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Pre workout offers many benefits but it’s not clear whether it should be used for cycling.
So in this article, we look at whether cyclists should use pre workout, if pro cyclists currently use it, and much, much more. There are many things to consider here.
Here’s why pre workout is good for cycling:
Pre workout is good for cycling as it helps improve focus, energy and fatigue. Some pre workouts contain electrolytes too, which help replenish minerals lost in sweat.
Benefits Of Pre Workout For Cycling
Pre Workout May Help Reduce Fatigue
Many pre workouts contain BCAAs (Branch Chained Amino Acids).
These are essential amino acids, meaning our body can’t produce them, and so must obtain them from diet/supplementation.
According to research, BCAAs can help reduce fatigue by blocking the production of serotonin.
This has been proven in a study, where athletes who took BCAAs before a running trial could run for nearly 4 minutes longer than the placebo participants.
So if it helps runners, it’ll certainly help cyclists too!
Pre Workout May Help You Focus
According to Bike Radar, some riders drift off into their own little world during a race and underperform due to their lack of focus.
Well, the good news is that pre workout is epic for improving focus.
Firstly, many pre workouts are loaded with caffeine.
(Some include up to 4x the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee!)
Research shows that those with the highest caffeine intake have better reaction time, verbal memory and spatial awareness.
Secondly, pre workouts often include nootropics to help you focus even more.
One example is Rhodiola, which has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and improve performance in night shift workers. (Source)
Pre Workout May Help Improve VO2 max
VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that can be absorbed by your body.
So, the higher your VO2 max, the more efficient your body is at using oxygen.
An optimum VO2 max is crucial for cyclists for 2 reasons:
- It helps your body produce more energy (since oxygen is needed for energy)
- It helps you cycle for longer (since it reduces lactic acid build up, which slows you down)
Interestingly, pre workout may improve VO2 max by up to 10%! (Source)
Do Pro Cyclists Take Pre Workout?
The Great Britain Cycling Team recommend caffeine, creatine and beta alanine to their cyclists to improve their performance. (Source)
So it’s highly likely that professional cyclists take pre workout (or at least the main ingredients featured in pre workout).
Are All Pre Workouts Good For Cycling?
Pre workout is unique in that every different supplement has different ingredients in varying amounts.
So it’s possible that some pre workouts aren’t as effective for cycling.
When picking a pre workout for cycling, I’d go for one that includes BCAAs and caffeine, as these will help deliver the benefits we’ve covered.
How Long Before Cycling Should You Take Pre Workout?
It’s best to take pre workout between 30 to 60 minutes before cycling, as this will give it time to absorb into your bloodstream.
Also, caffeine takes around half an hour to kick in, so you want to make sure it’s working before you start cycling.
Should You Take Pre Workout Before Every Bike Ride?
Well, this depends on a couple of things…
First, how often do you go cycling?
If it’s just a few times a week, then it would make sense to take it before every bike ride.
But if you cycle every day, then your body will likely build a tolerance to it, which will make it feel less effective.
(As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t take pre workout more than 4 times a week.)
Second, how long are you planning to cycle for?
If it’s just a relaxing 15-minute lap, then it’s probably not worth taking it.
Should You Take Pre Workout Before Mountain Biking?
Mountain biking can be even more intense than cycling, so the benefits of pre workout will help with mountain biking too.
Should You Take Pre Workout Before Peloton?
While focus is less important for peloton than it is cycling and mountain biking, the other benefits from pre workout will still make it worthwhile.
So yes – if you want to push yourself harder, then pre workout would be a great supplement for peloton.
3 Best Pre Workout Supplements For Cycling, Mountain Biking And Peloton
Best Budget Pre Workout For Cycling, Mountain Biking And Peloton: Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
A cheap and cheerful pre workout from a reputable brand.
Ideal for those with a smaller budget.
Why I Like It
The amino blend provides many other amino acids on top of BCAAs, such as L-Glutamine which has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness.
(There’s nothing worse than waking up stiffer than a plank of wood after a long cycle!)
Also, I’m a big fan of Optimum Nutrition as a supplement brand.
It’s pretty cool that Green Tea and Coffee extract is in there too, as these can help with fat loss.
Compared to other pre workouts, this lacks many other ingredients like creatine and beta alanine.
(But for the small price, you really can’t complain!)
Best Mid-Range Pre Workout For Cycling, Mountain Biking And Peloton: Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer
A natural pre workout with some interesting ingredients.
Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer is a solid option.
Why I Like It
It’s awesome that Red Leaf have added Cranberry Extract to the powder, as this works as an antioxidant to help reduce oxidative stress from cycling.
This pre workout should help with fat loss too, thanks to the green tea extract and raspberry ketones.
And with over 1000 epic reviews, it’s clear than many people have used this product in the past with awesome results.
With only 40mg per serving, this supplement has a fairly low amount of caffeine.
(Most pre workouts have caffeine in the range of 100mg to 300mg.)
Best Premium Pre Workout For Cycling, Mountain Biking And Peloton: XTEND Elite Pre Workout
Premium quality. Premium strength. Premium price.
XTEND Elite is the Rolls-Royce of pre workout supplements.
Why I Like It
It contains everything you need (and more!) if you want to improve your cycling performance:
- BCAAs to help reduce fatigue
- Beta-Alanine to help improve stamina
- Electrolytes to help improve hydration
- Caffeine to help improve focus and energy
Also, each serving provides 200mg of caffeine which is a very respectable amount.
(4x more than the budget option for context!)
So, if you can afford all of the pre workout supplements featured in this section, this one is the one you need.
XTEND Elite costs a fair bit more than your typical pre workout.
So if you are on a budget, then I’d go for one of the other options.