The Real Reason You Should Use a Preworkout



There’s no question that pre workouts are far and away the most popular and widely debated supplement in sports nutrition. It doesn’t matter if you’re a top level bodybuilder, competitive sports athlete, or casual gym rat that only lifts two times per week. Each and every one of us has our own favorite pre workout (for a myriad of reasons), and when discussing what’s the “best” pre workout on the market, the conversation can go from a slight simmer to a rapid boil faster than you can dry shoot a scoop of your favorite pre workout!


Yes, we all love our own personal favorite pre workouts, but how often do you actually stop and think about why you’re taking a pre workout. In other words, what is the real reason you’re using a pre workout in the first place?


You probably take one every day. It’s part of your daily routine -- 20-30 minutes out from the start of your workout, you fill up the shaker, mix in a serving of your pre workout, and savor the deliciously sweet drink as you drive to the gym. In fact, it’s become so ingrained that you need to take your pre workout, that you’ve probably forgotten why you even started taking pre workout to begin with!


Here’s a few possibilities why you would consider using a pre workout:

  • Increase mental and physical energy

  • Improve motivation to exercise

  • Heighten mood towards training

  • Enhance strength, power, and/or stamina

  • Increase training volume

  • Quicken inter-set recovery


Each of these possibilities is a supporting component of the real reason you take a pre workout -- to enhance performance.


Pre workouts were specifically created to improve your overall athletic performance in training and competition. It’s not to be used as a replacement for your morning coffee, or to stay up all night studying for a mid-term. The reason pre workouts exist is to make you perform better in your workout. Plain and simple.


With that understanding, let’s take a deeper look into how and why pre workouts improve performance.


Ways Pre Workouts Improve Performance

Energy +  Motivation


It doesn’t matter if you’re a gym newbie or a grizzled vet of the iron, some days you just aren’t “feeling it” when it comes to training. Not “feeling it” is another way of stating you lack the motivation to train with the intensity required to make progress and push your boundaries.


Simply put, without motivation, you’ll never reach your full potential in anything -- training, work, personal hobbies, etc.

Motivation is what gets you out of bed in the morning into the gym. It’s what enables you to go the extra mile and push yourself beyond your limits, regardless of how exhausted you are. Motivation is what keeps you going back for more, even when you know how daunting the road ahead will be.


A lot of factors play into your levels of motivation and energy when it comes to train -- sleep, stress, food intake, etc. Given the wrong mix of circumstances (bad night’s sleep, long day at the office, financial concerns, etc.), you’re motivation can be at an all time low.


Here’s where pre workouts particularly excel -- provide “liquid” energy and motivation. Using a combination of stimulants (caffeine, synephrine, yohimbine) and brain-boosting nootropics (choline bitartrate, citicoline, huperzine, etc), pre workouts provide the spark in energy and motivation you need to train with the intensity of a supernova no matter how little sleep or how stressed you are.


Your ability to stay focused and motivated during training is directly tied to how “charged” your brain’s batteries are, and that is far and away their most well known benefit, and most widely cited reason for using them.[1,2,3,4,5,6]


Mood Elevator


Energy and motivation aren’t the only ways a pre workout enhances your performance, it also improves your mood and sense of well-being. While you might not think your mood affects your ability to perform at a high level, the research tells quite a different story. Research in the Journal of Clinical Obesity documented that mood and “feelings toward exercise” are two of the most influential factors when a person decides if they want to exercise.[7] In other words, how you feel and whether you feel encouraged by the results you’re seeing in the mirror greatly impact your ability to start exercising and continuing to do it week after week.


Having a positive mood during training can also help you push further too. Think about it, if you’re feeling good, seeing a nice muscle pump in the mirror, and noticing greater vascularity while lifting, you’re more likely to push harder and longer in the gym, which translates to better gains in the long run.


Performance Boosters


Pre workouts contain ingredients that heighten energy, mood, and focus, but they also contain ingredients that boost performance long term, too. Now, there’s a long list of compounds proven to enhance exercise performance, but the ones that really belong in a pre workout are ones that provide immediate benefit and start working shortly after taking them.


There’s no denying that creatine is a proven muscle builder and performance enhancer[9,10], but in order for you to get the benefits of it, you have to reach saturation, which comes several weeks after you start taking your 3-5 grams per day. As such, creatine really doesn’t belong in a pre workout.


Pre workouts are (or should be) designed and used to improve your athletic performance in whatever physical activity that you are about to perform, not 1, 2, or 4 weeks from now. Including ingredients in pre workouts that do not provide immediate and acute benefits only take up space that could be better allocated for ingredients that actually do provide immediate benefit.


The best ingredients to include in a real pre workout are:


  • Caffeine

  • Yohimbine

  • Citrulline

  • L-Norvaline

  • VasoDrive-AP

  • GlycerPump

  • Agmatine

  • Taurine

  • Citicoline

  • Huperzine A


There’s plenty of other worthwhile additions to pre workouts, such as betaine and elevATP or other nootropics like tyrosine, but these are the proven “warriors” out there that will provide immediate and noticeable impact on your performance. They help improve time to exhaustion, endurance, stamina, peak power output, oxygen kinetics, strength, and power.[11,12,13] They also help you recover quicker between sets, which allows you to get more work done in a shorter amount of time and provides yet another way to make gains in your training.


Real pre workouts use these ingredients. If the pre workout you’re using is filled with a bunch of saturation-based ingredients (i.e. creatine), it’s time to start looking elsewhere.


Increase Oxygen Delivery


A lesser known, and even lesser discussed, way in which a real pre workout improves performance is by increasing oxygen delivery to your muscles. Oxygen is transported in the blood, so anything that helps improve blood flow to your working muscles improves oxygen delivery, which increases your muscles ability to perform powerfully and repeatedly.


The key ingredients to look for when trying to increase oxygen delivery to muscles are nitric oxide boosters and vasodilators. These ingredients enhance blood flow by widening and relaxing your blood vessels, which allows the oxygen-rich blood to flow more smoothly and freely to your working muscles.


The list of the best nitric oxide boosters and vasodilators include:


  • L-Citrulline

  • VasoDrive-AP

  • Agmatine

  • L-Norvaline

  • Beet Root Extract


What about L-Arginine? If that’s the headlining ingredient in your nitric oxide booster pre workout, skip it. As we’ve discussed before, L-Arginine has terrible bioavailability and serves no purpose in a real pre workout.[14,15]

Finding Your Perfect Pre Workout


Primeval Labs invested countless hours in formulating, testing, and sampling a real pre workout. One that contains the ingredients you need immediately before training to excel in the gym. But they didn’t create just one dynamic pre workout, they’ve created two pre workouts that are perfect alone or in combination with each other in Ape Shit and Mega Pre.


Mega Pre is the ultimate performance enhancing pre workout that blows open your blood vessels for maximum oxygen, nutrient, and blood transport to your muscles, enabling them to stay strong and last all workout long. Included in each serving of Mega Pre is 6g of pure nitric oxide-boosting L-Citrulline along with VasoDrive AP and L-Norvaline to promote superior vasodilation. There’s also elevATP for enhanced energy production, so your muscle never run out of gas mid workout.


Ape Shit provides all the “liquid” motivation you need to train touting a robust matrix of stimulants and nootropics including three forms of caffeine, citicoline,  and huperzine. But Ape Shit isn’t just about energy, it also includes 4.5g of L-Citrulline, 2g Taurine, and 750mg Agmatine for powerful muscle pumps and optimized performance.


Use one alone or stack them together for a truly groundbreaking pre workout, and witness the real reason pre workouts were created -- to make you PERFORM BETTER!




  1. Roberts, M.D., et al., Dopamine D1 receptor modulation in nucleus accumbens lowers voluntary wheel running in rats bred to run high distances. Physiol Behav, 2012. 105(3): p. 661-8.

  2. Ruegsegger, G.N., et al., Mu opioid receptor modulation in the nucleus accumbens lowers voluntary wheel running in rats bred for high running motivation. Neuropharmacology, 2015. 97: p. 171-81.

  3. Thompson, Z., et al., Circulating levels of endocannabinoids respond acutely to voluntary exercise, are altered in mice selectively bred for high voluntary wheel running, and differ between the sexes. Physiol Behav, 2017. 170: p. 141-150.

  4. Saul, M.C., et al., High motivation for exercise is associated with altered chromatin regulators of monoamine receptor gene expression in the striatum of selectively bred mice. Genes Brain Behav, 2017. 16(3): p. 328-341.

  5. Rhodes, J.S. and T. Garland, Differential sensitivity to acute administration of Ritalin, apomorphine, SCH 23390, but not raclopride in mice selectively bred for hyperactive wheel-running behavior.Psychopharmacology (Berl), 2003. 167(3): p. 242-50.

  6. Claghorn, G.C., et al., Caffeine stimulates voluntary wheel running in mice without increasing aerobic capacity. Physiol Behav, 2017. 170: p. 133-140.

  7. Burgess, E., P. Hassmen, and K.L. Pumpa, Determinants of adherence to lifestyle intervention in adults with obesity: a systematic review. Clin Obes, 2017.

  8. Goldstein, E.R., et al., International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2010. 7(1): p. 5.

  9. Buford, T.W., et al., International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2007. 4: p. 6.

  10. Roberts, P.A., et al., Creatine ingestion augments dietary carbohydrate mediated muscle glycogen supercompensation during the initial 24 h of recovery following prolonged exhaustive exercise in humans. Amino Acids, 2016. 48(8): p. 1831-42.

  11. Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Lord T, Vanhatalo A, Winyard PG, Jones AM. l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Aug 15;119(4):385-95

  12. Suzuki T, Morita M, Kobayashi Y, Kamimura A. Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13(1):6. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0117-z.

  13. E. McGlade, A. Locatelli, J. Hardy, T. Kamiya, M. Morita, K. Morishita, Y. Sugimura and D. Yurgelun-Todd, “Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women,” Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 6, 2012, pp. 769-773. doi: 10.4236/fns.2012.36103.

  14. Liu T-H, Wu C-L, Chiang C-W, Lo Y-W, Tseng H-F, Chang C-K. No effect of short-term arginine supplementation on nitric oxide production, metabolism and performance in intermittent exercise in athletes. J Nutr Biochem. 2009;20(6):462-468. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.05.005.

  15. Alvares TS, Conte-Junior CA, Silva JT, Paschoalin VMF. L-arginine does not improve biochemical and hormonal response in trained runners  after 4 weeks of supplementation. Nutr Res. 2014;34(1):31-39. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2013.10.006.