Times are tough – we get it. Sometimes, forking out in excess of $30 for a tub of that trendy preworkout supplement could be out of your grasp, putting a real fork in your plans. However, things aren’t as bad as you might think, since you can whip up your own patent pending preworkout on a budget, and in the comfort of your own home.
Disclaimer – don’t expect much in terms of bells and whistles with these preworkout options, but nevertheless, you can still expect kick-ass workouts from them! Here are some great ideas to get your juices flowing:
Starting off the list with the original preworkout, coffee’s utility remains unmatched regardless of how experienced you are when it comes preworkout supplements.
But why does coffee remain the OG preworkout? One word – caffeine. It’s no secret that a large majority of pre-workout supplements contain caffeine as one of the primary ingredients since its stimulating properties are undeniable.
A cup of coffee supplies approximately 100 mg of caffeine, while most preworkout on the market deliver approximately 200 mg of caffeine per scoop. Preparing a cup of coffee at home can cost as low as $0.20 if you bulk in bulk, which is virtually nothing considering how much it costs to pick up a cup at your local coffee shop. This is definitely one of our top recommendations when trying to stick to your budget.
Green tea is definitely an underappreciated preworkout choice on a budget, possibly because people just don’t understand its unique advantage.
Chances are, you probably just think of its caffeine content, and the catechins that may help out with fat loss right? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong, just not totally correct.
For one, the caffeine in green tea is nothing to boast about, coming in at only about 35-40mg per cup. Its catechin content is just as unimpressive unless you consume boatloads of the stuff each day.
However, what we’re after is the elusive amino acid L-Theanine. Common in nootropic supplements, it is touted as helping provide a “clean” stream of energy and focus, as well as a calming effect when used simultaneously with other stimulants.
Thus, a great idea is to actually consume a blend of coffee and green tea- try a 1:1 mix and see the effect yourself. You’ll have an epic formulation on hand.
With the average cost of a green tea bag/sachet coming it at about $0.08 each, you can see how it is easy to fit this essential into your homemade pre-workout arsenal.
Ok, time to bust out the big guns (so to speak)! When is the last time you had some watermelon? Loaded with L-Citrulline, if you need a good vasodilatory food before the gym, have some watermelon. Taking into consideration the time for digestion and peak onset of citrulline, consuming watermelon approximately 60 minutes before your workout session should leave you well poised.
Watermelon costs on average about $0.30 per pound, and considering that you can easily obtain 3 x 3/4″ wedges from that, one slice equates to about $0.10.
Alternatively, you can try some bulk L-Citrulline powders. These are unflavored but offer amazing value for money. It’s not uncommon to pay less than $20 for 500g (well over 100 servings), so if you can afford just one supplement, make it this one.
Creatine In Bulk
Creatine is one of the most researched sports supplements of all time, and is arguably the one that paved the way for the explosion of the many supplements we have at our disposal today.
Creatine is naturally produced in our body from 3 amino acids, and can also be found in animal protein, especially bovine sources. This is scarcely enough to take your workouts to the next level though, so you may be better served picking up a micronized Creatine supp.
Creatine occurs as Creatine phosphate, and assists with energy generation in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). By donating its phosphate salt, it speeds up coupling of ADP (adenosine diphosphate) into ATP.
You are best served by Creatine if your workout discipline involves short-duration exertion, as creatine’s ATP boosting capacity is still finite.
One kilogram of creatine powder can cost as low as $15, and considering that an average serving of the stuff necessitates a dose of about 5g, it costs only about $0.75 per dose.
Beet Root Juice
Beetroot juice is growing immensely in popularity owing to one major thing- the fact that it is a rich source of dietary nitrates.
Nitrates can be considered as rough building blocks for nitric oxide, the molecule that helps elicit vasodilation and gives you the much sought after pump you’ve come to appreciate during a workout.
When these dietary nitrates are consumed, they are first converted into nitrites by bacteria that naturally live in our mouth. Subsequently, when ingested these nitrites are then converted into the nitric oxide molecule.
Beets cost about $4 per pound, with each pound allowing you to make two cups of the juice- so about $2 per serving.
We recommend beet root juice as opposed to eating them whole for convenience/speed of absorption, and also because it’s just impractical to consume the amount of beets necessary to deliver a sizeable effect.
Sodium bicarbonate should take home the award for most improved and underestimated homemade preworkout supplement.
Otherwise known as baking soda, you may be wondering how this can even remotely help your workouts, right? Turns out the pH environment of your muscles influence a lot while working out.
Sodium bicarbonate is basic, or alkaline in nature. Lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism, is acidic. You may recall hearing that lactic acid is responsible for inducing failure during a set, since as levels accumulate it becomes tougher and tougher for muscles to continuously contract.
Sodium bicarbonate, can help push you further. By neutralizing the acidic environment caused by lactic acid accumulation, muscles are able to work for a longer period of time.
Baking soda delays failure, and when combined with your home brewed Creatine mix can make you see the different like night and day. Add a bit to your pre-workout whey shake, and if necessary, a little to your intra-workout beverage (even if it’s just plain water).
While many athletes don’t consider true nutrition (AKA food) as part of their preworkout ritual, they should, as preworkout nutrition is just as important, and arguably even more so, than mere supplements.
Whey protein is an extremely versatile part of pre-workout nutrition, owing to the fact that the wide spectrum of aminos help to prevent excessive muscle breakdown, but also because many available whey protein supplements are fortified to contain the critical branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which can help with muscle protein synthesis.
Opt for whey protein isolate (which gives the best for the buck) and you won’t go broke trying to get big.
Even if you’re following a low carb diet (or a cyclical ketogenic diet), a small serving of whey protein about 60 minutes prior to your workout will go a far way in helping you reach your goals.
You can get basic whey protein isolate (unflavored) for a reasonable $0.75 per scoop (approximately 20g protein per scoop). While this may seem slightly expensive, keep in mind that whey protein’s versatile functions extend far beyond pre-workout, as it is essential for hypertrophy and recovery as well.
Summary – Preworkout On A Budget
You’ll notice we didn’t mention much in terms of solid food, but given that you’re not on active carbohydrate restriction, it should go without saying that you need a decent pre-workout meal about 60-90 minutes before hitting the gym.
Some people prefer oats, granola bars or the like, while others suffice with a banana. A little peanut or almond butter is also a great idea to add to the mix, providing you with some fat to boost short-term testosterone synthesis too.
Just remember, you don’t need to break the bank to get the most out of your workout. You can do quite a lot with a cheap preworkout made at home, or using bulk commodity supplements you can easily get your hands on.
A little over a half century ago supplements such as preworkouts didn’t even exist, and yet, men the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo and more still achieved more than lots of people achieve today with the abundance of products.
Just remember to send my royalty check every month once your secret recipe becomes a hit (and who knows, a best seller!)