Deciphering Pre-Workout Supplements

Looking at the back of a pre-workout label can be a task in itself.

From understanding the significance of each ingredient let alone the pronunciation, to figuring out exactly what the heck a ‘proprietary blend’ is, can be quite confusing…

If you are interested in a few reviews on some popular pre-workout products click here.

For those that want to see what it takes to make your own pre-workout, click here! Although it takes some know-how and patience, it really isn’t that hard if you understand a few basic concepts. Most importantly, the feeling of playing mad scientist is sooo rewarding.


Pre-workout is popular among fitness enthusiasts to give them an extra boost before training.  This mixture of very different ingredients combine for increased strength, clarity, muscle growth, and recovery.
Although there are many great brands out there,  there are others that claim a special ‘proprietary blends’, which is just their way of trying to conceal the quantity/quality of ingredients and mask it as the next magical secret formula.  By claiming its ‘scientifically formulated’ or ‘clinically proven’ methods, it hypes their branding.  Here’s an explanation of some key ingredients to better equip you in deciphering pre-workout supplements.



But of course! Caffeine increases energy, decreases fatigue, and when used properly help cognitive functions. Caffeine is an integral ingredient in pre-workout to provide boost.

As with all forms of caffeine, be aware of the dosage you consume. Common guidance for max caffeine consumption is 300-400mg, and if you are drinking coffee, soda, tea, or other products that can easily put you over the limit.


Creatine is a strength enhancer. Naturally found in meats, creatine helps increase muscle mass and strength.  It is effective for those who weight train of those who participate in high intensity training, that can benefit from short bursts  of quickness.

There are a few drawbacks as you can imagine. Although widely studied and available, creatine is known for its water retention, thus adding on extra pounds.

Studies also show that there are no significant evidence in benefit for those that enjoy endurance sports. So pick and choose as you see fit.  Typically creatine consumption is about 5g per dose.


That tingly feeling many have when taking a pre-workout is due to beta-alanine. Beta-alanine helps combat fatigue.  This in turn increases performance, stamina, optimizing your muscle development.  Again, just like creatine, beta-alanine is geared toward shorts bursts found in strength training and high intensity activities like sprinting, not those focused on the likes of long distance swimming or marathon running.  Appropriate dosage is around 3-6g.



BCAAs, Branch Chain Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein.  Being a foundation for protein, and muscle development, BCAAs aid in tissue repair, reduction in muscle soreness, allowing your body to heal faster towards your goals of muscle growth and development. Appropriate dosage is around 5-10g.

Additionally, what’s great about BCAAs is that you can get them in various brands, in either pill or powder form.  I lean towards the powder form.  By doing it this way, I can combine all my crucial ingredients, into a flavor of my choosing, tying everything together.

Closing Words

There are a few other honorable mentions of ingredients that many would recommend, but these key ingredients have been tried and true in your quest to getting the best out of your workout.  I understand that trying to find proper guidance on fitness supplements is difficult, with folks proclaiming that its the next big thing! Or its a new miracle drug! But nothing comes without proper care and hard work.

I try to break everything down in a easy to digest form, but if you want the science behind all this please do your research and head over to WebMD, MayoClinic,, etc. for additional details.

So what do you think? If you are interested in making your own pre-workout, click here for a summarized version of the above, with possible tools you’ll need along your way.

As with everything, safety and care takes precedence, moderation is key.


til next time,




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