People use pre-workouts to intensify their workouts and get the most out of their time at the gym.
The effects of pre-workouts can vary between products, but one thing remains consistent: within 30 minutes of taking a pre-workout, you’ll feel a boost in energy and focus.
It may be more subtle for others—they don’t feel a big rush of power right away, but they notice that they can exercise longer or harder without getting tired. You may also feel side effects like itching and tingling a little itchy.
If you’ve never tried a pre-workout, you might wonder how that energy boost will make itself known.
Let’s walk through what you can expect in the minutes following your first sip.
Table of Contents
What does pre-workout feel like the first time?
The first time you take a pre-workout, you may feel a prickly sensation. The tingling usually begins in the face and travels down to the arms and chest. Your palms may sweat more than usual, and your heart rate increases.
You might also get butterflies in your stomach or feel a bit jittery overall—all natural responses to the stimulants in the pre-workout.
Once you get past the initial rush, within 10-30 minutes, you should feel focused and energized and more motivated to exercise than usual.
Many people report feeling more productive at the gym and able to push themselves harder than they usually would. With increased endurance and stamina, it can be easier to maintain a high level of intensity during your workout session.
In essence, the energy boost from consuming pre-workout can help you burn more fat, build more muscle, and help with endurance (like running faster for longer).
It is a powerful addition to your fitness regimen if taken correctly.
Does pre-workout work immediately?
According to experts, pre-workouts usually take 30 to 45 minutes to kick in—it’s not instant. The supplement is not a magic pill or powder that will start working once you take it.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel any effects right away. Depending on how sensitive you are to caffeine (and other stimulants) and how quickly your body absorbs them, you may feel tingling sensations.
The 30-minute delay is when your body needs time to break down and absorb the nutrients from the pre-workout after ingesting it.
Some factors can affect this process (e.g., if you’ve just eaten a big meal or are dehydrated).
If you’re not feeling anything after an hour, you can either take more or choose a different brand next time. However, everyone responds differently to supplements, and your body’s caffeine tolerance will influence how you feel after drinking it.
However, you might prefer an all-natural pre-workout brand since others have more caffeine that can cause unpleasant side effects.
How does pre-workout feel when it kicks in?
The pre-workout feeling is different for everyone.
Most people feel ready to crush your workout, and it won’t be just in their heads. When you start your exercise with a pre-workout, you can lift more weight, perform better cardio, and push yourself harder.
Here’s a closer look at the sensations associated with various pre-workout ingredients:
1. More Energy
The primary purpose of many pre-workout supplements is to give you energy. This energy can come in both stimulants, like caffeine and yohimbine, or non-stimulants, creatine, or beta-alanine. Stimulants cause an acute increase in alertness and energy that usually lasts one to three hours after taking them.
Non-stimulants provide a slower release of energy that lasts for several hours (or longer for creatine).
2. Fast alertness
When you take a stimulant like caffeine or green tea extract before working out, it triggers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain, increasing awareness and focus.
That’s why many people notice that their senses seem sharper when they take pre-workout. The extra stimulation may make colors seem brighter or sound more intense.
You might also find that you can think faster and more clearly than usual.
3. Better focus
The energy boost from caffeine will last for about two hours after taking a pre-workout. Still, other ingredients like beta-alanine can keep your mind focused on your workout even after the caffeine wears off.
The Beta-alanine in the supplement increases carnosine levels in muscles.
Carnosine is a chemical that prevents your muscles from getting weak during exercise by reducing lactic acid build-up.
4. Enhanced endurance
In some cases, other ingredients in pre-workout supplements can help boost your stamina to continue to work out longer and harder. Some of these ingredients include creatine, ginseng, and others.
These will often make you feel less tired during your workout, helping you increase the intensity and work out for more extended periods.
5. Better mood
Stimulants in pre-workout supplements have enhanced mood by boosting the amount of dopamine released into the brain.
That “feel good” sensation makes it much easier to get through your workout is from dopamine. You’ll notice an increase in focus and concentration because of this boost.
6. More sweat
Some pre-workout formulas encourage sweating by including compounds like capsaicin, ginger, and cayenne pepper extract, which are thermogenic (heat-producing) compounds.
Taking these supplements can make your internal temperature rise as your metabolism increases, which means you will be sweating more during your workouts.
People notice a sensation of warmth when their body starts sweating more than usual.
7. Reduced stress and anxiety
Some pre-workouts contain adaptogens — ingredients that help the body respond to stressors by moderating cortisol levels (a hormone produced when people are under stress).
By lowering stress hormones, athletes have reported an elevated mood and an overall sense of calmness before and during workouts.
8. More motivation to hit the gym
The jolt of energy and motivation is often the first thing users notice when their pre-workout serving kicks in.
Caffeine binds to the brain’s adenosine receptors. It prevents sleepiness-inducing hormones from working properly. When caffeine prevents it from binding to these receptors, you feel more alert than average.
9. Pumped muscles
The body produces more carnosine in response to beta-alanine supplementation, which helps buffer lactic acid build-up and promotes muscle strength, stamina, and power during exercise.
Increased carnosine levels may also lead to improved recovery between workouts.
Does a pre-workout buzz last?
The effects of a pre-workout supplement usually last about an hour or two. Still, some variables will affect how long it lasts. Everyone’s body reacts differently to pre-workout supplements, so consider this a general idea of how a pre-workout supplement might work on your body.
Here are some factors that determine how long a pre-workout effect will last:
How long a pre-workout buzz lasts depends on your body’s metabolism rate and how quickly you metabolize caffeine.
The higher your metabolic rate and the faster you metabolize caffeine, the shorter duration of effect and intensity of any pre-workout buzz. If you have a slower metabolism and take longer to break down caffeine, the pre-workout buzz will last longer.
The amount of caffeine in these supplements varies widely; while they all have “caffeine” in common, some have more, and some have less than others.
If you’re looking for something in particular—longer buzz, faster hit, more intense rush—check the labels and research to find out which product has the best ingredients.
The more active you are regularly, the more adept your body is at processing energy and maintaining it at optimal levels.
You’ll probably find that if you take a pre-workout supplement on an active day, the effects may last longer than they would have on a day when you choose to be less busy.
The first thing to consider is whether you’re a first-time user or a regular in the supplement world.
A first-time user will probably notice its effects more than an experienced user.
Also, keep in mind that caffeine can affect everyone differently. Some people are less tolerant of caffeine effects. It’s always best to start with a small amount if you’re unsure how the supplement will affect your activity.
Type of pre-workout
The ingredients in your formula will affect how long you feel the buzz.
The effects of caffeine usually last about 3 to 4 hours, and other components may give you a longer kick. Some products contain beta-alanine for sustained energy; others may have creatine to increase muscle mass and power output.
Studies show that both ingredients can help you longer than first use. Their effects may extend beyond when your caffeine buzz wears off.
Can pre-workout buzz make you feel sick?
While some people might be able to consume pre-workout supplements with no adverse effects, others may experience various negative symptoms.
The most common pre-workout sickness is a feeling of nausea, which can occur the first few times you try to ramp up your workouts.
Other possible side effects include:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps or pain
Pre-workout effects are usually temporary, but if you’re experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above and last longer than just the first few days of pre-workout, consider taking a break or stopping your supplementation entirely.
It is advisable to switch to a natural pre-workout supplement that relies on clean ingredients to boost your energy before the gym.
Also, remember that it can take time for your body to adjust to new supplements.
Even if you aren’t experiencing direct symptoms right away, keep an eye on how you feel over time. Pay attention to whether or not it’s affecting your energy levels overall.
How do you know if pre-workout is working?
Everyone responds differently to pre-workout. It’s an individual response. Some people feel the effects right away, some take a few uses to feel it, and some never feel anything.
You should look out for better muscle pumps and a definite energy boost after taking a pre-workout. Trainers usually do more reps and push harder while feeling focused and energized.
If you feel this way, the pre-workout is working.
Does pre-workout give you a tingling sensation?
The tingling sensation you feel when you take pre-workout is normal. It’s called paresthesia, caused by the beta-alanine in the supplement.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps muscles contract more efficiently and for extended periods. It allows you to work out harder, perform better and delay fatigue.
Although harmless (and might even be a sign that the supplement is working), pre-workout with beta-alanine can cause a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation on your skin. It’s not painful and should go away once you start exercising.
Does pre-workout make you feel extremely energetic?
Pre-workout supplements don’t make you feel “extremely energetic.” When they work, they get out of your way so that your own body’s adrenaline can kick in and give you the energy you need to work out.
If you’re tired or stressed out, pre-workout isn’t going to help unless you take a good rest first.
If you’ve had a good night’s sleep and are in good shape and not stressed about anything, pre-workout can help you get the most out of your workout.
When you take pre-workout supplements, your energy for muscle contractions is enhanced, and your workouts are more efficient. These supplements increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
Other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids help muscle building and recovery after exercise.
Does pre-workout make you feel less tired during your workout?
Many people report that pre-workout supplements make them feel less tired during their workouts.
There are a few reasons for this.
The main reason is that the supplements’ ingredients boost energy levels. It pushes you further, for longer, and with more energy. Studies have shown that caffeine also improves endurance by about 12 percent, which can help you bust through plateaus or reach new goals faster.
Increased energy from pre-workout can also give you a perception of being less tired.
Even if your performance has improved, you may still feel exhausted after a workout. However, when you take pre-workouts, your body will be able to get more done while using less of its resources than it would without the supplement.
It’s not surprising that you feel like you exerted yourself less than usual after a workout because your performance was better than ever before.
Pre-workout supplements are designed to give you energy and focus for your workout. They can make you feel like you have more energy and can help you push through a tough workout.
They usually contain caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine and are not meant to be taken every day.
You should only take them when you know you’re going to have a tough workout ahead of you. There are many different pre-workout supplements on the market, so it’s important that you do your research before buying one.
Make sure to read the ingredients list and find one that doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners or flavors.