If you have taken pre-workout before, you will know that it can improve both your workouts and your overall mood. The clear effect and number of obscure ingredients often leave lifters asking: Is pre-workout addictive?
The truth is that while the vast majority of pre-workout ingredients are not addictive, the high doses of caffeine and other stimulants can create mild physical dependence. Moreover, it is easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that you need to have a pre-workout to feel good in the gym or have a good workout.
In this guide, we will discuss the details of pre workout addiction and how you can use the supplement responsibly.
Is Preworkout Addictive? The Truth About Pre Workout Addiction
The thing you have to understand about pre-workout is that it is a supplement made up of various ingredients. The exact ingredients and doses will vary depending on the manufacturer, but you will generally see the following ingredients in most preworkouts.
- Citrulline Malate
- Nitric Oxide boosters
- BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
Physical Dependence On Caffeine
The only ingredient that can truly can your body can become dependent on is caffeine. Like other stimulants, you can develop a physical dependence on caffeine if you take it on a consistent basis. If you did develop a physical dependence and suddenly stopped, you could experience some of the following pre workout withdrawal symptoms:
- Trouble concentrating
That being said, caffeine is not nearly as dangerous or addictive as other drugs or stimulants. For this reason, most doctors do not have major concerns with consistent caffeine consumption within reason. However, you should still proceed with caution if you are a teenager using pre-workout.
Mental Hurdles With Pre Workout Addiction
Another common issue with pre-workouts is that lifters fall into the trap of thinking that they need to have their pre-workout in order to have a good workout. In this case, it is not a question of physical dependence.
Pre-workout is a relatively new supplement that has only really emerged in the mainstream over the past decade. Lifters have been having intense, effective workouts for decades with no supplements. While it can be a useful tool to give you a boost, you should still be able to push hard in the gym without a pre workout.
How Can You Get Addicted To Pre Workout?
While “pre-workout addiction” is very mild in most cases, there are a few factors that can make it more likely that you will develop a dependence:
No Caffeine Tolerance
Put simply, if you have more tolerance for caffeine thanks to the consumption of things like coffee or energy drinks, you are less likely to develop a dependence on your pre workout.
Take Preworkout Everyday
Preworkouts have come a long way. Long gone are the days of chalky, flavorless powder. Nowadays, most of these products mix great with any liquid and taste like candy.
However just because it tastes good does not mean that you should take it everyday or even every workout.
Your Preworkout Has A High Dose Of Caffeine
As we have already established, caffeine is the primary driver when it comes to developing a physical dependence. Most pre-workouts will have a dose somewhere between 100mg-250mg, with some of the more extreme options going as high as 450mg.
The higher the dose of caffeine, the higher the chances are that you will develop a dependence on the product.
How To Not Get Addicted To Pre Workout
As a whole pre workouts are not very addictive at all. However, you can still deploy some very basic strategies to avoid developing any physical dependence on it:
Cycle Your Preworkout
An easy strategy you could use is to cycle on/off your preworkout. This could be something as simple as going three weeks on and then one week off. Or you could even just go by feel. Anytime that you notice the effects are not as strong, just take some time off to allow your tolerance to reset.
Choose A Low/No Stimulant Option
There are so many pre-workout options nowadays, that you could also just go for an option that has a low or non-existent dose of stimulants. These products will still have the same pump and focus benefits, they will just not provide the same rush of energy or kick in as quickly.
Only Take It When You Need It
Lastly, you also choose to only take pre workout when you find that you really need the extra boost of energy. Many people choose to only take pre-workout on days when they feel tired or when they are training a muscle group that is very draining like legs.
As a whole, pre-workout is not very addictive. It does contain caffeine, which can lead to physical dependence, but the caffeine in controlled doses is not particularly dangerous or addictive.
As long as you listen to your body and avoid taking more than what the manufacturer recommends, you should be fine. Moreover, there are many strategies that we have outlined in this article that you can follow to consume preworkout responsibly.
Can pre workout cause depression?
Theoretically, the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal could lead to depression but this would have to be a very extreme case.