How Long Does Pre Workout Last in Your System?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 17, 2024
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Throughout my years as a fitness trainer, I've used and recommended pre-workouts regularly and know the effects well, including how long they last.

Here's my best advice to help you with maximizing the effects of pre-workout supplements by timing your consumption of them for maximum performance.

Quick Summary

  • Pre-workout supplements generally stay in your system for about 4 to 6 hours, with peak effectiveness occurring within 30 to 60 minutes.
  • It's worth noting that your diet and level of supplement use can influence how long the effects of pre-workouts last in your system.
  • Beta-alanine, a substance found in pre-workouts, wears off after roughly 50 minutes after consumption.
  • As a fitness coach, my recommendation is for clients to take pre-workout supplements approximately 30 minutes before starting their gym session.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Pre Workout Last In Your System

Pre-workout stays in your system depending on the ingredients, with caffeine typically lasting up to 5 hours, while other components like beta-alanine, L-carnitine, and CLA have shorter durations of effectiveness.

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 persists for up to 5 hours, but stimulating effects usually diminish after 60 to 90 minutes. Whether you get it from 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, as per the National Institute of Health [1].
  • 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. According to Cleveland Clinic, the detox effects are not stimulating, so you don’t need to worry about how long they last [2].
  • Beta-Alanine: The beta-alanine in pre-workouts can make you feel itchy or give you a tingling sensation in your muscles. The energy boost will last for about 45 to 60 minutes, and according to research from ScienceDirect, its ergogenic effects are much shorter in high-intensity exercises [3].
  • L-Carnitine: For this one, there isn’t any clear scientific answer yet, mainly because your body produces it naturally as well. It can start 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. You can expect this ingredient in pre-workout supplements to last for about 60 to 90 minutes, although according to Medical News Today, it offers little to no significant impact on fat loss [4].

"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?

man with watch

Pre-workout supplements usually start to kick in approximately 30 minutes after consumption, but this timing can vary depending on factors like ingredients, metabolism, and personal tolerance.

It's common to take your pre-workout 30 minutes before your warm-up routine, with many people choosing to do so at home before heading to the gym.

Observe the effects during the pre-exercise period and adjust your timing next time if they begin too early.

What Can Influence How Long Your Pre-Workout Supplement Lasts?

men living healthy

Several factors can influence how long your pre-workout supplement lasts, including your diet, fasting habits, nutritional deficiencies, and the overuse of supplements.

1. Diet And Fasting

Meal frequency affects how your body digests pre-workout ingredients. Excessive coffee can hinder caffeine removal, potentially affecting sleep. During fasting, pre-workout effectiveness may be shorter.

Nutritional deficiencies in vitamin C, zinc, calcium, amino acids, and magnesium impact pre-workout absorption and metabolism.

2. Overuse Of Supplements

Unless you're a high-performance athlete, avoid exceeding necessary supplement intake. Simultaneous use of pre-workout, creatine, fat burners, whey, and BCAA supplements can amplify effects, improving performance but extending pre-workout duration.

You May Also Like: Recommended Pre-workouts without Creatine

How Do You Know The Pre-Workout Has Started Working?

You can tell that the pre-workout has started working when you begin to experience increased focus, energy, and tingling sensations.

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 initial benefits of pre-workouts is increased focus, especially if those supplements contain caffeine and stimulants. This focus aids productivity during your limited time at the gym.

Be cautious with caffeine intake to avoid overstimulation. If you're sensitive to caffeine, consider a stimulant-free pre-workout option.

2. Tingling Sensation

finger pushing on pin point

Feeling itchy or experiencing pins and needles during a pre-workout is a normal side effect, usually caused by beta-alanine, commonly found in supplements that enhance pumps.

Research from the National Institute of Health suggests that beta-alanine can increase strength and endurance while simultaneously stimulating nerve endings in your skin, resulting in an itchy sensation [5].

3. Surge Of Muscle Energy

Timing your pre-workout supplements about 20 minutes before training should give you a noticeable energy boost during your warm-up routine.

This enhanced energy can be particularly beneficial for intense exercises like squats and deadlifts, making sets easier and improving pumps.

Final Thoughts

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:

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748160/
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/green-tea-extract-a-better-way-to-boost-energy-or-not/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/beta-alanine
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cla-for-weight-loss
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083385/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “How Long Does Pre Workout Stay in Your System?

  1. 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!

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