Most people think pre-workout should only be used on special occasions:
- When you feel tired and want a boost,
- When you want to Rx Murph,
- When you’re trying a new PR
- etc etc
It’s ok. It’s not your fault. I blame years of shitty marketing by supplement companies.
I used to view pre-workout the same way - until I researched ingredients BEYOND caffeine.
What I found out changed the way I use pre-workout - and led to gains in muscle and strength I hadn’t experienced since the golden “newbie gains”.
The reality is, if you’re using the RIGHT pre-workout -- you should use it before every workout.
Not just when you’re running on 4 hours of sleep. Not just for workouts when you’re hungover and need a boost.
I’m currently lifting 5 days per week, and I’m using pre-workout before every single workout.
Want to know why?
#1 Pre-Workout Increases Blood Flow to Working Muscles
Let’s go ahead and get vanity reasons out there so we can move on to more “serious” subject matter:
Increased blood flow means a bigger pump. You’ll look and feel bigger while you work out.
This can serve as a confidence boost - AND, it turns out, “the pump” has some tangible benefits beyond making you look all swole and sexy.
Our muscles depend on blood to deliver essential nutrients, while also removing waste products generated during a workout.
Our muscles cannot function without ATP, glucose, or oxygen, for example. Without blood flow, muscles quickly run out of nutrients.
Obviously, your blood will flow (that felt weird to type, I promise this isn’t turning into some gore novel) without the use of a pre-workout supplement.
What a (good) pre-workout will do is INCREASE the amount of blood flowing to working muscles.
This explains why L-citrulline is such a popular pre-workout ingredient. L-citrulline is converted into L-arginine, which can then be converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, which means it causes blood vessels to expand. This increases blood flow, allowing more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to reach your muscles during a workout.
#2 Pre-Workout Helps You Workout Harder, For Longer
We’re going to build off of Point #1 (pre-workout increases blood flow to working muscles), so if you’re just aimlessly scrolling around and decided this was a good point to start reading -- you done messed up. No shortcuts!
So, there are several ways pre-workout helps you workout harder, for longer.
As mentioned in #1 above, L-citrulline helps your body pump more nutrient-rich blood into muscles during a workout. It also helps pump lactic acid and “depleted” blood OUT of working muscles.
Lactic acid build-up is what makes your muscles sore.
While L-citrulline is helping your body pump more lactic acid out of muscles, beta alanine is also working to buffer against lactic acid build-up.
Beta alanine is stored in the body as carnosine. Whenever the body detects a drop in pH (like when lactic acid builds up during a workout), it releases carnosine, which acts to buffer against acid in the body.
L-citrulline and beta alanine help fight lactic acid build-up, allowing you to work out harder, for longer.
Other ingredients, like caffeine or theobromine, also help you workout longer, by providing a stimulant effect, giving you a boost in energy and focus.
#3 Pre-Workout Helps You Recover Faster
As we established previously, pre-workout increases blood flow to working muscles. Increased blood flow to working muscles helps you recover faster.
Increased blood flow not only means more nutrients are being delivered - it also means more waste products are being removed.
There are other mechanisms at work here beyond improved blood flow and nutrient delivery/waste removal.
Our good friend L-citrulline converts ammonia -- which your muscles produce as a byproduct of lifting heavy things -- into urea. Elevated ammonia leads to fatigue, so by increasing conversion of ammonia into urea, L-citrulline.
Beta alanine also helps you recover faster. By fighting against lactic acid buildup, it helps keep your muscles from being sore, which means you’re back in the gym sooner and feeling recovered.
Hopefully, you’ve learned that you shouldn’t worry about getting “addicted” to pre-workout, and that a pre-workout supplement is an incredibly valuable tool for enhancing your workouts. When dosed correctly, pre-workout can increase blood flow to working muscle, which helps to remove waste products, as well as supply your muscles with much-needed nutrients during workouts. This not only helps you workout harder, for longer, but also helps you recover quicker - so you can crush it again tomorrow.