Hey there, fitness fanatic! Are you a newbie or a seasoned pro looking to take your workouts to the next level? Either way, you’re probably wondering how much pre-workout you should be taking. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Many gym-goers, athletes, and anyone who wants to boost their energy levels and enhance their performance use a pre-workout. But, as with any supplement, it’s important to know how much is too much.
Should you take one or two scoops? Or dump the entire container into your blender bottle.
Let’s find out how much pre-workout is too much and if you’ll end up feeling like the Hulk or more like a jittery chihuahua. Buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of pre-workout scoops!
But first, let’s determine what pre-workouts are.
Table of Contents
What is a Pre-workout Supplement?
A pre-workout is basically like a supercharged cup of coffee. But instead of just caffeine, it’s packed with all sorts of goodies like creatine, nitric oxide, and other ingredients that will give you great benefits during and after your workout.
Additionally, these supplements are a sidekick to your workout routine. As a result, they give you that extra energy and focus to power through even the most strenuous workouts.
The Benefits of Taking Pre-workout
But why take pre-workout supplements? Well, for starters, they help you power through any type of workout. Need to lift heavy? They’ve got you covered. Want to run a five-kilometer marathon without feeling like you’ll pass out? Pre-workout is your friend.
Plus, they keep you focused and energized, which is always good when trying to reach your fitness goals.
Common Ingredients Found in Pre-workout Supplements
Caffeine is a stimulant in all kinds of tasty treats like coffee, tea, and chocolate. It’s also like the party starter of the supplement world, getting your heart racing and your mind buzzing in no time flat. So if you need a little kick in the pants to get your workout going, caffeine’s got your back.
This ingredient also increases blood flow to your muscles, making you lift heavier and go longer without fatigue.
According to research, caffeine improves endurance performance by up to five percent. Plus, it reduces feelings of perceived exertion during exercise, making tough workouts feel more manageable. 
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body produces it independently. You can also find it in poultry, beef, and fish.
In the body, beta-alanine combines with another amino acid called histidine. The two amino acids then form a compound called carnosine, which acts as a buffer regulating the pH levels in your muscles.
When you exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid, which builds up, causing a burning sensation during intense workouts.
By increasing the carnosine levels in your muscles, beta-alanine reduces the amount of lactic acid produced. As a result, it leads to less muscle fatigue and improved performance.
But that’s not all! Research has shown that beta-alanine boosts muscle carnosine levels by up to 80%, improving endurance, strength, and power output. As a result, you can go harder, faster, and longer without feeling like a sack of potatoes. 
Now, before you go chugging a beta-alanine supplement like it’s water, it’s important to note that it causes a harmless tingling sensation in your skin. This sensation is called paresthesia, which usually goes away within an hour.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your muscle cells, which creates energy during high-intensity exercise.
Also, creatine produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s energy currency. So if you want to lift heavier or run faster, creatine’s got your back. Research has also shown that creatine improves muscle strength, power, and endurance, making it a go-to supplement for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. 
Plus, it helps you recover faster, meaning you can hit the gym again sooner and keep making those gains.
Factors to Consider When Determining How Many Scoops to Take
Body Fat Percentage
The more body fat you have, the less sensitive you are to certain stimulants like caffeine. This also means that if you carry a little extra fluff around the midsection, you may need to take a bit more pre-workout to feel the full effects.
Pre-workout supplements often contain stimulants like caffeine, which causes your blood pressure to rise. Therefore, checking in with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen is always a good idea.
They’ll be able to give you advice based on your health history and current medications. If your doctor clears you to take pre-workout, start with a small dose and see how your body reacts. We also don’t recommend taking more than two scoops.
Your body builds up a tolerance to caffeine over time, which means you may need more of it to feel its effects. So, if you’re a seasoned coffee drinker or energy drink lover, your caffeine tolerance might be higher than someone who’s a caffeine newbie.
Related: Best Pre-workout Fat Burner
Understanding the Recommended Dose and Serving Size
The recommended dose of a pre-workout supplement varies on the brand and the individual ingredients.
Generally, it’s best to start with a low or half a dose and gradually increase it as needed while monitoring your tolerance and body reaction.
The serving size also depends on the brand and the concentration of the ingredients. Some supplements come in powder form, while others are in capsule or liquid form. The label will also clearly state the serving size, so read it carefully and follow the instructions.
So, How Many Scoops of Pre-workout Should You Take?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended to start with one scoop of pre-workout and gradually increase the serving until you find your sweet spot. However, it’s crucial to follow the instructions on the label of your specific pre-workout supplement, as they may vary.
What to Do If You Feel Sick or Uncomfortable After Taking a Pre-workout?
If you feel seriously unwell or experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Don’t try to tough it out or wait for things to improve on their own—your health should always be your top priority!
If your symptoms are less severe but still uncomfortable, here are a few things to try:
- Drink plenty of water: Pre-workout supplements dehydrate you, especially those containing caffeine. So, ensure you’re staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Take a break: If you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded, take a break from your workout and sit down for a few minutes. Don’t push yourself too hard if you’re not feeling up to it.
- Eat something: Sometimes, supplements can cause an upset stomach. Try eating a small snack like a banana or some crackers to see if that helps.
Related: Pre-workout Instead of Coffee
Alternatives to Pre-workouts For an Energy Boost
Here are some alternative ways to get an energy boost before your sweat session:
- Caffeine: A good old cup of coffee or tea can give you a natural boost of energy without the jitters that some pre-workouts can cause.
- Snacks: Eating a small snack before your workout can give you a quick burst of energy. Try something high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein, like a banana or a handful of pretzels.
- Music: It might not be a physical boost, but listening to some upbeat music can get you in the right mindset for your workout. Create a killer playlist, and get ready to rock out!
When it comes to how many scoops of pre-workout to take, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. As tempting as it might be to go all-out and scoop in as much as you can handle, it’s essential to start small and work your way up.
Pay attention to your body’s reactions and adjust accordingly. And, of course, if you’re not feeling up to the pre-workout game, there are plenty of other ways to get a boost of energy before your workout.
So go forth and conquer your workouts with all the energy and enthusiasm you can muster—whether from a pre-workout or one of the many alternative options.
For more guidance on fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.