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The 12 Best Pre-Workout Supplements on the Market in 2020

Lift more, run faster, and boost focus with these pre-workout supplement selects.

We receive free products to review and may receive commissions on purchases made through our links. See our disclosure page for details.

Of all the workout supplements you can buy, pre-workouts may have the widest variety of ingredients, dosages, and effects — which is why it’s so hard to find the best pre-workout for your needs. Also, isn’t proper sleep, nutrition, and hydration all you need for an excellent workout? It’s certainly true that these three lifestyle choices can radically improve your performance (as well as mood, muscle growth, and immunity). But for those who want a little something extra, the right pre-workout supplement for your needs can make a significant difference.

Choosing the right pre-workout, however, is challenging. Besides caffeine, there are scores of other ingredients that appear in these products — including amino acids, plant extracts, and other powders meant to improve endurance, power output, focus, fat loss, and blood flow. That’s why we’ve tried dozens of pre-workouts, from the biggest brands to the newest up and comers, to find out the absolute best pre-workout supplements for any goal.

The Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. 

Best Pre-Workout Supplements Video Review

We want you to read our thoroughly researched, thoughtful pre-workout review. Of course, sometimes a video is just easier to digest. Well, we’ve got you covered. Check out our equally thoughtful and scrupulously researched video review below. 

Best Pre-Workout Overall

When looking for a great pre-workout supplement, we value research-backed ingredients in clearly disclosed dosages. Transparent Labs is a company that’s heavily prioritized both of those elements in their BULK pre-workout

Transparent Labs Bulk 

Transparent Labs Bulk might just be the best pre-workout supplement around. There aren’t any blends. It’s gluten-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. And at 180 milligrams per scoop, BULK’s caffeine dosage is more manageable than some others on the market (which can get up to nearly 300mg per serving). BULK also features big hits of Vitamin D and zinc. There’s also boron, which has some pretty positive links to testosterone production in the body.

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Transparent Labs BULK
Transparent Labs BULK
Transparent Labs BULK

Transparent Labs BULK is an extraordinarily well-dosed pre-workout supplement for endurance, power, and focus. Use code BARBEND10 to save 10%.

 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Bulk

  • People who want a clearly labeled and well-dosed supplement.
  • Those who are at risk of running low on Vitamin D and zinc.
  • Anyone who wants to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors.
  • Folks who like an emphasis on focus; there’s theanine, taurine, and tyrosine here, an impressive combination.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Bulk

  • Penny pinchers; this is about $1.60 per serving.
  • Because it’s all-natural, the flavoring is quite sour, which might be a con for those that prefer something sweeter.
  • People who are not interested in ingredients that may improve testosterone production.

It’s on the pricier side, but that’s because it’s effectively made. We’re big fans of Transparent Labs Bulk.

Best Pre-Workout for Pumps

Getting a “pump” in your workout means more blood flow to a muscle, and some research suggests it might not just be an aesthetic benefit — it might help with hypertrophy and muscle soreness as well.

Legion Pulse 

Legion Pulse was our favorite pre-workout supplement for muscle pumps. The reason is pretty simple: out of all of the pre-workouts we tried, it has the highest dose of citrulline — which is linked to increased blood flow — at eight grams per serving. At 144mg, Legion Pulse also has more sodium than most other pre-workouts, which can help to draw water into the muscles.  One potential downside, however, is the 350mg of caffeine that this formula packs per serving. 

 

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Legion Pulse Pre Workout
Legion Pulse Pre Workout
Legion Pulse Pre Workout

A pre-workout supplement with strong, clinically effective doses — and a two-scoop serving so you can keep things mild if you prefer. Use code "BARBEND" for 20% off!

Who Should Buy Legion Pulse

  • People who are looking for a hefty dose of citrulline; very few products deliver eight grams per serving.
  • Anyone who wants to avoid artificial ingredients.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Pulse

  • People who are caffeine sensitive. This formula has 350mg per scoop.

Legion is a powerful pre-workout, and while some may find the effects a little too strong, it remains the best dosed for citrulline.

Best Pre-Workout for Strength

There’s a difference between a pre-workout that energizes you and a pre-workout that contains ingredients proven to boost performance. We found the latter. 

Performance Lab Pre

What makes this a premium pick for those who like to toss heavy iron around is the added creatine — a supplement that increases your ATP, which is essentially quick-use energy that your body taps into for short and intense bouts of movement. This is not the only pre-workout with creatine. However, Performance Lab boasts a quality Creapure® blend, which contains mainly creatine monohydrate. Another point of note is that these are taken in pill form, making them more convenient to travel with.

Best or Strength
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain

Performance Lab packs 1.25 grams of creatine into this pre-workout for a formula that improves focus, energy, and performance to help you toss around heavy iron. 

Who Should Buy Performance Lab Pre

  • Strength athletes who want a pre-workout designed to help their energy levels and performance. This boasts 1.25 grams of creatine (which is not quite a full dose, but still significant).
  • People who want iron in their pre-workout. This offers 2.5 milligrams (which is still about an eighth of the recommended daily intake).
  • Folks who prefer to take a pre-workout in pill form. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Performance Lab Pre

  • People who don’t like taking pills, as these are six per serving.
  • Those who already take creatine. You don’t need more. Not that more is harmful but irrelevant.

Best All Natural Pre-Workout

Don’t want artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors? Here’s one of our favorite options, which also takes an innovative approach to caffeine as well.

Old School Labs Vintage Blast 

Old School Labs Vintage Blast boasts delicious flavors — like Blueberry Lemonade — and is flavored with stevia and pineapple juice powder. The active ingredients support a variety of athletic goals but owing to its two-stage formula. It’s beneficial for endurance athletes as it has both caffeine anhydrous and microencapsulated caffeine, which breaks down more slowly. This means that you’ll get a hit of energy at the start of the workout and again later on in a training session. Add that to the big hit of citrulline, beta-alanine, and l-carnitine tartrate, which can support many training types.

Best All-Natural
Old School Labs Vintage Blast Preworkout
Old School Labs Vintage Blast Preworkout
Old School Labs Vintage Blast Preworkout

This two-stage pre-workout also doesn't contain any artificial ingredients and comes ina delicious Blueberry Lemonade flavor.

Who Should Buy Old School Labs Vintage Blast

  • Anyone leery of artificial sweeteners, or flavors, or colors — this is as natural as it gets.
  • Runners and those interested in longer workouts, as the caffeine acts over a longer period of time.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Old School Labs Vintage Blast

  • Those who don’t like sour flavors.
  • People who are interested by the l-carnitine l-tartrate and tyrosine on the label. The dosage is actually a little low.

Vintage Blast tastes great and has a rarely seen caffeine blend, perfect for endurance athletes. 

Best Pre-Workout Without Creatine 

Creatine is a great supplement, but if you’re already taking it, then you don’t want more. It’s pointless. Here’s a great pre-workout, free of creatine, that is great to stack with other supplements.

Legion Pulse 

Legion Pulse earned its spot again. It has high doses of caffeine, citrulline, beta-alanine. Also, Pulse contains a lot of taurine and theanine, which can help with focus and reduce the jitteriness associated with large doses of caffeine. Another bonus: it has 2.5 grams of betaine, which is linked to power output, so you may not miss the power-boosting effects of creatine.

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Legion Pulse Pre Workout
Legion Pulse Pre Workout
Legion Pulse Pre Workout

If you're already taking creatine, this is a great and effective product that doesn't contain any so that you won't experience supplement overlap. Use code "BARBEND" for 20% off!

Who Should Buy Legion Pulse

  • Those who want a powerful pre-workout that’s free from creatine.
  • Anyone interested in an effective workout with big doses of betaine, beta-alanine, plus theanine and taurine for focus.
  • People who want an all-natural supplement.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Pulse

  • Penny pinchers. This one is on the pricy side.
  • Lifters who want creatine in their pre-workout formula. 

Creatine doesn’t necessarily need to be taken pre-workout in any event, but whether you take it at a different time of day or you don’t take it at all, Pulse is an excellent supplement for your gym sessions.

Best Pre-Workout for Ingredient Variety

We love pre-workouts that are transparent, well-dosed, and useful for any kind of workout. This one ticks all those boxes — and it might even help with recovery.

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

Pre-Kaged has something for everyone. It’s high in caffeine (274mg), beta-alanine, citrulline, betaine, and creatine, so that it can support just about any kind of workout. This supplement also contains other ingredients to give you an extra boost. There’s a significant amount of taurine and two kinds of tyrosine for focus. There are branched-chain amino acids, an unusual addition in a pre-workout that can make it easier to exercise on an empty stomach to retain muscle.

Best for Varied Ingredients
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

A tasty pre-workout jam-packed with many ingredients linked to power, blood flow, endurance, muscle pump, and focus, as well as antioxidants.

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

  • Those who prefer BCAAs in their pre-workout.
  • People who want a product to help with endurance, power, and/or focus.
  • Folks interested in the benefits of greens powders, as there are powdered vegetables in here that might help with recovery due to their antioxidants.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

  • Those sensitive to caffeine. Pre-Kaged has 274mg per scoop.
  • People who want a smaller serving size and fewer additional ingredients. 

Pre-Kaged is an overall strong pre-workout with both BCAAs and antioxidants added in. 

Best Pre-Workout for Cardio

The best pre-workout for cardio should have some beta-alanine and caffeine, but Old School Labs takes that approach to the next level.

Old School Labs Vintage Blast

Old School Labs Vintage Blast is uniquely useful for cardio. It has an unusual “two-stage” blend of caffeine that includes 100 milligrams of microencapsulated caffeine, which breaks down more slowly than the 150 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous that’s also in here. So you get a hit of caffeine at the start, longer-lasting energy. There’s also a good amount of citrulline, which might increase time to fatigue, plus beta-alanine and a ton of B-vitamins.

Best for Cardio
Old School Labs Vintage Blast
Old School Labs Vintage Blast
Old School Labs Vintage Blast

A unique two-stage pre-workout that's especially well suited for endurance workouts and for boosting blood flow.

Who Should Buy Old School Labs Vintage Blast

  • People who take longer workouts, as the two-stage caffeine should result in prolonged energy.
  • Runners who find beta-alanine helps their performance.
  • Those who want to avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Old School Labs Vintage Blast

  • Those who value l-carnitine l-tartrate and tyrosine. It’s a little low in these ingredients.

Only a couple of companies have this sort of “slow-release” caffeine, and it could be exactly what your endurance workouts have been missing. 

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss

The key to weight loss is consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day, but is there a pre-workout that might offer a little extra help?

Disclaimer: Please note that none of these products describe themselves as weight loss supplements and should not be taken as such. Please consult with a medical professional before beginning any weight loss protocol.

Transparent Labs Lean 

Transparent Labs Lean has a lot of ingredients that you’ll also find in fat burners. A big one is synephrine, which a couple of studies found may increase the number of calories burned in a given day — an effect that may be enhanced by the hordenine that’s also present in this product. Some of the ingredients may also support thyroid health. Plus, it’s well-dosed with many other mainstay pre-workout ingredients like citrulline, beta-alanine, and theanine to help reduce the jitters from the caffeine.

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Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean

Third-party tested and clearly dosed, this has a huge variety of ingredients for endurance, power, alertness, and focus. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off.

 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Lean

  • Those who would like to burn an extra hundred or so calories from ingesting their pre-workout alone.
  • People who avoid artificial ingredients.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Lean

  • Those who prefer big hits of caffeine; 180mg is a little over what you get in a small Starbucks coffee.

While it’s a little low in BCAAs, this is still an interesting pre-workout that’s all-natural and might increase thermogenesis, or the number of calories you’re burning.

Best Pre-Workout for Running

Compared to lifting, running requires endurance and stamina. For those reasons, you want a pre-workout that prioritizes ingredients that stimulate long-term energy, focus, and performance. 

Transparent Labs Bulk 

Transparent Labs Bulk has four grams of beta-alanine, which is more than almost any other pre-workout supplement we’ve seen. This makes it a great pick for longer runs. It also has a large amount of citrulline, which could help with nitric oxide and thus boost endurance. But what brought it to number one was all the ingredients for focus: taurine, theanine, and tyrosine, meaning it could help you stay present and “in the zone” for longer runs.

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Transparent Labs BULK
Transparent Labs BULK
Transparent Labs BULK

Transparent Labs BULK provides lots of beta-alanine for improved endurance, as well as a slew of ingredients to aid in focus — two key traits for runners. 

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Bulk 

  • People who want a huge hit of beta-alanine to help with endurance.
  • Folks who like ingredients to help them “focus” during hard runs, as this contains taurine, theanine, and tyrosine.
  • Anyone who wants to avoid artificial sweeteners and flavors.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Bulk 

  • People who don’t love the “tingly” feeling from a lot of beta-alanine.

If you’re convinced beta-alanine is the best pre-workout ingredient for endurance, you can’t go past Transparent Labs BULK. 

Best Pre-Workout for Women

It’s hard to say if a pre-workout is ideal for a man or a woman — most people feel pre-workouts don’t need gendering — but there are some traits that female-focused companies tend to emphasize.

Powher

Powher was our favorite pre-workout supplement that’s specifically targeted to women. There are a few differences that women may look for in a pre-workout supplement. Since women are generally lighter than men, they’re more caffeine sensitive. So, many women (or anyone who is lighter) like a pre-workout that’s lower in caffeine. Powher has just 100mg. Also, it has several ingredients that are meant to prevent “energy crashes,” such as the plant and bark extracts like OxyJun and EnXtra, which may improve focus and oxygen uptake. 

Best for Women
Powher
Powher
Powher

A relatively low caffeine pre-workout that's a good mixture of established, science-backed ingredients and newer, slightly experimental compounds that could help with performance.

 

Who Should Buy Powher

  • Smaller athletes or those with caffeine sensitivities who find many pre-workouts to be too strong. With 100 milligrams, it has less than half the amount found in a tall (355ml) Pike Place Roast from Starbucks.
  • Those who want to reduce the odds of experiencing a “crash” after the energy increase may be happy with the extra ingredients here intended for that purpose.
  • People who like ingredients for focus. This product’s strongest emphasis is on tyrosine and taurine, well-dosed ingredients that appear to help with focus and reduce the jitteriness that can accompany caffeine.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Powher

  • Folks who want to avoid artificial ingredients may not love the Splenda in here.
  • Those who want more caffeine
  • Penny pinchers; at about $1.50 per scoop, it’s roughly 50 percent pricier than most pre-workouts.

With no artificial flavors, a moderate amount of caffeine, and a big emphasis on focus rather than raw explosive power, Powher could be a good option for women, lighter athletes, or anyone looking for a milder pre-workout.

Best Pre-Workout Without Caffeine

Those who are caffeine sensitive or like to work out at night, closer to bedtime, will benefit from a product that nixes the popular and often-used stimulant. 

The Genius Brand Genius Pre

Genius Pre uses rhodiola rosea and theobromine instead of caffeine. These ingredients are linked to reduced fatigue and improved focus. Genius Pro packs the standard pre-workout ingredients along with a few that are lesser seen, such as ElevATP for power and astragalus, which can help with focus and possibly reduce muscle cramps.  

Genius Pre Workout
Genius Pre Workout
Genius Pre Workout

This pre-workout supplement delivers a robust blend of energy, pump, and endurance-boosting ingredients.

Who Should Buy The Genius Brand Genius Pre

  • Nighttime exercisers who don’t want caffeine to interfere with their sleep.
  • Anyone who’s sensitive to caffeine.
  • Those curious about the potential stress-reducing and focus-boosting benefits of adaptogens like rhodiola rosea and astragalus.

Who Shouldn’t Buy The Genius Brand Genius Pre

  • Of course, anyone who likes stimulants in their pre-workouts.

With a smooth flavor and a ton of remarkable performance boosters, this is an ideal product for those who like the science of pre-workouts but not the caffeine.

Best Pre-Workout for Cutting

So you’re in a fat loss phase, and you want everything you eat to support that goal? Look, you really just need to be eating the right calories and macros but if you’re curious about ingredients like cayenne pepper for fat loss, consider the following. 

Evlution Nutrition Engn Shred 

Evlution Nutrition Engn Shred was our favorite best pre-workout for people cutting weight. Not only is it a pre-workout supplement with plenty of beta-alanine, caffeine, and tyrosine, but it has an “Engn Shred Matrix” that’s full of ingredients that are linked to bolstered fat loss like red pepper extract, coleus extract, and yohimbine. It’s also tasty, reasonably priced, and the coleus extract could even help with hormonal function.  

Best for Cutting
Evlution Engn Shred Pre Workout
Evlution Engn Shred Pre Workout
Evlution Engn Shred Pre Workout

This pre-workout boasts specific ingredients — such as yohimbine and red pepper — proven to accelerate the body's ability to burn calories at rest. 

Who Should Buy Evlution Nutrition Engn Shred

  • People who like the idea of consuming red pepper and yohimbine in their pre-workouts to accelerate fat loss potential.
  • Anyone who likes plenty of caffeine (260mg), beta-alanine (1.6g), and B-vitamins in their pre-workout.
  • Penny pinchers; this is one of the least expensive products on this list.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Evlution Nutrition Engn Shred

  • Those wary of proprietary blends; there are two of them here, and most of the ingredients are hidden in them.

Engn Shred has an excellent reputation in the market, it’s tasty, and it perks you up good and proper. If you don’t mind the secret blends, this is a good pick.

What Are the Benefits of Pre-Workouts?

The first thing people tend to associate with pre-workouts is caffeine, which can affect just about every part of a workout. Obviously, caffeine is known as a stimulant, but it is also linked to better power, endurance, perceived exertion, and even cognition. (1)(2)(3) For example, a randomized, double-blind study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that when compared to a placebo, 10 athletes improved their speed, reaction time, movement time, and decision-making time when supplementing with caffeine. (4)

For reference, a small cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine, and pre-workouts range from 80 to as much as 350 milligrams per serving.

Man rowing dumbbell
Serhii Bobyk/Shutterstock

But again, a pre-workout supplement isn’t just caffeine (though, some people do just take caffeine before a workout). Sometimes they don’t even have that) The most common additions include beta-alanine for endurance, citrulline for blood flow, betaine for power, and tyrosine for focus. All these ingredients will give you an extra boost to achieve your full potentially.

Those ingredients have relatively solid research behind them. For example, a hugely popular meta-analysis published in Amino Acids of 15 studies found that beta-alanine reliably increases muscular endurance. (5)(6) With regard to betaine, two studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition have shown significant power increases in the back squat among men who took 1.25 grams of it twice a day for two weeks. (7)(8)

Plenty of pre-workouts contain unusual plant ingredients — like toothed clubmoss or hawthorn berry — which don’t have the most convincing body of evidence supporting their abilities to improve performance.

When judging the effectiveness of a pre-workout, we didn’t disqualify anything that had a questionable ingredient. Rather, we looked at the overall impact of the product. Even if a product contained a couple of not-so-science-backed inclusions, it is still reputable if there are enough quality, well-dosed ingredients.

How We Decide the Best

We tried a lot of pre-workouts (and hit a lot of PRs) while landing on this list. Here are the criteria we looked at; note that these aren’t necessarily deal-breakers — some products are on the pricy side, for example, but the ingredients justify it. 

Value

Most pre-workouts cost between $0.80 and $1.00 per serving. Plenty are more expensive, and usually, the price is justified, but over a dollar per serving counts as “you should know this is pricy” territory.

Transparency

A considerable number of pre-workouts consist of proprietary blends — you know the ingredients but not the amounts. That means you don’t know it’s effective. Now, legally, they have to order the components by weight, so you can usually get a decent guess at the dose, and proprietary blends are so prominent in the industry that we didn’t outright disqualify a product that has one, but it loses points.

Dosage

On a related note, scores of pre-workouts take research-backed ingredients but don’t use research-backed doses. Citrulline needs to be 5 grams or more, guys! We know the research front and back so we can assess how effective a dose is. (Note that sometimes, as is the case with tyrosine, we don’t really know the minimum dosage, but we can make an educated guess.)

Testing

Some companies will employ a third party, like Informed Choice, Informed Sport, or NSF, to test their products (or their facility) for substances in the World Anti-Doping Agency. Many athletes will only take third-party tested products, particularly since questionable pre-workouts tend to be the ones that produce positive results.

What’s In Your Pre-Workout?

Not all pre-workout ingredients are useful. Here’s a rundown of the ingredients that you’ll usually find and want in your pre-workout.

Caffeine

Associated with alertness, endurance, power output, strength, and perceived exertion. The FDA puts one small cup of coffee at 100 milligrams of caffeine, while a tall (355ml) coffee from Starbucks has about 235 milligrams.

Creatine

The best researched ergogenic aid besides caffeine, creatine helps power output, anaerobic capacity, and fatigue, all while increasing muscle size by drawing more water into them. It doesn’t have to be taken pre-workout. It’s an any time supplement — the point is to increase the creatine in your muscles over time. The dose is five to 10 grams a day.

Beta-Alanine

It is linked to improved endurance, both in cardio-focused workouts and strength training with higher reps, as in over eight per set. Because of this, it may help with hypertrophy, too. The standard dose is 1.6 to 3.2 grams.

Citrulline

Research suggests that five or so grams of citrulline, an amino acid that’s high in watermelons, may help with circulation and thereby improve most areas of performance, from endurance to power output.

Betaine Anhydrous

Found in beets and leafy greens, betaine is best known for links to power output and muscular endurance, but it might also slightly decrease post-exercise cortisol. 

Taurine

When paired with caffeine, taurine may help with improving focus. Since it might draw water into cells, it may enhance recovery and muscle craps as well. The dose is one to two grams.

Tyrosine

Also used for “focus,” data suggests tyrosine can reduce stress during, particularly acute stress — like exercise — by helping you produce adrenaline and dopamine. Research has only been performed on people taking at least 5 grams, and a minimum effective dose hasn’t been established, but look for at least 500 milligrams.

Before Taking a Pre-Workout

These sorts of products can make some folks a little concerned about side effects and unintended consequences. They’re legal, so the potential for damage is low, but there are some things worth keeping in mind.

Man sitting on workout bench
Adamov_d/Shutterstock

Caffeine Is a Drug

Caffeine is a real drug. It can cause anxiety, diarrhea, maybe even temporary high blood pressure. We do not believe that caffeine is bad for you. Rather everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine. Caffeine can make it harder for the nervous system to relax or enter a parasympathetic state conducive to recovery. It’s not a bad idea to take a week off of caffeine every couple of months to keep you from building up too strong a tolerance for it. 

Beta-Alanine Has a Surprising Side Effect

Perhaps the most common pre-workout ingredient that isn’t caffeine (or flavoring), beta-alanine typically causes paresthesia, a “tingling” sensation on the skin. It’s temporary and harmless, and while some love the feeling of the ingredient “kicking in,” not everyone likes it.

Not All Pre-Workout Ingredients Need to Be Pre-Workout

Creatine and beta-alanine don’t have to be taken right before a workout. If you take them every day, they’ll imbue you with their benefits regardless of the time of day.

One of the Best Pre-Workouts Is Carbohydrates

It’s not sexy, but it’s pretty tough to have a great workout without plenty of carbs in your system. A balanced meal of protein and carbs a couple of hours before a workout can do wonders for performance.

Remember the Dosage

We noted the best-supported dosages in the previous section, “What’s In Your Pre-Workout?” Many products will talk a big game about how well-supported their ingredients are but then use low dosages. (This is especially common with citrulline and tyrosine.) It’s good to look at the research before you buy.

Chat to a Doctor

Especially if you have any pre-existing conditions, but even if you don’t, speak with a physician before making changes to your diet or supplement regimen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a pre workout do?

It depends on what’s in the pre-workout, but ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, and betaine have been linked to higher energy levels, better power production, and improved endurance. Some ingredients, like tyrosine and taurine, may even improve focus.

How much caffeine is in a pre workout?

It depends on which brand, but the average pre-workout contains between 200 and 250 milligrams of caffeine. That’s about as much as you’ll find in a Grande coffee from Starbucks — 473mL of the Dark Roast, to be precise. The USDA puts a small, 8oz (236mL) cup of coffee at about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

Note that many pre-workouts go as high as 350 to 400 milligrams of caffeine, while some (especially those aimed at women) can drop under 150 or even 100 milligrams.

Is pre workout bad for you?

Nothing on the ingredients list of a pre-workout is illegal, but they’re also not regulated by the FDA. This is why many prefer pre-workouts that have been certified by third part testing companies for banned substances, like Informed Choice or NSF.

But of the various ingredients, one will find in pre-workouts, caffeine is the one most likely to cause issues, as very high doses can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, cramps, and other issues. But if you keep the caffeine content to something you’re comfortable with, pre-workouts can be a nice boost.

Is it better to drink pre workout before or during workout?

It’s best to drink your pre-workout before going to the gym, as it can take a good thirty minutes to “kick in.” For optimal results, and if you’re in a hurry, it may be best to take pre-workout on an empty stomach so that it digests quickly.

Final Word

If you’re engaged in sport, supplements can be super helpful. They can increase the amount of energy and the effectiveness of the exercise. It’s easy to grab the supplements you need in the shop to get some extra boost and achieve great results. So why not give it a try?

We tried dozens of pre-workouts to land on this list of the best pre-workout supplements on the market for almost any athlete, whether you love or hate caffeine, want to improve your run time, or just get a better pump.

We looked at the price, taste, ingredients, and effectiveness of every one of these great supplements. While plenty of people have different ideas about what constitutes a “quality” pre-workout supplement, we think we’ve put together a tremendous guide to picking the best pre-workout supplements. 

References

  1. Childs E, et al. Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 May;185(4):514-23.
  2. Smillie LD, et al. Caffeine enhances working memory for extraverts. Biol Psychol. 2010 Dec;85(3):496-8.
  3. Mednick SC, et al. Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory. Behav Brain Res. 2008 Nov 3;193(1):79-86.
  4. Duvnjak-Zaknich DM, et al. Effect of caffeine on reactive agility time when fresh and fatigued. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Aug;43(8):1523-30.
  5. Hobson RM, et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37.
  6. Hipkiss AR. On the enigma of carnosine’s anti-aging actions. Exp Gerontol. 2009 Apr;44(4):237-42.
  7. Lee, E.C. et al. (2010) Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 27.
  8. Hoffman, J. et al. (2009) Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009; 6: 7.

5 thoughts on “The 12 Best Pre-Workout Supplements on the Market in 2020”

  1. Yep, thank you for the tips, I’ve tried JYM and it was not for me. I felt his supplements tasted like chemicals and were not strong enough and never felt that “PUMP!” I have tried Nutrex and that outlift amped is the way to go, but I could not sleep with that one. I’m going to try the Legion Pulse, and I want to give Ghost a try too. Oh, I do have a shelve full of KM and yes his supplements are great, never felt sick from them. The only thing from KM I don’t care for is the protein powder.

  2. Citrulline is effective for pumps; this is news to me. I thought it was useful for removing metabolic byproducts such as ammonia from the bloodstream. Great article.

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