It’s not uncommon to want an edge when it comes to building muscle. After all, most people don’t have hours and hours of free time to spend at the gym lifting weights. However, anabolic steroids and some other substances that could increase muscle mass are dangerous and banned in many cases. It can seem like there aren’t any non-prescription, legal methods to build the muscle that you want. But, that’s not entirely true. There are actually pre-workout supplements, and while they may not pack quite the punch of anabolic steroids, they are usually safe and fairly effective. And, they may just be worth the cost. There are many benefits of using pre-workout supplements.
Popular workout supplements have a few key ingredients that are common across the board. Oftentimes, these supplements will use B vitamins and caffeine, with the main active ingredient being Creatine. Creatine is a natural substance that indirectly helps your body make better muscle contractions. Your body does produce Creatine naturally, and you can also get it from protein sources like meat and fish. However, supplements often provide an extra boost of Creatine that is hard to find in food alone.
Benefits at the Gym
It’s no surprise that workout supplements are popular among the young athletic crowd. It’s possible that up to 40% of college athletes use Creatine supplements. And, they may have a good reason. Creatine can help improve athletic performance, including increases strength and muscle mass while reducing recovery time. So, people taking Creatine may actually show greater progress in their athletic performance in a shorter amount of time. In addition, the B vitamins that commonly show up in pre-workout supplements can provide focus to an athlete, allowing him or her to compete at a higher level more easily. Caffeine can also help with that focused, alert state, which is why so many people drink coffee (with caffeine) or energy shots (with B vitamins) in the afternoon. And, while taking a supplement in tablet form may not help give you extra energy, consuming your pre-workout boost in the form of a food bar or a shake may give you the extra calories in your system that you need to push yourself during a workout.
Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements
As with any substance that can change the way your body functions, there may be side effects to using pre-workout supplements. However, the side effects are generally mild. The biggest risk is of an allergic reaction, since some people are allergic to Creatine or other substances in workout supplements. If you do experience an allergic reaction from a pre-workout supplement, it’s important to discontinue use and seek out medical help if the reaction is serious. Another risky side effect is possible cardiac problems, though this is usually only an issue if you overdose on the supplement. Taking it as directed should avoid any danger of negative cardiovascular effect. It’s also a good idea to drink a lot of water while taking pre-workout supplements, as some of the ingredients can be diuretics and can make you dehydrated. And, don’t take a supplement containing caffeine too close to bedtime, or your sleep cycle can be thrown off.
If you’re looking for that extra help in the gym, then you may want to give a pre-workout supplement a try. However, if supplements aren’t for you, you can always try eating a healthy snack before you work out. One containing complex carbohydrates and proteins eaten 30 minutes before exercising could give you the extra energy you need to push yourself harder.