Pre workout supplements, or pre workouts, are dietary supplements intended to boost your physical strength and energy before training. These products work by increasing your work capacity, focus, and potential performance.
Pre workouts increase blood flow to and from your muscles with the help of vasodilators. Examples of these vasodilators include nitric oxide precursors (e.g., arginine).
Most pre workout blends contain caffeine and creatine, which work on your physical and mental sharpness.
Despite the abundance of information regarding pre workout supplements and their ingredients, many people still have questions, such as:
- Do pre workouts actually work?
- How long does pre workout last?
- Which ingredients should a pre workout contain?
- Are pre workouts harmful?
Related Reading: Best Whey Protein For Weight Loss and Muscle Gain.
In this article, we will try to answer all of these questions, including the main one – How long does pre workout last.
How long does pre workout last?
The answer to this question is not straightforward. You see, pre workout supplements contain a variety of ingredients. Each one of these has its unique onset of action and half-life.
In general, pre workout supplements take around 60–90 minutes before providing you with maximum effects.
So, does this answer our question? – How long does pre workout?
Well, this gives us information about the onset of action, not the duration of action. Back to our caffeine and arginine example. The first ingredient has a half-life of around 5 hours. Conversely, arginine’s effects last for 30 to 120 minutes (the exact duration varies, depending on the dose and individual metabolism). Beta – Alanine (another important ingredient in pre workouts) gives you a big energy boost that lasts for 45 – 60 minutes.
With all of these variables, the seemingly simple question of how long does pre workout last becomes a bit tricky to answer.
As a rough estimate, a pre workout supplement will provide you with the desired pump for around 30 to 120 minutes.
Because research shows a variety of results regarding the onset of action and the half-lives of pre workout ingredients, your personal experience with these supplements will be unique.
Factors that impact how long does pre workout last
- The dosage of each ingredient per serving – As mentioned previously, each ingredient has a different time and duration of effect.
- The number of consumed servings – Like most supplements, overdosing or taking too much can lead to serious side-effects. It causes vomiting, jitters, cramps and high blood pressure.
- Your Diet – When and how much you eat can also impact how long pre workout will last because this will impact your body’s ability to digest the pre workout ingredients.
- Body mass – The more you weigh, the less effect a pre workout has. The less you weigh, the more effect.
The benefits of pre workouts
The research in the field of pre workout supplements shows conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of these supplements.
In this section, we will cover the most common pre workout ingredients and the science behind them.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a naturally occurring compound that dilates blood vessels and boosts blood flow.
Most pre workout supplements contain ingredients that aid the body in producing NO. Examples include arginine, beetroot juice, and citrulline.
Scientists found that supplements that improve oxygen and nutrient delivery to myocytes (i.e., muscle cells) may optimize physical performance.
L-citrulline, in particular, can boost exercise performance, according to several studies.
This is another common ingredient in pre workout supplements. The primary action of caffeine affects performance on a cognitive level. In other words, caffeine boosts your focus and sharpness during workouts. It also boosts your energy and
Some research suggests that caffeine also ramps up the process of lipolysis (i.e., fat burning).
Creatine gets stored in your skeletal muscles to optimize energy production and muscle contractions.
Aside from finding it in a pre workout blend, creatine is also a standalone supplement. Specifically, it is popular among bodybuilders and weightlifters.
Researchers found that creatine can:
- Increase muscle mass
- Boost physical strength
- Optimize exercise performance
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that prevents the accumulation of acid in your muscles. Metabolic acidosis can severely impact your ability to exercise. Beta-alanine helps increase exercise capacity and decreases muscle fatigue.
The effectiveness of this compound on physical performance is still a hot topic of debate. However, expect to feel a tingling sensation after consuming beta-alanine.
Taurine is another naturally-occurring compound. The body uses taurine for a variety of functions, including repairing muscle tissue damage and producing new proteins.
Taurine is common in fish, meat, and pre workout supplements.
Here are some physiological functions mediated by taurine:
- Proper hydration and electrolyte balance inside your cells
- Protection of the brain
- Optimization of immune system function
- Production of bile salts to digest fats
- Regulation of mineral metabolism (e.g., calcium)
- Neutralization of free radicals and oxidative stress
In human studies, researchers found that taurine helps with removing waste products from cells. Eventually, this lessens the duration of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and prevents fatigue.
Moreover, taurine protects myocytes from inflicting damage caused by oxidative stress.
Ingredients that impact how long does pre workout last
Besides the factors we listed above, these ingredients can influence the duration of action of pre workouts:
- Vitamin B3
The safety of pre workouts
Pre workouts are generally safe.
With that said, avoid consuming large amounts of these supplements, as some ingredients can be toxic in high doses.
Caffeine and niacin toxicity is the feared complication of pre workouts.
Drinking a cup or two of coffee isn’t going to cause this. Caffeine toxicity mainly occurs when taking too much of caffeinated beverages or supplements like pre workouts which contains seriously high doses of caffeine. This can cause:
- fast heartbeats.
So instead of dominating your workout, you will just feel sick.
Niacin toxicity is another safety concern when deciding to take pre workouts. Again, in moderate amounts it’s fine however when taken in high doses it can cause serious health problems. Some common side-effects of this are:
- Liver damage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
Other side effects of pre workouts
The desired effects of pre workouts can actually become side effects. For instance, high alertness may cause insomnia and trembling if you consume the supplement near your bedtime. Moreover, some people report feeling lethargic after the effects of the supplement wear off.
This is why it’s important to understand how long does pre workout last. By knowing the answer to this question, you can make plans to avoid these side effects.
If you workout at night, taking pre workout might not be the best idea. Why? Because of the large caffeine content, it contains which could keep you awake long after your workout finishes!
Taking pre workout can increase your caffeine tolerance significantly. This means you will need larger doses to get the same effect and your morning coffee won’t help anymore. How do you fix this? Have days where you don’t have any caffeine at all or reduce your consumption.
Pre workouts do contain some ingredients that can cause digestive problems like magnesium, creatine, and sodium bicarbonate. However, you can solve this by simply adding some water to the mix. If it continues, try adding more or speak to a health professional.
Despite citrulline being a great ingredient to boost your nitric oxide levels, it can cause headaches. This is because it allows for blood to flow more freely to the working muscles, providing them with oxygen and nutrients. However, this can also cause headaches since this blood flow also impacts the brain.
In conclusion, pre workout is safe to use if you don’t take too much and are aware of the ingredients and possible side-effects.
How do you know your pre workout has started to kick in?
There are two ways to know if your pre workout has started to make its effects. One is that tingling sensation and the other is the significant increase in focus and energy.
If you have timed your pre workout correctly, during your training session you will exercise this weird itch feeling on your skin. This is actually the beta – alanine doing its work. This specific ingredient helps with strength and endurance by decreasing muscle fatigue. However, it does have a tingling feeling so don’t think something has gone wrong. It’s just doing its work!
Increase in focus and energy
This is the reason we get pre workout in the first place! To get more energetic and feel more focused throughout our training session and when you feel this, you know that the pre workout has started to kick in. The caffeine will help improve you focus and increase your motivation and ingredients such as the creatine, B vitamins and L-citrulline all help increase energy levels.
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Best Pre Workout To Buy
Decided to buy Pre Workout? Here are our best pre workout choices that will definitely meet your requirements. Before you do decide to buy pre workout, we would strongly recommend consulting a health professional.
1. C4 Sport Pre Workout Powder
Beat your personal best and crush your fitness goals with this pre workout powder. Containing CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, this pre workout will help significantly with muscular endurance and fight muscle fatigue. With the addition of caffeine and B vitamins, it provides an increased amount of energy boost to help you lift that extra weight or do that one last rep! So, is it safe? It’s been tested for its safety and quality by third parties and is America’s number 1 selling pre workout.
2. NITROSURGE Pre Workout Supplement
This pre workout for both men and women will provide you with maximum strength and explosive workouts, helping you achieve your fitness goals fast! How? The formula contains powerful ingredients including L-Citrulline, Betaine Anhydrous, Beta Alanine, Caffeine, L Theanine, and it’s creatine-free. So, if you’re looking for instant strength gains, sharp focus, endurance and powerful pumps, this pre workout is for you.
3. Pre Workout Powder; KAGED MUSCLE
Pre-Kaged pre workout powder provides increased energy and improved focus helping you train harder and longer with more intensity. The pre workout contains ingredients that will help build muscle and increase strength, with the addition of B vitamins and caffeine to boost energy levels. “It’s so good, you’ll never use another pre-workout product again” – Kaged Muscle.
4. NITROSURGE Shred Pre Workout Supplement
Looking to get lean and perform your workout in a more effective way? Then this pre workout is the best for you! It contains a specific ingredient called acetyl l-carnitine HCL which, according to studies, can help burn fat. This pre workout also boosts nitric oxide (NO) levels increasing blood-flow to the working muscles, providing them with more nutrients and oxygen. It enhances muscle growth, endurance, strength and maximizes your pumps! Containing 180mg of caffeine, you will be highly energetic and focused, dominating your workout.
5. Legion Pulse Pre Workout Supplement
This product is 100% natural containing natural flavors to make it taste good and has essential ingredients to help smash your workout. There is a high amount of caffeine content to help boost your energy and increase your focus. However, take note of this caffeine content as too much caffeine can have side-effects. The product is simply a nitric oxide booster that will help you lift that extra weight, get that massive pump, gain more muscles and strength, and boost your endurance.
Pre-workout supplements can be a powerful tool to boost your performance. Make sure to look for the right ingredient and consult with your primary care physician before taking these supplements.
We hope that this article managed to clarify how long does pre-workout last, along with the benefits of these supplements.