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Coffee Vs Pre-Workout: Which Is Better Before Exercise?

Published by Kieran
Last Updated on April 30, 2022

No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced workout fanatic, everybody is always looking for ways to advance their exercise and get to their physical fitness goal.

With the advancements of science in recent years, there are a whole bunch of supplements and diets available that claim to help you make the most out of your workout session. Yet the workout crazy population are still conflicted on what is the best energy boost to have right before you exercise: pre-workout drinks of straight caffeine.

Why Take Any?

The reason that people want that extra energy boost for their workout is so that they can go harder for longer without hitting a fatigue wall halfway through.

This does not mean that taking supplements means that you are cheating at the gym. In fact, famous celebrities like The Rock takes various supplements to make the most out of the time he has to workout ready for a role or TV appearance. They simply help unlock that extra bit of energy to power you through a, particularly tough workout.

The question still remains, which is the best to take before exercise to unlock that desired energy boost? Caffeine or pre-workouts?



A pre-workout contains a whole range of supplements and additional ingredients focused on not only unlocking but also proving that energy boost you are looking for. While it does also include caffeine, it is not the only ingredient and so the boost you get from straight caffeine will not be the same if you were to favour pre-workouts.

However, due to the other ingredients included in pre-workouts, you are able to do more for your body during your workout than just boost your energy levels.

With the addition of creatine as the other main ingredient in pre-workouts, your body is given help in recovering after your workout, allowing for growth and repair. The creatine also means that you can add more intensity to your workouts as it will help your muscles repair themselves after.

Pre-workouts also includes several ingredients that aim to prevent fatigue from stopping your workout too early. This means that you can work on your endurance during cardio sessions which may not be as easy before the introduction of pre-workouts into your diet.

There are some pre-workout brands on the market that lack the basic nutrients that make pre-workouts worthwhile. Instead, they fill the gaps with sugars and carbs which may not be a problem if it was just for the flavour but some brands do not make their addition to their product obvious.

For that reason, it is important to read the label of any pre-workout mix you are interested in buying to make sure it includes at least the following 4 ingredients:

  • Creatine
  • Caffeine
  • BCCA
  • L-Citrulline

If a blend of pre-workout does not include all 4 of those ingredients then it is not worth buying as it could actually do your workout more damage than good. Likewise, you should check the dosage of each of those ingredients as while some brands say that they include those ingredients, they actually only include a small amount.

What Other Benefits Are There?

Even though pre-workouts aim to unlock and provide energy to your body in time for your workout, considering they are supplements, they also offer a whole range of other health benefits.

As you have more energy for longer workouts, you are able to increase your muscle strength and overall body muscle mass by increasing the intensity of your workout. You are also able to burn fat quicker than you would as you can fit in more exercise.

Increasing your blood flow and including ingredients to help speed up your bodies recovery time meant that you do not have to go as long between targeted workout sessions. Instead, you can focus your attention on endurance and strength rather than having to plan out your workout routine to give your body long periods of rest.

Negatives Of Taking Pre-workouts

As the pre-workouts target is to provide an energy boost through various supplements and ingredients, this means that your body is having to work harder to keep up, resulting in increased heart rate and higher blood pressure.

While this may not be an issue for some people who have a standard resting heart rate and healthy blood pressure, it can cause issues for those who do have medical conditions.

The use of supplements aimed at preventing your body from reaching fatigue can mean that you overwork your body without realising it. This could lead to a strain or injury resulting in a break from working out altogether. If you are taking pre-workouts to practise intensity and endurance training then hurting yourself will only hurt your progress.

As such, it is important to understand where your bodies boundaries are before introducing pre-workouts into your diet.

How To Take Pre-workouts

Pre-workouts typically come as a powder or as a pill and are taken the same way as protein shakes. Just make sure that you consume whatever pre-workout you prefer after a meal and at least 30 minutes before a workout.

Otherwise, you will start to get headaches and feel sick halfway through your workout which would completely defeat the purpose of taking them.


Different Way To Take Caffeine

Some people do not consume caffeine due to the association with coffee, which is not for everyone. However, there is more than one way to consume caffeine in time for your workout instead of forcing yourself to drink a coffee drink in the morning. In fact, plenty of people consume caffeine on a day to day basis without even realising it.

The quickest way to get caffeine into your system is by means of other drinks. Tea is right up there next to coffee with how much caffeine it provides and is often a much healthier alternative.

However, if you have more of a sweet tooth then you will please to know that regular cola and other sugary drinks like energy drinks also contain a high caffeine count.

Of course, considering this article is about consuming caffeine for a workout, it may be best to get your caffeine kick through either tea of a caffeine supplement rather than through sugar consumption.

You should keep in mind that while there are different ways to consume caffeine, you will also need to feed your body enough protein, carbs and fats for the caffeine to work properly. No caffeine-based drink should replace a meal, but should rather work alongside one.

The Benefits

Whether it is through coffee or caffeine pills, to gather the motivation and energy for an intense exercise or cardio session, people have been taking caffeine in preparation for their workout for years for that extra kick.

If you tend to work out for roughly 20 minutes every day then the energy boost that caffeine provides is enough to make it through the workout without hitting an energy lull.

Providing energy is not the only thing that caffeine is good for though. It also helps people lose weight quicker by speeding up your metabolic rate through natural processes, allowing food to pass through your body quicker rather than stay as fat.

Caffeine itself also includes a variety of natural antioxidant which help to flush your body of any nasty toxins preventing you from getting rid of additional weight.

Likewise, the only thing that caffeine has to include is caffeine. If you like drinking coffee as your caffeine consumption method then you do not need to add milk and sugar unless you want to so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.

Negatives Of Taking Caffeine

Depending on when you consume your caffeine, you may end up with some form of sleep deprivation. Due to the alert inducing nature of caffeine, it may be harder for your brain to shut down if you consume any a few hours before you got to sleep which would also disrupt your bodies recovery time after your workout.

It is also worth taking note of how much caffeine you consume daily as some people are able to build a tolerance to it and its effects, meaning that they will not get the benefits that come with taking caffeine before a workout.

Much like your workout routine, with caffeine, you need to switch it up. If you plan on having a rest day from exercise, then perhaps skip the caffeinated drinks and go for herbal tea. This way, when you need the energy boost for an intense or an endurance workout, you will still be able to benefit from the caffeine.

Isn't Caffeine Included In Pre-workouts?

While pre-workouts do include caffeine as one of its main ingredients, it does not totally rely on a strong dose of it to give you the type of energy boost that pre-workouts aim to provide. Caffeine also only works to boost your energy levels and does not focus on your overall physical performance.

Because it is not the most important ingredient, you may want to work your training routine around the days that you opt to take either pre-workout of caffeine.

Is Caffeine Or Pre-workout Best For Me?

It really does depend on why you exercise and what your main physical aesthetic goals are as to whether you take caffeine or pre-workouts for your exercise.

Pre-workouts, while they do include caffeine and aim to give you a boost of energy for endurance purposes, also include a whole range of other ingredients working to target your body in different ways.

This results in pre-workouts being best for helping you build strength and muscle rather than helping you lose weight. They are also marketed at people which wish to have a high body mass or who frequently take part in intense workout sessions which is not the case for everybody.

Caffeine's entire purpose is to provide you with the energy you need to get through your workout, no matter how you consume it. It does not include any additional supplements that help build muscle or help with your bodies healing after a workout.

However, caffeine does include elements that result in weight loss which is why most people join the gym world to begin with. With the increased speed of your metabolism and assistance in getting rid of toxins in your body, caffeine is a great aid in the loss of unwanted weight.

Therefore, it depends on why you want to exercise in the first place as to which one you take. If your main focus is on building your body's strength and getting better at endurance during cardio, then pre-workouts are the way to go for you.

On the other hand, if you exercise primarily to lose weight but are struggling to make it through a full workout session before getting tired, then the additional energy kick that caffeine provides will be enough for you.

About the author
Published by Kieran
A star athlete during his school days, Kieran quickly excelled at sports and in particular; football. Kieran's true passion lies in home exercise equipment, and so was was built as a source for all of Kieran's thoughts to be put down on a medium. Here he guides you through various nuances of working out at home, tips, guides, reviews and more.The only other thing Kieran enjoys more than working out, is writing about it.
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