You may be asking yourself, “do I need a pre-workout?” Maybe you’ve heard a lot of people talking about them at your gym or yoga class, and you’re wondering what the fuss is about.
Or maybe you’re familiar with pre-workouts, but you’ve got no idea how to go about choosing one?
Whatever pre-workout questions you have, this blog post should help to bring you clarity.
We’ve dug deep to give all the answers about this increasingly popular type of workout supplement.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Exactly what a pre-workout is & the reasons to use one
- Info on pre-workouts, weight loss and ingredients
- How pre-workouts for women differ from generic products
- Potential downsides of pre-workouts
- How to choose the right one for you & FAQ’s
What is a pre-workout?
In short, it’s a supplement designed to help you workout harder, for longer.
A pre-workout is a powder, drink, capsule, or bar that you take around half an hour before your exercise session.
They are formulated to enhance performance by using ingredients that provide a boost to your stamina, power, and motivation.
A good pre-workout will do the following:
- Top up your energy levels to help you to burn more fat during your workouts.
- Improve your performance by increasing alertness and endurance.
- Increase your cardiovascular performance.
- Improve focus and motivation.
There are a few reasons you may decide to take a pre-workout. In the next section we cover a few.
Why use a pre-workout?
Stamina, power, and motivation. They’re the three words we used earlier.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into each one.
As specially designed performance aids, pre-workouts are designed especially to maximise your workout gains.
By boosting your stamina, you’ll be able to squeeze an extra few reps, or an extra hundred metres out of your session. This may not feel like much, but it all ads up to more calories burned.
By boosting your power, you’ll be able to work out harder. You’ll start sweating that little bit sooner during your workout, and you’ll have the energy to keep that new momentum going.
By boosting your motivation, a pre-workout helps you push through the doubts and the difficult moments, so you can focus on the goals at hand. No more telling yourself to stop!
This motivation and concentration are especially useful if your daily schedule means you have to work out early in the morning or late at night. Increased drive makes it easier to establish a regular and effective exercise routine.
Don’t forget to keep hydrated, get a good night’s sleep, and maintain a healthy diet as well: these things will help you to feel fresher and better prepared for your session.
“What about losing weight?” you may be wondering… A later section will answer the question of whether a pre-workout can work with weight loss.
Here it is: pre-workout ingredients explained.
Every product will have a different formula, but there are a few key approaches that pre-workout ingredients will take. In general they are:
- Boosting energy: self-explanatory, this gives you more energy to workout than you’d otherwise have.
- Preventing fatigue (also called buffering): this helps you to improve your stamina and last longer.
- Rebuilding muscle: while the ingredients themselves don’t technically do this, building muscle is a side-effect of working out harder and longer.
- Less soreness: some ingredients change how protein is metabolised in your body, reducing the soreness you feel in muscles after working out.
- Increasing power, via nitric oxide production: by boosting blood flow to your muscles, nitric oxide helps you perform heavier reps and more sets during your training session.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the ingredients in the Powher Pre-Workout for Women, to give an idea of what a high quality, effective pre-workout looks like.
Natural caffeine is known to boost focus and improve concentration: two things vital for helping you to work out for longer. Scientific studies have found that caffeine can increase workout output by improving vigilance, and the ability to exert sustained attention. Measures of physical output – like time-to-exhaustion – also seem to improve after ingestion.
EnXtra is a caffeine amplifier, meaning it enhances the effects of natural caffeine without causing any of the negative side effects. You get to enjoy higher alertness and focus with no increased blood pressure, no increased heart rate, and no caffeine crash. This has been achieved by the skillful cultivation of galanga (a plant in the ginger family) over three generations, and by ongoing research in the Envate Biolife lab to harness its effects.
Vitamin B5 also known as pantothenic acid – is linked with supporting and maintaining high energy levels in athletes. It is instrumental in forming coenzyme-A, which itself is vital in turning proteins, carbs, and fats in your body into usable energy. B5 paves the way for enhanced energy levels and better performance.
Vitamin B6 is used by the body for energy release, memory, movement, and blood circulation. Scientific studies have found that supplementing B6 is linked with better physical training, and also that B6 is linked with the production of serotonin and norepinephrine: chemicals used by your body to regulate mood and burn fat, respectively.
Vitamin B12 helps to enhance physical performance in several ways. It is involved in forming and repairing blood cells, meaning better transfer of oxygen through your bloodstream. It is also linked with boosted energy levels, better mood, and effective metabolism.
Coconut water powder is the water that comes out of a coconut, freeze-dried, then turned into a powdered form. It is packed with electrolytes, making it a great natural alternative to post-exercise sports drinks. It also contains potassium, which plays a role in supporting normal muscular and neurological function; calcium to keep your energy-yielding metabolism ticking over normally; and magnesium to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Oxyjun is an extract of the bark of a Terminala arjuna tree. It is stimulant free, and has been used traditionally for centuries because of its properties and ability to help imrpove cardio endurance. In modern terms, it is linked with increased VO2 max and lower resting blood pressure: both of which lay the groundwork for a more intense workout.
Rednite is a concentrated powder of fresh beetroot, and a fantastic source of natural nitrate. In fact, concentrating beetroot increases the nitrate ratio by 25 times! Studies have linked Rednite to enhanced resistance to fatigue, and improved neuromuscular efficiency of force production – this means you can work out longer and harder before feeling tired.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid involved in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine. In simple English, this means better mood during acute stress conditions – like exercise! L-Tyrosine will help you maintain cognitive function during training, and feel more ready to invest in the physical and mental effort.
Our full ingredients list can be found here.
If you have a restricted diet and find some of the options a bit limiting, try reading veganliftz’s blog. Specifically, their best vegan bodybuilders supplements guide and their best Vegan Pre-Workout supplement review are good to skim through.
Does a pre-workout help you to lose weight?
For many people, the goal of exercise is to get fit and to lose weight. We hear a lot of people asking whether pre-workouts will help with weight loss.
The answer is: sort of.
The heart of weight loss is burning more calories than you consume, and exercise is a reliable way to increase the amount you work off. Logic follows that the more you workout – and the harder – the more calories you’ll be able to burn.
Here’s where pre-workouts come in:
A pre-workout is designed to enhance the duration and power of your workout.
This means that taking one by itself won’t cause weight loss. And it isn’t intended to, either: there is no magic pill for weight loss. However, the natural stimulant content should help to raise your core temperature and boost your metabolism.
Consequently, a pre-workout enables you to get more from your workout: to burn more calories and, by extension, to boost your weight loss goals.
Many women visit the gym frequently but don’t see the weight loss they expect.
And here’s the hard truth…
It’s simply because they aren’t working out hard enough.
They aren’t building a big enough caloric deficit, and the body won’t lose weight as a result.
By using a pre-workout, this can change.
What is the best pre-workout for weight loss?
To answer this, we need to know what defines the best. Here are our thoughts:
- Ingredients that work. Too many pre-workouts rely on fad ingredients, or ingredients with no scientific backing.
- All natural ingredients. There are plenty of effective ingredients that occur naturally. Synthetic chemicals aren’t needed.
- Energizing compounds. Works to boost stamina, power, and motivation. As we covered before: these are the three things required to maximise your workout.
- Simple to use, and have no negative side effects. You should be able to take your pre-workout with complete peace of mind.
- No bad taste! It should taste good, too.
Powher was built from the ground up to embody all of these factors. We are proud of the formula, and of the effort that went into creating it. Each ingredient is underpinned with scientific literature on human participants, and their effects are well documented.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide if that us the best…
What’s different about a pre-workout for women?
Tons of pre-workouts are designed with male bodybuilders in mind. The end game for these guys is big, rippling muscles.
So choosing a pre-workout for women is a slightly different ball game to choosing one for men.
The basic difference between the two is that the majority of women don’t want a pre-workout that makes them super muscular.
A pre-workout for women will be specially formulated to meet the specific physiological demands of their body. It will contain fewer muscle-bulking ingredients like creatine, and lower levels of stimulants.
Some of the decisions we’ve made with the Powher formula demonstrate the difference between pre-workouts for men and women:
- Lower stimulant levels. Get the stimulant kick, but at levels that align with the female body.
- Vitamins and minerals tailored to your physiology, rather than generic ones.
- ‘Stim-free’ ingredients. Beyond caffeine, there’s nothing in here that will stimulate you. The result? No massive energy spike.
Downsides: How to avoid a harmful pre-workout
You may be wondering, “is a pre-workout good or bad for my health?”
It would be wrong for us to sugar-coat things, especially as a company who make and sell pre-workout supplements. So here’s some information about the potential downsides of this type of product.
Some pre-workouts are just straight-up ineffective. They contain doses so small that ingredients can’t work properly, or even ingredients that don’t do anything at all.
Worse, some products contain ingredients that can be harmful. For example, back in the 1980s one pre-workout was linked to heart attacks due to the large amounts of ephedra it used (thankfully this ingredient is now banned!).
Nowadays there is much less risk of things like this happening, thanks to a more informed customer base and much higher amounts of publicly accessible research into ingredients and their effects.
We’ve formulated Powher to only include ingredients that are safe, individually and in combination. It’s our belief that this is the right thing to do, and it means people who take our product get the very best results.
Other supplement manufacturers may not feel the same. While we can’t speak for every product on the market, we have a couple of recommendations on how to choose something safe:
- Look for products with consistently good reviews
- Spend some time researching ingredients to check that they are safe, and do what the manufacturer claims. Organisations like the Office of Dietary Supplements are great for this
And to avoid potential downsides of any supplement, make sure you stick to the recommended doses, and follow the instructions on how to take it.
Choosing a pre-workout
If after reading this far you like the sound of a pre-workout, you’re probably wondering how to choose one when there are so many available.
The first step is to think about your goals: what are you trying to achieve?
Then think about your ability and your dietary preferences. With a good understanding of these three factors you’ll be equipped to head out into the marketplace and find something suitable.
Know exactly what you’re taking. Avoid supplements with ‘proprietary blends’, as these are a way to hide ingredients.
By including blends on a list, a manufacturer doesn’t need to give full names and quantities of the ingredients it contains.
How a pre-workout can help with your goals
Are you looking to get toned? To build muscle? To lose weight?
While Powher is designed with females in mind, it’s not unlikely that some men will be reading this blog. So we don’t want to assume that everyone’s goals are the same.
If you’re looking to build muscle, you’ll want to keep an eye out for ingredients like creatine which are linked with development of muscle mass. Also for things like BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) which are known for muscle-building effects.
If losing weight is your primary goal, ingredients to boost motivation and increase the intensity of your workout will be your best bet. You’ll want to avoid anything designed to bulk up your muscles.
Choosing the right pre-workout for you
The right supplement for you will depend on your goals – outlined above – and your preferences.
Do you have any dietary requirements, for example? And what are your caffeine thresholds like?
If you like a stimulant hit before you workout, then a pre-workout containing caffeine – or some other stimulant – may be a good answer.
Just remember not to take it too late in the day! If you’re a late night exercise fan, the caffeine may make it difficult for you to get to sleep.
Also remember that you may feel a bit jittery if you’re not used to the levels of caffeine found in a pre-workout. Your heart may beat faster than you’re used to.
While these may feel uncomfortable and unnerving at first, they’re harmless. And your body will get used to them.
If you’re looking to broaden your knowledge Fitterliving.com offers detailed information on the best pre workouts depending on your specific needs.
Other pre-workout questions
Here are a few other questions you may have about pre-workouts, that didn’t fit into the previous sections.
How long should you take a pre-workout before exercise?
This will vary between products, but it’s usually about thirty minutes. We recommend taking Powher half an hour in advance of working out, just so it has time to circulate through your system.
How do you take pre-workouts?
Again, this depends on the product. Powher is a powder that you mix into water to make a tasty drink. Other pre-workouts are bars, or even capsules that you swallow before working out.
Are pre-workouts safe?
We’ve covered this briefly above, but if you’re still unsure then we recommend talking to your doctor, or to another qualified health professional to put your mind at rest.
Can you take a pre-workout while pregnant?
This depends on the ingredients, and the type of exercise you’ll be doing. If there are exercises that aren’t advised for pregnant women, then a pre-workout won’t change that. Similarly, your recommended daily intakes for certain ingredients may change during pregnancy.
We wouldn’t advise taking Powher while pregnant because of the stimulants it contains.
Hopefully that’s all your pre-workout questions answered! We’ve covered everything from what they do, to whether they’re safe, to how to choose the right one for you.
If you’re looking for better results from your workouts, then a supplement could be just the thing for you. If weight loss is on your goals list, then you need to keep in mind that a pre-workout will not cause weight loss: rather it will pave the way for you to work out in such a way that your caloric deficit increases, meaning your body will burn more calories.
Get in touch if you have any more questions – we’re always happy to answer.