This is our official list of the best pre-workout supplements to consider. Scroll further down or click “More Info” for full details on each product. You can also jump to our Pre-workout Supplements Guide.
|#1||Transparent Labs PreSeries BULK||
|#2||4 Gauge Pre-Workout||
|#3||Betancourt Bullnox Androrush||
|#4||Cellucor C4 50x||
|#5||Pro Supps Mr. Hyde||
|#6||ENGN Pre-Workout by Evlution Nutrition||
|#7||Rich Piana’s 5% Nutrition Kill It||
|#8||BPI Sports 1.M.R. Vortex||
|#10||Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout||
Most Effective Pre-Workout Supplements Reviewed
PreSeries BULK is a powerful pre-workout supplement developed specifically with bulking in mind. BULK is designed to help give you the energy, power, strength and focus you need to reach your fitness goals, while packing on the muscle and performing at your absolute best. This product contains clinically effective doses of ingredients that have been scientifically proven to be effective at boosting exercise performance. Like all Transparent Labs products, PreSeries Bulk contains NO colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, or harmful additives.
- Specifically formulated for bulking
- Contains 20 active ingredients at proven effective doses
- Increases nitric oxide levels (pump)
- Improves focus
- Increases strength and power
- Reduces fatigue and muscle soreness
- Enhances physical performance
- Contains ZERO colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, artificial sweeteners, or harmful additives
- Contains clinically proven ingredients in scientifically proven effective doses
- Contains proven doses of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAAs, taurine, and more
- Contains a testosterone support blend of vitamin d3, boron and zinc
- Formulated for bulking/muscle gain. Not the best option if you’re looking to lose weight or slim down
Who makes it: PreSeries BULK is manufactured by Transparent Labs, one of the most honest and straightforward companies in the industry. Instead of using pseudoscience, marketing gimmicks and outrageous claims to sell their products, Transparent Labs relies on proven science and word-of-mouth advertising. All their products are designed with one goal in mind: to deliver the best results possible, without the use of any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners, or unnecessary fillers. And, as the name suggests, Transparent Labs is completely transparent with their formulas, listing the specific dosages of ALL ingredients used, alongside an explanation of how each ingredient can help you reach your goals.
In short, Transparent Labs uses scientifically proven ingredients to create innovative, effective, and powerful fitness supplements – and they add one ingredient that is not often found in this industry: honesty.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 6g citrulline malate – improves strength and muscle endurance, and raises nitric oxide levels
- 4g beta-alanine – delays muscle fatigue allowing for longer workouts
- 4g BCAA (2:1:1 ratio) – branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine all help to increase strength, aid metabolism, promote muscle growth, stimulate protein synthesis, and reduce recovery time
- 4g betaine anhydrous – helps reduce fatigue and promotes muscle growth response
- 3g taurine – provides energy and helps reduce next-day muscle soreness
- 600mg tyrosine – increases mental focus and endurance
- 180mg caffeine anhydrous – helps increase focus and reduce the sensation of effort, leading to longer and more effective workouts
Bottom line: Overall, PreSeries BULK is the best pre-workout supplement of 2017. It contains many powerful and effective ingredients, masterfully blended to produce optimal results. It’s also completely free of all unnecessary fillers, artificial sweeteners, and other junk that is commonly found in competing products. PreSeries BULK is one of the most effective products on the market, making it a great choice for anyone looking for an extra boost at the gym.
Get 10% OFF using coupon code “top10supps” at checkout!
|PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout|
4 Gauge gives you an incredible boost in energy, strength, power and stamina. It’s been created to help you train harder, lift heavier and motivate you in the gym. Making it easier and faster to get the body that rock hard body you have been working for.
Do you feel like you’re just going through the motions during your workout? Still lifting the same weight you were 2 months ago? Burning out too quickly?
We all go through this. They are barriers that you must overcome if you want to take your training to the next level and really change your body. 4 Gauge pre workout is the answer. It gives you a clean boost of energy and increases blood flow in just 20 minutes. Making every gym session, a good session.
The unique formulation containing all natural ingredients, delivers a boost of clean energy, without the unwanted side effects – no jitters, no crashes, no itchy skin. Just clean and smooth power. Making this one of the few products on the market that you can take every workout.
- Boosts energy levels – Feel like a beast when you train
- Increases power & strength – Lift more weight, train for longer
- Laser focus & mental strength – Keeps your head in the game
- Build muscle, lose fat – Better workouts, means a better body
- No unwanted side effects – No unsafe ingredients. Low caffeine.
- No artificial flavors or sweeteners – No sucralose. 100% natural
- No energy crash – stay in peak condition until you go home, without a dip in energy during your workout.
- Made in the USA, in cGMP and FDA approved facilities – manufactured under strict regulations, to ensure you receive the highest quality product.
- Use every workout – Safe ingredients, no jitters or energy crashes means you can slam it every time with 4 Gauge
- Only 5 calories per serving – Won’t add bodyfat
- Fast worldwide shipping – From their depots in the USA and UK
- Only available to buy from their website
- Premium price
- Only comes in one flavor
Who makes it: 4 Gauge comes from Roar Ambition, a premium sports supplements company based in the UK. They a select few high-end supplements, aimed at people who are looking for the latest formulations and the best quality available.
Unlike some supplement brands, Roar Ambition are open about their ingredients, there’s no proprietary blends or hidden ingredients. They list every ingredient and the amount and tell you how it works. All completely safe to use, in the correct amounts and backed by studies.
The downside about them is that they only sell direct online through their websites, so you can’t get them from Amazon or your local supplement shop. The company says that they do this to provide the best price and to provide direct customer support.
One serving contains:
- 6,000mg Citrulline Malate – key in raising nitric oxide levels, for optimal muscle pumps.
- 1,000mg Creatine Monohydrate – proven to increase strength and muscular endurance.
- 500mg Acetyl L-Carnitine – improves focus, while reducing fatigue and fat mass.
- 300mg Red Beetroot Extract – promotes nitric oxide levels, resulting in great muscle pumps.
- 300mg Coconut Water Powder – contains electrolytes to keep you hydrated throughout your workout.
- 200mg L-Theanine – enhances the benefits of Caffeine, while keeping you safe from side effects (energy crashes).
- 150mg Caffeine – shown to increase strength, endurance, and cognition (alertness, focus, reaction time).
- 100mg Rhodiola Rosea – significantly reduces fatigue and improves cognition.
Bottom line: 4 Gauge is our number 1 product for a reason, it works. The unique formulation provides your body with the extra boost it needs for you to go harder and longer in the gym.
With the 100% natural ingredients, low caffeine and no artificial sweeteners, you can be sure you won’t experience any unwanted side-effects from 4 Gauge. Just a smooth and clean delivery of energy, power, strength and stamina.
When compared to other leading brands on the market, there’s nothing like 4 Gauge out there. The natural sweetener and low caffeine and l-theanine stack is unique. It’s a product worth trying for every pre workout fan.
|4 Gauge Pre-Workout|
Bullnox Andorush is a unique and innovative product from Betancourt Nutrition. Using an advanced blend of traditional pre-workout ingredients such as beta-alanine and creatine, mixed with testosterone-boosting ingredients like tribulus and ZMA, Bullnox Andorush provides a balanced and complete pre-workout boost. It’s a very different type of product compared to most on this list, and will provide you with a whole new type of energy and drive at the gym.
- Unique and innovative blend
- The first product of its type
- Aggressive and effective energy complex
- Provides explosive energy and endurance
- Increases strength and power
- Excellent boost in focus and drive
- Provides both quick energy and long-lasting endurance
- Boosts natural testosterone levels
- Better quality pumps
- Helps increase muscle mass
- Increases blood flow and nutrient delivery
- More active ingredients than most products on this list
- Considered by many to be the best pre-workout supplement for men
- Great value for money
- 6 great flavors
- Mixes easily
- Tastes great
- Because of its testosterone boosting qualities, this is not the best pre-workout for women
Who makes it: Bullnox Andorush is made by Betancourt Nutrition, a relative newcomer to the sports nutrition industry. Founded by Jorge Betancourt, this company aims to create innovative products to help meet the growing demands of the fitness world. By combining traditional and proven ingredients with new and unique additions, Betancourt has introduced a whole new type of supplement to the industry.
What’s in it: One serving contains 18.1g BullNox Pre-Workout Formula, consisting of:
- Strength and Endurance blend, consisting of creatine (3 forms), beta-alanine, taurine, and more – this blend aims to increase strength, energy, and endurance during your workout, using many of the standard ingredients found in most pre-workout supps
- Nitric Oxide blend, consisting of tyrosine, arginine, creatine AKG, beetroot, and more – this blend helps boost nitric oxide (N.O.) levels in the body, increasing pumps, blood flow and nutrient delivery to increase endurance and workout efficiency
- Endocrine Ignition blend, consisting of zinc oxide, tribulus terrestris extract, horny goat weed extract, maca extract, and more – a blend which stimulates testosterone production in the body, leading to increased drive, energy, focus and strength
- Neural Energy blend, consisting of caffeine anhydrous, tyrosine, and more – a simple blend which helps provide physical and mental energy, boosting focus and extending endurance
- Anabolic Solidification blend, consisting of glutamine, valine, isoleucine and more – a blend of amino acids and other ingredients that help muscles perform at their best, while reducing muscle fatigue and damage and speeding recovery
Bottom line: Overall, Bullnox Andorush is a great product. It uses a wide array of effective ingredients to produce explosive energy, powerful strength, and intense focus and drive. It’s the best pre-workout for pump, and it can also help increase natural testosterone levels, which can have many positive effects in and out of the gym. Because of the powerful ingredients used, it’s not the best choice for beginners, or for women concerned about the potential testosterone boost. For any experienced weightlifter looking for a powerful and effective pre-workout product, Bullnox Andorush is a great choice.
C4 50x by Cellucor is the latest version of the popular C4 line of pre-workout products. It contains the same proven effective ingredients as the original C4, with two new additions and 50% more active ingredients overall. C4 50x has everything you need to perform your best at the gym and blow past your fitness goals.
- Provides explosive energy
- Great for muscle pumps
- Increases strength
- Improves endurance and drive
- 50% more active ingredients as the popular C4 Extreme
- Two new ingredients for even more energy and power: TeaCor and XCELICOR
- Available in three tasty flavors – watermelon, icy blue razz and fruit punch
- Contains vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 for natural energy
- Contains effective doses of creatine, beta-alanine, arginine, tyrosine and more
- Contains creatine nitrate, which causes less bloating compared to monohydrate – making C4 50x the best pre-workout supplement for women.
- Some users don’t like the taste of certain flavors
Who makes it: C4 50x is manufactured by Cellucor, a large scale maker of exercise and nutrition supplements. Since 2002, Cellucor has been using proven effective ingredients, blended by industry professionals, to create some of the most powerful and effective products on the market. They are best known for their C4 line of pre-workout products.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 2.4g beta-alanine – helps give you energy for your workout while reducing fatigue and muscle breakdown
- 1.5g creatine nitrate – helps boost strength and increase intramuscular levels of ATP, giving your muscles more energy to perform at their full potential
- 1.5g arginine – helps increase blood flow to the muscles, keeping them fueled and energized for longer, more intense workouts
- 557mg C4 50x Explosion Blend, consisting of tyrosine, caffeine anhydrous, XCELICOR and TeaCor – a blend designed to deliver explosive energy, providing the power needed to blast through more reps with more weight, and the endurance to keep your pace up through longer periods of exercise
Bottom line: Overall, C4 50x is one of the best pre-workout energy supplements available. This product builds on the success of C4 Extreme, adding even more explosive power and energy, fueled by scientifically proven ingredients. Its use of creatine nitrate instead of creatine monohydrate (which can cause bloating) may make it the best pre-workout for girls.
|Go To Product Page|
Mr. Hyde is a powerful and effective supplement designed to deliver extreme energy, pump and focus for your workout. Loaded with creatine, agmatine sulfate, powerful stimulants, and more, Mr. Hyde covers all the bases to provide a balance, effective boost.
- Uses a powerful complex of thermogenic compounds
- Effective dose of creatine hydrochloride (1g) in every dose
- Potent caffeine blend for maximum focus and energy
- Uses agmatine sulfate for pumps and nutrient transport
- Uses Yohimbe and Pikatropin for increased blood flow and endurance
- Boosts strength and power
- Enhances drive, energy, and focus
- Available in 6 tasty flavors so you can make the best pre-workout mix for your tastes
- Strong effects, may not be the best pre-workout for beginners
- High dose of caffeine, so you shouldn’t take this product at night or you may have difficulty sleeping
Who makes it: Mr. Hyde is made by Pro Supps, a popular and rapidly growing exercise supplement company. Pro Supps develops all types of supplements, but their focus is on pre-workouts, with Mr. Hyde being their most popular product. Pro Supps uses scientifically proven ingredients and creative techniques to develop effective, affordable, and innovative products.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 5,000mg Strength Matrix, consisting of beta alanine (2.5g), creatine hydrochloride (1g), L-leucine (500mg), agmatine sulfate (500mg), and L-citrulline malate (500mg). This blend helps increase strength, pump athletic performance, and muscular endurance for heavier lifts, longer workouts, and better results.
- 419mg Caffeine Matrix, consisting of caffeine anhydrous (300mg), dicaffeine malate (69mg), and caffeine citrate (50mg). This blend helps to increase energy and mental focus, leading to longer and more efficient workouts.
- 154mg Intensity Matrix, consisting of Pikatropin (50mg), tyramine (50mg), hordenine (50mg) and yohimbe bark extract (2mg). This blend helps improve blood flow and nutrient delivery, keeping your muscles fueled for longer.
Bottom line: Overall, Pro Supps Mr. Hyde is a balanced and effective product for anyone looking for a boost at the gym. It uses many ingredients that have been scientifically proven to improve athletic performance, strength, and endurance. The high dose of caffeine means this product is not the best option for those who are sensitive to stimulants, or those who like to exercise at night.
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ENGN Pre-Workout is an effective and unique fitness supplement made by Evlution Nutrition. ENGN aims to provide its users with enhanced cognitive function and mood, increased muscle endurance, and delayed muscle fatigue – for longer, harder, more effective workouts.
- Provides explosive power
- Amplifies pumps
- Maximizes focus
- Provides intense energy
- Contains proven effective doses of creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, and more
- Contains vitamin complex with niacin, B12 and B6
- Best pre-workout brand – named the Breakout Brand of the Year by Bodybuilding.com
- Great value
- Tasty flavors for the best pre-workout drink
- Uses a proprietary blend
Who makes it: ENGN pre-workout is manufactured by Evlution Nutrition, a new and rapidly growing exercise supplement company. Founded in 2013 by former BMX pro Mike Spinner, Evlution Nutrition’s stated goal is to help enhance the lives of their customers by giving them the tools they need to reach their fitness goals.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 1,600mg Carnosyn brand beta-alanine – helps delay muscle fatigue while enhancing strength, power, and endurance.
- 2,000mg Creatine Complex, consisting of creatine monohydrate and magnesium creatine chelate. This blend helps to improve athletic performance and increase strength by aiding in the body’s natural production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
- 2,213mg ENGN Mind-to-Muscle Matrix Proprietary Blend, consisting of betaine anhydrous, choline bitartrate, tyrosine, caffeine anhydrous, and more. This blend aims to provide a balanced mix of energy, focus, drive, strength, and endurance to enhance your workout and allow you to reach your potential.
Bottom line: Overall, ENGN Pre-Workout is a great product for anyone looking for a helpful boost at the gym. ENGN made our list of the most effective pre-workout supplements because it contains many ingredients that are scientifically proven to improve athletic performance.
|EVL Nutrition ENGN|
5% Nutrition Kill It is a powerful and unique pre-workout supplement designed to help you KILL your workout with extra energy, drive, strength, and power. Using both a creatine blend and an endurance blend, this product delivers a balanced pre-workout boost to help you reach your full potential at the gym.
- Great for pumps
- Helps provide extra energy for your workout
- Sharpens focus and drive
- Enhances endurance for longer workouts
- Uses creatine, citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and other proven ingredients
- Includes coconut water concentrate to help refuel your body with electrolytes
- Available in 4 tasty flavors to make the best pre-workout shake for your tastes
- A bit on the expensive side
- Uses a proprietary blend – does not disclose individual dosage amounts of ingredients
Who makes it: This product is manufactured by 5% Nutrition, an exercise supplement company owned by fitness legend Rich Piana. 5% Nutrition develops effective and creative supplements for a variety of fitness applications. The company’s stated goal is to help their customers join the 5% lifestyle – or the lifestyle of the 5% of the population that strives to be the best they can be, in all walks of life.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 1,500mg creatine blend, consisting of magnesium creatine chelate, tri-creatine malate, and creatine pyruvate. This blend aims to provide a balanced and effective dose of creatine supplements, to help boost strength and endurance and help you push out extra reps.
- 7,450mg nitric oxide/endurance blend, consisting of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, tyrosine, and caffeine (250mg). This blend aims to increase endurance, pump and mental focus to help you extend your workouts, allowing for increased performance and optimizing your results.
Bottom line: Overall, 5% Nutrition Kill It is a great product. It delivers extreme energy, making it the best pre-workout for men wanting an intense boost at the gym. Its use of many different proven effective ingredients, alongside several unique additions, make it a good choice for anyone looking to boost their athletic performance.
|5% Nutrition Kill It|
1.M.R. Vortex is a unique and effective pre-workout supplement formulated to enhance and intensify your workouts. It uses a blend of unique ingredients not found in most similar products.
- Unique blend of 5 powerful ingredients
- Uses 3 unique exclusive new compounds to boost workouts
- Provides intense energy
- Improves strength
- Enhances mental focus
- Very affordable
- Very tasty flavors
- Contains fewer proven ingredients than many products on this list
- Can clump when mixing
- Mostly stimulant based
Who makes it: 1.M.R. Vortex is made by BPI Sports, a small but quickly growing sports nutrition company founded in 2010. In their short time in the industry, BPI has quickly developed a following of loyal fans, who enjoy their unique and effective products.
What’s in it: One serving contains a 1,705mg proprietary blend, consisting of:
- Securinega suffruticosa – a powerful central nervous system stimulant that helps increase energy and boost your workout performance.
- Caffeine anhydrous – helps increase energy and mental focus
- Yohimbe – helps increase mood and concentration, and increases fat burning potential
- Indigofera pulchra – can help to reduce inflammation and reduce recovery time post-workout
Bottom line: Overall, 1.M.R. Vortex is a good product. It’s primarily stimulant based, so it may be the best pre-workout energy drink for those looking for an energy boost. 1.M.R. Vortex is effective for many people, however most of the ingredients used are not scientifically proven.
|BPI Sports 1.M.R|
JYM Pre-JYM is an advanced pre-workout formula designed to optimize your workout efforts. It uses a scientifically advanced all-in-one formula that can help you improve your workouts and experience better results.
- Named the Best Pre-workout Supplement of the Year by Bodybuilding.com in 2015, and is likely to be the Best Pre-workout 2017 as well
- No proprietary blends – all individual ingredients and dosages are fully disclosed
- Increases strength
- Improves energy and endurance
- Improves mental focus and drive
- Uses 13 powerful and effective ingredients
- Formulated by Jim Stoppani, PhD
- A bit expensive at almost $2/serving
Who makes it: Pre-JYM is manufactured by JYM Supplement Science, a new and rapidly growing sports nutrition company. JYM is one of the few large supplement companies that is owned by a licensed PhD, Jim Stoppani. They use clinically proven ingredients at proven effective doses to make some of the most balanced and effective products on the market.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- Full doses of 13 science-backed ingredients, including:
- 6g citrulline malate – helps promote muscle endurance and muscle pumps
- 6g BCAAs (2:1:1 ratio) – helps increase muscle growth and performance, while reducing muscle fatigue
- 2g creatine HCL – helps increase strength, muscle endurance, and muscle growth
- 2g CarnoSyn brand beta-alanine – helps increase muscle power and endurance
- 5g betaine – helps improve power and strength during workouts
- 300mg caffeine – helps boost alertness, mental focus, and drive
Bottom line: Overall, JYM Pre-JYM is one of the top pre-workouts on the market. It contains a balanced blend of clinically proven ingredients to help boost your athletic performance. It is rather expensive, which is the only reason it’s not higher on this list. If you’re willing to pay the price, Pre-JYM is a great choice.
|Jym Pre Jym|
Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a simple and effective pre-workout supplement from Optimum Nutrition. It uses pure, clinically proven ingredients to provide a boost in energy, endurance, and strength, to help maximize your workout potential.
- Increases energy and endurance for longer workouts
- Improves strength and power for heavier lifts
- Improves focus and drive
- Banned-substance free
- Uses high-quality ingredients
- Contains creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine and other proven effective ingredients
- Uses Creapure brand creatine – the best creatine monohydrate available
- Includes detailed dosages of all key ingredients
- Comes from Optimum Nutrition, a very well-respected and reputable brand in the sports nutrition industry.
- Some users reported experiencing less of an energy boost from this product when compared to other pre-workout drinks.
Who makes it: Gold Standard Pre-Workout is manufactured by Optimum Nutrition, one of the biggest companies in the sports nutrition industry. For years, ON has been committed to developing powerful and effective products to improve the fitness levels of their customers. ON is best known for the Gold Standard 100% Whey, the best-selling protein powder on the market.
What’s in it: One serving contains:
- 175mg caffeine – helps boost energy and mental focus for a harder workout
- 5g Carnosyn brand beta-alanine – helps reduce the effects of fatigue for longer, more intense workouts
- 3g Creapure brand creatine monohydrate – helps to increase strength, pump, and muscle endurance, allowing for more reps and more weight. Creapure is widely considered to be the best creatine brand on the market.
- 5g L-citrulline malate – helps increase strength, anaerobic performance and endurance.
- 375mg carnitine HCI – helps increase energy and endurance
- 250 mg tyrosine – helps reduce the effects of stress to increase endurance and mental focus
Bottom line: Overall, Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a great pre-workout drink because it provides adequate doses of a large variety of helpful ingredients. It’s likely the best pre-workout for beginners because it provides an even, manageable energy boost without excessive stimulant ingredients.
|Gold Standard pre-workout|
If you’re someone who enjoys staying fit and exercising, you already know the importance of being properly energized for your workouts. Eating a healthy, protein-rich diet is vitally important, as is staying hydrated and eating a full meal a few hours before exercising.
For many fitness enthusiasts, a solid diet will provide adequate energy for working out. However, for those who like to maximize the efficiency of their efforts, supplements can help increase energy, strength, and drive to help you achieve your fitness goals faster.
There are tons of different fitness supplements out there. The two most common are protein powders and pre-workout supplements. Today, we’re here to talk about the world of pre-workout supplementation. Further down the page, we will go over the best pre-workout supplements on the market, but before we get into that, let’s learn more about what these products do, and how they can help you reach your goals.
Before we get to the best pre-workout supplement list, lets take a look at what pre-workout supplements are and how the top pre-workout supplements can help you reach your fitness goals. We’ll also try to answer some common questions.
What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
To put things simply, a pre-workout supplement is a product you take shortly before exercising, that helps maximize your workout. These products aim to provide extra energy, power, strength and endurance for a short period after consumption.
The goal of these products is simple: to provide the tools needed to help your body reach its potential. Whether you’re lifting at the gym, sparring in the ring, running at the park, or swimming in the pool, the best pre-workout drinks will help give you the edge you need to push yourself harder and achieve better results.
Most of the time, pre-workout supplements are in powder form, and must be mixed with water, milk, or another liquid. You can also find pre-made drinks, bars, and even pills that contain the same active ingredients found in the popular powders. There are pros and cons to each form of supplement, but in general the best pre-workouts come in powder form. Powdered products tend to absorb and digest faster, giving you a quick boost of energy and strength.
Common Pre-Workout Ingredients
There are a large number of different types of supplements designed to boost your workout performance. Some individual supplements, such as creatine, can provide real benefits on their own, while most individual ingredients perform better when blended. Generally the best pre-workout supplements contain a mix of ingredients to provide optimized results. Here are some of the more common ingredients used:
Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements available. An organic acid found naturally in the body, creatine has been the subject of countless academic studies, and when it comes to increasing strength and building more muscle, the evidence is clear: creatine works! Creatine helps increase strength, power and endurance by replenishing your body’s natural supply of ATP, the main energy your body uses for muscle contractions. The more creatine you have in your system, the more energy your muscles will have, meaning more reps, more sets, and more weight. Creatine is often taken on its own, or as part of a pre-workout shake – see our guide to creatine supplements for more information.
Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the body. It is used for a variety of physiological uses, including controlling muscle contractions and maintaining healthy fluid levels within the body. When you exercise, the body’s natural stores of taurine are depleted. Supplements containing taurine replenish the body’s supply, keeping muscles operating properly. Also, taurine combined with BCAAs has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness.
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, help boost strength, provide energy and reduce muscle tissue breakdown during exercise. The 3 BCAAs are leucine, which has been proven to significantly increase strength during workouts, isoleucine, which can help stimulate protein synthesis and aid metabolism during exercise, and valine, which stimulates muscle growth and increases endurance.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps to increase cellular carnosine levels, which are quickly depleted during intense physical exercise. Carnosine helps to reduce neuromuscular fatigue, leading to increased endurance and increase lean mass. Note: beta-alanine can cause tingling of the skin. This is a normal reaction and nothing to worry about.
Citrulline malate is an amino acid which helps to optimize blood flow, increase ATP production, and reduce the effects of fatigue. Citrulline malate has been clinically proven to increase strength, aerobic performance, and muscle endurance. L-arginine is a similarly effective amino acid that is often used in place of citrulline malate.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps to increase mental focus and endurance. Tyrosine helps reduce the effects of stress (both mental and physical stress) to increase mental focus and physical endurance.
Caffeine is an ingredient we all know well. In supplement form, caffeine anhydrous is the most used type. Caffeine helps provide energy, while reducing the sensation of effort during exercise. Caffeine anhydrous is also known to increase the effects of other stimulants commonly used in pre-workout blends.
Those are the more common ingredients used in pre-workout supplements, although there are many others. Generally, products with the best pre-workout formula will contain a blend of several, if not all, of these ingredients. Some ingredients, like creatine, are often used on their own. Some nutrition experts like to make their own blends, although this is not recommended unless you are truly an expert.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements
The specific benefits offered by pre-workout supplements depends on the specific product. Generally speaking, pre-workout supplement products help to:
- Improve athletic performance
- Increase strength
- Increase endurance
- Increase protein synthesis
- Decrease muscle breakdown during training
- Increase energy
- Improve nutrient delivery to muscles
- Increase metabolic rate to stimulate fat burning
- Create an optimal hormonal environment
As you can see, pre-workout supplements provide a wide range of benefits that can help you meet your fitness goals and reach your full potential in the gym, on your runs and hikes, in the pool, on the court or whatever physical activity you are doing.. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, an athlete, or just an everyday person working hard to get in shape, good pre-workouts will provide the edge you need to help you reach the next level.
Can Pre-Workout Supplements Replace Meals?
The short answer: no.
Pre-workout supplements are meant to supplement your energy from food, not replace it. It’s very important to consume healthy, filling foods before working out.
You should never workout on an empty stomach. However, that being said, having too much food in your stomach can make you feel sluggish during your workout. MayoClinic recommends eating large meals 3-4 hours before exercise, small meals 2-3 hours before exercise, and small snacks 1 hour before exercise.
When it comes to fueling your body for exercise, choosing the right foods is just as important as choosing the right supplements. The best pre-workout food consists of a meal containing quality carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fluids.
Carbohydrate-rich foods like rice, bread, pasta and fruits provide quick energy for your body. They should be part of your full pre-workout meal, and also make for the best pre-workout snack (for 30 minutes to 1 hour before exercise).
Protein-rich foods like meats, dairy and protein powders help your blood cells bring nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. Protein also helps to build and repair muscle, so it’s needed both before and after exercise. The best pre-workout meal will consist of plenty of lean protein, high quality carbs, and lots of fluids.
Aside from eating well, staying properly hydrated is absolutely essential for efficient and healthy exercise. When you workout, your body heats up, and uses fluids to help cool itself down. Water is also used in the body to lubricate joints and prevent injury. If you do not drink enough water, you will become dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, and worse. It’s very important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
Should I Take a Pre-Workout?
‘Should I take pre-workout?’ is a question people often find themselves asking. Just about anyone who has a desire to exercise and stay healthy can benefit from taking pre-workout supplements. Here are the types of people who will benefit the most:
Most men have a desire to be strong and physically fit. While diet and exercise are important ingredients in the path to physical health, proper supplementation can greatly speed up the process. The best pre-workout supplements for men will provide the boost in energy, strength and endurance needed to build muscle and smash through fitness goals.
Women can also benefit greatly from taking supplements to boost their workouts. These supplements help to increase fat burning potential and endurance, which can lead to longer, more effective workouts. The best pre-workout supplements for women will contain ingredients to help stimulate fat loss, endurance and performance, and less ingredients focused on muscle growth.
Bodybuilders will perhaps see the greatest benefit from taking before workout supplements. The average bodybuilder already has a lot of muscle and strength, and as you get bigger and stronger, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make gains. When you reach the higher levels of fitness, you can often hit a wall that’s hard to get past. It’s called a training plateau, and anyone who has been bodybuilding for any significant amount of time has likely encountered one. The best pre-workout for bodybuilding will help experienced lifters smash through those plateaus and reach new personal best lifting milestones.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Like any supplement you take, it’s important to know the potential side effects of using pre-workout supplements. Side effects vary depending on the product and the individual taking said product, although generally side effects are mild as long as the product dosage recommendations are followed.
A few common side effects of a pre-workout supplement might include:
Tingling of the skin
Many first-time users of pre-workout supplements will be surprised by a tingling sensation felt shortly after consuming the product. This is a very common and completely normal side-effect. This tingling, called paresthesia, is caused by large doses of beta-alanine. It is a completely harmless side effect, and most people only notice it the first few times they take these supplements.
Some users experience bloating when first using these supplements. This is largely attributed to creatine monohydrate, a powerful and effective ingredient found in most pre-workout products. Creatine causes the muscles to draw in extra water, which helps build and repair muscle faster. The bloating is caused by this extra water weight. This bloating is only temporary, and you will drop the water weight/bloat shortly after stopping creatine supplementation. For most people, this bloating is not an issue. For some women, the cosmetic downsides of bloating are an annoyance, which is why many products marketed as the best pre-workout for women do not contain creatine.
Dehydration can be caused by a number of ingredients found commonly in these supplements. Creatine can cause dehydration because it causes muscles to absorb more moisture, while caffeine and other stimulants can increase dehydration because of their diuretic effects. To combat the effects of dehydration, simply make sure you drink enough water.
Insomnia or sleeplessness can be caused by stimulants like caffeine, commonly found in these supplements. To combat this, simply allow enough time before consuming the supplement and going to bed (usually 2-3 hours) to allow the effects of caffeine to wear off. In other words, don’t use a pre-workout supplement for a late-night workout, or you might have trouble falling asleep.
Some people experience stomach upset and/or diarrhea when first starting to take pre-workout supplements. Everyone reacts differently to the various ingredients used in these products, so it’s hard to narrow down a cause for this side effect. If you experience stomach upset after beginning a new supplement of any kind, it’s recommended to stop taking that product right away.
In general, side effects are very mild. However, it’s very important to follow the dosing recommendations for these products to avoid potentially more serious side effects. Which leads to our next section…As always, we recommend you speak with your doctor before taking any supplements featured on this site.
How to Take a Pre-Workout Supplement
Since pre-workout supplements are designed to give a short-term boost in energy and athletic performance, they’re best taken shortly before exercising. Generally, supplements should be consumed 20-45 minutes before exercise, although it varies depending on the product.
Each product will have detailed instructions on how and when to take it. It’s very important that you follow dosing instructions. Do NOT take more than the recommended dose. In fact, if you’re new to this type of supplement, you may want to start with a half dose to see how it affects you – especially if you are sensitive to stimulants.
Take a Break Every Few Months
After a month or two of taking a specific product, your body may become adapted to the ingredients used, which can reduce the effectiveness of these supplements. Because of this effect, many people choose to cycle supplements by using them for 6-8 weeks, then taking a 2-3 week break. Other people take a product for 6-8 weeks, then switch to another product for 6-8 weeks, and repeat.
Pre-Workout Supplements are almost always in powder form, which means you will need to mix it with water in a shaker bottle. For the ultimate convenience, we recommend you use a BlenderBottle. (Pictured Above) They’re inexpensive and get the job done!
Read the Label!
Before taking any supplements, make sure you read the instructions that the manufacturer has placed on the label. This is a very important step.
What To Look For in a Good Pre-Workout Supplement
There are many factors that go into choosing the best pre-workout for you. Here are some things to look for:
Application to your goals
Ask yourself, does the product apply to your goals? If you’re looking to lift heavy and get shredded, you’ll want to find the best pre-workout for pump. If you’re looking to lose weight and get more toned, you should look for the best pre-workout for cutting.
Quality of ingredients
Take a close look at the ingredient list of any product you are considering. Look at the type of ingredients they use, and the quality/sources of those ingredients.
Have you heard of the brand? Are they well respected in the industry? Generally, sticking to the well-known, reputable brands will lead you to the best products.
Value for money
How much does the product cost per serving? How does that compare to the other products you’re considering? Be sure to compare on a per-serving basis instead of just looking at the package price of different products.
You’ll want to find a good-tasting product that mixes well, so you’ll actually want to take it on a regular basis! The best way to find out how a product tastes is to read reviews. The best pre-workout supplement reviews will contain detailed information about taste and mixability.
Now that you know more about the top pre-workout supplements on the market, you now have the tools needed to make an educated decision. Every pre-workout product on this list is a good option – the best choice depends on your individual needs, preferences, and budget. Thanks for reading, and we wish you all the best in your path to fitness and health!
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