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Pre-workout supplements are a popular type of supplement you can take before you start working out. It will wake you up, fire up your nervous system, and allow you to have better workouts. They can kick your workouts up to the next level, which helps you break your limits.
But unfortunately, there’s a lot of “bro-science” and misinformation that tell you to “just take the pre-workout supplements” without paying attention to the potential side effects and other questions such as how long does pre-workout last, and how long it takes for it to kick in.
Normally, pre-workouts will last anywhere between 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours, but there are certain factors that can affect the duration – we’ll discuss them later in this article, so read on!
We’re going to address all of those questions in this article… and everything else you need to know about pre-workout supplements.
What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements, or pre-workouts for short, are supplements that help you get ready for your training session. Basically, they will stimulate your body and your nervous system to kick up to a higher gear and make your workouts more awesome.
They do that via several boosting ingredients that will awaken you and help you achieve your gym goals easier. Research shows that multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements (MIPS) can achieve the following:
- Superior muscular endurance
- Increased power production
- Better reaction time and cognitive processing
- Better workouts
The main ingredient of pre-workouts is caffeine, which is not surprising. Other ingredients that are commonly present in pre-workout supplements include creatine (better muscle performance), beta-alanine (improved endurance), L-carnitine (fat burning), betaine, and other amino-acids.
Pre-workouts are great if you tend to do your gym sessions in the morning. You can also take them when you feel tired or when you feel like you’re not up for it and under the weather. Also, they can help you when you go for a run, or before you do sports, or even before you have a match, for example.
They come in different flavors, too. Normally, they are mixed with water and taken 15-30 minutes before your workout or exercise. It’s also important not to exceed the recommended values, or else you’re risking side effects (which we’ll go over later on).
How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?
Now, onto the main topic of the article.
The duration of pre-workouts is a hotly debated topic. That’s partly because it’s quite different for almost every person out there, but also because it might be different based on the ingredients of each and every manufacturer (some have more caffeine, others less).
Usually, pre-workouts will last between 1.5 to 2.5 hours after they have been taken. But that’s by no means a must for everyone out there because the duration can actually depend on several factors, such as:
- Your age
- Your weight
- Your size
- Your tolerance to caffeine
- Your muscle mass
- The quality of the pre-workout supplement
- The ingredients within the supplement
- The duration and the intensity of your workout
- And other factors such as your experience with workouts, your current health state, and more…
Some people have even reported that they have noticed the effects of pre-workouts on their bodies and their daily lives for up to 6 hours after being taken. The effects after that period of time might be small, but it just goes to show how the duration can be different for almost everyone out there.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and you’re an experienced trainer, the duration of the pre-workout will differ massively from someone who’s 150 pounds and has not exercised in years… Likely, the supplement will last longer for the lighter and inexperienced person (considering both take the same amount of supplement, of course).
It also depends on how long the workout you do lasts, and how intense it is. If it’s very intense, then it will possibly last shorter than if you only do a workout of, let’s say, 30 minutes and at a relatively low intensity.
So those are all factors that you need to consider when it comes to the duration of the pre-workout supplements. The average duration is between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, although it can last longer than that, but rarely will it last for less than 1.5 hours.
How Long Does it Take for the Pre-Workout to Kick In?
Pre-workout supplements will start affecting your body quite quickly; expect it to start kicking in 15-30 minutes after you’ve taken it.
The amount of time it takes for the pre-workout to kick it will also depend on a few things. Namely, it depends on the dosage you take before the workout. It also depends on what type of pre-workout you take, and how much caffeine it has.
If the supplement is heavy on caffeine and if it is more concentrated, then it might start to kick in earlier than that.
Also, if you’re not a big coffee drinker, then the pre-workout will start kicking in soon… That’s simply because you’re body’s just not used to caffeine and it’s not tolerant of it, so don’t be surprised if you start noticing effects quicker than 15 minutes.
How Do You Know if Pre-Workout Has Kicked In?
It’s simple – start observing your body and the effects you might start noticing after taking pre-workouts. These include:
- Improved energy
- Better ability to concentrate
- Tingling skin
- Feeling energized and motivated
These are “symptoms” that tell you whether the pre-workouts have started working or not. They should be noticeable after 15-30 minutes, and they will probably be the strongest after an hour after consumption.
This is when you know you’re ready to start working out and put in a shift that will help you kick onto another level! Just take it 15-30 minutes before you start your workout or exercise, and start reaping the benefits – but be careful; if you wait around for too long, the effects might start to disappear after 2.5 hours or so.
How Late Can You Take Pre-Workout?
Don’t take your workout before bed – in fact, you should not consume the pre-workout for 4 hours before you go to sleep. That’s because it is highly likely to interfere with your sleep and it will make you hyped up when you want to sleep, so you won’t be able to fall asleep easily.
It has caffeine in it, so be careful when you take it. As you wouldn’t normally drink coffee before bed, you should also take care with this supplement. Take it too late, and you won’t sleep.
If you do workouts in the evening, then it might make sense to take it slightly earlier. Maybe an hour before your workout, and you’ll still get to experience the benefits of the pre-workout for an hour and a half or longer.
Does Pre-Workout Make You Gain Weight?
For people looking to shed weight, this is an important question to ask. There’s no denying that pre-workouts can have awesome effects on you and your body.
As such, pre-workouts themselves do not make you gain weight. What can make you gain weight is the water consumption because of the creatine inside the supplement.
Don’t be surprised to find yourself thirsty after taking this supplement. Because creatine makes you thirsty as it increases water retention. So you’ll find yourself drinking more, and consequently, you might appear bloated or even gain weight because of it.
So if you’re trying to lose weight and you still want to benefit from getting a pre-workout supplement, we suggest that you get yourself a pre-workout supplement that has little or no creatine inside.
But if you’re looking to gain muscle, creatine is a fantastic ingredient that’s found inside pre-workouts.
However, pre-workouts will, nonetheless, not have large-scale effects on your weight. If you’re truly serious about losing weight, then you should watch your calory intake rather than worry about pre-workouts that don’t have a massive effect on your weight.
Do Pre-Workouts Have Any Side Effects?
If you take doses that bigger than the recommended doses, then you might start experiencing adverse side effects. Do not exceed the recommended doses in any case – these are usually found on the case of the pre-workout.
So, what side effects might be possible with pre-workouts?
- It might make you feel jittery. That’s a normal consequence of taking in too much caffeine at once. Even when you consume too much coffee, you might start to become jittery.
- Increased water retention. This can make you appear as though you are bloated and you might even gain weight. It’s a direct consequence of taking in too much creatine at once.
- Potential mild reactions. Now, this side effect is very rare. But if you’re not tolerant of one of the ingredients inside the supplement, then you might want to avoid taking it in the first place.
- Upset digestive system. When you take too much of pre-workout supplements, you might start experiencing this symptom. You might experience diarrhea and even vomiting if you’ve really taken too much of the supplement.
- Headaches. Citrulline inside the supplement might start to pump blood into your brain, which can increase the pressure of your brain, causing headaches.
Now, we must emphasize this again: if you take the supplements in the recommended doses you will most probably be fine for the most part. So try not to exceed the recommended dosages that are printed on the case. Also, you might not be aware of an allergy yet and you might only experience it after taking a pre-workout – again, it’s very rare and unlikely.
But it’s good to be aware of these potential side effects.
Can I Take Pre-Workout First Thing in the Morning?
Sure, if your goal is to get training the second thing in the morning (after taking your pre-workout), then this can be a good strategy. You can take pre-workouts first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
You can consider this as your replacement for the morning coffee. In fact, it’s even better than that if you’re serious about your workouts. Because it has creatine and other useful ingredients, pre-workout can help you get started when you’re feeling groggy and when you’re not in the mood for a workout in the morning.
While working out on an empty stomach is still a disputable thing in the fitness world, taking a pre-workout supplement is helpful if you’re working out on an empty stomach or not. You’ve got people standing by working out the first thing in the morning religiously, while others will tell you that you need food and energy to pump your workouts.
However, that question is out of the scope of this article – maybe some other time.
If you’re looking for the absolute best pre-workout supplement, then we recommend the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout.
We’ve had some great results with this pre-workout, and it has all the ingredients to power up your workouts massively:
- 175MG of caffeine
- 3G of creatine
- 1.5G of beta-alanine
- 1.5G of citrulline-malate
- 375MG Acetyl-L-Carnitine
It’s this epic blend of all the ingredients you need to get started, and it will give you a massive energy boost. You’ll be amazed by the difference this supplement can make to your workouts.
We also consider the Cellucor C4 pre-workout supplement a worthy alternative for the above-mentioned one. We’ve tried them and they taste nice, and they come in a variety of different tastes.
There’s no sugar inside, and you’ll get 150MG of caffeine with this supplement. It also combines beta-alanine (1.6G), and Vitamin C.
Pre-workout supplements can be an amazing addition to your range of supplements. Considering you take them in moderation and that you stick to recommended values, you’ll be getting a valuable boost for your workouts.
So why not try it out now and see if it’s for you? You’ll be ready to kick on to another level with your training in just 15 minutes after taking it.