What’s in Pre-Workout Powder? (And Why It’s There!)

You know that your pre-workout supplement is what’s giving you some extra energy when lifting. It makes your fingers and toes tingle and drives you to pump out a few extra reps on the bench. But, do you know what you’re putting in your body?

The ingredients in your pre-workout powder include beta-alanine and vitamin C that can help your muscles to recover from a workout. There’s also niacin and L-arginine, which can enhance blood flow to your muscles mid-workout. And, L-citrulline and creatine can boost your performance and strength.

It’s time to find out what’s really in your pre-workout formula. So, let’s go over the major ingredients in these powders, why they’re there, and some pre-workout benefits.


Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is part of the reason that your skin gets a little tingly after you take your pre-workout.

That’s because niacin causes your blood vessels to dilate. And, when the blood moves more freely through your body, it can cause a “flush” feeling in your skin and the resulting tingling sensation.

Greater blood flow to the muscles can really help your workout, especially when it comes to giving you a quick energy boost and powering through those few extra reps.

But, err on the side of caution when taking niacin.

It seems to be fine in moderation. But, it can cause upset stomach, dizziness, and speed up your heart rate if you’re taking it in excess.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the two water-soluble vitamins that you can get naturally in your diet (the other being vitamin B).

You might notice that a lot of vitamin C products in the pharmacy are marketed as boosting energy levels. This is obviously great directly before a workout!

Aside from the quick burst of energy, most of the effects of taking vitamin C are more long-term. This vitamin is great for helping to maintain the major connective tissues in your body (like tendons and ligaments).

That means vitamin C work to keep your joints healthy.

Vitamin C also plays a vital role in heart health. In healthy amounts, it can help to lower your blood pressure and dilate your blood vessels. So, the more blood rushing to your muscles during a workout, the more power your muscles have.


Beta-alanine is one of the most important ingredients in a “good” pre-workout supplement.

Though niacin can make your skin tingle a little, you’re probably experiencing the tingling sensation as a result of the added beta-alanine too.

This amino acid is most suitable for high-intensity resistance training exercises.

It’s directly linked to less fatigue in the muscles (due to less lactic acid production) and greater muscular endurance. That means you can definitely get a few extra reps in when you’re at the gym.

With much less lactic acid, your recovery time will be much shorter between workouts.

Also, beta-alanine is known to stimulate additional muscle growth, making it the perfect ingredient if you’re looking for gains.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is, by far, the most popular workout supplement on its own.

When combined with a consistent strength training routine, creatine is known to cause a huge increase in muscle mass, strength, and power.

It works best when you’re engaged in short-burst exercises like sprints, powerlifting, and regular resistance training. Plus, there’s plenty of evidence that shows that creatine can boost your 1RMs and improve your performance in the gym.

Creatine doesn’t stop working once your workout is over though!

As long as you’re consistent with your intake, creatine can actually cut down on your recovery time and get you back into the gym much sooner!


L-arginine, an amino acid, can really help you to amp up your workout and boost muscle recovery.

It’s known to help dilate your blood vessels. This can allow for better blood flow to the muscles and create a greater output of power during your workouts.

This amino acid is also known to boost stamina mid-workout. So, you can work out much harder and much longer than ever before.

There’s even some debate on whether L-arginine can trigger an additional release of growth hormone in your body.

But, when your workout is over, L-arginine continues to work. It helps your muscles to recover after an intense workout and promotes a relaxed feeling in your muscles as they begin to repair themselves.


Taurine is one of the major ingredients in energy drinks, usually paired with caffeine.

In fact, pairing these two ingredients together (like you’ll see in most pre-workout supplements) somewhat negates the extreme effects of each.

So, rather than experiencing the all-too-common anxiety, restlessness, and increased heart rate when taking caffeine, these effects will be much less severe. And, that’s all thanks to having a little taurine in your pre-workout.

Taurine is also known to greatly increase strength during a workout.

But, it’s most often included to help with the post-workout recovery period. There appears to be a lot of evidence that using taurine after intense exercise can speed up recovery time and get you back in the gym quickly!


L-citrulline is what you’re looking for in a pre-workout supplement when you really want to feel the pump! That’s because it’s pretty well-known for improving your workout and allowing you to be much more productive when strength training.

When this is in your pre-workout powder, which it probably will be, you’re much less likely to experience fatigue when lifting. You’ll have much more energy throughout your workout and be able to muster through those last few reps with ease.

L-citrulline is also ideal for reducing muscle soreness post-workout. So, this amino acid continues to work in your body, even well after your workout is complete!


Caffeine usually makes itself home in coffees, teas, and energy drinks.

Yet, caffeine is also one of the ingredients you should absolutely expect to see in any type of heavy-duty pre-workout powder!

Caffeine really ramps up your energy levels and allows you to contribute a little extra speed and power to your strength training workouts. You won’t be as tired as quickly and you might even notice that you’re much more mentally focused as well.

If you’ve ever had too much coffee in a 24-hour period, you know that caffeine does have its side effects as well. So, don’t be surprised if you experience an increased heart rate, inability to sleep, headaches, or anxiety if you take too much!


L-tyrosine takes advantage of the mental aspect of weightlifting.

When taken prior to working out, you’ll definitely notice that you’re more focused on your workout, much more alert, and more highly motivated.

When these effects occur, you might also begin to notice that you have much more energy. That’s likely the result of a greater adrenaline release caused by L-tyrosine.

This helps the nerves in your body to communicate better, which can help you out both physically and mentally.

An additional point to make here is that L-tyrosine can help to increase your metabolism. So, this is a great amino acid to have in your pre-workout powder if you’re also looking to shed a few extra pounds as well.


L-glutamine is the most common amino acid found in the human body.

It’s sometimes advertised as reducing fatigue (which can help you to extend your workouts). But, the jury’s still out on those claims!

What L-glutamine can do for you is to encourage less breakdown of muscle during heavy strength training. With less muscle breakdown, you can expect quicker recovery times and ultimately more muscle mass after the recovery period.

L-glutamine seems to be most effective during your recovery times.

So, having this ingredient in your pre-workout powder will really cut down on your recovery periods and get you back to lifting sooner than ever.


L-leucine is what’s giving you that extra energy boost during a particularly intense workout.

That’s a direct result of L-leucine’s ability to create ATP (the body’s main source of energy) after it’s ingested.

In addition to a little added energy, L-leucine is pretty popular for its ability to encourage muscle growth and reduce your overall body fat as a result of increased metabolism. If you’re training for a competition or just looking to slim down for summer, this is a great ingredient to consider.

L-leucine is definitely one of the most important amino acids to have in any pre-workout powder.

But, taking too much L-leucine at once can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can make you dizzy or cause you to faint.


L-lysine is sort of the all-inclusive amino acid when it’s added to pre-workout powders.

So, it puts in some work before, during, and after your workout to keep your body functioning normally and at peak performance.

This amino acid keeps your muscles strong and helps them to recover after a workout. There even seems to be some evidence that L-lysine can trigger an additional release of growth hormone.

This can do wonders if you’re looking for some gains at the gym.

What’s also really great about having L-lysine in your pre-workout supplement is that it helps your body to absorb calcium and boost collagen production. With these effects, your bones and joints will be much stronger and more durable.

Green Coffee Bean Extract

Green coffee bean extract recently became popular after it was introduced by some of the more popular doctors on daytime television.

They accompanied this product with claims that it can trigger weight loss without even needing to exercise!

Before you get too excited, the studies the doctors were referencing didn’t show too much scientific significance. So, don’t put too much weight in them.

What green coffee bean extract can do, however, is boost your body’s energy levels.

That’s because green coffee bean extract has caffeine in it!

Just keep in mind that your pre-workout supplement likely already has caffeine in. That means just adding this ingredient makes you much more likely to experience insomnia, nervousness, and an increased heart rate.

Final Thoughts

These were just some of the main ingredients found in some of the more popular pre-workout supplements. There are obviously plenty more that we haven’t gone over just yet.

Just because these ingredients were included to help your workout, it doesn’t mean they necessarily will.

If you experience a negative reaction as a result of your pre-workout powder, please stop taking your pre-workout supplement immediately.