Pre-Workout Supplementation

In my previous blog, I explained the importance of post-workout supplementation, you can click here to see this post. In this blog, I will cover pre-workout supplementation – which is just as important!

It is vital for individuals to fuel themselves properly before any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activities. This “fuel” will provide you with enough energy to complete the entire workout and avoid feeling sluggish by the end.

Many individuals blame their lack of exercise on low energy levels. With our busy lives, it is no surprise that being tired will deter people from consistently being active. Pre-workouts can consist of, but are not limited to: pre-workout powder, creatine, gels, caffeine, and snacks. These products can provide the boost needed to make every workout feel great.

Similar to post-workout supplements, please consult your doctor before trying any supplementation for the first time.

Types of Pre-workout supplements (at your local supplementation store)

Pre-workout (powder form)

When people think about pre-workout supplementation, most people turn to the consumption of pre-workout powders. You may see gym goers drinking multi-coloured drinks or pouring a scoop of white powder into their shaker bottles. This is often pre-workout, and as the industry continues to grow, a greater number of individuals will consume this supplement.

Pre-workout claims to boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and improve endurance. It consists of a concentrated combination of caffeine, carbohydrates, and other ingredients (depending on the brand).

For example, a single cup of coffee will have approximately 90mg of caffeine, while a scoop of pre-workout can have anywhere between 150mg to 300mg of caffeine. This is double and even triple that of a regular coffee. Be cautious when taking these supplements if you have sensitivity to caffeine. Although it is very popular, there is a possibility these effects are due to the placebo effect.


The second type of pre-workout supplementation is creatine. It is naturally found in your body, however, additional amounts can lead to greater strength gains. It is stored as phosphocreatine in your body, which we use to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), or energy. This is not to be confused with the Association of Tennis Professionals.

ATP is what your body uses to produce force and as a result can yield more energy to perform exercises at the gym. People who take creatine generally go on cycles, which can be defined as a period taking the supplementation followed by a moment of abstinence. This can be better described in Progenex’s post on creatine cycling here. Lastly, creatine can help with water retention in your cells, which adds volume to your body and ultimately increases muscle mass. This is due to the fact you are moving a greater mass and requiring excess energy to do so.

Power Gels

Power gels can be purchased at your local sports, supplement, and grocery shop. They are designed to keep you going after an enduring event. It is essentially the liquid version of an energy bar which allows it to be digested quicker.

Power gels can either be taken 60-90 minutes in advance, or midway through your workout lasting more than 60 minutes in duration. Shorter workouts do not require the use of power gels part way through as you do not need a consistent energy source for a shorter duration.

Consuming these prior to working out would yield the best results for workouts less than an hour in length. They will typically give you the carbohydrates and electrolytes your body desires after long periods of exercise.


Caffeine is found in coffee, energy drinks, and tea – all of which are common everyday beverages. Despite being consumed on a daily basis, did you know it can benefit your workout routine as well? These drinks are often consumed throughout the day to boost your mental alertness and enhance body functioning.

It is recommended that caffeine should be taken 60-90 minutes prior to the onset of exercise for the best results. It can provide the energy needed to power through longer workouts and help you crank out additional reps in the gym.

However, caffeine is a diuretic so remember to stay hydrated after drinking caffeinated beverages!

Snacks (fruits, granola bars, etc)

Similar to power gels, eating a light meal 60-90 minutes before a workout or athletic event can be extremely beneficiary to the user. This time frame gives your digestive system enough time to process the nutrients and provide the fuel you need to power through a workout.

Fast digesting, simple carbohydrates should be consumed here. This can consist of: fruits, granola bars, seeds, and / or nuts. Be mindful of “bad” simple carbohydrates, such as cake, sugary candy, and chocolates. A good combination of foods can help you fight off hunger, provide the energy needed for workouts, and even fight off fatigue.

Which pre-workout supplement will you try before your next workout?

Kevin Kwok – Studio Coordinator

kevin3Kevin enrolled in numerous sports program as a child, which exposed him to an active lifestyle early in life. He played ultimate frisbee competitively at the junior level while in high school. Kevin now focuses his training exclusively on dragon boating. He has been paddling for the past 3 years and hopes to make the Canadian National Team in 2021. He hopes he can motivate others to accomplish their short and long term fitness goals.

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