When it comes to CrossFit, you not only need to be equipped externally with the best CrossFit shoes, knee sleeves, gloves, and equipment, but you need to be internally equipped as well.
While your diet is an extremely important source of energy to get you through your workouts, if you need an extra boost of fuel then you should consider adding in a pre-workout supplement.
This article will detail what a pre-workout supplement is, what benefits it has to offer CrossFit athletes and the best pre-workout for CrossFit.
What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are additional nutrients to consume before you exercise in order to maximize your gains and performance. A CrossFit pre-workout is almost a necessity because of the intensity of the workouts.
The best supplements for CrossFit training will usually include an amino acid (protein) or creatine. These can come with many different names or forms but are essentially very similar. They are typically consumed as a powder dissolved in water, Gatorade, fruit juice, milk, etc.
Other supplements come in the form of soft gels and are typically supplements that bring a different workout benefit, such as fish oil or caffeine.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements for Crossfit Athletes
The benefits of pre-workout supplements are numerous for CrossFit athletes. Because CrossFit is such an intense workout and is designed for strength gains, pre-workout can be just the boost you need to add to your regular diet, especially if you find yourself a plateauing week to week.
The amino acids in a supplement are just another name for protein. As protein is the building block for muscles, it helps to preserve muscle mass even as you lose fat mass, promote muscle hypertrophy, and improve muscle recovery following workouts. The most common protein is called L-Leucine, also known simply as leucine.
Another common amino acid used in supplements in beta-alanine, which works as a lactic acid buffer. Lactic acid is the substance that builds up in your muscles during workouts that’s responsible for that burning feeling, and later causes delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). So by buffering lactic acid, beta-alanine can help to stave off some of these effects.
Finally, fish oil is another pre-workout supplement that has many health benefits including healthy joints, a healthy heart, and faster muscle recovery after workouts.
The best pre-workout for CrossFitters tends to be a combination of these items. You can look for something that combines several of them into one product, or add each supplement individually to your pre-workout routine.
Best Pre Workout for CrossFit
As its name suggests, the primary ingredient in this supplement is creatine. Although the brand touts its creatine monohydrate content, in reality, this supplement is a blend of five different creatines, including creatine monohydrate.
Creatine monohydrate is the most studied supplement in research, so you will find lots of well-referenced recommendations on how to maximize this supplement. And you can also be sure that it works.
It is the most effective type of creatine, meaning you don’t need to go through a “loading phase” in order to up your saturation levels to see benefits.
Additionally, there are no additives in this supplement meaning you won’t be ingesting harmful substances before your workouts.
This supplement is tasteless so it can be dissolved in most any kind of drink without affecting the taste.
As creatine monohydrate is an unstable solution in water, it should be consumed immediately after being dissolved. This is not a supplement you can mix up before you go to the gym and drink once you get there.
- Very effective – most researched supplement
- No loading phase required
- Must be consumed immediately
This supplement utilizes beta-alanine to buffer lactic acid. Using this product for your pre-workout will help to prevent muscle soreness during your workouts that can limit performance, and prevent muscle soreness the day after that can limit subsequent workouts.
Optimum is a solid, trust-worthy brand that uses top quality products. All their vendors provide a Certificate of Analysis for the raw material they supply and the analyses are further verified for quality with independent laboratory testing. These qualities make Optimum Nutrition one of the best CrossFit supplement brands.
Optimum Nutrition is also registered with the National Sanitation Foundation’s Good Manufacturing Practices program which ensures quality and composition of products.
The combination of beta-alanine, histidine and phosphate provides the maximum boost for your buffering system to keep your lactic acid levels from impacting your performance.
It’s important to note that some people experience burning or tingling of their skin when using too much of this product. You will want to start slow and increase your dose gradually to avoid any of these side effects.
This powder is unflavored, so you’ll want to add it to a flavored beverage to make it more enjoyable to drink.
- GMP registered to assure quality product
- Combines beta-alanine, histidine and phosphate for maximum buffering
- Can cause burning or tingling if dose is increased too quickly
The BulkSupplements pre-workout utilizes BCAA (branched chain amino acids) to help prevent muscle breakdown, improve recovery, and decrease muscle soreness. BCAAs are the building blocks of protein, and this pre-workout is made primarily of L-Leucine, an amino acid that contributes to the production of muscle tissue.
This supplement will allow you to lose weight without losing your muscle mass and minimizes the amount of tissue damage that occurs during workouts. This tissue damage is responsible for the DOMS that you feel a day or two after a really intense workout.
By providing more building material for your muscles, you promote muscle repair and hypertrophy.
BulkSupplements lab tests all of their ingredients for contaminants so you can be sure that the BCAA is pure, and you’re not ingesting any harmful chemicals. However, if you’re particular about where your product is manufactured, it’s worth mentioning that this supplement is manufactured in China and not the United States.
- Primarily composed of L-Leucine
- Lab tested for purity
This pre-workout utilizes fish oil as its power ingredient. This product is made in the USA and the facility is registered as part of the GMP program. It is also FDA approved.
Fish oil contains Omega 3 which is a healthy fat that has many benefits for your body. It helps promote joint health by keeping your joints “oiled up”, which helps prevent achy joints from affecting your next workout. It also helps promote muscle recovery and fat loss, making sure you’re keeping your lean mass and losing your fat mass.
In addition to improving your workouts, fish oil has been used to help with arthritis pain and for heart health.
Fish oil is a great supplement to take with your CrossFit pre-workout meal in the morning or evening. It is delivered in softgel form, and one serving (2 softgels) give you a therapeutic dose of fish oil. This decreases the amount of “guesswork” you need to do to find a dose that’s effective for you.
For all the vegetarians out there or those who are on strict diet plans, you should know that the softgels are made gelatin sourced from beef.
- FDA approved and part of GMP program – made in the USA
- Number of therapeutic benefits in addition to workout benefits
- Therapeutic dose from just two softgels
- Made from beef gelatin – not good for vegetarians or strict dieters
This pre-workout is your “classic” pre-workout protein supplement and is one of the best protein powders for CrossFit athletes. It consists of loads of protein, amino acids, and fiber. The main protein in this pre-workout is whey protein, a great source of amino acids.
A prominent amino acid in whey protein is leucine. Leucine gives you the benefit of more muscle gain, decreased recovery time, and less muscle loss during weight loss.
It will also help boost your performance during a workout by allowing you to do more work with less fatigue. Whey protein digests quickly so taking the supplement as a pre-workout means that it will be available for your muscles to use during your workout when you need it most.
This pre-workout also contains 5 grams of fiber per serving, which helps to aid in digestion. Fiber helps form more solid stool and pushes food through the digestive system faster, which is a healthy way to process foods.
BSN is registered as part of the GMP program and is made in the United States, although it notes on the label that some ingredients may have a foreign origin.
One of the best parts about this pre-workout is the variety of flavors it comes in. The classic chocolate flavor will blend up just like a milkshake, so you don’t have to plug your nose to get it down.
Just like any protein supplement, it’s chock full of calories, so you need to make sure you’re working out to burn off the extra calories. Otherwise, you will indeed notice weight gain, but not from bigger muscles.
- Contains fiber along with protein
- Comes in a variety of flavors
- Made in the US
- Does not have an “unflavored” option
The list above will give you a few options to get started picking a supplement. It is important to remember that supplements are only meant to complement your regular diet, where you should be getting your essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. That being said, pre-workouts can take your CrossFit workout to a new level and increase the intensity and energy you’re able to put in day after day.
Start with a small dose of a supplement to assess how your body reacts. If you’re tolerating it well, you can start increasing the dose. Just be sure to do your research on each product and the FDA recommendations (as available) so you don’t overdo it. By keeping an eye on your body’s response you’ll be able to find the right supplement that complements your workouts and goals.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com.