Today we look at a relatively new phenomenon in the fitness industry, pre-workout. An argument could be made that pre-workout was popularized in the mid 1980’s and has significantly grown in popularity, variety in gimmicks, flavours, and reasons why they are the “miracle supplement”.
Pre-workout is designed to be a flavoured drink that will provide you caffeine to increase alertness and give you energy to fuel your workout, similar to how people drink coffee in the mornings to wake them up and increase alertness. Prior to the emergence of pre-workout, it was common practice to consume coffee prior to a workout as a natural source of caffeine; however, the problem arises with the polarizing taste of coffee and having to consume a hot drink on a potentially hot day.
The common benefits to pre-workout are that it provides a heightened amount of caffeine in comparison to coffee or other drinks, commonly comes with creatine in it, and adds flavour to a drink for individuals who do not appreciate the taste of water. Although there are debatable benefits, it must be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, these drinks will give you a heightened alertness because of the caffeine content; but, these drinks are pumped full of chemicals that are floating around an unregulated supplement industry. Creatine can be a beneficial supplement depending on your goals: it will benefit you if you are trying to do higher volumes of lifting, but it comes with additional water retention in and around cells, causing weight gain.
“Don’t ask me what pre-workout you should take, ask me what about your eating and sleeping habits are making you feel that you need it.” Highly touted S&C coach in the industry Eric Cressey. My opinion on pre-workout is that if you feel like you need it, you have other elements of your life that are causing you to need it. But that being said, if you feel you need that boost in alertness, my recommendation would be to use a caffeine pill. A caffeine pill will allow you to get the alertness you want without the chemicals and risks of an unregulated supplement market.