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Pre-Workout Guide

There are few people who actually want to help educate the consumers as to what actually should go into a pre-workout. I hope to change that with the information provided here!

Pre-Workout Guide

Few supplements are as popular among gym-goers as pre-workout formulas. And why wouldn't they be? Who wouldn't want the promise of enhanced performance, strength, endurance, and results?

But the truth is, despite the way Pre JYM revolutionized the industry and started a trend away from the shady practices of the past, there are still companies out there pushing under-dosed products that are big on hype but short on results. In this article, I break down what a true pre-workout should look like and—just as important—what it shouldn't. 

Pre-workout Supplements 101

The videos below are a two-part series that started with me simply breaking down each ingredient in Pre JYM and why each one is important to take before workouts at the doses provided in Pre JYM.

But I went off the rails a bit on this one. What I ended up with was 30 minutes of footage that not only gives you a solid breakdown of each and every ingredient in Pre JYM and what it does, but that also uncovers a lot if secrets that supplement manufacturers don't want you to know about. That's why I ended up calling these videos "Pre-Workout Supplements 101." Because they cover the REAL information you need to know before you purchase any pre-workout supplement.

I realize that each video is almost 15 minutes long, so it's about 30 minutes total. But do yourself a massive favor and carve out some time to watch both videos. When you're done with both, you'll basically have an honorary PhD in pre-workout supplements from me. Plus, the videos get quite entertaining if you're not used to seeing me extremely fired up! I'm in rare form in these videos because I'm so furious with what the majority of supplement manufacturers have done to ruin the supplement industry and how they continue lie to us.

Pre Workout Rundown (Part 1)

Pre Workout Rundown (Part 2)

Say No to Proprietary Blends!

I've been doling out supplement advice online and in print for over a dozen years. Those who have followed that advice have made impressive gains in muscle size, strength and endurance while often losing body fat, even after being stuck at a plateau for several years.

Thousands have reported gaining 20 pounds (9 kg) or more of lean muscle following my mass-gaining training programs like Down and Up Mass and Shortcut to Size, along with a proper diet (like outlined in my Muscle-Building Rules article) and supplement plan.

At the same time, thousands have reported losing more than 20 pounds while building significantly more muscle mass and strength following my fat-burning training progrmas like Super Shredded 8 and HIIT 100, along with my fat loss plans (like Dieting 101 and Intermittent Fasting Carb Cycle) and supplement regimen. While the training and diet components of those programs are the most critical elements, the supplement regimen plays a significant role in allowing such results to be achieved naturally.

Supplements can enhance the results achieved from any solid training and diet program. But the supplement regimen must include what I call the Three Ts. The Three Ts stand for:

  • Total
  • Type
  • Timing

The proper total refers to the proper dosing amount of the proper type of supplements taken at the proper times. Research studies and years of use in the gym have provided us the knowledge regarding how much of each supplement is required to be the most effective. As an example, years of research have concluded that the minimum dose of creatine monohydrate to provide benefits is 3 grams. Evidence from the real-world laboratory that I call the gym, however, shows that taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate pre-workout and post-workout is even more effective for most people.

I'll give you a couple more examples. The research on beta-alanine suggests that a minimum dose of 1.6 grams is required for it to be effective. And taking higher doses twice daily (such as pre-workout and post-workout) provides even better results. One more: The nitric-oxide-boosting and energy-producing supplement citrulline malate has been shown to require a minimum dose of a whopping 6 grams taken before workouts to deliver its benefits.

Given the mountain of knowledge on the proper dosing of supplements that we now have, you'd think it would be simple to find supplements on the market that deliver the proper supplements in the proper doses. You'd be wrong. Consider the pre-workout category, which is one of the hottest-selling supplement categories there is. After all, the two most critical time windows in the day for nutrition/supplementation are right before workouts (pre-workout) and right after workouts (post-workout). But if you examined the supplement facts panel on 99 percent of the pre-workout products on the market today, you'd find that the doses of each ingredient have been replaced with the term "proprietary blend."

What's a Proprietary Blend?

The supplement companies that use the term want you to believe it means that the amount of creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline malate and many other ingredients that they've included in their pre-workout formula is in a combination that they spent years studying and perfecting to get the precise amounts of each and every ingredient to deliver the best product on the market. And that that precise formula they painstakingly produced is so secretive that they don't want other supplement companies ripping them off and creating their own version.

In reality, "proprietary blend" means that the company doesn't want you to know how little of each ingredient they put in their formula. Instead of listing the dose of each ingredient so that you can be sure they're in efficacious doses, they hide the insignificant dose behind the term "proprietary blend" in the hopes that no one's the wiser. This allows them to cut corners and make more money while you, the consumer, wastes money on a subpar product that produces little actual results.

Using a product that fails to list the doses of each ingredient and instead lists a proprietary blend means that you're blindly trusting a supplement company to have your best interest in mind. And while many companies don't mean any harm, I can assure you that it's not the ones that hide the doses of their ingredients behind proprietary blends.

Think about it. Would you ever buy a protein powder that doesn't list how much protein is in one serving and instead just lists "proprietary blend"? Of course you wouldn't. That's because you know that you need a certain amount of protein before and after workouts and at other times of day to maximize muscle growth. So why wouldn't you want to know exactly how much creatine, branched-chain amino acids and beta-alanine you're taking? You also need certain amounts of these ingredients to maximize muscle growth.

What You Don't Know about Your Pre-Workout Can Hurt You

Taking a product that doesn't list the doses of its ingredients not only makes it impossible for you to ascertain the effectiveness of that product, but it makes it impossible to work that product in with the other supplements that you also take.

This becomes quite problematic in the case of caffeine. Suppose you happen to be taking a fat-burning product with caffeine in it and a preworkout supplement that also contains caffeine. Yet both products list a proprietary blend with no dose of caffeine given. You wonder if you should take both before workouts. If each contains 150 mg of caffeine per serving or less, then taking them both before workouts would not only be fine, but it would actually be quite beneficial to your performance in the gym. But if both have 300 mg or more of caffeine per dose, then you likely don't want to take both at the same time. Unless you're highly insensitive to caffeine, a 600 mg (or more) dose of it can make you feel lousy and ruin your workout. It's cases like this where I believe that proprietary blends not only cheat the consumer but are irresponsible, reckless and can actually cause harm.

Pre JYM Set a New Standard

The good news is that many companies are now stepping up and being more transparent with their formulas. This allows you to ensure that a product is providing you the proper doses of every ingredient. And if it's not, you can choose a better product or add other supplements in the proper doses to enhance that product. So be a savvy supplement user and think twice before using products with proprietary blends. Do your homework and learn what the correct doses are for each ingredient you consume. JimStoppani.com is designed to educate you on supplements and proper dosing. Knowledge is power, and the more you know the better the results you'll get.

The Truth About Concentrated Pre-Workouts

If you pay attention to pre-workout supplements, you will notice that the current trend (excluding Pre JYM which is a 26.5 gram serving size) is to make them with smaller and smaller serving sizes. Some pre-workouts currently on the market use serving sizes as small as 3 grams or even smaller! Anyone who knows anything about science would immediately recognize that as a red flag. Yet, supplement manufacturers see the lack of science know-how that most consumers have as an opportunity to sell them less for more. They do this by claiming that these tiny serving sizes are possible because the products have been "concentrated". It's the dirtiest trick in the book. Quite frankly, it disgusts me that anyone would make such a blatant lie to make a buck! And it's just one of the many reasons why I am fighting back with JYM Supplement Science. It's my way of showing the other supplement manufacturers, as well as you, what quality supplements look like and what they can actually do for you.

The Real Science of Concentrates

It is actually possible to concentrate certain supplements. But this pertains to mainly herbs and other plant-based ingredients. Take green tea as an example. The main active ingredient in green tea is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). When you drink green tea, you are consuming the whole plant, which provides very little EGCG. Green tea extract, however, is concentrated to provide a certain percent of EGCG. This involves an extraction process using a solvent that has a strong affinity for the EGCG. Most green tea extracts are standardized to provide anywhere from 25-50% EGCG. So green tea extract has been truly concentrated to provide more EGCG, which means you need to consume less than the whole plant.

One concentrated form of an herb can also be more concentrated than another form. For example, if you had 200 mg of green tea extract standardized to provide 25% EGCG, that would provide 50 mg of EGCG. If you had a green tea extract that was standardized to 50% EGCG, you would only need 100 mg to provide that 50 mg of EGCG. So the green tea extract providing 50% EGCG is more concentrated than the green tea extract providing 25% EGCG and you could take less of the more concentrated green tea extract to get the same amount of EGCG. This is one example where the concentrated claim hold up.

What Science Has to Say About Concentrated Pre-Workouts

Ingredients, such as isolated amino acids, like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine, citrulline, glutamine, taurine, or tyrosine, as well as amino-acid-derived ingredients, like creatine and carnitine, cannot be concentrated like herbs. These ingredients already exist in an isolated form. Their standard form is as concentrated as you can get. For example, 1 gram of beta-alanine is 1 gram of beta-alanine. You can't take 500 mg (0.5 grams) of beta-alanine and claim that it's as effective as 1 gram of beta-alanine. 500 mg of beta-alanine is half of 1 gram and therefore is half as effective as 1 gram of beta-alanine.

Pre-workout supplements focus on, or at least they should focus on, providing amino acids, such as BCAAs, beta-alanine, arginine and/or citrulline, taurine, tyrosine, and creatine. The preworkout category, unfortunately, happens to be the category where you will find the term "concentrate" and "concentrated" most used, or misused, I should say. Calling a pre-workout product a "concentrate" or claiming that it's "concentrated" is a complete lie, as these types of ingredients cannot be concentrated. That's simple science.

Let's consider a pre-workout supplement that has a 5-gram serving size. The product lists creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, citrulline, and arginine on the label, along with caffeine and a few other ingredients that you probably have never heard of. After reading that ingredient list, this appears to be a pretty good pre-workout product. After all, it has the creatine and beta-alanine you need for more strength and energy. It also has citrulline and arginine for a better pump. And of course, there's the caffeine and other stimulants to ramp you up. But how can they cram all of those ingredients into a tiny 5-gram serving? That's a very good question! So let's do the math.

We know that you need a bare minimum of 3 grams of creatine monohydrate to be an effective dose. You also need a bare minimum dose from beta-alanine of about 1.5 grams. And you need minimum doses of 3 grams each for citrulline and for arginine. When you add up what those ingredients alone should tally, you get 10.5 grams. And that doesn't include the caffeine and other ingredients.

So is that 5-gram dose just as effective as the required 10.5 gram dose of those ingredients? No! It's half as effective at best. So how do they get away with this? It all comes down to "feel".

Don't Fall for the Hype

Most people aren't supplement savvy enough to know what ingredients they need before workouts, let alone the proper doses that they need of those ingredients. So many supplement companies underdose on the critical ingredients and claim that they are "concentrated". What they don't skimp on is the caffeine and other stimulants. But luckily you only need 200-300 mg of caffeine, along with anywhere from 10 mcg to a couple hundred milligrams of some other stimulants to give quite a wallop. So with less than 500 mg, or half of a gram, you can create a preworkout that "feels" like it works, even though the absence of critical ingredients or the lack of proper doses of the critical ingredients, tells you that it does not actually work.

This is one of the problems with the preworkout category. Most products have done away with providing the critical nutrients that are essential for more real strength and endurance in the gym, and focus solely on providing a "high", if you will. The preworkout category has sadly become a stimulant war between companies to see who can create the most intense-feeling pre-workout on the market. The uneducated consumers demand for these over-stimulated pre-workout products has allowed these companies to make quite a pretty penny with cheap pre-workout products that they perpetrate as "concentrates" and are simply nothing more than stimulants.

So don't fall for the "concentrate" scam. For a pre-workout product to provide you everything you really need before a workout, it should be well over 10 grams per serving. I'd say it should be a minimum of 15 grams, if not over 20 grams, as is Pre JYM with a 26.5 gram serving size. And remember that you need to subtract the carbohydrates from the total serving size to calculate the true serving size of the active ingredients. If a preworkout product has a 20-gram serving size and lists 10 grams of carbs per serving, then it only provides 10 grams of active ingredients. This is another trick that supplement companies do to make it seem like you are getting more than you actually are.

A true quality pre-workout product should also have the dose of each ingredient listed on the Supplement Facts panel on the label. And be sure that the doses listed for each ingredient are at the proper amounts shown to be effective in research studies. If you are uncertain about the proper dose of an ingredient, you can get more info on that ingredient right here at www.jimstoppani.com, or simply ask me via Twitter. Take the time to educate yourself on supplements. The more you know, the bigger you can grow.

Creatine HCL Is NOT a Concentrate

A confusing concept for many people has to do with creatine hydrochloride (HCL), which I use in Pre JYM and Post JYM. Creatine monohydrate is the standard form of creatine typically used. It requires a 3-5 gram dose to be effective. And to maximize its effects, I have found that a 3-5 gram dose of creatine monohydrate taken both before and after workouts works best.

Creatine HCL requires a smaller dose than creatine monohydrate due to the fact that creatine HCL is more soluble in fluid and is absorbed much better by the intestines than the monohydrate form. In fact, some data shows that creatine HCL can be taken up by the intestines by as much as 70% greater than creatine monohydrate.

Personally, I have found that a 1.5-2 gram dose of creatine HCL both before and after workouts works best and is all you need. That's compared to 3-5 gram dose of creatine monohydrate before and after workouts. Yet, while 1.5 -2 grams of creatine HCL is far less than 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate, this does not mean that creatine HCL is concentrated. Creatine HCl is absorbed better by the body, so you need to take less to get a similar effect as creatine monohydrate.

What’s the Difference? Pre Stim vs Pre JYM

In this video I discuss how Pre JYM is not a PRE STIM product but a true pre-workout. There is a major disconnect with many users who think they are getting muscle building and strength building benefits from products that contain absolutely nothing other than stimulants to get them through a workout. This video will help set the record straight.

The 5 Pre-Workout Must-Have Ingredients

Finally, in the video below I break down the five most must-have ingredients you should take before a workout, what they do, and why they're critical to getting optimal results from your training.


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