Ergogenic aids are always a hot topic in the world of fitness. Ergogenic aids are substances that are taken in order to improve performance. When I began training I can remember being so confused. I would order multiple different types of supplements that I believed were going to change my life and then never take any of them because I was so worried about the side effects. After spending tons of money on lots of different products, I decided it was time to find out if all these supplements were actually serving me a purpose.
My plan for the future is to do a series on this topic. I want to focus on different types of supplements each time and look at the evidence on the effectiveness of each. Today, however, I will look at some of the most recent studies done on the use of pre-workout supplements. Pre-workout is often taken an hour to 30 minutes before a workout in order to boost energy, burn more fat, improve focus and increase strength gains. Some of the most common ingredients are caffeine, amino acids, beta-alanine, and creatine.
I looked at seven recent studies on pre-workout, most of which focused on anaerobic strength capacity. This type of muscular strength doesn’t require oxygen, therefore it is immediately available to use by the body. Resistance exercise typically includes short bursts of heaving lifting; this requires the use of anaerobic metabolism, as there is not enough time for the aerobic (oxygen-requiring) metabolism to begin working. Five of the seven studies that looked at pre- workout’s effect on anaerobic capacity. All five of them found at least mild increases in strength or power during a resistance style workout with the use or pre-workout. Two studies had participant-reported increases in focus as well as decrease rate of muscle fatigue. Pre work out was also shown to have an effect on improving acute recovery after a resistance workout. However, the same study found that there was no significant improvement on recovery after cycling for endurance. The last article focused on the metabolic effects of pre-workout. This study concluded that there was no long-term difference between the pre-workout and the control group as far as changes in lean body mass, body fat, or metabolic rate. No studies found that there were no adverse effects specifically on blood pressure or blood lipids while taking pre-workout with appropriate dosage.
So what does this all mean? There does seem to be decent evidence to affirm that pre-workout increases the anaerobic capacity of the muscles allowing for heavier lifting during a resistance workout. However, there is still little evidence to say if these short-term benefits translate into long-term gains. In other words, does having increased anaerobic capacity during a workout allow for more muscle hypertrophy in the long run? No studies found adverse effects due to the consumption of pre-workout out. This is good new as it most likely will not have negative effects if taken. One positive effect of pre-workout was the increase in focus accompanied by the decreased rate of muscle fatigue. This was a consistent result throughout the research. This could have practical indications in resistance training to help people stay motivated and concentrated at the gym. Improvements in anaerobic capacity due to pre-workout could as be useful in sports such as soccer, basketball, etc. that require short anaerobic sprints.
Although there is some evidence on the effects of pre-workout, there is still a lot to be considered such as the long-term effects, which type is the best, and in what dosage. At the end of the day, it’s most important to do what works for you in order to get the most beneficial workout whether that includes pre-workout or not.