Pre-Workout Supplements – Optimum Nutrition
Pre-workout supplements are quite common among athletes looking to improve their workout efficiency and get results faster. I do not recommend young athletes to use supplements but do not have an issue with older teenagers using some supplements if they have been counselled properly by an expert. If a teenager is at least 90% of the height of their parents, they are close to their peak height and can train harder and longer as a result. Not all supplements are appropriate for athletes who are still developing to physical maturity.
I have tried a few different pre-workout supplements and have not liked some of them. I am not inclined to bash products in my articles so I will mention what I found using them but will not name the product. I do however recommend products on occasion when I know they are good. Today’s article is about one of those products. NOTE: I am not a paid advertiser for this product so this is my honest opinion.
Pre-workout supplements can be powders that you mix in water or juice or can be a gel or liquid. The ones I have tried are powders as I find them more convenient to carry and use at the gym. I can leave it in the car in winter weather and not worry about it freezing. I just take the whole container as they are not traditionally large packages.
Flavor is an important aspect of a pre or post workout drink for some people but most do come in different tastes. What you mix them with as a powder will change the taste whereas a liquid or gel is one flavor only. If you are fussy, use a powder so you can adapt the other ingredients to your liking.
The other item to consider is the actual ingredient list. Most are added for performance enhancement and others for an energy boost. Example include:
- Citrulline – can help with performance when engaged in intense exercise.
- Amino acids – research has proven that the intake of amino acids (building blocks of protein) will boost their presence in muscles by up to 100% when taken as a part of a pre-workout supplement. A large advantage when trying to recover quickly.
- Beta-Alanine – known as a key building block of carnosine. Intense workouts will create acidic compounds and they can be neutralized by carnosine. Research shows you can train harder and longer if using it regularly in your pre-workout supplement.
- Caffeine – a well-known compound that improves mental focus and energy.
My only concern here is the use of caffeine with younger athletes. Caffeine in larger doses can be dangerous – ie. energy drinks like Monster or Red Bull. Be aware that the recommended daily intake of caffeine by youth is quite a bit lower than for adults. In Canada where I live, it is 80-100 mg depending on your size and age. That is far less than the amount most pre-workout supplements and energy drink will use. As an adult sized athlete, it is less of a concern but get professional advice before using ANY product designed for adult athletes with years of experience with training.
What have I found with the products I have used?
1. Their taste can be quite strong and leave an after-taste in your mouth and throat. This can be a distraction during training and may require you to drink water to flush the taste away.
2. There can be a variety of stimulant effects from very little to severe like chest pain and hyper-activity causing higher blood pressure. Take pre-workout supplements designed to increase your energy as prescribed on the container. Most will tell you to try ONE scoop for your first few workouts then build to two then three scoops only when you are sure your body is able to handle the quantity. This is where I had an issue with one product. After following these instructions, I found that three scoops was way too much. I developed some chest pains and an elevated heart rate that was not good. I lowered the amount used to two scoops and still found some issues. I quit using it as I did not like the overall effect. It did definitely make me realize that some supplements are not going to be useful for everyone. I strongly caution youth athletes to get educated before ever using these types of supplements.
3. The training effects I have found have been good or none existent. The one mentioned above did help give me energy for a LONG time for my training. Problem is I workout at night after 6:00pm. I was so hyped up physically, sleeping was nearly impossible for 4-5 hours. Follow labelled directions – it does say to avoid taking them later at night. The long term effect I found was that I was getting results faster. My maximum bench press and dead lift for example were increasing more quickly.
I have tried one that seems to be better than the others. Platinum Pre-Workout from Optimum Nutrition is quite good with a lot of the positive aspects previously mentioned. The taste I found to be mild when compared to others so it did not linger in my throat very long. I found it did give me a boost for my workout and did help get me through the tough ending of my workout when fatigue starts to settle in.
Are pre-workout supplements useful? Yes.
Are they for everyone? Maybe not. Know something about what you are using and do some research to determine if they are right for you.
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