Cheap and Effective Pre-workout Supplements

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jon-erik kawamoto personal trainer
This is a guest post from the folks at www.examine.com and The Supplement Goals Reference Guide

There are a ton of pre-workout supplements on the market…too many to actually make a solid decision. I was wondering the same thing so I recruited the team behind the Supplement Goals Reference Guide to help me answer this question. Let’s get right to it – Take it away guys!

Creatine

 
Do I need to buy a supplement? Yes

How much benefit does it provide? A lot

Is it time dependent? No

Creatine is the most important ergogenic on the market today. It has reliable benefits to exercise, increasing power output in the 1-3 repetition range, and it can increase short term muscular endurance during anaerobic exercise. Creatine can even help with focus and attention if you’re sleep deprived.

In the long term, it increases the rate of muscle growth without influencing fat. Creatine is safe for almost everyone and doesn’t need to be cycled. Taking 5g a day is enough to confer all of its benefits.

Nitrates

 
Do I need to buy a supplement? No

How much benefit does it provide? Potentially, a lot

Is it time dependent? Yes

Nitrates are the most reliable and effective nitric oxide booster to date. Though many preworkouts claim to boost levels of nitric oxide in the body, the majority have been shown to be ineffective. Nitric oxide increases short and long-term endurance, but not maximal power output.

Nitrates are not sold in high enough doses in supplements today. Fortunately, eating beets or leafy greens as a pre-workout meal or snack provides enough nitrates to have a real effect on your workout. Another option is blending the same vegetables into a preworkout shake.

Caffeine

 
Do I need to buy a supplement? No

How much benefit does it provide? A lot, if used properly.

Is it time dependent? Yes, very.

Caffeine is the world’s favorite psychostimulant. There are two faces to caffeine. Most people are very familiar with the first. It’s what they experience every morning as they brew their morning cups of coffee.

The chronic caffeine user only feels caffeine’s antisleep effects, but a new user will also experience a powerful stimulatory effect. You remember your first cup of coffee, right?

For a new user, the stimulated feeling comes with a very large increase in power output, as much as 10-20%. Unfortunately, the more tolerance you have to caffeine, the less effective it will be for you, especially in the weight room. To truly take advantage of caffeine’s effects on power output, very infrequent dosing is required.

Beta-alanine

 
Do I need to buy a supplement? Yes

How much benefit does it provide? Minimal

Is it time dependent? No

Beta-alanine is known to be a performance enhancer, but only for activities in the 60-240 second range. Beta-alanine will be most beneficial for advanced athletes, as it tends to improve physical endurance by about 3%. A new trainee most likely will not see enough of a benefit to take beta-alanine, but 3% for an advanced athlete can be very useful.

Preliminary research on beta-alanine shows that it may also increase muscle hypertrophy. It’s not a wonder-supplement, but it makes an excellent addition to a preworkout stack.

Putting everything together

Protocol 1: Throwing Everything in One Pot

The first option for creating a preworkout supplement is just combining your desired ingredients as efficiently and cheaply as possible, while keeping an eye on your workout and your wallet.

  • 1. Make a preworkout meal 60-90 minutes before a workout. Make sure it contains food high in nitrates, like beets or spinach. You can toast beets in the oven to make chips, or throw everything in the blender and drink it.
  • 2. Prepare a drink of carbohydrates to take with you to the gym. Start sipping on it 15-30 minutes before your workout and continue throughout, as long as it’s not interfering with your performance. This preworkout drink can also contain creatine and beta-alanine. Add protein if your preworkout meal didn’t have any.
  • 3. If you’re taking caffeine, take it 30-45 minutes before your workout, before you start on your carbohydrate drink. Remember, to get the most out of caffeine, take it only once a week.

Protocol 1 is essentially a meal, a drink to take with you to the gym, and maybe a coffee in between.

Protocol 2: If your stomach doesn’t like Protocol 1

Was taking a large dose of creatine and nitrates a bad idea? Luckily, neither creatine or beta-alanine are time dependent. If you’re experiencing some stomach troubles, try the following:

  • 1. Your preworkout meal should be solid. If you’d prefer a shake, make sure it consists primarily of nitrate rich food sources. Add a little bit of protein as well, since your sensitive stomach will not enjoy protein in the middle of a workout.
  • 2. Caffeine can be taken 30-45 minutes before the workout. Again, remember to dose it no more than once a week to continue experiencing its power enhancing benefits.
  • 3. Creatine and beta-alanine can be divided into two daily doses and taken with your two biggest meals. Most likely, this will be your postworkout meal and your last meal of the day.

*****

jon-erik kawamoto fitness writerIf you found this post helpful and want more information on supplements, you may be interested in the Supplement Goals Reference Guide. The team behind this rare resource (almost 800 pages of scientifically backed-up information) is having a 5000 copies sold sale (yes, they have sold 5000 copies!!). It’s filled with hyperlinks so you can zoom from one section to the next depending on what supplement you want to read up on.

I have not found any other resource quite like it. Anywhere. I highly recommend it.

Check it out HERE. It’s on sale!
 
 
 
 
 
photo credit: Noodles and Beef via photopin cc

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