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3 top personal trainers explain why they stopped taking pre-workout supplements that boost energy

Rachel Hosie   

3 top personal trainers explain why they stopped taking pre-workout supplements that boost energy
  • The global pre-workout supplements market is set to hit $26.8 billion by 2030.
  • Three personal trainers told Business Insider why they've stopped using the supplement.

If you work out regularly, you probably know that some days just feel harder than others. You're tired, unmotivated, and feel weaker and less fit than usual.

More and more people are turning to pre-workout supplements (generally known as "pre-workout") to push past those feelings. The size of the global pre-workout supplements market is expected to grow from $3.15 billion in 2021 to $26.8 billion by 2030, according to market research company Skyquest.

However, giving yourself an artificial boost of energy might not always be the answer.

That's the conclusion that three personal trainers who spoke to Business Insider came to.

For celebrity trainer Luke Worthington, the catalyst was the realization that he needed to take it easy sometimes rather than push his body with pre-workout. For former bodybuilder Hayley Madigan, it was the crash once the supplement wore off. And for physique coach and bodybuilder Cliff Wilson, it was about cutting down on caffeine.

Pre-workout supplements contain caffeine

Pre-workout commonly comes in the form of powders that are dissolved in water, as well as pills and liquids.

They're designed to increase performance during exercise and usually contain caffeine, as well as beta-alanine (a non-essential amino acid designed to limit muscle fatigue), BCAAs (branch-chain amino acids, which are through to reduce the breakdown of muscle protein), and B vitamins (which also boosts energy).

"There is a large body of evidence demonstrating caffeine's effectiveness as a performance enhancer, so these supplements do 'work' in that you will most likely be able to work harder during your workout when you take them vs when you don't," Worthington, who is based in London, said.

Pre-workout can stop you from listening to your body

But that tiredness is a signal that might be worth listening to.

When Worthington was younger, he always pushed himself to work out as hard as possible, but he now knows that training sustainably is more important for avoiding injury and staying healthy.

"Now, if I don't feel 'up' for a particular workout, I work at a lower intensity, focusing more on technique and skill, rather than reaching for caffeine," Worthington said.

Wilson, who is based in Chicago, agrees.

"You can end up overtraining and not realizing it," he told BI. "Often, people wake up and feel terrible because they're running themselves into the ground, but then they take a high-dose pre-workout with tons of stimulants and suddenly feel great, so they go and train really hard. It interrupts your body's natural signals."

After an energy spike, comes a crash

As for Madigan, who is based in the UK and specializes in women's fitness, she trains in the morning when she's naturally more alert and uses her morning coffee as a pre-workout replacement.

Caffeine content varies from pre-workout to pre-workout, but an average serving might contain 300 milligrams of caffeine, while a cappuccino might contain around 66 milligrams.

"I found that I was crashing after the pre-workout had worn off and it had a tendency to make me feel more tired," she said.

For some people, too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, shakiness, or changes in heart rate.

Wilson said caffeine definitely has its place and can help before a workout, but if he's having a pre-workout rather than just a coffee, he makes sure he takes one with a "reasonable dose." He considers that to be one with 200 to 300 milligrams rather than 400 milligrams upwards.

"I wouldn't take super high caffeine pre-workout supplements," he said.

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