There’s no doubt that pre-workout supplements are a great way to make the most of your time in the gym. That’s why they are on the rise among fitness enthusiasts when it comes to boosting energy levels, motivation and helping with muscle growth.
However, there is often confusion around pre-workout supplements. One such confusion experienced by most gym-goers is about the timing for when the effects kick in, and how long their effects last.
With the stimulants present in pre-workouts, it is important to be careful with the consumption time so that you feel the desired effects when you hit the gym and avoid sleepless nights.
So, how long does pre-workout take to work?
How Much Time Does It Take For Pre-Workout To Kick In?
A pre-workout takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes to start working for the ingredients to get into your bloodstream. But this may vary between each of the active ingredients, your body’s tolerance to these common ingredients, and your metabolism.
Caffeine takes around 1 hour to reach peak levels in your blood. It has a half-life of 5-6 hours. This means that 6 hours after taking your pre-workout, half of the caffeine is still present in your body.
Creatine also takes about 1 hour to reach its highest levels in your blood. The half-life of creatine is 3 hours. So it is still present in your body after a long workout. Doing a creatine loading phase is recommended to increase its volume stored in muscle tissue and to get the best results itt.
Beta-alanine has a half-life of just 25 minutes. After 60-90 minutes, the effects are reported to have worn off completely for most people.
When To Take Your Pre-Workout Supplement?
It’s very significant to time the intake of your pre-workouts carefully so you don’t consume it too early and end up missing its benefits when exercising, or consume it too late and face difficulty in sleeping.
Generally, 15-30 minutes is the average time required for the nutrients to travel to your blood and cells from the stomach.
Research states that the pre-workouts reach their peak levels in the bloodstream in about 30 minutes, so taking the supplements about half an hour prior to working out is the best.
Personally, I like to take my pre-workout as late as possible. This way, it starts working during my gym session. It also means that there is less chance of the effects wearing off during my exercise routine.
Taking Your Pre-Workout On An Empty Stomach
It’s good practice to eat about an hour before you work out. This will have no side effects and provide the necessary fuel for your workout.
On the other hand, if you worry that drinking a pre-workout on an empty stomach might reduce its effectiveness, then try to avoid consuming foods with a lot of fiber. High-fiber foods can slow down digestion and prevent the active ingredients from entering the bloodstream quickly enough.
Will Dry Scooping Make It Kick-In Faster?
Taking a pre-workout without water will not make it work quicker. If you don’t drink enough water during a workout, you could end up not performing at your best, hampering your muscle gain, and possibly even dehydrating yourself.
Water is one of the most essential elements and is needed for your body helping to break down all vitamins and minerals. Taking pre-workouts without drinking enough water can also cause problems for your kidneys.
How Long Does Pre-Workout Stay In Your System?
The answer is that pre-workout will stay in your system for around 1 to 2 hours. However, this largely depends on several factors like the pre-workout formula, your age, weight, muscle mass, activity levels, daily diet, tolerance, and what other things you also consume.
If your tolerance is high, it might be time to consider a cycle off pre-workout for a while.
Usually, the body processes the supplements fully within a maximum of 24 hours, passing the unused elements via urination as most ingredients in the supplements are soluble in water.
Here are the common pre-workout ingredients and how long they work for:
Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, but it doesn’t provide stimulation for that long. The effects start decreasing after an hour.
Green Tea Extract
The fact that green tea also contains little amount of caffeine makes it last in the system for 3-4 hours. You don’t actually need to be concerned about how long it lasts as the detox action is non-stimulating.
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid. It is used to enhance exercise performance and muscular endurance by delaying lactic acid accumulation after intense exercise.
Its half-life is around 25 minutes hours, thus the performance-enhancing effects are quite short. The tingling sensation usually diminishes after an hour.
L-Carnitine has been linked to improvements in athletic performance. It exhibits effects within half an hour and usually diminishes in less than 60 minutes. It has also been linked to the reduction of blood pressure.
Conjugated linoleic acid has no stimulating action but it makes it easier for the body to burn fat to boost energy levels. These supplements last in your system for about an hour to 90 minutes.
The amino acid L-citrulline is a natural precursor to nitric oxide (NO), an important molecule that plays a role in many different bodily processes.
It takes about 1 hour for the body to convert it to arginine and then to nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels which helps to improve blood flow throughout the body. This makes a useful for improving workout performance.
How Long Do Pre-workout Supplements Last?
As stated above, the specific ingredients in your pre-workout supplement and your caffeine sensitivity determine how long it will last, but mostly, the effects last for about 2-3 hours.
If you can still experience the effects more than three hours later, make sure to take a smaller dose next time. After all, you surely want to feel strong and energized for a workout session, but you may not want to still feel amped when you want to relax after all that exercise.
Those who are less sensitive to stimulating ingredients can expect to experience the best effects within 45 minutes, further lasting for 3-6 hours. On the other hand, the more stimulant-sensitive individuals feel the effects faster, while continuing to experience the same for closer to 6 hours.
If you don’t enjoy the effects so much, you may wish to try to get your pre-workout supplement out of your system.
How To Tell That Your Pre Workout Has Started Working?
The effects can differ greatly depending on the number of pre-workout scoops that you take. One of the main effects that tell that a pre-workout has started working is more mental focus. You will be able to concentrate better, thereby making the most of your gym session.
Make sure to be careful with the supplement intake to avoid overstimulating yourself. Some experience an itchy or tingling sensation in the skin and muscles when the pre-workout starts to kick in. This is because of beta-alanine. It’s quite normal and nothing to worry about.
If you time your supplements right, i.e. about 20 minutes ahead of your training, you will notice a boost in energy and mental performance after the warm-up. You can get through heavy exercises such as deadlifts, squats, etc. with less effort and feel better pumps.
What Can Change The Effects Of Pre-Workout?
The effects of pre-workout supplements may change with numerous factors.
Your receptiveness to different pre-workout supplement ingredients may change with your age. Your body weight and muscle mass also play a key role in the same way. The effects of a certain dose are likely to decrease the more you weigh.
Ingredients and Supplement Quality
The type of ingredients of a supplement, along with their quality matter as all pre-workouts are crafted differently. Some pre-workouts don’t list the ingredients and their amounts, instead mention ‘proprietary blends’. Go for a supplement that’s known for its genuineness.
The quantity consumed also changes the effectiveness of a pre-workout. However, make sure you don’t consume more than the prescribed amount. Follow the manufactures recommendations and you should experience the benefits while being safe too.
Your daily diet can impact the effectiveness of your supplements. This is the foundation of your overall health and performance. To ensure that your supplement performs the best, drink enough water daily while consuming the right amount of calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients.
Your level of fatigue or tiredness will have a big impact on your exercise performance and the effects of your supplement. It’s important to get enough rest to feel the full benefits. 8 hours of sleep is highly recommended.
Your Caffeine Tolerance
One of the most significant factors that change the performance of a pre-workout is your tolerance to caffeine. If you drink 4-5 cups of coffee regularly, you may find that your pre-workout feels a little disappointing.
If you are caffeine sensitive, you will likely find the opposite.
After exercising, it’s a good idea to take a post-workout supplement. Post-workout nutrition timing is just as important as pre-workout nutrition timing. Protein powder should be consumed within 1 hour after a training session to get the most benefits.
There is a time window when your body will be at its best absorption rate for the supplement. It’s not a disaster if you cannot take it in this window of time, but it is helpful.
Once you are aware of when the pre-workouts start exhibiting their effects, how long they last, and what all alters their actions – you can be more precise about the right time to take them as well as make them more effective for better performance.