Pre-workout drinks and other supplements are all the rage with people in the body-building, cross-fit, and fitness communities. At least that's what influencers on Instagram would like for everyone to believe, and with so many types of supplements out there, there are pre-workout drinks for women, for men, for everyone.

Anyone who follows "celebrity trainers" or "fitness gurus" or stumbles across their pages on the gram have probably seen it by now — stories, videos, or static images of people parading the benefits of these drinks, bars, pills, and just about everything else that will get them pumped up before a big workout.

But what exactly are these supplements and what impact do they have the human body?

Hopefully this article makes the whole concept a little easier to understand.

Preparing a pre-workout drink

What Is A Pre-Workout Drink Made Of?

A lot of people need an extra boost of energy before they start an intense workout routine, and so many will turn to pre-workout drinks and supplements for a little kick.

The specific formula for each of these drinks differs from brand to brand with each company using proprietary recipes, but most, if not all, contain chemicals like caffeine, creatine, betaine, and other amino acids that help the body prepare for the workout ahead.

And it seems like the list of the pre-workout drinks and supplements grows with each passing day. Here are just a few of the most popular drinks on the market.

  • ABB Stack Pumped Energy Drink
  • Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy
  • Celsius Heat Carbonated Thermogenic Pre-Workout
  • BSN N.O. Xplode Pre-Workout Supplement
  • BSN Endorush Energy Drink

What Do Pre-Workout Drinks Actually Do?

Pre-workout drinks and supplements are taken by people so they can get more out of a workout and take it to a higher level than they would have if they had not taken anything for a boost. But besides loading people up with caffeine for a short-term boost, do they actually do anything?

Well, a study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy concluded that not only is there no scientific information to back up claims pushed by pre-workout brands, these drinks and supplements may also pose a health risk in the long run.

That study in particular admits that while some substances found in supplements can be beneficial when acting alone, there is conflicting evidence once two or more of these substances are mixed together, which is the case for most pre-workout drinks and supplements.


Pre-workout supplements don't really have health benefits in the traditional sense of reducing inflammation or preventing cancer and other conditions, but the chemicals found in most supplements and drinks can potentially assist in the working out department.

Most, if not all, pre-workout products contain high levels of creatine, which can help improve muscle growth and size by drawing fluids into the muscles.

Caffeine is another major component of pre-workout drinks because it can help enhance physical performance by anywhere from 11 to 12 percent as well as having properties to increase the "fight or flight" hormone, which allows the body to exert itself with more intensity.

Side Effects

There are also side effects to pre-workout drinks and supplements, however, which can have a negative effect on the body if they are consumed for extended periods of time.

Remember how caffeine provides the body with a boost of energy? Well, sometimes — if people don't follow the recommended dosage — it can result in unwanted over-stimulation, which can lead to heart rates that are dangerously high. That much abuse on the heart for extended periods of time can take quite a toll.

Other side effects range from something as small as a cramp to more severe side effects like kidney and liver damage. Here are just a few of the potential side effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Chest Pain
A woman mixes her drink

Why Do People Take Pre-Workout?

As previously mentioned, most people who take these supplements or drinks do so to have what they feel is a better and more productive workout. People will take specific supplements to meet the needs of the type of workout they are participating in that day. With supplements formulated for weight training, cardio, conditioning, and anything and everything in between, there is a different product for every need.

There are products that will help provide the body with nutrients that can extend muscle endurance as well as help muscles repair quicker than they would on their own.

And there are supplements and drinks that are loaded with enzymes that that help oxygenate muscles throughout the body, including the heart, which can help users have better performance for extended periods of time before the lactic acid in the body starts to kick in and bring them back down.

A musclebound man keeps track of his supplements

Are The Claims And Results Accurate?

As with any dietary supplement, people thinking about taking pre-workout supplements and drinks should conduct research as to what exactly they're putting into their bodies and how effective they are in terms of getting more results from their workout routines. They should also look at the pros and cons and see if this is something they should really be doing? Are they okay with the potential negative health effects that are tied to high doses of caffeine and other stimulants that will also give them more energy to workout longer, harder, and more often?

Those are just a couple of the questions they will have to ask themselves before they start any type of supplement-based routine.

In addition to conducting research into the pre-workout drinks and supplements they are looking to include in their workout routine, people should also look at reviews on websites like Amazon, where they'll find plenty of customer testimonials like the ones here:

  • An Amazon customer left a lengthy review of the Alpha Gx7 Pre-Workout supplement in which they desribed what they used, how they used it, and for how long they used it. This reviewer even went as far as to describe the changes they felt after taking the supplements (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, etc.) to provide a thorough examination of the product.
  • A far less detailed, yet effective review of the Six Star Explosion Pre-Workout by another Amazon customer gets straight to the point and writes their opinion of the product in no uncertain terms, saying, "[It] doesn't make my chest feel like it's going to explode."
  • A review of Cellucor C4 On The Go Zero Sugar Pre-Workout simply reads, "C4 on the go was the first preworkout I ever tried! It will always have a place in my heart."

The Verdict

If someone's concern with putting a lot of chemicals in their body outweighs their desire to have more intense workouts, they should probably avoid pre-workout drinks. However, if someone wants a boost of energy to take their fitness to the next level, then yeah, go ahead and try out a drink or supplement.

No matter which way they go, it's paramount that they know what they're getting themselves into and know what to expect, as is the case with any type of workout or diet.

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