Pre Workout Before Cardio – Is it bad for you?


First of all, I want to congratulate you on actually making it a point to do some cardio.

Some of you reading this might love cardio because of its therapeutic effects and health benefits. Whereas, some are on the other end of the spectrum – liking memes on “F cardio”.

Cardio meme

Cardio. The battle is real. 

But you have found good reasons to ease your way into getting some cardio done.

Either way, you’re on a journey to make the best out of every cardio session.

Is Pre-Workout Before Cardio a Good Idea?

We all know how effective pre-workout is for going HAM and lifting weights. What about cardio? Do I need pre-workout? If I do, which active ingredient should I look out for? And most importantly, is it bad for me?

heart attack running

In this article, you’ll get your answers to:

  • What are the different types of pre-workout supplements and their evidence-based benefits
  • Does Vitamin B help in Pumping Up for Your Cardio Workouts???
  • What are the 2 types of cardio and which pre-workout supplements suits them best
  • Why you might want to consider NOT taking pre-workout supplements for cardio

Different Types of Pre-workout Supplements

At the mention of pre-workout, many of us would think of some powdered supplement or even a canned beverage that contains caffeine and other stimulants.

We have man-made pre-workout options with varying active ingredients. We’ll be looking the top 5 that you might find familiar. Then, we will see how the different types of pre-workout supplements can help to boost your performance in different ways.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.


Sprinting is a good power-related cardio activity.

Creatine here is a go-to for many – newbies and experienced athletes alike. A recent 2017 research has shown over that creatine is great for improving strength and power-related performances.

the benefits of creatine

The same study adds that it facilitates in muscle recovery, injury prevention, and thermoregulation (as the name suggests, regulating your body’s core temperature so you don’t get cooked inside out or, frozen for the matter of fact) as well.

Another study in 2015 also resulted in individuals who took creatine to show improved lower limb strength for short duration activities (< 3 minutes).


If you need caffeine to wake up and head to work or school, you’ll probably figure that it’ll be necessary for a bout of cardio.

Right… Not the wisest thing to do.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate, alertness, power, and endurance.  It’s prowess to boost up your energy levels is actually suppressing the antagonist molecules, called melatonin in your brain. Melatonin makes you feel sleepy and lethargic. Caffeine increases alertness by blocking out melatonin from telling your brain that you should take a nap.


A type of amino acid that assists you by increasing your tolerance to lactic acid build-up in your muscles. Lactic acid build-up causes muscle fatigue and results in having to stop the exercise once your threshold is reached.

Research from a prestigious journal in 2015 shows that beta-alanine can help to improve performance by helping you last longer as it buffers the lactic acid build-up. Thus, prolonging the time before you reach your threshold and eventually, stop your exercise.

Beta-alanine is a precursor for carnosine synthesis in the body. Excess beta-alanine in your body can help in producing carnosine.

Why’d you want carnosine in the first place?

Well, research has shown that carnosine acts as a buffer against lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid is notorious for causing muscle fatigue, leads for legs and, unbearable painful sensations. This is due to the hydrogen ions.

Lactic acid build-up causes muscles to feel pain and heavy thus, ceasing the exercise.

With carnosine, the build-up is slowed down thus, increasing your endurance performance.



Must have heard about this raved-over supplement, haven’t you? You might even use it on a regular basis as well – always on the gain-train, aren’t ya?

BCAAs is an acronym for branched-chain amino acids and it primarily contains three types of amino acids that are vital in muscle building and are on the list of nine essential amino acids A.K.A we can’t synthesize it and need to consume from external sources.

The three amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Research has shown that BCAAs can improve your running endurance performance, help to reduce both mental and physical fatigue, and even aid in lessening muscle aches after running and weight training. Plus, BCAAs has muscle building properties too.



Okay, maybe Nitric Oxide would ring a bell for some of you. Yes, no, potato?

Beetroots are natural sources that are high in nitrate.

A quick intro on nitrate – it is found in vegetables like spinach, turnip, and beetroot. Nitrate or its consumable form, nitric oxide is taken to help in increasing blood flow. Increasing blood flow can assist in giving you a better performance with activities related to endurance.


Vitamin B helps in Pumping Up for Your Cardio Workouts???

I’m sure you’ve heard how vitamin B-complex helps in giving a lift in your energy levels.

This, however, is only true for those who are deficient in vitamin B. If you’re on the healthy side and follow a wholesome and nutritious eating lifestyle, the extra water-soluble vitamin B would simply be passed out through urination.

Bye-bye Bs!

NO, you’re lying. I get some kick from drinking energy drinks that contain vitamin B!

Yes, I feel it too. I love my energy drinks and I do feel the “kick” too. But, it may be due to the other stimulants such as caffeine, guarana, and ginseng as research has proven so.

redbull nutritional information

Reading the nutritional label for the energy drinks can help you make
a better decision on your pre-workout.

Densie Webb Ph.D., R.d., mentions that vitamin B does not directly provide you with energy. Energy comes from only the three macronutrients namely, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. However, vitamin B does help to convert these energy sources into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in the presence of oxygen that takes place in the mitochondria.

ATP is the currency for energy in our body. Your muscles require ATP to contract and pull the bones to create movement – like scrolling down while reading this article.


2 Types of Cardio & Which Pre-workout Supplements to Use

I think you’ve probably caught on a pattern on the benefits of pre-workout supplements – it’s either to increase your endurance, boost muscle building capabilities or, get Zeus to grant you strength and power.

Let’s take a look at the two types of cardio and which pre-workout would give you the edge that you desire.

LISS: Low Intensity Steady State

This is the opposite of the popular HIIT cardio that we all know and “love”.

LISS exercises are like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. But, done at the 60 % heart rate where it is known as the “fat-burning zone” and, for at least a 20-minute duration.

The goal of LISS cardio is essentially for health and well-being. Or, if you really detest cardio but are trying to make it part of your life right now, LISS would be a good start as compared to HIIT. It also helps to train your cardiovascular system and endurance.

Thus, you don’t require much power, strength, or even caffeine to be more alert or awake. Just don’t trip over your leg while you’re on a jog.

Pre-workout Supplements for LISS Cardio

  • BCAAs
  • Nitrate

Both of these pre-workout supplements aim to help you increase your endurance thus, it’s very suitable to help you maximize your LISS cardio sessions. By maximizing your LISS cardio sessions, you’ll be able to last longer or, endure more thus, more work can be done.

Increasing endurance can be seen in two ways. They are lasting a longer duration and, being able to work at a slightly higher intensity.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT is king when it comes to fat-loss. Many might have an aversion for this sweat-busting alternative but isn’t sweat the tears of fats?

HIIT chart for beginners

The HIIT cardio is known for its fat-loss benefits together with maintaining or even building your muscles. Contrary to many opinions on not being able to build muscles and lose fats simultaneously, HIIT begs to differ.

Research has shown that HIIT exercises not only can help you with fat loss and muscle building at the same time, it can also improve your cholesterol levels, regulate your blood pressure levels, and inflammatory markers (risk of stroke, acute coronary symptoms, and heart diseases).

HIIT exercise poses a greater challenge because it will bring about more metabolic stress as opposed to LISS. The nature of HIIT is fast, powerful, and all-out for a short interval then, taking a short break. This is repeated several times.

Oh, how true is this?!

Exercises can include sprints, plyometric (jumping activities), commando push-ups, burpees, and the list goes on. However, as mentioned, the execution of these exercises has to be all-out (!)

Hopping onto the HIIT bandwagon is a pretty demanding thing to do because it requires 100% effort for each and every rep/second of the workout. The goal of HIIT would be to generally lose fats, build muscles, and increase power, strength, and even muscular endurance.

Pre-workout Supplements for HIIT Cardio

  • Creatine
  • Caffeine
  • Beta-alanine
  • BCAAs
  • Nitrate

All of the discussed pre-workout supplements aim to help you increase your power, strength and, endurance thus, all of them are suitable to help you maximize your HIIT cardio sessions. By maximizing your HIIT cardio sessions, you’ll be able to last longer or, endure more at an even higher intensity.

Why You Might NOT Want to Take Pre-workout Supplements for Cardio Sessions

Don’t Need It At All

Unless you’re running miles after miles, like a marathon, pre-workout supplements aren’t the most important thing on the list.

The demand of LISS just isn’t too much that a medium-sized banana can’t help you with. It’s always best to rely on strong willpower and natural sources of energy and, LISS is one of the types of exercises that doesn’t call for a pre-workout supplement.

That being said, if you really need some “oomph” for the LISS cardio session, you can consider BCAAs and Nitrate as sources of pre-workout supplements.

The Type of Runs You Don’t Want

HIIT might be a better fit for pre-workout supplements to make a difference in the quality of your workout. Due to the strenuous and challenging requirements, a pre-workout supplement may seem like a helpful pump.

However, watch out for the runs!

No, not running – the activity. The ones that make you run straight to the loo.

Sugar-Filled – There Are Better Options Out There, Really

There are some pre-workout mixes that come in liquid forms, either canned or bottled. Those pre-made concoctions are usually sugar-filled (always good to take a look at the nutritional label).

They’re like the carbonated sweet drinks that we only drink during cheat days, but with either added stimulants such as caffeine, guarana, ginseng, etc. to give you the extra boost.


Save your money and invest in a bunch of bananas instead (don’t know why bananas seem to be especially important in this article but, they are awesome sources for quick-releasing energy).

However, if you already have a container of pre-workout powder, it’s totally cool. Save that scoop for weightlifting days instead. They’ll be put to better use than consuming them for LISS cardio.

On the other hand, HIIT cardio can be a good time to utilize the “power-powder”. Just don’t forget about the caution on its side effects like diarrhea.


Pre-workout isn’t bad before cardio sessions because it does come with ergogenic effects that help boost the quality and performance, be it LISS or HIIT cardio.

However, it’s always better to go natural as the side effects like diarrhea, halfway through your workout is minimized.

Bananas here probably needs a little more time to ripen.

I’d recommend you to go natty and take a banana instead.

James Wilks

Hey guys, thanks for reading. This website should help you cut through all the bias and make an informed choice with supplements. I was like you 2 years ago, trawling the internet looking at review, after review, after review. But now that's changed and I've taken my years working in the supplements industry to create this website and help you make the right choice. If you like something please share on social media! Or drop me a message. Always good to hear from you guys.

Recent Posts