pre-workout supplements

The pre-workout or pre-training is one of the most used supplements to increase performance in the gym.

However, they are not all the same. Depending on their composition, some may have more significant side effects and contraindications than others.

The following article aims to evaluate the composition of the different types of pre-workout supplements and determine which is the best in terms of sports performance.

What are pre-workout supplements?

Pre-workout (or pre-workout) supplements are a type of sports supplement that you take before training. Most serve to stimulate the nervous system and increase athletic performance.

Not all pre-workout supplements are the same. Some are made based on synthetic compounds and others with natural components. Although, it can be said that most are high in caffeine, vitamin C, and amino acids.

Most pre-workout supplements are touted as fat burners or even labeled as thermogenic on their label.

Types of pre-workout supplements

There are four types of pre-workout supplements:

  1. Central nervous system stimulators – use caffeine as the main ingredient.
  2. Pre-workout for strength usually includes creatine and BCAA amino acids in their composition.
  3. Preworkout supplements focused on intensifying blood flow made up of essential amino acids like arginine and citrulline
  4. Compounds – combinations of the first 3

What are pre-workout supplements for?

Determining what pre-workout or pre-workout supplements are for depends on their type. Those with caffeine stimulate the nervous system, which increases the intensity of workouts.

Those with amino acids and creatine will improve muscle strength and energy. Those that have amino acids will serve to prevent muscle destruction.

In a study where athletes were supplemented with compound pre-training supplements, significant changes in sports performance were observed. In particular when executing high intensity workouts or HIIT. (6)

These pre-workout supplements were 100 mg of caffeine, 1.5 g of creatine, 1g of BCAA amino acids, 9 g of whey protein, 2.5 dg of cordyceps, and 0.75 of citrulline and Rhodiola. (6) A relatively safe combination in terms of health.

While these effects have been proven by science, all studies emphasize not overusing the amounts of pre-workout with caffeine to avoid side effects.

Which of the pre-workout supplements is better?

Branched amino acid types of pre-workout supplements like beta-alanine are best for increasing endurance and avoiding the process of muscle breakdown or muscle catabolism.

Those that include L-arginine with citrulline in their composition are capable of increasing the dilation of blood vessels. This is because both amino acids are precursors of nitric oxide.

Pre-workout supplements that use caffeine as the primary ingredient influence brain stimulation and increase physical activity.

The bad news: Too much of it can lead to serious side effects like forgetfulness, anxiety, and depression. (5)

Pre-workout Supplements – List of Contraindications

Several studies confirm side effects after consuming doses of caffeine greater than 300 mg daily. (1,2,3)

Some pre-workout supplements can have up to 250mg of caffeine per tablet. Therefore, taking more than one tablet per day is not considered safe.

Pre-workout contraindications apply to those whose caffeine doses are high. Secondary symptoms may appear from taking them excessively and for long periods in these cases. Contraindications and possible side effects of pre-workout are:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Addiction
  • Humor changes
  • Long-term lack of concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • They are not recommended for diseases suffering from coronary heart disease
  • They are not recommended for people who are under psychological treatment
  • They are contraindicated for pregnant women and children under 18 years of age

Also, pre-workouts containing creatine should be taken cyclically. This is due not to the formation of stones, as it has been confirmed that this is simply a myth. But due to the formation of secondary compounds with potential carcinogenic effects.


  • Pre-workout supplements are sports supplements intended to increase an athlete’s effectiveness and performance.
  • The composition of pre-workout supplements varies by type. The most common ingredients are caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline, and arginine.
  • The side effects and contraindications of pre-workout are more significant for those whose doses of caffeine are high. Excessive sweating, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and mood swings are the most common.

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