How To Choose a Pre-Workout
What Is Pre-Workout?
In short, pre-workout supplements are used to increase performance when exercising. They usually are purchased as powders and are mixed with water and consumed before a workout – hence the name “pre-workout.” They can be purchased at vitamin supplement stores, at gyms, and online.
A good pre-workout supplement will assist with energy, focus, and blood flow. They do this by providing effective doses of ingredients proven to improve performance and energy.
How do I know if a pre-workout is good?
Unfortunately, this is where you need to do a little bit of homework. There are literally thousands of different brands and variations of pre-workout supplements out there – and many of them are NOT worth your money.
First, let’s determine what you want from your pre-workout. Are you looking for a good pump? You should be looking for ingredients that support blood flow and nitric oxide production. Are you looking for something to help you focus? Look for nootropic ingredients that help stimulate brain function. Are you looking for energy? If so, the most obvious ingredient you should look for would probably be caffeine. Of course, there are other ingredients to consider when you need energy, like B vitamins and other stimulants, but you need to be careful with the “energy” ingredients. “High Stimulant” pre-workouts are extremely popular right now, but they can be harmful to your body and detrimental to your workouts. Read more about why high stimulant pre-workouts are ruining your workouts.
Next, you should be on the look-out for banned substances. In the world of high-stimulant pre-workouts, it is very popular for these products to include many banned substances that are not FDA approved for human consumption and are considered to be very dangerous. How can these products be legally sold if the substances are banned and dangerous? Well, they are able to label them “for research purposes only,” and still be allowed to sell them as long as that phrase and the disclaimer “not for human consumption” is on the label. Read more about banned substances and why high stimulant pre-workouts are ruining your workouts.
The supplement industry is saturated with big brands that have a lot of money to spend on marketing teams whose purpose is solely to convince you that you should purchase their product by selling you a feeling or a dream, not by providing a quality product. You probably see their ads on Instagram and see them in every corner of big-box supplement stores. Their products might have some of the key ingredients that should be in a good pre-workout supplement, but often they put just enough of those ingredients in their products that they can legally say that it is included in the product. Minimum effective doses are the most crucial aspect to determining whether a product is worth your money or not. Of course, for every ingredient, different studies have different findings and definitions of effective doses, but typically if an ingredient is studied enough, there will be an established agreed upon effective dose. The best piece of advice that I can give to you when looking at a pre-workout is to look at the active ingredients (meaning the ingredients that are included to increase performance), look at how much of that ingredient is included in the product, and then do your research on whether that matches up with the science. If the product you’re looking at does not disclose the ingredient amount in their formula – that is because they are using a “proprietary blend.” If that is the case, run. Put the pre-workout down and move to the next one. It is NOT worth your money. There’s a lot to talk about with proprietary blends, but we’ll save that for another article.
The last thing on your initial checklist is something that most people don’t ever really pay attention to. And that’s the ratio between active ingredients and “other ingredients.” If you look at a supplement facts panel of a pre-workout, add up all the active ingredients, then divide that by the total scoop size, you’ll get the ratio of active ingredients to other ingredients. For example, in Polokus Primal Instinct Pre-Workout, the active ingredients add up to 16,635mg (16.6g) and the total scoop size is 17,500mg (17.5g). Which means that 95% of every scoop of Primal Instinct is active ingredients, not fillers, dyes, or junk.
After all of this, you might be wondering where and how can I possibly find a pre-workout that has the ingredients that I need to have a great workout, with the effective doses of each of those ingredients, full formula disclosure, no banned substances, no junk additives, and a high active ingredients to other ingredients ratio? I know, it’s frustrating to learn that most products that you’re familiar with are either all marketing or dangerous for your health, but I promise – there are reputable companies out there making terrific products.
At Polokus, we pride ourselves in the fact that we provide a high-quality pre-workout supplement that is extremely complete covering all the bases of pump, energy, and focus. Primal Instinct has 95% active ingredients (the highest ratio that we’ve been able to identify on the market today), effective doses of every ingredient, no marketing gimmicks, no banned substances, full formula disclosure, and no dyes or artificial colors.
If you are interested in learning more about the supplement industry and educating yourself on the ins and outs of pre-workout, I’d encourage you to visit our Supplement School section of the website. If you would like to learn more about our pre-workout product, check out Primal Instinct Pre-Workout.