5 Reasons Why Your Pre-Workout Supplement Isn’t Working

why doesn't pre workout work for me
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Table of Contents

Table of content:

  1. How Do You Know If Your Pre-Workout Is Working?
  2. Why Doesn’t Pre-Workout Work for You?
  3. The Takeaway

Do you know this situation when you take your supplements but you see absolutely no results? Getting your creatine 5 times a day, using a pre-workout before every training session, but your progress is still slow? There are quite a few reasons why this could happen. In this article, we will try to address this issue for pre-workouts. Why doesn’t pre-workout work for you? Find out below!

How Do You Know If Your Pre-Workout Is Working?

Firstly, let’s make sure that your pre-workout is indeed ineffective. The best way to do this is by understanding how you should feel after your supplement kicks in and comparing it with how you actually feel. So, how do you know if pre-workout is working?

  • Energy level – You should feel a huge energy boost about 30-60 minutes after you take your pre-workout. If nothing like that happens, it may indicate that something’s wrong and your pre-workout isn’t effective.
  • Mental clarity – One additional effect of pre-workouts is increased mental focus. If you still find it difficult to concentrate on your tasks after taking your pre-workout, this means that it did not work.
  • Fatigue – Did you feel tired during the training? Was this feeling overcoming you? Then the pre-workout did not work since it would normally delay and alleviate the effects of fatigue.
  • Recovery – Typically, a pre-workout accelerates recovery after a training session. If you feel that you need as much time to recover as usual, it probably means that the supplement isn’t working.
  • Elevated heart rate – Do you have a smartwatch? Then measure your normal heart rate and compare it with this after taking a pre-workout. It should be slightly higher. If there is no change or the rate goes up dramatically, it means that the supplement isn’t working or is working improperly. Remember that your heart rate will be different while training – if you feel like truly testing this out, create the same conditions for both measurements.

Why Doesn’t Pre-Workout Work for You?

There are many reasons why a pre-workout might not be working. Some are connected to the way you take it, others might be conditioned genetically, and in some cases, it might even be the problem with the particular product itself. What are the 5 most common reasons why your supplement is ineffective? Here’s our list.

Caffeine Resistance

The first common issue is caffeine resistance. Sometimes, it’s the result of genes – your body absorbs caffeine slowly, thus not feeling its full effects. At other times, it may be due to you building up tolerance, as a result of drinking coffee or energy drinks. How to solve this problem?

  • Switch to pre-workouts with higher caffeine content – If it’s the case of tolerance, getting a stronger product might be the ideal solution. Remember to pay attention to the formula – you might want more caffeine, but not more of the other pre-workout ingredients.
  • Get a non-stimulating pre-workout – Although they won’t raise your energy levels, they’ll still help with the feeling of fatigue. They will be especially good for those with innate caffeine resistance – the caffeine wouldn’t help anyway, and you get the rest of the pre-workout benefits.


Another possibility is that you simply underdose your pre-workout. Check whether your dose matches the instructions on the label, and if it does, you might want to switch to a stronger product.

You should also analyze the proportions in which the ingredients are mixed. Perhaps the formula lacks a particular substance? Or maybe the whole pre-workout combines too many different ingredients, some of which you don’t need? Check for that before switching to a stronger supplement.

Expired Supplement

Does a pre-workout expire? Yes, it does. This might be one of the reasons why your supplement isn’t working. How to check for it? Scan the label and see whether the pre-workout is after its expiry date.

Another aspect that can cause this issue is improper storage. The expiry date refers only to the time the pre-workout will be good when sealed. But, after opening it, the situation changes. With time, the supplement will lose its properties, faster or slower depending on how you store it.

Moisture or heat may affect the condition of your pre-workout significantly. If you see that there is mold in it, it doesn’t smell right, or is hard to mix, it means that it probably won’t be effective anymore. To avoid that, keep your supplement in a dry, cool place and close the lid properly every time you open it.

Bad Timing

Pre-workout timing is the key to reap the benefits of this supplement. If you take it too early or too late before the training, it won’t work on time, or it’ll stop working before you finish your workout session. Thus, make sure that you take it 30-60 minutes before hitting the gym.

Additionally, try testing different periods between this time limit. The speed of the effects depends on your individual metabolism and the particular product. So, you’ll need to do some testing and adjusting to find the perfect time window.

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Why doesn’t your pre-workout work for you? It might be the result of insufficient sleep, poor nutrition, or simply an empty stomach. If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, even the finest pre-workout won’t be fully effective. You cannot substitute sleep or a rich diet with a supplement – it’s purely an additional aid. If none of the above apply to your situation, you should look into the way you live – perhaps you need to go to bed a bit earlier or plan your meals with macros in mind?

The Takeaway

So, you now know why your pre-workout does not work. Whether it’s caffeine resistance, unhealthy lifestyle habits, or underdosage, you can do something about any of the possible reasons. So, what are you waiting for? Eliminate the causes, make your pre-workout effective, and squeeze the maximum out of your training sessions.

Did you like this article? You should also check out: Can Pre-Workouts Affect Your Sleep?

How Do You Know If Your Pre-Workout Is Working?

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s essential to determine if your pre-workout is doing its job. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Energy Level: A good pre-workout should provide a significant energy boost within 30-60 minutes. If you don’t feel more energized, your pre-workout might not be effective.
  2. Mental Clarity: Pre-workouts are known to enhance mental focus. If you can’t concentrate better after taking it, it may not be working.
  3. Fatigue: Did fatigue still haunt you during your workout? Pre-workouts are supposed to delay and reduce fatigue. If they don’t, there might be an issue.
  4. Recovery: If your post-workout recovery time remains unchanged, your pre-workout might not be accelerating recovery as it should.
  5. Elevated Heart Rate: Measure your heart rate before and after taking a pre-workout, and during exercise. A noticeable increase in heart rate is a sign of effectiveness.
Why Doesn’t Pre-Workout Work for You?

Several factors could be causing your pre-workout to be ineffective. Here are the top five common reasons:

  1. Caffeine Resistance: Whether due to genetics or building tolerance from other caffeine sources like coffee, your body might not respond to the caffeine in pre-workouts. To combat this, consider pre-workouts with higher caffeine content or non-stimulating alternatives.
  2. Underdosage: Check if you’re taking the recommended dose as per the label. In some cases, the proportions of ingredients might not suit your needs. Analyze the formula before switching to a stronger supplement.
  3. Expired Supplement: Yes, pre-workouts have expiration dates. Improper storage, such as exposure to moisture or heat, can also affect their effectiveness. Make sure to store your supplement in a cool, dry place and seal it tightly.
  4. Bad Timing: Timing is crucial for pre-workout effectiveness. Take it 30-60 minutes before your workout to ensure it kicks in at the right time. Experiment with timing to find what works best for your metabolism and product.
  5. Unhealthy Lifestyle: A pre-workout won’t compensate for inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, or an empty stomach. Ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle alongside supplementation. If necessary, adjust your sleep schedule and dietary choices.
What Should I Do When Pre-workout Doesn’t Work?

Don’t let a lackluster pre-workout hinder your progress. Whether it’s caffeine resistance, lifestyle choices, underdosage, or other factors, there are solutions. Identify the issue and take action to maximize the benefits of your pre-workout, getting the most out of your workouts.

why doesn't pre workout work for me

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