Everyone who follows a physical fitness routine wants to optimize the time they invest at the gym and certain pre-workout supplements can help you do just that. However, with so many supplements to choose from, the challenge is to know which ones will be the most effective for helping you reach your goals. The answer lies in the research. Thankfully there is an abundance of research available to us online indicating which supplements are effective based on evidence rather than just hype. Here are the pre-workout supplements that I currently use and recommend.
One of the things I appreciate about a company like SD Pharmaceuticals is that in addition to using research-backed supplements, they also produce “single-ingredient” products so that you can select the specific supplements you want to use in the exact amounts that you need. Having said that, the number one pre-workout supplement I use is something very familiar to most people – caffeine.
Many people already use coffee to get their day started, but several studies have shown that taking caffeine can also give you a physical boost before your workout. As an example, a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance found that men who took caffeine supplements could perform their main lifts using heavier weights as compared with men who took a placebo. Other studies have suggested that even endurance athletes can improve their aerobic capacity with a dose of caffeine. I take 200mg of caffeine about 15 minutes before I train, although most people can safely handle up to 400mg without any problem. I recommend reducing the amount of caffeine you consume at other times of day to increase the effectiveness of your pre-workout dose. It’s also a good idea to take a week or so off caffeine every few months to improve your tolerance.
Dendrobium is a natural herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it has the name Shihu. Dendrobium nobile is by far the most widely used species because of its well-known medicinal properties. It improves mental focus, alertness and energy during your workout, and is also a great supplement for those who are caffeine-sensitive.
Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance by buffering lactic acid build up in your muscles. This can help you squeeze out a few more reps and recover more quickly between sets and post-workout. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, like rowing or sprinting. One thing you will notice with B.A. however is a tingling feeling on your skin, which is harmless but some people may find it distracting or unpleasant.
Carnitine plays a key role in muscle glycogen metabolism. Supplementation with carnitine increases muscle glycogen storage and improves ATP production, which improves muscular strength and endurance and delays the onset of fatigue. Check out the diagram below to see how L-Carnitine in fat metabolism as well as improving strength and energy during your workout:
COCONUT OIL & OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
A type of fat called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) can be metabolized about as quickly as carbohydrates and also provides a fast fuel source for exercise. MCT’s are present in high concentration in coconut oil. Try eating a spoonful of coconut oil before your next workout and see if it gives you some extra energy. It doesn’t taste that bad, and coconut oil also has other health benefits.
Other pre-workout supplements that may be beneficial, depending on your goals, include the group of NO “pump” supplements such as CITRULLINE MALATE 2000. These products will increase blood flow to your muscles during your workout which can support recovery and also give you that aesthetically pleasing “full” muscular look after your workout!
I hope that gives you some ideas on what supplements to use before your workouts to fuel your energy, intensity, and recovery. Now that you know what supplements are effective and how they work you can choose which ones you want to use for yourself, based on your goals and budget. Keep in mind that your priority should be on following a solid nutrition plan and training program first, before considering supplementation. Only once that is in place will you notice an optimal effect from your supplement plan.
SD Pharmaceuticals Sponsored Athlete and Owner of Top Form Fitness.