Should You Take a Pre Workout Before Cardio? [2023]

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick

Should You Take a Pre Workout Before Cardio?

You ever get ready to go for a run and wonder, “Should I that a scoop of that pre workout I got for lifting?”

You’re not the only one, and surprisingly (or maybe not, depending on how familiar your are with these sorts of questions) the answer is probably “it depends.”

What is Pre Workout For?

Pre Workouts come in shapes, sizes and flavors and although they are primarily known for, and used for, giving you a nice burst of energy before a workout, they can serve many more purposes than just giving you energy.

Should you take a pre workout before cardio?
Should you take a pre workout before cardio?

What Are the Different Kinds of Pre Workout?

There are tons of different kinds of pre workouts and people take them for many different reasons.

  1. Energy Boosters
  2. Pump Boosters
  3. Recovery Aids
  4. Hydration Aids
  5. Creatine

Energy Boosters

Many people take pre workout supplements specifically for the purpose of giving them a boost of energy during their workout. For this reason, energy boosting pre workout supplements are probably the most common form of pre workout for sale on the market, especially if you consider all of the things that people take as a pre workout that are not necessarily marketed as, or used exclusively as, pre workout supplements. (Coffee, Rice Krispies Treats etc.)

The vast majority of these pre workouts contain caffeine as their primary ingredient for giving you energy. Some will also contain other stimulants like guarana or theacrine.

Pump Boosters

Some pre workouts are formulated to give the user a better or fuller “pump” after a workout session.

If you’re a cardo only kind of person, you may be unfamiliar with what this means, but a “pump” is what happens temporarily after you spend some time lifting heavy weights and your muscles are swollen and full.

Should you take a pre workout before cardio - Pump
Should you take a pre workout before cardio? – Pump

For some people, the pump is the best part of working out, so they take supplements to increase this effect. For this reason, some pre workout formulas contain things like beta alinine to help them get those dramatic post workout pumps.

Recovery Aids

Recovery may not sound like the most exciting part of the whole workout cycle but it is arguably the most most important part.

Being able to recover faster means being able to exercise more often with greater efficiency and can lead to much better outcomes over the course of time.

Many people choose to supplement with things like BCAAs to help increase the efficiency of their recovery, post workout.

Hydration Aids

Exercising, is a pretty sweaty activity whether you’re lifting weights or running a marathon. It can be immensely valuable to be able to improve your ability to hydrate yourself.

Some pre workouts include electrolytes to assist in hydration, BCAAs are also a good option for this.


Creatine is one of the most common supplements on the market for body builders and weight lifters for good reason. It is considered by many to be the most effective supplement for building muscle.

Creatine can be taken by itself as a separate supplement, but many pre workout formulations include it as well. Creatine has a marked effect on your body while you are using it and you should make the decision of whether or not you want to use it before you choose a pre workout supplement.

A Quick Note Regarding Different Kinds of Pre Workout

Note that these different kinds of pre workout are mutually exclusive. When shopping for a pre workout, you may find one that has caffeine and guarana for energy, creatine for muscle growth and BCAAs for enhanced recovery.

So Should You Take a Pre Workout Before Cardio or Not?

Pre workout can be a really great thing for cardio, absolutely. Just make sure that you get the right pre workout for your purposes!

Example time!

If you’re training for a 10k and you plan to spend the next hour or so on the treadmill, you should be looking for a pre workout that will do a few things:

  1. Give you energy
  2. Help with hydration
  3. Improve your recovery

So in this case, a pre workout with caffeine and BCAAs might be just what you need to take your run to the next level!

On the other hand, you should probably avoid pump boosters, as they really won’t be of benefit to you and your specific goals.

A Note On Creatine

Creatine is great for promoting muscle growth and workout intensity, but when it comes to cardio, I generally choose to avoid it.

When taking creatine, your body starts to retain more water resulting in higher mass overall.

If you’re a runner or training for some other long distance endurance event, every extra pound of water weight is just more to carry around.

Should you take a pre workout before cardio - Creatine tips
Should you take a pre workout before cardio? – Creatine tips

Don’t get me wrong, creatine supplementation is not totally incompatible with cardio exercise.

Some people choose to alternate weight lifting days and cardio days in their weekly workout schedule and taking creatine to enhance muscle growth can be very effective. In this case I would not recommend against supplementing with creatine at all!

If you are actively training for a specific cardio event on the other hand, I would steer clear of creatine supplementation so as not to make things harder on yourself.

Final Words

Pre workout supplements are great for all kinds of exercise, cardio included. Just make sure that you are educated and informed on what kind of supplement your taking to make sure that you’re getting the best benefits possible.

There are hundreds of different pre workout supplements on the market, so don’t be afraid to try them all!

Do you already have a favorite? Let me know down in the comments what you like and what you use it for!

Further Reading

I hope that you enjoyed your time with us and that we’ve answered the question should you take a pre workout before cardio?

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