I’m sure you’ve all heard of pre-workouts and thermogenics…and some of you probably use them or have in the past. I know I have.
So what’s the deal with them?
In short, a pre-workout supplement is usually one that uses caffeine to give you energy and a “pump” before your workout. Some also include BCAAs and other compounds. This article highlights the different types of pre-workout supplements that exist.
Thermogenics are another name for pre-workout supplements which include a fat burner or are intended to burn extra calories. An example of this is when I used to take GNC GenetixHD Pro-Sculpt. It certainly did give me a boost in energy!
But pre-workout supplements have been controversial. Should you or should you not use them? I don’t think there is a right answer. But as always with my “Thinking Out Loud” posts, I will explore both sides.
The most obvious benefit is that it gives you a boost of energy. Pre-workouts usually have a bit more caffeine than just a cup of coffee. Therefore, when you’re driving to the gym after a long day at work, a pre-workout will give you the energy you need to nail your workout. Here are a list of benefits from the website listed above:
- Greater pumps
- Stronger lifts
- Greater amount of repetitions performed
- Longer sustained energy
- The ability to push through plateaus
- Improved focus
- Increased nutrient delivery
- Decreased muscle breakdown
I’ve had friends who use pre-workout drinks tell me they definitely feel the difference in terms of pushing through reps/being able to do more reps. Honestly, I never felt much of a huge difference, but a key thing to remember about pre-workouts is that they work differently for everyone.
In a scientific study where participants took a pre-workout supplement, and then were asked to do 4 sets of 10 reps at 80% resistance, these were the results found:
- The total number of repetitions achieved for the given exercise was significantly greater during the testing following supplementation than that of the testing following the placebo.
- Power output readings recorded for the given exercise were significantly greater during the testing following supplementation than that of the testing following the placebo.
- There were no significant differences following supplementation and placebo regarding feelings of focus, fatigue and energy levels.
Hmmm…very interesting! So it seems there is a big difference with the actual supplement and placebo.
So what are the disadvantages?
The main disadvantage for me was that it was too much caffeine. Sure, I felt ramped up during my working…but then continued to feel so afterwards. My mom tried a scoop of my Pro-Sculpt once and couldn’t sleep at night. This is just something to think about if you’re sensitive to caffeine! Here are a few other possible disadvantages:
- Could be dangerous if you have a heart issue you’re not aware of.
- The FDA does not issue warnings unless there are a lot of complaints on these supplements, which means eventually it could be recalled, and you’ve been taking it for an extended period of time. In fact, according to this article, 70% of supplement companies violate agency rules. Yikes.
- Some can contain sketchy ingredients. The FDA found anabolic steroids in one company’s Vitamin B supplements!
- Possible to plateau. So, they work initially, but eventually your body will get used to the effects. Similar to coffee.
“So what should I do?”
Do your homework. If you want to try a pre-workout or thermogenic, research the product and the ingredient list. Read lots of reviews. I actually liked the Pro Sculpt and it did give me energy, but I was kind of nervous to take it when I was already going to be running and increasing my heart rate even more.
Now, I usually have a cup of coffee an hour before a workout or run. My brother and I both tried EnergyBits, which is an all-natural supplement, and we both loved it. He actually hit a few weightlifting personal records after taking EnergyBits!
If you can, consult your doctor and ask him about different products. If you have a trainer, talk to them about their thoughts. I asked 3 different trainers their thoughts and surprisingly all 3 told me to stay away from supplements. Regardless, I still tried it out because I was curious
If you do decide to try a pre-workout, start with a small scoop or serving size at first to see how your body reacts. Some people can take 1/2 the serving size and feel ready to go. Make sure it doesn’t affect your sleeping patterns, since sleep is the most important factor when it comes to making gains!
I’m neutral on the whole issue since I have only tried one supplement out of the many there are. I just choose to go with coffee or EnergyBits now!
Do you take a pre-workout or thermogenic supplement? Which one?
What do you think about pre-workouts?
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