What Exactly Does Pre-Workout Do To Your Body?

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

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Pre-workout supplements are all the rage these days. We’ve all seen people at the gym popping pills and powders before they start their workout. 

But how does pre workout work? And what exactly does pre-workout do to your body?

In this article, we’ll go deep into the topic to ultimately give you an idea about whether or not PWO supplements are worth the money.

If you’re wondering what pre-workout supplements contain and how they affect the body, keep reading.

Now without further ado, let’s start with some basics.

What Is Pre-Workout?

Pre-workout supplements are designed to give you an extra energy boost before you hit the gym. 

They usually contain a mix of active ingredients that have an impact on your blood flow, central nervous system, and energy-providing processes. 

The idea is that these supplements will help you work out harder and for longer, leading to better results. 

However, there is some debate about whether pre-workout supplements actually work. 

Some people claim that they never see any benefits, while others say that they make a big difference. 

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and how your body reacts to the ingredients.

How Does Pre-Workout Work?

If you’re like most gym rats, you’re always on the lookout for an edge, something that will help you push a few more reps or add a few more pounds to your max. 

And that’s where pre-workout supplements usually come in. 

But ​​how does pre workout work, exactly?

One of the main goals of pre-workout supplements is to increase the production of nitric oxide in the body.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that plays an important role in vasodilation, or, in simple words, the widening of blood vessels. 

This can lead to better blood flow, which can improve exercise performance and recovery. 

Key Ingredients

If you’ve ever taken a pre-workout supplement, you know that there’s a lot going on in that little scoop of powder. 

You might feel a little tingly, your heart might race, and you may even experience an unstoppable rush of power. 

But what exactly is in that stuff? 

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in pre-workout supplements and how they can help you get the most out of your workout.


One of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements is caffeine. 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can improve focus and energy levels. 

It works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for a variety of functions in the body, but most notably, promoting drowsiness/sleep.

Due to its vasodilative properties, caffeine can also increase blood flow to muscles, which delivers more oxygen and nutrients and helps to remove waste products. 


Most pre-workout supplements contain a key ingredient called beta-alanine. 

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps to improve athletic performance by reducing fatigue and increasing muscular endurance. 

It does this by increasing the levels of carnosine in the muscles, which acts as a buffer against changes in pH levels that can lead to fatigue. 

For this reason, beta-alanine is an inevitable part of most pre-workout supplements’ matrix.

If you’re on the market for a PWO supplement, make sure to read the label to ensure it has beta-alanine in it!


Another key ingredient in pre-workout supplements is citrulline malate. 

This amino acid has a variety of benefits on your blood flow and muscle health.

What this simply means is that PWO supplements that contain this ingredient are way more likely to have benefits for your athletic performance.

In combination with the other 2 on the list, these make for an amazing, skin-bursting pump!


When it comes to achieving fitness goals effectively, we all know the formula- consistently hitting the gym hard, eating your greens, and making sure to get plenty of protein. 

But sometimes, you just need a little extra boost to make it through your workout. 

That’s where creatine comes in. 

Creatine is a natural compound that helps to supply your muscles with energy. 

It’s found in meat and fish, but you can also get it in supplement form. 

Because of its proven effectiveness, many pre-workout supplements contain creatine, and for a good reason – it can help you to power through your workout and build muscle mass consistently over time.

Perhaps, over the long run, creatine is even more important than caffeine in your PWO formula, so don’t skip on it!

Banned Ingredients

Let’s be honest, those asking the question: “What exactly does pre-workout do to your body?” need to be aware of the dangers of pre-workouts.

There’s nothing like the rush you get from a proper pre-workout supplement.

It’s basically legal crack.

But over the years, many supplement companies have abused the fact that such products are poorly regulated and went on to formulate them with borderline addictive substances.

Over the years, though, the FDA has taken this into account, tightening the regulation and banning certain ingredients.

And for a good reason – they’re dangerous! 

Here’s a list of some of the most common banned ingredients:

  1. Phenpromethamine (Vonedrine)
  2. Oxilofrine, octodrine 
  3. Beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA)
  4. 1,3-dimethylamylamine(1,3-DMAA)
  5. 1,4-dimethylamylamine (1,4-DMAA)
  6. 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (1,3-DMBA) 
  7. Higenamine

Though banned, it is possible that some companies still include these in their products.

So if you see any of these ingredients in your pre-workout supplement, beware and avoid them at all costs! 

They could be dangerous to your health.

What Exactly Does Pre-Workout Do To Your Body?

Alright, so what exactly does pre-workout do to your body? 

Well, it appears that, for the most part, pre-workout supplements have a major benefit for athletic performance.

And if you’re like me, you love getting jacked up on pre-workout supplements. 

There’s nothing like slamming back a scoop of powder and feeling the tingling in your muscles as you start your workout. 

But here’s the thing: you shouldn’t be taking pre-workouts every day. 

Sure, they might give you a little extra energy and help you push through your workout, but they’re also heavy stimulants that can screw with your body if you’re not careful. 

So what’s the solution? 

Only take them on your hardest workouts or when you’re aiming for a personal record. 

That way, you’ll get the benefits without overdoing it.

Plus, the more frequently you take pre-workout supplements, the quicker you reach the point of adaptation where the same dose doesn’t work as well as it once did.

Final Thoughts

Pre-workout supplements are a great way to help give you an edge when it comes to your workout. 

However, as with anything else, they should be used in moderation and with caution. 

By understanding how they work and what their side effects can be, you can make sure that you’re getting the most out of your pre-workout supplement while avoiding any negative consequences. 

Have you ever tried a pre-workout supplement? What was your experience like? Let’s discuss this in the comments below!

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