Pre-Workout for cardio: should you take it? Here’s a short summary from our team, followed by a detailed explanation on why taking pre-workout before cardio could be a good idea!
Brief Article Summary
- Cardio is a form of exercise which typically involves getting your heart rate up by doing exercises which involve repeated movement patterns for a prolonged period of time.
- Cardio offers numerous benefits for your body if you do it regularly, including improved stamina, better cardiovascular efficiency, enhanced mood & mindset, and even reduced inflammation.
- Pre-workouts are designed to maximize sports performance and are very popular amongst athletes because they can boost strength and endurance, as well as improve your concentration while in the gym.
- Since they are known for boosting energy levels and mental performance, pre-workouts can also be used for cardio. They can help motivate you to do cardio and extend your time to exhaustion. Some people prefer pre-workouts with caffeine for maximum energy, while others use stim-free pre workouts for a more gentle, cleaner pick-me-up.
Pre-Workout and Cardio – Is it a Good Mix?
Adding a pre-workout supplement to your stack will help you notice some big improvements in your exercise routine.
You’ll have more energy, your muscles will become stronger and ‘swole’, and your time to fatigue will extend beyond what you’re typically capable of in the gym.
But is pre-workout just as good for cardio? Or should pre-workouts only be used for strength training?
In this article we take a deep dive. Here’s what you’ll learn…
- What exactly is cardio and how it’s different from strength training?
- What are the benefits of cardio, and what are the benefits of pre-workouts
- Should you take pre-workout for cardio training?
First Things First – What We Mean by ‘Cardio’?
Cardio is a bit of a vague term for any activity that exercises your heart and blood vessels – your cardiovascular system.
Cardio is any activity that bumps up your heart rate for a prolonged period of time, raises your core temperature and increases both the volume of air taken in by your lungs and the amount of blood that your heart pumps.
Cardio is often called ‘aerobic’ activity because it’s typically performed at a moderate intensity. During cardio, your body generates energy from glycogen and broken down fat, a process that relies on optimal oxygen supply.
So, what types of activities fall under ‘cardio’? These can be:
Yes, even sex is a form of cardio! By definition, cardio involves anything that challenges your stamina and endurance.
Cardio can also be described as a continuous, rhythmical exercise that often involves performing the same movement pattern over and over.
The difference between steady state and HIIT
There are two different types of cardio. One is the traditional, low-to-moderate intensity cardio (LISS) performed for a prolonged periods of time. And the other is HIIT, also called High-Intensity Interval training.
LISS, or low-intensity steady state is a form of cardio that focuses on duration. This includes exercising at 70% of your max capacity for 20-60 minutes, or longer.
HIIT focuses more on short bursts of intensity. This includes exercising at 80-100% of your maximum capacity for a short time, followed by a mini recovery period. Then you repeat the process for a number of rounds depending on your physical form.
Benefits of Cardio
Many experts recommend doing cardio exercise for general health purposes, but what are some more tangible benefits of doing cardio?
- Fitness – improvement in your cardiovascular function, including the improved efficiency of your lungs, heart, and circulation.
- Fat Burning – cardio burns calories, working especially well when combined with a calorie-deficit and a clean diet.
- Athletic Performance – Cardio is the aerobic base of many sports. Expert coaches still insist on their athletes doing cardio to improve their overall stamina, conditioning, endurance, and even recovery.
- Health – Cardio is associated with a number of long-range health benefits. Including improved brain health, deeper sleep, more efficient metabolism, balanced blood sugar, and healthier cholesterol profile among others.
- Life quality – There’s a strong link between those that partake in regular cardio and markers for quality of life – motivation, mood, goal achievement, and self-esteem being just some of the examples.
Benefits of a Pre-Workout Supplement
Pre-Workouts supplements are specifically formulated to improve physical and mental performance. They do this by influencing a number of biological pathways in your body.
- Stimulates the endocrine system by increasing the release of epinephrine and dopamine, along with inhibiting sleep-inducing adenosine receptors.
- Maximizes vasodilation by increasing the levels of circulating nitric oxide (NO) in your blood, resulting in more efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to your working muscles – as well as better looking ‘pumps’.
- Optimize mitochondrial efficiency by stimulating the production of ATP, the main energy currency of your cells – resulting in increased strength during high-intensity workload.
- Stimulates the production of acetylcholine, GABA, and other brain nourishing brain chemicals that help you stay motivated and focused for the gym, and while in the gym.
Further Reading: The Best and The Worst Pre-Workout Ingredients Explained
So, Should You Take Pre Workout for Cardio?
Yes, you should take pre-workout for cardio if you’re looking to improve your progress and results. A good pre-workout will improve your physical and mental performance. This, in turn, will help you not only get motivated to do cardio but also perform better while you’re doing it – maximizing energy production, mental focus, and also recovery the next day.
However, note that not all pre-workouts are the same. Nor are the people! Some people don’t like pre-workouts with caffeine so they use stim-free pre-workouts. Other people prefer more powerful pre-workouts with caffeine and other stimulants combined.
If you aren’t sure which type of pre-workout supplement is best for you, check our Beginner’s Guide to Pre-Workout Supplements, where we share everything you need to know about pre-workouts and how to pick the best one for you.
Final Word on Can You Take Pre-Workout Before Cardio
Pre-Workouts are designed with one goal in mind – to improve your athletic performance. Although they’ve become very popular in the bodybuilding and strength training world, they can be just as beneficial for cardio too.
So if you’re a healthy person who wants to improve your time to fatigue, enhance endurance training, and boost overall conditioning and recovery then there’s no reason not to give pre-workouts a shot!
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