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Why Isn’t My Pre Workout Working?

Why Isn't my Pre workout working

Let me guess. You’ve just spent $50 on a pre workout supplement that promised to make your workouts explosive and give you Hulk’s strength. But when you get to the gym you can barely finish your warmup sets before feeling exhausted and worn out again. And now you’re screaming “WHY ISN’T MY PRE WORKOUT WORKING”!

What’s the deal? Don’t throw in the towel just yet! There are several reasons why your pre workout isn’t working like it should, and we’ll cover them all here.

But before we do, let’s look at what kind of feelings you should be getting after taking pre workout.

Two Signs That Your Pre Workout Has Started To Kick In!

It’s good to know what sort of different feelings or signs you should be getting after taking pre workout before jumping to the conclusion that it’s not working. There are two main signs you should experience to know if your pre workout has started to kick in. One is this tingling sensation and the other is a rapid boost in energy and focus.

Tingling Sensation

Your pre workout is working completely fine if you feel some weird itch or tingly feeling on your skin. For me, it was much worse. I felt like my skin was on fire! This tingling sensation on your skin is because of a specific ingredient in your pre workout called beta – alanine. This ingredient helps with strength and endurance and leads to less muscle fatigue.

Hence, your workouts will be more powerful, explosive, and greater in intensity. Now, if you’re like me, this feeling is very annoying especially after you finish a set and are taking that small break before you start that next. You’re likely to feel the itchy or “tingly” feeling on your neck, arms, and even your shoulder. For me, it was my palms that felt very itchy, especially after each set.

Rapid Boost in Focus & Energy

If you’ve been taking pre workout correctly and you don’t feel a boost in energy and focus, then most probably your pre workout isn’t working. The reason why you get pre workout in the first place is to gain more energy and focus.

Pre workout contains a lot of caffeine which improves your concentration as well as increasing your energy levels. In fact, various studies have shown that caffeine is a cognitive and physical performance enhancer.

As well as caffeine, pre workout contains other ingredients that help increase energy level and take your workout to a whole new level. Ingredients such as creatine, B vitamins, and L-citrulline all help and contribute to increase your energy and reduce fatigue throughout your workout. Hence, if you’ve taken your pre workout and aren’t feeling pumped up, maybe it’s not working.

Why is my Pre Workout Not Working

So, you’re not getting a boost in energy, focus or that tingling sensation. Why is this the case? Why isn’t my pre workout working? Here are the 4 reasons why your pre workout is not working.

1. You’ve Built Caffeine Tolerance

If your pre workout was working fine and giving you all the effects as mentioned above, however it suddenly stopped working, it’s because of your caffeine tolerance. Let me explain.

Caffeine is the main ingredient in pre workout. How much caffeine does one pre workout supplement contain? Well, it depends on the brand and quality. However, on average, one serving contains anywhere between 150mg to 300mg. Hence, if you take pre workout too often, you will develop caffeine tolerance.

This means that the amount of caffeine you were taking will not give you the same effects as before. In fact, you will need more caffeine to get the same energy and mental focus. Hence, your everyday morning coffee won’t do the job or the pre workout that you take regularly won’t give you the same effects.

To solve this, simply take a break from pre workout and all caffeine products, including your morning coffee. Now this might sound like an easy solution, but caffeine is highly addictive. You must control yourself for a couple of days and if you can’t, reduce the consumption of caffeine you have per day.

After that break of no caffeine at all, your pre workout should be working fine again! To maintain the same effects of pre workout, don’t have it daily. Instead, cycle off the pre workout for a specific period. 

Make sure you don’t keep increasing the dose you have of your pre workout to gain the same effects. In fact, if you’re consuming 300mg of caffeine and you aren’t getting any effects, it might be a good idea to cycle off pre workout. 

2. Timing of your pre workout

Sweaty gym workout

Another reason why your pre workout may not be showing effects is because of the lack of timing. Pre workout supplement lasts anywhere between 30 – 120 minutes. (Of course, these numbers are just rough estimates and can vary depending on the ingredients.)

So, if you take your pre workout too early, the effects will be almost gone before you even start working out. On the other hand, if you take your pre workout too late, you will notice the effects at the end or even after your workout.

This raises a question. When should you take your pre workout? Well, pre workout is generally taken 30 min – 60 min before a workout. If you like, you can mix your favorite creatine and pre workout together since it’s a good idea to take creatine around 30 minutes before your workout.

Hence, if you feel like chucking your pre workout in the bin because you think it isn’t working, think about when you actually take your pre workout which could possibly fix the issue.

3. Lack of Sleep

Yes! Your pre workout may also not be working because of the lack of sleep. No matter how much boost of energy and mental focus you get from pre workout, if your sleep schedule is all over the place, it won’t help.

In fact, studies have proven that sleep is arguably the most important factor in exercise recovery.

But how does sleep have any correlation with your pre workout not working? Doesn’t pre workout have caffeine which will keep me wide awake and filled with energy? Sure, pre workout does do that however caffeine in general is not a sleep replacement! It TEMPORARILY keeps you awake.

Having a good night’s sleep can improve your mental health and repair your muscles for them to grow and become stronger.

So, if you go to the gym and do a solid intense workout, your muscles don’t just build in the gym. It builds and repairs while you’re asleep. So, lacking sleep will result in a poor workout performance and hence the reason why you might think your pre workout isn’t working. This is because your muscles simply have not recovered from your previous workout sessions.

Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep if you can.

4. Ingredient List

Do you guys read the ingredient list of your pre workout or just buy it because it looks nice? If you just buy it without reading what’s in it, the pre workout may be of poor quality and won’t actually give you the effects that you hoped for.

A lot of time we turn to social media for help in choosing what fitness product to buy. However, most influencers are just seeking money and don’t even use that pre workout themselves. You yourself must do your own research, especially for nutritional based products.

So, what ingredients should you look out for when buying a pre workout? Pre workouts generally have a few essential ingredients in them. These include:

  • Caffeine (obviously)
  • Creatine
  • Beta-alanine
  • L-arginine (helps produce nitric oxide)
  • L-citrulline (helps produce nitric oxide)

If you want to know more about these ingredients, Healthline has made an awesome article about the ingredients in pre workout supplements.

So, do your research yourself, understand the use of these ingredients and make sure your pre workout contain most of these key ingredients.

5. Eating Schedule!

If your pre workout isn't working, try remembering the time you took your pre workout and WHAT you had to eat before that

Now I’m sure that you’ve heard different people say different things about this. But let’s see if you can guess the answer to the question. Should you have pre workout on an empty stomach or should you eat something?

Thought of an answer? Let’s see if you’re right!

The answer is either. You can have something to eat, or you can have it on an empty stomach. Obviously, if you’re having something to eat, don’t go with something too heavy. In fact, you should have a proper meal 2-3 hours before your workout. However, eating something simple that’s filled with complex carbohydrates can actually provide you with some extra energy throughout your workout. Have foods that contain carbs as well as some protein.

For example:

  • Oats
  • Yogurt
  • Fruits

These foods can be eaten about 45 – 60 minutes before your workout.

Now am I saying you MUST eat some light food before a workout? Absolutely not! There is no scientific evidence to prove that working out on an empty stomach is bad.

So, what’s the difference between having pre workout on an empty stomach vs with some food?

Well, let’s state the difference in effects. If you take pre workout with simple or light foods, then the pre workout will take a longer time to get into your system and show its effects.

However, if you take it on an empty stomach, you should experience the effects quicker because the ingredients in the pre workout enter your bloodstream rapidly. However, you might experience some digestive problems if you take it on an empty stomach.

How much quicker will the effects of the pre workout start if you’re in a fasted state? Possibly around 10 – 15 min. If you do have something light to eat, take your pre workout 30 minutes before your workout.

So, if your pre workout isn’t working, try remembering the time you took your pre workout and WHAT you had to eat before that. Also consider WHEN you ate. These all will affect how long it will take for the pre workout to start to kick in.

Key Takeaway

So, wait up! Don’t throw your pre workout in the bin. It might be working completely fine. You just need to fix up a few things on how you take it!

We hope this article helped answer your questions and stay tuned for more upcoming content. As always, stay Fit & Healthy!

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Hey, I'm Shalin

Welcome to Just Fit & Healthy. From the right nutrition to the best science based workouts, here is the one stop shop for ALL information. Let’s achieve goals together!

Shalin Anam

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