Bodybuilding: is taking a pre-workout really necessary?

To enable you to bulk upWeight training must be accompanied by quality nutrition high in protein. Dietary supplements such as whey protein or pre-workout can help athletes achieve their goals. The pre-workout is known to give you quick energy and support the body in its muscular growth. But is it really necessary to take it before training?

What is a pre-workout?

In powder, tablets, ampoules, capsules or in the form of an energy drink, pre-workout is a food supplement to consume before your workouts in bodybuilding.


This "pre-workout" supplement is designed to prepare the body for high intensity training. This mixture of molecules is to be taken between twenty and thirty minutes before the beginning of your workouts. It allows to give more energy to your body, to facilitate the muscular recovery and to support theanabolism.

Pre-workout: a nutritional habit to optimize performance

Pre-workout is often presented as a modern version of the magic potion from Asterix and Obelix. In reality, it is not a miracle food. When you consume a pre-workout, the interaction of several molecular components gives you a boost of energy. It also regulates blood flow and muscle congestion.

This supplementation helps the body of the sportsman to reach better physical performanceIt is also involved in maintaining the glycogen stored in the muscles. It is also involved in maintaining the glycogen stored in the muscles.

In short, pre-workouts are not doping products. They help the body to push its limits, to fight against muscle fatigue and to achieve a pump effect, without brutalizing the body.

Who can use a pre-workout?

The pre-workout is intended for bodybuilders and for intermediate athletes who want to build muscle and accelerate their weight gain.

Indeed, these food supplements support the growth of muscles. They also help the body to fight against muscle catabolism. The catabolism is translated by the atrophy of the muscles. This phenomenon occurs when, during an intensive bodybuilding session, the body draws its energy from the muscle tissue rather than from the fat mass.

These supplements must be an integral part of a balanced diet rich in protein to promote muscle mass gain. In bodybuilding (and in all sports in general), performance is the combination of several elements: mental, technical, regularity, physical and especially nutrition.

On a personal level, I regularly use a pre workout before my workouts. For several years now, I have chosen the Big Shot from Prozis.


What is a pre-workout food supplement made of?

To be effective, a pre-workout must contain elements that stimulate the body. The following ingredients are generally found in a pre-workout:

  • caffeine,
  • arginine,
  • citrulline (or citrulline malate),
  • beta-alanine,
  • taurine,
  • isoleucine and leucine.

The caffeine is known to be a natural stimulant that energizes the body and helps you to burn more calories. However, be sure not to exceed 400 milligrams per day (equivalent to about three or four espresso coffees). While every body reacts differently, consuming too much caffeine can cause side effects such as insomnia, abnormal heart rate, excessive anxiety, heartburn and vasoconstriction.

L'arginine favors the muscle congestion by allowing a good vasodilatation and a better anabolic environment.

For its part, the citrulline is a non-essential amino acid naturally produced by the body from other elements. It improves congestion and develops strength and endurance by increasing nitric oxide level in the blood (the famous "NO"). Citrulline is interesting because it has a longer shelf life than arginine. It also reduces muscle fatigue by limiting the accumulation of ammonia in the muscles.

Citrulline can be replaced by citrulline malatean even more effective ingredient. It is the result of a mixture between citrulline and malic acid. Scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of citrulline malate in the context of sports. It makes it possible to increase theoxygen supply in the muscles, which delays the onset of fatigue and increases the explosive power. If the body is able to synthesize it naturally, the quantities produced are unfortunately insufficient. It can thus be interesting to consume it in the form of food supplement, up to 6 to 8 grams per day (in a specific way or in cure).

The beta-alanine also reduces muscle fatigue by reducing the effects oflactic acid. Many athletes use it to cope with intense sports sessions. A dose of 3 to 4 grams of beta-alanine is sufficient to benefit from its virtues. Taking beta-alanine can, however, cause a temporary tingling sensation in the extremities. This is of course not serious.

The taurine is very often present in pre workouts. It is an amino acid that acts as a performance booster. This is also the case for isoleucine and leucineknown to trigger the reconstitution of muscle fibers.

In addition to the pump effect and physical performance, food supplements present in sports nutrition also improve the concentration and the stress management.

What are the precautions to take when consuming pre-workout?


For supplementation to be effective, athletes must adopt a few habits. First of all, the consumption of pre-workout per day should not exceed 15 grams. Depending on the product you choose, this is usually one or two scoops from the scoop provided. Simply mix the supplement with 300 or 400 milliliters of water.

To prevent your body from becoming addicted to stimulants, it is advisable to avoid systematically consuming a pre-workout at each training program.

Furthermore, there is no need to double or triple the recommended dosage, just as there is no need to drastically reduce the quantity of nutritional supplements. Indeed, the purpose of these supplements is to provide your body with the energy it needs to perform during a physical activity.

The daily measure recommended by the manufacturers is therefore the ideal quantity. For optimal results, bodybuilding or fitness enthusiasts should drink their energy drink shaker between twenty and thirty minutes before the workout. According to the constitution of each one, the body will need this lapse of time for the assimilation and thenutrient absorption.

However, it is not recommended to take this supplement on an empty stomach. It is preferable to eat a light meal or a snack about an hour before taking the pre-workout. You will then be able to take advantage of the effect energy booster of pre-workout and benefit from improved endurance, increased mental focus and optimized muscle building.

How to choose the right pre-workout?


To choose the right food supplement, there are a few points to keep in mind.

First, choose a product that does not contain a lot of sugar. Contrary to popular belief, too much sugar in a booster does not give the body more energy, but instead provides a excess carbohydrates and calories.

Secondly, to be effective, a supplement does not need to be composed of dozens of elements. It is recommended to opt for products whose ingredients' effects on performance during physical activity are proven by serious scientific studies.

Thirdly, make sure that certain ingredients are present in the composition of the pre-training supplement. Beta Alanine and Caffeine are essential for improving muscular endurance and increasing resistance to burning and physical fatigue respectively. On the other hand, your pre workout should not contain more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per dose.

What is the best pre-workout to reach your sports goals?

To optimize the results of your training program and achieve the desired performance, it is possible to combine different food supplements. However, this depends on the objectives of each individual.

An athlete who aims to gain muscle will base his or her supplementation on the intake of creatine. Creatine is one of the non-essential amino acids (as opposed to essential amino acids) and increases physical capacities. During intense effort, this amino acid improves metabolism, endurance and muscle power.

On the other hand, an athlete who wants to lose weight and eliminate fat without losing energy will focus on the amino acid called carnitine.

Finally, to promote the body's resistance to fatigue and stress generated by physical effort, it is better to prefer a taurine-based pre-workout.

Is pre-workout an essential food supplement for athletes?

No, it is not essential to use pre-workouts. It can however be useful to improve your physical performance and mental health. Indeed, the nutrients present in this food supplement fit perfectly into a healthy and balanced diet. This has an impact on physical performance and muscle volume.

Without being a sine qua non condition to perform in the exercise of a sport, the contribution in power and the energy support of the pre-workout are not negligible.

However, it is possible to do without them. For example, if you take a coffee before training, you will obtain the same effects as those provided by a pre-workout, because coffee acts as a stimulant in case of fatigue.

Whether you consume coffee or a pre-workout, it is finally recommended not to take it all the time. This will prevent your body from becoming addicted to it.


Thanks to elements such as caffeine, arginine, beta-alanine or taurine, pre-workout is a useful food supplement for athletes who want to boost their energy before a bodybuilding session. However, it is not at all essential to consume them to perform and optimize your muscle development.

Other articles to read :

What are the food supplements for bodybuilding?

What is dextrose?

Peanut butter for athletes: good or bad?

All about BCAAs

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