This article will cover everything you need to know about taking pre-workouts before cardio.
All pre-workout adverts hit you with the tagline that it will help you enhance your endurance, performance, and recovery; this may have already given you an idea of the benefits of taking pre-workout and doing cardio.
But since not all ingredients in pre-workouts will compliment your exercise outcome, I have structured this article to give you a deeper and better understanding of which pre-workout components are critical to your cardio training and how.
For this read, I have also investigated the impact of the two best pre-workouts on cardio.
Keep reading to find the details.
Is it okay to take a pre-workout before cardio?
Yes, it is okay to drink pre-workout before doing cardio.
You might have usually seen trainers taking pre-workouts to rev up their body for some heavy weightlifting. But the formulation of these supplements is just as beneficial in amplifying your performance during high-intensity cardio.
However, the efficacy of pre-workouts in low or moderate-intensity cardio is not that significant.
Pre-workouts influence certain aspects of your training like recovery, stamina, endurance, energy production, blood flow to muscles, etc., and taking them in before your cardio training may multiply its benefits on heart and lung health, support its fat-burning properties and promote the release of endorphins for longer to make you feel good.
Scroll down to find out how pre-workouts impact the three different types of cardio training.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
You can tell by the name that HIIT is a powerful cardio workout that puts you at approximately 70-85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) and requires you to push yourself hard during the work phase and then heal as much during the recovery phase.
An example of HIIT will be weightlifting or squat jumps.
The work phase helps burn fat, enhance strength, build muscles, and trigger the release of endorphins. And the recovery period allows you to recoil for the next round of high intensity.
The recovery period is crucial as the benefits of HIIT come at the cost of muscle sprain and strains.
This 2020 review reported that creatine monohydrate, caffeine, nitrate, sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine, protein, and essential amino acids and carbohydrate pre-workouts might enhance your HIIT performance in the following ways:
- Creatine promotes recovery between bouts and increases exercise performance, but available research for this supplement is mainly focused on performance during cycling. It boosts energy production, promotes greater force development, and increases training volume.
- Caffeine enhances muscle endurance, increases force and power production, decreases muscle damage and makes the trainer complete more work in the same amount of time. But you need to be careful about the dose of caffeine you are taking during HIIT, and it should not exceed 3 to 6 mg/kg.
- Sodium bicarbonate decreases muscle acidosis, which enhances power production and reduces the onset of muscle fatigue, enabling you to complete more sprints in less time.
- Beta-alanine impacts performance by enhancing the ability to sustain high-intensity exercise. It does this mainly by reducing the onset of fatigue.
- Nitrate (NO booster)enhances the blood flow to the muscles and reduces muscle fatigue, which positively impacts performance.
- Proteins provide the amino acid building blocks for muscle maintenance, repair, and growth that enhance recovery. They also allow regeneration of energy from them during endurance exercises.
A clinical trial found that supplementing athletes with protein and carbohydrates caused a 30 to 40% increase in the cycling time to fatigue compared to the group supplemented with only carbohydrates.
Moderate Intensity Exercise
Moderate Intensity cardio exercise puts you at about 50-70% of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and does not require you to push yourself to the limit.
Dancing while vibing to your favorite beat or a swim in the pool is enough to achieve this heart rate.
A moderate-intensity workout will help to improve your mood, increase your stamina and energy and positively impact your overall health and well-being.
This 2020 study evaluated the effect of a multi-ingredient pre-workout supplement on female athletes who performed moderate-intensity cardio training in the form of treadmill running and found that it attenuated their perceived exertion.
It also caused an increase in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
And the caffeine in the pre-workout was found to promote thermogenesis in them but had no other significant performance-enhancing effects instead of this.
The ingredients of the multi-ingredient pre-workout used in the study that is also common in other pre-workouts are Beta-alanine, caffeine, tyrosine, creatine, niacin, arginine, L-carnitine, vitamins (vitamin C, B6, B12 and B 3), minerals (folic acid, calcium).
Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS)
Low-Intensity Steady State cardio allows you to do a light exercise that does not increase your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) beyond 50%. Going for a 30-minute walk is enough to fulfill your daily LISS exercise.
This workout will help you burn fat and build stamina without requiring much strength and endurance. It also helps to prepare your body for high-intensity exercises.
LISS does not require a recovery period as you do not have to overexert yourself in it.
The effectiveness of pre-workouts on LISS has not been evaluated because you can carry through it well, even without supplements.
Also read: Best Pre-Workout for Swimming
Pre-workout and fasted cardio – is it a good idea?
As I might have bored you with the science gibberish in the above section, for this section, I am going to answer your query with my search results on pre-workout and Reddit so that you have an idea about the user experience as well.
‘Rafaelfy’ initiated this Reddit thread while looking for a pre-workout recommendation with ingredients of actual value instead of fillers to compensate for the energy requirement during lifting and cardio in a fasting state.
Most Reddit users recommended that he look for caffeine, citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and Yohimbe HCL to aid his weight-loss and energy requirements. The users added that he should stay away from Branched Chain Amino Acids as it will break the fast.
‘barack_o_lamb’ initiated this thread because he wanted to know the user experience of pre-workout and endurance cardio because he found mixed things on the internet.
User replies initially recommended that he avoid pre-workouts if it isn’t necessary.
But on the other hand, many users wrote that they observed improvement in recovery time, performance, and energy levels by taking different supplements. Users mutually rooted for pre-jym pre-workout.
Best pre-workout for cardio
Here are the two pre-workouts that can make a suitable fit for your cardio needs:
- Crazy Nutrition Pre-train
- C4 Ripped Pre Workout Powder
Crazy Nutrition pre-train pre-workout may help boost your High-Intensity cardio performance and recovery with its energy-yielding and Nitric Oxide boosting ingredients.
The glucuronolactone and the vitamin B blend of this pre-workout promote the availability of energy for the body and muscles, which increases your stamina to last through the HIIT spurts.
Glucuronolactone works by increasing the quantity of glucuronic acid that provides energy from the breakdown of glucose.
The vitamin B blend promotes the production of energy in the body by assisting the metabolic pathway involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
The EnXtra in this product provides a smooth and jitter-free caffeine dose that helps to increase your motivation and endurance during HIIT. But you need to be careful and shift to the non-caffeine option if you suffer from side effects since the caffeine is anhydrous, and EnXtra adds nearly 400 mg of caffeine to the product.
The mineral iron plays a role in oxygen transport to the cardiac (heart) and skeletal muscles.
It also aids energy production and reduces fatigue.
The non-essential amino-acid taurine increases your exercise capacity and reduces your time to exhaustion.
Betaine promotes the blood flow to muscles, benefits cardiovascular health, and reduces inflammation which aids recovery during the recovery phase of HIIT.
Phenylalanine stimulates fat oxidation, which may supplement the benefit of high-intensity exercise in burning fat.
The beta-alanine increases the carnosine levels in the muscle, which removes lactic acid in them, thus decreasing muscle fatigue and improving performance during cardiac exercise.
The nitric oxide boosters in this pre-workout are arginine and citrulline malate. These increase the blood flow to your muscles, which may help both phases of HIIT by improving endurance and muscle recovery.
The Bioperine added to the formulation promotes quick absorption of all these ingredients.
- 20 servings for $39.99
- It offers a caffeine-free green-apple flavor.
- The ingredients benefit both the work and recovery phase of HIIT.
- It is a vegan-friendly product.
- Offers three varieties of flavors.
- It is free from banned ingredients.
- Offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
- The caffeine content may not suit everyone undergoing HIIT.
- Contains artificial sugar sucralose.
C4 Ripped pre-workout is specifically designed to cater to your cardio needs, and it is formulated with ingredients that promote weight loss, endurance, energy production, and muscle pumping.
It contains 150 mg of caffeine which is the right amount to promote motivation and performance in trainers doing cardio without putting extra strain on the heart.
The beta-alanine enhances endurance and reduces muscular fatigue.
Vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 promote energy production by supporting the metabolism of macronutrients. The C4 ripped formulation also contains iron, and both vitamin B6 and iron stimulate red blood cell formation, which is crucial to the transport of oxygen and nutrient to cells.
This product’s ‘cutting formula’ contains ingredients like Coleus forskholii and capsicum extract, L-carnitine tartrate, and green coffee bean extract, which boost thermogenesis and metabolism and improves weight-loss outcome of cardio exercises.
- 30 servings for $25.99.
- It is NSF certified.
- It is Amazon’s bestseller.
- Comes in four different flavors.
- The cutting formula aids thermogenesis and weight loss.
- The energy blend helps to sustain and endure high-intensity cardio.
- Contains a moderate level of caffeine.
- It is cost-effective.
- It is creatine free.
- Contains artificial sugars, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium.
- Contains artificial colors.
Bottom Line on Pre-workout and Cardio
To wrap it up, you may use pre-workout to promote recovery and performance during high-intensity cardio training.
But it may not have a significant benefit in low intensity and moderate exercises since they do not require a massive boost in energy, endurance, or stamina. Neither do they pose a very high risk of injury, as in high-intensity exercise.
Nonetheless, look out for ingredients like stimulants and caffeine when taking pre-workouts with cardio.
Your heart is already beating and pumping faster during cardio training, and these ingredients may put an extra strain on it.
Moreover, be attentive to any unusual symptoms and discontinue use if you feel chest pain or gastrointestinal symptoms with the use of pre-workouts during cardio.
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