Can Pre-Workout Kill You? (You May Not Know This)

April 12, 2022

Fear-mongering around supplements is part and parcel of the industry. It’s understandable with horror stories and endless news about poor manufacturing standards. But to go as far to say as pre-workout can kill you… is that true?

It would be very rare for pre-workout to kill you. The doses of ingredients are not high enough unless you drank the entire bottle in a day or did something like dry scooping.

So, how could pre-workout kill you if it’s such a rare event?

How Pre-Workout Could Kill You

While very rare, there are a couple of ways pre-workout could be fatal.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine overdose is a bit of a stretch, but it is possible. However, these doses need to be very high, as in 150mg/kg of bodyweight high [1]. Or a teaspoon of caffeine anhydrous.

Typically, caffeine overdose is accidental when an unwitting user purchases pure caffeine powder and mistakes milligrams for grams [2]. But make no mistake: you may run into problems when you start getting into the grams of caffeine per day instead of milligrams.

It’s not just hitting the toxic limit of caffeine being the issue. Still, since caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, high doses will restrict blood flow, exacerbating any underlying heart issues. So, if you’re double scooping pre-workout before the gym, having a coffee in the morning, and following it all up with an energy drink, you’re pushing the upper safety limit, in my opinion.

Dry Scooping Leading To Choking Or Heart Attack

Dry scooping somehow became a trend that has caused problems. For example, it can cause choking and coughing, especially if it blocks the throat. Not to mention the reported case of someone having a heart attack after dry scooping.

While this may not have come from the dry scooping, the risk still stands for harm when doing this. Avoid at all costs and mix your pre-workout with water.

What Happens If You Take Too Much Pre-Workout?

Is Pre-Workout Bad For Your Heart

If you take too much pre-workout, you’ll usually feel overly anxious and jittery. This is the effect of high caffeine doses. One way to combat this is to take an L-theanine supplement which works synergistically with caffeine to reduce jitters and enhance your focus [3].

You may also feel very itchy and tingly if your pre-workout has beta-alanine.

Long Term Effects Of Pre-Workout

If taken daily, the only long-term effect is increasing your caffeine tolerance. Most pre-workouts use ingredients that aren’t going to cause any issues in the long term, especially at the doses within the formulation.

However, read the ingredients label and go with reputable brands. Not all supplement companies have your best interest at heart. Some will fill their formulations with banned substances or cheap fillers.

Is Pre-Workout Bad For Your Heart?

If you don’t have any underlying heart conditions, pre-workout is fine. Again this also depends on the pre-workout. For example, Dark Energy was a pre-workout with banned ingredients DMAA, DMHA, and DMAE, which are often compared to methamphetamine regarding its effects on the body.

Not to mention it has a whopping 400 mg of caffeine. The supplement industry is highly unregulated, so reading the labels is essential. If you have underlying heart problems and took this pre-workout, you’d be in a bad place.


Pre-workout can kill you, but it’d be an infrequent event, and you’d have to do something idiotic like dry scooping. If you mix one serving in a glass of water as per the directions, you won’t have a problem of pre-workout becoming fatal.


1. Beauchamp, G., Amaducci, A., & Cook, M. (2017). Caffeine toxicity: a brief review and update. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine18(3), 197-202.

2. Andrade, A., Sousa, C., Pedro, M., & Fernandes, M. (2018). Dangerous mistake: an accidental caffeine overdose. Case Reports2018, bcr-2018.

3. Mason, R. (2001). 200 mg of Zen: L-theanine boosts alpha waves, promotes alert relaxation. Alternative & Complementary Therapies7(2), 91-95.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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