Pre-workout supplements are becoming an increasingly popular part of our workout and nutrition rituals. Many of us, like myself, for a long time used to buy products on buzz words like ‘pump’, ‘energy’ and ‘focus’, but without any real explanation of what was in these magical potions that caused the desired (and sometimes undesired!!) effects. Not a week goes by here at CSN were a debate breaks out about what pre-workout is the best and the truth is, I personally think like many things training and nutrition, it depends on the individual. The aim of this article series is to give you some insight as to what would typically be key ingredients you would find in pre-workouts, so hopefully you can figure out what is working for you and what is not. This first article will start with looking at Beta-Alanine (BA)…. Why I hear you ask, well simply because this is my work and I love the stuff!! Those of you have used pre-workouts will almost certainly have felt the tingles at some point, almost a feeling of itchiness in some cases, this is more than likely the BA, if you get this sensation and dislike it then now you know what to avoid, however if you don’t react to it, can tolerate the mild discomfort or read further, you might just want to man (or woman) up and push through the discomfort for very good reasons. BA is now sold commonly as its own individual product, which is one of the few products found in pre-workouts with which this is the case. So what is this stuff and why should I think about getting some of the stuff into my body?? BA is synthesised in the body to help produce carnosine, carnosine is stored in muscle tissues (over 99% of the bodies stores) and is proposed to be important in maintaining the function of contracting muscle, especially during high intensity exercise when oxygen is scarce. BA supplementation has demonstrated in some studies to raise muscle carnosine levels by up to 80%, thus improving performance in these kinds of anaerobic high intensity activities. Carnosine may also act as a buffer to neutralise lactic acid accumulation in the muscles allowing performance levels to be maintained higher for longer than without supplementation. Carnosine may also act as an anti-oxidant which fights off fatigue and may also increase calcium sensitivity in muscle ï¬bres, which are important for regulating and maintaining muscle strength and capacity to perform work. Daily doses of 4-6 g of BA can elevate human muscle carnosine content within 4 weeks by around 50% and prolonged use raises levels up to 80% at around 10 weeks. There are currently no known side effects (apart from the temporary tingles!) associated with BA. If supplementation of BA on its own would interest you, here at CSN we have Allmax Nutrition Beta-Alanine, this would ensure dosing at appropriate levels that may not be found in a combined pre-workout formulations, however BA may also serve a role in pre-workouts to increase blood flow to muscles increasing ‘pump’. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc).