The Pre Workout ABC-XYZs

Pre Workout. – What would I be every morning without my beloved pre workout?? … I’ll tell you what – A total bitch. A groggy, mute, weak, mega-bitch. Don’t even think about talking to me at the gym – or in Dan’s case – the apartment, without me having had my early morning pre workout. In fact, he’s got it all mixed up and ready to go for me before I wake up. But what really goes into this magic cocktail that makes us stronger, more energetic, and able to give it 120% in the gym??



L-arginine is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. It’s necessary for your body to make proteins, increase growth hormone, promote muscle protein synthesis, and relax blood vessels.


The amino acid-derivative, beta-alanine, acts as buffer within the muscles to help prevent a declining acidic pH which can cause muscle fatigue. This buffering helps you work out about 3-5% harder or longer – which can help you squeak out a couple of extra reps. (Warning: Beta-Alanine has been known to cause a nervous system reaction that causes flushing and tingling – i.e. the pre workout tingles in your hands, joints, forehead – basically everywhere!)



Pre workout and caffeine go hand in hand. And just like caffeine is your morning Joe’s main ingredient, it’s also your pre workout’s main ingredient – mostly because IT JUST WORKS! Caffeine can be found is most thermogenic and pre workout supplements because it’s been known to boost metabolism, reduce fatigue, raise adrenaline levels, and improve muscle function. (Warning: Caffeine can have side effects including insomnia, nervousness, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors.)


Creatine is a non-essential nutrient that our bodies make. It can be found in meat and fish (but not in any amounts that would be beneficial to us). By supplementing our bodies with creatine, we are essentially topping off our creatine gas-tanks. Just like beta-alanine, creatine helps you workout longer and boost anaerobic performance. The main effect of creatine is that it’s chock full of immediately useable energy. Instead of the body having to work through various pathways to make ATP (the energy-carrying molecule), it can tap into the extra creatine. (Warning: Creatine can cause fluid retention because it hyper-hydrates your cells – which can also make your muscles feel bigger.)



Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium help to replace the electrolytes lost from sweating. If your workout is less than an hour, this supplementation isn’t really critical – but it’s a nice added bonus anyway. ;o)

Nitric Acid

Nitric oxide causes your blood vessels to dilate. When you start to exercise, your capillaries need to open up for nutrient delivery or waste removal. Nitric Oxide helps to assist in this process.



There is evidence that the amino acid, Taurine, may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease oxidative stress. It may also help burn fat in overweight individuals.


Tyrosine is an amino acid that serves as the precursor for norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is an important hormone that helps to stimulate your metabolism. Prolonged, intense physical stress can deplete levels of norepinephrine in the body which can be associated with a decrease in performance. Supplementation with tyrosine can help to combat this.



Yohimbine affects the way adrenaline works in the body. It blocks adrenaline receptors and can enhance the effect of some stimulants. Yohimbine is often added to stimulants for fat-loss purposes. Adrenaline (epinephrine) mobilizes stored fat and yohimbe helps it act more selectively. (Warning: Yohimbine can cause dizziness and orthostatic hypotension – a temporary form of low blood pressure.)


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