If you value the time and energy you put into your workouts, the naturally you would attempt to optimize the progress you make. You can never fully understand the difference a pre-workout makes on your ability to soar past workout targets until you’ve truly tried them.
And yet, you may be surprised to discover that quite a large number of the people you see in the gym have no idea that such supplements exist. But your different – by taking a scientific approach to nutrition, your workouts and supplementation, you can achieve much more, and in a shorter amount of time.
Wondering which supplements are the best elevate your game? Then be sure to look for does that make use of the following ingredients.
Loved by many, loathed by a few, caffeine has been a part of our history since time immemorial. The reason is simple – it makes a world of difference on your energy levels, can also reduce fatigue in the process.
Not feeling like hitting the gym today? Those feelings quickly subside after downing a shot of a caffeine infused energy booster or pre-workout product. Being a stimulant, caffeine increases alertness, motivation[i], and can help you get more done in less time.
If you are new to working out, or on a budget, you can still benefit from using caffeine. Simply down a mug of black coffee prior to your work out, or opt for inexpensive caffeine pills. Caffeine is by far the most popular introductory pre-workout adjuvant across the world.
Most people can safely tolerate between 200 to 400 mg of caffeine per serving, for a total of no more than 800 mg daily. If you possess sensitivities to stimulants, steer clear of caffeine.
Being crowned the most studied supplement of all time, you can rest assured that Creatine is one of those supplements that is the real deal. Found naturally in an array of animal-based products, but especially red meat, it is often more practical to consume it in a supplemental form owing to the massive amount of food required to meet the recommended intakes.
Creatine is ideal for rapidly gaining strength and muscle mass by virtue of its ability to rapidly replenish ATP stores. ATP supply is finite, but Creatine is able to increase the rate of resynthesis, and also delay time before exertion kicks in. not only this, but Creatine also improves power output and endurance[ii].
In turn, you are able to achieve more time under tension, which equates to more rapid progress. An initial loading dose of 20 g daily for seven days may help to saturate muscle cells this compound, after which daily maintenance doses of between 3 to 5 g taken at the pre-or post-workout interval is ideal.
Creatine is best absorbed if accompanied by a fast digesting carbohydrate such as dextrose, since its uptake into muscle cells is via the same insulin-dependent transport protein carbs use.
Considered a nonessential amino acid Beta alanine is naturally produced by the body. This is the case, you may be wondering why mentation is necessary. To appreciate this, you must understand that the body produces just as much as it needs to fulfil basic processes. Muscular hyper trophy is not considered a basic body process, so as you can see, you need much more than the body can produce.
While beta alanine possesses slight nootropic actions on its own, it really stars when combined with another amino acid known as histidine to form carnosine. This is the dipeptide amino acid which makes all the difference.
As muscle carnosine levels increase, the ability of these muscle groups to resist failure and perform longer is also enhanced. Carnosine works by helping to buffer the accumulation of positively charged hydrogen ions[iii], which are produced as by-products generated via muscular contraction.
Lactic acid, but more specifically these exact positively charged hydrogen ions, is what is responsible for muscular failure, or inability to contract the muscle any further. By buffering the accumulation of this, muscle contraction can continue a little longer.
The bottom line? You are able to exercise longer or more intensely before failure and fatigue sets in. This, of course, is one of the primary objectives of working out in the first place – to build a stronger, faster, and more efficient body.
Imagine this; in this moment, there is one version of you. In the future, while you are still alive, and you were version of you is discovered, with superior traits that more or less make the old you obsolete. Citrulline can be considered arginine’s new version.
The great irony lies in the fact that citrulline needs to be converted to arginine before it lends itself to increasing nitric oxide production, but once the conversion is complete, it arguably does it better than consuming arginine would.
It is believed that this superior imposter effect occurs as a result of up regulating an enzyme known as nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which is considered the rate limiting step of NO production. Improving the activity of this enzyme means that NO is produced more rapidly.
Then, there is also the fact that arginine itself is rapidly broken down by the arginase the enzyme, whereas citrulline is unaffected. This is why it is said that citrulline does a better job of delivering L-arginine to the body then using straight form arginine.
This enhance blood flow lends itself to improved oxygen and nutrient delivery during your workout, leading to greater muscle pump, power generation and subsequently performance[iv].
Naturally produced amino acid, it isn’t of recent discovery but rather one whose performance enhancing properties have recently come into the spotlight. Found abundantly in beets (hence the name), betaine’s starring role is thanks to it being classified as a methyl donor.
In the body, homocysteine undergoes a process of methylation to form methionine, very important in the synthesis of Creatine. Creatine, as it is well known and as previously mentioned, and can help improve power output and performance[v] by helping to rapidly regenerate ATP stores.
Thus, by having something help synthesize more Creatine, great synergy is achieved. Betaine also helps to support protein synthesis again by its ability to increase methionine, allowing you to get the most out of each workout.
Other great pre-workout and energy boosting supplements that you are likely to come across include taurine, the branched-chain amino acids and L tyrosine, which is considered a better alternative for people with stimulant sensitivities.
Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, you do not need to go without experiencing the ergogenic benefits that ingredients listed above can offer you. If you’re now starting out, or on a tight budget, you may be able to suffice a bit by making a budget pre-workout, though in reality it is much more practical to opt for a recognized supplement that contains several of the most effective products.
Pre-workouts can truly be a game changer, especially when you need a little extra in terms of energy and drive.
[i] Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system:mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992 May-Aug;17(2):139-70. Review. PubMed PMID: 1356551.
[ii] Izquierdo M, Ibañez J, González-Badillo JJ, Gorostiaga EM. Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle power, endurance, and sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):332-43. PubMed PMID: 11828245.
[iii] Culbertson JY, Kreider RB, Greenwood M, Cooke M. Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients. 2010;2(1):75–98. doi:10.3390/nu2010075
[iv] Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0. PubMed PMID: 20386132.
[v] Lee, E.C., Maresh, C.M., Kraemer, W.J. et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 27 (2010) doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-27