Wondering whether you should opt for BCAA or pre-workout is a common question for lifters and gym-goers. The choice between the two can be pretty confusing, whether you’re relatively new to the fitness scene or have been around the block a bit.
To make that decision easier, we’ve gathered the pros and cons of both options. So you can rest assured your choice is the right one.
Let’s kick things off with a quick outline of each before putting them head to head.
WHAT ARE BCAAS?
Used as muscle fuel, recovery and muscle growth, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are the ingredients used by the body when building muscle. These amino acids are formed from leucine, valine and isoleucine – with each supporting your exercise regime needs together and in their own right.
What are the benefits of BCAAs?
When taken independently, BCAAs can:
- Enhance strength during exercise
- Improve endurance during physical activity
- Speed up recovery and reduce soreness post-workout
- Encourage muscle growth
While BCAAs are typically used with the intention of stimulating muscle growth, they also work well to prevent muscle breakdowns during exercise. Leucine is the most largely found BCAA in the body. While valine promotes natural growth, repairs muscle tissues and works to regulate blood sugar. It also helps to provide the body with energy.
Isoleucine also works to enhance your energy levels and speed up recovery time after your workout. While valine provides an energy boost, promotes natural growth, tissue repair and regulates blood sugar levels. When combined, they form a powerful formula that supports your body’s growth and repair of muscle tissue.
But here’s a little more detail on how they work independently too:
- Leucine triggers muscle synthesis, giving muscle growth the green light
- Valine reduces fatigue post-exercise, minimising the brain’s uptake of tryptophan
- Isoleucine can be broken down, resulting in muscle-fuelling molecules
It’s clear to see why people look to BCAAs to support their workouts. However, it doesn’t stop there. Which is why pre-workout supplements can be the added kick your workout needs.
WHAT ARE PRE-WORKOUTS?
Typically sold as powders or drinks, pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your workouts with enhanced focus, endurance and increased strength.
Their ingredients commonly include caffeine and creatine, helping you build muscle, increase your strength and keep you on top of your game.
We all have those gym sessions that feel a little flat. You spend more time choosing music on your phone than really working out. A pre-workout supplement is designed to keep your body and mind in the session – so you can perform for longer.
But how do creatine and caffeine help you pre-workout?
Creatine can benefit your body in a number of ways, including:
- Improved muscle growth for those go-longer bursts of energy we all need when running or lifting weights
- Enhanced body strength to keep you performing for longer. Wave goodbye to hitting the dreaded last-lap-wall
- Boost performance during high-intensity training
While caffeine can do more than kickstart your morning with a cuppa Joe. In pre-workout, it aids your training in the following ways:
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve metabolism rate
- Improve endurance
- Stimulate the central nervous system, enhancing brain function and increasing the effectiveness of your workouts
Typically, pre-workouts also include a variety of vitamins and natural compounds to help you get the most out of your gym sessions.
BCAAS VS PRE-WORKOUT
Although breaking down the benefits of both BCAA and pre-workout supplements is helpful, it’s time to see which is better. So let’s examine where BCAA or pre-workout come out top.
Put simply, when it comes to whether you should be taking pre-workout or BCAA, the answer is: it kinda depends.
Pre-workout supplements focus on allowing you to achieve peak performance during exercise. Whereas BCAAs are designed to provide your body with the fuel required to build, grow and maintain muscle.
While BCAAs can work well for helping your muscle grow and repair, there’s no real impact on your focus or energy levels. So if you’re considering pre-workout or BCAA, we’d opt for pre-workout for an overall boost to your workout.
The fundamental difference when you put BCAAs vs pre-workout is the use of stimulants. A high-quality pre-workout supplement tends to include caffeine to increase your focus, energy and motivation.
Choosing the right pre-workout is important. It will also include vitamins and other natural composites, that can positively impact your endurance and even your mood.
Sure, the dilemma is whether BCAA or pre-workout comes out top. However, there are still other questions to be answered.
Can BCAA be taken as a pre-workout supplement? Yes, it can. In fact, they can be taken more than once daily – which is why they’re commonly taken as a pre-workout supplement.
However, when you take BCAA and the dosage is important. It’s recommended you allow 30 minutes for your body to digest it before starting your workout.
Dosage wise – research shows that you should take between 0.03 – 0.05/kg of body weight. Which is approximately 2 – 4 grams per hour during your workout and recovery.
Essentially, it totally depends on what you’re looking to achieve. If you’re looking for razor-sharp focus, enhanced endurance and energy levels – pre-workout beats BCAAs all the way to the gym.
CAN YOU COMBINE PRE-WORKOUT AND BCAA?
You sure can.
Although the battle is often BCAA or pre-workout, the two can actually work well together. This is because they both serve their own purpose, making the combination a powerful supplement to your workout.
As we already mentioned, pre-workout supplements heighten your focus, boost your energy and enhance your endurance levels. Pairing this with BCAAs which also boost your endurance and support muscle growth/recovery can result in a powerful combo.
Now we’ve told you everything you need to know surrounding BCAA or pre-workout, the choice is up to you. If you’re looking to choose one over the other, pre-workout packs a more powerful punch.
Whereas if you’re looking to support your workout (both before, during and after), BCAAs and pre-workout used together may be for you.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts, push your body further and lift heavier, why not give BlackWolf a try? Give your workout the boost of energy, focus and endurance it needs to work harder. Our scientifically backed ingredients deliver the ultimate power for a pack-leading performance every time.