Should I Use Pre-Workout?
My last post addressed the question: what is pre-workout?
Now that you’re familiar with what a pre-workout supplement is, we’re going to determine whether or not a pre-workout supplement is right for you.
That’s right. My business sells supplements, our first product is a pre-workout supplement, and I’m about to tell some of you that you SHOULDN’T buy our product.
Let's dig in!
Before we begin: Do you have pre-existing health conditions?
Let’s get the legal stuff out of the way first. Always talk to your primary care provider before beginning any workout regimen, or using any nutritional supplement.
Next: do you have a pre-existing medical condition, like high blood pressure, or are you using prescription medications? Talk to your doc before using any nutritional supplement.
Got it? OK, down to business:
Should I use pre-workout?
As we covered in our previous post, pre-workout supplements are designed to give you an edge when performing certain workouts. Whether or not they will be beneficial to you depends on several factors.
Factor 1: The Type of Workout You’re Doing
A pre-workout supplement can be beneficial for many different workouts, but not all workouts.
Pre-workout is typically used before lifting weights or some sort of strength-based workout.
Is it good for Crossfit? You bet.
Heavy leg day? Yup.
Volume-intensive arm day? Check.
A casual walk through Central Park? Not so much.
If your workout consists of low-intensity cardio - such as walking - you can skip the pre-workout.
For example, I currently lift five days per week, walk one day, and the seventh day is a wildcard where I do whatever.
I take pre-workout before my lifting sessions. I'll take preworkout on the "wildcard" day if it is an intense workout - like a cardio/group class, a Crossfit workout, or something similar.
I don’t take pre-workout before I walk, because that’s silly.
So, if your workout is based on weights or strength training of some sorts, the next thing we need to address is..
Factor 2: Your Goals
The ingredients in pre-workout give you better workouts through numerous mechanisms: better endurance, more strength, improved blood flow to muscles, and increased focus, to name a few.
That being said, pre-workout will be a big benefit if your reason for lifting weights is to add muscle/lose fat (body composition), or get stronger.
Let’s look at two examples to distinguish between who would benefit from pre-workout, and who should spend their money elsewhere.
My friend Brandon is 26, lifts weights 4-5 days per week, and is interested in gaining muscle, shredding body fat, and being strong. Brandon absolutely should try pre-workout!
Or my friend Jenna. Jenna does Crossfit or similar classes 2-3 days per week, and wants to gain some muscle while maintaining a lean physique. Jenna absolutely should try pre-workout!
Factor 3: Your Diet
Supplements are called supplements for a reason. They are intended to supplement sound nutrition and exercise.
Pre-workout is no different.
Pre-workout may give you an energy boost, an extra bit of strength when you need it most, and the endurance to crank out a few extra reps, but it will not overcome a shitty diet.
You are better off focusing on improving your diet before taking any supplement. Spend your money on healthy foods first. Then, once your diet is sound, try a pre-workout supplement to give yourself that extra edge to crush your goals.
I’ll say it once more because it’s so important: no supplement, including pre-workout, will help you beat a shitty diet.
Factor 4: Consistency
“Getting in shape” has got to be the most common New Years’ Resolution. There's no way #2 is even close.
Each year, gyms across the world are flooded with a wave of new members who are determined to make the exercise habit stick.
I’m not passing judgment here. We all start as beginners. However, if this is you, wait on the supplements.
Let’s be honest with each other. There’s a good chance the habit won’t stick. Statistics back me up here.
It takes time to make a new habit stick. Exercise is no different. You’re going to be experimenting with different workouts, different training plans, different times and different days to go to the gym. There’s a chance you won’t be consistent, at least at the beginning, until the habit becomes, well, habit.
If you don’t consistently partake in weightlifting or strength training, a pre-workout supplement isn’t going to do much for you.
Do you only have time to lift weights once a week, but you NEVER miss that one day each week? Perfect - give pre-workout a go.
Do you lift weights five times one week, then skip a week, then go twice the next week, then go AWOL from the gym for two weeks?
Skip the pre-workout. Establish a consistent gym routine first, and then consider a pre-workout supplement.
So, should I use pre-workout?
By now, you should have a better understanding of what pre-workout is, and whether you should use it.
If you work out consistently, want to add muscle, lose fat, get stronger, and have a good diet, you should absolutely consider using pre-workout.
If you're haven't established a consistent workout regimen, only do low-intensity cardio, or have a crappy diet, pre-workout likely isn't a good option for you.
Ready for to upgrade your workouts?