Chasing progress means that you push the envelope daily and ideally pre workout supplements can lend a helping help in the process.

Pre workout formulas work their magic either via strength or muscle endurance enhancement. This boost effect can be achieved through 3 different pathways:

The Adrenal pathway

The adrenal bias is an effective method but in a quick and dirty way. And there is a price to pay.

For one thing, it stresses the adrenals. And who needs more stress nowadays? In addition to cortisol production, which this pathway relies heavily upon, it necessitates the same raw material that is used to manufacture androgens. It’s a case of stealing Peter to pay Bob. Over reliance on this pathway will dig a trench in your recovery abilities by lowering testosterone availability.

But to make matters worse, sleep quality tends to take a nosedive when using supplements that are excitatory in nature. If sleep worsens, recovery follows suit. And you are not without knowing that the workout effectiveness is a function of your recovery abilities.

Hence this is not a sustainable strategy.

Still, every once in a while, a coffee with complimentary coconut oil is a very effective and inexpensive boost pre-workout.

Keep in mind there is a huge individual variability in effective dosages with caffeine-based products, and we are talking about a 1:26 ratio here. Go figure! To my knowledge, the French military are the one who have studied caffeine supplementation the most extensively, so that would be my go-to source for further inquiries on the subject.

The Brain Pathway

This is a very interesting since the modus operandi is to increase performance by increasing drive and attention span. It promotes focus as effectively as caffeine without the jitters. And it is remarkably sustainable compared to caffeine that only masks fatigue temporarily. This is all the more so true as these compounds tend to help repair the brain as well. Check the references at the bottom of the page if you want to dig in the subject. Acetyl L-carnitine has been researched extensively.

Moreover going through the brain the pathway route supports your sleep. The body systems are designed to ebb and flow in accordance to the famous circadian cycle. Brain supplements help restore the natural rhythms. In that sense they work similar to adaptogenic products.

IGF² https://en.atplab.com/products/growth-factor-1 is a star product by ATP Lab that provides the raw material for synthesis of the Yang neurotransmitters, namely, alpha GPC, tyrosine and acetyl L-Carnitine. I recommend taking 6 caps on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

The NO2 Pathway

This supplement strategy works extremely well in conjunction with pump inducing, high volume workouts. These supplements increases blood flow and oxygen transport as well as buffering muscle pH. Hence there are very conducive to extended TUT sets and consequently will greatly favor muscle protein accretion.

The major drawback is that they can’t be used in conjunction with caffeine. You have to choose either one or the other. Volume based workouts lend themselves well to this type of supplementation, whereas CNS based workouts are best suited for excitatory supplements. You can, of course, have the best of the two worlds by going with nootropics. The -racetam family seems to be universally well tolerated and will yield the best results.

Word to the wise: Don’t listen to dumbass advice and avoid poorly designed supplements that combine caffeine and citrulline.

All in all, ask yourself whether your workout necessitate muscle endurance as with accumulation workouts, or strength as with intensification workouts. This will dictate which pre workout to pick.

Also remember that recovery is of über importance and that the success of your workouts always depends on your recovery capacity. Opt for sustainable solutions rather than band aid fixes.

Some References on brain repair supplements, there are myriads of studies out there, but here’s a few for the inquisitive minds:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209327/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228558
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10463134
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790425/