With so many workout powders, bars, pills, and drinks on the market, the first step to finding the best pre-workout supplement is understanding the ingredients. Here are nine of the most common pre-workout ingredients, along with a brief explanation of what they do and how they work.

As someone who is constantly trying to improve their fitness, I am always on the lookout for new pre-workout supplements. Personal trainers at Coop’s Iron Works gym in Saginaw have tried a lot of different powders, bars, pills and drinks, and we have learned a lot about what goes into these supplements and what they do for your body.

There are nine common ingredients in pre-workout supplements: alpha-GPC, beta alanine, creatine, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids),caffeine, betaine, ashwagandha, electrolytes, and citrulline. Each of these ingredients has a specific purpose and helps your body in different ways. Make 2022 the year for training right and maintaining a healthy body with the best gym and nutrition for your body.


Diving Deeper Into Nutrition

  1. BCAA

Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, refer to a set of amino acids with a branched structure. Amino Acids help build proteins, and they play a central role in vital processes of your body, ranging from promoting muscle growth to allowing the synthesis of hormones.

There are three branched-chain amino acids: valine, isoleucine, and leucine. BCAAs are essential, which means that your body can’t make them on its own and requires a food source. They comprise around 35% of your body’s proteins. 

BCAAs work by providing your body with easily-digested protein building blocks to repair and support your muscles. Using BCAA supplements may help reduce muscle soreness, reduce fatigue, and promote muscle growth, among other things. Learn more about how BCAAs work and if they’re worth it.

You can take BCAA supplements containing all three BCAAs, such as Ingredient Optimized BCAA, or purchase them as individual supplements, like Ingredient Optimized Leucine. 

  1. Beta-Alanine (and other amino acids)

Beta-alanine is commonly found in popular pre-workout supplements. Like many pre-workout ingredients, it’s an amino acid. Specifically, beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that your body uses to produce carnosine, which can reduce lactic acid accumulation in your muscles. 


Lactic acid build-up in your muscles can result in muscle cramps, pain, and fatigue. These symptoms can decrease the number of reps you can do, the weight you can lift, or the time that your body can sustain cardiovascular exercise. 

By supplying your body with beta-alanine, increasing your body’s supply of carnosine, you can reduce lactic acid build-up. Doing so may help improve athletic performance while reducing muscle fatigue. 

It can also be beneficial to supplement with individual amino acids, including:

L-Arginine: Acts as a vasodilator, helps lower blood pressure, and helps build proteins

L-Tyrosine: Helps improve cognitive functioning, reduce stress, and enhance endurance

Taurine: May boost exercise performance, improve heart health, and fight diabetes 

  1. Electrolytes 

Electrolytes are vital for many functions in your body. They’re essential minerals like potassium, sodium, and calcium, and you’ve probably heard all about them in ads for common sports drinks. 

Electrolytes have many functions in your body, including the regulation of hydration and muscle contractions. They’re also essential for balancing your pH levels and controlling nervous system function. 

If you regularly do high-intensity workouts for extended periods (60-90 minutes), electrolyte supplementation may help improve performance. Electrolyte loss happens through your sweat. The total loss varies greatly among athletes depending on the total sweat produced and the electrolyte concentration in the sweat. 

  1. Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid that is produced by the body but can also be acquired through diet or supplemental intake. Creatine in the body is broken down to produce energy and support the function of the muscle cells.

Supplementing with creatine has been shown to increase the concentration of creatine in the muscle, increase power output, and increase lean body mass. 

There are many forms of creatine on the market; however, creatine monohydrate is the form that has been studied the most and shown the most benefit. You will often hear people make the claim that creatine will lead to water retention making people think they will bloat from consuming it. This water retention discovered in the retention is intramuscular or inside the muscle; which is important for cell hydration and potentially muscle hypertrophy.

Creatine has been proven to be safe but can be accompanied with gastric distress so one should test their tolerance. Most of the literature states that 5g is the recommended dose

  1. Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine, another amino acid, has increasingly gained popularity over the last few years. Beta-alanine can act as a muscle buffer which can lead to increased muscular endurance and decrease fatigue. There are also some studies suggesting that it can increase lean mass but this could be due to the increased training volume experienced as a result of increased muscular endurance.

Beta-alanine is also an ingredient that can be responsible for the tingly feeling that you experience from taking your pre-workout. This is a harmless side effect but some people may not enjoy experiencing this. Recommended dosing appears to be between 2 and 5 grams pre-workout. 

  1. Citrulline

Citrulline, again an amino acid, has also gained more and more exposure over the last few years.

When consumed, citrulline is converted to L-arginine. In fact, consumption of citrulline leads to higher increases in circulating arginine levels than arginine consumption alone. Citrulline has been shown to have cardiovascular health benefits as well as increasing blood flow, training volume, and endurance.

The most common form of citrulline is citrulline malate and should be consumed at 8g per dose.

Just because your pre-workout contains these ingredients doesn’t mean that it is a good supplement.

Often these ingredients are underdosed as a way to cut cost. For some of the ingredients, there is conflicting evidence depending on which study you read. The human body is extremely difficult to study so it’s not surprising that for many of these substances, which just started to gain popularity, more research is needed. 

  1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a herb that can have a nootropic effect (an effect on the brain). The herb has been popularly used in cancer patients due to its ability to reduce stress and anxiety; however, this could have potential benefits when taken as a pre-workout.

Ashwagandha can lead to an increased sense of well-being which could have a very positive effect on an individual’s time in the gym. Supplemental dosing is recommended to be around 300-500 mg but we are still not sure if this is the most effective dosing.

  1. Betaine

Betaine, another amino acid, has been shown to have several different cardiovascular benefits. In addition, it has also been shown to increase power output and endurance.

The literature on this is limited currently and so are recommendations on the optimal dosing. Expect more research to come out on this ingredient as a potential performance enhancer.

  1. Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC was actually first discovered as a supplement to decrease cognitive decline and was used in Alzheimer patients.

Further research revealed that it could lead to increases in power output and small increases in growth hormone levels. Again, much more research is needed on this ingredient but it appears to have the potential to be a popular pre-workout ingredient.

There are many other pre-workout ingredients found on the market that we did not mention here. This was due to an extreme lack of quality information on many of these ingredients. This is why it is important to do your research on a product before you buy it.

In my opinion, sticking to the ingredients that we know are safe and work is the best way to go when trying to determine the most appropriate pre-workout supplement for your needs.


Nutrition Advice

It’s worth mentioning, you can buy most of these ingredients as stand-alone powders that you can either mix into your favorite pre-workout to make it better or use to make your own pre-workout! Before your next fitness classes start, we recommend incorporating room for a great pre-workout shake, smoothie, or bar to help build your muscles and help your body to feel better post-workout. If you are looking for a great place to exercise and have fun, become a member of Coop’s Iron Works and join in one of our exercise classes or utilize our state of the art gym equipment.

Caffeine is probably the most well-known pre-workout ingredient. It is a stimulant that increases alertness and energy, and it also helps to burn fat. Beta alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps to increase muscle endurance. Creatine is another amino acid that helps to improve strength and power. BCAAs are essential amino acids that help to build muscle. Arginine is an amino acid that aids in the production of nitric oxide, which can help to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and it helps to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Taurine is an amino acid that supports hydration and can help to reduce fatigue.

All of these ingredients work together to help you get the most out of your workout. When looking for a pre-workout supplement, make sure to read the ingredient list and choose one that has all of the ingredients that you need. We have found that supplements with a variety of ingredients work best for us, and we always feel more energized and motivated after taking one. Ask any of our personal trainers, give it a try and see how you feel!

Saginaw’s #1 Fitness Center

Are you looking to add a healthy lifestyle to your weekly routine? Did you set a new year’s resolution to get fit and feel healthy? Have you had a hard time trying to find the right gym for you? Well, look no further because Coop’s on Bay Road in Saginaw, Michigan has everything you are looking for and so much more! Our fitness center has fitness classes, the premier gym equipment in the Tri-Cities area, personal trainers, an open fitness area for our members to work on cardio, weight training, bodybuilding, group fitness, and an available staff member always ready to answer all your questions.

Coop’s Iron Works is not just a gym for meatheads, we are an all inclusive fitness club for anyone in search of a full body workout. Our clean facility is staffed with knowledgeable trainers, a great schedule of indoor cycling classes, group fitness classes, special events…there is something here for everyone. Visit us today for a free tour of our fitness club and talk with our staff about our current sale on a 3 month gym membership for only $99.00! You can sign up for one of our memberships online at our website or on our app.

With the right class for your aerobics routine paired with the best nutrition, your 2022 will be your best year yet! Check out our social media pages, like and follow us to get the latest news and updates! We love to post about our gym enthusiasts, our open turf area for weight training, our seminars and events, and our classes. Ask any member of our staff or even our members and they will give you honest feedback about Coop’s Iron Works.

What’s Stopping You?

Now is the time to get in shape! Join our fitness facility and our amazing patrons to get the best workout and the help you need to live a healthy life. Our class schedule may change, so make sure to use our app or visit our website to sign up for the classes you want to attend or to see what is happening at Coop’s.

If looking for a gym membership is holding you back, then let us help you to take advantage of a great offer with our special we are running from March 1 through March 3. You can join now on our website and make Coop’s your home for working out and living your best life! Not sure if we have the equipment you are looking for, or the personal trainers that can help you, or maybe you aren’t sure about the workout classes we offer.

Come visit our gym in Saginaw, Michigan for a free tour of our facility and the opportunity to ask all your questions to one of our trained staff members. Now is the time to enjoy a great exercise routine with people that want to help you get in shape and feel good about yourself. One thing we strive for at Coop’s Iron Works is having fun while getting a great exercise routine that fits your needs and helps you to want to come back for more.

Our Fitness Classes

When it comes to exercise and working out, it’s important to work on all areas of your body. You want to concentrate on your cardio, your muscle strength, and your nutrition. Working with one of our female personal trainers can help you in all these areas. Having the finest equipment in Saginaw, Coop’s Iron Works is the place to come to use up your energy and feel good while working out.

Everyone at Coop’s is happy to help fellow gym enthusiasts, just ask them. We truly believe feeling comfortable in the environment you workout in is key to continuing an exercise routine from one month to the next. Our fitness club is the primer gym in the Saginaw Bay Region and our goal is to help our community to feel good and look good! Our current membership special of 3 months for $99 can be purchased through our website or our app.

Coop’s Fitness Facility

Our clean facility is equipped with state of the art gym equipment and boasts a gym feel that will have you coming back for more. Our group classes, indoor cycling, cardio classes, and so much more can be found on our website and you can always use the calendar on our website to see what fits your schedule.

Having a Coop’s membership will open up many opportunities for you to experience the great trainers we have, our top notch equipment, nourishment advice, and so much more. We want to be your home for working out! Join our gym today and use our app or website to find the most appropriate workout information you need.