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What is Pre-Workout and Should I Take It?

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We’ve all had those days where we’re just not “feeling it” in the gym. It could be due to a poor night’s sleep, a frustrating day at work, or any other number or combination of factors that lead to low energy, motivation, and desire to train.

Having the pre-workout supplements at the ready could be the thing that helps reignite your enthusiasm for training, allowing you to take one more step towards accomplishing your goals instead of skipping the workout altogether. 

Even if you've slept well, intrinsically motivated to crush your workouts, and had a fantastic, stress-free day at work, a pre-workout supplement can help you turn an ordinary workout into a PR-setting one!

If you’ve never experienced the wonders of using a top-rated pre-workout supplement powder, it’s understandable you’ll have some questions, such as:

  • What does pre-workout do?
  • Is pre-workout safe?
  • What's the best pre-workout?

We’ll answer all of that and more right now!

What Does Pre-Workout Do for You?

Pre-workout supplements can take many different forms. Some are fully-loaded and transparently dosed, while others are pixie-dusted prop blends that promise a lot but are nothing more than a heaping helping of caffeine (but we'll get into that in more detail later). 

The purpose of pre-workout supplements is to enhance your performance in your forthcoming training session, be it resistance training, cardio, interval training, CrossFit, or other athletic endeavors.

Pre-workouts do this through various mechanisms, such as increasing mental energy and focus, improving fatigue resistance, enhancing oxygen utilization, supporting blood flow to working muscles, and boosting muscle strength and power output. 

At the heart of virtually all pre-workout supplements is caffeine -- a powerful CNS stimulant that increases energy, alertness, and focus. It works by inhibiting adenosine (a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of fatigue and lethargy) and increasing dopamine. Furthermore, caffeine has also been extensively researched and noted countless times to perform athletic and mental performance.

Other beneficial nutrients found in pre-workout supplements include the likes of beta-alanine, betaine, citrulline malate, and PeakATP... each of which can be found in our best-selling pre-workout, Steel Pump®​​.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

When individuals ask how long a pre-workout "lasts," they're typically referring to how long the increased energy, motivation, and focus last. 

This will depend on a couple of factors, most of which center around caffeine and how quickly your body metabolizes caffeine.

On average, caffeine has a half-life of ~5.5 hours. This means that about 5-6 hours after you take your serving of pre-workout, you've still got about 50% of that caffeine working its magic in your body.

So, for instance, if you took a scoop of pre-workout that had 300mg of caffeine at noon, you would still have around 150mg of caffeine coursing through your body at 5:30 PM. Keep in mind; this will vary slightly depending on if you're a fast-metabolizer or slow-metabolizer of caffeine.

Something else to consider is that there are different forms of caffeine on the market, such as caffeine malate, extended-release caffeine, and delayed-release caffeine. These forms of caffeine have longer-lasting actions than regular caffeine anhydrous that's found in pre-workouts.

Also sustaining the increased feelings of energy and focus are other non-stimulant ingredients, such as nootropics (Tyrosine, Alpha-GPC, etc.). As a non-stimulant ingredient, they won't impact sleep to the degree that caffeine does but can help you get "more" from your caffeine.

All of this is to say that you can expect really "intense" energy from a pre-workout for about 1-2 hours and then another 3-4 hours of sustained energy.

When Should You Take Pre-Workout?

Many individuals mix up their serving of pre-workout and shoot it immediately before their first set, and still, others sip on their pre-workout throughout their training session.

While there's nothing "wrong" with this approach, you won't be getting the majority of the performance-boosting benefits of the ingredients in your pre-workout supplement. 

Most research trials on pre-workout supplements like caffeine and citrulline malate have test subjects ingest it 45-60 minutes before physical activity. This is because it takes about that long for the ingredients to pass through the GI system and reach peak concentrations in the bloodstream. 

This could be even longer depending on how big of a pre-workout meal you had before taking your pre-workout supplement.

A good rule of thumb is to take your pre-workout 30-60 minutes before training. Also, make sure you mix your pre-workout supplement into a sufficient amount of water (12-16ounces). This supports better nutrient absorption and helps hydrate your mind and body so that you can perform at a high level during your training session.

What Pre-Workout Supplement Should I Take?

Which pre-workout you decide to use depends on a number of factors, including what form of physical activity you're engaging in, your stim tolerance, do you even want stimulants, and a whole host of other factors?

We've tried to simplify and streamline the decision-making process by crafting two separate, unique, yet equally helpful pre-workout supplements in Steel Pump® and Steel Sweat®.

Steel Pump® is a high-energy, high-performance pre-workout formulated to support your most intense training sessions, such as resistance training sessions, CrossFit WODs, or interval training.

Steel Sweat® is our moderately stimmed thermogenic pre-cardio pre-workout supplement created to enhance energy expenditure, support fat mobilization, and oxidation, and boost endurance, helping increase calorie burning and support weight loss.

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