We all have those days in the gym where we feel like we could move a mountain. Those sessions where your motivation and focus is 100% and you’re hitting new personal records on all of your lifts.
Unfortunately for most of us, those days are few and far between. That’s where pre-workout supplements come into play.
For many of us, myself included, a good pre-workout supplement can be the difference between an amazing, muscle building session, and a disappointing, time wasting session.
What are pre-workout supplements?
A pre-workout supplement contains several ingredients designed to stimulate the body and provide a surge of energy. This can be useful for individuals who want to train hard but struggle to find the motivation and energy to do so, particularly when training large muscle groups such as legs or back where heavy compound movements make up the bulk of our workout.
Let’s take a look at two of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements.
This is the most common ingredient found in pre-workout supplements, and in very high doses gives an intense feeling of focus, a boost to energy levels and increased endurance. It is not uncommon for levels of caffeine in one serving of a pre-workout supplement to exceed that of 4 cups of coffee.
Common side effects of high caffeine include itchiness, increased heart rate, and sweating. So make sure you start on a lower dose and gradually increase the dose, until you find the amount required to improve your own performance. However, consuming over 500mg of caffeine per day be dangerous to certain individuals so always be safe when using this ingredient.
Beta alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid, which elicits a response similar to caffeine. One of the main reasons beta alanine is such a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements is its ability to decrease muscle fatigue during workouts – essential for those who are always chasing that last rep.
Some side effects of beta alanine can include a ‘pins and needles’ feeling over the body, a rise in body temperature and a general itchy feeling, particularly on the scalp or ears.
Choice of pre-workout supplements
Since the banning of DMAA – the key ingredient in Jack3d – many manufacturers have taken the opportunity to promote their own range of pre-workout supplements. As a result, there are currently some excellent choices on the market.
Matrix Rage 2.0
Matrix Rage 2.0 contains 225mg of caffeine and 900mg of beta alanine per serving. Rage 2.0 also contains ingredients such as AKG, Taurine, Cutrulline Malate and Niaicin which combine to deliver a precise blend of stimulant based ingredients.
Taken 15 minutes before your gym session, you can expect to see a sharp increase in energy, increased motivation to hit those personal bests and extra endurance to push your workouts further.
After the banning of DMAA, the formula of the popular Hemo Rage pre-workout was changed, although many individuals still give positive reviews and respond well. One serving contains 300mg of caffeine, and high levels of creatine and taurine. Although often reported as not giving an extremely strong ‘buzz’, the high levels of taurine provide an increase in blood flow to the muscles, giving a bigger pump and increased strength.
As with most other pre-workouts, take it 15 minutes before exercise for best results.
The Bottom Line
Although the age of ultra high strength pre-workouts seems to be over, there are some excellent alternatives out there on the market. After the ban of DMAA, manufacturers have had to come up with ingenious new mixes, fortunately many consumers still consistently report massive increases in physical capabilities.
Whilst negative issues with pre-workout supplements are rare, it is advisable to start on a lower dose, and increase your intake gradually.