How to get the most out of a pre-workout supplement

The doldrums of February have arrived! Like many people who made a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape and/or lose weight, you’ve probably hit a wall by now and maybe have even given up on reaching your goals.

If you regularly frequent any local gym, you probably hate January 1 because tons of newbies join up with the best intentions of starting a new lifestyle. As each week goes on, less and less people show up. And finally, right around this time of year, most of those new memberships get flushed down the toilet and the gym lifers get their peaceful weightroom back.

For those of you who did stick with it and are hitting that wall, or maybe you gave up already and are looking for motivation to get back into it, preworkout powders can provide you with the extra energy you need to push through those cruel workouts. Aside from an energy boost, caffeine also helps you stay focused and fights off fatigue. One word of caution however, most preworkout formulas contain tons of caffeine, so make sure you’re healthy enough to take them and check with your doctor before starting any new substance.

Preworkout formulas are typically stimulant-based powders that generally contain tons of caffeine as the key ingredient. Most of them last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours and they should usually be taken about 15-30 minutes before your workout. Check the instructions, because those numbers do fluctuate a bit, so you want to be sure you’re consuming it at the optimal time. However, that time does change if you had a meal before your workout. You don’t have to have food in your stomach when consuming a pre-workout formula. But, it will take longer to feel the effects of the energy boost if you recently ate, so be sure to factor that in. And remember, you’re ingesting a ton of caffeine, so don’t be surprised if it makes you jittery.

Quality pre-workouts should have compounds that boost blood flow to muscles as well as giving you energy. There are stimulant-free preworkouts on the market, but most only open up the blood flow, which is important, but probably won’t give you the same energy boost.

For a pre-workout formula to be optimal, it should contain the following the ingredients, aside from caffeine: Beta-Alanine, Creatine and Nitrates. The Beta-Alanine helps to minimize soreness and gives you a little more push by turning into carnosine when it’s digested. That carnosine is released to slow the formation of that lactic acid so you can continue to push through your workout. Nitrates are usually found in beet juice and greens and are converted by your body into nitric oxide when you’re pushing your muscles. That nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels so you can increase the intensity of your workout.

Finally, Creatine is essential to a good pre-workout formula. When you push your muscles hard, your body uses up essential ATPs, which is the source of energy that keeps your body functioning. The more you work your muscles, the more ATP is used up and needs to be replaced in order to keep those muscles working efficiently. .

Because most preworkouts are loaded with stimulants, it’s not a good idea to take them with other stimulant-based supplements, such as fat-burners. Again, it’s important to read up on what you’re ingesting first before combining it with anything else. Bodybuilders have all kinds of stacks they use to maximize their workouts. So while you might see them ingesting several different products during a workout, odds are they are well versed in the reactions and chemistry of what they’re taking. So don’t think that because they do it, you can do it as well.

Here are some of the best preworkout formulas on the market today:

Shatter SX7 Black Onyx: Combines some unique ingredients with strong results and 200mg of caffeine. Currently buy one, get one free (BOGO) while it lasts.

GAT Nitraflex: Nitraflex breaks the mold on preworkout formulas. First, there is no creatine in order to prevent bloat and supply more pump. But, Nitraflex also utilizes calcium fructopyranose boratethat to boost testosterone and this matrix also contains Yohimbe, DMAE, Theanine, N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine and a whopping 325mg of caffeine.

Cellucor C4 Extreme: Cellucor has developed a loyal fanbase due to their consistent results. C4 Extreme has 300mg of caffeine, along with key ingredients like Carnosyn beta-alanine, creatine nitrate and arginine AKG.

Kaged Pre-Kaged: One of the best, well-rounded, most consistent preworkouts on the market, Pre-Kaged contains 274mg of caffeine, along with a long list of clinically researched ingredients that make this dynamic preworkout one of the top rated choices. Pre-Kaged also has beta alanine, citrulline, betaine, and creatine, to name a few.

Fit Miss Ignite: This preworkout is designed for women and contains 100mg of caffeine but it’s also a strong appetite suppressant. Ignite also contains beta alanine, choline bitartrate, tyrosine, glycine, taurine, carnitine, betaine anhydrous, hawthorn berry, agmatine sulfate, and huperzine A.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard: From one of the most trusted names in sports nutrition, Gold Standard contains vitamin D to support testosterone, along with several other essential vitamins and a large dose of creatine along with 175mg of caffeine.

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