BEST Pre workout Ingredients
Name: Vince Kreipke, MS, CSCS, USAW-L1SP
Education: M.S. in Applied Sports Sciences and currently pursing his PhD in Exercise Physiology at Florida State University
Looking for an added edge in the gym? Pre-workout supplements are a great place to start! The trouble is, if you're new to the supplement world, it can be incredibly difficult to sort through the mountain of choices, labels, and ingredients.
As you search, you'll likely scratch your head as you come across "creatine-this, " "citrulline-that, " and "beta-ala-what?" To compound the problem, those ingredients are often blended into combinations with flashy names like "Ultra-Nasty Uber Pump" and "Explosive Blood-Rush Blend."
With all the hard-to-pronounce compounds and extreme marketing, it can feel like you're drowning—and all you wanted was a solid edge to hit some nice PRs or increase your training energy! Don't worry, I got you.
When searching for or building my own pre-workout, I like to focus on four key ingredients—or, as I call them, "The Big Four." While each of these ingredients has multiple benefits, I'm going to focus on how important each one is to conquering your next training session.
Yes, there are many other supporting ingredients available in pre-workouts, but these four have the most scientific research backing their use, which is why I suggest starting with this bunch of ingredients above any others.
Next time you hit the pre-workout market or start gathering ingredients for your own killer pre-workout blend—make sure you give it a solid name!—reference this list first. It will help you decide which ingredients and doses you really want, and why you want them.Caffeine
Primary purpose: Energy
Optimal dose: 200-500 mg, or 1.8-2.7 mg per kg of body weight
Benefits: Caffeine has repeatedly been shown to be an effective ergogenic aid (performance booster) in both endurance exercise and short bouts of maximal exercise (e.g., sprints). Although there haven't been many studies showing increases in one-repetition max, caffeine has been shown to increase workloads by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering the perception of effort—even in sleep-deprived situations!1 And remember, more workload means greater gainz!
Caffeine has repeatedly been shown to be an effective ergogenic aid (performance booster) in both endurance exercise and short bouts of maximal exercise.
It is important to note that doses will vary from person to person. If you are a habitual caffeine user, you are going to need more to get you up. If you aren't, well... you won't. You are going to have to play within the ranges so you can figure out what works best for you.
Finally, if you work out at night, pay attention to how much you take. The effects of caffeine might take a while to wear off, keeping you up at night. And you need sleep so you can grow!
Why Number 1? You are going to need energy to get through your workout. Caffeine is a quick source to get you on your game and ready to crush some weight.Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Primary purpose: Foster an anabolic environment
Optimal dose: 5 g in pre-workout, 20 g total throughout the day
Benefits: BCAAs—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are key when it comes to regulating protein metabolism, increasing protein synthesis, and suppressing protein breakdown. It is important that you get the right ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine. You are looking for 2:1:1, respectively.
BCAAs— leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are key when it comes to regulating protein metabolism, increasing protein synthesis, and suppressing protein breakdown.
Leucine is king in this situation because it has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, so that's why it should be the highest amino acid in your blend. Looking for roughly 3 g of leucine per dose of your BCAAs is another effective way to shop.
Why Number 2? BCAAs give you some immediate protection against the catabolic environments produced when exercising. Moreover, drinking BCAAs may help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the following day so you can get back to training hard faster.2Beta-alanine