how long does pre workout last:

Pre Workout ABCs

What are pre workouts?

Many of us quite serious about their fitness goals regularly take or at least have considered taking pre workout supplements. Pre-workouts are anything that you take prior to your gym session in order to boost your overall performance for better results.

What do they contain?

You will find hundreds of pre workout supplements on the market made of different ingredients. But the most ingredients are:

  • Caffeine: It has been proved by a study that caffeine can allow one to lift heavier weights than those who don’t take it.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs are the major energy source of our body and one of the essential pre workout ingredients. They help fuel our muscles with glycogen that our body uses as a source of energy.
  • Creatine monohydrate: Creatine is another famous supplement in the fitness industry because it boosts production of energy in muscle cell level to improve muscle performance.

Aside from these, other ingredients for pre workouts include l-arginine, beta alanine, BCAAs, and beetroot juice. But if you prefer whole food that might work like a pre workout supplement, eat a few bananas and drink a cup of coffee 30 minutes before you hit the gym. You will also find many easy-to-prepare pre workout meals, snacks, and drinks that you can try to face a challenging workout with confidence.

How safe are they?

The FDA does not regulate any pre workout supplements on the markets, so they are not completely risk-free. However, although some supplements have been found with large amounts of caffeine that seemed something to be concerned about, all in all they are safe and no serious side effects from pre workout supplements have been reported yet.

How Long Does Pre Workout Last?

You might be wondering how long does pre workout last? Well, there is no fixed time duration that the effects will last for because there are many factors that have a role to play here. Generally, you can expect that your pre workout will take 30 minutes to kick in and energize you for 1.5 to 2.5 hours considering you are a healthy adult and your body is able to fully absorb the ingredients. Let us delve into the details and see how those factors determine the length of the pre workout supplement effects.

1. Ingredients and quality of your supplement

You will get long-lasting effects when your supplement would contain ingredients that are known to last several hours, such as nitric oxide or creatine. On the other hand, some ingredients are known to have short-term effects e.g. beta-alanine or caffeine that can back you up for 1-1.5 hours. This is the reason supplement manufacturers come up with a wide range of ingredients and proprietary blends that have both short-and long-term effects. Here is a round-up of how long does pre workout take to kick in and reach its peak levels:

Ingredients Kick-in Time Peak Levels
Caffeine 30 mins 1-1.5 hrs
Creatine 30 mins 1-2 hrs
Beta-alanine 30-45 mins 1 hr
L-arginine   15-30 mins 2-3 hrs

2. Dosage

Your pre workout supplement dosage could affect the effectiveness and duration of the effects the supplement produces. As a general rule, the supplement will stay longer in your body if you prefer a higher dose and vice versa. It is always important to remember that you should never exceed the dosage recommended by the manufacturer because this could even result in serious health complications. Almost all pre workout supplements come with guidelines on how you should take it before your workout.

3. You weight, muscle mass, and age

Everybody has a different physiological trait with different fitness goal with a different exercise routine and diet plan. So, the pre workout supplement you take would rely on what type of goal you have. If you are a 200-pound bodybuilder, your dosage will certainly be higher than a novice who is just getting used to the gym equipment.

4. Your diet

Only taking pre workout supplements is not enough, your body needs to absorb the ingredients well so you get the full benefits. If you are underweight and taking these supplements, you could suffer from headaches, nausea, and digestive stress. This could make you doubtful about whether the supplement itself is really safe and effective. Similarly, if you are a foodie and take a lot of food non-stop, your body could react negatively because it’s breaking down those excess digestive enzymes to feed to your muscles and there would not be any astonishing results from your supplement alone.

5. Your energy level

Pre workouts do give you that extra strength you need to finish off the last few reps of a set. But if you are stressed, depressed or have an unhealthy lifestyle, your body’s energy levels will be low and even the best pre workout supplement out there won’t do you any good. Avoid physical exhaustion and insomnia with enough rest, eat the right food, stay stress-free, and you will quickly realize how your supplement is helping you to have that “PUMP” that Arnold talked about long ago.

6. Dehydration

All fitness enthusiasts are well-aware of the importance of staying hydrated at all times. The human body needs enough body fluids to transfer nutrients from the digestive system to the bloodstream, muscle tissue, and the brain. So, drink as much water as you can all day long and your pre workout supplement will be more useful to you.

7. Alcohol consumption

Here is another good reason for you to give up on your drinking habit. Your brain chemistry and hormones determine how a stimulant would work in your body. Alcohol has a terrible effect on the natural testosterone production cycle, growth hormone (GH) discharge, and insulin sensitivity; making your brain idle because the neurons cannot comprehend chemical signals well. So, this could also have a negative impact on the duration of a pre workout on your body.

8. Neuronal adoption to the stimulants

If your body is accustomed to the same supplement, the ingredients may not be so effective in your system as they were before. In that case, try products from different renowned brands every once in a while for maximum benefits. We also suggest that you cycle off any pre workout supplement occasionally to keep your body receptive to it.

9. Caffeine tolerance

We would like to discuss a bit more about caffeine intake and how long does caffeine stay in your system because your genetic caffeine sensitivity has a role to play in determining how long a pre workout’s effect would last in your body. You know caffeine is present in every single pre workout on the market and many even prefer coffee to pre workouts. There are mainly 3 levels of caffeine sensitivity:

a) Normal sensitivity to caffeine: Those who fall in this category can take 200 to 400 Mg of caffeine every day without any side effects. Most people actually have normal sensitivity to caffeine that means it doesn’t matter how much caffeine is there in a pre workout, based on which the standard dose of caffeine has been established. If you fall under this category as well and your pre workout drink has the recommended dosage of caffeine, it will take about 45 minutes to kick in and last for 4-6 hours.

b) Hyposensitive to caffeine: Only 10% of people who fall in this category can take over 500 mg of caffeine a day and may not feel any significant effect at all, making them prone to having larger doses on a regular basis. Their pre workouts should have a relatively higher amount of caffeine (no less than 300 mg) to feel the real effects.

c) Hypersensitive to caffeine: These people react to even a very small amount of caffeine and could show caffeine overdose symptoms if they consume just 100 mg of caffeine per day. They should not try a pre workout with over 300 mg of caffeine because this will be enough to give them a faster kick in and longer-lasting effects for as long as 6 hours.

How to Know If a Pre-Workout is Really Working?

We have already mentioned that any supplement is able to do what it is supposed to do when the user leads a healthy lifestyle. If you fall into this category of people who prefer healthy living, you can expect to feel the energy boost that the pre workout supplement is fueling your body with.

  • A sudden increase in your energy level
  • Your mind gets focused and the only thing you can ever think of is how to lift those super heavy weights in the gym
  • Beta-alanine is known to give a tingling sensation on your skin which you will definitely feel if your pre workout contains this amino acid
  • You can lift more weights and do more reps with heavy weights that you could not do last week
  • Caffeine can cause excessive sweating that you might feel when your body is absorbing the ingredients
  • In short, try to compare a regular workout session with the one where you took a pre workout and see if there really was a difference

Helpful Tips to Make the Most of Your Pre-Workout Supplement

Finally, here a few tips for you to help you reap all the benefits from your pre workout supplement. Try these and you will get the answer to this question automatically – how long does pre workout stay in your system?

1. Take at the right time

Different pre workout ingredients have different action times, making it hard to determine when to take pre workout. Experts suggest that you take your pre workout snack or drink 20 to 40 minutes before you get to the gym. If you would like to know how to take pre workout, see our another blog where we discussed about this factor in detail.

2. Never mix pre workout supplements with coffee

Since these supplements have a large amount of caffeine content, you better never try to mix them with coffee or any other beverage full of caffeine. This is necessary to remember so that you don’t end up overdosing on caffeine. How long does caffeine stay in your system? Well, caffeine takes around 45 minutes to be fully absorbed and the effects last between 4 and 6 hours.

3. Never cross the recommended dosage

This is a general rule of thumb that you should never try to go through the “trial & error” phase with a new supplement yourself that the manufacturers already did with research and volunteers before marketing the product. Follow their instructions and stay on the safe side for your own good.

4. Give your best in the gym

Taking pre workout and not working out is the worst thing a fitness lover can ever think of. The harder you work in the gym, the better results you get. This is the sole reason you spend your hard-earned money on these energy boosters. So prepare your mind to face some real challenges when you are cycling on your pre workout.


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