Does Pre-Workout Build Muscle?

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Pre-workout supplements have become very popular over the past several years. 

However, the question remains – does pre-workout build muscle, or is it just another fad? 

In this blog post, we will take a look at this topic and try to answer that question with a rather interesting point of view.

So, if you are interested in learning more about this topic, keep reading!

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Many people who are serious about working out and building muscle mass take pre-workout supplements. 

These supplements typically contain a variety of ingredients that are designed to improve energy levels, increase strength, and enhance focus. 

While pre-workout supplements can be beneficial, it’s important to do your research and choose a quality product.

Some pre-workout supplements may be too potent for certain individuals, leading to side effects like insomnia or even an energy crash after the workout.

If or when you decide to try pre-workout supplements, keep in mind it’s always best to start with a lower dose and increase gradually as needed.

What Do They Contain?

As you learned, pre-workout supplements are designed to give you an extra boost of energy before you hit the gym. 

They usually contain a combination of caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline malate, among other ingredients like electrolytes and vitamins. 

Let’s have a look at the 3 main energy-boosting ingredients individually that you should look out for in the best pre-workout supplements on the market!


The single most effective ingredient in any pre-workout supplement is, you guessed it, caffeine!

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that has been shown to improve exercise performance. 

Caffeine works by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain, which reduces fatigue and increases alertness. 

Studies have consistently shown that caffeine can improve exercise performance, including measures of endurance, power, and speed. [1]

In addition, caffeine has also been shown to increase focus and concentration during exercise. 

While the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, it is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts. 

For athletes looking to improve their performance, caffeine is one of the most effective ingredients available.

This is why caffeine is at the core of every pre-workout supplement.


Pre-workout supplements usually contain a mix of ingredients that can help increase energy, improve focus, and enhance stamina. 

But does pre-workout really make a difference, and more importantly, does pre-workout build muscle?

Well, the second core ingredient in many pre-workout supplements that may do so, is beta-alanine. 

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that essentially has two main functions – to increase exercise capacity and decrease fatigue.

This can help to improve performance and maximize the work done during a workout, making it an ideal ingredient for athletes or anyone looking to get the most out of their workout. 

If you’re considering taking a pre-workout supplement, be sure to check the label to see if beta-alanine is included.


Another key ingredient in many pre-workout formulas is citrulline malate, an amino acid involved in circulatory function. 

Citrulline malate is thought to enhance athletic performance by increasing levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow. 

This increased blood flow can improve muscle endurance and reduce fatigue. 

Overall, citrulline malate is a versatile ingredient that can offer a range of benefits for athletes, which is precisely why it is at the core of most pre-workout supplements.

Pre-Workout’s Effect On Building Muscle

There is a lot of debate surrounding pre-workout supplements and whether or not they actually help to build muscle. 

So, what is the harsh truth? 

Well, while pre-workout does not directly impact muscle protein synthesis (gaining muscle), it may improve training performance.

This, therefore, presents a greater stimulus for muscle growth, meaning that pre-workout supplements impact muscle growth quite indirectly.

Now let’s have a look at the key benefits of pre-workout supplements that allow you to do just that.

Lifting Heavier

Pre-workout supplements are designed to help you build muscle and improve athletic performance. 

When taken before a workout, they can help you lift heavier weights, thereby allowing you to create a greater muscle growth stimulus.

This is exactly what pre-workout supplements do – they help you realize the most important principle of muscle gains – progressive overload.

Besides the core ingredients that we just talked about, pre-workout supplements may also contain creatine, which is furthermore beneficial for sustained high-intensity performance. 

Doing More Reps

As you should know by now, pre-workout supplements are designed to help you maximize your workout by giving you an extra boost of energy. 

While they can be helpful in allowing you to lift heavier weights, they may also have another benefit – helping you to do more repetitions. 

In other words, pre-workout supplements can not only help you be stronger, but they can also take that increased strength and translate it into more strength endurance. 

This is due to the fact that pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that help to increase blood flow and nitric oxide in the body. 

This might be a hint to one of the questions we get asked quite often – does pre-workout build muscle?

As a result, your muscles are better able to utilize the energy they need to keep going. 

So, if you’re looking for a way to get the most out of your workout, consider taking a pre-workout supplement.

Reducing Rest Times

Anyone who has ever worked out knows that rest times between sets are crucial. 

Not only do they allow your muscles to recover, but they also give you a chance to catch your breath and regroup before the next set.

However, if you’re trying to improve your strength endurance level, you may find yourself wanting to reduce your rest time in order to get more out of your workout. 

Pre-workout supplements can be helpful in this regard, as they provide an extra boost of energy that can help you push through fatigue. 

This and both of the benefits above are what the best pre-workout for muscle gains will do!

Does Pre-Workout Really Make A Difference?

Pre-workout supplements are designed to give you an extra edge during your workouts. 

But does pre-workout really make a difference?

It turns out that pre-workout supplements can boost your performance, but you don’t have to take them every day. 

In fact, you can consider it your go-to option for your heaviest workouts or simply days when you’ve lost your powerlifting mojo and need an extra kick.

With that in mind, if you’re looking for a little extra boost during your next workout, a pre-workout supplement might be worth trying. 

Just remember that you don’t need to take them every day, otherwise, you may end up getting used to the boosting ingredients, rendering the supplement less effective!

So, does pre-workout build muscle?

Pre-workout supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry, but do they actually work? 

The answer is complicated. 

Some pre-workouts may indeed help you achieve your fitness goals, while others are nothing more than overpriced caffeine pills. 

So, how do you know which one to choose? Do your research and read reviews before buying any supplement. 

Do you have any questions regarding PWO supplements? Drop a comment below!

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