Pre-workout supplements help numerous people across the globe attain their desired fitness level. They support an individual's endurance, performance, and strength during workouts. As the name suggests, they should be taken a few minutes before starting your exercises.
Pre-workouts are stimulants, meaning they charge your body to become more active. This has led to the question of how long do pre-workouts last in your system. It's an important question as it will help structure the perfect time of taking this supplement.
- Scientific studies reveal that pre-workout supplements last in your system for up to 5 hours.
- Caffeine, one of the ingredients in pre-workouts, takes 5 hours to wear off your system.
- L-carnitine, another ingredient in this supplement, wears off after an hour.
- Beta- Alanine, a substance found in pre-workouts, wears off after roughly 50 minutes upon consumption.
- CLA Ingredient, present in Pre-workouts wears off after an hour.
How Long Does Pre-Workout Stay In Your System?
Pre-workout stays in your system for 4 to 6 hours. While many pre-workout ingredients will remain in your body for at least that long, most of them, including caffeine, will provide a peak effect after about 30 to 60 minutes.
Here is a rough guide you can use to estimate how long different ingredients in pre-workout supplements will stay in your system.
- Caffeine - Surprisingly, caffeine from pre-workouts can stay in your system for up to 5 hours. However, this doesn’t mean that it continues to provide stimulation and increased blood flow. The effects will usually start wearing off after 60 to 90 minutes. No matter if you get it from coffee, caffeine pills or pre-workouts, they're all the same. Caffeine's effect on blood flow may differ depending on individual factors and tolerance levels.
- Green Tea Extract - Green tea from pre-workouts has a small amount of caffeine that you have to account for, and the same timing is valid as above. The detox effects are not stimulating, so you don’t need to worry about how long they last. (2)
- Beta-Alanine - This is the stuff in pre-workouts that can make you feel itchy, or give you a tingling sensation in your muscles. The energy boost will last for about 45 to 60 mins, and the tingling effects generally don’t last longer than 60 mins.
- L-Carnitine - For this one, there isn’t any clear scientific answer yet, mainly because your body produces it naturally as well. It starts acting within about half an hour after taking pre-workouts, and it’s probably safe to assume that it wears off in less than an hour.
- CLA - Conjugated linoleic acid is becoming more common in pre-workout products, and the good thing is that it has no stimulating effect. Making it easier for your body to process fat to increase energy levels, you can expect this ingredient in pre-workout supplements to last for about 60 to 90 minutes.
Beyond its use in weight loss, proponents of CLA supplementation believe that it can enhance athletic performance by stimulating testosterone production in the Leydig cells of the testicles.
- Cathy Wong, Certified Nutrition Specialist
How Long Does It Take For Pre-Workout To Kick In?
It usually takes about 30 minutes for pre-workout to kick in, but this may vary on the active pre-workout ingredients, your metabolism, and your body’s pre-workout tolerance.
Take your pre-workout supplement 30 minutes before your workout - specifically your warm-up routine.
For most people that will mean taking pre-workouts at home and then heading to the gym.
During the time before you start exercising, simply look out for the above effects from pre-workouts.
If they start to kick in 5 or 10 minutes too early, then you’ll know how to adjust your timing the next time you take your pre-workout supplement.
Understanding the timing and impact of your pre-workout supplement can optimize your workout performance and enhance your overall fitness journey.
What Can Influence How Long Your Pre-Workout Supplement Lasts?
Your diet and level of supplement use can influence how long your pre-workout supplements last. Also affecting it is your body’s natural ability to absorb, use, and remove nutrients.
1. Diet And Fasting
How often and how much you eat will have an impact on how your body is able to digest and process the ingredients of your pre-workout.
Also, if you drink a lot of coffee during the day, then you can end up struggling to remove the caffeine from the pre-workouts, which can impact your sleep. Also, during fasting periods, you might find that your pre-workout supplements don’t seem to last as long, so make sure you factor that into your plans.
Certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin C, zinc, calcium, amino acid, and magnesium can also affect not only the absorption of the ingredients in your pre-workout, but also their metabolism.
2. Overuse Of Supplements
Unless you’re a high-performance or professional athlete, it can easily happen that you end up taking more supplements than are necessary or healthy.
If you’re taking pre-workout, creatine, fat burners, whey, and BCAA supplements, then it can quickly happen that some of the stimulating effects are amplified. It improves both physical and mental performance, but the pre-workout lasts longer as a result.
One thing that's not often talked about in the fitness bodybuilding world is using erectile dysfunction (ED) medications as a pre-workout.
How Do You Know The Pre-Workout Has Started Working?
You know the pre-workout has started working when you notice an increase in your focus and energy or when the tingling sensations start.
You will have an odd feeling of energy flowing through your skin due to the high concentration of nitric oxide flowing through your body.
Some people say you just know, but for anyone that has never consumed one of these pre-workout supplements, that can be a bit confusing.
So, here are the effects that you can expect to feel in your body.
1. Sudden Boost In Mental Focus And Motivation
One of the first real benefits you should notice when your pre-workout supplement kicks in are that your mind becomes very focused.
Pre-workout makes you concentrate on studying better, which really helps when you’re working through your limited time at the gym.
This is often down to the caffeine boost if the pre-workout supplements include caffeine and other stimulants. Just make sure you’re careful with your coffee intake not to overstimulate your body.
If you're sensitive to caffeine, you can take a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement.
Related Article: Pre-Workout Vs. Coffee - Which is Better?
2. Tingling Sensation
Some describe this as an itchy feeling in the skin or as pins and needles in your muscles. It’s not something to be worried about as it is one of the very normal side effects of pre-workouts.
But why does pre-workout make you itch?
Beta-alanine is going to be the most likely reason and is commonly found in pre-workouts that give insane pumps. What beta-alanine has been shown to do, is increase strength and endurance 
At the same time, it can stimulate nerve endings in your skin, which gives you that itchy feeling.
However, the less common is a histamine response to some ingredients in a pre-workout, so if this feeling lasts for longer than a few hours, make sure you check for any allergies you may have.
3. Surge Of Muscle Energy
If you’ve timed your pre-workout supplements well (ideally about 20 minutes before training), then you should notice a good boost in energy right around your warm-up routine.
As you start with the more intense part of your workout - ideally compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, etc. - you should be able to get through sets with more ease and feel much better pumps.
Depending on the pre-workout you took, you might still have some energy left over for your isolation exercises.
Pre-workout supplements are an excellent way to maximize the impact of the time you spend in training.
If you can even just get a 10 to 15% boost, then that will mean you can get to your goals considerably faster.
The best pre-workout supplements are generally safe to take, as long as you check for allergens that may affect you, and if you start with smaller doses, then you get a good idea of what your ideal intake level will be, and how long they last on average for you.
Make sure you check out some of our recommended pre-workout supplements and let us know of Facebook how they work out for you:
- Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA., Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players., retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083385/
- Cleveland Clinic, Green Tea Extract: Pros and Cons for Energy, Weight Loss and More, retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/green-tea-extract-a-better-way-to-boost-energy-or-not/
About The Author
You May Also Like
29 Fitness Trainers Share Their Tips
What To Eat & What Supplements To Take?
We’ve Got The Answer
How long does DMHA stay in your system?
This helped me implement the best results for my pre-workout intake. It answered questions such as how long before a workout to take a pre-workout. You answered a ton of questions and concerns I had. Thanks for this helpful piece, Connor!