Preworkout supplements give you an extra boost and a lot more edge while training. The problem is they are super expensive and loaded with unnecessary ingredients (half that don’t work).
In this article I’m going to show you how to make your own pre-workout drink without any filler.
We will start with the absolute basic that will give you the edge, and throughout the article add different supplements that will give you long term benefits.
Preworkout & The Power Of Placebo…
One important thing to note about preworkouts; they are not steroids. They are not magic.
You don’t take “two scoops” and instantly destroy it at the gym.
There are ingredients that give you an edge, but an important part is placebo.
Yep – placebo.
This isn’t to say that preworkouts themselves do not work, but they don’t do nearly as much as you think.
Depending on what they were testing for, both groups saw results whether or not it was a legitimate supplement.
Now, like always studies themselves mean jack. But think about it…
The ritual of making your preworkout drink simply puts you in the mood to crush it in the gym. That’s the placebo effect and there’s nothing wrong with it. If the ritual of making a preworkout drink gets you in the mood, then so be it! Use that energy to kill it at the gym.
Aside from placebo, there are genuine performance enhancing ingredients, so let’s jump into the main one now.
The Magic Pre-Workout Ingredient You Pay So Much Money For…
The purpose of your preworkout drink is to get you jacked.
It gets you pumped. Full of energy.
Ready to kill it in the gym.
There is usually only one ingredient in your entire “secret formula” of whatever brand of preworkout that you drink providing this immediate edge.
The other ingredients (which we’ll cover in a sec) are helpful for other stuff, but not necessarily needed in a PRE workout drink.
So, what is the magic ingredient?
You Will Get The Same Results As Your Expensive Preworkout By Taking Caffeine Pills – Guaranteed
The near-instant rush you feel from your preworkout is a combination of the stimulant effect of caffeine, mixed with placebo.
It gets your heart pumping, gets you focused, helps you concentrate.
Almost everything you feel from your preworkout is from caffeine.
Overpriced, flavored caffeine.
Look at the caffeine contents of these popular preworkout drinks:
Youtuber Kali Muscle created his own preworkout “Hyphy Mud” while in prison. All he did was mix instant coffee with caffeinated soda (Pepsi/Coke).
No need to get fancy. Just get caffeine in your system.
Either drink black coffee, make a drink with caffeine powder, or take caffeine pills (highly recommended).
You can get 100 tablets that are 200mg each on Amazon. That’s 100 wokouts for less than pre-mixed workout. A lot cheaper than tub after tub of preworkout juice.
What About All The Other Ingredients In These “Proprietary Blends”?
Hate to break it to you, but most of the other ingredients are complete filler.
There are some commonly added ingredients that provide long term benefits, but not necessarily “pre workout” boosts. The closest being L-Arginine but I’ve never noticed a big difference when using it.
By saturating the amount of creatine in your system over time you will reap it’s benefits. Better recovery, water retention increasing muscle size, more strength, etc. While the results are not phenomenal (creatine isn’t a steroid), they are worth noting.
The recommended dose is 5-10 grams/day. You can “load” up on creatine so it will saturate your body much faster. That means taking a double dose for 2-3 weeks, then the normal dose continuing on.
You take caffeine to stop feeling tired, and you take citrulline malate to fight off muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is the decrease in the maximum amount of force or power that you can apply during a movement (pushing, pulling for example).
One aspect of muscle fatigue is ammonia build up. Ammonia is a by-product of your body processing nitrogen and is removed via urine. If you don’t drink enough water or eat enough carbohydrates (as your body is burning protein), your sweat can smell like ammonia.
Citrulline malate comes into this as it increases the urea cycle (removing waste products via urine), therefore removing even more ammonia. This study concludes that in the control group, muscle soreness was decreased as much as 40% after 24 hours of exercising.
Even more so, citrulline malate increases the amount of arginine in your body. Arginine is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide (abbreviated as NO) in your body, which aids in blood flow.
Here’s what I recommend on Amazon:
Why would you want to increase nitric oxide? NO allows blood vessels to widen, which can deliver more blood to muscle fibres. Delivering mode blood to muscle fibres greatly increases muscle endurance in the gym, and also gives you The Pump.
This is the cause of the preworkout tingles you’ve probably felt before. Like creatine, Beta-Alanine’s benefits are seen from saturating your muscles over time. This makes the “preworkout” part of it pretty much useless aside from the tingles!
The standard dose for beta-alanine is 2-5 grams/day
This amino acid helps your body synthesize NO (nitric oxide) as made famous by certain preworkout drinks. It can help with blood flow, which aids in the nutrient transport to working muscles. L-Arginine has been show to increase growth hormones in the blood.
While this is the last ingredient on the list, it can still help increase your performance and most importantly your recovery (check my other article on the best foam rollers for recovery).
The benefits of adding these other ingredients to your preworkout are convenience and furthered placebo effect…
Look, I know it sounds like BS that plain old caffeine will get you the boost you need, but it will.
You can find preworkout recipes online and they call for the ingredients listed above, but they will most likely not make a difference for you whatsoever. I invite you like always to test it out yourself, but for most there will be no measurable effect.
The big benefit to adding things such as creatine, glutamine, BCAA’s, beta-alanine, etc. to your preworkout is conveniently being able to take many supplements at one time.
Another thing you should think about adding to your preworkout is salt (yes, salt!). Read my other article about salt in your preworkout and why it works. Be prepared for an amazing pump at the gym!
The Ultimate Preworkout…
At the end of the day, the ultimate preworkout supplement is the one that you enjoy taking, get results from, and safely use.
I’ve picked apart several ingredients and found that caffeine is the best for me. No filler, it’s cheap, and it provides the entire “rush” I feel from any preworkout I’ve ever taken (aside from the beta-alanine tingles).
You’ll more than likely have the same results and save a ton of money on ridiculous powders 🙂