If you’re used to intense workouts at the gym, you probably already know a little about beta-alanine. At its simplest, it is the magic stuff in your preworkout that makes your fingers tingle and convinces you that you definitely can go for another rep with that weight. There’s a lot more to the story than that, however, so it is time to take a closer look.
Beta-alanine is one of those things that most gym goers have a vague idea about. They know that it is usually included in preworkout supplements and that it must have benefits for muscle building, energy release, and fat burning. While these things are all true, it can help to have a deeper understanding of beta-alanine, so that you know how, when, and why to take it.
This guide to all of the things that you probably don’t know about beta-alanine will help you get to grips with the basics.
It Holds Off Cardio Fatigue
Taking beta-alanine before a workout is a good way to extend your stamina and hold off tiredness for as long as possible. It is particularly effective during cardo workouts like the treadmill or the cross trainer. When you exercise the whole body intensely, as you might during a run, hydrogen ions start to build up. They make you get tired faster, but beta-alanine produces carnosine and this overrides the ions. The effect is most powerful during HIIT routines of 2-4 minutes in length.
It Helps You Sustain Muscle Fiber
One of the biggest issues for weight lifters is how to pack on muscle, without also packing on fat. Beta-alanine can help with this. When combined with HIIT training, it leads to a reduction in body fat and improvements in lean mass, rather than a compromise between the two. For the maximum effect, supplement your HIIT routines with beta-alanine for around 6-8 weeks. You’ll gain lean body mass and find it easier to sculpt and shape the muscles.
It Gives You the Power to Push Harder
As well giving you more energy and helping you burn fat, beta-alanine is also great for helping you push yourself that little bit further every session. If you use it as a supplement, you’ll likely find that your reps feel easier, so you’ll be encouraged to add more sets and experiment with heavier weights. This type of gradual progression is absolutely essential for building muscle, so push past the temptation to stop where you’re comfortable and strive a little harder.
It Improves Tactical Thinking
This is a very interesting finding indeed and it shows that supplements like beta-alanine have benefits that extend beyond the free weights section. It boosts levels of carnosine, which are abundant within the brain. As carnosine is great at battling tiredness and maximizing energy, the knock on effect is that it keeps the brain sharper for longer. Studies have shown that soldiers supplemented with beta-alanine have improved marksmanship skills.
It Enhances the Impact of Creatine
Creatine and beta-alanine are real bosom buddies and should be paired together for a supercharged workout. Research has shown that, when combined, they lead to a reduction in body fat and an increase in lean body mass, which is exactly what you’re aiming for. You’ll also get a longer burst of stamina and endurance, even while completing high intensity circuits and intervals. If you’re going to take them together though, stick to a regular routine and tailor the amounts to suit your workout.
How to Take Beta-Alanine for an Epic Workout
The best way to start is with around 4-6 grams of beta-alanine per day. The only thing to be aware of is that you really do need to be taking it consistently. Just like any other supplement, you’ll only see the optimal results if you stick to a routine, as opposed to taking it only when you remember to grab the packet on the way out the door.