When reviewing a pre- workout supplement it is prudent to consider the holistic benefit of the supplement i.e. the wider benefit it has on training and performance enhancement. So we don’t want to simply report back on how ‘fired- up’, or ‘pumped’ a supplement makes you feel, sometimes it goes way beyond the mental preparation that many people resort to a pre-workout for.
Although a pre-workout supplement is designed to be consumed approx. 20-30mins prior to your workout, the effects should last well into your session (ideally to the end). Some supplements can leave you feeling on top of the world right before your session, but builds up to an almighty come down 5 or 10mins into your session, NOT what you need! It is not unreasonable at all to expect your pre-workout supplement to keep you going throughout your session, so how does Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre- Workout hold up?
Aside from the obvious pre-workout questions, I wanted to see if Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre- Workout delivered on the physiological ergogenic front…in other words, does it enable you to train harder for longer? The answer (at least from my experience) is YES. The reason is because of the strategic combination of 1.5g beta- alanine and 3.4g creatine, both of which increase muscle endurance, and muscle power endurance respectively.
The beta- alanine acts like a sponge floating around the body buffering acidic blood (by mopping up hydrogen ions), whilst the creatine combo serves as a direct energy source to your muscles keeping them firing as they should.
So what about the pump then? For many, the pump is as much of a factor mentally as it is physiologically. The addition of 1.5g of L- citrulline is key to the pump because citrulline is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO) release. NO is necessary for a process called vasodilation, which is vital to maintaining blood pressure, and also for increasing the good ol’ muscle pump!
Combine this with grapefruit bioflavonoids (50mg) which also contribute to NO production, as well as offer cardioprotective properties (good for your arteries).
The addition of caffeine (175mg) is also known to cause a short, but dramatic increase in blood pressure, which may be related to a surge of adrenaline that follows the ingestion of caffeine. The caffeine content in Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre- Workout is about the same as a large Costa coffee (maybe 10-20g less), so it’s by no means extreme (the average adult can manage around 400mg/ day).
There is also 106% of your daily niacin requirements, Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 which are important pre-cursors in energy production and cellular metabolism meaning the energy produced from caffeine and the L-citrulline is more sustainable. Panax notoginseng (50mg) is another subtle stimulant that works cumulatively with caffeine to improve focus, concentration and perceived energy. This combination cleverly reduces the ‘perceived exertion’ felt by an athlete, in other words, your brain becomes less bothered about fatigue letting you train on for longer!
So onto the palatability side of pre- workouts. Notoriously pre- workouts have an acquired taste, in part because of poor flavouring, but mainly because they are effervescent i.e. made to fizz and mix with water/juice/squash (NOT milk, this is a recipe for disaster!). However some pre- workouts manage to get it right, if I’m honest here (which is my job) then Cellucor C4 trumps Gold Standard Pre- Workout on the taste front, C4 has managed to mask the effervescent, bitter fizz better than Gold Standard.
That being said, Gold Standard does taste great for a pre-workout, and I would even argue that it gives a better initial energy and stimulatory hit compared to C4. The great thing about Gold Standard Pre- Workout is that the stimulatory hit is sustained and doesn’t cause a drop in energy and post stim come down.
All in all, I would give Gold Standard Pre- Workout a solid 8 out of 10, my reasoning is that they have managed to make a product that tastes good (even though it really shouldn’t based on the ingredients), doesn’t cause an energy crash, delivers sustained focus and muscle pumps, and provides good, effective dosages of beta- alanine, which in my mind is one of the most effective ergogenic aids (performance enhancing supplements) on the market.