best pre workout supplement

The 18 Best Pre-Workout Supplements

In this pre-workout ranking, RAVE sets out to match you up with the best pre-workout supplement for your specific needs.

Pre-workout supplement brands take very different approaches to formulating their products. You’ll find different dosages and ingredient formulations that prioritize certain benefits over others.

So, finding the best pre-workout supplement to boost athletic performance comes down to finding the product that best matches your individual needs.

Key Point: In this article, we have scoured the pre-workout market to find the best pre-workout supplements and formulas to match every major group of individual needs. Check out the sneak peak below, or jump to the ranking here.

Here are some quick links to each preworkout category and the selection we made, as well as the why:

What are the Different Kinds of Pre-workout?

The best pre workout

Since pre-workout supplements contain so many ingredients, the balance of these ingredients can be adjusted to serve different purposes.

A weightlifter will want lots of L-Citrulline and Nitrates like beet root extract to maximize blood flow and pump. Most women will want smaller doses of all the ingredients than men, particularly in the case of caffeine.

The Main Kinds of Pre-Workout

Unlike those looking to lose weight with thermogenic pre-workouts, athletes and endurance runners want more electrolytes and endurance ingredients. Serious weight-lifters on the other hand would want things like creatine and beta-alanine.

As such pre-workout brands will often formulate their products to cater to different these different kinds of needs, a user-profile of sorts.

Here is a quick list of the various kinds of pre-workouts that exist:

  • For men
  • For women
  • Mass gain / Bulking
  • Thermogenic / Weight Loss / Fat Loss
  • For athletes / Sport
  • Nootropic / Mood enhancing
  • Focus heavy for gamers (video games)

Key Takeaway: Depending on your fitness goals you will want to shop for different pre workout formulas that contain the ingredients that you need.

What are the Most Important Pre-workout Ingredients?

The science based ingredients in pre-workout supplements are thought to increase focus, drive, and energy—thus enhancing athletic performance. But what is in them?

Our review of the best pre-workout supplements focuses primarily on what many consider to be “the big three” essential pre-workout ingredients—Caffeine, L-Citrulline, and Beta-Alanine. All three of these are well studied and the scientific literature makes it clear that they offer real benefits. Sl what do these nutrients actually do? And how much of each compound should be in your pre-workout supplement?

Key Takeaway: The “big three” pre workout ingredients are all based on proven science: Caffeine, L-Citrulline, and Beta-Alanine.


Caffeine is an ingredient we’re all familiar with. This natural stimulant is found in your morning coffee and is also one of the main compounds in pre-workout supplements. You get about 95 milligrams per cup in your coffee, which helps wake you up and make you more mentally alert.

But studies show that caffeine has clear ergogenic effects. That means it increases blood flow, improves endurance, and enhances performance. It can even lower your perception of how hard you’re working out. For these reasons, caffeine is typically included in pre-workout drinks in much higher amounts than you get in your morning cup of joe. 

Of course, many people don’t enjoy the feeling of being overcaffeinated, and some can’t tolerate high doses of caffeine. A lot of this depends on your genetics.

Takeaway: Depending on your tolerance level, you’ll want to try and stay under the recommended daily dose of 400 milligrams of caffeine. That means you might need to adjust your morning coffee habit when taking a pre-workout supplement. 


L-citrulline is an amino acid that produces nitric oxide. This chemical expands your blood vessels, improving blood flow. It can be especially beneficial when working out, since improving blood flow allows more oxygen to get to your muscles. Studies show that L-citrulline can provide a significant boost in athletic performance. And it may even help you feel less sore after working out. 

Key Takeaway: If you’re a bodybuilder or weightlifter, 8 to 10 grams of L-citrulline in your pre-workout supplement is ideal. However, four to six grams is recommended for women, beginners, and everyone else. 


Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. That means that while your body makes this compound, you don’t need to get it from food. And it’s not an essential building block of protein. Instead, it makes other chemicals in your body. 

One of the main functions of beta-alanine is to reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles. This allows you to work out harder and longer without your muscles getting fatigued. 

The recommended dosage of beta-alanine is two to five grams. But many people find that taking over two grams gives them a tingling sensation and flushing. This is a result of the increased blood flow it causes.

Key Takeaway: Some athletes love this sensation of tingly skin, while others find it uncomfortable. It’s not dangerous, but if you fall in the latter category, look for a pre-workout with less than two grams of beta-alanine. 

Thermogenic Pre-Workouts for Weight Loss

Thermogenic pre-workouts focus on thermogenic ingredients like:

  • Caffeine
  • Capsicum
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Citrus Aurantium
  • Choline
  • Green tea
  • Guarana
  • Green coffee
  • Yohimbine

These ingredients help the body burn through its fat stores as an energy source during workouts.

Key Takeaway: In other words, taking thermogenic pre workouts while exercising regularly is an excellent way to burn fat.

Many pre-workouts contain additional compounds designed to work alongside the big three. Some of these are B vitamins, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), green tea, choline, creatine, and others. Each can play a critical role in metabolism and energy production. 

Most Important Pre-Workout Ingredients: Functions & Doses

IngredientFunctionsLow DoseOptimal DoseHigh Dose
CaffeineEnergy, Drive & Focus100mg275mg350mg
L-CitrullineBlood Flow, Pump & Endurance 3g8g10g
Beta-AlanineEndurance & Anti-Fatigue1g2.5g 5g
Betaine anhydrousStrength & Power1g2.5g4g
CreatineStrength & Power1g2.5g 5g
Taurine Endurance & Force Output500mg1.5g 3g
Alpha GPCFocus & Power100mg300mg600mg
TyrosineMood & Focus500mg1.5g3g
SodiumMuscular Hydration, Blood Volume50mg150mg300mg
PotassiumMuscular Contraction & Hydration30mg80mg200mg

The Key Ingredients: A good pre-workout should include at minimum Caffeine for energy, L-Citrulline for blood flow and Beta-Alanine for endurance.

Pre Workout Dosage by Brand

The Best Pre-Workout Supplements
Go longer and harder with more intensity and better results using pre-workout supplements.
Pre-Workout SupplementCaffeineL-CitrullineBeta-Alanine
1st phorm – Project-1350mg4g2.5g
4 Gauge150mg4g0
Alani NU200mg1.6g6g
Alpha Lion – Super Human Burn162.5mg4g3.2g
Animal – Primal300mg6g3.2g
Ascent Protein – Pre-Workout150mg00
Beyond Raw – Lit AF300mg6g3.2g
BUCKED UP300mg4g2g
Cellucor – C4 Original150mg.7g1.6g
Cutler Nutrition – Prevail250mg2g0
Do Vitamins PurePump Pre-Workout Formula200mg2g2g
Genius – Pre04g2g
Ghost Gamer75mg00
GHOST LEGEND® pre-workout250mg4g3.2g
GORILLA MIND175mg4.5g0
Huge Supplements – Wrecked350mg8g3.5g
Inspired – DVST8 of the Union225mg2g1.6g
Jacked Factory Nitrosurge180mg3g1.6g
Kaged Pre-Kaged274mg6.5g1.6g
Legion Pulse350mg8g3.6g
MyProtein THE Pre-Workout150mg4g2.0g
Naked Nutrition – Naked Energy200mg02g
Nutrabio – PRE350mg6g3.2g
NutraBio – Stim-Free06g3.2g
Old School Labs – Vintage Blast150mg5g1g
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout175mg750 micro.1.5g
Perfect Keto – Keto Perform50mg.5g1.5g
Pro Supps – Mr Hyde Signature206mg.25g1.5g
Rari Nutrition – Infinity175mg2g1.6g
Redcon1 – Total War350mg03.2g
Ryse – Godzilla400mg4.5g3.2g
Shifted Maximum300mg6g2.5g
Transparent Labs – LEAN180mg4g2g
Transparent Labs BULK210mg4g4g
Type Zero – Clean Stim-Free03.5g400mg
Xwerks – Ignite Pre Workout150mg2g1.5g

Ranking the Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Not all pre-workouts are created equal, nor do they all offer the same results. Today’s market of performance supplements seems like a sea of ingredients with a profusion of claims. As a result, it can be tough to decipher which pre-workout is best for your particular exercise style. Thankfully, Rave Reviews is here to help again with our best pre-workouts list. 

We’ve scoured the market and rounded up nearly every pre-workout available. We scrutinized each one and categorized our top choices. So now you don’t have to search through hundreds of pre-workouts and wonder if you are getting the one that’s best for you.

Here is our list of the top pre-workout powder supplement drinks on the market today:

1. Best Overall Pre-Workout: Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout

In our search for the best overall pre-workout, we looked for comprehensive, smartly selected pre-workout ingredients that are rooted in science and blended to create the best performance edge across the most functional domains (energy, endurance, strength, power, focus, body composition, mood, blood flow).

Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout truly stands apart from the hundreds of pre-workouts we looked at both from a scientific perspective and real world experience. We’ve reviewed Shifted Maximum before and were equally impressed. It also made the #1 cut on our Best High-End Next-Generation Workout Supplements list. 

Shifted’s team of four friends and entrepreneurs claimed,

 “we were tired of filling our gym bags with a bunch of bottles and canisters just to get all the things we need to maximize our workouts .” 

Instead, they wanted to create something to help them push through fatigue and set PRs without getting injured. Plus, they wanted something that would spark motivation and focus not just during workouts but all day long. We believe they achieved that goal with Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout.

This best overall pre-workout is perfectly dosed. With 250mg of Caffeine Anhydrous, 50g delayed release caffeine, 2 grams of L-Tyrosine, and 300mg of Alpha-GPC, you get the energy, mood boost, and focus you want for your workout session. Endurance is covered with 2.5 grams of Beta-Alanine, while 8 grams of L-Citrulline gives you maximum pump. Shifted Maximum contains all of the good stuff we like plus some other terrific ingredients like:

  • CoQ10
  • NItrates from Red Spinach Extract and BeetRoot
  • ElevATP™
  • zumXR™ delayed-release caffeine
  • L-theanine
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Creatine
  • Taurine

There’s the superb taste too. Shifted Maximum comes in Berry or Tropical, and we love them both. Also, like any great pre-workout supplement, you can grab a free sample pack of four and a shaker bottle.

Runner-Up: Kaged Pre-KagedⓇ

We love Kaged’s Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout so much that we made it the runner-up for the best overall Pre-Workout. It delivers intense energy and focuses the mind like a laser. In addition to organic PurCaf® Caffeine, organic Taurine, and plant-based BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids), the product is formulated with a complete profile of fermented, organic ingredients. Energy, endurance, strength, power, focus, body composition, mood, and blood flow? Pre-Kaged aces it all.

Kaged was created from a need for health-focused, ultra-premium products. They know that supplements aren’t everything and always stress the importance of healthy habits, but they also know that the right supplements will enhance your natural abilities. Pre-Kaged is the perfect formula to do that.

Coming in with 6500 mg of L-citrulline and 1600 mg of CarnoSyn beta-alanine, Pre-kaged packs the punch you want, but it doesn’t stop there. Patented high-quality ingredients like these give maximum effect:

  • BetaPowerⓇ
  • Patented Creatine HCLⓇ
  • SPECTRA™ Total ORC Blend

Pre-Kaged doesn’t disappoint in taste either, with six flavors to choose from: Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Grape, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Orange Krush, and Cherry Bomb. We loved them all! And if the packaging says anything about a product, this one wins. The black minimalist design of the Pre-Kaged container is attractive and sleek.

2. Best Tasting Pre-Workout: BUCKED UP®

Even the most superior pre-workout supplements can end up on the pantry shelf if they aren’t palatable. A good pre-workout drink should have the right stack of ingredients but still be smooth, non-grainy, and enjoyable. With BUCKED UP, you get the best of both worlds. 

Founded by brothers Ryan and Jeff Gardner, BUCKED UP is one of the top-selling pre-workout brands on the market. The pair formulated it with the idea that stimulants should not be the only ingredient enhancing your training. It contains zero calories and no sugar or creatine. Plus, Bucked Up is GMP-certified and Keto and Paleo-friendly.

We love that BUCKED UP doesn’t use proprietary blends, so no mystery ingredients are hidden in your pre-workout supplement. One scoop of BUCKED UP contains 200 mg of Caffeine and 2000 mg of Beta-Alanine. Plus, it has six grams of Citrulline, so it’s perfect for those who are serious about performance. The company is completely transparent about its other key ingredients, too, which include:

  • Deer Antler Velvet
  • AlphaSize® 
  • Actigin® 
  • Astragin® 

As far as flavor, it comes in as the best-tasting pre-workout on our list. The most popular flavor is RocketPop, a sweet/tart blend of cherry, raspberry, and lime. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, there are 16 other flavors, including Sour Gummy, Wild Orchard, Watermelon-Lemonade, and more.


LEGEND was launched in 2016 by the lifestyle sports nutrition brand GHOST®. The company is owned by Ryan Hughes and Daniel Lourenco. You’ve probably seen the brand’s trending merch just about everywhere. But its popularity goes beyond the hats and shaker bottles. This pre-workout brand is well-known for its transparency and is committed to full disclosure regarding every active ingredient in the product.  

For starters, it contains 4000 mg of vegan-fermented L-Citrulline, making it a top choice for vegans. It also has 3.2 grams of Beta-Alanine to ensure you’re getting a full clinical dose in every serving. In addition, the 250 mg of Caffeine is derived from natural coffee beans, so there’s no crash from artificial stims. Other ingredients include:

  • Nitrosigine®
  • Senactiv®
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Alpha-GPC

We love that you can order samples before committing to something that’s just going to get dusty on your countertop. There are plenty of flavors, too, like Cotton Candy, Strawberry Bubblegum, Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, and more.

3. Best Budget Pre-Workout: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

When you want the best pre-workout for under $30, there’s no need to sacrifice quality. We found Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Pre-Workout to be the best budget pre-workout on the market. Using Caffeine from natural sources combined with creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine, Gold Standard Pre-Workout delivers energy, endurance, performance, and focus.

Optimum Nutrition is not new to the performance scene. They’ve been producing quality supplements for 30 years. These guys know what they are doing. While many budget pre-workouts contain minimal ingredients with fewer effects, Gold Standard packs it all in. 175 mg of Caffeine and 1500 mg of Beta-Alanine are just the basics. This pre-workout also has:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Astragin® blend
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCL
  • Micronized L-Citrulline

Optimum Nutrition didn’t skimp on the taste either. They’ve got Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, and Watermelon. And the 300-gram container means you only pay $1 per serving. 

Runner-Up: Pro Supps – Dr. Jekyll Signature

We honestly had a hard time choosing the best budget pre-workout runner-up. We knew it had to be a product from ProSupps but which one? Both the Dr. Jekyll Signature and Mr. Hyde Signature pre-workouts stood out as perfect budget pre-workouts. Each is available for under $25, and each contains stellar ingredients. But the nootropic profile of Pro Supps Dr. Jekyll SIgnature Pre-Workout made it stand out the most. The mind is powerful, and when you push yourself to the max in a workout, extra mental energy will win the race. 

Pro Supps has a product for any fitness lover or athlete, pre- to post-workout. Their performance products contain only the highest quality ingredients. We love the synergistic nootropic pre-workout effects that come from the Dr. Jekyll Signature Pre-workout. Get better performance with 1600 grams of Beta-Alanine and 1500 mg of Creatine and get mental energy from ingredients like:

  • KSM 66® Ashwagandha
  • Choline Bitartrate
  • Panax Ginseng
  • NooLVL™ Inositol Enhanced Arginine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Black Pepper Extract

Still, if you need Caffeine and L-citrulline, Pro Supp’s Mr. Hyde Signature Pre-Workout doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it makes the list for Biggest Energy Pre-workout later in this article.

While it only comes in Blue Lemonade, the flavor is so good you don’t need other options. At 30 servings for under $25, ProSupp’s Dr. Jekyll Signature Pre-Workout is one of the best budget pre-workouts you can find. 

4. Best Pre-Workout for Maximum Pump: Gorilla Mode

For maximum pump, the best pre-workout needs high doses of L-Citrulline, Glycerol, Nitrates, and Creatine. We found Gorilla Mind’s Gorilla Mode pre-Workout formula to have all that and more, making it our #1 choice for the best pre-workout for maximum pump. Gorilla Mind, out of Boise, Idaho, takes its performance supplements seriously. And their products have been wildly popular on the supplement scene in 2021. 

You want serious ingredients for the best pump power during your workout. You want the power of a gorilla. Here’s what we loved: it is the only pre-workout on the market with 4500 mg of L-Citrulline in its purest form. Even better is that Gorilla Mode contains 1500 mg of GlycerPump™ Glycerol and 2500mg Creatine Monohydrate to guarantee you get the maximum pump. Here’s where Gorilla Mode goes above and beyond with ingredients like:

  • Kanna
  • Agmatine Sulfate
  • BioPerine
  • Huperzine A
  • L.Tyrosine
  • N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate

The flavor choices of Gorilla Mode are phenomenal. They have 11 in all, including Tiger’s Blood, Mojito Mojito, Cherry Blackout, Mouth Watering Watermelon, Bombsicle, and plenty more.  

Runner-Up: Kaged – Pre-KagedⓇ

In addition to being the runner-up choice for best overall pre-workout, Kaged’s Pre-Kaged also gets runner-up status for the best pre-workout for maximum pump. It not only meets our best maximum pump standard of high doses of L-Citrulline, Glycerol, Nitrates, and/or Creatine, but it also blows us away in synergistic effects.

Since we already raved about it earlier on this list, let’s let a customer from the Kaged website explain why Pre-Kaged is one of the best pre-workouts for maximum muscle pump: 

“I’ve been using this product for years and still get the same pump every time. Great ingredients that are proven. You won’t find this quality anywhere else.” 

Here’s why Pre-Kaged gives you the pump you want:

  • L-Citrulline
  • PurCaf® Organic Caffeine
  • SPECTRA™ Total ORAC Blend
  • Taurine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine
  • L-Leucine
  • L-Valine

Did we already mention we love the packaging and superb taste? That sleek black tub gets us every time. Of course, you can’t go wrong with any of those seven flavor options, but if we were forced to pick, we’d go with the Krisp Apple.

5. Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Bucked Up®

In our painstaking search for the best pre-workout for beginners, we wanted a product with simplicity, great taste, good energy, and minimal jitters. To nobody’s surprise, Bucked Up beats the competition again. Beginners want a pre-workout that tastes great and gets the job done but isn’t too overstimulating. This is precisely why we chose Bucked Up for this category as well. 

We also chose Bucked Up as the best pre-workout for beginners because of its availability. If you are new to the performance market, it’s hard to know where to look. Bucked Up is available in over 10,000 stores worldwide and is in almost every online supplement resale shop you can find. Free sampler packs are easy to get on their website so that you can see what all the fuss is about. The package also comes with a shaker bottle for the beginner that might not have one.

Runner-Up: Ghost – Legend®

With great taste, good energy, minimal jitters, and availability as our criteria for the best pre-workout for beginners, choosing the runner-up was easy. Ghost’s Legend® has all of those and is vegan-friendly and sugar-free. And to be honest, that packaging got us too. Bright colors and big lettering on a white tub? Yes, please. Legend has just the right amount of the good stuff you need but not too much for a beginner.

Ghost – Legend keeps it simple but effective with 4000mg of L.Citrulline, 3200mg of Beta-Alanine, and 250mg of natural Caffeine. The synergistic blend and perfect dosing of its other ingredients make for an excellent workout without any side effects. Other ingredients include:

  • Astragin® Panax Ginseng
  • Alpha GPC
  • Theobromine
  • Taurine
  • L.Tyrosine
  • Nitrosigine®
  • Senactiv®

Flavor choices include Peach and Blue Raspberry, and each tub contains 25 servings. Sample servings are available on the Ghost website, so beginners or anyone can try Legend and love it as much as we did.

6. Biggest Energy Pre-Workout: Pro-Supps – Hyde Xtreme

For those who want big energy during their workouts, Pro Supps’ Hyde Xtreme is the best on the market. Their formula focuses on delivering a huge boost to both mental focus and energy levels, so that you can maximize your output during your workout regimen.

Hyde Xtreme accomplishes by delivering a potent formula for maximum energy:

  • Caffeine Matrix – 420mg
  • Choline Bitartrate – 500mg
  • L-Theanine – 50mg
  • N-Acetyl Tyrosine – 50mg
  • Theacrine – 25mg
  • Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) – 25mg

What’s great about this energy formula is that it provides a huge caffeine dose for all you gym rats out there with a high tolerance. It also offers pretty much every energy boosting ingredient you can think of as well as Tyrosine to encourage positive mental energy by increasing dopamine levels.

But the stand out ingredient here is L-Theanine, which helps the body maintain steady energy without big crashes or jitters during or post-workout.

But you won’t just get a blast of clean energy with this pre workout mix either, you’ll get all the other key ingredients needed to increase your performance in the gym, particularly in strength and resistance training:

  • Beta Alanine – 2.5mg
  • Creatine – 1g
  • Citrulline – 500mg
  • Arginine Silicate – 500mg

Runner-Up: Ryse – Godzilla® Pre-Workout

How about 400mg of sustained Caffeine for the biggest energy pre-workout runner-up? Ryse’s Godzilla Pre-Workout gives you 350mg of Caffeine Anhydrous for instant impact and 50mg of zümXR® Extended-Release Caffeine to keep you going. There’s no doubt this one is a monster. Get pumps that crush cities, razor-sharp focus, and long-lasting explosive energy. 

With 12 ingredients, five clinically studied trademarks, and the tasty blast of Monsterberry Lime flavor, this pre-workout is ready for battle. Here’s what we love the most about this product: Godzilla also contains Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to balance your PH levels and aid in muscle recovery. The other top-of-the-line ingredients include:

  • L-Citrulline
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Choline
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Vitacholine®
  • VasoDrive-AP®
  • Theobromine
  • Thinkamine™

The ingredients that deliver big on energy and focus are Theobromine, Thinkamine™, and Choline. Choline helps your body more efficiently convert B Vitamins into energy, while Thinkamine™ is a powerful nootropic shown to boost cognitive function. And then Theobromine provides somewhat more mild energy that is steady and consistent, without the peaks and valleys of energy from caffeine.

Godzilla Pre-Workout is an energy-giving beast in a great-looking container. Of course, we are suckers for good looks, and that black tub with metallic graphics wins in that department.

7. Best Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout: NutraBio – Stim-Free

A great pre-workout can be effective and give immense energy, stamina, focus, and gains without containing stimulants at all. NutraBio’s Stim-Free Pre-workout is our top choice for the best stimulant-free pre-workout because it gives powerful effects without packing in the Caffeine. Designed for fitness lovers sensitive to Caffeine, late-night gym-goers, and anyone else wanting a pre-workout that retains the performance-boosting elements without feeling skittery or high-strung. 

By supporting power, giving endurance, combating fatigue, and enhancing the mind-muscle connection, PRE Stim-Free helps prepare your body physiologically and psychologically for workouts. 2300mg of Beta-Alanine and 6500mg of Leucine + Creatine are PRE Stim-Free’s base components, but the real magic lies in the synergy of the formula. Check out these powerful non-stimulant ingredients:

  • Agmatine Sulfate
  • Huperzine A
  • Nitrosigine®
  • Choline Bitartrate
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Citrulline
  • Inositol
  • Taurine

The 20-serving tub comes in two fantastic flavors: Watermelon and Dragonfruit Candy. With its excellent taste, ingredients, and dosages, we found NutraBio PRE Stim-Free to be the best available pre-workout without stimulants.

Runner-Up: Type Zero – Clean Stim-Free

 We didn’t choose the runner-up for the best stimulant-free pre-workout just because of its name, but it did make our choice a bit easier. Type Zero Clean Stim-Free Pre-Workout + Nitric Oxide Booster is an excellent pre-workout that gives you everything you want in a pre-workout without the stimulants. We love the Nitric Oxide Boosting ingredients and the fact that it is sugar-free. 

Clean Stim-Free contains all-natural, high-quality, keto-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free ingredients to give you the most effective workout boost. Type Zero also has BioPerine for bioavailability, ensuring you get the full benefits of each ingredient. Here’s the lineup:

  • Citrulline Malate
  • Arginine AKG
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Beet Root Extract
  • GABA
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
  • Beta-Alanine
  • BioPerine (Black Pepper Extract)

Type Zero’s Clean Stim-Free Pre-workout comes in Fruit Punch and Cherry Limeade. 

8. Best All-Natural Pre-Workout: Old School Labs – Vintage Blast™

We love all-natural pre-workouts. The idea of taking something natural is comforting. There’s just something about ingredients made in a lab that can be unsettling. So we investigated the pre-workout market for the best all-natural pre-workout. We looked for one that gives all the desired effects—naturally. We found Old School Labs Vintage Blast to surpass every other all-natural pre-workout out there (besides our runner-up, of course, but more on that in a bit).

What we love about Vintage Blast is that they are so transparent; they even disclose the “other ingredients” and the source for each one on their website. From the Citric Acid to the Organic Red Beet Juice Powder, every ingredient in Vintage Blast is 100 percent natural and truly powerful. The impact of your workout from these organic ingredients is stellar:

  • L-Citrulline Malate 
  • Beta-Alanine 
  • D-Aspartic Acid 
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • L-Arginine AKG 
  • L-Carnitine Titrate
  • Caffeine Anhydrous

Organic Stevia Leaf and Natural Pineapple Fruit Powder are used as sweeteners so that all five available flavors of Old School Labs Vintage Blast taste just as good as even the yummiest pre-workouts on our list. 

Runner-Up: Promix®

Promix is our runner-up for the best all-natural pre-workout for more than just being all-natural. This vegan-friendly vegetable-based pre-workout simplicity is its superpower. Containing only five ingredients, Promix maximizes focus and performance in a clean, healthy, and effective way. They don’t jam-pack it full of Caffeine either. Instead, 200mg of Green Coffee Bean extract is just enough to give you the energy you want without the jitters. These ingredients are proven effective and deliver healthy and natural stamina:

  • B12 (Methylcobalamin)
  • Beta-Alanine
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
  • Taurine

Promix pre-workout is sugar and carb-free, so you can achieve your athletic goals without compromising. The excellent flavors also come from natural organic compounds. Choose from Lemon, Mixed Berry, Cherry Lime, or Raspberry Lemon. 

9. Best Keto-Friendly Pre-Workout: Perfect Keto Perform

Perfect Keto’s Keto Perform is our top pick for the best keto-friendly pre-workout for its low carbs and ketogenics. This product was designed to support strength and endurance, keeping you going all day with less Caffeine than traditional pre-workouts, and added BCAAs and MCTs. Keto Perform is for anyone who wants energy and performance on the keto diet—without any junk.

With 5g of MCT, Keto Perform is excellent fuel to boost ketones for any workout. And this supplement contains only natural ingredients—no corn starch, no fiber, and no fillers. However, here’s what Perfect Keto does have (the good stuff):

  • Creatine monohydrate 
  • Beta-alanine 
  • L-citrulline 
  • VegiSurge® Natural Caffeine
  • BHB Blend
  • MCTs and BCAAs

The attractive light blue Keto Perform container gives you 15 servings, and comes in a delicious Lemon flavor. So tasty, we could drink it like lemonade all day long.

Runner-Up: Cellucor® – C4 Original

We love Cellucor’s C4 Original Pre-workout. It has so many great things about it that we could have put it in many categories on our list. But if you’re looking for a pre-workout that gives you energy, pump, endurance, focus, and stamina and is also ketogenic, C4 Original is a top choice. 

With less than 1 gram of total carbohydrates and 0 grams of sugar, Cellucor formulated a perfect pre-workout for the keto dieter. In addition, they included B and C vitamins and the right amount of niacin to complement these other quality ingredients:

  • CarnoSyn®
  • N03-T®
  • Citrulline Malate
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Velvet Bean
  • Teacrine®

The Cellucor C4 Original Pre Workout comes in five fabulous flavors, including our favorite, Orange Burst. The 30-serving tub is the perfect amount to keep you going.

10. Best Pre-Workout for Gaming (E-Sports): Gamma Labs – G-Fuel

When we were looking for the best pre-workout for gaming, we wanted lower doses of Caffeine and pump ingredients with plenty of nootropics. After all, working out doesn’t always mean lifting weights at the gym. Pushing for six hours straight on your game console requires some serious fuel. We found the best pre-workout for gaming to be G-Fuel by Gamma Labs.

G-Fuel was designed to power through a serious gaming session with tons of mental focus and energy. This stuff comes in so many flavors we can’t even list them all, so we chose to focus on the Sonic-inspired Peach Rings. There’s no sugar in it and just the right amount of Caffeine, so you get no crash. The energy and focus blends in G-Fuel are dosed perfectly with ingredients like:

  • Taurine
  • L.Citrulline
  • Caffeine
  • L.Tyrosine
  • Adenosine 5

The taste of G-fuel comes from the antioxidant blend of over 20 different fruit powders like blueberry, orange, melon, sour cherry, and plum. It’s also fortified with essential vitamins to ensure your head stays clear and in the game.

Runner-Up: Ghost® – Gamer

 Ghost makes our list again with their Gamer supplement. This time as the runner-up for the best pre-workout for gaming. Nootropic ingredients and energy are the keys to e-sports performance, and Gamer delivers. This combo of brain-boosting nootropics and natural energy ensures you’re prepared for the day’s adventures. 

Ghost’s Gamer blends the most effective amount of L.Tyrosine (500mg) with 75mg of Caffeine and 500mg of Taurine, just for starters. Check out the rest of the amazing ingredients:

  • AstraGin®
  • Cognizin®
  • Noolvl™
  • Theobromine
  • Raw Coconut Water Powder

There are six delicious flavors available for Gamer. We adored the Swedish Fish. And, of course, there’s the brightly colored 40-serving tub that looks damn good sitting on your gaming desk.

11. Best Pre-Workout for Women: Shifted – Premium Formula

Here comes Shifted again, but this time it’s their Premium Formula Pre-workout that makes the cut for the best pre-workout for women. The lower Caffeine and Beta-Alanine doses in Premium made the choice for us. When we reviewed this product in our Shifted Supplements Pre-Workout Review, we were blown away by the synergy and quality of the ingredients used in all of their supplements. 

Premium Formula takes the cake for a woman’s perfect pre-workout. Lighter doses of the good stuff are perfect for women’s smaller bodies: 

  • Niacin
  • B6
  • B12
  • Magnesium
  • Red Spinach Extract
  • zumXR™ Delayed-Release Caffeine
  • ElevATP™ (Ancient Peat and Apple Fruit Extract)
  • Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Beet Root Extract
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • L-Theanine
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Shifted Premium Formula Pre-workout’s 30-serving container comes in Berry and Tropical flavors. Both tasted so good we couldn’t decide which was better.

Runner-Up: Powher®

The name of the product we chose as the runner-up for the best pre-workout for women says it all. Powher. Formulated to give an unfair advantage, this pre-workout formula is designed to help women achieve their desired goals. 

A key component of Powher’s unique formula is its secret weapon: EnXtra®. This caffeine amplifier enhances the effectiveness of the Caffeine in the product, so you feel energized for longer. In addition, the other ingredients complement each other perfectly, making for an excellent pre-workout for women. They include:

  • Vitamins B6 & 12
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Instantized Leucine
  • ReNitem™
  • CocoMineral™
  • Oxygun™
  • L.Tyrosine

The Pink Lemonade flavor, pink label, and pink powder crystal make it known that Powher is formulated for women; we love that.

12. Best Pre-Workout for Bulking & Gaining Muscle: Gorilla Mode

Gorilla Mode is back, but this time as the best pre-workout for bulking & gaining muscle. For maximum bulking, the best pre-workout needs high doses of Creatine and Betaine. We found Gorilla Mind’s Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout Formula to take the lead once again.  

Gorilla Mode’s 2500mg of Creatine Monohydrate and 1250mg of Betaine Anhydrous make it one powerful formula for muscle gains. When you want the power of a gorilla for maximum bulk, Gorilla Mode does it with ingredients like these:

  • Kanna
  • Agmatine Sulfate
  • BioPerine
  • Huperzine A
  • L.Tyrosine
  • N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate

There are 11 flavor choices of Gorilla Mode, making sure everyone gets what they like. We favored the Tiger’s Blood, Mojito Mojito, and Cherry Blackout, but the Mouth Watering Watermelon was a close contender. 

Runner-Up: Transparent Labs- BULK

Our runner-up for the best pre-workout for bulking & gaining muscle is BULK Pre-Workout by Transparent Labs. BULK stands out from the competition with a comprehensive, time-tested ingredient lineup and no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors. The BULK formula is designed to maximize your strength, muscle pumps, stamina, focus, and energy during your workout while promoting lean muscle growth.

BULK’s got 2500mg of BeatPure™ Betaine Anhydrous, making it super effective for gains. And it’s got an excellent synergistic blend of the stuff you need for bulking muscles. As the brand implies, Transparent Labs is 100 percent transparent, showing the exact amount of each ingredient in its powerful blend. Here is what makes up this blend we love:

  • Citrulline malate 
  • Beta-alanine
  • BCAA 
  • L-tyrosine
  • L-Theanine
  • L-Taurine 
  • AlphaSize®
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Infinergy™
  • Theobromine
  • Astragin®

All 11 flavors taste fantastic. BULK’s 30-serving tub comes in Sour Grape, Watermelon, Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Lemon Lime, Black Cherry, and Peach Mango.

13. Best Pre-Workout for Sports Athletes: Kaged – Pre-Kaged Sport

Kaged makes it back on our list, but this time as the best pre-workout for sports athletes. Pre-Kaged Sport was “formulated to enhance your athletic performance.” With a team of athletes and nutrition experts, Kaged developed Pre-Kaged Sport with ingredients like BetaPower® betaine, fermented plant-based Citrulline to improve blood flow to your muscles, and fatigue-fighting CarnoSyn® beta-alanine to help you dominate your competition.

Our requirements for the best pre-workout for sports athletes were lower doses of Caffeine and higher electrolytes. Pre-Kaged Sports beat out the competition with 188 mg of PurCaf® Organic Caffeine and 500mg of Coconut Water with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt for electrolyte balance and hydration. They didn’t stop there, of course. Check out these other high-quality ingredients:

  • L-Citrulline
  • CarnoSyn®
  • BetaPower®
  • Taurine
  • L-Tyrosine

Kaged’s Pre-Kaged Sport Pre-workout comes in a sleek black container that holds 20 servings. Choose between Fruit Punch, Mango Lime, or Glacier Grape.

Runner-Up: Shifted- Premium Formula

We love Shifted’s product so much that we chose their Premium Formula Pre-workout as the runner-up for best pre-workout for sports athletes. The moderate 250mg dose of Caffeine and high amount of electrolytes made Premium stand out as the perfect runner-up in this category. We know that sports athletes need superior hydration with 0 jitters. Shifted’s Premium Formula is an excellent choice. Since this is the third category that Shifted has made, we’re going to skip the verbiage and get straight to these amazing ingredients:

  • L-Citrulline
  • Betaine anhydrous
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Beet Root Extract
  • Taurine
  • L-tyrosine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Alpha GPC
  • L-theanine
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Astragin®
  • Bioperine®

Any pre-workout supplement that contains Bioperine always impresses us. The bioavailability it increases for the other ingredients is profound. What else impressed us was the taste! Both Berry and Tropical were yummy.

14. Best Pre-Workout for Endurance Athletes: Shifted – Maximum Formula

Shifted Maximum Formula is one of the rare pre-workouts that includes L-Citrulline and nitrates at high and effective doses. It also contains Beta-Alanine, Extended-Release Caffeine, and plenty of electrolytes, placing it at the top for the best pre-workout for endurance athletes (runners and cyclists). Shifted MAXIMUM provides you with all the energy and nutrients required to perform as optimally as possible for more extended periods.

We’ve raved about Shifted’s products enough in this article; let’s let a customer tell you how great the Maximum Formula is. Sara A. says, 

“The results that I get from this formula are incredible—intense focus, endless energy, pump, and no crash or jitters. I am replacing 3 other daily products in my stack with this one product! Worth its weight in gold. I am a Shifted believer.” 

Sarah’s a believer, and we are too. Check out the incredible formulation of Maximum Formula Pre-workout:

  • L-citrulline
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Taurine 
  • CarnoSyn®
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Oxystorm®
  • Beetroot Extract
  • Alpha-GPC
  • zumXR® delayed-release caffeine
  • L-Theanine
  • ElevATP®
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Co Q-10
  • Astragin®
  • BioPerine®

The Maximum Formula Pre-workout 20-serving container comes in only Berry flavor, but we were more than pleased with the taste. A million flavor choices aren’t necessary when you have a product this good.

Runner-Up: Inspired – DVST8 of the Union

Our choice for the runner-up for best pre-workout for endurance athletes (runners and cyclists) is one of our favorite pre-workouts on the list. Inspired’s – DVST8 of the Union includes the extended-release Caffeine, L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, nitrates, and electrolytes that runners and cyclists need. Inspired Nutraceuticals created this pre-workout for endless endurance, and it shows. DVST8 of the Union contains some of the best patented and powerful ingredients on the market: 

  • ClycerPump™
  • R3 Tonic™
  • EnXtra®
  • Eria Jarensis 
  • zumXR®
  • CoLean™
  • Cocoabuterol®
  • Yohimbine HCL
  • Hordenine

We told you we were suckers for a black tub with killer graphics and DVST8 has it. It also comes in some very cool flavors: Black Nebula, L$D, and Northern Lights. We like that you get 40 servings out of it too.

15. Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Alpha Lion – Superhuman® Burn

In searching for the best pre-workout for weight loss, we looked for a solid product with the best thermogenic ingredients. We found Alpha Lion’s SuperHuman Burn’s thermogenic ingredients to increase your caloric expenditure every time you work out, burning the most fat.

Superhuman has 2000mg of L-Citrulline, 1600mg of Beta-Alanine, and 160mg of zumXR® Caffeine to ensure you get what you need for a max workout. But, Alpha Lions didn’t stop there. Superhuman Burn contains five trademarked ingredients designed to accelerate the fat loss and body recomposition process. Here’s what’s inside:

  • SantEnergy™Nu
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Taurine
  • SXT™ Energy System
  • MitoBurn®
  • Sensoril®
  • CaloriBurn GP®
  • Black Pepper Extract
  • Alfabin®
  • ProGBB®

Alpha Lion came up with some incredible flavors for their 21-serving Superhuman Burn Pre-workout. Choose from Hulk Juice (Sour Gummy Bear), Smurf Juice (Blue Gummy Bear), and Cherry Popper (Sweet Black Cherry).

Runner-Up: Transparent Labs – LEAN

Transparent Labs pops up again with their LEAN pre-workout. The “Ergonenic training and fat loss formula” has thyroid support and a fat-cutting complex so you can lose weight faster. It contains 16 well-sourced ingredients dosed with scientifically-backed recommendations. No sugar either, as LEAN uses only Stevia Extract for a sweetener.

Just like their name implies, Transparent Labs lists each ingredient and its dosage on the label, no prop blend mysteries here. We love that LEAN has BioPerine in it, ensuring the best bioavailability of the other ingredients. And these ingredients are ideal for a hardcore fat-burning workout. Here’s what’s inside:

  • Citrulline Malate
  • Beta-Alanine
  • BCAA 
  • BetaPure™
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCL
  • Choline Bitartrate
  • L-Theanine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Theobromine
  • Infinergy™

The 30-serving tub of LEAN comes in nine delicious flavors: Blue Raspberry, Sour Grape, Green Apple, Orange, Strawberry Lemonade, Watermelon, Sour Peach, Tropical Punch, and Cherry Limeade.

16. Best Pre-Workout for Martial Arts: BlackWolf

For the best pre-workout for martial arts, we wanted less Caffeine and strength/pump ingredients but more energy and endurance. The formulation of Blackwolf Pre-workout not only met our criteria but impressed the heck out of us too. This pre-workout contains scientifically proven ingredients in clinically effective amounts. The right combination of everything ensures a high level of performance every time. And martial artists need serious performance power.

We could babble on about how great Blackwolf is as a pre-workout for martial arts but let’s just let the ingredients speak for themselves:

  • L – Citrulline Malate 
  • Beta-Alanine 
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • L-Arginine
  • Taurine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Dynamine
  • Coconut Water Powder
  • BioPerine
  • DMAE
  • Huperzine

Not only does BlackWolf give you three great flavor options, but they also have a caffeine-free version. Blue Raspberry and Green Apple each contain 200mg of Caffeine, while the Fruit Punch version has no zero caffeine. The 22-serving matte black container will look great in your gym bag too.

Runner-Up: Ladder

Ladder Pre-work is our runner-up for the best pre-workout for martial arts due to its ability to give you endurance and focus. But do you want to hear the coolest part? Ladder was co-founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and LeBron James. Yep, created by two of the most hard-core guys we know.

Each of the ingredients in Ladder is dosed perfectly to give you the mental and physical energy you need for martial arts. We especially like that Ladder contains L-Theanine and Phosphatidylserine so you can stay sharp and focused. The other ingredients that make up this powerhouse of a pre-workout include:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • L-Citrulline
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Caffeine

Ladder doesn’t come in a tub or container but in a perfectly sized 30-serving bag. Pick between Strawberry Lemonade or Tropical Fruit. They are both fantastic.

17. Best Pre-Workout for Teens: GENIUS PRE

GENIUS PRE is hands down the best pre-workout for teens we could find. PRE is a nootropics-based pre-workout with 0 caffeine. Perfect for the growing teenage brain and body. PRE engages the brain with all-natural nutrients and stimulates the muscles with proven, clean ingredients so your body can accomplish more. Just the right amounts of L-Citrulline and Beta-Alanine in PRE give you the power needed for your workout. Plus, there are even more ingredients that give you the mental strength and physical endurance you want:

  • CarnoSyn®
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Arginine
  • AlphaSize®
  • ElevATP®
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Theobromine
  • AstraGin®
  • Huperzine A

Genius PRE is available in three tasty flavors, but they want you to know that flavor isn’t their priority. They say, “As industry insiders, there was a time when we got excited about exotic-sounding flavors and wild colors. However, these were not the foundation of great health or great supplements”. We agree!

Runner-Up: Cellucor® C4 Original

C4 contains only 150mg of Caffeine and the ideal blend of ingredients for the boost needed for a workout or sports game. We love how Cellucor kept its C4 formula basic yet effective with quality ingredients dosed perfectly for a teen. This is why Cellucor C4 Original Pre-workout is our runner-up for the best pre-workout for teens.

The best teen pre-workout will offer muscular endurance, explosive energy, and incredible flavors. And Cellucor’s C4 is just that. The unique patented combo of Nitrates and N03-T® Creatine enhances your pump while CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine helps combat muscular fatigue. There’s no crash either, with just enough Caffeine to be effective but not over-stimulating. Other ingredients include:

  • Citrulline Malate
  • Theacrine
  • Velvet Bean

C4’s 30-serving tub comes in five excellent flavors: Icy Blue Razz, Fruit Punch, Watermelon, Cherry Limeade, and Orange Burst. Pssst, we liked the Blue Razz best.

18. Best Pre-Workout for CrossFit: Huge Supplements – Wrecked

When you need the right stuff for a high-intensity workout, Huge Supplements’ Wrecked is your go-to. We chose it as the best pre-workout for CrossFit because it stands the test for endurance during interval training. In addition, this pre-workout lives up to the text graphics on its container, giving you “Energy, Power, Focus, Pump.”

The blend of L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, and Caffeine is perfect to get you going and keep you pumped. Wrecked also contains highly effective nootropics to keep your brain engaged, like Lions Mane Mushrooms and Agmatine Sulfate. Check out the full line-up and see why Wrecked is the perfect CrossFit pre-workout:

  • Hydromax™
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Malic Acid
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Alpha GPC
  • Eria Jarensis
  • Theobromine
  • Di-Caffeine Malate
  • S7™
  • Black Pepper Fruit Extract
  • Rauwolscine

As you know by now, great-looking packaging gets us every time. It’s not what makes Wrecked so effective, but it sure looks good! It also comes in three incredible flavors. Choose between Raspberry Mojito, Bomb Popsicle, Rainbow Burst, or Peach Rings.

Runner-Up: 4 Gauge

Choosing the runner-up for the best pre-workout for CrossFit was easy. 4 Gauge claims to be an “explosive pre-workout,” and it is! Los Angeles magazine coined 4 Gauge as “One of the best pre-workouts of 2022“. This all-natural pre-workout formula focuses on four aspects: strong focus, intense muscle pumps, lasting energy, and raw strength—all the things you need for interval training and CrossFit workouts. 

4 Gauge uses only stevia as a sweetener leaving sucralose for the other guys. There are only healthy ingredients in this pre-workout. There aren’t 100 different things in the formula either, keeping 4 Gauge simple but highly effective. Here’s what you get:

  • L-Citrulline DL-Malate
  • Caffeine
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Red Beet
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine
  • Coconut Water

The 20-serving container (that looks like a shotgun shell, by the way) comes in a great-tasting Fruit Blast flavor. Each serving of 4 Gauge contains only five calories.

The Most Important Aminos for Your Pre-Workout

The most well studied and potent amino acids for a pre-workout are L-Citrulline, Beta Alanine and Betaine Anhydrous (Trimethylglycine ).

While every amino plays multiple functional roles, the primary function of these three aminos is increased blood flow and pump (L-Citrulline), increased endurance and lower muscular fatigue (Beta Alanine) and increased strength (Betaine Anhydrous).

L-Citrulline is one of the most well studied and frequently included pre-workout ingredient often found dosed as the ingredient citrulline malate. Just be aware that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate isn’t the same as 6 grams of L-Citrulline, and it’s the L-Citrulline that is the effective ingredient you are after. Normally, L-Citrulline makes up two-thirds of Citrulline malate, so you can do the math: 6 grams of Citrulline malate normally equals 4 grams of L-Citrulline. Don’t be fooled!

So what does L-Citrulline do? It increases blood flow to the muscles, reduces toxins in the blood, increases aerobic energy, and can be converted to arginine. All of this helps maximize your pump.

Beta-alanine is another sure-bet pre-workout amino shown to increase performance over time. Beta-alanine is known for the tingles it creates but it’s performance effects are more chronic than acute: that means you need to build it up in your system and its effects are stronger with time.

Ok. So what does Beta-alanine do in the body? As a pre-workout ingredient, its main role is to stave off oxidative stress, which leads to fatigue. If you use beta-alanine, you’re basically giving yourself the tool to push though a few more hard sets in your workout… they just won’t feel quite as hard. And we can all agree: that’s a good thing!

HIIT Workout with The Best Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-Workout can help in all kinds of fitness situations including a HIIT on the stationary bike.

Creatine: An Optional, But Powerful Ingredient

Creatine, usually found as Creatine monohydrate, is a super supplement that everyone should use. There is no question about that. It’s health benefits are innumerable.

The big question though is: should creatine be in a preworkout.

There is a lot of debate in the fitness community about whether Creatine should be used as part of a preworkout. Mostly because it’s timing does not matter. Creatine is most effective when your muscles are saturated over time (say 30 days of continuous use).

Our view is that while not necessary, it would be an unquestionable good for the supplement industry to make creatine standard in pre-workouts.

Why? Because then more people would benefit from its enormous benefits this way. Yes, it’s true that the timing of creatine is not important and it is more of a chronic than acute ingredient (whereas something like creatine is acute, and not chronic). However, for many people, their pre-workout is their only supplement and so it’s a good time to get creatine into the system.

Creatine is so beneficial for health and fitness (muscle growth, strength, recovery, brain and bone health, etc) that we want to reward supplement manufacturers who include it in their pre-workout. So extra points for doing so!

Creatine has been a staple supplement for decades, and for good reason. It is cheap, it works, and it has no negative side effects.

It is found naturally in grass-fed beef, eggs, and wild-caught fish, and it can be easily synthesized. It is also produced naturally in the body.

So what does Creatine do? In a nutshell, it promotes energy regeneration within the muscles, thereby increasing recovery and performance during high-intensity activity including sprints and resistance training.

In other words, creatine is great for those looking to bulk up and build muscle through intense strength training.

Key Takeaway: Creatine helps facilitate the circulation of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which causes your muscles to contract. The ideal daily dose for saturating your muscles is between 2-5g, although no side effects have been identified for higher doses around 10-12g per day.

Should Electrolytes Be in a Pre-Workout?

This is a tough question. Depending on your diet, you may be topped off on electrolytes already.

And if you take too much sodium (probably the most relevant electrolyte for working out), chances are you’ll be spending some time on the toilet.

However, if you’re doing Keto diet or some form of low carb and intermittent fasting, chances are you are low on electrolytes.

Because of this, we recommend that manufacturers microdose their electrolytes in pre workouts. It strikes the proper balance. And if you find that you need more electrolytes, consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your pre-workout next time.

We’ve also written guides on everything you need to know about electrolytes and working out:

FAQ: Using A Pre-Workout Supplement

The purpose of a pre workout is to provide energy and focus so that you can get a few extra reps, a better pump, and better results. Below, we’re going to answer some common questions about how to best use your pre-workout supplements.

Just click the blue text for a drop-down answer!

The Best Pre-Workout Supplements
When Should I Take My Pre-Workout?

Typically, the best time to take your preworkout is 30 minutes before your workout. If you take it too close to your workout, you may get an upset stomach. If you take it too early before your workout, you may miss the prime energy pump.

A good pre-workout drink will provide lasting energy without jitters, and so you typically have a 2 hour peak workout window.

Which Pre-Workout Ingredients Increase Blood Flow & Pump?

The most well researched ingredient for pump is L-Citrulline. You’ve got to be careful because for every 3 grams of Citrulline Malate you’re only getting 2 grams of Citrulline. So keep an eye on that. L-Citrulline is good for an almost instant boost in NO that lasts a good 2 hours and peaks around minute 40.

Other good ingredients for blood flow include nitrates like beet root extract and red spinach extract. Nitrates take a little bit longer to be fully processed by your body and are a great option for endurance sports that take 2-4 hours. L-Citrulline hits hardest in the first hour and then nitrates take over from there.

Which Pre-Workout Ingredients Are Anti-Fatigue and Support Stamina & Endurance?

Beta-alanine is the most well-researched anti-fatigue, stamina enhancing ingredient. Electrolytes like sodium and potassium are also important for endurance. Other ingredients known to support endurance include caffeine, citrulline and nitrates.

Which Pre-Workout Ingredients Increase Strength?

There is no better strength ingredient for a pre-workout than creatine monohydrate. Some studies suggest that Betaine also helps increase strength, but the studies are underwhelming.

Which Pre-Workout Ingredients Increase Focus?

Our favorite pre-workout drink ingredients for focus are Caffeine, Alpha GPC (choline) and L-Tyrosine. Any ingredient that blocks perceptions of stress is good. L-Theanine and is another good choice to maximize the focus you get from caffeine.

Which Pre-Workout Ingredients Are Thermogenic and Support Fat Loss?

Thermogenic ingredients promote fat loss by increasing metabolism. Caffeine is your most common thermogenic ingredient. Others include:

  • Yohimbine
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Capsaicin, Hesperidin
  • Forskolin
  • Narangin
  • Hesperidin
Should I take an Intra-Workout Supplement?

Some people swear by intra-workout drinks to replenish and refresh in between sets and push even harder. Personally, the only intra-workout supplement we take is water to stay hydrated, and even with water we keep it to a few sips. Whether you use an intra-workout really depends on a number of factors.

For example, if your pre-workout has massive amounts of caffeine and your intra-workout has even more caffeine, you may get jittery and even have to tap out early. So make sure that the combined caffeine between your pre-workout and intra-workout are tolerable.

Should I take a Post-Workout Recovery Supplement?

We’re big fans of post-workout protein or EAAs (actually, mixing whey and EAAs is superior), especially the anabolic amino acid leucine that allows maximal muscle recovery.

The good news is that whey protein has about the best amino acid profile there is for post-workout recovery. There are some companies that put out post-workout recovery products with additional beneficial ingredients, but at the end of the day, all you need is whey.

We recommend taking your recovery protein within 30 minutes after a workout. Some people find they need to wait 10 minutes or so after a workout before they can consume any food. Just listen to your body.

Should I Take A Nighttime Protein Supplement?

To maximize your anabolic state overnight, we recommend taking a slow acting protein like Casein. Whereas Whey is ideal for the 30 minute window after a workout, Casein stays in your system a long time and is better used by your body while you are sleeping.

Just keep in mind that if you are into intermittent fasting, your goal is to get out of an anabolic state, in which case Casein works against you. Bottom line: don’t take Casein as you enter into a fast.

Is Taking A Pre-Workout Safe?

The best pre-workout supplements are as safe as a cup of coffee. Just make sure your body can handle the various doseages of caffeine. If you buy one of the best brands that we’ve highlighted in this review, you are good to go.

There are pre-workouts on the market with sketchy fillers and food coloring that you should be wary of. Your best bet to stay safe is to stick with a pre-workout that has all natural ingredients.

Do Pre-Workouts Have Any Dangerous Side-Effects?

The short answer is that they can. Too much caffeine can make anyone jittery and give you an increased heart rate. Pay attention to your total caffeine intake.

Keep in mind that just like a cup of coffee will keep you up at night if you drink it too late in the day, so will a pre-workout. Another side effect is that some pre-workouts give people a flush feeling from excess Niacin.

Beta-Alanine also creates tingles. The bottom line though is that just like any supplement or medicine, the key is to know the proper dosage.

Can I Make My Own Pre-Workout Drink?

Absolutely! If you’re into DIY, you can source all the primary ingredients in bulk and make your own pre-workout. Here are the ingredients you should look into: Caffeine for energy. Creatine to maximize ATP. Beta-Alanine to fight muscle fatigue.

Citrulline to maximize blood flow. Sodium Bicarbonate to fight against acid build up. BCAA’s to increase endurance and slow fatigue. Nitrate for increased nitric oxide and blood flow. A great source of nitrate is beet root. You’ll probably also want to add some flavor to make it all palatable.

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Heather Ryerson

Heather Ryerson is a freelance writer who enjoys creating content across a broad range of industries, including travel, education, cannabis, and more. An iced coffee addict and Maine native, she is happiest when she is fully caffeinated, working near any body of water, and hanging out with the fam.