What Are The Cons of Pre Workout?
When it comes to pre workout supplementation, the benefits are obvious. Depending on what kind of pre workout you take, you can expect to have more energy, better recovery time, increased hydration or even improved muscle growth.
But what about the cons?
What are the cons of pre workout?
First, let’s talk about the different kinds of pre workout.
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.
- Energy Boosters
- Pump Boosters
- Recovery Aids
- Hydration Aids
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.
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.
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 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.
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 What Are The Cons of Pre Workout?
Lets go over one of the most universal cons first:
If you are taking any substance with a stimulant in it like caffeine or guarana or even sugar, you always risk over stimulation. It is very common when taking a pre workout that contains caffeine and other stimulants to experience jitteriness, restlessness and even a pinpricking sensation on your skin.
These are all part of being overstimulated and generally, as long as you’re on your way to the gym and work off that extra energy, it won’t be a big deal. If you are especially sensitive to caffeine on the other hand, or if you take your pre workout and then proceed to miss your workout session (it happens) you may be stuck sitting around in a somewhat uncomfortable situation.
Any pre workout with caffeine or other stimulants may have this effect. Even a cup of coffee can leave you feeling overstimulated!
This is a big one.
Sleep is one of, if the number one most important factors when it comes to getting in shape. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, getting good sleep could be the make or break your progress.
Unfortunately, taking any sort of stimulant, especially late in the day, can have a negative impact on your sleep.
If you work out late in the evening, it may be best to forego a caffeine laden pre workout supplement to avoid the negative repercussions.
There’s a lot to be said for getting that extra boost of energy for your workout, but nothing beats a good night sleep.
Taking a pre workout can have you feeling great and raring to go at first, but you may start to feel tired as the stimulants leave your system.
This is especially true with supplements that contain a lot of caffeine or sugar.
The new big thing is to eat Rice Krispies Treats before a workout for the energy boost that comes with the easily available sugar, but the crash afterwards is not always worth it.
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can have the same effect as well. Making you feel slow and sluggish when the effects of the stimulant eventually wear off.
Workout/Goal Specific Drawbacks
Pre workout can be a game changer for your fitness goals. Just make sure that you get the right pre workout for your purposes!
Sometimes, the answer to “What are the cons of pre workout” can be “it depends.”
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:
- Give you energy
- Help with hydration
- 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 certain scenarios, especially for 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.
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.
Pre workout supplements are great for all kinds of exercise but you should always consider the pros and cons before taking any sort of supplement and make sure that your pre workout fits your needs and your goals.
Do you already have a favorite pre workout? Let me know down in the comments what you like and what you use it for!
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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Hey I’m Patrick!
I built my first home gym in 2012, when I decided I was tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and I started GGC in 2020 to help people find the info they need to improve their fitness and their lives.
I’m passionate about fitness, especially when it comes to working out at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to do and what not to do, and my mission is to share that knowledge with the world!