Why You Don't Need Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout is the shizz. It makes you stronger, you feel awesome and ready to dominate your workout. It improves gym performance and can make you feel like a king.
So why wouldn’t you take this magical concoction? More importantly why would you…
I’ve been there.
Back in the day, I used pre-workout on the regular. I loved the extra strength it gave me and since I didn’t drink coffee – the buzz was good too. I was stronger, had greater endurance and generally speaking, could train a lot harder when taking pre-workout powder.
It started with once per week (chest day – obviously) but then gradually bumped up to 3-4 days per week. Dosage increased from 1 scoop, up to 2, and in the end it became entertainment between mates as to who could take the most, and if anyone could feel their face (beta alanine).
I got to the stage where if I didn’t have pre-workout, I didn’t want to train, because I couldn’t lift the usual weights. It was around this time I realised I was getting dependent.
After one final hurrah – the legendary green lantern (long story) – it was time to say goodbye. There was no point taking a powder just to get to the gym and perform at ‘normal levels’.
That was two years ago, and I think I have used pre-workout once since.
Why do people use pre-workout?
Strength + Endurance.
There is no doubt PWO increases your strength and endurance. You can lift heavier weights and for more reps. Some PWO contain lactate-buffering agents, which are compounds that slow the accumulation of hydrogen ions from lactate, slightly delaying the onset of fatigue. They won’t make a huge difference, but you might be able to get one more rep, which is a good name for a PWO…
PWO will wake you up and get you up and about. Many PWO contain tryptophan, which is a pre-cursor the neurotransmitter serotonin, which will make you feel happy. This is underrated aspect of PWO – because how many people don’t LIKE going to the gym, but know they need to do it. PWO can help them.
Why people don’t need pre-workout
The above two points are pretty cool, however I am sure you can see how people become reliant, quite quickly. Once you realise that you perform better with a PWO, it becomes very difficult to train without them. Why would you train at a given intensity one week, only to decrease that the following week.
The body develops a tolerance to most stimulants quite quickly, and pre-workout is no different. One scoop might get you going for a week or so, but soon you will be needing more to have a similar effect. The best way to get your tolerance back is to take a break or cycle use, but that’s hard to do when you are reliant...
The stimulant load makes it hard to sleep. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had a sleepless night after taking pre-workout, only to wake up the next day and take pre-workout – because I was tired. It made sense at the time…
What’s in there.
Who knows? My understanding is that the most active ingredient is caffeine – which you can get from any source. The other ingredients might be beneficial or maybe not. Do they negatively impact health? Not sure. If you look on many pre-workout contains the ingredients list will include a ‘proprietary blend’, which basically means they don’t need to label the exact amounts of the ingredients stated. This is a good way to load up on cheap ingredients and increase margins for the maker.
One scoop usually costs around $1.50-$2.00, so doubling up you servings and using PWO a few times a week becomes quite expensive. Spending hundreds of dollars on supplements per week is unnecessary and ineffective – particularly for people who haven’t optimised their nutrition and training programming
But did you die?
Pre-workout isn’t cheating, and for most people, it’s just a bit of fun. However, be aware of the reliance and tolerance issues, because they will get you. My recommendation is stick to natures pre-workout – caffeine. A short black before training should be all that you need to get you going!
However, just like pre-workout, be aware of tolerance and reliance. If you cannot train without a coffee beforehand because you are worried about not performance – you are now reliant. Likewise, if you are consuming 3+ per day, that is a high intake.
At the end of the day, training should be enjoyable. If you really don’t like it and need stimulants to push through, find something else. The same goes for performance, caffeine with give you an extra lift, but that doesn’t mean more caffeine = more strength.
Body Recomposition Contributions
Look after yourself and stay smart. Invest in supplements that are well-supported and beneficial for you and your goals. Get you training and nutrition in order first to provide a solid foundations. Supplements should be like sand filling in between the gaps of the rock (training and nutrition) where they are needed.