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Pre-workout supplements give you the extra push you need to feel energized and focused during your workout. The problem is, that it’s common for these products to make people feel jittery thanks to caffeine.
Some people don’t handle caffeine well, but can still use a boost of energy before the gym. Luckily there are ways to get that boost without caffeinated pre-workouts supplements. Here are some things to try.
Explore Functional Ingredients
Caffeine isn’t the only ingredient that will pump you up before and during your workout. For example, the stimulant-free pre workout Naked Energy contains some functional, but effective ingredients such as:
Carnosyn Beta-Alanine – Boosts performance through improved endurance and recovery time. Also delays muscle fatigue.
Niacin – B-vitamin that when combined with carnosyn beta-alanine, creates the tingling sensation associated with caffeinated pre-workout supplements.
Nitrosigine – Promotes nitric oxide (NO) production, which can improve performance and increase energy.
L-Citrulline Malate – Combined with nitrosigine, this improves blood flow to increase energy and give the “pump” that most pre workouts provide.
ElevATP – Supports higher levels of mitochondrial ATP to improve power and stamina at the gym.
Relying on these ingredients instead of caffeine can help boost energy with no jitters or crash after your workout.
Warm Up With Light Cardio
When you’re not really feeling motivated to workout, sometimes all it takes is a light warmup to get in the zone. A short walk, jog, jumping jacks, or a dynamic stretch (think lunge with a twist or knees to the chest) will warm up the muscles and get the blood flowing.
Not only does a warm up feel good, but sometimes the key to feeling that rush of “let’s crush this workout” is just getting started. So next time you’re just not feeling it, commit to a 5-minute warm up and then reevaluate.
Pump Yourself Up With Music
Just like we all have that favorite song we know will put us in a better mood, music can boost your workout too.
Studies have shown that music can help with motivation to actually start your workout, and then also improve performance and endurance during your workout. According to both studies, tempo is key.
One study found that cycling performance changed alongside changes in music tempo. Another found that a good beat inspires people to run or walk faster and for longer.
Build a playlist of upbeat songs that you love, and start listening as you prep for your workout. You’ll feel pumped up for your workout, and it just might help you push through that tough set you have planned.
Drink Tea Instead of Coffee
Technically tea isn’t a caffeine-free option, but it does contain significantly less caffeine than coffee or a pre-workout supplement. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, opting for tea could be a good compromise to get the energy boost you’re looking for without overdoing it.
Tea also contains L-theanine which can have a calming effect so you experience a gentler boost. However, it’s best to avoid pre packaged teas that contain a lot of added sugar. Stick to simple tea leaves and hot water for the best experience.
Take a Power Nap
Sometimes nothing beats a short power nap to beat sluggishness. The key here is to get the timing right. Set a timer for 20 minutes and get into a comfy spot where you’re likely to doze off quickly.
When time’s up, try to avoid hitting ‘snooze.’ We all know the regret that comes with overdoing a nap. You might feel more sluggish or tempted to turn on the TV instead of heading to the gym. Play it safe and stick with the 20-minute rule.
If you don’t actually fall asleep, that’s okay too. You’ll still benefit from taking some time to rest and decompress.
Eat An Energizing Pre Workout Snack
Feeling sluggish, especially during a workout, is often a sign of underfueling or not eating the best pre workout snack.
Eat a pre workout snack 30 to 60 minutes before your workout to give your body the energy it needs, but also the time it needs to digest. Choose something that contains carbohydrates and protein. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, this not only optimizes glycogen stores to keep you energized, but also helps to maximize strength and muscle building during resistance training.
Some examples of carbohydrate + protein pre workout snacks include:
- Apple and nut butter
- Berries and cottage cheese
- Yogurt parfait
- Fruit smoothie
- PB+J with milk
Pre workout supplements are known for providing the extra boost of energy you need to get more out of your workout. Creatine does the same thing.
Creatine helps the cells produce more energy by helping to form ATP in the energy cycle. This maximizes the energy capacity in the muscles. In other words, it gives your muscles the extra energy to pump out extra reps or sprint a little longer before fatiguing.
Creatine won’t give your muscles a noticeable pump like a pre workout supplement. However, creatine will help with recovery after your workout.