We get this question all day long from guys – why isn’t my pre workout working?
When you take a pre workout, you’re supposed to get energy; it’s that simple. But as a lot of you have found out, that’s not always the clear cut case. So what is the deal, and what should you do? Before you call it quits and say ‘this pre workout sucks’, or try to make your own pre workout, we recommend that you make sure the issue isn’t something external to the pre workout. Here we will help you troubleshoot your pre workout supplement and get the results you’re looking for.
Top 7 Reasons Your Pre Workout Isn’t Working
1.) Dehydration – The amount of water you take with your pre workout and while working out effects performance.
Only a 1.5% reduction in your bodily water levels is classified as dehydration. Pair that with the fact that by the time you get thirsty it’s already too late, and you can appreciate the idea that you may spend more time dehydrated than you think.
If you’re tired before you even take your pre workout, try mixing your pre workout with extra water and be sure to drink plenty during your workout. Doing so directly effects mood and bodily circulation which otherwise can negate for your pre workouts effects from taking hold.
2.) Food – The timing of your meals before working out effects pre workout efficiency.
On this site we’ve talked about food timing a lot. It’s an important factor and you really cannot ignore it. When it comes to taking your pre workout, you should not have very much food in your stomach.
The general rule of thumb is that you should try to avoid eating a solid food meal within 3 hours of working out, a medium sized solid food meal within 2 hours, and a liquid meal within an hour. We cover this in our best pre workout meals article thoroughly.
By doing so, you will reduce the energy drain caused by the process of digestion which is energy intensive. If need be, you can still eat a small meal or drink 10-15 grams of whey protein right before lifting; but some straight amino acids would be best similar to those of intra workout supplements.
3.) Serving Size – Taking too much of a pre workout can reduce effectiveness.
This gets me fired up man. Some people I just want to hit in the head; and if this is how you operate, I don’t care if you are offended. When you start a new pre workout, take the recommended dosage or less; don’t go and take 2-3 servings thinking you know better and then say the pre workout was awful. It’s not awful, it’s just being recklessly used by a fool that gives pre workout usage a bad rap and gets good stuff banned.
Think about this, the chemists that make your pre workout – they know what they are doing. If it was better for you to take more and not less, they would tell you to; so that you go through the product faster and re-stock more often.
I’ve talked to guys who have gotten new pre workouts containing 200, 300, even 400 milligrams of caffeine in them, and they go and take 2 servings on the first shot. Next thing you know, they are sick, or feel terrible. That’s what stimulant overload will do to you. When it comes to taking stims, it’s definitely a bell curve. When you surpass 400 milligrams you’re going down, down, down.
4.) Poor diet – Not getting enough calories, protein, and B-vitamins can reduce a pre workouts power and reduce your overall energy.
Diet is everything. It’s rare that someone’s diet would be so lacking that it begins to affect their pre workout supplements effectiveness; but it’s possible. Carbs, protein, and basic AAs are all required for energy production and power. Without them, you won’t get an energy surge no matter how much caffeine you take.
5.) Bad Gym environment – No matter what you take, a bad gym environment crushes your mental state.
This kind of thing happens to everybody from time to time (hopefully no more than that). This is when you go to the gym and there’s a dude occupying every bench, every peck deck, and every incline bench you want to use.
Heck, there is even a dude taking forever with the right weight dumbbells you need. This will kill your mood, and tank your amped energy levels. All you can do is put some ear buds in and listen to good music or call it a day and go to sleep. Speaking of which…
6.) Sleep deprivation – Not getting enough rest gives bad workouts no matter what you’re taking.
Missing out on quality sleep jacks your body up, plain and simple. Nighttime is when your body sets its hormones straight, repairs your body, and refreshes the mind. Without proper sleep, your hormones get messed up, your tendency to build muscle goes way down, your tendency to accumulate fat goes way up; and you feel freaking tired. Get at least 7 hours so you don’t have to worry about the nonsense.
7.) Over-use/Tolerance to pre workouts – Chronic pre workout overuse can dull and regress the effects of supplementation.
This happens to a lot of guys that seriously lift. You take pre workouts all the time and eventually you find them not doing a whole lot. I can relate to this 100%. There have been times where I would take a huge serving of Bullnox before the gym, then come home and take a serving of Jack3d to help me study for college… Every day. Eventually, I found that I was so exhausted every day that I had to give it all up for a while.
Pre workouts really are not meant for long-term use. Yeah, you can go a few months taking them, but eventually you need to take a month of two off to reset your system. In fact, from a gains and fat burning perspective I highly recommend you take some time off the stimulants. You’d be surprised how much it can help.
If missing your daily pwo is too much to ask, then you can mix it up and go for a stimulant free pre workout. They don’t have the same ‘twitch’ energy, but you will still get a good pump and that natural feeling amino acid/B-vitamin burst. It’s not bad; our favorite stimulant free pre workouts are here.
Hopefully by the end of this list, you have determined what is making your pre workout a workout reducer. By solving the issue early and in a clean fashion, you can avoid upping the serving sizes and madness in an effort to overpower what’s holding you back. This is the best way to approach all supplementation issues when weight training, bodybuilding, and general fitness. If you have gone through this list saying “I got that, I got that, I got that; my pre workout still sucks” then you could benefit from checking out our best pre workouts.