How Long Does Pre-Workout Actually Last?

Pre-workout is a workout supplement that promises to boost energy and enhance performance during your workout. It takes anywhere from 15-45 minutes for pre-workout to kick in, and this is about how long before your exercise session you should take it in order to see its effects.

This is what’s typically known about pre-workout, but the less widely known information is how long the effects of pre-workout last and how long pre-workout actually lasts in your system.

We’re going to break this down for you and more. So keep reading if you want to know:

  • A refresher on what pre-workout is
  • How long pre-workout takes to kick in
  • How long pre-workout stays in your system
  • How long pre-workout lasts

What is Pre-Workout?

Pre-workout is a dietary supplement designed to boost energy and enhance performance during a workout.

It typically comes in the form of a powder or pill for easy consumption.

There is no set list of ingredients in pre-workout; each brand has a different formula. Some common ingredients include beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine, l-citrulline, and BCAAs. Beta-alanine and BCAAs are for controlling muscle fatigue, caffeine and creatine for elevating energy, and l-citrulline for boosting performance.

Before And After Workout Snack Ideas

How Long Does Pre-Workout Take to Kick In?

Pre-workout can take from 15-45 minutes to kick in, so don’t wait until you get to the gym to take pre-workout or else you’ll be well into your workout before its effects start to kick in.

It’s actually better to take pre-workout early rather than late. Most pre-workouts are stimulant based, with the stimulant usually being caffeine, and it takes your body between 3-7 hours  to cut the concentration of caffeine in your blood in half.

So, taking pre-workout an hour before your workout will still allow you to see the full benefits of it, while taking it just before you workout won’t do you much good.

How Long is Pre-Workout in Your System?

The individual ingredients in a pre-workout stay in your system at different rates.

For example, the half-life, or the amount of time it takes for a quantity of a substance to be reduced to half its original amount, of caffeine is between 3-7 hours while the half-life of creatine is only three hours.

But this doesn’t mean that you will necessarily feel the effects of pre-workout this long after you take it. We’ll get into those specifics in the next section.

In general, your body should process all ingredients fully within 24 hours max. Anything your body can’t use fully will be passed through urine because most ingredients in pre-workout supplements are water soluble.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

We can say that generally that pre-workout usually lasts from one and a half hours to two and a half hours with some residual effects for up to six hours, but there are a ton of factors at play when it comes to how long pre-workout lasts. Here’s what we know about those moving parts that affect how long pre-workout lasts.

The lengths of the effects of pre-workout depend on different factors such as:

  • Personal stats
  • Quality and type of ingredients
  • Quantity
  • Diet
  • Fatigue level
  • Tolerance to caffeine

Personal Stats

Your personal stats, such as your age, weight, and muscle mass, affect how long your pre-workout lasts.

Your personal stats affect how long pre-workout lasts.

Personal stats include your age, weight, and muscle mass.

For example, the more you weigh, the less effect a serving of pre-workout will have on you. And as you age, your receptiveness to certain ingredients in a pre-workout supplement may change.

Quality and Type of Ingredients

The quality and type of ingredients in a pre-workout also affect how long a pre-workout lasts.

A pre-workout with low quality ingredients will probably not last as long as pre-workout with high quality ingredients.

And a pre-workout with a low amount of caffeine will not last as long as a pre-workout with a high amount of caffeine.

Quantity

The amount of the pre-workout you take affects how long the pre-workout lasts.

For example, if you take less than the recommended amount, you may not see the effects of the pre-workout.

But remember, do NOT take more than the advised amount. This is to prevent possible side effects.

Diet

Three bowls of oatmeal with toppings lay diagonally across a white background.
Oats are a natural energy boosting food that also have numerous other nutritional benefits.

If you don’t already nourish yourself with the proper foods and hydration, your pre-workout will probably not last long if it even works at all.

If you don’t give your body energy naturally through food and hydration, trying to give your body extra energy from a pre-workout supplement just won’t work.

Fatigue Level

Your fatigue level, or how tired you are, also affects how long your pre-workout lasts.

If you’re already run down before hitting the gym, your energy boost from a pre-workout supplement may not last as long as it would if you were going to the gym well-rested.

Tolerance to Caffeine

Last but not least, your tolerance to caffeine also affects how long your pre-workout lasts.

If you drink caffeine regularly, your pre-workout energy boost probably won’t last that long as compared with someone who doesn’t drink caffeine on the regular.

If you’re not seeing any boost in energy at all from a caffeinated pre-workout supplement, you may want to consider cutting back on caffeine.

The Takeaway

The answer to the question of how long pre-workout lasts is not clear cut because there are a lot of determining factors for how long pre-workout lasts.

These factors that determine how long your pre-workout lasts are:

  • Personal stats
  • Quality and type of ingredients
  • Quantity
  • Diet
  • Fatigue level
  • Tolerance to caffeine

To answer the question more broadly, pre-workout usually lasts one and a half hours to two and a half hours with some residual effects for up to six hours.

You can also read the label of your pre-workout supplement to see if it tells you how long that formula is likely to last.

@dremilnutrition