If you’re looking for an added edge in the gym, loading up on pre-workout supplements and drinks is a great place to start.
Unfortunately, there are so many supplement brands and ingredients that finding the perfect pre-workout can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
When searching for the best pre-workout, we recommend focusing on 7 key ingredients.
Your supplement doesn’t have to have all seven, but it should never include artificial preservatives.
1. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine by itself is one of the best ingredients bodybuilders can use during their workouts, but creatine monohydrate is even better.
It’s more researched and produces larger muscles. Plus, it’s cheaper, easier to find, and is associated with little to no health complications.
Bodybuilders don’t have to wait for a specific window, like before a meal or after a workout, to take creatine. You can take creatine at any time to saturate your muscles with energy.
2. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
To foster an anabolic environment, which governs muscle growth, insulin drive, glucose metabolism, and hormone balance, use BCAAs.
Found in Transparent Labs pre-workout, BCAA increases protein synthesis, protein metabolism and suppresses protein breakdown.
The right ratio of BCAAs (2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine, and 1 part valine) will expertly stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
It’ll also offer protection against a catabolic environment, which leads to immediate muscle soreness, delayed joint soreness, and fatigue.
Beta-alanine’s goal is to increase muscular endurance and improve overall training volume.
It works by buffering hydrogen ions to combat acid buildup to improve the effectiveness of long-term endurance exercises, although it isn’t as effective for short strength training.
Beta-alanine is perfect for bodybuilders who want to squeeze out a few extra reps during their workouts. Take beta-alanine throughout the day if you want to lessen the tingling effect.
4. Caffeine (Found in Black Tea or Coffee)
The main purpose of caffeine is to give you a burst of energy during your workouts.
Bodybuilders will use a caffeine supplement specifically as an ergogenic aid (performance booster) in both maximal and short bouts of exercise as it lowers perception of effort.
Even in sleep-deprived situations, caffeine can lead to greater gains and higher workloads.
If you’re a habitual caffeine user, you’ll need more to get going, but overall the effects of this drug are considered very safe. Just be sure to avoid caffeine at night, as it takes a while to wear off.
If you’ve ever eaten turnips, spinach, or beetroot, you’ve consumed nitrate. Small amounts of nitrate are produced in your body to help increase your blood flow.
When extra nitrate is added to your body, it can improve exercise performance by decreasing the amount of oxygen needed.
Nitrate works well to reduce pain associated with running, and it may also increase running time before exhaustion and speed during 5-km runs. Nitrate is perfect for endurance sports.
6. Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate is useful for reducing acid buildup in the body.
Baking soda can reduce that muscle “burning” feeling, which is a strong indicator of increased acid production. Bodybuilders often get this sensation when they’re starting to feel fatigued.
Sodium bicarbonate can produce benefits specifically for endurance runners, as they’re typically involved in intense workout activities.
The optimal dose for a 150 lbs man is about 20 grams. Be careful not to go overboard with the baking soda, as you may get an upset stomach.
The amino acid citrulline is created naturally in the body, but a supplement will increase your body’s levels and exercise performance.
Citrulline increases blood flow to body tissue, which helps supply your muscles with nutrients and oxygen, improving performance.
Citrulline can reduce muscle soreness, but this effect is increased when using L-citrulline, not just citrulline malate. Both versions of citrulline still improve weight-training repetitions.