Exercise is one of the most important activities warranted by daily life, yet it is also one of the hardest to commit to. Women, in particular, need to contend with fatigue during exercise, which has a ripple effect of reducing the quality of our workouts, making us unhappy, and even preventing us from hitting the gym.
According to studies, there are many reasons for fatigue, even if you have had plenty of rest. Chief of these is dehydration when the body cannot draw from enough fuel sources to last you through your workout. Another is overtraining, especially if you have been exercising more frequently than your body is used to. Or if you’re on certain medication, fatigue can be a side effect.
When fatigue happens, what can you do? Do you just wait it out in the hope that you will more energize the next day? Or should you push through it, even if you know that it will just lead to you feeling bummed out because you know you can do better?
Fortunately, neither. Pre-workouts, or pre-workout supplements, are available to give your body the necessary push that it needs to make your time on the elliptical worth it. Below are ten of the most top-rated of them.
Made for both men and women, this pre-workout by Strength offers energy, focus, and stamina enhancement. In addition, it helps boost muscle maintenance and weight loss and suits a wide range of exercises such as strength and endurance training and cardio. Many users also consistently rate it as one of the best products on the market. But what makes it a shoo-in in our top three is that it provides consistent quality results, as far as people who have used it are concerned.
- Delivers fast and sustainable results
- An all-around supplement that contains a full list of essential ingredients
- Also, very affordable
- Contains artificial ingredients
Another well-regarded pre-workout for women and men, the Legion Pulse contains a powerful blend of beta alanine, theanine, citrulline, caffeine, ornithine and other ingredients. It also contains nitric oxide to offer boosts in endurance, pump, performance, and energy. And it contains all-natural ingredients, so you are saved from having to worry about jitters and shakes.
- Offers a good nutrient profile
- A clinically proven blend of ingredients
- Delivers consistent results
- Rather expensive
- Requires better mixability
Gym Angel: Energy Angel is specifically formulated for enhancing women’s energy, endurance, and muscle pump. It is ideal as it contains no creatine or carbohydrates, so those looking to make the most out of their cardio sessions and clamp down on their weights will find plenty of help with that through this supplement. It also contains a high dose of Betaine, which provides muscle support and helps boost muscle tone. It also requires a small dose for it to work. Lastly, it is affordable.
- Contains no artificial colors and fillers
- Offers a great ingredient profile
- Has a rather artificial taste
- Contains plenty of caffeine, so it may cause jitters
Made by an established manufacturer in the sports supplementation industry, Fit Miss Ignite is a pretty sell to many users because of its attractive packaging. Inside the box, the packets offer a blend of beta-alanine, vitamin B6, and magnesium oxide to deliver a significant enhancement in focus and mood. It is also very convenient to carry around, so it is ideal for women on the go. However, it does not hold up to its promise of making workout sessions as powerful as they can be. And another big minus for the product is that it purports to contain “a proprietary blend” of ingredients that, when analyzed, does not hold up too much.
- A creatine-free alternative to enhancing focus and mood
- Comes with some natural ingredients
- Underdosed in certain aspects
- Contains artificial ingredients
- May produce side effects
As its name denotes, this supplement offers a “clean” way to power up on the essentials that your body needs to power through exercises. That means that you will be ingesting natural ingredients, such as ginseng, ginkgo, and caffeine, as well as beta-alanine, coconut oil, and reishi. What all of these do is drive energy and focus to help you capitalize fully on your workout.
- Contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or fillers
- Provides a significant energy boost
- Offers inconsistent and varied effects
- Does not taste great
With its powerful blend of ingredients, this much-regarded product is known to deliver significant energy and performance boosts. In fact, it is so trusted that it is one of the most popular pre-workouts for women in the entire United States. It helps that it also tastes good.
- Does what it says on the tin and boosts performance and energy levels
- Offers a solid nutrient profile
- May give rise to side effects, such as jitters and headaches
Designed exclusively for women, Igniter Extreme by HIT promises to enhance performance, stamina, muscle activation, and mental focus. If you are a beginner or a casual gym-goer, you may find it to be a little too overwhelming, so make sure to start with a half-dose. But if you are a seasoned fitness enthusiast or pro athlete, you will find that the product is ideal for grueling and long workouts. CrossFitters can especially benefit from it.
- Delivers significant energy boosts
- Also helps with muscle recovery
- Can be overwhelming to beginners
- May cause jitters
Another bestseller, this pre-workout powder is reportedly bioengineered by RARI Nutrition to deliver maximum potential pump, power, and performance benefits to women. It boasts of an ingredient list that has undergone scientific adjustments to arrive at the best possible dose, all without having no artificial fillers.
- Uses clinically dosed ingredients
- GMP-certified; ingredients are tested for purity
- Contains no fillers
- Does not taste pleasant
- May require more than one scoop for it to work
With a delicious cranberry lime flavor, this drink contains caffeine, raspberry ketones, as well as green tea and cranberry extracts to boost energy levels while also providing antioxidant benefits. In addition, it features amino acids, nitric oxide, and beta alanine. The recommended dose is 1 scoop, to be mixed with water or another beverage.
- Very affordable
- Does not come with harsh stimulants
- Not as effective for serious fitness enthusiasts or professional athletes
Formulated by professional female fitness icon Jamie Eason, this product is a stimulant-free answer to making the most out of your workout without the jitters. It features a simple blend of taurine, citrulline nitrate, L-tyrosine, and choline that nevertheless delivers muscle support for cardio sessions and heavy lifts.
- Offers potential for enhancing exercise performance without stimulants
- Contains enough essential ingredients
- Does not contain a sufficient nutrient profile
- Underdosed in many aspects
Who Needs Pre-workouts for Women
Typically used by more men in the past, pre-workouts are now increasingly being used by women who want to make sure that their bodies can power them through their sweat sessions. In fact, many of the women who are on these supplements want to boost the results that they get from their regular exercise. The products are also ideal for those who are unable to fuel up before they hit the gym, due to their tight schedules. Similarly, those who want to cash in on the benefits provided by certain ingredients in certain foods can do so through the products.
Types of Pre-workouts for Women
Now, let’s talk shop. In this section, we will discuss the different essential things that you should know about the range of options on the market.
First things first: what are pre-workouts? Pre-workouts or pre-workout supplements feature a blend of creatine and nitric oxide boosters, as well as other ingredients that are designed to enhance performance. Among other purposes, these aim to improve:
- Metabolic rate
- Muscle breakdown
- Nutrient assimilation
- Nutrient delivery
- Protein synthesis; and
Many brands exist nowadays, but what is common among all of them are seven vital ingredients. These are:
BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids are composed of three main molecules: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are commonly found in many foods that contain protein, such as animal products. In supplements, they are mostly used for their muscle-building effects. But that’s not all that they can do. Some studies say that BCAA can enhance running endurance, especially those who are known to run slow. They can also reportedly reduce mental and physical fatigue; in fact, one research showed that when used, they can decrease muscle soreness following running and weight training.
The ratio of the molecules varies, but typically, it is 2:1:1. Similarly, doses vary, but the recommended range is between 5 to 20 grams.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is associated with reducing muscle fatigue, through mitigating the effects of acid during intense exercises. It is considered to be most effective at doses of 4 to 6 grams per day, for intense exercises that the last one to four minutes at a time. It may also be effective at long-duration exercises, but not as much.
Caffeine is consumed all over the world, particularly for jumpstarting mornings. A natural molecule, it is known to increase alertness and reduce feelings of fatigue. And for exercise, it turns out that it can also be effective. Caffeine is associated with increased power output, or the ability to generate force in a short amount of time. This makes it ideal for exercises such as cycling and sprinting, as well as long-duration endurance events and intermittent exercises like sports games.
Studies say that the recommended dose of caffeine to impact exercise performance is between 1.4 to 2.7 mg per pound of body weight. For a person who weighs 150 pounds, for instance, a safe dose of caffeine will be between 200 to 400 mg.
Toxic doses, on the other hand, are those that utilize 9 to 18 mg per pound of body weight, although side effects such as sweating and tremors may also be observed at only 4 mg per pound of body weight.
Citrulline is an amino acid that the human body produces naturally, which helps increase blood flow to body tissues. Taking it as a supplement can boost its levels in the body and positively affect exercise performance. Studies show that when ingested, cyclists were able to bike 12% longer before exhaustion took effect, compared to taking a placebo. Another study said that upper body weight training participants were able to perform 53% more repetitions, compared to their performance while taking a placebo. Other research also asserted that it helps reduce muscle soreness days after exercise.
There are two forms available in supplements, L-citrulline, and citrulline malate, and the recommended dose depends on the type.
A very popular ingredient found in many dietary supplements, creatine is a significant component in cellular energy production. According to studies, it is considered effective at enhancing strength and power, as well as boosting muscle mass. In fact, research has shown that using creatine as a supplement can lead to about 5 to 10 percent strength gains in weight training programs.
Many starting doses of creatine are numbered at 20 grams per day, which are then split into multiple servings. Maintenance doses, on the other hand, are limited to 3 to 5 grams every day.
Nitrate is common in vegetables such as turnips and spinach, but in supplements, it is mostly derived from beetroot or beetroot juice. It is considered effective for enhancing exercise performance as it can be converted into nitric oxide, which helps increase blood flow and, thus, helping manage the oxygen that the body needs while exercising. A study said that its main source in supplements, beetroot juice, can increase speed in 3.1 to 5-mile runs; another study said that nitrate helps lower the feeling of difficulty that is sometimes associated with running.
The recommended dose is believed to be between 2.7 to 5.9 mg per pound of body weight.
- Sodium Bicarbonate
Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate acts as a buffering agent that effectively helps reduce the effects of acid buildup on the body, especially during exercise. Studies have said that it seems to have a positive effect on various types of activities, such as running, sprinting, and cycling. Other studies also assert that it can increase power output during longer-duration activities, such as 60-minute cycling.
The recommended dose is typically 136 mg per pound of body weight. However, it is known to cause an upset stomach, if the dose is not consumed slowly or split into multiple doses.
There are also many classifications of pre-workouts for women, depending on the effect that they produce. The most popular include:
- All-in-One Pre-workouts
As their name denotes, all-in-one pre-workouts are formulated to provide as many performance-enhancing effects as possible. These typically feature a blend of different types of essential ingredients, such as amino acids, energy formulas, and pump matrices. While very popular, they are not ideal for those who prefer only one specific effect, want to avoid certain ingredients such as caffeine, and do not want to double dose on some ingredients they are also taking as standalone supplements.
- Stimulant Free Pre-workouts
Stimulant-free pre-workouts are those that are mostly aimed at enhancing muscle formation, as opposed to offering additional energy for endurance. These are recommended for people who do not want to contend with the potential side effects that are associated with stimulants.
- Thermogenic Pre-workout Fat Burners
These supplements, on the other hand, are designed to boost metabolism, which has a direct effect of burning more calories during workouts. They typically feature fat burners with special formulations to equip them to facilitate maximum intake during sessions.
Benefits of Pre-workouts for Women
There are many benefits to be enjoyed from pre-workouts, but the most important are classified as such.
- Improved Workout Efficiency and Performance
Arguably the most essential of the benefits, pre-workouts provide an overall improved ability to make full use of every minute and every activity involved in your workout. These supplements sharpen your focus, promote a good mood, and provide dependable power, stamina, and endurance to get you to clock out of the gym satisfied and happy.
- Enhanced Focus and Concentration
Much of what goes into a workout is hinged on our mental dedication and commitment, and pre-workouts make sure that we don’t run out of focus and concentration. They also have a direct effect on reducing mental strain, which powers us through the exercise longer.
- More Energy
Many pre-workouts contain caffeine, a stimulant that is known to equip our bodies with the energy that it needs to fuel through the day, as well as the gym session. Products that contain both caffeine and arginine are especially helpful since both ingredients can combine to provide even more energy. However, the recommended dose must be followed to keep side effects to a minimum and ensure optimal safety.
- Faster Metabolism
Pre-workout supplements also boost metabolism, which may lead to weight loss. Many of the ingredients in these products increase the body’s ability for thermogenesis and fat oxidation, as well as delay hunger. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, the supplements can help you keep lean and fit.
- Faster Recovery
Finally, pre-workouts help keep muscle soreness at bay. This is particularly helpful to those who want to make sure that they put in a hundred percent when training, as well as those who want to hit the gym as frequently as they can.
Safety Considerations When Using Pre-workouts for Women
While pre-workout drinks and supplements are considered generally safe for use, they nevertheless carry risks. In this section, we will look at some of the most critical aspects related to your safety, so that you can effectively manage them.
Side effects from certain ingredients found in many pre-workouts abound. Caffeine, for starters, boosts heart rate. While this may not be concerning for most people in most situations, this fact can spell disaster for some people during exercise. This is why ‘pres’ with caffeine must be taken at the right dose so that adverse effects can be mitigated.
Pre-workouts that have emulsifiers also produce their own set of side effects. These can range from abdominal pain and nausea to potential issues with fertility and reproduction. In addition, pre-workout supplements can lead to:
- chest pain
- numbness around the lips or face, and in the extremities
- kidney damage; and
Insufficient Product Information
Some pre-made pre-workouts also contain vague, unclear, or incomprehensive information that is supposed to inform buyers about what it is that they are getting. For example, some products say that they contain “a proprietary blend of ingredients”, which – to some users – may sound impressive, but actually means that you will never get to know exactly what went into the product.
When choosing among the range of options on the market, it is best to do as much research as possible. This will equip you with the perspective that you need to effectively inform your decision.
Keeping to Recommended Amounts
It is also important to remember that, while it may be tempting to go above the recommended dose for extra benefits, you should keep the required amounts. Overusing any product is a recipe for disaster, not only because it may lead to adverse side effects. When you have had too much of something, chances are your body will develop a tolerance for it, which means that you need to keep ingesting more of it so that you can have the same benefits. With pre-workouts, this can lead to a lot of issues.
The Need for Independent Testing
It is also helpful to make sure that your chosen pre-workouts have been tested by independent laboratories or bodies such as Informed-Choice and NSF International to vet their quality, as these products are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
This is not only beneficial for filtering out what is healthy from those that only pretend to be; it is also efficient in recognizing manufacturers that adhere to established health and safety regulations. Products that have been tested will feature the logo of the laboratory or the body that did the checking.
Lack of Scientific Studies to Support Long-Term Use
Finally, while certain studies have stressed the benefits of ingesting certain ingredients for exercise, there is not enough scientific research conducted to determine the effects of long-term use of pre-workouts. Benefits that are touted by these products have merit, but they also merit additional studies to warrant blanket endorsements.
Product Use Limitations
When it comes to safe use, pre-workouts can be taken by the general population, more so than other supplements. This is because many of their ingredients are already ingested regularly by many of us. But those who are salt-sensitive should be careful about using products that contain sodium bicarbonate, as going over what is healthy may give rise to serious complications.
In addition, some pre-workouts were found to contain a substance that is close to a different banned substance, DMBA. Banned in 2015, this has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks, bleeding of the brain, and death. It is also known as:
- 2-Amino-4-Methylpentane Citrate
- 4-Amino-2-Methylpentane Citrate
- 4-Amino Methylpentane Citrate
- AMP Citrate
- 4-AMP Citrate
Manufacturers flagged for developing dietary supplements that contained DMBA were:
- Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc. d/b/a VPX Sports
- Powder City LLC
- Prime Nutrition
- Beta Labs
- Genomyx LLC
- Lecheek Nutrition
- Iron Forged Nutrition d/b/a TGB Supplements
- Nutrex Research, Inc.
- Blackstone Labs LLC
- 1ViZN LLC
- Core Nutritionals LLC
- RPM Nutrition, LLC
- Brand New Energy LLC
- DSEO LLC
Important Factors to Consider
To make full and safe use of pre-workouts, it helps to keep a few things in mind. Choosing your supplements, for instance, can be patterned after these tips.
Stick to the essentials. There are plenty of ingredients that promise to bring various benefits to your workouts, but it does not always follow that you should have all of them, every day. A good rule of thumb to consider is to know what you need, and only choose supplements that can give you those. For instance, if you need a little dose of stimulants, choose products that contain the right amount. Do not go overboard.
Check the label. It is also critical that you exert effort into knowing as much as you can about the product. First, look into the listed ingredients so that you can see what you are about to ingest. Watch out for dubious terminologies that may merit additional research, and if there is anything that you don’t recognize, take some time to look it up. Next, check if there is any proof that the product has been tested for quality and safety. You can also visit the websites of independent testing laboratories and organizations to cross-check whether your product is on their list of approved products.
Ask for professional guidance. If you need to train for a particular competition, make sure that you will not be taking anything that may not be approved by governing bodies or their rules. And if you are unsure whether you should take a supplement, ask your doctor.
What to Do Before Taking Pre-workouts
There are also a couple of things that you can do to make sure that your body is equipped for maximum efficiency and exercise performance without the help of pre-workouts. They are as follows:
- Doing proper strength training at least two days a week
- Supplementing regular training with conditioning for fat loss and thermogenesis
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of good sleep
- Loading up on nutritious foods
- Drinking 80 to 120 ounces of water every day
- Being proactive about reducing stress levels
At the end of the day, choosing to up the results that you get from your exercise is possible through so many avenues and options. You can, first, stock up on the necessary foods that will provide the necessary nutrients that will grant you the ability to make every workout rewarding. You can also use various training regimens and programs to improve stamina, muscle definition, fat burning, and other exercise-related goals.
If you choose to use pre-workouts, you know that you will be able to see immediate results that can be applied exactly when you need them – and that is, during your workout. Some products will even counter the muscle soreness that you may have after the session, as some supplements are formulated to speed up recovery after exercise. And many of these products contain ingredients that many of us already use, so our bodies will not find them uncomfortable.
However, it is important to remember that the products are not the only things that you will ever need to succeed at health and fitness. When using them, do not forget that they are only meant to lend aid, not serve as your absolute source of help for everything you hope your body can do.
Finally, using pre-workouts should be done with awareness, and with the guidance of a medical professional. If you are unsure about anything, consult your doctor. And if you experience negative side effects, stop the products and consult a doctor.