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When I was working with a nutrition coach I was taking a pre and post workout shake every time I was in the gym. People I worked with thought I was nuts… SURELY you can’t take pre workout twice a day?! Well I did, sort of. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t!)
At a glance…
- You CAN take pre workout twice a day – if you split the dose or mix your own custom formula to avoid taking in too much stimulants and certain other commonly included supplements (like creatine)
- First ask WHY you want to take pre workout twice – the MORE you consume the LESS effect it will have, and it can be expensive, so sometimes less is more
- Do not exceed the recommended dosing on pre-made tubs – typically this is measured in scoops per 24hr period
- Mixing your own pre workout gives you the ultimate control over dosing, ingredients and timings – and can save you money!
- Caffeine and other stimulants are easy to over consume as they are present in high levels in most off the shelf pre workouts
- Avoid over stimulating yourself with caffeine later on in the day – unless you work night shifts!
The Bottom Line: Can you take pre-workout more than once?
Ultimately how frequently you can take pre workout will depend on the mix of supplements and in what quantities.
Personally I would NOT take a pre-mixed pre workout more than once per day as it is typically dosed for single use. However if I was making my own pre-workout I would split this over two sittings and take it peri-workout (pre and post workout).
Ask yourself WHY you want to take it twice a day
Before deciding if you CAN take pre workout twice a day maybe stop and consider WHY you want to.
Pre-workout is typically associated with heavy gym sessions – are you going to be doing TWO of them in a day? If so maybe the programming could be tweaked to combine the heavier stuff together to make the most of a single round of pre-workout supplements.
If it’s a physiological or habitual thing then breaking that link could be helpful. We don’t need pre workout every time so building a mental reliance on it could be storing up problems for later…
Alternatively if it is simply to spread the intake of your chosen supplements out across the day then the dosage of these included in your chosen off-the-shelf pre-workout will impact how frequently you will want to take it.
How ingredients can influence frequency
Not all pre workout is created equal and the ingredients vary wildly across different brands and products. Typical pre-workout will include things like the following:
- Citrulline malate
- Beta Alanine
- BCAAs (branch chain amino acids)
How these play in to frequency
When we dig deeper in to these ingredients we can see they have their own quirks for frequency. The two main ones that stand out to me as tricky customers with regards to frequency are:
Creatine, which is NOT time sensitive – taking this as part of pre-workout is purely a convenience thing. Most people typically aim for 3-5g of this per day. If your pre-workout contains 5g in a typical scoop then taking it TWICE a day would give you’d double the dosage you likely want. That is not desirable.
Caffeine is slightly different in that is IS time sensitive. We want the caffeine stimulus around an hour before a workout so we have the energy and performance boost associated – BUT it is NOT likely that we will want it after working out. So taking this as part of pre-workout twice doesn’t make much sense – UNLESS you’re doing a second session that day!
While tolerance varies from person to person the broad brush guidance is not to exceed 400mg of caffeine per day. With many off the shelf pre-workouts containing 150mg – 300mg per serving it is quite easy to get a little TOO much caffeine if you take pre workout twice int he same day!
The other ingredients can be split up over a pre and post workout shake if that’s your preference, BUT the dosing of these two may influence how feasible that is from a pre-mixed tub!
Remember that higher frequency = less effect
As with many things, the more we expose ourselves to supplements such as pre-workout and caffeine the more our body will build up a tolerance and be able to cope with it.
That means if you start ramping up your intake of the supplements by taking pre workout twice a day you may find the effect weakens as you adapt to the stimulation.
Would you rather a low key buzz more often, or a mammoth sized buzz when you need it? It’s a personal choice…
If in doubt: Follow the instructions!
As each pre-made pre-workout is different it is important to read and follow the instructions. Excessive use can lead to sickness and disorientation largely thanks to the massive caffeine hit!
A solution: Mix your own pre-workout!
While it can be tempting to buy tubs off the shelf, mixing your own pre-workout gives you ultimate control over what you’re taking and when. You can prepare it in advance in plastic tubs and simply shake it up with juice or water when needed.
The benefit here is that you can ditch the caffeine from any pre workout intended for later in the day – or split it over them both if you prefer.
PERSONALLY I preferred to mix my own to ensure I was dosing correctly and only using the small number of supplements I was interested in. I am also a cheap skate and found mixing my own FAR cheaper.
In summary you can take pre workout twice a day as long as you do not exceed the recommended doses of pre-mixed tubs. If you are at this level of involvement in your nutrition then it may be time to mix your own pre and post workout shakes – this will allow you granular control over which supplements you take in and when (maybe lay off the caffeine later on the day!)
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