What Happens to Your Body When You Take Pre-Workout?



Pre-workout supplements have become a staple in the fitness world. They promise to enhance your performance, boost energy levels, and help you push through even the toughest workouts. But what exactly happens to your body when you take pre-workout?

The Ingredients Behind Pre-Workout

To understand what happens when you take pre-workout, it’s essential to first examine the ingredients commonly found in these supplements. Formulas can vary, and therefore the specific benefits of pre-workout depend on the brand, but they often contain a combination of key components. What happens when these components are consumed varies depending on the type and amount that is used.


In about 20-30 minutes of taking pre-workout, you’ll likely feel more energized and mentally focused, mainly due to caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing alertness and reducing the sense of effort, aiding you in tackling tough workouts with enthusiasm. Caffeine is the most recognized ingredient in pre-workout supplements, being a natural stimulant that boosts alertness, reduces perceived exercise effort, and enhances endurance. Consuming caffeine-containing pre-workout provides a rapid energy and focus boost, helping you power through your workouts.

Nitric Oxide Boosters

Many pre-workouts contain nitric oxide-boosting ingredients like arginine and citrulline, known for increasing nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels, thus enhancing blood flow. This improved circulation efficiently transports oxygen and nutrients to muscles, potentially boosting endurance and the muscle pump during exercise. By enhancing blood flow to your muscles, nitric oxide boosters like arginine and citrulline can potentially increase your endurance. This can result in the ability to exercise at a higher intensity or for a more extended period when using pre-workout.

Creatine, Beta-Alanine, and Other Amino Acids

Creatine, naturally found in muscles, is vital for energy production during short bursts of intense activity. Supplementing with creatine increases muscle creatine phosphate stores, potentially boosting power and strength during workouts, especially in resistance training and explosive movements. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that boosts muscle carnosine levels, which buffers lactic acid buildup in muscles. This delay in lactic acid accumulation reduces muscle fatigue and the burning sensation during high-intensity exercise. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) found in pre-workouts can aid in muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. They provide your body with the building blocks needed for repair and growth.

B Vitamins and Adaptogenic Herbs

Many pre-workouts contain B vitamins, which play a role in energy metabolism. These vitamins help convert the food you eat into energy, aiding in the sustained energy needed for your workout. Some pre-workout formulas contain adaptogenic herbs that may help mitigate the stress response your body experiences during intense workouts. This can contribute to a more relaxed and focused mindset during exercise.


Electrolytes are essential minerals in your body that have an electric charge. They play a crucial role in maintaining various physiological functions, including muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and fluid balance. When you exercise, you lose electrolytes through sweat, and this can lead to dehydration and muscle cramps. Some pre-workout supplements include electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, to address these issues. Sodium and potassium help maintain proper fluid balance in your body. When you’re well-hydrated, you perform better and reduce the risk of cramping. Calcium and magnesium are vital for muscle contractions. Ensuring an adequate supply of these minerals can prevent muscle weakness or spasms during your workout.

Are There Risks to Taking Pre-Workout?

While pre-workout supplements can offer several benefits, they are not without risks. It’s important to be aware of potential side effects and exercise caution when using these products. Individuals who are sensitive to caffeine may experience jitters, anxiety, or rapid heart rate when using pre-workout supplements with high caffeine content. Consuming pre-workout too late in the day can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. It’s generally recommended to avoid pre-workout within 4-6 hours of bedtime. Some pre-workouts can cause stomach discomfort or digestive issues. If you experience gastrointestinal problems, consider trying a different product with fewer irritants. Regular use of pre-workout can lead to caffeine dependency, making it challenging to perform at your best without it.


Taking pre-workout supplements can provide a range of benefits, including increased energy, improved endurance, reduced muscle fatigue, and enhanced strength. These effects are primarily due to the combination of ingredients found in these supplements, including caffeine, nitric oxide boosters, beta-alanine, creatine, and more. Before incorporating pre-workout supplements into your fitness routine, consult with a healthcare professional.