The Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements

25 Jun 2013

There are many different benefits to pre workout formulas with some of the individual ingredients being shown in numerous studies to enhance everything from strength, speed, endurance and even body aesthetics (important for bodybuilders this is just the way the body looks). Here we take a look at some of those benefits and the active ingredients that produce them.

Pre-Workout Supplements for Improved Strength

Whilst strictly speaking creatine can be taken any time of the day and it's just important to have it in your body to enhance your phosphagen system and boost Adenosine Triphosphate stores, many pre workout formulas will have creatine in. Creatine is perhaps the most well researched supplement on the market today and numerous studies have shown it can increase the strength, speed, power and size of your muscles.

Perhaps less well known, but a very commonly used ingredient, is caffeine which according to researchers at Yale University can improve strength endurance and our perception and tolerance to fatigue when training by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter beta-endorphin. This was discovered after elite male and female athletes performed a strength grip test both whilst taking 200 milligrams of caffeine and then without. Subjects all performed better with the 200 milligrams of caffeine proving that strength endurance is actually increased with caffeine supplementation.

Pre-Workout Supplements for Improved Endurance

As well as improving strength there are also other ingredients that are added to pre workout formulas to improve endurance. One supplement that's received a lot of attention in recent years is the non-essential amino acid beta alanine since it's been shown to reduce lactic acid, combat fatigue and, in one study conducted at Katholieke University Leuven in Belgium, 'significantly enhance sprint performance at the end of an exhaustive endurance exercise bout.' It's believed it achieves this by working together within the body with another amino acid called L Histidine to form the dipeptide carnosine which experts theorise can reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, therefore increasing anaerobic capacity. This theory is supported by a report published in the Journal of Japanese physiology where it stated "it has been shown that people whose muscle carnosine was high could exhibit high power during the latter half of the 30 second maximal cycle ergometer sprinting." (Y Suzuki et al 2002.)

What's also amazing is that at Florida Atlantic University the effects of creatine and beta alanine supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds (ultimately endurance performance) were measured for 4 weeks, with some very positive results. R. F. Zoeller et al (2006) concluded 'creatine and beta alanine enhanced endurance performance' indicating this could be a very good combination of supplements for athletes wanting to break training plateaus.

Another supplement also shown to combat fatigue is citrulline malate. A unique combination of the amino acid citrulline and the organic salt malate it's been shown in numerous studies to 'improve athletic performance' (Perez-Guisado, Joaquin, 2010) and reduce the sensation of fatigue through a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative adenosine triphosphate production during exercise and a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production (Benedahan et al., 2002). Put more simply this just means Citrulline Malate is able to increase the body's ability to supply the muscles with oxygen and therefore increase the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate, a molecule that is needed for the muscles to contract and work efficiently.

Pre-Workout Supplements for Improved Muscle Pump

Lastly another benefit of pre workout formulas is to give an almost instant improved appearance to your muscles by increasing their size and vascularity, something known as the 'pump' of your muscles. One pre workout ingredient that's often used is Arginine Alpha-ketoglutarate (also known as AAKG and arginine). A nonessential amino acid that's been shown to increase nitric oxide production in the body which in turn ensures more blood, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles and with it gives them an improved and larger appearance.

Also as well as improving the appearance of the muscles scientists believe it could also amplify the beneficial muscle-building effects of exercising and nutritional supplements. It achieves all this by increasing nitric oxide production in blood vessels and increasing their diameter, which then allows more blood, nutrients and muscle building hormones to circulate around the body, which ultimately creates a more anabolic environment.