Preworkout for Powerlifters

Preworkout for Powerlifters

As a powerlifter who dabbles in bodybuilding, I know how important nutrition is to building a strong, lean body.  Knowing that nutrition is important is a lot different than knowing what to do about it, though. So, if you’re struggling, here are a few concrete tips for getting started with what is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day: the preworkout meal. 

Now, let me be very clear here: it’s the most important meal for powerlifters.  For bodybuilders, your post workout meal is probably a bigger deal.  But maximizing your strength in every training session canbe a little trickier than maximizing your endurance and pump.   And it starts with the preworkout meal. 

First, remember what we’re going for here: easily digestible foods with a high carb content and some fat and protein. (Need a refresher on why? Go check out this article). This meal should be timed about 1-2 hours before you get the gym; in my opinion, it’s best to eat closer to when you actually start lifting, but not so close that you feel uncomfortable during your training.  Personally, I can train well on a full stomach, but if you don’t like to do so, try to get this meal in a full 2 hours before you hit the gym.

Food Choices

When choosing foods, above all else, pay attention to how you respond and how you feel after eating. It doesn’t matter whether you choose something with a perfect glycemic index (if such a thing existed) or a load of micronutrients if that food makes you feel like shit while you’re training. And what works for me, or your training partner, or some Internet guru might not be what works for you. Listen to your body.

That said, here are some good places to start:

  • Instant oats or grits, potatoes, white rice, bananas, pasta. I’m not a fan of most breads or bagels (except some of the sprouted-grain varieties, like Ezekiel). Also avoid fibrous fruits or vegetables.
  • Eggs, (high-quality) protein powder. Lean meats and dairy are good here if they work for you. Don’t overdo it or be adventurous here; protein farts are the last things you want to worry about during a heavy squat set.
  • Nuts or nut butters, egg yolks, butter, oils. Again, you don’t need a whole lot of fat in your preworkout meal.

It’s not difficult to put these things together into a cohesive meal: pasta with meat sauce, eggs with oatmeal, a protein shake with a couple bananas and a scoop of peanut butter will all work well. Don’t overthink it!

In terms of total amounts, I like to shoot for roughly 20% of my calories in the preworkout meal. The exact balance of macros will depend on the structure of your diet, but I generally do equal amounts of protein and carbs, and 10-15 grams of fat.

One more thing to remember: slam the sodium and water before training.  This will help to keep your muscles full, and help to prevent cramping and resultant injuries.


When you’re eating a lot, you typically have a lot of extra energy.  But if you’re dieting to make a weight class, a good preworkout supplement can be essential to maximizing your training. 

While bodybuilders want preworkouts that will help to maximize their pumps, powerlifters typically want a little more stimulants.  Now, there are certainly trade offs to be had here, and you should be mindful of those. For example, caffeine is great, but the problem with caffeine alone is that it could cause a significant amount of jitteriness and anxiety.  These are well-known side effects of caffeine, and they can quickly derail an otherwise productive training session.  To some degree, other nootropics like TeaCrine and L-Theanine can offset these side effects, but even with those, you don’t want to overdo the stimulants on a regular basis.  Otherwise you risk derailing your training.

Your best bet for a preworkout product is Hy-Stim from Granite.  It’s heavy on the stimulants, but it’s guaranteed to power you through even the most intense training sessions.

Got your own go-to preworkout routine?  Share it in the comments below!




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