Apr 22, 2020


We are all familiar with steroids and steroid-related drugs. They are frequently used by bodybuilders, professional athletes, but also regular people who want to improve their body shape and performance at the gym. However, while offering significant results many of them come with a wide variety of side effects. This is why the supplement industry has come up with additional ways of enhancing results, circumventing steroids altogether. They invented pre-workout supplements. These supplements come with fewer side-effects, boost performance in a more natural way, and even though they don’t increase muscle mass on their own, they can enable us to do more and do better at the gym. On top of that, most of them are completely legal and can be bought in every supplement store or ordered online. So, let’s see how they work.

What is pre-workout?

Pre-workout is a shake, meal or supplement which is taken approximately half an hour before the training. High-intensity trainings burn our energy and make us feel exhausted quite quickly. This is why even people who train regularly and professional athletes sometimes struggle to endure the whole training. Our energy reserves are limited, and it is expected that we sometimes feel we need to cut our training session short because we simply cannot go on. That’s why pre-workouts are invented to keep our energy high, give us the necessary boost at the gym, and significantly slow down the feeling of fatigue. Apart from improving endurance, they can enhance your performance which leads to better results, quick muscle formation and building stamina.

Pre-workout doesn’t necessarily have to be a bought pre-packed supplement. You can make your pre-workout meal or shake at home from natural ingredients. Pre-workouts differ, but they have to have protein and carbohydrates. If consumed as a meal, they should be taken an hour or two before the training in order to be digested properly. Ideal ingredients for a meal are fish, chicken meat, eggs and rice. The portion shouldn’t be too large, and eating great quantities doesn’t necessarily lead to better effects as your organism will struggle to process it. If you opt for a pre-workout snack, you can choose a banana, cup of coffee, boiled eggs or yoghurt. You should also make sure that you drink a lot of water to make your body properly hydrated. Home-made pre-workouts are cheaper and more accessible, and can give you similar results to supplements.

If you opt for pre-workout supplements, bear in mind that there is no strict formula with regards to what ingredients they will have. Many of them will contain the compounds used for producing Nitric oxide such as L-arginine, L-citrulline. Nitric oxide is naturally produced in our organism and it increases the blood flow which leads to better performance when training. Pre-workouts have the ability to improve the production of this substance. Many of them will also contain caffeine which energizes our organism, and improves fat burning process. Some of these supplements will contain creatine. You have probably heard of this substance which is frequently sold as separate product for enhancing the training routine. It improves endurance, delays the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, and increases muscle strength. This is why this substance is quite popular among professional athletes. Pre-workout supplements are frequently bought in the form of a powder which is mixed with milk or water and taken as a shake around 30 minutes before the training.

Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements contain some natural, but also some synthetic ingredients. As any other supplements, they can cause some side effects, but they are fairly insignificant compared to the ones caused by steroids. Side effects resulting from pre-workouts are short-term and they disappear once you stop consuming them. Some people would only have the benefits from using them and they will never experience any side effects. You should always remember that different organisms will have different reactions to a particular supplement. This is why pre-workouts should be tailor-made. As there is a wide variety of these on the market, you should try different ones until you find the one which is perfectly suitable for you.

Supplements which contain a high percent of caffeine can cause anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and general feeling of unrest. The supplement can contain as much as 500mg, which is as if you drank 5 cups of coffee at once. If you enjoy having some coffee during the day and add onto this caffeine from the supplement, don’t be surprised if you spend the night rolling around in your bed. If you experience these side effects, try using a different pre-workout with lower caffeine amount, or avoid drinking coffee during the day.

While creatine can bring many benefits to your training, it can also cause some digestive problems, water retention and weight gain. If you notice that you are feeling bloated after taking your pre-workout try switching to the one without creatine and find out if this is what’s causing it.

For improving muscle building and strength, some supplements contain a substance called Citrulline. This substance has the ability to improve blood flow in the muscles and the whole body, but it also increases the blood flow to your brain. The increased flow creates high blood pressure in the brain, which in turn leads to severe headaches. If you experience headaches after using pre-workouts, check the list of ingredients and opt for the supplements which don’t contain this substance.

Side effects don’t necessarily come from the substances which increase the performance. Many pre-workouts have great taste which comes from artificial sweeteners. Supplement industry tends to add different artificial sweeteners in order to make the shakes tasty without adding additional calories to their product. However, your organism might not tolerate these substances particularly well. The potential side effects are digestive issues, diarrhea and gases. If you experience these, try switching to the supplements with a different sweetener or try using pre-workouts without sweeteners. It might not be as tasty, but you will avoid the side effects.

Best Pre Workouts

Pre-workouts are often described as dietary supplements and as such they are not strictly regulated. This is why you should always check their ingredients, and opt for ones which are checked by a reputable third party – this information should be available on the label of the product.

Two popular substances frequently found in pre-workouts are DMAA and DMHA. DMAA is also known as 1,3-Dimethylamylane. But what is DMAA exactly? It is neurotransmitter with a thermogenic feature. DMAA has similar effects to caffeine which can give you more energy and enhance your performance at the gym. This substance reaches the central nervous system and blocks noradrenaline reuptake. At the same time, it triggers dopamine which leads to improvement of performance and overall feeling of confidence.

DMHA is also known under the name of 2-Aminoisoheptane. This is a psychoactive, central nervous stimulant which belongs to the group of monoamines. It has the ability to bind to transporter proteins which are in charge of recycling dopamine, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. DMHA is frequently called a successor of DMAA because they have similar features and effects.


Both substances belong to the group of monoamines and operate as reuptake inhibitors for the catecholamines. They block transporter proteins and increase the amount of neurotransmitters outside of cells. This increases energy, improves endurance, and makes you more focused. However, DMAA is stronger than DMHA by approximately 20 to 30%. Only 70 mg of DMAA has similar effects to 200 mg of DMHA. Also, it is worth mentioning that DMAA was banned by the FDA in 2012. It still exits on the market in some supplements since the legality of the substance is still debated. Due to the DMAA’s ban, the supplements containing it in its pure form are more difficult to find and therefore, more expensive. Both substances can be used as pre-workout with quite similar effects, and both of them can be combined with other supplements.


Pre-workouts are very important for overcoming the feeling of exhaustion, giving you more energy and improving your performance at the gym. If you are not a fan of synthetic supplements you can take a home-made pre-workout made of natural ingredients. Most of pre-workout supplements are legal and perfectly safe. However, even these supplements can sometimes have side effects. They won’t be as severe as the ones you can observe when taking steroids or steroid-based drugs. Make sure to recognize them on time and find the supplements which are beneficial for your organism. Some of the most popular pre-workouts contain either DMAA or DMHA. These are similar substances which can take your training to the next level and bring amazing results.

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