Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) comes from the kratom tree native to Southeast Asia. We’ve written about it at length, so for a primer you can check out this article.
Because of its stimulating effects, kratom has been used as a work and productivity agent for centuries in traditional cultures. That has carried over to the western world, where Kratom has become popular both as a pre-workout and productivity supplement.
But what are the benefits of using kratom as a pre-workout? And what are the risks? In this article, we outline all of it, and show you whether kratom might be a good pre-workout option for you.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Kratom Pre-Workout
There are a few reasons why kratom can improve your workouts.
While it doesn’t act in the same way chemically as caffeine, kratom at small doses, specifically white vein strains, has a stimulating effect. So you can get an energy boost that will improve any workout and motivate you to train.
As we’ll talk more about in the section on the best dose, keep it under 5 grams.
A benefit that’s more unique to kratom is its pain relief effects. So if you want to train, but you have nagging pains holding you back, you can take kratom to help you get through the workout and train hard.
However, this is a double-edged benefit. Pain is a signal to your body. If you’re in pain, there’s a reason why.
So you don’t want to use kratom to relieve pain so you can keep exercising with crappy form.
However, if you’re aware of your problem, and the pain stops you from training in a way that’s otherwise safe, then kratom as a pre-workout can help
Better Pumps and Fewer Cramps
One study on the chemical structure of an extract alkaloid of mitragynine, mitraphylline, showed vasodilation effects. Vasodilation is when our arteries open up more, which increases blood flow.
When it comes to working out, this means that kratom may increase your pump. And, anecdotal reports show this as well.
Increasing blood flow also decreases the risk of cramps. However, kratom can cause dehydration, which increases the risk of cramping.
So if you’re taking kratom to reduce cramps (like the dread side stitch from running), make sure you’re drinking extra fluids and electrolytes.
Of course, there are other common pre-workout ingredients that increase blood flow, but kratom can check off a lot of boxes. Instead of taking caffeine and vasodilators, you could just take kratom.
What are the Downsides to Using Kratom Pre-Workout
These aren’t all specific to pre-workout, but we have to touch on some of the risks with kratom.
Don’t Use Kratom as a Crutch for Pain Relief
As we mentioned, just because kratom relieves pain, doesn’t mean you should relieve pain. Sometimes pain means your form just sucks and you should learn how to lift correctly. So be aware of whether the pain relief should be addressed in other ways.
Most Kratom Sources Are Garbage
The biggest problem in the kratom industry right now has risen out of the unclear and flip-flopping regulations. Kratom is totally unregulated in the US. This means companies can put in pretty much whatever they want. Any kratom you get from a gas station or random place on the internet is asking for trouble.
That’s why the only brand of kratom we recommend is Viable Kratom. They are third-party, GMP (good manufacturing practices) approved. This means they go through stricter testing than most mainstream supplement companies. They also display their testing process and results on their website, and are on a mission to upgrade the quality of kratom in the US.
What Kratom Strains Are Best Pre-Workout?
As we discussed in this article on kratom for energy and focus, white strains of kratom tend to have higher mitragynine content, which is what gives kratom its stimulating effect.
Therefore, if you want to use kratom as a pre-workout, go with a white vein stream of kratom.
A simple, inexpensive, and effective product is Viable Kratom’s white vein Borneo.
How Much Kratom Should I take Pre-Workout
Kratom is an interesting substance because regardless of strains it seems to have stimulating effects at low doses, and sedative effects at high doses. Taking a higher dose, then, won’t necessarily help. In fact it might put you to sleep. At high doses, it also desensitizes you to pain, so you might not have all the same feelings of a “pump” you’d normally get.
With this in mind start with 1-3 grams, and don’t go above 5 grams. It’s much better to start at a smaller dose then increase it as you go.
Can I Still Take My Normal Pre-Workout?
Kratom is already stimulating, so if you’re taking kratom and a product with enough caffeine to make a cow sprint, then that’s going to overstimulate you.
Our general advice then is to avoid any stimulating pre-workouts if you’re going to take kratom.
If you have non-stim pre-workouts you like, that’s a better option.
An all-encompassing option might be to pick up a kratom extract product, because the effects will hit you quicker. Some of these even include modest amounts of caffeine. The Hush Kratom Shots from Viable are a great option for this.
Can I Take it Every Day?
While you can, we wouldn’t recommend it. If you take kratom daily, just like if you drink coffee daily, your body will grow accustomed to the dose, and so you won’t get all the benefits we’ve talked about.
Kratom and Dehydration
Another concern with taking kratom pre-workout is that kratom is dehydrating. So this means you’ll need to drink more water and electrolytes than normal. As a general rule…
- Take your bodyweight (in pounds)
- Divide it by 30
- Drink that many ounces of water for every 15 minutes of training
So if you’re 150 pounds, that’s 5 ounces for every 15 minutes. So that’s an extra 20 ounces of fluids for every hour you workout.
If it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot, you’ll have to increase this even more.
More on Kratom
Kratom is a complex, controversial substance. A lot of the scrutiny comes out of, as is typical with banned drugs, political strife and messed up incentives as opposed to health problems. For a great overview of this, Hamilton Morris (one of the GOATS of the psychedelic science resurgence) did a great episode on the politics of kratom in his show, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia.
For practical suggestions on kratom, covering the benefits and risks, we’ve written nearly a dozen articles about kratom right here on Health Habits.
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