Are Pre Workout Supplements Safe?

Short Answer: No

We are always trying to perform our best at school, work, and our hobbies.  Weight lifting and exercise is, luckily, a common activity among younger adults.  Everyone who walks into the weight room is there to perform to the best of their ability by lifting the heaviest they can (with proper form) in order to increase muscle strength.  We use a variety of different tools to help us achieve our lifting goals such as music for motivation or coffee for added energy.  Most serious lifters also use a pre-workout supplement, which includes a variety of vitamins that help increase physical energy and muscle endurance.  People ingest these supplements every day without realising what they are made of much less the physical toll that they take on our hearts.

Active young man training with barbell in gym

The main ingredient in most pre workout supplements is 100-400mg of caffeine, roughly three times as much as a cup of coffee per serving.  Other ingredients include BCAAs, Arginine and Dimethylamylamine (say that 3 times fast) which increase energy and blood flow throughout the body.  While this can lead to improvement in performance, it can also cause harm to your body if not consumes properly. This article by Livestrong on pre workout tells the story of how Army Private Michael Sparling collapsed while training with his unit after taking said supplements.  Performing high energy tasks on these substances puts an unsafe amount of stress on the heart and can lead to heart damage or other cardiovascular problems.


Another danger of taking pre workout is kidney damage or failure from the common ingredient, creatine.  Creatine is a popular supplement for lifters to take to help rebuild their muscles but it is also commonly used in pre workout supplements to enhance performance.  Dr. Hopkins from the University of Otago in New Zealand posted a journal to Sportscience discussing the connections between creatine consumption and kidney damage/failure.  He concluded from his research that human kidneys have a hard time filtering the excess creatine consumed from supplements and can lead to kidney failure.  He noted how nine athletes developed kidney problems after several years of excessive creatine consumption.

There are much safer and cheaper ways to get energised before exercise and weightlifting.  One of the easiest ways to increase energy is by dieting.  A strong balanced diet with carbohydrates and healthy fats can lead to increased energy throughout the day and in the weight room.  Another healthy way of boosting energy is with traditional coffee.  This provides the same effect as the pre workout but on a slightly milder level.  It essentially achieves similar performance gains but without the cardiological and endocrine risks of pre-workout.  In conclusion– your health is priceless; don’t risk degrading it by listening to your ego instead of your body.

3 thoughts on “Are Pre Workout Supplements Safe?

  1. Bernarda Jarrin Alvear

    I found your post interesting since I believe that nowadays people would think that they are consuming products that will enable them to do something better but it is actually not true. All of this products just have a lot of ingredients in enormous amount of quantities that will most likely make a person very unhealthy. For instance, not only weightlifters but others who are interested in working out have made it a habit to buy protein bars or shakes that are easy and fast to eat as a supplement for an ideal meal. I agree with you when you said that there are other much healthier methods to get energy in order to workout. A healthy diet and consistent workouts are more than enough to be energetic when doing exercise. Here is a link I found were it compares actual food with supplements used to do sports.

  2. mak6209

    I used to take pre-workout supplements, but after a while I stopped feeling their effect. I took a supplement called GAT Nitraflex and for the first couple servings I took I really liked the supplement. Found here:
    After I finished the container I never felt like it’s something I would spend money again. After your post showed me the negative side of pre-workout, that most bodybuilding websites tend not to show, I definitely won’t be buying the product again.

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