When you decide to invest yourself in a fitness routine, it can be frustrating to feel as if you have left something on the table. In this guide, RAVE reviews research and expert opinions to find which pre-workout ingredients increase strength safely and effectively.
Many people have trouble getting and staying active during a training session, which results in poor athletic performance. This is attributed to, among other things, a lack of energy and possibly, poor dieting and nutrition.
As a result, pre-workout supplements are a significant part of sports nutrition. Specifically, the following ingredients play a major role in strength training when someone is looking for a boost in strength:
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Betaine Anhydrous
- Caffeine Anhydrous
Pre-workout supplements help boost energy levels before a workout routine for better power and strength performance. Additionally, some pre-workout ingredients provide benefits to increase blood flow, muscular hydration and efficiency of muscular contraction to provide a strength boost.
But because many dietary supplements claim to help with exercise performance, choosing the best can be challenging.
Key Point: To boost the effectiveness of strength training, pre workout supplements employ a variety of ingredients, which all provide unique benefits. Some are more effective than others.
Table of Contents
- How do pre-workout ingredients increase strength?
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Betaine Anhydrous
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Are these ingredients safe? Are there any side effects to consider?
How do pre-workout ingredients increase strength?
Pre-workout supplements are commonly known as “pre-workouts.” How do they improve strength during a workout?
- A good pre-workout product will increase blood flow and strength and help relax blood vessels resulting in optimal exercise performance. However, research suggests caffeine is the key component in most pre-workout supplements, and by boosting energy levels it helps individuals hit optimal output in their strength training routine.
- Common pre workout ingredients come in formulas commonly available as pills, energy drinks, and powders that are mixed into drinks. But pre-workout supplements powders are typically the best products if you’re looking to get the best ingredients to boost strength.
- Furthermore, some pre-workout supplements will also help your body generate more power during exercises by extending muscle endurance and increasing recovery from muscle soreness. This is equates to more reps and more sets in the best cases.
While pre-workout supplements are great for achieving optimal exercise performance, ignoring the recommended doses can be hazardous. So always exercise caution, and experiment with new ingredients to ensure they agree with your body.
Takeaway: Caffeine is one of the best universal ingredients included in a pre-workout that may increase the effectiveness of strength training, but there’s others that we’ll explore next.
Creatine Monohydrate is a substance that naturally exists in our body’s muscle cells. Creatine is chemically similar to amino acids concentrated in muscle tissues, which are essential substances in the body that assist in protein production.
Creatine is a product of synthesis from three amino acids, arginine, methionine, and glycine. The majority of your body’s creatine comes from the foods you eat, mainly red meat and shellfish, with the rest comes from amino acids processed by your liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
So how does the body use creatine and how does it improve strength?
- Creatine is commonly included in pre-workout supplements because it will give you a boost to help your muscle perform extensive physical performance. Specifically, creatine has been shown to help in activities such as heavy lifting or high-intensity workouts.
- Creatine works by improving the rate at which your body can store and use Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the body’s fuel source for energy. While creatine doesn’t directly increase ATP levels, it does directly increase phosphocreatine, which in turn helps the body store and use ATP.
- Furthermore, creatine plays a significant role in your body composition by increasing muscle mass. It does this by increasing the volume of muscle mass, by helping muscle tissue store more water.
Since creatine monohydrate is best for power performance, athletes and bodybuilders use this more often for improved performance. But remember, while creatine monohydrate help you bulk up and gain body weight by way of increased muscle mass, it will not make you fat so long as you follow a healthy diet.
Key Points: Creatine helps to boost strength in two major ways: it boosts ATP production and storage, and it boosts muscle volume and endurance by improving hydration in muscle tissue.
As opposed to beta-alanine – an amino acid that forms carnosine for muscle strength – betaine anhydrous is a modified amino acid known as trimethylglycine also known as TMG.
This common ingredient included in pre-workout supplements is an organic osmolyte that was first isolated by processing sugar beets. An osmolyte is an organic compound that influences how biological fluids behave in the human body. Today it is commonly found in spinach and whole grains.
- As one of the many important ingredients included in pre-workout supplements, betaine anhydrous plays a vital role in converting homocysteine to methionine. Methionine helps to gain or suppress body weight, and is required for creatine production. And so it is believed that betaine makes both natural creatine and creatine supplementation more effective.
- Thus, betaine is one of the many pre-workout formulas that will help you increase strength, muscle endurance, and reduce muscle fatigue or muscle soreness by enhancing muscle protein synthesis.
- Betaine has also been shown to improve body composition by improving the rate at which the body builds lean muscle and sheds body fat. Researchers believe this results from Betaine improving the efficiency of fat burning processes known as lipolysis.
Key Points: Betaine provides a boost to strength and power by way of increasing protein synthesis, improving the effectiveness of creatine, and by aiding in the burning of fat cells.
L-citrulline is an amino acid in watermelons and produced by the body. Our body naturally converts L-citrulline to both L-arginine, which is an amino acid, and nitric oxide.
This popular choice for an ingredient in a pre-workout supplement helps the body get more of the elements it needs to make particular proteins for strength and improve skeletal muscle weight.
- Aside from being an energy and strength booster, this pre-workout supplement helps open arteries and veins, thereby enhancing blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
- According to a scientific evidence, L-citrulline malate increases growth hormone levels during exercise, which may help to increase protein synthesis and fat burning.
- L-citrulline is one of the best pre-workout ingredients to increase strength, as research suggests that Citrulline administration improves energy production by devoting a portion of your body’s energy (in adenosine triphosphate, or ATP) to muscle growth.
Key Points: L-Citrulline boosts strength during a workout by enhancing blood flow, increasing protein synthesis, and increasing the body’s allocation of energy stores to muscle growth.
Caffeine is found in various plants, including tea, cacao, and coffee beans that later becomes an energy drink. Caffeine anhydrous is a dehydrated caffeine, making it more concentrated and powerful than ordinary caffeine.
But whether anhydrous or natural, caffeine is well-known to help improve athletic performance.
- Caffeine improves muscle strength and endurance, according to an analysis of 12 meta-analyses published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (which mostly looked at caffeine anhydrous in capsule form).
- Contrary to popular belief, caffeine will not interfere with your cognitive function by making your jittery or anxious so long as you take the correct dose in accordance with your body’s unique tolerance of it.
While there is no standard method for administering caffeine in pre-workout sessions, most scientific evidence have used anhydrous caffeine capsules. It’s easier to follow the recommended dosage for pre-workout and physical exercise this way to avoid administering too much caffeine.
Additionally, if you are sensitive to caffeine you can always find a caffeine-free pre workout supplement, and then carefully measured doses of caffeine separately to find your ideal dose.
Key Points: Caffeine plays a crucial role in optimized athletic performance. It boosts energy levels and has been linked to increased muscle strength and endurance.
Are these ingredients safe? Are there any side effects to consider?
Creatine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous, l-citrulline, and caffeine anhydrous are excellent ingredients in pre-workout supplements that can safely boost the effectiveness of your exercise routine.
These ingredients combined will help you manage high blood pressure, improve blood flow, build a better mind-muscle connection, and improve endurance, resulting in highly optimized resistance training.
But while these pre-workout ingredients help you gain more strength, there are also side effects you need to consider:
- You can feel jittery if you’re taking a dose of caffeine that exceeds your natural tolerance.
- Too much creatine will increase water retention more than is helpful.
- You may experience nausea when consuming more than the recommended dosage of betaine anhydrous.
- If you suffer from digestive issues, pre workout formulas can upset your stomach.
- The increased blood flow from l-citrulline may cause headaches.
Some pre-workout supplements may label ingredients as a “proprietary blend” without specifying the amounts. To avoid consuming certain substances and non-essential amino acids in unhealthy amounts, people interested in taking pre-workouts should look for goods that mention accurate doses and have proof from a reliable source.
Furthermore, it would be best to talk with your doctor before administering any proprietary blends, branched chain amino acids, and homemade pre-workout supplements. This is particularly important for fitness enthusiasts who might struggle with other physical conditions or illnesses.
Conclusion: These pre-workout ingredients are backed by hard science and are proven to boost strength during workouts. But proceed with caution while determining which doses work best for you.