Did you know one of the most overlooked opportunities to improve your training is what you do right before you train? Think of this time as the warm up for your warm up. Now ask yourself...
... are you using it to your advantage?
Today I'm sharing the Ultimate Guide to Pre-Workout.
When I was younger, I’d gulp down a bottle of water right before leaving on training, thinking "I'll conserve my water bottles on my bike for later."
Well, this was probably not the best strategy possible (along with many other things I did when I was younger)...
BUT the idea of pre-hydrating and fueling the 30 minutes before a workout is a huge opportunity that most of us overlook.
Pre-workout drinks are traditionally the domain of the CrossFit and strength crowd… but the new formulations of pre-workout drinks are becoming more and more popular with endurance athletes and for good reason…
Pre-workout drinks for endurance athletes are now delivering athletes 3 major things:
• Alertness and Motivation in the form of Caffeine and other stimulants like Ginseng.
• Nutrients to maintain muscle signaling in the form of BCAA Amino Acids that help maintain proper neurological function and signaling for the rapid firing of your muscles.
• Electrolytes to help combat cramping before it even starts.
What happens when you Pre-Workout?
I can say with 100% confidence that my workouts are significantly improved when I use a pre-workout drink prior to training. Not only does it get me raring to go from the start of the workout, it also pulls me into that focused state where I don’t have to ‘try’ so hard (aka being in "the zone")
A lot of the credit for this goes to the caffeine- keeping in mind that a specially formulated pre workout drink provides you with many more benefits than you get from a cup of coffee or even a caffeinated gel as they are often adding in other focus boosting nootropics like L-Theanine.
And (maybe most importantly) there’s the Amino Acids...
Are you bonking or did you just run out of Amino Acids?
Occasionally I listen to the podcaster Ben Greenfield. One story that he shared has stuck with me for years...
He was doing Ironman Kona and he bonked really bad. Like falling-over-not-able-to-walk bad.
His instinct was that he bonked from dehydration or running out of carbs/glycogen, but in hindsight, he realized that it was much more likely he’d depleted his Amino Acid levels.
You see, Amino Acids are key for making sure your brain is signaling properly to your muscle fibers so they fire rapidly, over and over again. If you run out, then the signal gets messed up and things go haywire, like in Ben's case.
I've started including more and more Amino Acids in my hydration during my training (more on that at a later time), but for now just know it’s extremely helpful to make sure you have an ample supply in your Pre-workout drink.
How do I pre-workout?
I have a 3 step plan (Good, Better, Best) that works great for me that I'll share with you today that include a pre-workout drink, a nitric oxide booster, and if your wallet can handle it, Ketones. Don't worry, if you only do the pre-workout drink you will be 80% of the way to getting the full benefit.
1) It starts with a great pre-workout drink. You have lots of good options, here are my top 5 picks
🥇Best All-in-One > SFH Push: This has everything in it, Caffeine, Beta Alanine, BCAAS, and Nitric Oxide boosters. It doesn't mix perfectly, but you will be so dialed into your workout you won't care. (⚡️115mg of Caffeine).
🏅 Made for Endurance Athletes > Nuun Prime: Specifically designed for endurance athletes and is packed full of Electrolytes, BCAAs, Prebiotic to help with gut issues, Panax Ginseng and ⚡️150mg of Caffeine with the Orange Flavor.
🧘 Best for Mental Focus > Flume Flow: NEW Player on the market that is going all natural with ancient and exotic botanicals including Maca, Guayusa & Galangal (not sure what they are, but they are amazing for energy and focus), Cacoa, and Himalayan Sea Salt. These natural ingredients provide it with Electrolytes, BCAAs, and incredible amount of
🍉 Best Tasting > Ascent Pre-Workout: A great tasting pre-workout, Informed Choice Certified, and did I mention it tastes amazing? If you like sweet go Watermelon or if you like tart, then go with Strawberry Lemonade. Packs a punch ⚡️150mg of Caffeine.
💨 Best for Short & Fast Events > Maurten CAF 100 Gel: We are seeing more and more athletes use a Maurten CAF Gel 15 minutes before short intense events (less than 1 hour) and especially before indoor events. You will top-up your Glycogen levels and also deliver ⚡️100mg of Caffeine. Follow-up with another one 20 to 30 minutes into you event.
2) Add in a performance booster to increase your Nitric Oxide Levels that will increase the amount of oxygen rich blood reaching your working muscles.
While some of the pre-workout drinks also include Nitric Oxide boosters, they usually don't have enough to have a serious impact. If you want to really fly through your workout then you want to try one of our two most popular Nitric Oxide boosters.
💊 Best for Shorter Workouts > Sur Alt Red: Has been a go-to for the past few years and athletes love it. Take 1 to 2 of the small red capsules an hour before your workout and you will boost your nitric oxide levels for a few hours, with a peak at about 90 minutes after you take it.
💊💊 Best for Longer Workouts > Swiss RX Nitric Oxide: will create a much longer last Nitric Oxide boost for 4 to 5 hours. Take 4 to 6 capsules 60 minutes prior to your workout and it reaches it's peak about the same time as Sur AltRed at 90 minutes, but the advantage is that it will maintain this peak level for the next 3 to 4 hours.
3) Preserve Muscle Glycogen with Ketones.
The top fuel with World Tour Cyclists is using Ketones at the start of long races as a fuel source for the first 1 to 2 hours of a 4 to 6 hour event. Ketones will be burned first for energy and this helps preserver your muscle glycogen for later in the race.
Think of it as one of those extra fuel tanks used on a Space X rocket that gets it up to orbit and then falls off, then the main engine kicks in. Like the Space X rocket, they cost almost as much!
🚀 The ultimate pre-workout > DeltaG Ketone Ester: Is the original Oxford formula for Ketones. Take 1 bottle (25g) at the start of your long workout or race and be "ketone powered" for the next 60 to 90 minutes. It starts working within a few minutes (~10 to 15 minutes) after consumption.
Start with a pre-workout drink and add in a Nitric Oxide booster. If your wallet can handle, try out Ketones on your next long workout.
Generally time your pre-workout 45 minutes to 30 minutes prior to actually starting your workout.