Pre-Workout is the latest fitness trend, here is a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.


Maddy Smith

Pre-workout is the latest fitness fad for high school athletes.

DISCLAIMER: This article neither condemns nor condones the use of pre-workout. Please consult a professional about personal recommendations.

Fitness is an ever-growing and rapidly changing industry. One of the latest bandwagon trends is pre-workout. The multi-billion dollar industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, taking over ads and TikTok videos. So here is everything you need to know about pre-workout

Sports Nutritionist Rebecca Mallon currently works with University of Iowa athletes. She is well versed in the topic of fueling for a workout. “Pre-workout supplements are advertised to increase energy levels and support athletic performances. The most-common pre-workout supplements are classified as stimulants or BCAAs. BCAAs contain amino acids, which increase muscle building and decrease muscle breakdown. BCAAs can decrease fatigue during a workout.” said Mallon. 

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of leucine, valine and isoleucine. They aren’t naturally occurring in the human body and can be found in foods like chicken, eggs, and greek yogurt. Most people do not need to go out of their way to consume BCAAs due to their natural occurrence in food. The fitness industry, however, jumped at the opportunity to capitalize on their ability to increase muscle mass and supposed ability to increase general performance. Mallon reiterated that pre-workout is generally unnecessary. 

Pre-workout supplements do not directly increase speed, strength, or endurance. Instead, most pre-workout supplements use stimulants to increase blood flow and heart rate, which can have an indirect performance-boosting effect,” said Mallon. She went on to state that while pre-workout can give you a quick jolt of energy, it does not provide long-term metabolic energy. 

“Consuming a pre-workout supplement without fueling food is similar to jump-starting a car without putting gas into the tank,” said Mallon. 

Personal trainer and fitness coach Brendon Panther agrees that the supplement is largely unnecessary and can even become a hindrance. The coach does not encourage the usage of pre-workout. Panther recommends diet, sleep, and hydration as the best tools for a healthy lifestyle and long-term fitness plan. 

The biggest issues I have with pre are becoming reliant on it, becoming overstimulated and safety of the products.”

— Coach Panther

“The biggest issues I have with pre are becoming reliant on it, becoming overstimulated and safety of the products,” said Panther. 

The safety of the product is also something that Mallon hit on. It is important to ensure that the product is third-party tested. 

“Using pre-workout supplements is a high-risk fueling choice since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means there is no guarantee that a supplement is safe or effective.”

It is certainly a tool that should be used wisely. Junior Emily Elizalde began to use pre-workout when she started lifting regularly, needing an extra boost for her early workouts. 

“I use pre-workout about two to three times a week. Mostly in the mornings when I lift because it’s so early, like 5 am. I’m in rowing and sometimes we have big race test pieces. So I’ll take a little bit before those two,” said Elizalde. 

I use pre-workout about two to three times a week. Mostly in the mornings when I lift because it’s so early, like 5 am.”

— Emily Elizalde '23

Elizalde uses the boost sparingly, however, not wanting to become too dependent or experience any side effects. 

“It can be bad for you in excessive amounts. If you take it a lot you can also get high blood pressure. There are tingling side effects,” said Elizalde.

Athlete Chris Colgan ’22 had begun using pre-workout for the same reasons, wanting an extra boost for lifts. 

“My brother’s super into lifting weights and he would use it. I had a max-out day for football and he was like, ‘here, try some of this.’ And I used it. And I did really well during max-outs that day. I was like ‘alright, this is great,’” said Colgan.

The benefits were quickly outweighed by the negatives. 

“I think I started to use too much caffeine. You build up a tolerance to certain kinds of things and caffeine is one of those things you build up a tolerance to and then you have to start using more and more and more and there’s a point where I was just kind of like, okay, I don’t want to have my heart stop at 50,” said Colgan.

Aside from the increased caffeine tolerance and lack of positive effects, Colgan began to experience more mental effects and inconsistent workouts. 

“I found that it made my workouts kind of crummy and I started getting super anxious. I couldn’t sleep anymore,” said Colgan. 

Preworkout at its core is just another fitness fad. Similar to protein shakes and supplements, it is advertised as a quick fix to workout fatigue. While there are short-term benefits like a quick boost in the morning for Elizalde, there can also be added anxiety and a loss of sleep for Colgan. Preworkout is a personal choice for athletes, though a trainer or doctor should be consulted for health concerns.