Sometimes, though, it can be hard to stay motivated and it can be difficult to continually perform at your best.
We found that a good pre workout supplement can make a difference and give you that ‘edge’ you’ve been looking for to smash your workouts. The problem these days is that there are so many products on sale – and many of them are packed full of stimulants and harmful artificial ingredients.
So we set out on a mission to find some of the best natural ingredients you should look for when selecting the best pre workout supplement.
In this article, we’re going to focus on some of the proven all natural ingredients you should look for and also give you some tips on how to improve your training overall.
We’ve all had those days when you feel completely focused and on point in the gym. Those sessions where you’re just full of energy and you feel you could lift heavier and for longer.
But there are also those trips to the gym that, for some reason, seem more difficult than others. You’re physically present but you find yourself just going through the motions and it’s hard to focus.
It happens to everyone at some point or another and that’s exactly what pre workout supplements are designed for – to keep you focused and energised every time you hit the gym to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sessions.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of products on sale these days which are packed full of nasty artificial flavourings or harmful ingredients.
You should always check the exact ingredients of your product before making a purchase. There are a few things to avoid in a pre workout, and they include:
Artificial sweeteners or flavourings – The ingredients should be as natural as possible.
Proprietary blends – This is when manufacturers hide the exact ingredients in an unspecified ‘blend’.
Too many stimulants – You want to have an energy boost from your pre workout but we found many contain too many stimulants.
The main thing we want to avoid with a pre workout is the energy crash which can sometimes come after your session. In our opinion, it’s pointless to be feeling all fired up in the gym if you’re going to be completely drained two hours later. We found that these types of crashes are usually caused by supplements which are overloaded with stimulants, artificial sweeteners and other harmful ingredients.
We also prefer supplements which are low in calories, making them a suitable choice for those who train fasted, but also ensuring that they fit in to your diet.
So, with all of that out of the way, let’s delve into some of the best ingredients you should be looking for when picking an all natural pre workout supplement.
We really can’t stress enough how important it is to carefully check the ingredients of your supplement – you want to know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
With that in mind, we compiled the list below after having trawled the internet for the latest research and also by examining the ingredients of some of the most popular pre workouts on sale today.
Here are some of the top natural ingredients you should be looking for.
This may be an obvious place to start but caffeine is a great natural stimulant which can keep you firing on all cylinders in the gym. Caffeine is known for its health benefits and it’s a powerful natural which can keep you on point. Remember, though, to make sure that the dosage is not too strong. To avoid energy crashes, we recommend picking a pre workout with caffeine content 200mg or less.
L-Theanine is an amino acid which is readily available in tea leaves. It is known for its calming effect and is found more and more regularly in health supplements these days. The great thing about L-Theanine is that it can complement caffeine to create something known as ‘smart caffeine’. What does that mean? L-Theanine can amplify the effects of caffeine to make sure that you’re fully stimulated, but completely relaxed and focused at the same time.
Another all-natural ingredient which should be high up on your list when looking at what’s in your pre workout. Studies have shown that supplementing with Beetroot extract contributes towards an overall boost in plasma nitrate in the body and also increases Nitric Oxide levels. This helps to dilate the blood vessels and increase muscle pumps while at the gym and after your session.
You’re probably already familiar with Creatine. It’s a popular ingredient in many health and fitness supplements these days but it’s usually taken post-workout to aid with muscle recovery and growth. However, it’s definitely something you should consider looking for in a pre workout because Creatine has been shown to reduce fatigue, increase hydration and enhance cognition. All things you want to be happening during your workout.
This is a slightly less popular ingredient but it’s actually one of our favourites. Citrulline is an amino acid extracted from watermelon and has been shown to boost your nitric oxide levels. What does that mean? In short, it will dilate your blood vessels and allow more blood to pass through them, leading to noticeable muscle pumps. We’ve noticed that a lot of supplements which contain Citrulline under-dose it. Ideally, you should be looking for 5000mg or more per dose of Citrulline.
Again, you may not have heard of this Scandinavian herb but it’s been used for thousands of years for a number of things. Chinese medicine has used Rhodiola Rosea for a long time and it’s known to boost overall mood and promote cognition. In short, Rhodiola Rosea will help you to stay ‘in the zone’ for longer as you get the very best out of your session. So Rhodiola Rosea is considered to be a particularly useful ingredient if you sometimes struggle to find that motivation to go to the gym on some days. It will help to make sure your head’s ‘in the game’ before your session.
L-Carnitine has a number of benefits but its most useful effect is that it reduces fatigue – both physical and mental. There has been lots of research into this amino acid and it has also been shown reduce overall muscle damage to allow you to shorten your recovery time. You should be aiming for a dose of at least 500mg for it to be effective in your pre workout supplement.
Coconut seems to be all the rage these days, whether it be water, oil or in its pure form. It’s not hard to see why when you take a look at the various benefits it brings. Top of the list the fact that coconut is packed full of natural electrolytes to help you stay hydrated, which is absolutely crucial if you’re going to be smashing it at the gym. Coconut water is like nature’s version of a sports energy drink. It’s also full of potassium and has been shown to prevent against hypertension and headaches.
Our favourite product on sale right now is called 4 Gauge. It’s made by specialist supplement company Roar Ambition and contains a great blend of most of the natural ingredients above. It comes in at just five calories per serving and tastes great.
The single drawback is that you can only buy it on the official website right now, meaning you won’t find it online on sites such as Amazon or eBay.
Get plenty of good quality sleep – This may seem like an obvious point but sleep is something that’s regularly overlooked in our hectic, modern-day society. Sleep is your body’s natural recovery mechanism and it is vital to your all-round health. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night.
Stick to a healthy diet – If you’re reading this article, you probably already know about the importance of eating well as you try to achieve your body goals. Diet is vitally important to your overall health and its role in your workouts should not be underestimated. You want to be avoiding foods containing artificial ingredients. Try to stick to natural, whole foods.
Train with a buddy Self-motivation is an important aspect for anyone looking to improve their results in the gym, but sometimes having a friend with you can boost both of your workouts. However, pick your buddy carefully – you’ll want to make sure you both have similar goals and that they will motivate rather than distract.
Remember to switch off – We all want results as quickly as possible but over-training is one of the most common pitfalls we see from regular gym goers. You should schedule in rest days and make sure you stick to them. Your body needs time to recover, especially if you’re taking a pre workout to make sure your sessions are more intense than ever!
So there you have it, exactly what to look for in a natural pre workout supplement. We hope you’ve found this list useful. There are a number of top natural ingredients you should look for when picking the best pre workout supplement and we’ve highlighted the main ones above.
We’ve also picked out one of our favourite products on sale right now, as well as highlighting some of the things you should be avoiding (such as artificial sweeteners and flavourings).
One last thing to remember is that you can’t expect a supplement to do the hard work for you. You’ll still have to put in the grind in the gym and make sure your diet is in check to get the results you want. But a natural pre workout supplement can definitely give you the boost you need to make sure your gym sessions are more productive.
The Sport Review's product reviews are independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we don't allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are produced through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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BIOGRAPHY: Unai Emery
BIOGRAPHY: Adam Lallana