Quick Links to Info on this Page
- 1 Firstly, What is Endurance?
- 2 Why Do We Fatigue Anyway?
- 3 How Can Pre Workout Supplements Boost Our Endurance?
- 4 The Best Pre Workout Supplements For Endurance?
- 5 Bonus Video – Endurance Motivation!
Ok, so we all know that pre workouts can help give you an explosive burst of energy and power for heavy resistance training or HIIT sessions, but what if you are an endurance athlete looking for the best pre workout supplement to increase your endurance? Or you may just be someone that likes to do a nice long workout, say 3 hours on a saturday morning for example. You’ve probably found that if you’ve taken pre workouts in the past the effects have worn off long before you are finished, and you experience the dreaded crash during your workout which subsequently ruins the rest of it. Well hopefully the information in this article can help you to understand how you can boost your endurance with the right supplements, which supplements may be able to help you do this the most effectively, and which ones may be the most suitable for you considering your own personal preferences and objectives.
Firstly, What is Endurance?
Google defines endurance as “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” In the context of sport and exercise, there are 2 aspects to consider – mental endurance and physical endurance. Some would argue that one is more important than the other but at the end of the day you need both. It doesn’t matter how determined you are, if your muscles stop moving then you can’t lift any more weight, or run any further. Like a car that breaks down when it’s out of gas, if we run out of either physical energy or mental energy then we can’t go on. So for the purpose of this article, when we talk about endurance we will talk about both the physical and the mental ability to keep doing whatever it is we’re doing. This may be lifting weights, running, cycling, playing football, or whatever.
Why Do We Fatigue Anyway?
So when our energy and endurance is reduced and we are worn out or fatigued this affects us in 2 ways – mentally and physically. If we run out of either mental energy or physical energy then our endurance is reduced and we struggle to continue.
They say running is mind over matter and this is very true to a point. Most people are limited by their mind long before they hit the limits of their body. It is a real skill to be able to silence the internal voices that keep saying “stop, it hurts” and endurance athletes will attest to the fact that most of the battle is fought in their head. Everybody is motivated by different things and unlocking the secret to motivating oneself to push through those mental walls is what separates the elite from the everyday. Top level professional athletes consult sports psychologists to assist them but this is a luxury that most of us don’t have, so when the going gets tough we often give in. I mean honestly, how often do we properly work a muscle to failure or run until we physically can’t go on? For most people, most of the time, it is the mind that stops them. This is a natural reaction to a state of discomfort. As humans we are hard wired to seek out comfort and this is why it is so difficult to avoid mental fatigue.
Physical fatigue also plays a large part in limiting our endurance. The reason our mind tells us to stop is because our physical energy does become depleted and we are programmed to prevent this. Ideally we would always be in a state where we are ready to run away from a predator or chase a meal, so to drain our energy to the point where our capacity is reduced is something our brain is programmed to make us avoid. In addition to this, our muscles need ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for contractions and once we have used up our limited amount of ATP we experience muscular fatigue. Another limiting factor of our physical endurance is intra muscular Carnosine levels. Once the Carnosine is depleted we struggle to continue. The rate of blood flow also limits our performance, as the amount of nutrients, oxygen and waste delivered and taken away from our muscles depends on this. So even if we can push ourselves mentally there is a point where our body can’t keep up.
How Can Pre Workout Supplements Boost Our Endurance?
Luckily for us normal people that aren’t Stu Mittleman (a man who ran 1000 miles in 11 days) or don’t have access to their own private sports psychologist, there are other ways that we can increase both our mental and physical endurance. The easiest and most accessible way is through supplementation. Thanks to modern exercise science, there are many pre workout supplements we can take that can help us to boost both our physical and mental endurance in a simple and relatively inexpensive way.
Pre workout supplements can help to increase mental endurance in two ways, both by directly enhancing our mood and motivation and also by increasing our physical performance which in turn delays the onset of the “I’m tired” voices in our head. Many pre workouts contain nootropic substances (mental or ‘smart’ drugs) such as Choline bitartrate which have been shown in studies to help decrease fatigue and increase performance. Other legal substances with mild mood enhancing effects are also included which helps the user to stay positive and more easily harness their own mental motivation to help go that extra mile.
Our physical performance can be enhanced with the help of the right supplements. Many of the substances that we supplement occur naturally in the foods we eat but by increasing the amounts of these in our body we can maximize the positive effects they have on our energy levels and endurance. For example Beta Alanine. This is one of the basic building blocks of pre workouts and has been proven to increase endurance and increase the amount of work our muscles can do before we feel fatigued. It does this by increasing the Carnosine levels in our muscles and thus the amount of work we can do. Another key ingredient present in pre workout supplements are BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), both essential and non essential. These have been shown to help prolong fatigue and help increase muscle recovery. Many pre workouts also contain Creatine which has the beneficial effect of facilitating ATP production. ATP is another limiting factor in muscular endurance and by increasing ATP endurance is also boosted.
The Best Pre Workout Supplements For Endurance?
So what are the best pre workout supplements to take for endurance? Most pre workout drinks will help you with endurance in one way or another but I would say the greatest benefit will come from those that contain all of: nootropic components for motivational and mental energy, Beta Alanine or CarnoSyn (a patented form of Beta Alanine) and BCAAs for the muscles, and some form of N.O booster to maximize blood flow. Creatine is an optional extra as it is not usually included in large enough amounts to be of much help anyway, and for maximum effect people will usually supplement it separately so they can get a clinically beneficial dose. Most products will supply these or similar ingredients in varying amounts, though the one common pitfall nearly all of them have is that the effects are short lived, generally speaking. The mechanism of delivery for most products (mix powder with water and drink it) is such that one gets a big rush of energy and then crashes back down to earth after an hour or so. There are 2 products that I can think of however, that utilize innovative techniques to release some of the ingredients a bit more slowly. I will talk a little about each below.
Vintage Blast Pre Workout Supplement by Old School Labs
This is a great all round pre workout supplement with all the right ingredients to help you perform better, for longer. In my opinion its claims to fame are the N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine and micro-encapsulated caffeine. The N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is a nootropic shown to enhance and prolong concentration and focus which should keep your head in the game longer. In addition to the Caffeine Anhudrous that it contains, the micro-encapsulated caffeine is absorbed more slowly by the body and thus it smooths and extends the energy profile giving you longer lasting energy and much less of a crash. You can check out the full details in my Old School Labs Vintage Blast Pre Workout Review.
ION Multi-Phase Pre Workout by Performix
This is another new wave pre workout supplement that uses an innovative method to deliver its ingredients more slowly to extend the effects over a longer period. The way they achieve this “advanced multiphase extended release” is with the “intelligent Terra Bead technology”. Basically it works like the slow release fertiliser that you put in the garden and as the different layers of the beads are absorbed slowly they release the ingredients over a longer period. It is quite strong and I think this makes it great value for money. Read more about it in this Performix ION Pre Workout Review.
Bonus Video – Endurance Motivation!
You hit the nail on the head with fatigue.
We get so wrapped up with it is mind over matter that we forget that both the mind AND body are capable of stopping us in our tracks.
I have been looking into these HIIT workouts recently and can see the benefit of pre-workout supplements for those shorter training seasons.
What is interesting is how they have developed these for the longer term benefit with Vintage Blast and Performix Ion.
Out of interest what sort of timeframe would these new supplements help boost energy for?
I am thinking along a couple of lines here.
1) ..for training runs lasting 40 mins to 1 hour and..
2) .. for actual sports games lasting 80mins +
It seems like these supplements could be a great addition to keep energy levels up on game day.
It would be great to hear your thoughts
Hi Wade, I totally agree – these supplements could be a great help for an hour long run and also to maintain energy levels right throughout and towards the end of a big game. As with any supplement that contains stimulants you want to watch that your heart rate doesn’t get too high though, which can sometimes happen in the heat of the moment when playing sports.