There are some fitness experts who say pre-workout supplements are not really necessary. If we eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and get good sleep then we will be ready for any workout – they say, and in an ideal world they may have a point.
Others, including celebrity coach Brandon Carter disagree and, if you have ever started an intense session thinking, ‘I’m just not ready for this,’ or, worse, avoided training altogether because you weren’t in the right frame of mind then a good pre-workout supplement might be just what you need to give you a chemical pep-talk.
Prefuel® from supplement specialists EnergyFirst contains all of the ingredients you are about to read about, so please follow this link if you want to fire up your next workout.
The Power of Citrulline
“No modern pre-workout or pump-boosting supplement is complete without citrulline,” writes Mike Roussell Ph.D. In this Bodybuilding.com article, and I completely agree. As the article explains, not only does this amazing amino acid, found in the humble apple, mop up fatigue-inducing ammonia produced by hard-working muscles, it also increases levels of arginine. Arginine, in turn, increases the amount of nitric oxide in the blood and more NO means more blood flow to those same muscles, improving endurance and aerobic performance. In fact sufficient NO supplementation leads to the ‘muscle pump’ phenomenon experienced by heavy lifters and those whose training involves intense bouts of activity.
Creatine for Energy and Faster Recovery
By now, I’m sure you will have come across the buzz surrounding creatine, a nitrogenous organic acid found in muscle tissue. Creatine has been researched in depth and is now established as a key supplement in the fitness industry, known mainly for its effect on bulking up muscles. Creatine is also central to the production of ATP which supplies the energy needed for increased workout endurance. In addition, creatine helps to speed up the recovery of muscle tissue, getting you quickly back in action, and also has a positive effect on mood while driving down stress levels. Less stress means less cortisone, a hormone linked with weight gain and muscle wastage. To round it off, creatine is also involved in the production of testosterone which is vital for sexual health and appetite – for men and women alike.
BCAAs and Fasted Training –What You Need to Know
If you’re a fan of the pink liquid, then you will already know that Branched-Chain Amino Acids -BCAAs help to make protein synthesis more efficient while disrupting the processes that catabolise (break down) muscle; supplementation is important because exercise degrades BCAAs. If you need brushing up on their benefits, this Bodybuilding.com piece will help, but BCAAs really come into their own during fasted training, when insulin levels are low and fat-burning can really accelerate. Without BCAA supplementation, the catabolism of muscle means that fasted training can leave you weaker as well as slimmer. Not only do BCAAs slow down muscle breakdown in the fasted state, they do this without stimulating the production of insulin – which means you get to burn fat for longer.
Beat Off Ions with Beta-alanine
Fatigue is accepted as a by-product of an intense workout, but we can delay its effects with some high quality supplementation. We have already explained how citrulline can stave off muscle fatigue, but a dose of the beta amino acid beta-alanine can also assist by boosting levels of carnosine, an antioxidant which sweeps up fatigue-inducing hydrogen ions.
Prepare your Mind for Action
It’s one thing knowing that your pre-workout powder is going to carry you through a demanding session, but you still need to wake yourself up enough to start the work in the first place. Some poor quality pre-workout supplements use huge levels of caffeine to provide that motivation, but this is a poor substitute for a properly balanced matrix designed to improve alertness, mood and focus. L-tyrosine, as this OptiMind® article explains is the precursor of several catecholamine neurotransmitters which play a big part in mental function, so look for a pre-workout powder containing this amino acid and one which goes easy on the caffeine. Certain vitamins are also widely recommended for boosting focus and concentration. This Livestrong article lists vitamins B3 (Niacin), B6, B12 and C as being particularly valuable so keep an eye out for high levels of these when working on your pre-workout supplement shortlist.
A Word About Betaine Anhydrous
Betaine anhydrous, another amino acid, is an ingredient to keep an eye out for (some people may mistake its appearance on ingredients lists for fatigue-busting beta-alanine). Studies have shown that betaine helps with both the creation of lean muscle mass and the burning up of fat across a wide range of different activities. Supplement expert Jim Stoppani Ph.D is a keen advocate as he proves in this article.
The Natural Approach
With so many exciting ingredients to fire up your body, it is easy to ignore the other side of the coin – what ingredients should be avoided in a pre-workout supplement? As I always say, once you’ve got the active workout-boosting ingredients sorted, anything else is unnecessary. You don’t need any added sugar nor artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. PreFuel®, EnergyFirst’s top quality contribution to the pre-workout scene, goes even further, being non-GM, free of soy, gluten-free and suitable for people following a vegan diet. And while PreFuel® does contain caffeine, it is only in sensible amounts to support rather than dominate the mixture. Taking in too much caffeine is uncomfortable for many people, particularly if they are not used to it, making them jittery and on edge.
When you are looking to build serious muscle or burn away fat, you can’t go into any workout session in a half-hearted fashion. If you ever feel weak, sluggish or just ‘not up for it,’ this is a clear sign that you need some help. A good pre-workout supplement, such as Prefuel® from EnergyFirst, will ensure you are ready to push your body to the limits for the results you want. Good luck…!