~ This is perhaps one of the primary reasons why we love our pre-workouts. An acute side effect of supplementing with Beta-Alanine is paresthesia which is that feeling of pins & needles or burning of the skin (which is why we love pre-workout, right?). In individuals like myself who really like to up the dosage, it can lead to the feeling of your face melting off. I assure you there is nothing to worry about and it will subside. However, it certainly brings more to the table than just that.
Beta-Alanine has the ability to raise muscle carnosine concentrations. This is a crucial tool to fight against the buildup of H+ ions during high intensity exercise. A rise in H+ ions lowers muscle pH dramatically. A drop in muscle pH leads to muscle fatigue. Hence the joys of increased muscle carnosine.
- Load yourself to a level of 4–6 grams/day.
Ingredient 2 — Creatine
~ Simply put, Creatine helps in improving power, power output, training volume and can also aid in recovery. It is perhaps one of the most studied supplements on the market and the findings are resoundingly positive.
In addition, Creating is the ying to Beta-Alinine’s yang. The two go together like peanut butter & jelly. BA works as an effective amplifier for creatine.
- 5g is the suggested dose
Ingredient 3 — Citrulline
~ Citrulline is another weapon in the body’s arsenal to fight off drops in muscle pH. Citrulline will help you postpone fatigue during intense training.
Citrulline is just recently making waves and research is fresh, but it has taken the place of the once popular arginine. Citrulline is more effective at increasing plasma arginine levels than supplemental arginine. Not to mention arginine is harsher on your stomach
- 3–6 grams
Ingredient 4 — Caffeine
Caffeine provides a jolt to your Central Nervous System (CNS) and also helps fight off fatigue. As most of us know, having your CNS firing on all cylinders during a big workout session is paramount. The CNS will be responsible for generating muscle contractions. Chug that cup of coffee right before your workout but be sure to up your water intake because coffee has been known to be a diuretic.
I would argue that these can and should be the 4 pillars of any good pre-workout. However, every single individual is different and what might work well for one person, might not work the same for someone else. It is all about trial and error. Formulating your own opinions, testing out your own theories and most importantly (above all else), doing your research & becoming educated. #KnowledgeIsPower.