Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Beth Skwarecki
Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in the gym or you’re a seasoned veteran who has been lifting weights for years, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen pre-workout powders being recommended as a must-have supplement for those who want to get lean and build muscle.
Now, even though pre-workout typically doesn’t aid recovery or the muscle-building process, it remains a terrific supplement to have for those days when you’re just feeling off and not with the right energy and mindset for a tough workout. The main idea behind the pre-workout supplement is to help you optimize each training session and allow you to perform at your best level, even when you’re not feeling like it
In this article, we’re going to talk about pre-workout supplements and what you should consider before you buy one for yourself.
How to Choose the Right Pre-Workout For You
Choosing which pre-workout to get is not easy, considering how oversaturated the market is and how many options are available to you at any given moment. However, to narrow down your choice, there are several factors you need to consider – from the list of ingredients to the taste and, of course, your ultimate fitness goal.
#1. Your End Goal
It’s highly likely that not all your workouts are exactly the same – sometimes, you will want to build endurance or get some light cardio in, while there are also times when you want to achieve your one-rep max goal at a particular lift. Depending on the type of training session you’re planning, you need to choose a pre-workout accordingly – for light cardio and even highly intense cardio sessions; you will likely want to avoid supplements with too high of a caffeine content as they can make your heart race even more.
However, if you want to go for a one-rep max and you need all of that pent-up energy unleashed, you should consider a pre-workout that does have enough caffeine in it. In addition to that, if you’re cutting or simply want to lose a bit of fat, it’s a good idea to avoid pre-workout powders that have added sugar or too many carbs, as they can impact your weight loss journey negatively.
#2. The Impact on Your Diet
In order to improve the taste, many pre-workouts have tons of added sugar that makes them feel like your childhood lemonade. That’s fine if you’re not worried about your carb intake or if you want to increase it, but you have to keep in mind that the extra calories can add up quickly.
That’s especially relevant if you’re trying to lose weight or fat and you’re counting calories and being mindful of your macros. In such scenarios, it’s best to do your research and choose a pre-workout supplement with little to no added sugar and without the extra calories.
#3. Transparent Ingredient List
One of the marks of a good supplement is the transparent ingredients list, which allows you to go back and research every single component and the potential benefits that it brings.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers prefer not to reveal all of the ingredients they use and instead say that their supplement contains a mix of “proprietary blends” without listing what is in it. This is not only a bad practice, but it can also be potentially damaging to your health. It could even put you at risk of consuming banned substances (vital if you’re participating in any competitive sport).
That’s why, when choosing a pre-workout supplement, make sure that the top ingredients are listed and third-party tested, which will ensure that the quality of the product is intact.
#4. Avoid Some Components
Last but not least, you need to make sure you’re not choosing a pre-workout supplement that potentially has any harmful or unknown components. Stay away from labels that say “proprietary” blends and that use too many complicated chemical substances that you’ve never heard of before – if you can’t trace back a reason why they should be in that supplement, just stay away from that powder altogether.
Additionally, if you have any history of heart concerns, it’s a good idea to check using pre-workout with your doctor as they will be able to tell you whether it’s best you avoid it altogether or simply choose a supplement with lower caffeine content.
The market nowadays is oversaturated with fitness supplements, and every brand claims to have found the best formula and the best taste. Don’t let yourself become a victim of false advertising, and research the pre-workouts you’re considering before making the final purchase – that way; you will know with certainty whether the product you have chosen is good for your health and can help you reach your fitness goals, or it’s simply a waste of money that doesn’t deserve your consideration.
Beth is Cloudmineinc’s senior health editor and a certified personal trainer. She has over 10 years experience as a science journalist and is the author of two books. She deadlifts over 315 lbs.