The Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Women

pre-workout supplements for women

Step into any gym, especially the weight room, and you’re likely to see a scene dominated by men. Online resources are heavily geared toward men as well, with dozens of large sites, forums, and stores focused on providing men with what they need to succeed in the gym. What about the other half though? Should women be relegated to slow-paced elliptical workouts and measly salads to achieve fitness goals?

No, absolutely not! Women can benefit from weight training just as much as men. Sure, you may not want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger when you walk out of the gym (and your natural biology would make sure this change doesn’t happen), but who doesn’t want to be stronger, leaner, and more toned?

So suppose you’re already lifting weights or ready to make the jump, you will want to make sure you are getting the most out of your time in the gym. Pre-workout supplements can do just that. While they’re often associated with muscle-bound guys screaming during squats, pre-workout supplements can offer many benefits to women.

Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplementation

For a long time, supplementation was viewed from a post-workout perspective. Empty the fuel tank, refill the fuel tank. Over recent years, however, it’s become increasingly obvious that by filling your tank with the right kind of fuel before you workout, you can make sure the right nutrients are ready to go right when you need them.

Pre-workout supplements can help you maximize:

*Strength – Any time you workout, you have to overload your muscles to get results. Pre-workout supplements can help you lift more weight and for a longer duration while training and ensure your muscles have the energy to perform.

*Recovery – DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can be a thorn in the side of any athlete. The right supplements can reduce muscle soreness so you’ll be ready for the next session faster.

*Fat Loss – By taking supplements that help your body use its own fat as fuel, you can improve body composition by burning fat while you build muscle. Lean muscle is also referred to as “metabolic currency” meaning the more lean muscle you have, the better you are at burning fat!

Which Supplements Should I Take?

Now that you’re well aware of the benefits of pre-workout supplementation, you’re probably wondering which supplements you should be taking and you may be a little confused. This confusion is understandable as there are many effective pre-workout supplements on the market. Fear not! Below are the essentials of pre-workout supplements for women. These will help you achieve the benefits listed above and get the most out of your gym time.

Magnesium Creatine Chelate

Creatine is one of the most widely-used supplements and a staple in many athlete’s stacks. Creatine helps support performance while training and improved recovery post-workout. There is a downside to some forms of creatine, however. Some users report bloating when taking basic forms of creatine, mainly creatine monohydrate. So, what’s the best creatine for women that don’t want to walk around feeling bloated?

Magnesium creatine chelate is a relatively new form of creatine that helps you get performance and recovery benefits of creatine without feeling like you swallowed a balloon. One study even showed that magnesium creatine chelate was 6-8% more effective than creatine monohydrate alone. Higher performance with no bloating worries make this the best pre-workout creatine for women.

Whey Protein

As you exercise, muscle tissue is broken down and then repaired afterward by building blocks of protein called amino acids. Whey protein, another staple in the supplement world, helps repair muscles faster by delivering amino acids to muscles quickly. When you repair muscles quicker two main things happen. First, you experience less soreness so you’re ready to get back in the gym faster. Second, and perhaps the more important of the two, you build muscle and see results faster. Whey protein is normally sold in powdered form and in a variety of flavors so you can mix it with other supplements in a pre-workout shake.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a complementary supplement to magnesium creatine chelate. By reducing muscle fatigue and improving strength, citrulline malate makes you more efficient in the gym and helps you work harder. Citrulline malate works in two main ways. First, it increases blood flow to the muscles, removing toxins, and delivering nutrients. Second, it increases ATP energy in muscles, giving you that extra boost to work harder. The icing on the cake with citrulline malate is the recovery benefit. Research shows that citrulline malate not only improves performance during a workout, but can reduce soreness by up to 50%!

Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide (sometimes shown as the acronym NO) is a fantastic supplement with multiple benefits. First, it increases blood flow to the muscles during workout. It delivers more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, enabling you to workout harder and longer in both strength and endurance exercises. The increased flow of nutrients to muscles also boosts recovery. Additionally, it helps the body use existing energy more efficiently and improve lypolysis. Meaning, glucose in your bloodstream and stored fat can be broken down and used even faster as fuel during a workout!

There you have it, four high-quality pre-workout supplements that come highly recommended for women! As you can tell, these all have incredibly synergistic effects. Whether it is whey protein providing amino acids or nitric oxide moving them to muscles while burning off fat for energy, these supplements are sure to help you get the results you want in the gym.

Free Weight vs. Machine Exercises (Which Produce the Best Results)

free weights vs machines

Many weight-training athletes prefer free weights over machine type exercises. But, then again, there are also certainly those athletes who would prefer the extra comfort and convenience of the machine exercises. This preference has led to an age-old controversy about whether free weights or machines are better in terms of the results they produce. While this question is not likely to be settled definitively any time soon, it is possible to examine the evidence more closely and then we can draw our own opinion.

Why Some People Prefer One Exercise over Another:

As a weight lifter myself, the phenomenon of watching some people walk halfway around the gym to find their favorite machine instead of doing the same exercise with a free weight…and vice versa…has baffled me at times. Yet, this situation is nothing new. Many weight lifters have their favorites.

A number of informal studies conducted years ago suggested that the choice of such a preference is much more individualistic in nature than whether one actually works better than the other. It turns out that the more aggressive types of people tend to gravitate more towards free weights. Conversely, people who are slightly more passive seem to focus more on the machine exercises. Ultimately, though, the most intelligent athletes focus on both free weights and machines to provide themselves with the best workout results possible.

Machines—Pros and Cons:

Since machines are usually the first thing one sees when walking into a gym, they seem to be the best place to start. They do have several benefits including faster workouts, reduced risk of injury (much harder to drop a machine than it is to drop a dumbbell or have a plate fly off a barbell…seriously, I have seen it happen too many times!), ease of use, and the ability to help rehabilitate an injury.

There are also downsides to machines. These downsides include the fact that you are basically locking yourself into a small or single range of motion. This small range of motion could lead to a higher risk for pattern overload injuries. As an example, try using a simple curl machine for weeks, then switch to a free weight curl. You will likely not be nearly as strong because now your stabilizer muscles have to work as well. Plus, if you actually tried using the same amount of weight, you might pull a bicep. This possible injury also illustrates the false sense of strength produced by machines.

Free Weights—Pros and Cons:

As was already hinted in the last section, free weights allow for the use of more stabilizer muscles. This type of lifting is also more of a “real” world type of lifting, where you find a more natural and authentic range of motion and you can even change up your pattern; there is no being locked into a set range or type of exercise. You also will develop an improved sense of balance (also related to the stabilizer muscles). You are required to actually use brain power with free weights. Yes, there is a chemical secreted that helps the body tell the brain (or vice versa) where it is in space. This secretion is also quite good for concentration and focus overall. Additionally, free weights are convenient and inexpensive.

There are also some disadvantages to free weights. These include an increased risk of injury if not using the proper form and decreased efficiency since you might need to wait for others to finish with those 50 pound dumbbells, since there might only be one or two pairs in the whole gym.


If you can only use one or the other, it would seem that free weights are a slightly better choice. Then again, it also might really depend on the reason why you are training. The most intelligent course of action is to constructively think about what you are trying to accomplish and then pick and choose the best option for each exercise. Switch back and forth until you discover which combination works best for your situation.

Protein Timing and Its Effect on Weight Training

protein for weightlifting


One of the topics that is discussed on a regular basis by weight lifters, body builders, and other athletes is protein. This discussion usually involves the typical “how much to take” and “which form is the best.” However, an interesting idea is protein timing. There has been some new research that delves into the idea of how important it is to take your protein at specific times. Combined with the answers to those typical questions along with the actual effects can lead to a much improved understanding of how to improve muscular gains and development.

How Much Protein to Consume:

A 2012 study released in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) comes to some interesting conclusions about how much protein we should ideally be consuming. The bottom line is that we should take between 1.2 and 2.0 grams of high quality protein per kilogram of body weight.

This should be consumed on a daily basis, whether or not we workout that day. This is critical since most muscle growth actually occurs during our “off” days. In the past, many athletes simply did not take any extra (or at the very least, significantly less) protein during their non-workout days.

Effects of Protein Consumption:

The study has also shown that protein will have tremendously beneficial effects. This is certainly not a surprise, but it is nice to see in print again. Better still, these finding also indicate that there are significant benefits whether the protein is consumed before or after your workout. It will increase performance, recovery, lean body mass, hypertrophy (i.e. muscle growth), and strength.

Pre and Post Workout Supplementation:

The best types of supplements to use with a pre-workout meal or energy hit are branched chain amino acids. It is also interesting to note that most of the serious and professional level bodybuilders and strength athletes tend to also use handfulls of these BCAA’s during their routines as well.

The post-workout meal should be squarely focused on recovery. The study shows that 3 to 4 grams of leucine will help to promote the maximum amount of protein synthesis. You would also want to use a fast-acting carbohydrate source like glucose or maltodextrin in order to help provide the needed insulin to allow for protein production.

Which Supplements to Use:

According to this study, the best type of protein supplement to use during the pre-workout is the aforementioned BCAAs. They can also be used during the workout itself to help supply vital ATP energy to the working muscles. After the workout is finished, a high quality whey protein powder is recommended. Of course, you could also take other forms of protein powder (although whey is still best) and add in some leucine supplements along with a carbohydrate drink that includes either glucose or maltodextrin.