Should You Use A Pre-Workout Supplement?
In addition to Whey Protein, pre-workout supplements have been the rage the last decade.
People who take pre-workout supplements or PWO report immediate strength gains, increased muscle size and greater endurance.
Ignore the advertisements in the magazines and talk to people in your gym who have taken PWO.
Many if not all will tell you it’s not a question of whether it works but which brand works best.
PWOs are designed to give you more energy and greater focus in the gym.
The standard ingredients of a PWO include:
Caffeine – To increase focus and speed up metabolism
Beta Alanine– Combines with Histidine to produce Carnosine, an amino acid that produces high energy output
Betaine – Substance that some studies show can sustain peak power levels
If you plan on taking a PWO, be mindful that there are pros and cons to taking this supplement.
Pros of Taking PWO’s:
1. More Energy And Greater Focus
PWOs give you a tremendous energy boost when you are feeling tired.
This is because many contain large doses of caffeine which also improves your level of focus.
Some brands carry as much as 300 mgs of caffeine which is like drinking 3 cups of coffee in a single scoop.
Having more energy and focus is important because you can better concentrate on your form, technique and get a better feel of the weight.
2. Stronger Muscular Contractions
When your muscle fibres can fire quickly, it will enable you to accommodate greater weight or squeeze out an extra rep or two.
Beta Alanine increases blood flow which helps your muscles recruit more fibres to lift more weight or perform more repetitions.
There are some brands that include types of Creatine which provides your muscles immediate energy reserves.
3. Faster Metabolism
A common symptom of taking PWO is increased heart rate. Again this is due to the high concentration of caffeine.
An increased heart rate raises your metabolic rate which improves fat burning.
When you take a PWO, you will feel your heart rate increase almost immediately.
Cons Of Taking PWO’s:
1. Crash And Burn
When your energy levels exceed normal levels, expect them to come down lower than before you took the PWO.
In addition, you will feel greater fatigue because the higher energy level will encourage you to do more work than you would normally do.
Thus, many who take PWOs feel extremely tired within 6-8 hours of taking it.
However, the high caffeine content prevents them from getting quality sleep.
2. Nausea And Vomiting
Increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and an elevated metabolism will force your kidneys to work harder.
This is why people who take PWO report increased frequency of urination.
If you do not replenish your electrolyte levels you could end up dehydrated which often results in incidence of nausea and vomiting.
3. Heart Attacks
There have been news reports of people dying of heart attacks after taking a PWO.
While these have been largely because of irresponsible use such as overdosing, the fact remains that PWO does increase your heart rate and blood pressure. These are 2 key indicators of a potential heart attack.
Before taking a PWO or any supplement for the matter, always get a complete medical checkup and consult with your doctor.
If you have a pre-existing heart condition, taking a PWO should not even be considered.
Conduct research and learn as much as you can about the product and the brands on the market.
Lastly, ask yourself why you need to take the product. What is your purpose for taking it?
Most people take PWOs because they feel they have reached a plateau in training. Some use it to support their pre-competition training program.
PWOs are best used for anaerobic activities. Taking a PWO before an outdoor run can lead to heat stroke.
Ideally, if you have less than 2 years of consistent training under your belt, it would be best to avoid PWOs and get your energy from natural sources such as a cup of brewed coffee or green tea.