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Pre-Workout 101: Everything You Need To Know

Pre-Workout 101: Everything You Need To Know
Liam Agnew
Sports Nutritionist and Personal Trainer1 year ago
View Liam Agnew's profile

Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your exercise performance by giving you a boost before your workout. There are plenty of pre-workouts out there, each with different ingredient blends for different goals. Here’s everything you need to know about them, from what they are and what’s in them to how they work and which is the best for you. Plus, read to the end for a deep dive into Myprotein's caffeine-free pre-workout THE Pump.

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What is pre-workout?

As the name suggests, pre-workouts are fast-acting supplements taken before your workout to boost short-term performance. They can help improve force production, power, strength, and endurance.1


What is in pre-workout?

Pre-workouts contain a mix of ingredients that can help boost exercise performance, saving you the hassle of taking multiple supplements before your workout.

The ingredients vary from product to product, but commonly include caffeine, beta-alanine, taurine, creatine, and nitrates.


Which ingredients should you look out for in pre-workout?

Each ingredient in a pre-workout enhances performance in different ways. If you're looking to boost strength and muscular endurance, caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine are essential ingredients. For endurance athletes, like runners and cyclists, caffeine may be the more important ingredient.


How does pre-workout work?

How pre-workouts work depends on their ingredients. Caffeine is a key ingredient in most pre-workouts and has been shown to increase time to exhaustion, delay perception of fatigue, and reduce perception of pain.2

Creatine can also aid in recovery between sets and increase training volume, helping you do more work in your session.


Is pre-workout good for you?

Some pre-workouts include vitamin B1 — which can help with cardiovascular function — and vitamin B12 — which can help with energy production.

But pre-workout also typically contains high amounts of caffeine, which can be dangerous in large quantities, so do not exceed the recommended dose.


When should you take pre-workout?

It’s usually recommended that pre-workouts are taken 45-60 minutes before a workout, so that ingredients (like caffeine) reach peak levels in the bloodstream and their effect is maximized.


How often should you take pre-workout?

It's best to take pre-workout on the days you're training. Some ingredients, like creatine, need to be supplemented over an extended period to have any effect.


How long does it take for pre-workout to kick in?

After consumption, caffeine takes about 45-60 minutes to reach peak levels in the bloodstream. If the pre-workout contains beta-alanine, you may experience tingling in your skin after 15 minutes or so.


How long does pre-workout last?

The half-life of caffeine is 4-6 hours, which is the time it takes for the amount of caffeine in your system to reduce by half. Tingling caused by beta-alanine will typically stop after around 90 minutes.


Is coffee a pre-workout?

Coffee contains caffeine, which is good for endurance and can reduce perception of pain.2 While it may not contain other typical pre-workout ingredients, like beta-alanine, B-vitamins, or taurine, a cup of coffee before your workout can still give you a boost.


Do athletes take pre-workout?

Many athletes take pre-workout supplements to help improve their performance during training or competition. Pre-workout's effect on endurance may make it a useful supplement for a boxer to train harder, a runner to run further, or a weightlifter to do more reps.

Yogis and other fitness enthusiasts may also take pre-workout supplements to help increase their focus and energy during workouts.


Should beginners take pre-workout?

Pre-workouts can be useful for anyone looking to boost their performance. For beginners, they can be particularly good for getting through a session when you’re not feeling your best, but it’s best not to rely on them too much so early on in your training. Listening to your body, consuming a well-balanced diet, and giving yourself plenty of recovery time are more important when you’re new to training.

The Benefits of Taking Pre-Workout

Improved performance

One of the main benefits of taking a pre-workout supplement is improved performance from the ability to train harder and longer. Ingredients typically found in pre-workouts can help increase endurance and mental focus.*


Boost in concentration

Caffeine is a mental stimulant with studies showing improved mental alertness following consumption.* This can make a pre-workout particularly good for skill-based exercises, like technique-focused weightlifting sessions.


Myprotein's Pre-Workout Range

The Pre-Workout

The Pre-Workout supplement contains a blend of caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine to help with energy production and mental focus.*

The Pump

THE Pump is a pre-workout with no added caffeine. The vegan supplement is designed to increase performance and blood flow using active ingredients like citrulline and VASO6. THE Pump also has Beta-Alanine to increase the buffering capacity of your muscles and BioPerine to enhance nutrient absorption.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a nitric oxide enhancer that helps increase blood flow during exercise. This can boost energy production, and potentially improve exercise performance. It has been suggested that citrulline malate can improve resistance training and enhance recovery.*

Pure Caffeine Tablets

Caffeine is a key ingredient in many pre-workout supplements due to its ability to increase endurance, and boost alertness and concentration.* Pure Caffeine tablets contain 200mg per one-tablet serving.


The Discovery Box

The Discovery Box contains everything you need to get the most out of your training sessions, including a sample size of THE Pre-Workout Mike & Ike so you can test the potential of pre-workout supplements.

THE Pump

The new and improved version of THE Pump takes your training to the next level without the caffeine buzz. 'How?' you ask? The people behind the scenes who are good at the science brought together scientifically studied, patented ingredients to make the ideal combination, delivering the power of a pre-workout, without the unwanted effects of caffeine.

Protein Wafer

The Protein Wafer blends milk and whey protein isolates to create a high-protein snack you can enjoy any time of day. The wafer provides a lighter, more textured protein treat for those craving a crunch.

Layered Bar

Our Layered Bar is the ultimate high-protein snack — with its soft core, chocolate shell, and five indulgent layers. Each bar is packed with 20 grams of protein, helping you build and maintain muscle mass and stay fuller for longer.

Melatonin Gummies

Our chewable Melatonin Gummies are packed with 3mg of melatonin per serving and a relaxing blend of natural herbs to help promote healthy sleep and orient your circadian rhythms.


Our unique FlavDrops™ let you naturally flavor food and drinks without taking on extra calories. These flavor drops are free of fat, sugar, and calories and will help curb cravings.

Whey Forward

Whey Forward is an animal-free and environmentally friendly protein powder. It delivers the same nutritional benefits as regular whey, just without the cows. In each serving, you’ll find 20 grams of protein and 4.7 grams of BCAAs.

The sugar-free formula boasts the same taste and texture as regular whey; you won’t be able to tell the difference! Plus, Whey Forward is completely animal-free. As a lactose-free formula, Whey Forward contains no lactose or hormones, perfect for those who are sensitive to dairy.

Take Home Message

Pre-workout supplements can help give your training an extra lift. They include a range of ingredients that can help boost performance — including caffeine, beta-alanine, and B vitamins — and should be consumed around 45-60 minutes before training for max benefits.

When choosing a pre-workout, look for one with ingredients best suited to your training goals, and always follow recommended doses.

Want more advice?


Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

1. Harty, P. S., Zabriskie, H. A., Erickson, J. L., Molling, P. E., Kerksick, C. M., & Jagim, A. R. (2018). Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 41.

2. Guest, N. S., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Nelson, M. T., Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Jenkins, N. D. M., Arent, S. M., Antonio, J., Stout, J. R., Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Goldstein, E. R., Kalman, D. S., & Campbell, B. I. (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 1.

3. Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, J. R., Wilborn, C. D., Sale, C., Kreider, R. B., Jäger, R., Earnest, C. P., Bannock, L., Campbell, B., Kalman, D., Ziegenfuss, T. N., & Antonio, J. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 30.

4. Kurtz, J. A., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Doyle, J. A., & Otis, J. S. (2021). Taurine in sports and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 39.

5. Gough, L. A., Sparks, S. A., McNaughton, L. R., Higgins, M. F., Newbury, J. W., Trexler, E., Faghy, M. A., & Bridge, C. A. (2021). A critical review of citrulline malate supplementation and exercise performance. European journal of applied physiology, 121(12), 3283–3295.

Liam Agnew
Sports Nutritionist and Personal Trainer
View Liam Agnew's profile

Liam is a certified sport nutritionist with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and is enrolled on the British Dietetics Association’s Sport and Exercise Nutrition register. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and is graduate of the ISSN Diploma in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

Liam is an experienced personal trainer, helping clients reach their health and fitness goals with practical, evidence informed exercise and nutrition advice.

In his spare time Liam has competed in numerous powerlifting competitions and enjoys hill walking, football and expanding his recipe repertoire in the kitchen. Find out more about Liam's experience here.