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Pre-Workout Supplements 101: What You Need to Know

woman pouring powered supplement into container

Whether you’re looking to hit a new one rep max on deadlifts or to go the extra mile on your next run, you want to get the most out of your workout.

However, we all have days when our motivation levels are low or when an extra boost could help us raise the bar on our routine. In those moments, the right pre-workout supplement can be the perfect solution. But what exactly do pre-workout supplements do?

In this post, we will discuss pre-workout supplements and how they can help you take your exercise to the next level. Let’s get into it.

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements? 

The most common pre-workout supplements come in a powdered form that you stir into water and drink before exercise.

Each supplement comes with a unique formula of stimulants and herbal extracts to help you improve your performance while working out, and the results are impressive when you find the right supplement. 

Typical benefits of pre-workout formulas include:

  • Heightened energy levels
  • Improved focus
  • Increased physical performance

What Do Pre-Workout Supplements Do?

We’re not going to break down every bit of a pre-workout supplement nutrition facts label and tell you what each one does, but there are some common active ingredients with consistent effects on performance. Here is how three of the most popular pre-workout ingredients affect your body:


Caffeine is the most common active ingredient in a pre-workout supplement, which improves your energy level and focus.

Numerous clinical trials show that caffeine is a proven way to block adenosine — a neuromodulator that acts as a sedative — to reduce fatigue. As a result, you can push through a more strenuous workout without stopping.


Pre-workouts also tend to contain beta-alanine, a compound that can temporarily increase muscle output, allowing for more reps when lifting weights.

If you take a pre-workout supplement with beta-alanine, you’ll often feel paresthesia — a tingling sensation in your face, torso, and hands. While it can initially feel strange, it is completely normal and has no long-term effect on your health.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Lastly, pre-workout formulas typically contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These amino acids work with essential amino acids to help muscles recover quickly when taken before a workout.

Because of the increased muscle recovery, BCAAs help your muscles grow back stronger and increase gains during strength training.

What Should You Look for in a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Before grabbing the next pre-workout you run into at the store, it’s essential to consider your use case. Ask the following questions to narrow in on what’s the best choice for you:

  • Am I going to take a pre-workout to increase reps and muscle gain?
  • Do I want to use a pre-workout to help during my cardio exercises?
  • Am I looking to enhance mental clarity as much as physical performance?

Different pre-workouts work better for different exercises. Once you determine where a pre-workout will help your routine, you’ll know what to look for.

For example, if you’re looking to shed fat, you may want to choose a pre-workout formula that helps with calorie burn. On the other hand, a pre-workout supplement focused on increasing your reps will be more beneficial if you want more muscle.

What Are Common Pre-Workout Supplement Side Effects?

Pre-workout supplements typically contain high levels of caffeine — our top-performing supplements have around 350mg/serving. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may experience jitters or trouble sleeping if you use pre-workout later in the day.

Some pre-workouts may also cause gastrointestinal issues if you have not built up a tolerance to them. We suggest starting with half of the recommended dose (typically a half-scoop) for a week or two until your body is familiar with the supplement.

When Should You Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?

One common mistake people make when they drink a pre-workout is downing it on their way to the gym or starting their first set.

Most pre-workout supplements must cycle through your system before you begin your workout. Typically, that means you should drink your pre-workout between 30 and 45 minutes before you hit the gym.

Choose Black Diamond Supplements for Your Pre-Workout Needs

You deserve a pre-workout that works as hard as you do, and Black Diamond Supplements should be your first stop to find the best pre-workout supplements to meet your muscle-building needs.

We have spent over a decade refining the products we carry to give our customers the best pre-workout experience, and our detailed product descriptions give you insights into what to expect when taking the supplement. Browse our pre-workout supplement selection today to find the right formula for you!

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