If you are obsessed with living a healthy lifestyle, chances are high that you take or have taken a pre-workout supplement.
Well, what can I say? It is a well-known fact that people who work out use pre-workout supplements and appreciate pre-workouts as an integral part of their workout routine. It has been established ,through research, that close to a quarter of gym-goers take pre-workout supplements constantly.
All the rave about pre-workouts is based on one fact – they work. A workout requires energy, and pre-workouts boost your energy levels a notch or two or more. Of course, it all depends on how much pre-workout you take.
Perception has always been that pre-workouts are for weightlifters, trying for muscle gains and all, but they work well for cardio training too.
You will be surprised at how many runners and aerobic enthusiasts use pre-workout supplements over coffee these days before they hit the streets or the treadmill.
Pre-workouts are popular for different kinds of exercises. But when it comes down to cardio exercise, the real question is should you take a pre-workout supplement, and how effective is it? So let's find out, shall we?
What Is A Pre-Workout?
Just as the name speaks for itself, a pre-workout is a supplement ingested before workouts (bodybuilding, running, HIIT) to optimise and boost performance and energy levels.
The caffeine or arginine they comprise provides energy boosts and fatigue reduction. However, not all pre-workouts contain caffeine as their primary ingredient. The amounts differ anywhere from 100mg up to 500mg for the ones that do. Of course, pre-workouts are composed of ingredients other than caffeine.
However, it is imperative to note that most of these ingredients have similar properties to caffeine.
They all increase your energy levels and give you laser focus during workouts. Besides these energy booster ingredients, pre-workouts are also made up of other ingredients like arginine, creatine and beta-alanine. These help you reduce burnout as they aid in resistance training. No two pre-workouts are made in the same way.
Some even come with proprietary pre-workout blends without any particular ingredients or doses. This is good as different ingredients will give you diverse effects depending on the type of workout.
Should I Use A Pre-Workout For Cardio workouts?
A resounding YES! Pre-workouts will do the trick for your cardiovascular endurance as they support energy levels for endurance and strength. We all know that cardiovascular endurance is about sustained activity and less about power and strength.
Now that you know the impact of taking a pre-workout supplements, let us now explore some of the common kinds of cardio:
High-Intensity Interval Training
Known as HIIT training, this cardio workout alternates short bursts of high-intensity work with low-intensity recovery periods. Think of one-minute jump squats followed by a 10-second cool-down rest, and you resume another round of jump squats soon after.
HIIT gives you maximal health benefits in minimal time as it combines resistance and power training with aerobics. It will elevate your heart rate but only for a short while.
A workout such as HIIT will yield more results with the support of pre-workout supplements (like one of our chew gummies). As mentioned before, a pre-workout will boost your energy levels, increasing endurance and strength.
Sprinting is the perfect cardiovascular exercise as it gets your heart rate above a certain threshold.
This is because repeated intervals of sprints, or running at a threshold, improve your stamina and boosts metabolism.
In this case, caffeine, creatine and beta-alanine will play their part in ensuring you get the energy supply you require during your sprint - boosting and regenerating energy lost.
Steady State Cardio
Or simply running at a steady and moderate 'endurance pace' requires more energy and focus for you to maintain the moderate effort over an extended period. Steady State cardio is a great activity to add to your routine whether you are a bodybuilder or not.
However, it should not be just confined to 'runners' only. Glucose and fat get used up using a steady-state cardio workout.
The workout uses muscles different from the ones required to move heavy weights. Hence, most of the ingredients in a pre-workout will improve your endurance levels, and reduce burnout during long-distance runs, be it slow or at a threshold pace.
When To Take A Pre-Workout before cardio?
A pre-workout is taken before a workout, just as its name suggests. No duh hey!!! We just had to make sure you understood
Be that as it may, it is good to note that all pre-workouts have timing suggestions. Some can be taken 30 minutes before or 60 minutes before a workout. If you are doing cardio, try taking the pre-workout 45-60 minutes prior.
This gives you time to avoid any stomach issues and will allow feelings of fullness to subside.
However, taking pre-workout on an empty stomach will enable you to take it closer to your workout session, and this is ideal if you prefer fasted workouts. In this case, pre-workout can be taken 15 minutes before a workout, and the effects will remain the same.
Side Effects Of Pre-Workout Supplements
As supplements, pre-workouts are neither studied regularly nor regulated by the FDA. However, they are deemed safe in small doses.
The side effects of most pre-workout ingredients are known as these ingredients are well-researched. Below are some of the common side effects reported with pre-workout use:
Caffeine is associated with increased mental alertness. It also increases the heart rate, blood flow and blood pressure, which can, in turn, lead to jitteriness and, in some cases, anxiety.
The particular dose at which this happens is mainly based on opinions rather than facts. However, caffeine is known to cause acute heart arrhythmias if ingested at levels greater than 300mg/serving.
Take, for instance, 8 oz of coffee, which contains 95 mg of caffeine on average, and pre-workouts contain between 95 – 500mg of caffeine per serving with a moderate amount of 200 mg.
This sensation in your lips, known as acute paresthesia, comes from beta-alanine. The tingling is harmless, but we won't lie; it is very irritating and uncomfortable.
As per FDA regulations, manufacturers are supposed to list all the ingredients used in their supplements, but unfortunately, some dietary supplements are misleading and dishonest. They market adulterated or misbranded ingredients.
For manufacturers to circumvent these regulations, they develop proprietary blends. Then they won't be required to disclose the dosages.
As a consumer, you must always do due diligence if you are unfamiliar with a product's ingredients. Better yet, completely avoid the product.
Caffeine ingested in high doses has a history of causing stomach issues from diarrhoea to gas. Always be on the lookout for this, and make sure you have plenty of time before your workout if you need to make a bathroom stop!
Do You Need A Pre-Workout For Cardio Or Just The Specific Ingredients?
You need to look at your expected results to determine whether you need a pre-workout or just specific ingredients for specific effects. Normally pre-workout ingredients are garnered for strength training.
Pre-workouts' ingredients are formulated to deliver the complete package for those usually focused on strength training. Meaning that if you only require pre-workout for cardio, you can only focus on specific ingredients since there might be a fair amount of filler you won't need.
Here are the most common ingredients and their effects on your body:
As a non-essential amino acid, it plays an important part in your workout. Beta-Alanine avoids amino acids building-up in your muscles, allowing for greater strength to be used.
Caffeine stimulates the body's central nervous system, helping raise your alertness and focus. Recent studies have shown that there is more caffeine than meets the eye. It has been linked to other health benefits such as increased endurance, speed, elevated moods and athletic performance. To top it off, caffeine can also aid in weight loss.
If you have a high-resting heart rate, pre-workouts with caffeine are not for you. They can further increase heart activity, putting your health at risk. Consider a caffeine-free pre-workout instead.
Creatine helps to saturate your muscle creatine stores, which provide energy for muscle contraction and boosts muscle power. However, it won't be a crucial ingredient for HIIT or LISS cardio.
L-citrulline's purpose is bodybuilding while producing l-arginine for healthy blood vessel function. Just like creatine, it is not crucial for a cardio-focused routine.
These are protein building blocks which reduce wear and tear or burnout that you experience after a workout.
Can I Take a Pre-Workout Every Day?
This is a frequently asked question amongst pre-workout consumers. The short answer is no; you can't. Pre-workouts are not designed to be taken every day.
They can give you side effects or make you feel sick after a workout. To avoid this, if you are just starting, take one pre-workout scoop every other day, and work your way up until you find a comfortable level that works for you.
If you are still uncertain about your dosage levels, stick to that single scoop per day for up to six weeks before increasing it any further. Doing that gives you time to assess how your body reacts.
If you have been lifting weights for a while, a single scoop might make you too jittery and thus hinder your exercise performance. Hence, half a scoop should cut it, and you can gauge your body's reaction from there. With time you can then increase as you see fit.
P.S. Everyone reacts differently to pre-workout, some positively and some negatively. It has to do with a person's caffeine tolerance level or energy boosters. 12 If you experience dizziness instead of staying alert and awake during your intense workout, keep off pre-workout completely so that your body doesn't have time to adapt again when you decide to use it again.
In this article, we discussed using pre-workouts for cardio. As we've seen, pre-workouts are used as energy boosters, focus and endurance enhancers, typically for resistance training. However, these same ingredients can be used effectively to enhance endurance and improve recovery during and after cardio.
Whether you prefer HIIT, sprinting, or long-distance running, a pre-workout will improve your performance, and you might consider using one.
Remember to read ingredient labels on pre-workouts because you need to understand what goes into your body before using the product. Some ingredients can cause adverse reactions when taken in high doses.
Taking pre-workouts in conjunction with your exercises is a great way to optimise your performance, break a plateau, or just familiarise yourself with a new product. All the best with your workouts! Remember to tack on a few reps, or in this case, miles.