How Long Does It Take for Pre Workout To Kick In?

Pre workout supplements are all a little different. They vary in which ingredients they include, the dosages of the key ingredients, and the forms of those ingredients. It can be hard to know exactly when you should take your pre workout before your workout so the ingredients kick in right when you’re ready to crush your main sets.

We’re going to take a closer look at pre workouts and the active ingredients to determine when the best time is to take your pre workout.

How Long Before a Workout Should You Take Pre Workout?

The best way to determine when to take pre workout is to refer to the label on your individual bottle. Most pre-workouts that we’ve tested recommend taking the supplement around 30 minutes before training. This is about how long it takes for caffeine and beta-alanine to be absorbed into the bloodstream and to start having effects on performance.

woke af pre workout

WOKE AF’s Directions:

Mix 1 well rounded scoop of WOKE AF® into 6-8oz of water 15-30 minutes prior to physical activity. Due to it’s potency, we recommend taking no more than 1 scoop. DO NOT EXCEED 1 SCOOP IN A 24 HOUR PERIOD.

Transparent Labs LEAN Directions:

“In terms of timing, we recommend taking PreSeries BULK 20-30 minutes prior to your workout. In terms of how much water to drink with PreSeries BULK, we recommend mixing 8-12 fl. oz of water with 1/2 scoop (to assess tolerance) and mixing 16-24 fl. oz of water with 1 full scoop.”

The directions on your pre workout’s label is a good starting point, but if you’re not feeling the effects or if you feel like you’re peaking at the end of your workout, you should try taking your pre workout a little earlier or later. Everyone’s body is different so you may absorb the supplement faster or slower than others. You can also take a look at the active ingredients in your pre-workout, and see how long it typically takes for their effects to kick in.

How Do You Know When Pre Workout Has Kicked In?

Typically I’ll know that my pre workout has kicked in if I start feeling the tingles of the beta-alanine, and the buzz of the caffeine. If you’re looking for a hard number to look at to know if your pre workout is kicked in, you should monitor your heart rate. Generally after taking pre-workout with caffeine, your heart rate will increase slightly, or when you exert yourself you should see that your heart rate goes up more easily.

What About Stimulant-Free Pre Workout?

Stimulant-free pre workouts usually have similar directions to those with caffeine. The primary effective ingredients in these are typically beta-alanine and other pump ingredients. It can be harder to know that these ingredients are “kicked in”, but

How Long Doe Pre Workout Ingredients Take to Kick In?

The best way to determine how long before your workout to take pre workout is to look at the effective ingredients. We can look at how long the key ingredients take to be absorbed into the blood stream. By timing your pre workout supplement accordingly you can get the most out of the effective ingredients.


According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “caffeine is absorbed within about 45 minutes after consuming, and peaks in the blood anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Caffeine in beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda is quickly absorbed in the gut and dissolves in both the body’s water and fat molecules.

caffeine molecule illustration
Caffeine Molecular Structure

One thing to know is that food in the gut can delay how quickly caffeine in the blood peaks. Therefore, drinking your pre workout on an empty stomach might give you a quicker energy boost than if you drank it while eating breakfast. However, taking pre workout on an empty stomach can make some of the side effects of caffeine (jitters, anxiety, etc.) more noticeable.


Beta-Alanine is the ingredient in pre-workout that can make your skin tingle or itch. Beta alanine takes about 30 to 45 minutes to kick in, so the 30 minutes listed on your pre workout is probably about right. This ingredient is focused mainly on improving blood flow for extra endurance and pumps.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a combination of l-citrulline and malic acid, which is believed to increase absorption rates and bioavailability. Citrulline malate takes about an hour to convert to arginine and then nitric oxide; so taking it right before training may not deliver significant ergogenic assistance. For this reason, you may want to take your pre workout a little bit earlier to allow the l-citrulline to make its way into your system.

How Long Does It Take Pre Workout To Wear Off?

According to a study published by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Military Nutrition Research, the mean half-life of caffeine in plasma of healthy individuals is about 5 hours. However, caffeine’s elimination half-life may range between 1.5 and 9.5 hours.

The effects of caffeine typically peak about one hour after consumption, so you’ll notice the effects wearing off after that point.