As a staple for a gym-rats arsenal of supplements, pre-workout is a very handy tool, but how long does pre-workout last? We know exactly what effects we can expect from taking a safe pre-workout, but do we know how long it will last for someone?
In today’s article, we’ll be going over how long the effects of a pre-workout lasts in our bodies. The goal is to get them to stay long enough before our workout concludes, but what happens if the benefits stay long after?
The pre-workout supplement is designed to provide athletes and weightlifters with increased energy for their strenuous activities. The energy is provided through a complex mix of multiple ingredients used in the supplement. (1✓)
It’s important to know exactly what is in your supplements, let alone pre-workout since you’re physically consuming it. Depending on which supplement you consume, the ingredients may vary. However, they’re a handful of ingredients that are present in almost all pre-workout supplements.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant our body can consume in order to stimulate our body’s central nervous system. Regardless of the controversy surrounding caffeine due to its long-term effects, the fact of the matter is that caffeine gets you going.
Our stimulated CNS allows us to have quicker and improved reaction times along with a reduced amount of fatigue. These are two things that make someone’s workout or athletic performance improvement. (2✓)
When measuring the squats and bench presses of nine resistance-trained men, coffee, which contains caffeine, researchers saw an improvement in lifts. There were “significant differences in total weight lifted” when ingesting caffeine before the workout. (2✓)
An organic compound naturally found in our muscle cells, creatine monohydrate is also a very commonly used supplement on its own. When it comes to extremely heavy lifts, creatine is there to provide our muscles with the energy to complete that lift.
Creatine has been shown to increase a person’s muscle mass and strength indirectly through consistent training. With the energy it provides, it’s no wonder why creatine is a base ingredient for almost every pre-workout supplement. (3✓)
Also found naturally in our body, Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps prevent post-workout fatigue. When our muscles go through strenuous exercises or activities, they become fatigued and, after a while, become sore. (4✓)
With beta-alanine being in pre-workout, our bodies can also produce carnosine, a protein-building block that helps us train harder for longer. It does this by absorbing the acid build-up we create from exercising. That acid is the reason we get soreness later on. The less acid there is, the less fatigue we become.
When all the ingredients are combined and mixed into a container we know as pre-workout, we can finally consume it and experience its effects. When to take pre-workout is a whole other matter but also important to know to prevent some severe consequences.
With the ingredients eventually reach your bloodstream, 30-45 minutes after digesting, the effects of the pre-workout start to show themselves. Your senses are heightened, reactions are quicker, and you’re full of energy.
To know exactly how long the benefits will last, we need to discuss the half-lives of the ingredients we just consumed. A half-life is a time required for half of something to undergo a specific process; it’s the “half of life” of something.
Most of the ingredients listed on pre-workout have a half-life of about 4-6 hours. This means that the drink stays in your body for about 4-6 hours, but its effects only last about an hour or two.
The reality is that the energy from pre-workout won’t last you a very long time. However, it’s a good enough cushion to last you about an hour’s worth of workout, which is plenty of energy for most people.
What Is Pre-Workout?
The famous pre-workout has gone through many different changes ever since its creation as Ultimate Orange in 1982. Back then, the supplements weren’t tested, and heart attack side effects were common from the ephedra in the formula. (A banned herb in the U.S)
As of recent years, the consumption of pre-workout dietary supplements by both recreational and competitive athletes has increased drastically. Due to this higher demand for pre-workout, a demand for safer ones has also increased. (5✓)
A majority of pre-workout use the same main ingredient, caffeine. The same thing you drink in your morning coffee is used in a bodybuilder’s supplement. This is why getting addicted to pre-workout is almost as common as an addiction to coffee. (6✓) (7✓)
The point of pre-workout is to provide an athlete or lifter with extra, or enough, energy for the coming workout. They’re a handful of situations in which someone may want to take this supplement for an extra boost, such as after a long shift at work or a morning just after waking. (2)
Benefits Pre-Workout Provides
When talking about pre-workout, there aren’t too many other benefits besides the main one we’re going to discuss here. However, from my experience of taking the energy supplement, I’ve come up with a handful of benefits surrounding pre-workout.
Energy For Workout/Work
As the obvious purpose of pre-workout, the supplement gives you a surge of energy through its various ingredients. The main component is caffeine, but multi-ingredient pre-workout includes beta creatine, beta-alanine, amino acids, and nitric oxide agents. (8✓)
The amount of energy expended on pre-workout compared to someone who’s not on it is still debated. Studies go either way when trying to prove if the supplement actually improves the performance of some.
Ingesting it before a workout seems to improve the power output of multi-joint resistance training in one study. The supplement “enhanced the total number of repetitions performed during the exercise bout.” (9✓)
Other studies, however, show no difference when pre-workout is compared to a placebo in an experiment. A study on 5-km runners showed no difference in feelings of fatigue for both groups. Also, high-intensity cyclists displayed no acute decrements or ergogenic benefits in cycling performance” when on the supplement. (10✓)(11✓)
This is a good thing if you’re cutting weight since you want to keep a keen eye on tracking your calories. Since pre-workout has no calories, you won’t have to worry about keeping track of it since the energy is coming from calories, but caffeine instead.
In conclusion, how long does pre-workout last? With most of the ingredients having about a 4-6 hours half-life, the overall effects of the pre-workout only last about 1-2 hours after hitting the bloodstream.
For most people, this will be plenty of time to complete their workouts. The pre-workout effect isn’t too short to stop during a workout, nor is it too long to affect a person’s sleep. It is a well-crafted supplement.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any questions you may have!