Pre-workout, or pre-workout supplement, is a bodybuilding supplement. It contains ingredients that are intended to give a sudden boost of energy. These supplements are over the counter and are used by mainly athletes to help aid in performance and recovery. Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients such as, beta alanine, creatine, amino acids, and L- Citrulline, that aid in muscle recovery after a strenuous workout. This boost is mainly supplied by caffeine. Pre-workout can be beneficial for performing strenuous exercises. Many supplement brands advertise products containing ingredients that are not proven safe or have a scientifically proven benefit. Some of the supplements being advertised can have little to no benefits and can cause unwanted side effects.
Prior to commercial pre-workout supplements, bodybuilders from the 1960s to the early 1980s would drink a cup of coffee before a workout. The first pre-workout, called Ultimate Orange, was created in Venice, California in 1982. It was formulated by Dan Duchaine, and quickly became popular among bodybuilders. Shortly after Ultimate Orange emerged, lawsuits against Ultimate Orange began to increase. Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ultimate Orange was believed to be the cause of many heart attacks because of its active ingredient, ephedra.
Supplement companies began to create more powerful forms of pre-workout. Arginine AKG, Arginine Malate, and Citrulline were added to pre-workouts. These ingredients cause the blood vessels to enlarge temporarily, giving lifters a better “pump.” In 2005, chemist Patrick Arnold formulated the next major pre-workout called, Jack3d. Jack3d had a new ingredient in it called DMAA (dimethylamylamine), which had been previously banned and unbanned in America. Jack3d quickly gained notoriety and DMAA was becoming an important ingredient. However, Jack3d was banned in 2012 because of DMAA. The active ingredient caused some people to experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and elevated risk of heart attacks.
There are different forms of taking this supplement. It can be consumed by tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, and bars.
- Caffeine is the most common type of ingredient/supplement. It has a neural effect that goes to the central nervous system and activates beta-endorphins and hormones that increase alertness, mental concentration, and energy. Caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, and arrhythmia's.
- Methylhexanamine, otherwise known as DMAA, is an amphetamine derivative and vasoconstricotor that is marketed as an alternative or supplement to caffeine, claiming to improve energy, mental concentration, and perception, and to decrease tiredness. The FDA has warned that DMAA "is known to narrow the blood vessels and arteries, which can elevate blood pressure and may lead to cardiovascular events ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack". Numerous adverse events and at least five deaths have been reported in association with methylhexanamine-containing dietary supplements. DMAA may also cause a false positive result for amphetamines on some drug tests.
- Creatine is a natural chemical that is produced in the kidney and liver and stored in the skeletal muscle cells. Creatine is an energy source that can act alone as a supplement and draws water to muscle cells creating muscle hypertrophy. The creation of muscle trophy is because when it is stored in the muscle cells it is phosphorylated and produces phosphocreatine(PCr). There are four forms of creatine: Creatine mono-hydrate, creatine phosphate, creatine citrane, and creatine esters.
- Beta-Alanine is produced from the liver and enhances the ability to buffer protons and slows down fatigue when muscles are in severe contractions. When exercising it increases performance, power out put, and aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
- Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, and can also be used as a supplement taken alone. It is similar to creatine in helping muscle hypertrophy that increases strength, endurance, reduced muscle damage, and helps with a faster recovery.
|Ingredient||How Much Per Day|
|Caffeine||200 mg (equal to 2 cups of coffee)|
|BCAA||10 grams before and 10 grams after workout|
Purported Benefits of Pre-workout
- Improves time to failure and work capacity by giving intense amounts of energy(ATP).
- Draws fluid to muscles making muscles have a greater appearance.
- Boosts adrenaline which helps breakdown fat cells faster.
- Enhances physical performance.
- Enhances the blood flow and helps muscles have a speedy recovery and the time to failure during exercising.
- Boost power allowing a longer and harder workout.
- Improves focus, mood, and attention.
- Promotes lipid oxidation which is when uses energy to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.
- Protects muscle loss when fasted training.
- Over-stimulation and jitteriness
- Increased heart rate
- Cardiovascular system strain
- Acute liver toxicity
- Temporary skin irritation such as niacin flush
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Deaths have been reported due to ingredients found in some pre-workout products, such as DMAA or ephedra.
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration recommends speaking with a health care professional before using any type of dietary supplements. Some ingredients found in pre-workout products may have negative side effects or contraindications with other medication. If there are any health conditions involved, taking these supplements could lead to life threatening results. The supplement does not have to be safe to the FDA's standard when they are marked. The supplement does not require the brand to be accurate as it appears on the product. There are limitations to oversight claims on labeling. Most dietary-supplement groups/brands hire third-party companies to check and identify the content of their specific supplement to make sure it enhances exercise and athletic performance. This gives more assurance that the products ingredients on the label are free of many banned substances and drugs.
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- "Office of Dietary Supplements - Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance". ods.od.nih.gov. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
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