‘Pre-workout’ is a term used for pre-workout supplements. These supplements come in a variety of forms, including powders, shakes, drinks, and tablets.
Pre-workouts have been shown to increase energy, focus, and even performance when working out.
The ingredients contained in pre-workout products vary, but popular ingredients include beta-alanine, creatine, and a stimulant like caffeine.
When you first start taking pre-workout you’ll probably see a big difference from using it. Over time this can change and you might not feel the same effect of it, or might not experience the effect of it for as long as you used to.
The good news is that there are different things that you can do to make pre-workout last for longer in your system.
Here I’ve explained how long does pre-workout stay in your system so that you can make the most of your pre-workout and your workout overall.
How Long Does Pre-workout Take To Kick In?
Pre-workout usually kicks in 30 to 90 minutes after you’ve taken it. During this time you’ll start to feel the effects. However, there is some variation depending on what ingredients your pre-workout product contains as well as your own personal tolerance to these ingredients.
When people talk about their pre-workout kicking in, they’re usually talking about feeling the effects of the stimulant, like caffeine. This is because pre-workouts usually contain a high dose of stimulants to give you a boost during your workout.
However, pre-workouts contain other ingredients too that are designed to help your workout performance. This includes amino acids, beta-alanine and creatine, as well as others.
The exact amount of time it takes for these ingredients to kick in will vary slightly depending on the ingredients and the dose of those ingredients. Those with higher doses are typically going to be felt more strongly in comparison to lower doses.
It also varies due to personal tolerance. Everybody responds to ingredients slightly differently. If you have a fast metabolism then you may feel the effects more quickly.
It can also vary depending on whether you’ve eaten a big meal just before, as this can affect the rate at which your body absorbs the ingredients.
How Long Does Pre-workout Stay in Your System?
On average, you’ll feel the effects of pre-workout between 90 minutes and 3 hours. This will vary depending on what ingredients and what quantities the product contains, as well as your own personal sensitivity to these ingredients.
To expand on this some more, it’s important to know there’s a difference between how long you feel the effects of pre-workout and how long pre-workout actually stays in your system because these are two different things.
Caffeine, for example, which is one of the most popular ingredients in pre-workout products, usually kicks in pretty quickly and most people will feel a buzz within an hour of consuming a pre-workout product containing caffeine.
Most people will feel the impact of this caffeine for a while, up to a few hours, after they’ve taken it. This will help you power through a workout, as caffeine has been shown to improve focus and concentration, increase endurance, and increase energy levels.
However, while you might not continue to feel the effects of caffeine, it actually stays in your system for longer than you might think. In fact, caffeine has a half-life of between 5 and 9.5 hours. This means that after 5 hours only half of the caffeine has been metabolized by your system.
This also means that higher amounts of caffeine are going to stay in your system for longer.
This can also be even longer depending on the type of caffeine you’ve consumed. For example, dicaffeine malate has a slower release time so you’ll feel its effects and it will stay in your system for longer.
But it’s not just due to the ingredients that the time pre-workout stays in your system varies. It also varies depending on you as everybody responds to things slightly differently.
For example, if you have a high caffeine tolerance then its effects are going to be relatively short-lived. If you have a lower tolerance to caffeine on the other hand then the impact of it is going to be felt for a lot longer.
How to Make Pre-workout Last Longer
To make your pre-workout last longer ensure you’re well-rested and well-hydrated. You should also avoid building up a tolerance to the ingredients within your pre-workout by limiting other forms of caffeine and cycling products.
So if you’re looking to make your pre-workout last longer then the good news is that there are a variety of things you can do. Here I’ve explained some of the best things you can do to ensure your pre-workout lasts longer:
Sleep, Eat, and Hydrate
You’ll feel the effects of your pre-workout much longer and more strongly if you’ve slept well, you’re fully hydrated and you have a good diet. This might sound obvious, but it’s crucial if you want your pre-workout to be most effective.
Dehydration causes tiredness and has been shown to decrease workout performance. Ensuring you’re properly hydrated will make a big difference by aiding your body to absorb and metabolize the ingredients in your pre-workout, helping to combat fatigue.
This is similarly the case with sleep. Sleep plays a crucial role in health and has been shown to have a significant impact on exercise performance.
Although pre-workout products contain stimulants, they aren’t a substitute for a good night’s sleep. If you’re tired then pre-workout products aren’t going to be felt in the same way and you won’t see a good result from them.
Eating right also makes a big difference. When you’re eating a nutritious diet and getting the necessary amount of calories you’re going to feel more energized. This means that the effect of your pre-workout is felt more strongly and can last for longer.
Avoid Other Sources of Caffeine
You aren’t going to feel the full effects of pre-workout if you build up a tolerance to the ingredients. For example, if you drink a lot of caffeinated drinks then your body builds up a tolerance to the caffeine.
Building up a tolerance essentially means that your body becomes used to the ingredients, so your reaction to them isn’t the same.
Then when you take a pre-workout the impact of it isn’t going to be felt strongly, or the effects might be short-lived in comparison to when you first started using them.
So to avoid becoming tolerant to the ingredients like caffeine it’s important to cut out other sources of high levels of caffeine. This includes things like caffeinated energy drinks, tea, and coffee.
Avoid Building up a Tolerance to Pre-workout
Unfortunately, your body builds up a tolerance to pre-workout over time meaning that you’ll stop feeling the impact of these products after a while. This usually happens over a period of a couple of months.
As a result, it’s important to change up the ingredients that you use and give your body a break from these ingredients to stop yourself from building up a tolerance to them.
This is done through a process of product cycling where you would temporarily change to a product containing different ingredients after a couple of months for a few weeks. This stops your body from becoming tolerant to the ingredients.
If you don’t want to change products though, another option is to just stop taking any kind of pre-workout for a couple of weeks every couple of months. Again, this stops your body from building up a tolerance to these products, meaning you’ll feel the effects for longer when you do use them.
People often rely on pre-workout to fuel their workouts and also act as a form of motivation. Without that initial “kick”, some people just struggle to make it to their workouts. It is, however, important not to take this too pre-emptively…
Most pre-workouts have effects that kick in after 30-90 minutes but the potency of the ingredients will impact this and it could mean that most pre-workouts start to lose effectiveness after 60 minutes.
Therefore, keep this in mind when consuming a pre-workout as timing is essential. I will take 30-90 minutes to kick in but you then might only feel the effects for 60 minutes so if you take it too early and get caught in traffic, you’ll just be wasting it.
Also, check out this video which explains all about pre-workout supplements: