Conquering a Tough Mudder event requires a commitment to training, whether it’s a month of getting in shape for a Tough Mudder Half or a year gearing up for World’s Toughest Mudder. Between long work hours, flakey training partners, family obligations, or unforeseen circumstances, sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to workout. For those times when you need an extra boost to get off the couch, or hit the gym before starting your commute home, a pre-workout supplement may be just what you need to push through your Tough Mudder training.
Try these 4 powdered pre-workout supplements to get fast energy, burn fat, build muscle and improve exercise performance.
Take these 4 pre-workout supplements as directed, starting with 1/2 of a serving to assess how they interact with your body. Then, progress to 1 serving.
VEGA SPORT Pre-Workout Energizer
For Mudders looking for a smooth, slow acting, natural energy product, Vega Sport Pre-workout Energizer delivers a great tasting powder. Their plant-based pre-workout contains 100mg of caffeine per serving which comes from yerba mate and green tea. A 2014 Nutrition & Metabolism study found that taking pills of yerba mate increases fat metabolism and calories burned during low intensity cardio. The pre-workout also contains 1 gram of coconut seed which provides something called “medium chained triglycerides” or “MCTs” which are a specific type of fats that can be broken down and used for quick energy and fat burn.
One serving of Vega’s Energizer also packs 500mg of kombucha which has been found to decrease bad cholesterol (LDL), blood glucose levels, triglycerides and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in rats. Plus, it adds to the flavor of the supplement, which is great for Mudders who care about taste, too.
OPTIMUM NUTRITION PRE-WORKOUT
Optimum Nutrition Pre-Workout is a great choice for Mudders-in-training working on overall body strength. The pre-work packs 3 grams of creatine, a molecule that is essential for making ATP, our bodies’ source of short-term energy. Creatine has been shown to increase the number of reps and total weight lifted during strength training programs. This pre-workout also contains 1.5 grams of citrulline-malate, a protein building-block that has been shown to improve lower body strength in females and to improve upper body strength in males.
Another potentially useful ingredient is acetyl l-carnitine, a compound that helps regulate our nervous systems and affects our pain threshold. One scoop also has 175mg of caffeine, the most of the products on this list.
Genius Pre-Workout is a caffeine-free pre-workout that still provides the cognitive benefits of more intense products, like the other 3 listed here. The most abundant ingredients of this pre-workout are 6 grams of citruline malate, 3 grams of beta-alanine, and 2 grams of betaine, which is non-science speak means that you’ll feel alert and ready to tackle any training plan. Beta-alanine is the chemical responsible for those harmless “tingling” feelings around the lips, forehead and fingertips people describe after taking ‘pre-pre’. Beta-alanine turns into carnosine, which buffers the effect of lactic acid and protects feelings of muscle-fatigue. One study saw recreational runners improve their 800-meter time by taking beta-alanine for 28 days.
Genius Pre also contains Alpha GPC, ElevATP and betaine, all of which contribute to strength. Alpha GPC is a little-researched compound but one small study found an acute increase in growth hormone levels and bench press power following a 600mg dose of Alpha GPC. Similarly, ElevATP is a patented blend of ancient peat and apple extracts that shows promising effects for strength. Finally, one six-week study found that supplementing training with the amino acid betaine can result in more muscular power and bigger arms.
CELLUCOR C4 Pre-Workout
If you’re used to mixing both strength and endurance within the same workout (like most workouts in the Tough Mudder Training Guide), Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout may help provide the ideal balance of stimulation, fatigue-fighting and mental clarity. Cellucor’s C4 pre-workout contains a strand of theacrine, a natural chemical found in a wild tea plant called camellia kucha, that was shown to increase energy levels and decrease fatigue.
Plus, C4 is the only product in this list that has velvet bean extract, which has been shown to have cognitive enhancing properties in vitro (test tube). Velvet bean extract is also purported to act as a component of dopamine, an essential chemical for focus and mental-alertness. C4 also contains 150mg of caffeine, 1 gram of creatine, 1.6 grams of beta-alanine and comes in 8 different flavors, more than any of the others in this list.