There isn’t one single ‘how long does pre workout last’ sticker that you can stamp on all pre workouts. But, we can deduce how long any particular pre workout will last in a few steps.
Here, we’re going to run through the process together so you can evaluate how much gym time you can squeeze out of your supplement. Or, how long you’re going to need to wait to get some sleep after!
Determining How Long Pre Workout Will Last in Your Body
Step #1: Determine Your Genetic Sensitivity to Caffeine
This is factor is vastly overlooked by many websites discussing pre workout supplements, but your genetics are at play here.
As the website Caffeine Informer explains, there are 3 different types of caffeine sensitivity:
- Hypersensitive (semi-rare)
- Normal Sensitivity (common)
- Hyposensitive (about 10% of people)
The Hypersensitive individual is the type of person to get extremely wired off of one cup of coffee or energy drink. This is because your body is, as you would guess, more genetically sensitive to caffeine’s effects.
The Normal Sensitivity group characterizes most individuals. Caffeine does affect you, but not in a crazy, unexplainable way. You are normal and most predictable.
And Lastly the Hyposensitive group makes up those freakish people who can drink cup after cup of coffee, and then proceed to go to bed shortly after. Basically, your genetics don’t care about caffeine.
This degree of sensitivity effects your stimulation from caffeine across the board (1).
Step #2: General Length of Caffeine’s Effects (From Pre Workouts)
Next, you need to flip your can of pre workout and check out how much caffeine is in that thing! Now that you know how many milligrams of caffeine is in each serving of your pre workout…
Know that for the Normal Sensitivity person, you can consume 150 to 300 mg of caffeine no problem on average. With this dosage, you can expect full kick-in around 45 minutes in, and then overall effects will last about 3-6 hours.
For the hypersensitive, you are going to want to consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine. This same caffeine in your pre workout may kick in faster and last longer, more towards the 6 hour duration. This will be noticeable through inability to sleep for those 6 hours.
Lastly for the hyposensitive group, you’re going to be leaning towards the stronger pre workouts to get your fix. After all, to get a good lift you are likely going to want at least 300 mg of caffeine to really feel its effects.
This would be a death sentence for the average and hyper sensitive, but you are special my friend! We won’t even get into caffeine-sleeplessness windows as for you it really doesn’t matter.
Step #3: What Other Stimulants Are In Your Pre Workout?
There are other ingredients in pre workout supplements that produce energy effects.
These include things like:
For pre workouts that contain these ingredients in addition to caffeine, expect them to hit harder and last longer.
Likewise, there is the ingredient: L-Theanine.
L—theanine does a bit of the opposite, and actually curbs some of caffeine’s twitchy effects. This produces a more enjoyable experience, and may be why you like one pre workout more than another despite containing the same stimulant profiles.
Step #4: Adaptation to stimulants: tolerance changes over time to pre workouts
Whether you were born very sensitive, average, or barely sensitive to caffeine – your sensitivity to caffeine containing pre workouts can change over time (2).
Essentially, the more caffeine you take week after week changes how your body reacts to it. Eventually, the same 100 mg of caffeine isn’t going to do as much because your body has increased its ‘stuff’ that breaks down said caffeine.
There are two ways to approach this:
- Either upgrade your pre workout.
- Or, take a break from stimulant pre workouts so that your body can normalize.
We recommend option #2, as simply increasing caffeine intake again and again can reduce your daily natural energy as you build a drug-like dependence.
Step #5: Trial and Error to determine exact durations of pre workout effects
It’s very unlikely that you are going to pin-down exact pre workout durations your very first try.
Other things that can affect the duration and quality of pre workouts are: sleep quality, hydration, and food intake.
Any one of these, if off-set, can result in a bad pre workout experience.
Conclusion on How Long Should I expect pre workout to last
We hope that the above tips will help you out, and that you’ve learned something about both caffeine and your own body!
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Comment below if you have any questions or pointers for other readers.