I take pre-workouts on a daily basis not only before I workout but also after my workouts (I know it’s weird but it works for me). Today I will explain if you can take a pre-workout after your workout, and if so, what are the pros and cons.
As a whole, you can take a low dose of pre-workout after your workout becasue it helps to reduce fatigue and maintain energy levels. However, pre-workouts contain potent stimulants like caffeine and beta-alanine, which can have adverse effects like numbing or tingling in the skin when you exceed the recommended dose.
This is my brief answer, but if you wanna know more details on what happens if you take a pre-workout after working out, keep reading.
What Happens If You Take a Pre-workout After Working Out?
Pre-workouts are popular products that help to enhance performance, reduce fatigue, and give that extra boost to complete the hardest workouts. They are also one of the most studied supplements in the fitness industry.
While most of the studies show positive effects on fitness performance, what happens if you take a pre-workout after working out?
Taking pre-workout after my workout is nothing new. It not only helps to stay focused but also helps to maintain energy levels, especially during a long day at work. Most pre-workout supplements contain beta-alanine, caffeine, BCAA, and even creatine, which all have ergogenic effects.
In general, if your goal is to improve strength and fitness performance, it is better to take a pre-workout before you train. However, there are few benefits of taking pre-workout after you exercise.
Taking pre-workout after a workout helps to reduce overall fatigue
One of the reasons why I choose to take pre-workout after my workout is to reduce overall fatigue and maintain my energy levels at work. I stay on my feet all day long, working with clients and doing sales presentations that require a lot of focus.
During that time, nothing keeps me sharper and mentally alert than a morning 45-minute spin class followed by a pre-workout drink. I typically take a half scoop of pre-workout immediately after my training.
This gives me a window of 3-4 hours where I feel unstoppable (mainly because of the endorphins and caffeine combination).
Therefore, I always choose the pre-workouts with a decent amount of caffeine. Some pre-workouts have 3x more caffeine than a cup of coffee.
Caffeine doesn’t give me energy per se, however, it blocks the brain’s adenosine receptors. When the levels of the neurotransmitter adenosine are low, the body doesn’t register that you feel tired or sleepy.
It helps to improve your future workouts
Most high-quality pre-workouts contain beta-alanine, a nonessential amino acid that has an ergogenic effect on endurance, strength, and power sports. One cool thing about beta-alanine is it naturally increases the levels of carnosine.
Scott Mendelson, MD, Ph.D., a Psychiatrist from Oregon, said that carnosine has excellent antioxidant properties. It can greatly reduce damage from the highly reactive oxygen species and free radicals.
In a nutshell, carnosine improves the buffering capacity of the muscles from oxidative stress, which speeds up the recovery process.
Normally, beta-alanine (as a part of pre-workout supplements) is taken before the workout. However, studies have shown that the increase in carnosine depends on the total β-alanine consumed over time and is not dependent on timing or baseline concentration.
This means that you get the same benefits of beta-alanine if you take a pre-workout before or after you train.
Too much pre-workout will make you jittery
High β-alanine concentrations come with uncomfortable adverse effects called paresthesia. Paresthesia is this weird tingling sensation or jittery effect that you can feel in the skin. This happens usually when the dose of beta-alanine exceeds 2,5 grams.
Personally, I don’t mind this effect. However, I know many people hate it (that’s the reason why my wife doesn’t take any pre-workouts).
How to make pre-workout less jittery?
You can reduce these adverse effects simply by lowering the dose of beta-alanine to 0.8 – 1.0 g per serving taken every 3 to 4 h. This means you can take up to 6 g of beta-alanine per day, but not all at once.
As long as you dose equally and take under 1 gram at a time, you won’t get that uncomfortable reaction
In the picture below, you can see that my current pre-workout contains 2,500 mg of beta-alanine per serving.
To ensure you won’t get that tingling sensation on the skin, all you need to do is to measure half of the scoop and mix it with a large amount of water. This way you still get the benefits of caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline, but without jittery effects.
Drinking pre-workout after a workout helps with recovery
I often drink pre-workouts before and after my training, especially on the days when I train with heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts. Obviously, drinking pre-wokoruts before a workout gives extra energy so I can do more reps or aim for higher training volume.
I also find that when I drink pre-workout after my workout, my body feels less sore the following day.
Most of the pre-workouts are loaded with BCAA (branched-chain amino acids).
Multiple studies have shown that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects on decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis.
Drinking pre-workout as a post-workout helps to build muscle
Some of the pre-workout supplements do contain creatine, which helps increase strength, build muscle, and improve body composition.
Jose Antonio, Ph.D., an assistant professor from Nova Southeastern University, said that consuming creatine immediately post-workout is superior to pre-workout to improve body composition and strength.
According to Dr. Antonio, this worked with professional football players, as well as untrained older men.
Obviously, I don’t take pre-workout after my training in the hope of building muscle or strength. If you wanna take creatine, it’s better to just take creatine monohydrate separately.
However, if you think about it, pre-workouts like legendary zero sugar C4 do contain around 4g of creatine, which is considered an efficacious dose.
Use pre-workout as a post-workout coffee
I often like to drink my pre-workout not only after I train, but also instead of coffee throughout the day. After my workout, I take 1-2 scoops of pre-workout with a large amount of water and sip it throughout the day.
Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours, whereas beta-alanine last for up to 3 hours. Instead of drinking all at once, I prefer sipping my pre-workout throughout the day. This slow release help to maintain the effects of stimulants, without experiencing any adverse effects.
One caveat is that I only take my pre-workout supplements after morning workouts. I don’t take them if I train in the afternoon.
Too much pre-workout later during the day can have a negative effect on the circadian rhythms and can give me hard time falling asleep.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about “how to make pre workout coffee” at home
Don’t take pre-workout after every workout
As much as I love to take pre-workout after I train, I only limit my intake to 2-3 days per week. The bad side of taking pre-workouts loaded with caffeine is the more you take it, the less effective they become.
People who drink pre-workouts every day can quickly develop caffeine tolerance in one to four days. This means that you won’t feel as energetic and alert on day four as you were on day one.
David Robertson, MD, a former clinical researcher from Vanderbilt University, published a study where he demonstrated that taking caffeine in a dosage of 250 mg three times daily with meals develops caffeine tolerance and diminishes the caffeine effects.
The first dose of caffeine significantly raised PRA (plasma renin activity). On the final day of caffeine administration, the response of PRA was markedly attenuated and not significant, says Dr. Roberston.
My point is that you can take pre-workout after your workout, however, you should not take it every time you train.
I like to take pre wokrouts after gym only when I know I need to be on top of the game. On the days when I stay home or don’t have much on my plate, I stick to coffee.
Pre-workouts make me feel less hungry
Another reason why I like to drink pre-workouts after my morning training is becasue they make me feel less hungry. Pre-workout stimulants that contain caffeine that helps to increase peptide YY, the hormone that is responsible for satiety.
Controlling your appetite is important for weight loss and weight management because it impacts how much food you want to eat.
Of course, you can have similar appetite suppressant effects after drinking coffee or energy drinks. However, I don’t recommend doubling down on energy drinks. I much rather drink pre-workout after my workout becasue it has fewer additives like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.
Learn more: Click here to learn more if “bang energy drinks are good for weight loss“
In general, it is not bad to take pre-workout after working out. Most of the pre-workouts are safe and when taken with the recommended dose won’t disturb your day or give you unwanted side effects.
One thing to keep in mind when taking pre-workout after your workout is the training time. Taking pre-workout in the late afternoon can lead to sleep problems. It’s better to train in the morning.
However, if you can only train in the evening, it’s better not to take pre-wokorut after exercise at all.