Pre Workout Supplements were in their initial days referred to as Nitric Oxide (NO) Supplements. The primary function then of pre workout supplements when initially introduced to the market was the vasodilating of blood vessels, & thus stimulation of muscle hardness & providing "the pump" whilst weight training. As time went along however NO supplements were increasingly coupled with stimulants & mood enhancing ingredients, so as to provide focus, energy & intensity whilst working out. So the modern pre workout supplement came to be.
Intra-Workouts on the other hand, focus of providing nutrients to fuel both muscle growth and energy provision. Typically including branched-chain amino acids and/or whey protein hydrolysates, intra-workouts have been shown to help reduce post-workout muscle soreness while simultaneously reducing muscle breakdown during the workout. Carbohydrates are also commonly found in intra-workouts and serve the purpose of providing energy to drive intensity while also increasing uptake of amino acids/protein.
What is Nitric Oxide - Nitric Oxide is a gas produced within the body that plays a crucial role in many of the body’s essential functions, particularly cell communication. Available in supplement form, nitric oxide, with its numerous benefits, has been a godsend to athletes and bodybuilders all over the world. Nitric oxide is produced naturally within the body when the amino acid l-arginine is converted into l-citruline; however, supplements have already been designed to give you a pure hit of nitric oxide. The functions of nitric oxide within the body are seemingly endless and provide a range of benefits for athletes and bodybuilders as well as the everyday person. Its main role is blood and blood pressure regulation1, namely the increase of blood flow. This is good news for bodybuilders as increased blood flow means more oxygen, hormones and nutrients are being delivered to the muscles whilst training, thus resulting in muscle growth and strength. This supplement group plays a role in the release of adrenaline from the adrenal medulla, which gives the user a more powerful training session.
Nitric oxide will also reduce inflammation2 of the muscles and post-workout stress. Basically, a person using nitric oxide as a sports supplement may expect increased muscle size, strength and endurance as well as a much faster recovery and enhanced fat oxidation. Amazingly, there are even more benefits associated with nitric oxide. Its ability to relax the muscles of the blood vessels and coronary arteries means healthy blood pressure and flow are maintained and blood clots are prevented, which takes unnecessary pressure away from the heart. In fact, its link to a healthy cardiovascular system is so strong that the medication nitroglycerine is prescribed to sufferers of angina because of its ability to generate nitric oxide. Some studies have even produced results suggesting that nitric oxide can reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke. Further benefits to the heart include the reduction of plaque from arterial walls and its ability to fight cholesterol. Nitric oxide is also crucial to kidney function. The increased blood flow around the glomeruli of the kidneys ensures that urine formation occurs at a faster rate. Male readers will be interested to know that nitric oxide is actually the chemical that causes erections by dilating blood vessels. In fact, initial studies of nitric oxide led to the development of Viagra. Other organs that benefit in some way from nitric oxide include the brain, lungs, liver, stomach and digestive and immune systems3. The majority of nitric oxide supplements include the amino acid l-arginine as an ingredient. An overdose of l-arginine can lead to nausea and fatigue, so start off with smaller dosages if you’re a first time user. Also be aware of the amount of arginine contained in other supplements you’re taking in addition to nitric oxide.
What about the energy in pre-workout supplements - Due to the inclusion of a number of ingredients including caffeine, guarana, amino acids, & many more, pre workout supplements often have a stimulant effect. This provides the user with plenty of energy before a workout and assists in achieving a much stronger pump. What else do pre workout supplements contain - To train well it helps to feel well & so modern day pre workout supplements may contain feel good nootropic ingredients including DMAE (dimethlaminoethanol), Bacopa Monniera (bacioasudes A & B), B-Phenylethylamine (B-PEA), Xanthonol Nicotinate or Huperzine A. Pre-workout supplements stack well with other muscle growth supplements such as protein, post workout supplements, testosterone boosters such as tribulus or zma, or recovery supplements including l-glutamine & BCAA’s. Taking pre workout supplements can help you achieve a natural "perpetual pump" - a muscle pump that remains in its post-exercise, blood-engorged, rock-hard condition all day long. Although the extent of this effect may vary from person to person, almost all pre workout supplement users experience an overall hardening & swelling of their muscles. For more information check out this great article on the best pre-workout supplements.
Pre Workout Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Pre-workout supplements are not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children under 15 years or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision.1. Yoon, Y.; Song, U.; Hong, S.H.; Kim, J.Q. (2000). "Plasma nitric oxide concentration and nitric oxide synthase gene polymorphism in coronary artery disease". Clinc. Chem. 46 (10): 1626–1630.