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This is what pre-workout boosters really bring

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  • What’s the point of a pre-workout booster?
  • What ingredients does a training booster contain?
  • Are pre-workout boosters harmful to your health?
  • When is the right time to take a booster?
  • Buy training boosters as capsules or powder?
  • Can you overdose on a pre-workout booster?
  • Can the effect of a booster be achieved in another way?
  • Conclusion: Do I need a pre-workout booster?

You don’t have the motivation to train today, but you want to push through your workload really hard? Then a pre-workout booster could be just the thing, because the supplements boost your physical and mental performance and increase your focus on training. Keyword: tunnel vision.

But what ingredients are actually in preparations like Crank or Götterpuls? And how often can you take training boosters without causing a habituation effect? We have the answers.

What’s the point of a pre-workout booster?

The English word “to boost” stands for “to give some drive” and thus pretty much sums up how so-called pre-workout boosters work. The dietary supplements in the form of capsules or powder can be used for:

  • more energy
  • more focus
  • more pump
  • and better blood circulation

during your workout. Especially on days when you actually lack the motivation to go to the gym.

In addition, the nutritional supplements should also have an effect on a psychological level and, for example, strengthen concentration so that you can completely focus mentally on your workout.

But the so-called “pump” is also activated by the booster. This is a temporary increase in blood flow in the muscle, which feels satisfying but is not an indicator of a good workout or increased muscle building.

What ingredients does a training booster contain?

Since every booster – no matter what brand – is basically intended to provide the same benefits during training, you can find similar ingredients in many products. The main ingredients are usually BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), citrulline, caffeine, green tea extract and/or guarana. Some boosters also contain glutamine, taurine or creatine. In addition, there are usually the two amino acids L-tyrosine and beta-alanine as well as sweeteners and flavors.

Citrulline malate (or L-citrulline) is the most abundant in most boosters. The non-essential amino acid provides the muscles with optimal nutrients and oxygen and, according to studies, ensures improved performance during workouts and faster regeneration.

Caffeine – in moderate doses – stimulates the central nervous system and contributes to increased alertness and improved concentration. This is proven, among other things, by the scientific report on the safety of caffeine from the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Beta-alanine delays acidification in the muscle and is broken down into carnosine, an acid buffer. This reduces the burning sensation in the muscles with higher repetition numbers because the muscles later become acidic due to the beta-alanine and, according to the study, you can train longer.

More focus, more energy: These ingredients ensure tunnel vision

Beta-alanine complements creatine optimally, which also results in more strength in the long term. In addition to the muscle pump, beta-alanine also causes a tingling sensation in the body, also known as paresthesia. Don’t worry, this is not an allergic reaction, but a typical physical reaction after taking a training booster.

Taurine is also a common ingredient in training boosters. Aminosulfonic acid has various tasks in the body and is often taken by athletes to improve performance and protect cells. However, there are still no meaningful studies on this.

Are pre-workout boosters harmful to your health?

Even if a booster can be a useful training supplement on some days, the powders and capsules are not entirely harmless and certainly not healthy. Because taking it can actually be dangerous. And that is due to several factors.

Undesirable side effects such as headaches, rapid heartbeat or nausea can occur if you do not follow the preparation instructions and overdose the booster.

In addition, you should not use products from online providers from abroad (e.g. USA). The same approval restrictions do not apply there as in Germany, so the booster there can legally contain substances that are harmful to health – but these are on the WADA doping list and are banned in competitive sports.

  • DMAA (dimethylamylamine) – also called geranium extract or dimethylamylamine
  • DNP (Dinitrophenol)
  • DMBA (1,3-Dimethylbutylamin)
  • and its successor DMHA (dimethylhexylamine/octadrine)

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) also explicitly warns in a press release against “food supplements for athletes with prohibited substances such as 1,3 dimethylbutylamine (DMBA), which has pharmacological effects and can lead to undesirable side effects such as restlessness and urge to move.”

Experts are also rather critical of the high caffeine content of the preparations. For comparison: A normal espresso contains around 30 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of coffee contains 90 milligrams. A pre-workout booster, on the other hand, can contain up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per serving. How can that be? There is simply no limit on the amount of caffeine in such products. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine throughout the day would be harmless, but a maximum of 200 milligrams is recommended as a single dose.

Side effects from taking a booster can occur and sabotage your workout

The problem: The caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict, and blood pressure and heart rate also rise rapidly. “Depending on the dose and individual sensitivity to caffeine, undesirable effects such as nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal complaints, increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and even cardiac arrhythmias are possible,” according to the BfR’s assessment. If you already have cardiovascular problems, taking it could definitely be dangerous.

Known? In 2021, the death of personal trainer Thomas Mansfield from Wales caused a stir in the press: he died of an accidental overdose of caffeine while trying to prepare a DIY training booster.

Product tip: God’s Pulse “Premium Pre-Workout” from OS Nutrition provides 180 milligrams of caffeine per serving plus 20 milligrams of caffeine from green tea extract and is therefore in the safe range. If you already know that you are very sensitive to caffeine, then try ESN’s Crank Pump Pro Booster because it contains no caffeine or other stimulants.

When is the right time to take a booster?

As the name suggests, a pre-workout booster is taken shortly before training.

Take the preparation on an empty stomach around 30 minutes before your workout – and only on training days.

On an empty stomach means that your last meal should ideally have been 2 hours ago. Otherwise, the effect of the booster may be delayed or not occur at all.

Important: If you often lack motivation to train and/or often reach your performance limits, this can also be a sign of overtraining. How to recognize and prevent overtraining. Listen to your body and don’t pump it full of boosters indiscriminately. Building muscle takes time.

Buy training boosters as capsules or powder?

If you want to take a booster, we recommend that you choose the powder version, as it is dissolved in water and is more quickly available to the body.

By the way: The price-performance ratio of powder is often more convincing, such as the Amazon bestseller from Optimum Nutrition “Gold Standard PreWorkout”. If you prefer the classic flavors such as cola and iced tea, then it’s best to choose the top-rated “Götterpulse” from OS Nutrition.

When buying online, definitely take your time and always check the ingredients. If any of the potentially dangerous substances mentioned above appear, then stay away from the stuff. A quick burst of energy isn’t worth risking your health.

Can you overdose on a pre-workout booster?

Yes. Above all, you shouldn’t overdo it with the caffeine. Therefore, always stick to the dosage recommendation. The reason: The caffeine boost wears off after just 2 to 3 doses per week. If the effect wears off, you may also feel weaker than before training. A large amount of caffeine can also cause symptoms of poisoning. An overdose of beta-alanine is also not recommended, as a strong (no longer pleasant) tingling sensation can occur.

Pay close attention to the booster’s dosage instructions to avoid overdosing

Pre-workout boosters should be used carefully and sparingly, i.e. not with every workout. If taken long-term, the effect wears off and people tend to use larger amounts than recommended.

Can the effect of a booster be achieved in another way?

Of course, you could also get the caffeine effect with coffee or a double espresso, but then you would have to drink large quantities. The tingling feeling caused by beta-alanine is very difficult to imitate through diet.

Conclusion: Do I need a pre-workout booster?

Whether you want to take or drink a booster every now and then before training is ultimately entirely up to you. It is absolutely not a must to build mass, it can only complement your training.

It is advisable to only take the booster on days with low motivation in order to maintain consistency in training. On days with more natural drive, you can perform at your best even without a pre-workout booster. In this way you also counteract the habituation and dependency effect.

And do not forget: It is a supplement, i.e. a dietary supplement, meaning: you can supplement your diet or training with such preparations, but you don’t have to – because it works just as well without them.

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