Do I Need Caffeine in My Pre-workout to Have a Good Workout?

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I know that there are many hardcore exercise enthusiasts who feel that it’s the caffeine in the pre-workout that provides them with a burst of energy that will carry him or her through their workout. Is that what caffeine does? Is caffeine needed? Is it safe? How much should I be taking? These are just a few questions that are asked by those interested in taking pre-workout supplements.

Understanding what caffeine is and how it works may shed some light on the subject of its use. First and foremost, caffeine is a drug, more specifically it’s the main alkaloid compound of coffee fruit. What’s an alkaloid you may ask? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as any of numerous usually colorless, complex, and bitter organic bases containing nitrogen and usually oxygen that occur especially in seed plants and are typically physiologically active1. What other alkaloid compounds are identical to caffeine, well nicotine and morphine are two that come to mind. Yes, caffeine is a drug. As a drug, it needs to be respected.

When used as directed any drug can be “considered” safe, but this will depend upon how an individual body responds (metabolizes) caffeine. Everyone is different so how their body utilizes the drug will vary. Not to mention the effects of caffeine are also different between those who are habitual users and those who are not. Consumption of caffeine can lead to cardiovascular, neurological, and psychological changes. 

How much caffeine is needed to feel its effects? Well, what type of effects are you looking for? A feeling of well-being, energy, and alertness? Or uneasiness, jitteriness, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, aggression, or feeling of anger? Of course, the latter feelings are what we want when taking a pre-workout supplement. 2Research has shown that doses within the range of 20-200 mg will provide you with positive effects such as alertness and energy. While doses between 300-500 mg will provide you with those other undesirable effects listed above. 

When choosing a pre-workout you need to make sure you are reading the label and doing your own research. Taking too much caffeine will have adverse effects. Since everyone’s body is different you should start out with a half scoop of whatever you are taking to see how you respond. You don’t need to work out with the jitters or the feeling that your heart will jump out of your chest. 

Workout strong, focused, and consistent. A properly formulated pre-workout will provide you with all that you need to turn your passion into progress.


1Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Alkaloid. In dictionary. Retrieved June 11, 2023, from


2 Institute of Medicine, Board on Health Sciences Policy, Food and Nutrition Board, Planning Committee for a Workshop on Potential Health Hazards Associated with Consumption of Caffeine in Food and Dietary Sup, Diana Pankevich, Ann L. Yaktine, & Leslie Pray. (2014). Caffeine in Food and Dietary Supplements : Examining Safety: Workshop Summary. National Academies Press.



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