Sagging a Bit? Supplements Can Charge Your Exercise

You don’t always show up to every workout at 100%. A pre-workout supplement may be what you need to boost your training slump.

Also dubbed just “pre-workout,” a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that combining pre-workout with HIIT produced increases in training volume and lean body mass while speeding up body-fat loss for recreational athletes.

The most popular are mixed with a drink, taken around 30 minutes before working out.

As always, it’s important to read the ingredients on everything you consume, especially supplements. Look for accreditation from companies like NSF International or Informed Choice because both follow a strict vetting process to verify quality and purity.

What to look for

  • Caffeine — Found in many pre-workouts ranging from mild to extreme levels. Too much can lead to anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure. The average adult should consume no more than 400 mg per day. Some pre-workouts contain up to 410 mg, and that’s not including your morning coffee.
  • Beetroot juice — A 2017 study found that this increases the body’s levels of nitric oxide, which expands blood vessels and increases blood flow, and improves cardiovascular performance. A 2020 study reported that people who took a beetroot supplement before a 30-second cycling sprint test produced more power with less exertion.
  • Creatine monohydrate — This is a derivative of three amino acids naturally produced in the body and stored in the muscles for quick energy. Creatine in high doses can help build muscle mass and increase strength over time.

Stay hydrated if you’re taking this; digestive issues and muscle cramps can happen without hydration. Check with a physician if you have diabetes, kidney problems or other health conditions.

  • Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) – This is a substance your body makes out of the amino acid leucine found in protein-rich foods. Your body can use only 5% of the leucine you consume; the only way to get more is through supplementation. HMB helps recovery reducing muscle breakdown and improving muscle repair.
  • B vitamins — All play important roles in energy production and efficiency, while vitamin B12 supports blood production and vitamin B3 boosts DNA repair and promotes healthier skin.

Try the food-first approach to get what you need, then supplement for more. These supplements can step up your results, but leafy greens, meat and coffee can give you a cheaper and natural boost.