Is Pre-Workout a Placebo?

I’m pretty sure everyone who has taken pre-workout asks themselves “Is this doing anything?”.  Pre-workout is a dietary supplement that claims to increase performance in the weight room. I’ve taken it for about two years now and I feel like it doesn’t do jack or shit other than make my body tingle and itch.I believe pre-workout is nothing but a placebo. I’ve asked various people, such as my room mates and team mates who take the supplement, if pre-workout does anything for them and there were many mixed feelings for the supplement. I have a few friends that swear by it and take it religiously and others say that it doesn’t do anything and is a waste of money.

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C4 is a very popular brand of pre-workout. Let’s break down its components. The blend contains the following: Vitamin C, Niacin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Beta Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG, and an “explosive energy blend” of vitamin C, Caffeine, Vitamin B12, and Folate. ( Supplement Facts)  Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 are daily recommended vitamins. Creatine Nitrate is a component in Creatine, which helps muscles retain more water and recover faster. Argenine AKG is a component of amino acids, which helps proteins to build faster. Niacin is used to lower cholesterol. Beta Alanine is a supplement which increases acid in muscle groups, also it is the culprit of the itchy, tingly feeling one feels after taking the supplement. There is very minimal amount of these supplements aside from the large quantities of Beta Alanine and Caffeine in the blend. I feel like there’s so much caffeine in the supplement that the effects that an individual feels are that of a caffeine rush. Honestly I don’t feel it at all. Perhaps this is due to a confounding variable such as how many cups of coffee someone who takes pre- workout consumes in the morning.

An experiment can be constructed in order to see if pre workout is indeed a placebo. I believe a double blind placebo experiment would accurately prove my hypothesis, if conducted enough times.  The control group would take no supplement. The placebo group will be given a sugar drink mix, but would be told its pre workout. Finally the experimental group would take one dose of pre-workout before exercising.  The independent variable would be those who consume pre workout, and the dependent variable would be gym performance. This is just a short summary if the experiment would be conducted, The following scientific journal conducted an observational study of twenty four athletes who took a pre-workout supplement and exercised vigorously for three weeks. However these exercises were strictly running based. The results that performance and times did increase, but i’m still curious as to whether it benefits those who lift weights.

I am still biased to the idea that pre-workout is a placebo. Perhaps a repeated studies conducted on weightlifters would change my mind. The only thing I feel from taking this supplement is being itchy and tingly. I don’t feel any more motivation than that of my own. I’m sure this will raise some controversy and I’d love to hear other ideas about the supplement and my classmates experience with it.

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3 thoughts on “Is Pre-Workout a Placebo?

  1. Benjamin R Tuohey

    I really enjoyed this post. I personally use pre workout as I feel as if it helps me to focus and perform better while Im in the gym. Ive worked out without taking it and just do not feel the same. Im not sure if it is just a placebo and I think it helps, but in my opinion it actually does help me in the gym. I added an article about how pre workouts are beneficial.

  2. Olivia Anne Browne

    Great post!
    Extremely relatable amongst our age group. I began taking pre workout over the summer! Although I do believe pre workout is not a placebo, I do see why some people may think it is. Being a girl on the somewhat smaller size, maybe this is why I feel more so convinced then others because maybe I experience a more heightened effect. I definitely experience increased energy and endurance while I take this. I really think your purposed experiment is perfect in discovering findings regarding this hypothesis! Also, really interesting learning more in depth regarding the ingredients within this supplement. Another controversy is whether or not this supplement is even safe to use.
    Check out this site!

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