If you spend enough time in the gym, chances are you’ll witness a Hulk-like human being “dry scooping” their pre-workout powder before repping 315 on the bench.
In case you’re not up to speed on TikTok trends, dry scooping means tossing back a scoop of pre-workout powder straight from the container, instead of mixing it with water like you’re supposed to. Think of it as the gym bro version of the cinnamon challenge.
Fitness fanatics swear dry scooping is a shortcut for an insane energy boost, but doctors are begging people to stop since it can be dangerous and potentially lethal.
In this article, we’ll explore the origins of the dry scooping craze, why people swear by it, and the risks of taking your pre-workout straight to the dome.
What Is Dry Scooping?
“Dry scooping” is a slang term for consuming a scoop of dry, unmixed pre-workout powder instead of diluting it with water, as directed.
People have been dry scooping pre-workout powders for years, but the trend recently started blowing up on social media, especially TikTok. Last year, videos of the caffeinated craze racked up nearly 10 million views.
The practice usually involves dumping a scoop of dry powder straight from the container into your mouth, swallowing it, and chasing it with a quick swig of water.
What Does Dry Scooping Do?
The main reason people dry scoop pre-workout powder is that it boosts energy faster than if you were to mix it with water and sip it slowly, which is the standard protocol.
Most pre-workout powders have highly-concentrated formulas with caffeine and substances like beta-alanine, creatine, L-Citrulline, and amino acids. When you take the powder dry, you’re hitting your body with all of those ingredients very quickly, which can produce a sudden and intense effect.
In addition to feeling energized and alert, dry scoopers have said dry scooping causes side effects such as:
There's even some evidence that pre-workout causes acne. Although it might seem like a good idea to turbocharge your energy levels before a big lift, the potential benefits almost always outweigh the risks of dry scooping.
Is Dry Scooping Safe?
It’s definitely not safe to dry scoop your pre-workout powder, and doctors are begging people to stop taking their stimulants straight to the dome. There are three main risks associated with dry scooping, all of which can be deadly:
1. Caffeine Overdose
Many pre-workout brands include anywhere from 150 to 300 mg of caffeine per scoop (that’s about one to three cups of coffee). Caffeine overdoses are rare, but consuming too much caffeine too quickly can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and potentially life-threatening heart palpitations.
2. Accidental Inhalation
If you accidentally inhale pre-workout powder down your windpipe, it can get into your lungs and cause aspiration pneumonia. Pretty ironic, considering these supplements are supposed to help your workouts, not send you into a coughing fit.
If you don’t chase it without enough water, a dry scoop of pre-workout powder can clump together in your throat, which can literally choke you to death.
That Time Dry Scooping Almost Killed an Influencer
All these warnings about dry scooping might seem like we’re trying to baby you. But we don’t want you to end up like the fitness influencer who had a brush with death after she attempted the stunt on TikTok.
Briatney Portillo, an otherwise healthy 20-year-old, had a heart attack after dry scooping before a gym session back in 2021.
“I just took pre-workout powder and ate it directly and tried to swallow it, and then followed it with chugging water….I started to feel itchy in my hands and full body shortly after, and then I started sweating a lot.”
“I started weightlifting and my chest felt slightly heavy and hurting a bit. I ignored it because I assumed it was anxiety or a panic attack and continued with my workout.”
“I took a shower but still felt nauseous with a headache and couldn't eat dinner.”
“I still decided to go to work, but at work the symptoms of heavy chest and chest pain came back but more intense.”
“In the locker room I was sweating profusely again and my head was hurting. The pain went to my back and my left arm. That’s when I knew it wasn’t anxiety and was maybe a heart attack.”
After a trip to the hospital, Portillo was diagnosed with an NSTEMI heart attack.
How to Take Pre-Workout Supplements Safely
Even if you follow the instructions and sip slowly, pre-workout supplements aren’t exactly the safest thing to incorporate into your diet.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require supplements to be tested prior to going to market, so the only way to know you’re getting what your product says you’re getting is to buy supplements that are tested by an independent third party, like NSF.
Anyway, if you do choose to indulge in a pre-workout powder, here’s the proper protocol:
- Check the amount of caffeine on the supplement label and start with a dose of 150 mg.
- Mix one serving of pre-workout powder with 8 ounces of water.
- Drink the mixture 30 minutes before your workout—this is how long it takes the ingredients to kick in (avoid taking it 6 hours before you go to bed).
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, since pre-workout supplements can dehydrate you.
Are You Prepped for Gym Poops?
Between mega doses of caffeine and vigorous exercise, the gym creates the perfect storm for explosive dumps. The internet is littered with stories of dudes shitting themselves mid-workout, so make sure you’re packing DUDE Wipes in your gym bag in case you get the Hershey squirts in the squat rack.