Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Should You Take Pre-workout Before Riding Bicycle?

Anthony Diaz
Published by Anthony Diaz
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 30, 2022

As a fitness and strength coach, I have quite a few professional and amateur cyclists whom I help with their training regime.

And while I recommend taking pre-workout supplements for targeted resistance training, one question I often get is if they should take the same pre-workout before every cycle.

This is particularly interesting for competitive events, so I teamed up with my dietitian and a few clients to research and test the theory.

We found some interesting surprises for overall performance and mental alertness that you should be aware of.

Quick Summary

  • Pre-workouts should be an essential part of any training regime as they can provide more energy and reduce fatigue.
  • Boosting energy production in the gym is not the only time you can take advantage of these products.
  • The same ingredients can improve athletic performance during cycling, whether it’s speed or long-distance training.

Is It A Good Idea To Take Pre-Workouts For Cycling?

A woman holding a pre workout drink while standing beside her bike

Yes, it’s a good idea to take pre-workouts for cycling.

And the reason is that a great pre-workout will have a direct impact on overall strength levels and fatigue.

If you regularly take one of these supplements before training, then you’ve probably recorded the improvements in weight loads and reps in your journal.

It’s not like they turn you into The Hulk, but a small increase can make a big difference over time.

When you take your pre-workout before you head off on your bike, you should notice the same effects after about 30 minutes.

For example, creatine is a common ingredient, and studies have shown that pre-workouts containing creatine can boost your strength [1].

And beta-alanine can have a significant impact on feeling less fatigue and reducing muscle burn [2].

I’ll get to some more details on great ingredients shortly, but there are very good reasons to plan your pre-workout intake, even for competitive cycling events.

So how can pre-workout supplements actually boost your cycling performance?

Let’s find out.

3 Benefits for Taking Pre-workouts When Cycling

Couple on a bike

There are three main areas where you’ll find that pre-workout supplements can impact your cycling performance. And our testing team agreed that they saw significant improvements in these areas.

1. Strength

First of all, ingredients like creatine will gradually improve your muscle gains, but during training, it can positively impact strength at peak performance levels [3].

That means you should be able to achieve faster speeds and deal with inclines much better.

2. Fatigue

Reducing muscle burn from lactic acid and general fatigue is a major goal for a pre-workout, and one thing our team highlighted was that they felt tiredness kicking in several miles later than normal.

You should notice that you can maintain higher speeds for longer distances without hitting that dreaded pain wall.

3. Focus

Another great thing is that pre-workouts tend to include stimulants like caffeine.

And while caffeine also has a positive impact on exercise performance, it’s the mental focus and motivation that can make a huge difference on your bike ride [4].

Should You Take It For Every Cycle?

Grabbing a scoop and pouring it inside the tumbler

No, I wouldn’t recommend taking a pre-workout supplement for every cycle.

You’ll probably gain the most benefits on sessions where you’re pushing yourself to maximum cycling performance.

Here’s what I mean.

If you’re going for a relatively short cycle as part of a warm-up routine for other exercises, then pre-workouts can be a waste of money.

But if you’re increasing your training volume, or heading into a competitive race, then the body will gain extra performance that can give athletes a competitive advantage.

Types Of Ingredients That Work Best

Creatine pills with tape measure in the background

While pre-workout supplements tend to have many different ingredients in their chosen formula, there are a few things that my dietitian recommended as a top priority.

These mainly include essential amino acids that have a scientifically proven benefit.

Creatine Monohydrate

Pre-workouts tend to include creatine because of its known impact on muscle mass growth [5].

But these studies have also revealed that it can increase performance levels enough to be measurable at the highest intensity levels.

That’s also the most likely reason why most pre-workout products we have tested all contain this simple amino acid.

L-Citrulline

One of the main attractions of citrulline is that there is evidence of it boosting nitric oxide levels to improve blood flow [6].

But other studies have also shown that it can have an effect on fatigue and tiredness during physical training [7].

With improved blood circulation and reduced fatigue, this pre-workout ingredient can have a significant impact on cyclists, especially during races.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

A 3D concept of BCAA on a table

BCAAs are a collection of three essential amino acids that are linked to protein synthesis in muscles [8].

But a more interesting study has revealed that BCAAs can also have an impact on fatigue [9].

That means it should be able to help you cycle for longer and then have an impact on your recovery times as well.

Related Article: BCAAs vs Pre-workout Supplements 

Beta-Alanine

And finally, you’ll find that almost every supplement brand includes beta-alanine in their pre-workout.

It is so well established as a natural performance enhancer that the International Society Of Sports Nutrition has published extensive study findings about its benefits for athletes [10].

“Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles. Beta-alanine supplementation improves performance during high-intensity exercise lasting from 1 to 10 minutes.”

- Mike Murray, RDN, CSCS, CISSN at Examine.com.

Are There Downsides?

A cyclist with an upset stomach

Many nutritional supplements have some minor downsides, but in my experience, most of these tend to be related to allergies.

But there are two things to keep in mind.

First of all, when you exceed the recommended dose, some pre-workout products can cause stomach upset.

This might be bloating or cramps and is not something you want while cycling.

The other thing to keep in mind is that some of the best pre-workout supplements contain a high dose of caffeine.

And this stimulant can cause high blood pressure that isn’t ideal for high-performance cycling [11].

But considering all the other benefits listed above, you should still try taking a pre-workout for improved cycling energy.

FAQs

Is Protein A Good Pre-Workout For Cycling?

No, protein alone isn’t a good pre-workout supplement for cycling.

While the protein can help with post-training muscle recovery, it’s not an ideal supplement to give you maximum training and race performance.

Can You Take Pre-Workout For Competitive Cycling Events?

Yes, you can take a pre-workout for competitive cycling events.

These supplements contain only natural ingredients to boost strength and endurance, and they won’t show up on any banned substance tests.

Use Pre-Workout Supplements To Boost Cycling Performance

Make sure that you have a balanced diet and the right macronutrient profile to maximize your muscle glycogen stores.

And when you have that sorted, then it’s time to add pre-workout supplements.

Our team here at Total Shape has tested dozens of these products, and we’ve come up with a list of recommended pre-workouts that can make a big difference for cyclists:

They won’t turn you into a superhero overnight, but the small boost can make a big difference in training and races.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14636102/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17136505/
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835847/
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/6/1255/htm
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5999519/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21908948/
  8. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00390/full
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241904/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4501114/
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq-20058543

Was this article helpful?

About The Author