Training will only get you so far. You might have heard this being said by individuals at your gym before. If you really want to achieve peak physical condition then your diet is just as important (if not more so) as your workout regime.
This might be a strange concept to some, and I know of individuals who use their time in the gym to burn off excess calories so that they can eat the things they want and drink at the weekends. This is all well and good, but if you want to get the most out of your training and take your physique to the next level, then it all starts with what you put in your body.
One type of supplement many men now consider, with regard to their overall diet and supplementation program, are those that fall under the category of pre-workout. Pre-workout supplements on their own are a multi-million pound industry and can be considered one of the most popular and sort after supplements:
“Up to 70% of adolescents and young adults have reported using at least one nutritional supplement and high energy drinks are among the most popular.”
(Alves and Lima, 2009)
So what makes them so appealing? Intense resistance training sessions are both physically and mentally draining on the individual. If you consider that many individuals train frequently throughout the week, with some even undertaking double sessions, your body and mind can require additional assistance to get through the planned workout.
However, pre-workout drinks aren’t just limited to strength athletes. Both aerobic and anaerobically trained athletes have been known to utilise pre-workout supplements because of their potential to enhance performance whilst at the same time being a legal aid (Sokmen et al, 2008).
Key Ingredient: Caffeine
Although pre-workout drink ingredients differ between health and fitness supplement brands, each adding or removing certain ingredients and backed up with scientific research to support their claims, one ingredient that regularly features is that of caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to exert positive effects for both endurance and strength related activity, making it a popular ingredient within the pre-workout supplements market.
Previous research by Astorino and Roberson (2010) demonstrated that caffeine was responsible for delaying fatigue during endurance activity. Kalmar (2005) also suggested that caffeine was responsible for enhancing strength and power during their respective research investigation.
It should be noted that although caffeine can be considered a key ingredient in pre-workout supplements, it is often only one of many ingredients added to bring about enhancements in performance. Further ingredients will be considered shortly.
Research Into The Benefits Of Pre-Workout Supplements
Gonzalez et al (2011) undertook a thorough research investigation into the effect of a pre-workout energy supplement on acute multi joint resistance exercise. Their investigation utilised 8 resistance trained men, who were required to undertake two testing sessions. One session was performed 10 minutes after consuming a pre-workout supplement and the other was performed 10 minutes after consuming a placebo. These trials were randomised, with the individuals taking part not knowing what they had ingested during each trial.
The individuals taking part were asked not to supplement with any other products during the testing period and had not taken any supplements 6 weeks prior to these testing dates. This ensured there were no traces of any other unaccounted for supplements in their bodies.
Individuals could opt to undertake a barbell squat or bench press exercise during the testing period. This choice was dependant on exercise familiarity. On each occasion, they were required to perform 4 sets of no more than 10 repetitions at a resistance of 80% of their 1 repetition maximum (RM). 90 seconds rest was provided between each set. Results were monitored in the format of performance data and subsequent questionnaires.
The pre-workout supplement utilised within this investigation was a product called Amino Impact. This included the following ingredients: Caffeine, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Creatine and ß-Alanine. It also included the amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Glutamine and Arginine.
Results from the investigation revealed the following:
- The total number of repetitions achieved for the given exercise was significantly greater during the testing following supplementation than that of the testing following the placebo.
- Power output readings recorded for the given exercise were significantly greater during the testing following supplementation than that of the testing following the placebo.
- There were no significant differences following supplementation and placebo regarding feelings of focus, fatigue and energy levels.
These results echoed the findings of previous studies, which suggested that pre-workout supplements had the ability to enhance exercise volume during resistance workouts (Ratamass et al, 2007).
So what does this mean to you? This investigation considered the effectiveness of a pre-workout supplement on repetitions achieved during 4 sets, power output readings and the psychological feelings of focus, fatigue and energy.
Results indicate that through consuming a pre-workout supplement prior to resistance training you are able to enhance both the number of repetitions before fatigue and overall power. These are two desirable attributes which are often sought after for weightlifting success.
There were no noticeable differences between the feelings of focus, fatigue and energy. However, the fact that a greater workload was achieved through the consumption of a pre-workout supplement somewhat negates this finding.
If you’re looking to enhance your weightlifting ability, then pre-workout supplements could be just the thing that’s missing from your training. With increments in repetitions and power, these enhanced attributes will allow you to burst through your previous plateaus and achieve more in each of your given workouts.
It should also be reiterated that although this article and the research investigation focused on pre-workout supplements and their effectiveness during resistance training, these products may also have to ability to bring about enhancements within endurance athletes (Astorino and Roberson, 2010).
Recommended Pre-Workout Supplements
If you’re looking to take your training to the next level and further enhance your sporting performance with pre-workout supplements, then why not check out the FashionBeans recommended pre-workout supplements below. Each of these has been used by a member of the FashionBeans team at some point during their training programs: