// Written by Mark David –

In today’s busy world, sometimes it can be hard to not only find the time to workout, but also the energy. Daily life can be physically and emotionally taxing, with all the demands and stressors we face, so giving 100% at the gym can be the greatest challenge of our routine. Pre-workout can work great for combatting daily fatigue.

Pre-workout is a drink taken before a workout. It can be sold in either liquid or powder form. It is usually recommended to take about 30 minutes before hitting the gym. Pre-workouts typically contain substances to provide energy, prevent fatigue, increase vasodilation, and promote muscle growth.

One of the most common pre-workout ingredients you will find is caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases focus. Not only is caffeine known to have a fat burning effect, but caffeine can also help curtail caloric cravings later on for those of us looking to lose weight. An ideal dose is around 200mg, which is about equal to two cups of coffee. Take caution, because too much caffeine may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.

Creatine is great for boosting muscle strength and power. Creatine can be found in the meats we eat. The body also naturally produces its own, but supplementation can increase those levels and help with high intensity workouts. Creatine is great to combine with weight training. Studies also show an increase in fat-free mass after a week of supplementation. This increase is due to water, but with proper resistance exercise training it can be muscle mass. Since vegetarians consume much less creatine in their diets, supplementation would be very beneficial for the herbivorous athlete. Be careful though, excessive creatine use can be damaging to the kidneys.

If you tire easily, it could be because your body doesn’t have enough carnosine. Carnosine helps prevent your muscles from becoming too acidic. When your muscles’ pH drops, enzyme function and muscle excitation-contraction coupling events suffer. This is a main cause of muscle fatigue. Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in just four weeks, and 80 percent in 10 weeks. _Beta alanine_ is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is absorbed by skeletal muscle and used to synthesize carnosine. It can be responsible for that weird pin-like tingling feeling you may experience after taking pre-workout. Personally, I love it – it makes me want to throw a treadmill through the wall!

For those of us looking for that pump, L-arginine can help with that. L-arginine is essential for nitrous oxide production within the body. Nitrous oxide makes the blood vessels expand, increasing blood flow throughout the body (yes guys, it’ll help with your boners too). L-arginine has some other cool properties too – it has been shown to increase immune response and be beneficial for diabetics.

There are a lot of other cool ingredients one can find in his or her pre-workouts as well. The four I covered, are four of the most common and trusted. When looking for a pre-workout, ALWAYS READ THE LABELS! Make sure you are checking out serving size and supplement amounts. If you don’t know what something is, look it up. Make sure that your information is coming from a reputable source as well. I’ll be honest; a lot of pre-workouts are full of shit – both their ingredients and their claims.

When taking pre-workout, one may eventually notice that one scoop of powder is no longer doing the trick like it used to. Rather than increase your dosage, I would recommend taking some time off. As with most chemicals, your body will eventually build up a tolerance to pre-workouts. Increasing the dosage can lead to extremely negative health consequences. It’s a smart idea to cycle on and off. Personally, I’ll do three weeks with, followed by one week without. Pre-workouts are constantly being pulled from shelves and reformulated because people abuse them and die. Last year, an Instagram famous bodybuilder died from pre-workout abuse. Apparently he enjoyed snorting lines. Don’t be a dumbass. Be smart, be mindful, and be healthy!

Mark David is a NASM certified personal trainer. He advises that you talk with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or starting a workout regime. You can find him at New Orleans Athletic Club, Downtown Fitness Center or behind the bar at Oz. He can be reached at



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