Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz around these supplements, but the question remains—exactly what does pre workout do to your body?
With all the marketing hype, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the fact from the fiction.
You’re with me on that, right?
The truth is, the best pre-workouts can provide astounding advantages to your training regime—but they do have some minimal side effects.
This article will make it all clear.
I have put together the ultimate guide to pre-workouts—giving you the honest truth about their advantages and disadvantages. With no sales agenda—just bare shocking facts—consider this your pre-workout 101.
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So, what does pre workout do to your body? Let’s kick off with the benefits.
What Does Pre Workout Do For You?
1. Boost Energy Levels
Nothing beats arriving at the gym feeling totally jacked. Bursting with energy, you’re ready to hit each and every set like an absolute beast—ensuring that you’re giving your muscles the hardest workout possible.
The problem is this.
Work, family, and social commitments can leave you drained—leading to disappointing and curtailed training sessions.
So, what does pre workout do to vitality?
The good news is, pre-workouts boost your energy levels—fast. Meaning that even if daily life has taken its toll, you can still perform to your best and give your muscles the workout they deserve.
One of the most effective ingredients in pre-workouts for this almost instantaneous energy lift is caffeine. Research has shown that ingesting caffeine dramatically increases energy expenditure.1
Furthermore, you don’t need huge doses to achieve positive effects. A 2014 study illustrated that consuming just 200 mg of this stimulant provides incredible improvements in athletic performance.2
2. Increase Muscle Pumps / Vascularity
In the 1977 film Pumping Iron, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that a serious muscle pump is better than an orgasm. While I may not go to that extreme—it’s true that observing your muscles explode beneath your skin is a totally awesome experience.
You know what I’m saying, right?
Nothing can beat looking at yourself in the mirror after pushing your muscles to the max—filled with blood, they’re hard and firm, with the added bonus of astounding vascularity.
And pre-workouts can take these pumps to the next level. Seriously.
But, it’s not all about looking phenomenal.
These nitric oxide boosts help to build muscle, raise strength, and increase endurance, through the improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Effective doses to look out for are 3–6 grams of citrulline malate and 5 grams of l-arginine.5
3. Enhance Focus
Bodybuilding is as much about the mind as it is the body. Serious concentration is required, not only to ensure we are lifting the real heavy iron safely, but also to give us the determination to knock out those essential final, muscle-burning reps.
Yet, often while on the bench, we can find our mind wandering—our thoughts are not on our training but instead on family, work, and financial matters—leading to inefficient lifting.
What does pre workout do to our brain?
Pre-workouts can ensure our minds are always focused on one thing—building a jaw-dropping physique.
4. Increase Power and Strength
For the optimum training session, we need to lift hard and heavy. Taking the muscles past their usual capacity is the most effective way of getting totally ripped.
The best pre-workouts can take your performance off the scale—providing you with more strength, power and increasing endurance—giving your muscles a longer, and therefore more productive, workout.
One of the most important ingredients to look for in a pre-workout is betaine anhydrous. Scientific studies on bodybuilders have illustrated that, when they supplement with this compound, their total strength and power increases—most significantly in the upper body. Look for supplements with a minimum 1-gram dosage.9 10
Probably one of the biggest enemies of the bodybuilder is lactic acid build-up, which can lead to acidosis of the muscles. This results in your reps being cut short, fatigue setting in, and the end of your session.
A pre-workout containing beta-alanine (2–4 grams per day) can prevent this. Research has indicated that it prevents the buildup of lactic acid—leading to longer and more beneficial lifting.11
What Are the Side-Effects of Pre Workout?
I’ll be honest.
There are some pre workout side effects—but to be fair, mostly they’re pretty insignificant and nothing that will give you any long-term issues.
Here are the most common adverse effects to these excellent supplements.
1. Too Much Caffeine
The majority of the side effects caused by pre-workouts are down to caffeine. While an excellent energy provider and focus enhancer, it does have some downsides if taken in excess.
These can include:
- Increase in blood pressure.12
- Elevated heartbeat.
- A “jittery” or nervous feeling.14
- Interrupted sleep or insomnia.
However, it’s not as bad as it seems.
Firstly, these symptoms are short-lived. Caffeine is a fast-acting drug (hence why it is an excellent pre-workout energy booster) and leaves the system after just a few hours—so any unwanted side effects will soon pass.15
Secondly, everyone has different tolerances to caffeine—most people will suffer from no adverse effects at all.
Thirdly, a number of the best pre-workouts include taurine (ideally 1-gram)—which offsets many of the side effects that caffeine provides.16
2. Tingling or Itchy Feeling
Some users of pre-workouts have indicated they felt “tingling” sensations after consumption. In all cases, this is an expected side effect of the awesome beta-alanine.17
I know what you’re thinking—what does pre workout do that causes this strange symptom?
Scientifically, it’s called paresthesia—which sounds much more serious than it actually is—effectively, pins and needles.
Just as you get that tingling feeling if you have been sleeping on your arm during the night—beta-alanine can exhibit the same symptoms. It’s 100 percent safe.
It soon passes, causes no health issues, and is actually nothing more than a little annoyance.
Let me be clear.
Beta-alanine is a phenomenal and essential pre-workout ingredient to offset muscle fatigue—don’t let a little “twitch” put you off!
Sometimes, diarrhea is blamed on the inclusion of caffeine—but more often than not it’s actually down to the user.
Pre-workouts are usually supplied in powder form, which is then mixed with water or other liquids to make a drink or shake. If they’re incorrectly prepared—they can cause frequent bathroom visits.
The reason often is that too little water is mixed with the powder. This means that when ingested, water is pulled through the intestinal walls from your cells to dilute this mixture, allowing it to pass easily through the body. However, this can lead to more water entering the digestive system than is actually required—bringing on diarrhea.
To prevent this, always err on the side of caution and mix a little more liquid with the pre-workout than the label suggests.
4. Stomach Cramps
A few guys using pre-workouts have faced stomach cramping and pain, sometimes leading to bowel issues—although this is in a minority of cases.
However, this research also indicated that people supplementing with 3–6 grams per day of l-arginine were unlikely to suffer from any adverse effects—with the dosage having to exceed 9 grams for actual discomfort.
Consuming water during training is essential—but some pre-workouts can lead to dehydration.
As already mentioned, if mixed incorrectly, these supplements can trigger diarrhea—which naturally removes water from the body, leaving you dehydrated.
Furthermore, the increases in effort and energy expenditure they can provide means you will need to consume more water than usual.
What Does Pre-Workout Do to Your Heart?
Generally speaking, there are few issues associated with pre-workout ingredients and negative effects on the heart. However, caffeine is known to affect this vital organ adversely, with excess consumption causing:
- Raised blood pressure.22
- Tachycardia (high heart rate).23
- Heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).24
- Elevated cholesterol.25
- Cardiovascular disease.26
While this may sound concerning—it’s worth putting into context.
Studies have shown that sensible daily caffeine intake isn’t associated with any increase in heart risk. Most experts agree that a frequent daily dose of over 600 mg would be required for any significant damaging effects.27
However, as mentioned earlier, everyone differs in their reaction to caffeine—with some people simply being genetically predisposed to suffer adverse symptoms.28
So, what’s the answer?
If you take a quality pre-workout and you notice symptoms, such as headaches or jitters, simply reduce the daily dose by half to offset the unwanted side effects.
Let me be clear.
While there are a few side effects associated with pre-workouts—in the main they’re harmless. The majority can easily be avoided by sensible consumption, selecting a quality supplement, and adjusting your dose.
So, to answer the original question, ”What does pre workout do to your body?”— the answer is simple.
Pre-workouts enable incredible bodybuilding gains.
By boosting power, energy, strength, recovery, focus, and stamina—you’re giving your body the ultimate workout with every single training session, making you look and feel awesome.
My advice is this.
For the ultimate ripped physique—ensure you use a pre-workout everytime you hit the gym.