Does Yohimbe Work as Pre Workout?

Does Yohimbe Work as Pre Workout?

If you’re currently taking a pre workout with yohimbe you need to give this a read.

When it comes to finding the right pre workout, it’s all to do with the right ingredients. And with so many to choose from it can be difficult to know exactly which ones will work best – and whic hones will leave you wanting.

In this article we take a look at whether or not you should be aiming to choose a pre workout with yohimbe.

Or is its an ingredient you should avoid?

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is yohimbe?
  • Is pre workout with yohimbe a good choice?
  • Are there any side effects?

What is Yohimbe?

Found in the bark of the evergreen Pausinystalia Johimbe tree, yohimbe is a tree native to Africa.

Although it contains a few different bioactive compounds, the main one of interest here is yohimbine – an alkaloid known for its strong interaction with your alpha-2 adrenoceptors.

When triggered, these receptors can help dilate your blood vessels and mobilize fatty acid break down, helping you burn more fat.

Essentially, triggering these receptors into action is like turning the dial up to ten!

More power, more strength, more endurance.

Why is yohimbe added to pre workout supplements?

Yohimbe is probably most famous for its role in traditional African medicine as a libido and sex drive enhancer.

This is more than likely because of the anecdotal reports of increased blood flow.

That’s not really relvant here, but because of its potential relationship with adrenoceptors, yohimbe could in theory offer an effective pre workout solution.

After all, anything with the ability to enhance athletic performance is a good thing – as long as it’s safe and legal of course.

In a nutshell, here’s what pre workout with yohimbe promises:

  • Dilated blood vessels – helps to deliver more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles.
  • Improved fat loss – increases fatty acid oxidation.
  • Increased heart rate – stimulates better autonomic responses by triggering your nervous system.
  • Improved power output – increases force development, power and speed.
  • Increased testosterone – optimizes hormones for a better muscle growth response.

Yohimbe used to be popular with bodybuilders

In the early 90’s, yohimbe was a popular supplement with both athletes and bodybuilders because of claims that it could improve physical performance and muscle growth.

At one point it was even claimed to contain steroids – and as you can imagine, the bodybuilding community reached a frenzy… only to find that it didn’t contain any at all.

But does yohimbe actually provide performance enhancing benefits?

Is pre workout with yohimbe the answer you’re looking for?

Let’s take a look at what the research says…

Yohimbe plant leaves in the sunshine

  • Key Point: Yohimbe is a libido booster used commonly in traditional African medicine.

Pre Workout With Yohimbe – What Does the Research Say?

As a compound with an affinity to alpha-2 adrenoceptors, yohimbe could in theory be an effective pre workout supplement ingredient.

Much like caffeine, which is also a stimulant, yohimbe would help to stimulate the nervous system to release adrenaline into the bloodstream, giving you more energy and better stamina.

And similar to rhodiola rosea and citrulline malate, the compound could enhance blood flow leading to better muscle pumps and nutrient delivery.

But without data, these are just claims.

Here’s what the actual research says…

Yohimbe has no effect on exercise performance in athletes

Published in Research in Sports Medicine [1], this trial showed that even in elite athletes, yohimbine had no effect on either fat loss or markers of performance such as strength, endurance or power.

The study, which used 20 top level soccer players, was one of the few human trials which has looked directly at the effects of pre workout with yohimbe – in this case two 20 mg doses each day over a 21-day period.

A yohimbine extract does boost heart rate… but also anxiety

This study found that using yohimbe to trigger an adrenoceptor effect in 24 males had a significant effect on both blood pressure and heart rate [2].

But before you make this compound your stimulant of choice you need to bare this in mind too – the volunteers also reported feelings of anxiety as well.

Even when combined with aerobic exercise (which is a renowned stress buster), adding yohimbe into the mix as a pre workout led to feelings of social anxiety and elevated stress hormones.

And if there’s one thing sure to detract from your focus, motivation and drive in the gym it’s feelings of stress and anxiety.

Pre workout with yohimbe might enhance cognition in those without anxiety

The only real kind of benefit we could find for yohimbe as a pre workout supplement ingredient is that it might improve increased task performance in those with ‘low baseline anxiety’ [3].

Helping boost the performance arousal of a group of 24 university students, a 15 mg yohimbine extract helped the group members improve the results of an arithmetic test set by the research team.

It’s a long shot, but because exercise is all about focus and skill, the supplement could in theory be used as a cognitive enhancer for exercise too.

But that’s currently not been researched in any real detail.

Close up of female athlete taking a rest against a barbell

  • Key Point: Pre workout with yohimbe won’t benefit exercise performance, body composition, strength, power or endurance.

Are There Any Side Effects?

One of the biggest concerns you might have about your pre workout is safety.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if an ingredient is effective or not – if it’s unsafe you need to find an alternative.

Unfortunately yohimbe is neither effective nor without side effects for some people. That’s because it can cause adverse reactions such as:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Nausea, sickness and dizziness
  • Nervousness, irritability and anxiety
  • High blood pressure and tachycardia (irregular heart rate)

Inaccurate labelling means your yohimbe might be unsafe

One issue surrounding some pre workout with yohimbe supplements is correct labelling regarding doses.

Some products contained amounts as high as 150% of what was labelled, and some didn’t contain any at all.

Bizarrely, over 20% of supplements tested in one study contained the yohimbe – but never had it included on the ingredients label[4].

And worryingly, practically none of the manufacturers highlighted the potential side effects of yohimbe either.

Summary – Is Pre Workout With Yohimbe a Good Idea?

  • Yohimbe is an extract from the bark of the Pausinystalia Johimbe tree.
  • This comppound has no effect on body composition or athletic performance.
  • Yohimbe might enhance cogntition for mental tasks.
  • It may cause side effects such as sickness, abdominal pain and nausea.

We suggest that with better ingredients on the market, you shift your attention to a supplement that has better quality ingredients with more optimal dosing.

Smash Your Workouts With 4 Gauge

4 Gauge is an exhaustively researched, all-natural pre workout designed to rip the lid off your gym sessions, sports games or workouts.

Packed with performance-enhancing nutrients such as caffeine, L-theanine and creatine, 4 Gauge will take your training to a completely new level.

  • Smash your workouts – feel your nervous system firing on all cylinders
  • Cell-splitting muscle pumps – harness the power of vasodilation and deliver more nutrients to your muscle cells
  • Determination like never before – feel unparalleled focus and motivation
  • Relentless energy – train for longer without fatigue


  1. Ostojic, SM. Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players. Res Sports Med. 2006; 14(4): 289-99
  2. Sommer, M et al. Psychological and neuroendocrine responses to social stress and to the administration of the alpha-2-receptor antagonist, yohimbine, in highly trained endurance athletes in comparison to untrained healthy controls. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2011; 44(4): 129-34
  3. Mizuki, Y et al. Differential effects of noradrenergic drugs on anxiety and arousal in healthy volunteers with high and low anxiety. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1996; 20(8): 1353-67
  4. Cohen, PA et al. Pharmaceutical quantities of yohimbine found in dietary supplements in the USA. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2016; 8(3-4): 357-369

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