The Dark Side Of Taking Pre-Workout Supplements

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As men of advancing years, we are constantly trying to find ways to make gains, be as strong and fit as we used to be, and keep our declining energy levels on the up and up.

I don't know about you, but at 47, I don't have nearly the energy I had 15 years ago and with all of life's stresses, sometimes it's a struggle to even get into the gym at all.

So over the last few years I've been taking pre-workout supplements to give me a little extra motivation and boost in the gym. And what started out as just drinking a Red Bull in the morning has turned into a daily dose of my favorite pre-workout from Transparent Labs.

I actually decided to write this post because of a question I posted to the #FitDadNation on Facebook a while ago asking "what supplements are you taking and why".

The responses I got led me to believe that a lot more men are taking them than I thought and clearly this is an issue that holds an interest for my readers.

But I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon and just talk about the benefits and instead looked into the other side of taking pre-wokout supplements. The dark side...

The dark side is all the pre-workout supplement side effects you may or may not experience (or even be aware of).

In case you aren't familiar with them, some of the most popular pre-workout supplements right now are:

pre-workout supplement side effects

These are all stimulants with ingredients ranging from caffeine, creatine, niacin, beta-alanine, betaine, taurine, tyrosine, yohimbe, and B vitamins with each carrying their own unique blend of some or all of these ingredients and dozens more.

Dads, Think Long-Term! Pre-Workout Supplements Are NOT Long-Term!

Taking any one of the these popular powders will most certainly give you a boost in energy, focus, motivation, and even strength. I do have to attribute a certain amount of these to the placebo effect, but overall, they do work.

In the short-term.

But you're not interested in the short-term are you? You want to be healthy, fit, and energetic permanently, right?

As a fitness coach, I rarely if ever recommend my clients take a pre-workout supplement (or any supplement for that matter). Instead I teach the basics first.

  • Get enough sleep
  • Drink enough water
  • Do strength and cardiovascular exercise regularly
  • Eat high quality foods and in moderation
  • Avoid junk, processed foods, refined sugar, and soda
  • Eat lots of vegetables
  • Get enough sunlight
  • Stretch daily

In fact, our 90-Day Transformation Program, The Fit Dad Blueprint, is built entirely on the basis of sound nutrition, consistent exercise, and avoiding "quick" fixes like pre-workouts.

I mean, you can't reasonably expect to sleep for 5 hours per night, drink little or no water, eat a marginal diet, and then take a pre-workout supplement and expect to kill it in the gym and make incredible gains.

Not long-term anyway.

With that said, I will tell you that I have used and continue to use pre-workout supplements and other than a protein powder, that's all I use. But I also do the right things to take care of my body and don't just rely on the boost to get me through my workouts.

Right now I'm using Transparent Labs Lean Series Pre-Workout (strawberry lemonade and orange are the best flavors IMO) and haven't had any negative side effects other than the occasional jitters from all the caffeine and maybe a headache or two, but that's really it.

But for the freaks like me who want that rush of energy to help them through those brutal workouts and don't mind throwing caution to the wind, be aware of some of the dangers that lie within.

It's not all crazy energy and kick ass training sessions. There are downsides to taking pre-workout supplements as well.

Learn The 5 Most Critical Things You Need To Know Before Ever Taking Pre-Workouts… So You Can Take Them As Safely And Effectively As Possible. Download your guide, It’s FREE!

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Pre-Workout Supplement Side Effects You Need to Know About

Most of us will never read past the first two or three ingredients on any supplement we take; we just don't really care all that much. We know that there are a ton of people already taking them, so what could it hurt to take them too?

Sure there's the chance you'll have an massive heart attack due to all the stimulants (and the fact that you're probably lifting more weight than you need to), but that's a very rare occurrence.

A few of the most common (and quite unpleasant) pre-workout supplement side effects are:

  • Vomiting
  • Tingling/numbness in the face, lips, or extremities
  • Jitters
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Flushed and red skin
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Itching
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Chest pain

Don't be surprised if you experience one or several of these given that you're taking in large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.

How About a Little Caffeine?

Across the board, one of the most prevalent ingredients in pre-workout supps is caffeine. And with good reason; it works!

For example, a 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull has 80mg of caffeine, which is about the same as a cup of coffee and twice as much as a 12 oz. Coke. A scoop of C4 Extreme has 135mg. Keep in mind that many people (including me) take 2 scoops before a workout. That's a shit ton of caffeine.

Now I don't have a sensitivity to caffeine but there a lot of people who do.

And while the labels of these supps usually tells us the caffeine content, the rest starts to get a little fuzzy.

The main problem with the labels is that we really don't know what's in it because each product has their own unique "proprietary blend" of energy boosters.

For example, here is the label for C4 (left) and Jack3D (right):

pre-workout supplement side effects

We can see some of the ingredients listed out with their doses, including 135 mg of caffeine for C4 and 100mg for Jack3D, but what about the rest of the "Explosive Energy Blend" or "Proprietary Blend"?

Sure they tell us the active ingredients, but we have no idea in what doses. This is significant because every person is going to have a different tolerance to different blends and it comes down to a matter of Russian Roulette, where we just have to try the supplement to see if it fucks us up.

Essentially, we are just trusting that it will work and that it won't kill us!

The good news is that companies are removing ingredients that are killing people, either by choice or by law. For example, USPlabs, (maker of Jack3d) removed DMAA from its products after a link to a U.S. Army soldiers death was reported. What they replaced it with might not be as effective, but at least it's potentially less of a risk.

But let's be honest here, we've heard about deaths linked to all kinds of products and if you dig deep enough, you can probably find people who have died from eating Twinkies or drinking Iced Tea.

Learn The 5 Most Critical Things You Need To Know Before Ever Taking Pre-Workouts… So You Can Take Them As Safely And Effectively As Possible. Download your guide, It’s FREE!

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The Psychological Dangers Of Pre-Workout Supplements

What really concerns me as a fitness professional is not so much the physical dangers of taking these products. We all know on some level that there is a risk of having our hearts explode in our chest while squatting 315 for reps right after gulping down 2 scoops of your favorite pre-workout powder.

No, what I'm more concerned about is the dependency on supplements to get us through our workouts and what it does to our mental state and motivation in the long-term.

I'm fascinated by the psychological reasons behind why people exercise. It it for aesthetics? Longevity? Confidence? All of the above? What makes people get up and run 20 miles? What causes a man to turn his life around and lose 150 pounds in a year?

But what happens when we come to depend on that little extra boost that comes in a shiny can? What happens to our mental state when we don't take it after using it for long periods?

We come to believe that we cannot get a great workout, lift as much, work out as long or as intensely, or make the gains we want  without it. It's not so much our bodies, but rather our minds that begin to rely on this stuff to get us through our workouts.

Things like drinking lots of water, eating foods rich in complex carbs, and properly warming up take a back burner to ingesting some sweet tasting powder lined with chemicals, creatine, and ultra high doses of caffeine.

It's easy to fall into this trap. I know because I've been in it.

When we lean too much on these stimulants, it can become an addiction. Addiction to pre-workout supps is a real thing. I liken it to a junkie needing a fix and although I never got into drugs at all, I used to find myself jonesing for a hit of C4 each morning, hoping for that forgotten high I use to get.

I can't speak for any of you, but I've felt the need to have my powder every day, regardless if I was working out or not. It's a habit. A routine. And not a good one.

But if I sit here and tell you not to take pre-workout supplements, I would be a hypocrite. Like I mentioned, I have been taking them for years and for me, it's a risk I'm willing to take.

pre-workout supplement side effectsPlay It Smart

Straight up, I do not recommend taking any pre-workout supplements. I take them and won't tell you not to, but I would suggest weaning off or avoiding them altogether.

Why? Because you don't need them to get a great workout or to feel all pumped up. If you're eating right and living a healthy and active lifestlye, you really don't need that boost. But GNC and will tell you that you you go out and buy it.

But if you choose to ignore me (and I know you will!), here are few guidelines that may help you in the long-term:

  • Use only the recommended dosage. Don't get all fancy and double or triple up on the dose because you don't feel 1 scoop anymore. This is dangerous territory.
  • Cycle it. It's easy to want to use it every single time you exercise, but your body will adapt and also will come to depend on the chemicals. Try taking one week off for every three you use it.
  • Keep in mind that if taken regularly, you will become desensitized to caffeine and require higher and higher doses to feel the effects. This can put a great deal of stress on your adrenal glands and possibly lead to adrenal fatigue. Not good.
  • Don't mix it with any other stimulants like coffee, Red Bull, Monster or caffeinated tea. You'll get more than enough caffeine from a single scoop to last you through the day. Too much caffeine will leave you feeling like shit and your workout will suck. Believe me, I know.
  • Don't be a fucking idiot like this guy and put your CNS to the test. You just might lose.

So what I'm really telling you is to be smart about this stuff. Know your limits and listen to your body. And remember, there is no substitute for eating high quality foods, getting enough rest and drinking enough water.

These things will have a far greater impact on your performance than any amount of powder!

What The Supplement Industry Doesn't Want You To Know!

As I said, I've used pre-workouts regularly for years. I've tried dozens of them, researched dozens more, and spoken with numerous supplement companies. All because I want to know what's in them and which ones are legit.

Keep in mind that I recommend not taking these, but let's face it, you're going to take them anyway. So if that's the case, this guide will help you navigate through the ones that will kick your ass and the ones that will put you on your ass.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Your turn

What pre-workout supplements are you taking right now?

Learn The 5 Most Critical Things You Need To Know Before Ever Taking Pre-Workouts… So You Can Take Them As Safely And Effectively As Possible. Download your guide, It’s FREE!

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  1. davidd April 15, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

    “… you can probably find people who have died from eating Twinkies….”

    Have you not heard? Twinkies are THE NEW SUPERFOOD!

    • Steve Roy April 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Indeed I did see this! It must be true!!!

      • Michael November 12, 2015 at 10:11 am - Reply

        Steve and Davidd, per Dr. Periconne, the article was a parody. Not meant to be taken seriously. Come on folks. here is a quote from Dr. Perricone from his website.

        “In this hysterically funny parody of the superfood genre, Twinkies are added to the list of foods that will keep you young and vibrant. For all of you Twinkie fans, the sad but true news is that Twinkies are a very poor choice if you want to enhance your overall health and well-being. Perhaps this will encourage and inspire the Twinkies people to create a ‘green’ Twinkie—one that we can proudly add to the superfood list! That said, if you need a good laugh, click here to read this delightful satire. It proves once again that laughter (and not Twinkies) is the best medicine. “

      • Annie December 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm - Reply

        I’ve skipped using preworkout a few times and got excellent workouts in. It does quit working eventually

  2. Justin November 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Great article and read! I had a client that left the gym passed out and ran his truck into a wall. Although the whole blame is not on his pre workout, it was one of the main contributing factors in addition do his diet.

    • Steve Roy November 6, 2015 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Wow, never heard of anything that extreme!

  3. Jen November 10, 2015 at 10:58 am - Reply

    I have been using C4 daily, instead of coffee for a couple months now. I was curious what the long term side effects were. I do not feel like my body is getting used to it. I still get the same energy from one scoop in the morning as i did when i started taking it. I do take a second scoop in the afternoon to continue my energy level throughout the rest of the day and to assist with my workouts. Hopefully I am not doing any harm to myself. I do get plenty of sleep and eat very clean.

    • Steve Roy November 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      Hey Jen,
      I’ve been taking it for years and pretty regularly and I haven’t seen any side effects other than being almost immune to caffeine. As far as what has been studied, there isn’t much solid data. I will tell you that it isn’t healthy to be taking this stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a study done down the road that shows it’s linked with health problems.

  4. Jonnalyn November 30, 2015 at 11:52 am - Reply

    My friend has been taking this & he was told he will come up dirty on a drug test is that true?

    • Steve Roy November 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      No, there is nothing illegal in any pre-workout supp. If he was trying to get into the Olympics or the NBA, he might get flagged but it won’t affect a regular drug test.

  5. Dedrick Harrison December 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I am taking RevLabs Endorev pre workout igniter. It has caffine in it but its 240g of the stuff. Is it dangerous or safe to take this supplement? I should have researched this product before I bought it. I only have to pay shipping from buying products from RevLabs so I only paid like $6 and then you pay a $18 monthly membership. It recommends taking one scoop of it 30 minutes before workout. Is this a good supplement?

    • Steve Roy December 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Dedrick,
      First, I wouldn’t pay a membership fee for them because you’ll want to cycle off your supps each few months or so. Second, I looked into RevLabs and it looks like a legit supplement. I haven’t tried that personally but the info I’ve read seems to indicate it’s decent quality.

  6. Pat December 19, 2015 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Through anecdotal evidence I believe these substances can really mess with your serotonin and or dopamine levels. Be safe guys.

    • Steve Roy December 28, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Agreed Pat.There is little evidence of long-term effects but how can taking this stuff not affect those things??

  7. Crystal December 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    I started taking Insantiy by Pump Fuel back in August. I take 5/days a week. Prior to this I took my first supplements/pre workouts (Advocare) end of June. My rep back then advised me to take as much as she did, probably close to 8 things a day. I felt this was too much hence my halt within a months timeframe. (It was affecting my mood just as I noticed she was crazy too) Anywho, around the time September came, I started getting sick every other week or so. Colds, Sinus infections, Bronchitis. Infection after infection. Even as I type I am sick. This is affecting my workouts because my energy level goes down when I’m sick obviously. I guess you can tell I’m addicted to the one thing I still take, the Pump Fuel. I really hate the idea of discontinuing use for even a week but this week I’m going to try. Thanks for your article! It was helpful seeing you say that too much pre workout usage is harmful.

    • Steve Roy December 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Hey Crystal, I’m sure the fact that the more you use, the more faster you have to resupply had something to do with the recommendations she gave you. Being addicted to the stimulants is scary stuff and I know, because I was hooked for a long time. It really messed me up and I felt like shit a lot of the time. Be safe and if you can get away from taking ALL stims for a few weeks or month, do it. Your hormones need a rest.

  8. Chris December 26, 2015 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Hey im currently taking insanes labz’ psychotic which I think is the strongest on the market right now because I was on c4 and it just don’t work but I take a half scoop of this stuff and take its still effecting me 5 hours later. Is this good for me? In short, no it is not good for you and neither are any of the other pre-workouts out there. I never recommend it to my clients and only take it myself because I have been for so long and know my body very well.

    • Steve Roy December 28, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Chris,
      I looked into Psychotic and the ingredients are not clearly defined, so it’s hard to tell how much caffeine and other stimulants are in it. I see a ton of positive reviews, but that doesn’t mean anything. If you’ve developed a caffeine tolerance, then pre-workouts like C4 might not do the trick. It doesn’t work that much for me either and I use the 50X. If you still feel the effects 5 hours later, it tells me there is WAY too many stims in it and since they don’t have to label it, we have no idea. I’d be really careful. Even if you area young guy with a strong heart, you need to be careful That shit can mess you up.

  9. Craig December 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Well, I might hold off then. I have been trying to get lean (see definition in my abs) for about 60 days and have had surprising good results with just diet and exercise 5-6days a week. I have a little lingering belly fat on lower abs and was looking for something to take to help with that. However, I already have anxiety issues, and if I don’t get solid sleep I’m pretty worthless.

    Any alternative suggestions for my desired results? I’m 32 and have plenty of energy/motivation during workouts… I just want to get more lean.

    Anyway, great write-up and looks like I WILL take your advice to steer clear.

    • Steve Roy December 31, 2015 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Yea Craig, I think it’s best to stay off of them too. As far as getting lean, pre-workouts will not help you there. They may give you more energy, but if you already are getting in good, solid exercise session, you definitely don’t need the stimulants.

      Losing that stubborn fat will come down to your diet. It sounds like your workouts are fine, so I’d suggest tracking your calories and macros to see what you’re putting into your body. Keep your protein high (around 30-35% of total calories) and keep your carbs around 35-40% to see how that works. Make sue you are drinking a lot of water daily as well (80+oz).

      And if you aren’t doing them, add in 1-2 HIIT sessions for that metabolism boost. Use circuits or even a treadmill/bike/rower for it. The key is to jack that heart rate up for 15-25 seconds and then bring it back down for 35-45 seconds. Repeat for 12-15 minutes.

  10. Sanjiv December 29, 2015 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Great write-up.

    I have never tried pre-workouts- been working out seriously for 2 years now. Prior to that, I worked out at home for 2 years inconsistently. I am telling you this because pre-workouts have always been something that I wanted to try, but I promised myself that I will only try it when I really need to. Now that I have graduated and started working full-time, 10.30 pm seems to be the best time for me to go to the gym on weekdays. My schedule is free on weekends so I usually go in the evening.

    With that said, I am finally thinking of trying Arnold Iron Pump. I heard it’s good and being someone who never relied on a stimulant before a workout (earphones do the trick for me), I am thinking of starting with half a scoop first but I’d like to seek your advice, as I usually sleep by 1.30 am by the time I get home from the gym, shower and get a meal in.

    So what I’d like to seek your advice on is:

    1- Is Arnold Iron Pump a good pre-workout? (good in the sense that it’s a high quality one)

    2- Will taking a pre-workout before working out at 10 30pm affect my sleeping hours from 1.30 am?

    3- Will it cause crashes? I have heard that many pre-workouts cause you to “crash”. I have never felt a crash so I have no idea what it feels like and what it does to you. Could you enlighten me on this?

    4- What would be a good reason to stop taking pre-workouts? Any red flags I should keep an eye out for?

    Much obliged. Thanks!

    • Steve Roy December 31, 2015 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Hey Sanjiv,

      Thanks for the comment.
      As far as your questions:

      1. Yes, Pump is a quality pre-workout. It’s probably among the 10 or 20 best out there.

      2. If you drink little or no caffeine you will probably have issues with sleeping. Not only is there caffeine in it, but other stimulants as well. And unless you have a tolerance for that stuff (which it sounds like you don’t), it will most likely keep you up or affect the quality of your sleep.

      3. In my experience, there is a small crash when coming off pre-workouts but not like a sugar crash. All the stimulants really fire up your system, hormones, adrenals, and since you artificially boosting these things, you will experience side effects hen coming off. If you start taking them regularly and then get off them, you will see a big drop in energy.

      4. First off, I don’t recommend that you start taking them. Unless you really, really need a boost, and it sounds like you don’t, there is no need to take them. They are not goo for you in any way and can be addicting in the fact that once you get that initial rush, you’ll want to keep taking it. Then once your body has adapted, you’ll start increasing the dose. I’ve been taking them for so long that I can take 2X or 3X the servings without any issues and still barely feel it.

      As far as stopping it, if you start noticing nervousness, anxiety, feeling jittery (common), having a fast or irregular heartbeat, or feel “off”, you should stop. Also make sure that you cycle off of them every 2 months or so or you may end up addicted. And when I say addicted, I’m not talking about chemically like a drug, but more so a psychological addiction where you think you need to to get good workout in.

      Hope this helps..

  11. Sean January 3, 2016 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Pretty excellent write up. I enjoyed reading it the follow up q & a. I think the dark side of pre workouts is something that occurs a lot but just isn’t talked about. Ie the dependency after long term use, it sounds remarkably similar to a drug addiction.

    Myself, I’m a beginner to intermediate lifter who wants to take my sessions to the next level and am looking at the pre-workout no-xplode (it comes recommended). But I’m wary at the amount of caffeine that’s in a serving size 275 mg, as I’m fairly sensitive to stimulants. Should I look towards another one or just take half a serving and see how it goes? How would you recommend I ease into it?

    • Steve Roy January 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Yes Sean, it can feel like a drug addiction for sure. I know a lot of guys who can’t seem to get off of it and a lot of it is just from the placebo effect I think. If you are sensitive to stims or caffeine, I would avoid all pre-workouts. In all honesty, you don’t need any boost to have a better workout, but if you are set on trying it, I’d suggest taking half a serving to start.

      If you notice anything like jitters, rapid heart rate, feeling nauseous, or feeling “off”, stop taking it.

  12. Joe January 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Wow…I just came across this website and I am at a loss for words. You sir, (Steve Roy) are a hypocrite and are completely contradictive. You take these pre workouts and yet you recommend that people do not take them…??? Ummm…..what?? So essentially, you are saying do what I say…not what I do? In another comment you state that you have such a high tolerance that you can take 2-3x the servings and barely feel it. You should take your own advice and back off the servings size/frequency and or cycle off for a while. In fact all of your comments are filled with contradictions. Anyone who is serious about lifting and has knowledge about this industry would find your article and comments laughable.

    • Steve Roy January 5, 2016 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Joe, you may want to reread the article because nowhere do I recommend taking pre-workouts. As a matter of fact, in the 18 years I’ve been a trainer I have never once recommended it to a client.

      I do take them personally but the point of this post was to warn people not to take them. I spent many years addicted to soda and Red Bull and developed a high tolerance to caffeine and stimulants, so I can take pre-workouts without many of the side effects that others get. Still, I do not advise anyone to take these and fully understand that they are not good for me or anyone else. It’s a risk I am willing to take for myself, not for my clients.

      The fact is that pre-workouts are a multi million dollar business and people are taking them regardless of what I say. If they choose to take them, I want to educate them on the risks.

      As far as me cycling off of them, I do that every 2 months or so and it works fine for me. Next time, read the post and pay attention to what the author is saying.

      • Jeff July 31, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

        What about using glutamine and branched chain amino acids from Max Muscle?

        • Steve August 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

          Personally I think they are over hyped and largely unnecessary.

  13. Joe January 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Steve, Perhaps you need to re-read my post…I said that I think it is hypocritical of you to take pre-workouts and yet you tell others not to take them. That is highly contradictive and would make me scratch my head. I have also been a trainer for years and I agree that pre-workouts CAN be dangerous, but with all due respect; they are no more dangerous than the fast food people put into their body on a daily basis. Pre-workouts are just like anything else…too much of anything is bad. Moderation is the key. I also understand that the supplement industry is a multi million dollar industry and that much of the products out there are junk. However, there are a few good companies/products out there that are safe and effective. People need to do their research or rely on their trainer who should have knowledge of the products. In regards to your comment about being addicted to soda and Red Bull…those products are actually very low in caffeine and high in sugar. So the likelihood is that you were really addicted to sugar which is even more devastating to the body than any pre-workout on the market. Either way…my point was that you take pre-workouts, but you do NOT recommend that your clients do. Its strange that a trainer would do one something (take pre-workout) and tell his clients NOT to do that same thing. I would surely question that trainer… Next time, maybe you need to slow down and read the comments more carefully.

    • Steve Roy January 5, 2016 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      I did misread your comment, Joe. As far as being hypocritical, I disagree. If I were abusing my body, not exercising or eating fast food yet taught my clients to take care of themselves, that would be hypocritical.

      Pre-workouts are still largely untested and we have no idea what the impact will be long-term. If a client is set on taking them, I’ll let them know the experience I’ve had with dozens of different ones.

      I don’t recommend PWS because of the liability issue. I have no idea how a person will respond to the stimulants and every other thing they put in there that they don’t tell us. If I don’t know what’s in it, I’m not going to recommend it. I’m willing to take that gamble with myself, but not with others. Supplements like creatine have been tested and proven to be safe and I’ll recommend them.

      As far as the soda and Red Bulls, I’m sure the sugar had an impact on my “addiction” but a Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine and a Dr. Pepper has about 40 mg. A scoop of C4, which is what I use is 150 mg. I was drinking 2 Red Bulls daily plus a few soda’s as well, so the caffeine content was there.

      You’re free to question me or never read my stuff again. By the way, do you have a website? I’d be interested in reading it.

  14. Joe January 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the reply Steve. No, I do not have a website…nor do I want one. I do not have time for social media or writing articles/blogs. Rather, I spend my time training my clients and competing in my spare time. I never respond to these types of things, but in your case I couldn’t resist. Have a great day.

    • Dan July 19, 2018 at 8:49 am - Reply

      i mean you don’t have time for soical media, yet kept responding to this? LOL

    • Dan July 19, 2018 at 8:51 am - Reply

      anyone tried LFT Pre Workout contains something called AMP, Thoughts

  15. Pat January 5, 2016 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I received a free sample of nitraflex from my online vitamin co, free sample was awesome (I felt like a totally focused badass) so I bough a small tub. I was planning on using daily before work to help with energy and focus (I’m 38). Only problem is it makes me flush red in the face and upper body and makes my scalp tingly, like all my nerve endings are firing. Manufacturer says this is a normal and a desired effect call hyperstachia, even if it makes you looks bit silly with a red face. Like I said planning on using daily but concerned about the risks. Any thoughts or alternatives for someone getting close to 40 looking in increase general energy and focus?

    • Steve Roy January 8, 2016 at 8:29 am - Reply

      Hey Pat,
      Thanks for the comment. I’d say the flush feeling you’re experiencing is from the niacin in it. A lot of supp companies use it so the user “feels” something working. It really has little relevance in a pre-workout, but it does help from a placebo effect standpoint. If you use it, feel tingly, then you must think it works, right?? That’s the theory anyway.

      GAT Nitraflex is a quality product with a good reputation, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or remotely good for you. The tingling you feel is nothing to worry about but since there are so many (listed and unlisted) ingredients in here, you really can’t be sure how safe this is.

      For increased energy and focus, I would focus on eating a very clean diet free from dairy, grains, processed foods, and refined sugars. Get 7-8 hours of sleep daily, reduce your stress levels, drink 80-128 oz of water daily, train with weights 3-4X per week and add 2-3 HIIT sessions and don’t underestimate the power of having something that inspires you. If you are highly passionate about something, you’ll naturally have more energy and have a better outlook on life.

      Hyperesthesia, if that’s what you’re taking about, is a condition where you are more sensitive to certain stimuli. Not sure if that is what you’re dealing with, but it could be.

      Good luck, man.

  16. Kari January 9, 2016 at 2:45 am - Reply

    Hi Steve, Thanks for writing about the dangers of pre-workouts. From what I’ve been learning, workout products in general can be hazardous to your health – both in the short-term and long-term. I was curious to read your article because of all the controversy with pre-workouts and energy drinks and their negative side effects. I had also heard that the largest demographic in the renal dialysis unit is 30-something men who take workout supplements. (Don’t quote me on that.) That stuff is KILLER on your organs – do you even know what “isolates” are and do to you?! I hate to see so many people pumping their bodies full of toxic products when there is a safe alternative. It’s scary what people are taking to look good, and the crazy side effects they are experiencing!

    I’m writing to let you know that there is a SAFE, ALL NATURAL workout line that does your body GOOD – and it’s EFFECTIVE. It’s called RipStix, through Zija International – I encourage you to check it out and try it. It’s been out since 2014, but is not widely known yet as it is available only through a distributor and shared by word of mouth. There is a powerful pre-workout called Ignite; Fuel is to keep you going during a longer workout (simple sugars); Recover is the post-workout (BCAAs, etc); and Hydrate is the safe alternative to Gatorade-type drinks. I use this line because I have done my homework and I know it’s safe for my body both now and for the long haul. I am also a distributor of Zija products, so if you want to check it out and/or try it, go to Ignore the retail prices on the site – I can get you wholesale pricing. My contact info is on the site. I’d be happy to talk with you and “hook you up” with some product, so to speak.

    Also for anyone looking for energy without red face, headaches and crash (several of you whose comments I read…), Zija has an answer for that too. XM+ and XM3 are energy drinks that are athlete favorites; XMBurn/Turbo and XMAM are capsules, and XMProtein is what it says. Contact me through my website,, to get wholesale pricing.

    Stay safe ladies & gents. You only have one body – if you destroy it you won’t get a new one.

    • Mike D July 22, 2016 at 9:40 am - Reply

      I just started using RipStix and have to agree. I don’t know the science and can’t say that I think *these* supplements are any more healthy than *those* supplements, but I like that they’re trying to use more natural ingredients. I’ve only used the pre and post workout drinks twice, but at 41 I like that I can feel like I did in my 30’s after tough workouts. From past experience I know that this is a short term effect and I’ll have to cycle off every few weeks to keep from becoming mentally dependent on them, but as a triathlete/father/software developer you have to find some way to fit work, family time and workouts all into the same 24 hour day. Pre-workouts can definitely help with that.

  17. Marla January 12, 2016 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Thank you for the great information! I too am recently part of the 40 year old club and was researching ways to take training up a notch, however after reading your article I am going to maintain my current path of eating clean, getting enough sleep and water! It may arguably take a bit longer to reach my goal however sounds to me like it is the safer option. Thanks again !

    • Steve Roy January 17, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Good call, Marla! Avoiding these is probably your safest bet.

  18. Caroline T January 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Hi. I just recently started taking Phenadrine again as a preworkout, after 10 months of not using it as a was pregnant. I have just started to try and workout again and started taking Phenadrine for the boost I need however I feel like my body is not responding to it anymore. I take 2 capsules before my workout but I feel so lethargic and it does nothing to pump me up like it used to. Do I need to try something else cos I defiantly need a preworkout. I’m a 27 year old mother of 3 kids 4 and under and i need something to give me a crazy boost.

    • Steve Roy January 17, 2016 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Hi Caroline,
      Yea, the problem with taking any stimulant is that your body will adapt, sometimes quickly, and then you’ll need to keep upping the dose in order to feel it. I can literally take 2 scoops of C4 before bedtime and sleep fine because my body is so used to it. And that’s not a good thing. I remember the days of having 2 little children, working 50 hours a week, and training before work every day and I was exhausted.

      The issue for you is that anything you take that isn’t natural will have the same effect as the phenadrine.You body will adapt and you’ll be in the same position you’re in now (or worse). The best thing you can do for energy is to be fit. If you aren’t strength training and doing some form of HIIT, start. East a diet high in veggies, protein and fiber and drink at least 64 oz of water daily. De-stress as much as possible and get 7 hours of sleep daily. Those are your keys to feeling more energetic long-term.

  19. Donna January 24, 2016 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Great article!! Thanks for the intel. I have been investigating pre workout as an option. I’m in the 50+ club.

    I have some aggressive fitness goals and I thought it might help me workout stronger throughout my entire workout.

    Right now, my workouts are fine but I get tired toward the end (30 mins weight training & 45 mins cardio).

    My recovery is such that if I want to workout the next day, my workout is not as strong so I don’t feel like I’m getting maximum benefit.

    Anyway, before I go the pre workout route, I will try some dietary changes – clean eating, higher protein and organic.

    Thanks so much. I appreciate your advice and experience. ??

  20. Lisa February 11, 2016 at 6:46 am - Reply

    I don’t currently take pre-workout supplements (my pre-workout consists of apple slices with peanut butter, and a protein shake post-workout) I know I’m not working out to my full potential, so I’ve been investigating pre-workout supplements. I’ve found my body doesn’t adapt well to creatine, and I already get loads of caffeine during an average day, so I really don’t want to mega-dose for my early workout. I’ve been focusing more on diet.

    I’m glad you wrote this. It’s more objective than a lot of things I’ve read.

  21. Stefon February 24, 2016 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I was taking assault for the last 3 months and have used it in the past. Although I didn’t like the jitters, flushness or itchiness I got by taking it on an empty stomach, I was hooked on it mentally. I do cross fit and I thought that it would help me get through the WODs with less breaks and with an elevated HR (weight loss). My heart nearly leaves my body while on it and luckily I ran out and decided not to re-up. over the last 3 weeks, I actually got better at my wods and doing Rx and not taking as many breaks. I have set at least 6 personal records in the last 3 weeks and am now convinced that I don’t need the stuff; plus I now get to enjoy sleep since I was taking the supplements in the evening before I work out. This article is a great start to anyone looking to start taking pre-workout supplements; I will say the initial bump you get does feel good but it wears off quickly. My only advice is that if you are wanting to take this stuff for a cardio style workout like crossfit, football, basketball, etc. DON’T! you will end up pushing yourself too hard. I am 40 6’2 250 and my max HR while on it hit 220 which is insane! Once I got into my routines my max HR is now 197 which for me I think is livable because I am active. Good Article

    • Steve Roy March 5, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Stefon.

      I agree 100% that most of the real benefit of PWS is psychological. It makes you think you can do more, push harder, and last longer. The stimulants do work with regards to increasing heart rate and giving you a sense of additional energy, but PWS are not needed in order to get results or be on the top of your game.

  22. Mark Roberts March 1, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    I have taken my share of pre-workout sups over the past 10 years, mostly BSN products (NO Xplode, Hyper FX) I had a medical scare a few months back. I experienced chest pains during an early morning workout and ended up being ambulances to a hospital. It turned out to be acid reflux and not anything heart related. It was likely due to ingesting too much caffeine. I cutout all pre-workout stims for a month or so then started using ON Gold Standard Preworkout (1 scoop) because it was certified as banned substance free. I also use ON Amino Energy for a mid afternoon “pick me up”. I’m making an effort to keep my caffeine intake to no more than 400 mgs per day. I make sure to cycle off the Gold Standard (4 weeks on, 1 week off). Should I cycle off the Amino Energy as well? Are these products any safer than the other products out there?

    • Steve Roy March 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark,

      I’d say that 400mg of caffeine is still high and the U.S. average is around 250mg. If it’s working for you, great but I don’t see the need to take the additional supplements. As far as safety, I suspect it’s the same with many of these products. Unless we know exactly what’s in them, they could have any number of potentially harmful things. ON is a great brand though and I’m sure they have a high quality product, but everyone reacts differently to them. If you are sticking with the Amino Energy, I’d cycle it as well even though it only has 100mg of caffeine.

  23. Jay Lacosta March 16, 2016 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Im 43 and only taking the C4 Pre Workout and C4 Alpha Amino. I only take the pre-workout during my workout days and not when im resting, same with Alpha Amino but im taking this twice a day.

  24. amir May 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    hi;and tank you for your best answers.
    my name is amir and have 33 years old.i am using for 4 years pre workouts and caffein Ongoing.and now i want to ask you about this products sides effect for me and my heart or brain?

  25. Vince May 10, 2016 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    I have been taking C4 for many many years routinely with little to no cycle and it worked wonders for me but now i want off of it completely. I went to walmart because i caved and picked up one more rep to hold me for a bit with the cash I had and it was the worst experience of my life. little did I know my body has adverse effects to certain ingredients and dyes I went into shock and had a panic attack no tingling sensation in my body like C4 does giving me a clean pump but IMR felt like it concentrated and attacked my entire heart. Be aware of preworkouts and mixing/introducing new ones sometimes your body is so dependent on one that the new one might just ruin you forever. TOTALLY NUTS! stay away from that brand the caffeine content is utterly dumb

    • Steve Roy May 17, 2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Never tried that brand Vince, but thanks for the heads up. Because there are so many ingredients in each different one, you never know what will give you an adverse reaction. Some people tolerate certain brands well while others can’t.

  26. Arne Simonsen May 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Great article. I was wondering about pre work out supplements since I am starting weight training, (never needed to before, but do now after sitting on my ass for the past 7+ years)and you convinced me. I won’t take them. I don’t have a lack of energy to complete my workout, just wondered if there was any real benefit to them. Thanks.

    • Steve Roy June 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      There are benefits, but in your case it doesn’t sound like it makes sense.

  27. Stephen Robinson June 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    First of all great article Steve! You really hit the nail on the head with some concerns of mine. I’m an avid gym goer like you and have taken pre-workout consistently for several years now, roughly 4 years I’d say. I’m aware of the risks but I’ve gotten to the point where I feel trapped. Recently I’ve been experiencing some dull chest pain and severe restlessness after an intense workout. Due to my schedule I mainly workout during late hours(8:30-10:30pm). I feel so stuck because the lack of sleep I get which in turn makes me tired at work then feeling too tired to workout which gravitates me to the pre-workout. Its such a vicious cycle I am in! I don’t like the feeling of being addicted to something and honestly it frightens me. Please help! What would you suggest? Should I try and wean off it, try plain old coffee, or maybe nothing at all?? Any more natural supplements I could try? Thanks for any input you may have!

  28. Vinnie June 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Great article and great feedback! I felt like I have been reading my own words.And it’s like any addiction, it feels comforting knowing others are going through the same stuff.

  29. Debbie July 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Hi there! I just started taking Motiv8 Burn and sometimes I take just 1/2 a scoop or even a quarter scoop before a workout and it gives me incredible energy. Reading the label it looks like most of the ingredients are all natural and not really dangerous. What do u think about this product?

  30. cathy was July 7, 2016 at 12:01 am - Reply

    my son at 19 has been taking pre and post work out supplements with creatine and he gets violent why? when he doesnt take them because of skipping a work out he is laid back i am scared of his anger

    • SteveRoy October 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Maybe the caffeine and sugar but I think maybe it’s mostly just the testosterone at his age.

  31. Fredrick July 15, 2016 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I have been using Mr. Hyde for years and they must have recently changed the formula because about 2 hours after my workout, I bagan having severe heart palpitations to the point where I had to call the paramedics and then go to the E.R. I thought I was gonna die (and I took the recommended one scoop, nothing more, and I took no other stimulant during the day.) They told me to drink lots of water to flush it out of my system which I did and my heart rate went back to normal. Fast forward about a week later and since then as I’m typing this, I’ve been experiencing severe anxiety, depression, mental numbness, and at times even panic attacks which I have no prior history of. Today, I received a text from my friend who took this product telling me he’s experiencing the same symptoms and he too has been taking this pre-workout for years. I have since stopped my caffiene intake. Do you think my symptoms will improve?

    • Vince July 24, 2016 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      I also have been experiencing these side effects for months I have grown so dependent on the stim I believe. I didn’t use that product though. I have also been suffering from tightness in muscle to the point of off balance/dizziness vertigo. Have u been experiencing this as well? I have had no caffeine for three months a week after I tried a half scoop of C4 and I went into full blown panic again

      • SteveRoy October 4, 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

        So you’re off of all stims or still on?

        • vince September 21, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

          I never realized I didn’t reply! turns out I actually have had ongoing TMJ problems and that one day I happened to take preworkout stressed it to the point of causing serious damage to my jaw joint after rehab I have only just now begun to be back to normal. I basically pushed everything too far and now I have to do a lot of strengthening exercises due to my posture becoming poor and developing some arthritis in my collarbone and shoulder. I was off of stims for god roughly 8 months or so went into a depression from the onset pain but im cycling on again and can finally workout once more.

  32. John Miller July 26, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Has anyone here ever tried using the products made by Animal such as animal stack pak or rage xl? if so can someone send me some advice when using it. Just last night i managed to overwork myselfand possibly dehydrate my self from using a combination of animal stack and animal rage xl. Imanaged to get home before vomiting and being really naseous. Any advice would be nice.

    • SteveRoy October 4, 2016 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Never messed with that stuff, John.

  33. Alex August 19, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

    On days I don’t train I take n-acetyl l tyrosine. Gives me a mood boost and caffeine like focus with a break from caffeine.

  34. Jackson October 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    I have been taking the preworkout Performix for a while now, and it gives you a big boost when you take it, and slowly releases after a long period of time so there is no crash. However take it in the morning because of the slow release, it takes about 8 hours to get out of your system. I would recommend it for anyone.

    • Steve December 17, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

      The things about pre-workouts is that because there are so many different ingredients that no one product will work the same for everyone. I’ve had bad experiences with very popular supps while others are doing great with them.

  35. David October 28, 2016 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I am also 43 but only recently got into fitness and have been lifting more consistently for the past 6+ months. I sleep well, eat very well and my typical supplementation is Pre-workout + BCAAs before lifting and whey isolates + creatine after. If I have not had enough protein throughout the day I may supplement with additional whey.

    I have only tried one pre-workout – Legion – Pulse which was recommended on a forum not unlike this one (experienced trainer with an opinion). I have had a good experience with this pre-workout and have not experienced any side effects. I do get the tingles, but read up on this beforehand and was not concerned. I feel the effects of the caffeine but have always been a coffee drinker so, this dosage is not huge (I take less than the 2 recommended scoops). When I’m really pushing my squats (which is always now), my heart is really pumping after my set. I assume this is a natural byproduct of pushing a large muscle group to fatigue and close to failure. (no dizzyness or chestpain etc).

    Do you feel your heart really going after a set of squats?

    Any comments on Legion – Pulse? The dosages for the main ingredients seem to be listed. Any comments on the dosages for this product?

    Great post – Thanks!!

    • Steve December 17, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Hey David,
      Yes the large compound lifts will get your heart rate up and used with pre-workouts, it’ll be jacked. When I feel my heart sort of flutter or is beating too fast, I’ll slow it down and drink 16 oz of water. That usually helps. As far as Legion, I haven’t tried it.

  36. Tim A November 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    A very worth honest read about preworkout supps. About to buy one actually and after reading it I decided not to. My body is so sacred to bet it in a Russian Roulette. After all, Im working out to maintain my natural body health and strength before stepping up to 40’s. In our era today when there are tonnes of advance medicines in numerous aspects, tonnes of diseases also are emerging. So be careful guy. Choose wisely on this..

    • Steve December 17, 2016 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Probably a wise move, Tim.

  37. Sergio December 8, 2016 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Hey I just started taking “STIM” made by black market. It contains 450mg of caffeine per scoop I have a high tolerance for caffeine. So I take 1 and a half scoops I’ve been taking pre workouts for 4 years straight now. I just want to know how bad is this long term?

    • Steve December 17, 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

      I’d definitely recommend taking a break from it, Sergio. It can mess with your adrenals and cause other issues that may be difficult to recover from. It sounds like you’re very tolerant of it, but give your body 30 days off of it. You may want to slowly cut back the does until you’re at a zero does or else your body may not respond well.

  38. Ben December 8, 2016 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I’ve been taking C4 Sport (kind you can get at Walmart) for years and tried all sorts of pre-workouts. I take only a 1/2 scoop, about 3-4 times a week. I enjoy the focus and feeling during and mostly AFTER the workout is done. I’d say in some ways I am “dependent” on them not physically but mentally, in order to help me stay focused and have a feeling of positive energy. However, in the last 1 year to 2 yrs, I’ve noticed that while working at a desk job and in and out of meetings and on the phone all day, sometimes the level of focus and intensity that these supplements bring can create embarrassing moments when working with people who don’t take them or don’t even work out for that matter. What I mean is, even at low doses, you can become overly intense, focused, and unrelenting to the point where some people who may be in tune with your personality will take notice and think you may be a little off. Sometimes I’ve even gotten called out on it where people would say “he must’ve taken too much pre-workout this morning, wholly shi*!”, even when I take only half of a scoop. As a result, I am looking for a pre-workout where the intensity level and focus is there, but, much more subdued. I’d like to hear if anyone else experiences this, especially those that work in a desk environment and aren’t constantly moving or in a gym all day and have to be in meetings and working with professionals who do not necessarily exercise every day. Thanks

  39. Wishwa December 14, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Thank for sharing your experience. When it comes to protein powder, What is your experience and recommendation..?

    • Steve December 17, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

      I’m a fan of Designer Whey and Dymatize Whey isolate..

  40. Kiran January 4, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Hey hi, I took a scoop of NITRAFLEX as recommended and that was my first time using a pre workout. That’s it. The gains were awesome everything was fine till I was in the gym. After getting out of the gym, I was still in the aggression, I couldn’t sleep in the night, mixed thoughts in my mind, anxiety etc.. total body imbalance.
    Kindly suggest what am I supposed to do to get rid of this. I have stopped taking it right after though, but this is the second day am experiencing the same. Please help me out.

    • Steve January 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Kiran,

      I just responded to your email about this…

    • Nad March 13, 2018 at 7:49 am - Reply

      Did the feeling go away. How long did it take?

      • Steve April 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

        I use Transparent Labs pre-workout now and have no issues.

  41. Jay January 8, 2017 at 1:33 am - Reply

    I started taking shatter black onyx, and the recommended dose contains 400mg of caffeine from 2 scoops. It’s been causing me some pretty scary symptoms although I’m sure sure exactly what is causing it exactly, but even my gf is worried. Shortness of breath, chest pains, heart beating out of my chest, dizziness, and this is well after my session. Back in the day suplements didn’t bother me but now I don’t have a gall bladder, not sure if that makes a difference but I just cannot handle that dose anymore. Cutting in half and seeing what happens but be careful taking this stuff…

    • Jay January 8, 2017 at 1:35 am - Reply

      Sorry I meant I’m not sure what’s causing it…

    • Steve January 11, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Definitely a sign that you’re taking too much. Yea, try half of that, which is still a good amount of caffeine as well as all the other stims in it. If those symptoms continue, ‘d either switch brands or stop taking PWS altogether.

  42. Michael Merritt February 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I’ve taken c4 for about 3 years now and ended up with severe gastritis. I attribute pre workouts to my leaky gut and burning that I’m now spending over 3 years trying everything to heal. Can not longer eat or drink many, many foods. Caffeine being on of the worst offenders. So be careful out there!

    • Steve February 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Wow, that’s messed up! I haven’t heard of anything that severe happening from this stuff..

  43. Jen February 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    I’ve been taking pre-workouts for a while now. I started with energize and recently started using C4. I have what’s called Raynaud’s phenomenon and my toes and fingers go numb. It’s been getting worse and my toes frequently go numb and change color during exercise. I’m wondering if the pre-workouts have been known to affect circulation may actually be exacerbating my symptoms?

    • Steve February 17, 2017 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Hey Jen,
      No, I haven’t heard that before and typically pre-workouts increase blood flow, not reduce it. My first thought is that the stress placed on the body from all the stimulants is triggering this for you. If it were me, I’d get off of the supps for a while to see if anything changes.

  44. TG February 16, 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I found my 15yr old son taking the C4 Extreme, we also found out that he was doubling up on the dose before his workouts. I instantly took it away and locked it up.

    • Steve February 17, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Good call. As you know, teenagers feel invincible and have little concern for the effects of things like this on their bodies. I’m sure it’s a status thing or his friends are doing it, but I personally don’t see a reason for a 15 year old to use this stuff..

  45. Sami February 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    My 17 yr old works out 7 days a week and eats clean. He uses Venom preworkout and cycles off. He eats clean as well. What are your thoughts?

  46. April Ray February 19, 2017 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Is it safe to take c4 when u have high blood pessure and deperssion and aniexty

  47. Steve February 20, 2017 at 2:32 am - Reply

    This is really a great article. Thank you !. I also enjoyed readings the comments from you and the other trainer lol. You backed it up very good with yoyr knowledge. I do have Gym Supplements -pre-workout -post work out I do belive its the dexturrs and not sure wat the other one. Any way since I bought I only use them rarely but I do use pro gym in the mornings sometimes. When ever i do take the pre-work maybe a little less then hall or even just a litte it. after I do feel like shit or sometime i go throw up. Is it really worth it to keep using it?. Is it normal to feel like shit for example ignore people but at the same time I would blame the the stuff wat take. I don’t know wat heading woth comment but Do you think Talking the supplement really worth it? I barely use them though.
    Thank you

  48. Steve February 20, 2017 at 2:34 am - Reply

    This is really a great article. Thank you !. I also enjoyed readings the comments from you and the other trainer lol. You backed it up very good with your knowledge. I do have Gym stoppani Supplements -pre-workout -post work out I do belive its the dexturrs and not sure wat the other one. Any way since I bought I only use them rarely but I do use pro gym in the mornings sometimes. When ever i do take the pre-work maybe a little less then hall or even just a litte it. after I do feel like shit or sometime i go throw up. Is it really worth it to keep using it?. Is it normal to feel like shit for example ignore people but at the same time I would blame the the stuff wat take. I don’t know wat heading woth comment but Do you think Talking the supplement really worth it?
    Thank you

  49. Dylan Kiehm March 1, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I have multiple questions about dieting and pre-workouts, do you have a personal email or phone number I can contact?

  50. Ahmad March 13, 2017 at 1:45 am - Reply

    Last week I took 2 scoop of my pre-workout but I believe that I didn’t kill it in the gym after that I had large coffee at the evening 9 o clock I got panic attack and have been at EMRG for 8hrs the doctor told me it’s all about pre-workout and much more caffeine.
    Is that true?

    • Steve March 13, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

      There is a good chance that your body didn’t respond well to all the stimulants in the pre-workout and then with the additional caffeine with the coffee, it could have caused your heart rate to do some crazy things.

  51. Eze March 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I really love this article… Im now taking c4 and metrx monohydrate together i take it good to mix these two?

    • Steve May 5, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Although C4 contains creatine nitrate, it’s fine if you add it with monohydrate.

  52. E Mcnamara April 3, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    My 23 year old son died 2 weeks ago by taking his own life. He was happy person and had a lot to live for. The following supplements were recovered from his apartment: C4 Pre-Workout Explosive Energy, Yohimbine HCI, and Syntha-6 isolate protein powder. He also had maca and d-aspartic acid. After much research on these supplements, specifically C4 and Yohimbine, it’s possible they played a part in the events leading to his death. Some of the known side effects are panic attacks, depression, anxiety, emotional instability. I am only writing this to caution people to the dangers of taking these supplements. I know it doesn’t negatively affect everyone, but I urge anyone taking these supplements or thinking about it to do your research and really pay attention to how your body reacts initially before it’s too late.

    • Steve May 5, 2017 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your personal story and I am truly sorry to hear about your son. I agree that anyone who has any form of mental illness or suffers from anxiety or depression should stay clear of these supplements.

  53. Ellen April 23, 2017 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Wondering which pre workout supplement you would recommend for 17-18 year olds who are lifting weights? I do not like any supplements prefer eating right but I’m the MOM and as much as I disagree my fear is the wrong supplement may be taken without my knowledge …..Help…. If he is going to use a prework out which is healthliest for this young generation.

    • Steve May 5, 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      The answer is none of them. There really is no “healthiest” pre-workout. An 18 year old kid has a strong cardiovascular system so I imagine any of these would work fine. It’s a matter of taste and personal reaction to them. I’ve taken some that make me shaky and some that taste like battery acid.

  54. Ellen April 23, 2017 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Perhaps to save any fear of recommendation….re word. If you were 17-18 now which would you take?

    • Steve May 5, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      At 17 years old I wouldn’t give a shit and would probably try them all. At 45, I’m much more selective…

  55. James August 16, 2017 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    So I’ve taken two scoops of pre workout and I felt like shit in my head and I couldn’t focus properly. I don’t know if I should blame the pre workout for this. I can’t actually write this sentence because I am thinking too much ( typing and re typing this ) . I think that sticking to the recommended dosage is very important as not every individual may have the same reactions. I got through and grinded through my workout without the need for the pre workout because I didn’t feel the same levels of pump and focus when I usually take it

    • Steve September 14, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Sounds like you might be best getting off of it for a long while, James.

  56. Ben September 2, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I’m one of those addicted guys. I drink preworkout daily, sometimes twice. It’s become more of the ritual and to be hokmrst it creates more of an irritable mood than anything. I started back trying to find the same high from old jack3d or what C4 used to give and can’t find it.

    I’m curious if constant, uncycled intake can mess with energy levels in a negative way. I can still get 7 hours sleep and am dead tired. I’m also at the age that I probably need some bloodwork done to check other levels.

    I’ve told people that I’m glad I was never into drugs, because if I treated them like I do preworkout then I’d have bigger issues.

  57. Scott November 16, 2017 at 9:56 am - Reply

    I’m 30 years old, i started workout in the gym 3 months ago.
    I just want you to advise me on taken C4, because i need more energy to work hard in the gym.
    I’m not married yet and no kids, my fear is that if i start taken C4 now.,
    Hope it will not give me any side effect, when i’m ready to start having children or my performance in bed?
    You are doing a great job Sir Steve, keep it up thank you.

  58. John November 16, 2017 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Steve – Thanks for posting this article. I have been away from working out for a while now, and recently had ablation surgery on my heart for an AFIB issue. I was chatting with some of the guys I work with about getting a fitness challenge started after the new year, since I am not allow to do any working out until after January, per doctor’s orders. When I get back to it, he only wants me doing 3-4 low intensity, 30 minute work outs for the first 4 weeks, then build back into a normal routine. The guys were telling me about Pre-Workout products and had recommended C4 Ripped to lose weight or Pump Fuel. Since I am on a 2 month ban from caffeine and alcohol, they suggested getting a caffeine free version of Pump Fuel and starting with 1/2 servings to build up. After reading this, I am thinking that any of them would be a bad idea – I don’t drink things like Red Bull an usually have 1-2 cups of coffee in a day, if that. If they don’t use caffeine in them, where do you get the energy burst from?

    I feel like I do need something to help get me motivated, I’ve always hated the gym and working out, though once I got into a workout, especially cardio, I was happy afterwards and felt great. These sounded like a good idea, but with my heart issue, I am starting to think I should avoid all supplements, except maybe creatine and the occasional protein shake. Thoughts?

  59. Deb December 6, 2017 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Just read through this have you ever and don’t shoot me here but ever looked at the Amped range by isagenix, talking about clean supps. All opinions and brand names aside have a look I’d like to know your opinion on the amped workout range

  60. Andrew W. December 16, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Hi I am 47 and was taking C4 for a year and a half at most 3-4 times weekly, when I would play ice hockey, tennis or ride my mountain bike and got great energy. I noticed last January that I was getting stiffness in my shoulders and upper body region around that time. I just figured I strained something along the way and it would eventually work itself out. Well it was seemingly getting worse, If I attempted to do push ups my body would ‘lock’ up. I couldn’t do a single push up. So I started to think and figured to stop using the preworkout about a month ago. The stiffness in my shoulders, upper chest and back region is gone. I am able to get down on the floor and do 20 push ups without any hesitation. I have to link the C4 with my stiffness issues.
    Have you ever heard of such a case? I don’t know for sure if they are linked but it’s the only thing that has really changed in my diet over the last month. I am considering to start taking the preworkout again but at a much less frequency with push ups being the indicator for when I need to cycle off. Any advice is welcomed..

    • Ian January 25, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      I have took a pre workout called curse for years The gym were I buy it from ran out and it would be a few weeks before I could get any so I purchased one called 5150 within 2 weeks I ached all over my chest was tight and so was my shoulders and and back I honestly though I was going too have a heart attack so I stopped taking this product thankfully after a week all the symptoms cleared

  61. Kyrsten December 30, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    This article was great! Thank you!

    I just want to share a bit of experience with preworkouts. I have bipolar 2 disorder, attention deficit disorder, and a bit of anxiety when things don’t go as planned. If you are suffering from a mental illness diagnosis, I would seriously recommend staying away from preworkouts.

    To be fair, I DO USE C4. I go to the gym between 4 to 5 nights a week, and most days don’t use a preworkout. But with bipolar comes ups and downs, and when I’m down its hard to get motivated and push myself. Those are the days I use C4. I would say about 1, maybe 2 times a week do I use it any only before going to the gym. My psych does not agree with my use of it at all.

    I Have not had any problems with it so far, but I’m guessing if I took it regularly it would be a problem. And since the long terms haven’t been studied enough for us to know the psychological effects long term, it may want to be avoided by those with a mental illness.

    Just a thought.

  62. J January 3, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

    There is a lot of good information here, and way too much biased information. Like all things in life, you should really do research and read up on something before you start putting it into your body. Know what is in a pre-workout, and what types of ingredients actually work, and what ones are in there for no apparent reason. Scholarly research exists on all of these supplements, it would have been nice to see several links to recognized studies to prove some of your points. Most of this is hearsay, and very individually based. I, myself, have been using pre-workout for about 5 years now, with no issue. I have also read extensively into the things I suggested. Without any kind of real, hard evidence, to support your claims this is nothing more than unsubstantiated opinion that is based on a lot of irrationality that paints a picture for your readers, that simply isn’t true.

  63. Spanky February 6, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    SO…I’ve been thinking about this hard lately because I’ve been using pre-workout without a break (other than non-gym days) and I’ve started to notice some odd feelings. I was **cough** singing (in tiny letters) in my car on the way home after working out. So…hitting that long note afterwards I got REALLY light headed and it honestly scared the sh!t out of me. I wondered what could have caused it. Since I’ve noticed a couple of similar experiences after getting up from say leg press (which in and of itself isn’t too concerning after pushing legs hard).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my body is telling me it’s time to take a break from the pre-workout for a little while. If nothing else to see if the symptoms continue, and then it may be time to visit the Dr having eliminated the most logical possibility. Hopefully nothing more serious. After reading above about the guy passing out in his car and hitting a wall…yikes. I wonder if he was singing…LOL

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  65. Pratik February 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    It was very nice to read your article , it really gave me an idea of what’s behind the curtain in this crazy bodybuilding world . I am 17 , and started going 7 months back . A month ago , I started taking MuscleTech Pre workout , I buyed it after looking at vareity of similar products on Amazon. I did take it everyday for more than 20 days , but haven’t observed any difference or improvement in my body . Agreed the words and description did drive me towards taking it , and also it lead to me ordering me one more but C4 Extreme this time . But , I am more concerned now because of the side effects. And today when I properly read about all ingredients I would 1.5g creatine , which gave me a kick whether to consume it after my latest one finishes . I rather don’t want to suffer from the great pains in future and nor want any part of body to be damaged or in problem. Shall I continue taking it , and later have my hands on C4 Extreme or what appropriate shall I do to ensure that I go the best way and pick up harder and harder weight. Recently , I took a 5 day off and found that my performance had reduced by around 15%. I also take Mass Gainer ( my current height 178 cm , weight 65kg ) and Amino BCAA ( C4 ) . Shall I discontinue all of this ? If you could say a few words on Anabols ( Steroids ) , I would be very happy too . Anyways , loved reading all this.

  66. Janet S. February 10, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for writing this! I’ve been taking Titan from Chaos & Pain every day for over 4-5 months, only half the dose, but still. I feel like I crave the rush. I’m going to stop, like tomorrow. I work hard to eat clean, etc and don’t want to harm my body. Do you think it’s ok to drink one cup of half-caff coffee a day? Also what do you think of Superbeets powder? I heard that’s a good, safe alternative. Thanks so much!!

    • J-GREY March 7, 2018 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Janet. Superbeets are a great alternative to pre-workouts. You will receive awesome muscle pumps, because beets are a natural nitrate. Which means more blood flow during you training.

  67. J-GREY March 7, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Good information overall. I have personally been in the supplement industry for close to 7 years now, and have been a supplement user for over 15. I have ingested what I like to call, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Pre-workouts are mostly an unknown in regards to your long term health. For avid users like myself, we continue to roll the dice. I was working at a big supplement company, when the DMMA scare happened and a couple soldiers died by abusing USP Labs all star preworkout Jacked. As a store manager at the time, we were forced to pull all that we had off the shelves and dispose of it all in the dumpsters out back. The heyday of selling phenomenal pre-workouts we’re gone that day. Most pre-workouts now are on the weaker end of the spectrum, at least the ones sold in chain stores. eBay and Amazon are your best bet to find stronger preworkouts. I highly suggest preworkouts like Arez, Mesomorph, Dust extreme, edge of insanity etc… These all have DMHA, basically the little brother of DMAA. If you miss the laser focus and tunnel vision of the preworkouts of the past, I highly suggest looking into these ones. I’m here to answer any questions you may have as well.

  68. dickycone March 15, 2018 at 9:38 am - Reply

    “I can’t speak for any of you, but I’ve felt the need to have my powder every day, regardless if I was working out or not. It’s a habit. A routine. And not a good one”

    I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m taking my preworkout on rest days. That would be an obvious red flag. I used to make a point of skipping preworkout at least once a week, but now I rarely do that. I just look forward to sipping the damn stuff in the early morning before my workouts too much. I rationalize it because I’m raising a baby and it helps a lot after nights when she doesn’t sleep a lot, and because I’m not even taking full doses (usually only 1/2 dose, about 140mg of caffeine). Still, feeling dependent on the powder to crush my workouts isn’t great.

    • Steve April 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      I’m the same way, just love that taste in the morning.

  69. ran March 21, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

    im also 45 like you. ive been taking the c4 for month and half-2 months now, only before training sessions, 2 scoops, as i didnt feel nothing with 1 scoop. i feel great with it, my performace boosted 10s of percents. and yes, i dont sleep enough, but i drink lots of water. thats really funny that you emphasize over and over that you recomnend not taking it but you do , daily

    i dont see any issue with it, its not steroids, and the creating dosage here is minimal compare to regular creating takers. i dont have any side effect other than the tingeling around neck are in the traing itself which is a good sign for me. it tells me that the c4 does it thing, and sometimes i dont even feel that tingeling

  70. Sara. April 4, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I have a high tolerance to cafiene and recently quit drinking Monster. I eat pretty clean and do cardio kick boxing that kills me but, I find this article helpful, I’m going to take your advice not try any pre-workout. Thank you!

    • Steve April 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      You bet. If you’ve recently come off energy drinks, you definitely don’t want to get started on pre-workouts.

  71. Karen April 8, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Which one do you prefer, C-4 or Bulk from Transparent Labs? I need something that can help me to keep going for at least 2 hours with no crashes.

    • Steve April 8, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      Hey Karen, I use to be hooked on C4 but I find TL to be a better quality product. As far as crashes, it all depends on the person. Just because TL is a better product doesn’t necessarily mean it will work better for you. Your best best is to try both and see which responds better with your body.

  72. Mohammad Umar April 12, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I want to use just for one month to revert my stamina back just I want to use it for one month to become like I was 4 years ago.
    After that I will do all these excercises by my self.
    will it work for me?
    I mean these energic powder?

  73. E Kiel April 16, 2018 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    After reading this I’m considering quitting my use of preworkout. I went into it using it cautiously and still do. I only use it on days I feel like I need an extra push and only use half a serving. Do you think that it is alright for semi-regular use at small doses, or should I quit altogether? Also, I’ve been using 4 gauge.

    • Steve April 24, 2018 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      I think it’s fine if you use it sporadically but there is still no long-term research about the effects of it. I wouldn’t be taking it myself if I though it was going to cause a problem down the road.

  74. Gary April 28, 2018 at 1:47 am - Reply

    There is only one muscle that matters. The big one you can’t see. Eat healthy regular walks stay away from stressful situations and you will live a healthy cheap life. Also stay away from media.

    • Gary April 28, 2018 at 1:57 am - Reply

      Muscle is materialism. Stay healthy weight enjoy life walk eat good food. Stimulants are bad and people become dependent and puts stress on the heart. The people who care about you would prefer you to be around for along time rather than suffering heart disease even if you are a skinny sack of spuds

  75. Michael May 7, 2018 at 6:53 pm - Reply


    I’ve came across this blog today and found it interesting to hear another trainers perception regarding supplements. I’ve been a trainer since 1994 and see from your website that you’ve been doing this for a while as well. What is your credentials and education?
    I have not ever recommended supplements to any of my clients other than a protein bar or drink from a local store as a snack in a pinch. As you have stated, I’ve only recommended real foods, water, sleep rest, exercise, in moderation.

  76. Jaylynn May 18, 2018 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Today was my first day of taking pre workout shake. I took a scoop of Mr. Hyde Cutz… After 20 minutes I went to the gym. I couldn’t complete my reps, i had difficulties in breathing, in short my workout sucked. I am in the house now and I can’t do anything because I feel like passing out, weird itchiness and dizziness. I am currently drinking lots of water.what do I do to stop this feeling? Should I stop using the pre workout or start with half a scoop?

    • Steve June 4, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Unless you have a high tolerance for caffeine, I’d start with a half scoop. Mr. Hyde is known for being one of the stronger stimulant pre-workouts and one scoop of it has 209 mg of caffeine (amonng other stims). Maybe look into other PWS or just start with a small dose until you build a tolerance. Personally, if that happened to me, I wouldn’t take it again at all.

  77. nagaraj June 4, 2018 at 4:58 am - Reply

    wow this is very great topic this is what i wanted bcz i have taken nearly 4 diiferent companys protien shakes and i didnt feel anything but when i started taking creatine then allso i felt nohting but after 22 days i was feeling some side effects like anxeity some kind of mental restlessnes mood swings so stoped taking creatine so sir plz give me some tips that how to stop those weird fellings and how long it will take to come to normal i waiting for ur answer

    • Steve June 4, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Well protein shakes and creatine are a totally different thing than pre-workouts. There is nothing in either of those that would make you “feel” them. Creatine is one of the most highly researched supplements and I’ve never seen a case about anxiety being a side effect. It is however an uncommon side effect and if you’re feeling that, you should discontinue use. Also, if you start back up, make sure you’re drinking a gallon of water daily with it.

  78. Ian June 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Hey Steve,

    Just came across your post and I respect everything that you’ve done. It’s awesome to see someone learn about all these supplements and share that with everyone. With that being said, I have a couple questions about GAT Nitraflex.

    I’m 24, a bodybuilder, been lifting for many years, personal train… Etc. So I’ve been within the industry ever since college and post college. Though I have never heard of GAT Nitraflex. I bought it because I love trying new products and becasue it apparently reaches “29% of free test” in our bodies.

    First, what are your thoughts on this product?

    Second, how does it reach that free test?

    Third, I noticed in small fine print it says “This product contians a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” What product is that and she I be worried/scared? Or is it just like someone saying you shouldn’t tan because of skin cancer?

    Fourth, it says that you shouldn’t more than one serving within a 24 hour period. Why is that? What if I use it at 4pm one day and 8am the next?

    I would love to hear your opinion on this certain PWS. I hope you take the time to help me out.

    Thank you!

  79. Gautham June 26, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply


    I just used GAT nitrafelx for the first time .

    It was an amazing session at the gym but as soon as I came home kinda felt anxious and experienced mild breathlessness , should I continue it or stop it immediately ?

    • Steve June 27, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      Those are common side effects but you many want to start with a lower dose.

  80. Colby August 10, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    I cant remember the last time I cycled off of pre workout. As a competitive powerlifter I get regular check ups and always come back great. Keep in mind I eat clean 6 out of 7 days, I do cardio, and i rarely drink alcohol.

    • Steve August 27, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      It might be a good idea to give your adrenals and kidneys a break, Colby.

  81. Sharan August 15, 2018 at 7:58 am - Reply

    I am using RC yeah buddy pre workout
    Sometimes it causes headache for 1 hour
    And I consume only half scoop

  82. George August 22, 2018 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Great article,
    I used to rely on pre-workout, now I’ve been off for a few years. I honestly could not stand paying for the supplements. Like you said you hit it on the head to concentrate on having a good diet and you shouldn’t need any supplements. My pre work out now is going hard on the rower for 2 minutes to get the blood flowing
    Thanks for this article,

    • Steve August 27, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      You got it, George!

  83. The awesome chris September 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    I’ve been taking C4 on and off for years. Usually when I am getting back to working out. I’ll use a tub usually lasts a month and a half. By then I’m back on my workout schedule. I have a clean high vegetable diet and lean meats.

    Summertime hits work gets hard I’ll hit it back up again.

    The big thing I’ve noticed is I love the focus it gives me. It makes me want to workout or move or do anything.

    The thing I hate is the tingly from the niacin. The better blood flow you have the more it effects you. It feels like I have ants on me for about 5mins.

    I wouldn’t recommend it to teenagers or high stress level people. If it doesn’t feel right stop taking it.

  84. jp matthew November 28, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Tried pre workout today(my protein) for the first time. Not much of a coffee drinker or tea, but I do drink 4l of water usually a day. Jesus my face and extremities were tingling, skipped to the gym practically , bounced through warm up, felt great. Thought I’m going to nail that PR today that I’ve plateaued on. ….Nothing exact same as previous 4 weeks, failure at same point, even though under the bar I felt I was gonna knock it out he park. Going try a few more times with pre workout, just to give a fair go at helping. But if it doesn’t I might just leave it altogether. Thanks for helpful article even after all this time since it was published.

  85. gareth December 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Well lets say you are 50 like me & decide not to use them

    After months and 5-6 years of not using them just imagine how less fit you will be

    How much less training you will have done

    I know I would not have trained today without my preworkout as I was working all week and was very tired

    But I took the preworkout – felt great & had a great workout

    The problem for me from these things is insomnia & caffeine withdrawal

    As an older trainer the natural approach = death & disablility

    When you are over 50 death & dying are natural – Is that what you want to do?

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