What comes to mind when you think about “pre-workout”?
“KRAZY INSANE ENERGY!”?
“CRUSH THESE WEIGHTS BRO!”?
Tan, oiled-up meatheads grunting and slamming weights in the gym?
Thanks to years of supplement companies pushing pre-workout products as providing KRAZY ENERGY - along with pictures of huge bodybuilders screaming like Mel Gibson in Braveheart - you’ve probably written off pre-workout as “something for meatheads”.
You may even view it as a stepping-stone to steroids. Which is unfortunate.
Because I bet YOU can benefit from a good pre-workout. Even if you’re not a “meathead”.
Because the science behind certain ingredients PROVES you can benefit from a pre-workout.
Well, not just any pre-workout. The RIGHT pre-workout.
Let’s dig in.
What do we want when we go to the gym?
We want a better looking body. A body we are confident in.
A body we want to show off naked.
To get that, we bust our ass working out.
What are the ingredients of a good workout?
Energy. Endurance. Focus.
Obviously, we want energy when we go to the gym. More energy = more work capacity.
The more endurance we have, the longer we can work out - and the longer we can work out harder. You know your body is firing on all cylinders when you feel as strong on your last set as you did on your first.
The mind-muscle connection is real. When we let our jobs and personal problems pollute our minds at the gym, our workouts suffer. We’re more likely to give in to the voice that says “QUIT!”, and less likely to set PRs.
Ok, how do we ensure we have enough energy, endurance, and focus for a good workout?
For starters - we need to make sure our nutrition is dialed in, we get quality sleep, and we manage stress as best we can.
Sometimes life gets in the way. We can’t always guarantee that our diet will be spot-on. We can’t control late-night emergencies disrupting our sleep.
But there is something that can consistently provide us with energy, endurance, and focus..
And anyone can benefit from it.
The Power of a Quality Pre-Workout
What if you could do more at the gym?
More weights. More reps. More miles.
What if you could do more at the gym every time?
How much closer would you be to your goals? How much more could you achieve?
Look, you can bash on meatheads on you want - but they’re usually big for a reason, and it’s not just good genetics.
They have a specific diet plan. They stick to their training routine. And you bet your ass they use a pre-workout.
Instead of bashing meatheads, let’s learn from them.
Because a quality pre-workout enables you to do more at the gym every single workout.
A quality pre-workout gives you more energy, more endurance, and more focus.
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
More energy = better ability to pick up heavy things, run an extra mile, improve your WOD time - fun stuff like that.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking caffeine is the only ingredient that can give you energy.
If you’re like me and drink coffee in the morning, you likely have a tolerance to the ergonomic effects of caffeine. Plus, when caffeine doses get too high, we start to see bad side effects - jitters, racing heartbeat, disaster pants - a bunch of no-no’s for good gym performance.
There are other ingredients that give you energy - without the crash that comes with high doses of caffeine.
Speaking of traps...
BEWARE: THIS IS WHERE MOST PEOPLE SCREW UP!
They think the only purpose of a pre-workout is to provide energy.
When I tell people I use a caffeine-free pre-workout, they look at me like I just told them the earth was flat.
“Caffeine-free? Why? Isn’t that, like, the point of pre-workout?”
This is sad - because there are SO many ingredients with amazing benefits they miss out on!
More on that in a bit.
Endurance doesn’t have to come exclusively from having more energy.
Certain ingredients increase blood flow to working muscles.
Others reduce the “burn” you feel when your muscles get tired.
You feel this burn because, while you work out, your muscles build up lactic acid, which lowers your muscle pH outside of optimal range.
By keeping muscle pH in the optimal range, a pre-workout enables you to hit a few more reps, maybe an extra set or two - which, in the long run, adds up to drastic gains in muscle growth and strength.
Want to IMMEDIATELY improve your workouts?
Like, literally right now. This instant.
It doesn’t involve a special diet, or strange sleep patterns, or doing bicep curl-bosu ball squats for time.
It’s a simple change. Which makes it even harder to truly implement.
I’m talking about changing your mindset.
View your workout as a practice. Consider each exercise a skill.
You need attention to develop your skills.
Going through the motions may still increase your heart rate - but you won’t progress without focus.
One of the best ways to lose motivation is by failing to improve.
If you aren’t focused on your workout, and developing your “skills”, you won’t improve. And soon, you’ll lose motivation.
When you’re at the gym, you need to be at the gym.
Not thinking about how much of an asshole your boss is. Not thinking about what you’re going to watch on Netflix later.
As much as humanly possible, your mind needs to be on the exact exercise you are doing, in the moment. It needs to be focused on the exact rep you are doing.
That means if you’re on set 1, rep 1 for squats, you aren’t thinking about set 3, rep 6.
Your ONLY thought is on completing set 1, rep 1.
And then set 1, rep 2.
Then set 1, rep 3.
And so on.
Being mindful in the gym is the single biggest improvement you can make right now to see amazing changes in your body.
What does this have to do with pre-workout?
Similar to Energy and Endurance, there are certain ingredients that can provide us with more Focus.
They do so by different mechanisms, but the end result is the same: you’re able to tune out anything that doesn’t help you complete your next rep.
“Pre-workout sounds great! But I still don’t know if it’s for me!”
That’s because I haven’t told you yet.
How to Determine if Pre-Workout is Right For You
Step 1: Is your diet and training in order?
If you aren’t consistently training, or your diet sucks, stop reading right now.
Seriously, I want you to stop reading this post.
THEN, you can come back and finish reading this article.
Step 2: Do you engage in moderate-high intensity workouts?
- Go to the gym and lift weights to stay in shape
- Train for strength
- Participate in olympic lifting
- Run endurance events, including obstacle races and marathons
- Do Crossfit
- Do group fitness classes, including kickboxing, high-intensity interval training, and/or cycling
- Are a bodybuilder - natural or otherwise
- Are a professional or amateur athlete competitively playing sports
YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM PRE-WORKOUT!
Let me re-emphasize: your sole focus doesn’t have to be “GETTING HYOOGE” to benefit from pre-workout.
Name ANY sort of moderate to high-intensity exercise where you couldn’t benefit from more energy, more endurance, and more focus.
Try and think of one.
My point in writing this article is to attack the stereotypes surrounding pre-workout head-on.
I’ve turned family and friends into believers.
Now I want to turn you into one.
If you haven’t already, give pre-workout a try before your next tough exercise session.
I GUARANTEE you will have a better workout.