WHAT MAKES OR BREAKS A PRE WORKOUT?
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
WHAT MAKES A PRE- WORKOUT?
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BCAA’S – 6000mg – Energy/Blunting Fatigue – 2:1:1 ratio
BCAA’s are the only amino acids that bypass the liver and go directly into the bloodstream, therefore going directly to the muscle. All 3 work together. A typical dose should be between 5 and 10 grams. Going too high can cause stomach issues in some people. 5-6 grams is pretty safe.
L-Leucine 3000mg – Is mostly known for being the “key player” in muscle protein synthesis. This is important AFTER workouts, leucine in not the MVP in PRE, valine is. Leucine is used as energy in the muscles during workouts. Also, leucine raises insulin levels which opens the doors to help creatine and carnitine get into the muscles. 2:1:1 ratio ensures more Valine and less leucine as compared to post workout supplementation.
L-Isoleucine 1500mg – The 2:1:1 ratio is easily recognized by the body, isoleucine provides energy in the muscle along with leucine. Studies also suggest that Leucine and Isoleucine boost fat loss when paired with diet and exercise.
L-Valine 1500mg – MVP. Valine competes for uptake with the amino acid Tryptophan which produces serotonin “feel good hormone” in the brain which makes us feel fatigued or sluggish. This is nice on thanksgiving (Turkey-high in tryptophan), but NOT during a workout. Valine plays a crucial role to prevent this fatigue, resulting in more energy for longer.
This amino acid (not a branch chained) helps naturally produce hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine, and also helps control metabolism. It can help blunt fatigue, improve energy and performance. Works with caffeine, huperzine, and Alpha GPC to blunt fatigue and improve focus.
CAFFEINE ANHYDROUS – 300mg – Drive/Focus
Caffeine is a Central nervous system stimulant. Provides more energy by binding to adenosine receptors in the CNS. When adenosine binds to its receptors it signals fatigue in the brain; preventing this signal increases focus and alertness. Increases strength by stimulating the nervous system, stimulates the nerves that activate muscle fibers with results in more forceful contractions. Binding to adenosine receptors on fat cells helps release more fat from fat cells that travel to the mitochondria (with the help of carnitine) where it is burned off for energy. It has also been shown to blunt muscle pain which can help you push farther past the pain barrier to failure which results in better muscle gain. Can enhance vasodilation by assisting in the production of nitric oxide.
CREATINE – 4g
Creatine is best taken PRE and POST workout. Creatine serves as an energy producing molecule inside muscle cells, readily assisting in the production of ATP. It also helps with cellular hydration by pulling water to the muscle cells through osmosis. Studies also show that it can increase levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and blunt the production of the muscle-growth-inhibiting protein myostatin. IGF-1 is a hormone that, along with growth hormone (GH), helps promote normal bone and tissue growth and development. Creatine is best taken continuously, it needs to be “saturated” in the muscles to be most effective.
Betaine is an amino acid, also known as Trimethylglycine, that is a great methyl donor. It’s good to have pre and post workout as it helps to form methionine, which helps the body naturally synthesize creatine and increase muscle protein synthesis. Methyl groups are critical in liver health, joint health, mental health and muscle growth. Methyl donors are critical in the body. Studies show that betaine can increase strength and endurance; strength and endurance can lead to muscle growth.
TAURINE – Energy
Taurine is an amino acid that is not a building block of protein. Instead, it is a functional amino acid shown to help with energy levels, muscle recovery, dietary fat metabolism and brain health. Also, supplementing with Beta-Alanine can lead to a deficiency of Taurine so they are good to supplement together. Take 1g once or twice a day, best time is before workouts to help improve performance, blunt fatigue, and improve energy levels. Can be put into a post workout to counter act the Beta-Alanine and ensure sufficient levels of Taurine are maintained.
BETA ALANINE (Carnosyn) – 4g per day in two doses. Pre and Post
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that combines with the amino acid Histidine to form Carnosine; which blunts fatigue during workouts. Carnosine is actually what provides all the benefits, but when taken on its own, it is just broken down into beta-alanine and histidine in the intestines. Carnosine works by increasing the buffering capacity of hydrogen ions in the muscle. These hydrogen ions are produced when lactic acid levels rise in the muscles. This means blunting of fatigue to keep pushing through intense exercise. The “Carnosyn” brand has been studied to show the benefits and is tested for purity. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and provides a stimulant effect. When taken daily, it can lead to gains in muscle strength and size. It must reach a threshold in the muscle after several weeks, much like creatine.
N-ACETYL-L-CYSTEINE (NAC) – N.O Booster
This is just a modified version of the amino acid cysteine, which works directly to scavenge for free radicals that damage muscles. NAC can enhance muscle recovery by decreasing muscle membrane breakdown. It reduces fatigue and assists in fat burning.
ALPHA GPC (ALPHA-GLYCERYLPHOSPHORYL CHOLINE) Drive/Focus
Alpha GPC stimulates growth hormone (GH) production by inhibiting a brain chemical that normally blocks GH output. It can enhance mental function by supplying choline, increasing acetylcholine production. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that nerves use to signal movement such as muscle contractions. It can help boost muscle strength & power during workouts. Also, it can improve focus and mind-muscle connection.
L-CITRULLINE DL-MALATE (2:1) – N.O. booster
L-Citrulline with malic acid. It is important to have the two together rather than just citrulline. L-Citrulline is converted into arginine in the blood to produce Nitric Oxide, it’s better than just taking arginine alone. L-Citrulline is readily absorbed by the intestines and doesn’t get broken down by the enzyme that breaks down arginine; arginase. The N.O. production relaxes blood vessels which allows more blood flow to the muscles. This helps oxygen, nutrients, and hormones get to the muscles. Malic acid (malate) is used in the body in the Krebs cycle to help produce ATP (energy).
A 6 gram dose of L-Citrulline Malate increases performance by reducing fatigue in endurance and strength training. 2:1 ratio is shown to be the most effective. (4g L-Citrulline:2g Malate)
BEET ROOT EXTRACT (BETA VULGARIS) – N.O booster
Beets contain a natural source of nitrates (NO3), these nitrates are broken down in the body to produce Nitrites (NO2), and further broken down into natural Nitric oxide (NO). This boost in NO levels helps increase intensity, reduce fatigue, increase endurance, help speed up recovery and help you lift more weight. This NO production obviously widens the blood vessels and allows better blood flow throughout the body, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
HUPERZINE A (HUPERZIA SERRATE EXTRACT) – Drive/Focus
Huperzine is a potent brain booster, promotes better focus, enhances memory, and boosts mood. It prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine by reducing the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholine is a crucial neurotransmitter that is needed, especially during workouts. Alpha-GPC also supplies more choline to enhance the amount of acetylcholine to be available.
BLACK PEPPER EXTRACT 95% PIPERINE/BIOPERINE
Enhances the body’s uptake of many nutrients. It works by direct activation in the intestines. Bioperine is the most reliable source.
Fulvic acid is a byproduct from microorganisms in the soil. It’s a catalyst or a “helper” compound. It is a carrier molecule which allows it to pick up micronutrients and deliver them throughout the body. Fulvic molecules have the “keys” to all the cell membranes to easily transport nutrients throughout the body. This is very important to overall cellular health. Studies show that it helps chelate, or remove, excess heavy metals in the body. It has been shown to help in the absorption in the intestines. It is good for the microbiome by repairing the microvilli in the small intestine, leading to better gut health. It is also a good anti-inflammatory. Fulvic acid is actually a very powerful polyphenol. Polyphenols act as antioxidants by neutralizing harmful free radicals and they can reduce inflammation.
WHAT BREAKS A PRE-WORKOUT?
Don’t take them before working out, they can negatively impact performance and muscle growth. This can be due to the fact that the anti-oxidants interfere with the natural processes that the muscles go through to remove free radicals in muscle tissue during exercise.
Niacin is usually put into a product to give you that tingly/flushed sensation that makes it look like the product is doing something. It is just causes vasodilation, that’s why you get the tingles. Niacin is just an essential B vitamin.
In order to get all the critical nutrients in the correct doses, a pre workout dose should be 20 grams or more! Many companies have between 5-12 gram scoops. TINY! Under dosed!
No Fat Burners
Burning fat during your workout is good. But burning fat during the other 23 hours of the day is just as important; if not more important. This can be done with fat burners throughout the day or by incorporating HIIT workouts to keep the body burning fat throughout the day.
No Abbreviated Formulas
Don’t label something as a “Pump Matrix” or “Brain Blend” and just leave it at that. The nutrition label should break down exactly how much of each ingredient is in the product and when all of those ingredients are added together, it should equal the total grams per serving.
No Agmatine Sulfate
This is a poor NO booster. Causes stomach issues and doesn’t have much research to support its use.
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