Best Pre-Workout Supplements For Muscle Gain, Weight Loss, And More

Lift more, run faster, and boost focus with these stand-out pre-workout supplements.

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Of all the workout products you can buy, pre-workout supplements may have the widest variety of ingredients, dosages, and effects — which is why it can be hard to find the best pre-workout supplement for your individual needs. Also, isn’t proper sleep, nutrition, and hydration all you need for an excellent workout? It’s undoubtedly 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 can improve performance.

Choosing the right pre-workout, however, is challenging. Besides caffeine, scores of other ingredients 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 the absolute best pre-workout supplements for any training 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

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

Best Pre-Workout Overall

When it comes to finding the best pre-workout, we value research-backed ingredients in clearly disclosed dosages — Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout checks all of those boxes. 

Huge Supplements Pre-Workout

Wrecked Pre-Workout has all the makings of an excellent pre-workout. This product is one of the strongest pre-workouts on the market, and has over 17 clinically dosed ingredients. The caffeine content is quite high with 250mg of caffeine anhydrous and 100mg of di-caffeine malate, totaling 350mg of caffeine. The dose of beta-alanine being 3,500mg is also properly dosed. 

On top of the stimulants, Wrecked comes chock full of ingredients that are designed to help with your pump, such as betaine anhydrous and l-citrulline. It comes in four different flavors —Raspberry Mojito, Bomb Popsicle, Rainbow Burst, and Peach Rings, and is priced reasonably when compared to other pre-workouts across the market.

Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked

This product packs 18 ingredients at high doses, including 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,000mg of tyrosine and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

  • Athletes who want a strong pre-workout will like the high doses here (for example, you’ll find 350mg of caffeine and 8,000mg of l-citrulline per serving).
  • Those who are looking for a well-rounded pre-workout to potentially help in all areas of your workout, from pump to focus to energy.
  • Folks who prefer to take a pre-workout in powder form, rather than pill form.
  • People who like flavor options. Wrecked comes in four flavors — Raspberry Mojito, Bomb Popsicle, Peach Rings, and Rainbow Burst. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

  • Athletes who want a pre-workout that also includes creatine, so they don’t have to take it separately.
  • Someone who is looking for a caffeine-free pre-workout, or someone who is sensitive to high doses of caffeine.
  • Anyone who doesn’t like a large pre-workout scoop. The serving size is 30.2g, which is roughly the size of a scoop of protein powder.

Reasonably priced and loaded with clinically dosed ingredients, Wrecked Pre-Workout has everything that we look for in a pre-workout supplement. Though the scoop size is somewhat large, we think it is worth it to get the proper amount of each ingredient to be maximally effective.

Want the full scoop on pre-workouts? See our complete guide to pre-workout supplements here

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain

Some pre-workouts contain a bunch of stimulants and that’s it. Those are great for energy, but products like this one pack in other helpful ingredients that are good for muscle gain, like beetroot and BCAAs.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

Swolverine set out to make a pre-workout supplement that’s made from all natural ingredients, and still packs a big punch. When it comes to performance, it’s designed to allow you to train harder and longer. The citrulline malate at 5g and beta-alanine at 3.2g is dosed higher than many other competitors. Beta-alanine can help improve time to exhaustion, potentially allowing you to blast through more sets and reps, achieve higher PRs, and ultimately help you build muscle.

The blood flow and pump you can potentially get from PRE is top-tier too, thanks to the generous portion of 2.5g of betaine anhydrous (which is derived from beetroot, and can help open up the veins for better blood flow). One notable thing about this pre-workout is that it doesn’t contain any caffeine or stimulants — just ingredients to help you power through your sets by sheer force alone.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout may lack stimulants, but it makes up for that with a great blend of high-dosed ingredients to help improve blood flow, recovery, and endurance. The citrulline malate and betaine anhydrous can give you the edge you need to conquer your next gym session.

Who Should Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • Anyone looking for a stimulant-free pre-workout that still packs a punch in the strength and endurance department.
  • Athletes who want to know exactly what is in their supplements will like that the label here is clear and easy to read.
  • Lifters who want that tingly sensation from a large dose of beta-alanine, and the endurance boost associated with it.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • Anyone who doesn’t like the flavor of Mango Lemonade since that is the only flavor this product comes in.
  • Someone who prefers their pre-workout to have caffeine or other stimulants — this is stim-free.
  • Someone on a budget since the price per serving here is about $2.20.

If you are looking to pack on muscle, you’ll need to push it hard in the gym, and this pre-workout is designed to help you with that. It may only come in one universally tasty flavor, but the ingredient list is well thought out, and all the dosages are right on the money.

Strongest Pre-Workout

This pick’s ingredients stay true to its name — Wrecked is potently dosed, providing one of the strongest doses of citrulline on this list. 

Huge Supplements Wrecked

Huge Supplements Wrecked packs 18 ingredients at high doses. There’s 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous — all of which are much higher doses than the average you would find on the market.

In addition, you’ll find 1,000mg of tyrosine that may help with focus and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt that can help with hydration. Each serving doses 21.1 grams of these ingredients at 25 servings per container. However, the site doesn’t do a great job at explaining some of their ingredients’ uses and a few of the ingredients are not super common in pre-workouts (like theobromine, which can be helpful for cardiac health and isopropylnorsynephrine, which can help with fat burn).

If you’re a beginner who is concerned about knowing the “why” behind each ingredient and its dose, this pick may leave something to be desired for you. Huge Supplements has clearly positioned this pre-workout for serious lifters and fitness enthusiasts.

Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked

This product packs 18 ingredients at high doses, including 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,000mg of tyrosine and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • Folks looking for a potent dose of typical pre-workout ingredients will like the numbers on this label. 
  • Athletes who prefer a pre-workout with caffeine. This product contains 350mg. 
  • People who appreciate a robust ingredients list will like that there are 18 different pre-workout ingredients here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • Anyone who wants all of their pre-workout ingredients explained to them on the label or website — this product contains some less common pre-workout ingredients that they don’t explain in depth on their site. 
  • Customers who want a stim-free formula will want to look elsewhere as this pre has 350mg of caffeine.

For a powerful pre-workout with high doses of ingredients like citrulline, beta alanine, and caffeine, Wrecked is undoubtedly the way to go. 

Best Pre-Workout for Men

Although many men may supplement with a pre-workout to boost energy, focus, and potentially help them build more muscle and strength — they may also want a pre-workout that fills nutritional gaps and supports them where they may be most deficient. After testing this product ourselves, we think Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite is the best pre-workout for men on the market right now, checking more boxes than we knew we needed.

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

Pre-Kaged Elite contains 10,000mg of citrulline, 3,200mg of beta-alanine, 3,000mg of creatine monohydrate, 2,000mg of creatine nitrate, and 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 . This last ingredient is extra beneficial for men as one study suggests that men are more susceptible than women when it comes to B12 deficiencies (1). This pre-workout contains 388mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to over four cups of coffee. 

This pre-workout is available in Strawberry Lemonade, Glacier Grape, and Fruit Punch flavor options — all of which are pretty tasty. At around $3.00 per serving, this is an expensive pre-workout, but it has a very robust and highly-dosed ingredient list. Not only is this product a pre-workout, but it’s essentially a creatine and vitamin B12 supplement as well. So when you factor in the cost savings for other supplements you don’t have to buy, this is a pretty solid deal. And if you’re looking to save a little extra, you can always subscribe and save to lower the price tag too. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite

Pre-Kaged® Elite provides nine patented ingredients with 35 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1,000 micrograms of vitamin B12 in a single 36-gram scoop. Each serving is 25 calories and includes caffeine, taurine, l-citrulline, beta-alanine, l-tyrosine, and two types of creatine.

Who Should Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

  • Men who want to optimize their B12 supplementation to ensure they aren’t deficient will like that this supplement has 41,667 percent of your RDI for B12. 
  • People who enjoy a highly caffeinated pre-workout as this one has over four cups of coffee’s worth of caffeine per serving.
  • Those who want a robust and highly-dosed ingredient list with plenty of dosaging for focus and pump should look no further than this supplement. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

  • If you want a pre-workout that is caffeine-free, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This pre is designed to get you wired. 
  • Those who are on a budget as this is an expensive pre-workout at around $3.00 per serving. But keep in mind you won’t need to buy those creatine or B12 supplements any more as this pre-workout comes loaded with those.
  • Anyone looking for an unflavored option or a more diverse flavor selection.

If you’re looking for a pre-workout that may help you prolong your time in the gym and fuel your muscle recovery, this pick has two types of creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline, and a whopping 41,667 percent of your daily vitamin B12 needs to potentially help you avoid B12 deficiencies (which disproportionately affect men). 

Best Pre-Workout for Pumps

Getting a “pump” in your workout means you’re increasing blood flow to a muscle. For some, it might not just be an aesthetic benefit — it may also help with hypertrophy and muscle soreness due to increased blood flow. This specific pre-workout can help facilitate pumps by increasing blood flow to your muscles. 

Huge Supplements Wrecked

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that one of the best feelings in the world is the pump, and we tend to agree. Some gymgoers, especially those who are interested in bodybuilding or maximizing muscle size, look for pre-workouts that provide a skin-splitting pump. In reality, pumps are just caused by lots of blood going to a certain muscle or muscle group because it is working really hard, but there are some supplements that can help to increase these effects. 

Wrecked by Huge Supplements has all the right ingredients in the right doses that can help get your blood flowing and blood vessels open (like l-citrulline at 8,000mg, betaine anhydrous at 3,000mg, and beta-alanine at 3,500mg). It also has a hearty 350mg of total caffeine for a potential boost in energy to rep out those sets when you’re chasing the pump.

Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked

This product packs 18 ingredients at high doses, including 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,000mg of tyrosine and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • Athletes who want to prioritize blood flow to a specific muscle during their workout will appreciate the l-citrulline in this supplement.
  • People who like to look pumped. Bodybuilders, for example, may want to look more full, and pumped before stepping on stage. 
  • Cardio junkies — the l-citrulline in this product may also facilitate muscular endurance, and beta-alanine has been associated with better lactic acid buffering.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • Someone who wants something without caffeine — this has 350mg per serving. 
  • Anyone who may want creatine in their pre-workout formula.
  • Someone who doesn’t like taking a large scoop of pre-workout since this is 30.2g per serving.

With a large dose of l-citrulline and other ingredients that may help give you a great pump, Huge Supplements Wrecked is the right choice if you’re looking to increase blood flow. Give this a try during your next session, and you just might not be able to touch your head from the arm and shoulder pump.

Best All Natural Pre-Workout

If you’re choosing to utilize a pre-workout to boost your energy, focus, and pumps, but you want to avoid artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors, Swolverine PRE might just be the pre-workout for you. 

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

While artificial sweeteners aren’t technically bad for you, there are many people who choose to avoid them. This formula has less than one gram of sugar per serving and no added sugars. It’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, fully vegan and all-natural in its formulation. So if artificial ingredients aren’t your thing, you can rest easy. This is a non-stim pre-workout as well, which means it contains no caffeine or stimulants, which can be beneficial for people who work out late at night or watch their caffeine intake closely.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout comes in a Mango Lemonade flavor and contains natural ingredients like 1,000mg of coconut water and 500mg of pomegranate (which provides antioxidants and nitrates). It also includes pre-workout staples, such as 5,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta-alanine, and 2,500mg of betaine. This all-natural formula will cost you a little over $2.00 per serving, which is in the middle of the pack when it comes to quality pre-workout supplements.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout may lack stimulants, but it makes up for that with a great blend of high-dosed ingredients to help improve blood flow, recovery, and endurance. The citrulline malate and betaine anhydrous can give you the edge you need to conquer your next gym session.

Who Should Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • People who want an all-natural supplement that doesn’t contain any artificial colors, preservatives, or ingredients will like this pre-workout.
  • Those who enjoy a low sugar pre-workout will be happy that this has less than one gram of sugar and no added sugars.
  • Athletes who avoid caffeine will enjoy that this is a stimulant-free pre-workout. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • Folks who are on a tight budget should be mindful of the $2.00 per serving. It’s about average for a quality pre-workout, but you can deal back the quality and save money with other products.
  • Most pre-workouts don’t contain it, but if you’re wanting a pre-workout supplement that includes creatine, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • Those who want more flavor variety or an unflavored option.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout is an all-natural, stim-free, vegan pre-workout that boasts potentially beneficial ingredients, like citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine, with none of the artificial stuff you may be looking to avoid. It is well formulated in its ingredient list and dosages, and is certainly a top-quality product.

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss

The key to weight loss is consuming fewer calories than you burn, but is there a pre-workout that might offer a little extra help? We think Transparent Labs steps up to the plate big time with this unique pre-workout formula.

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.

10% Off
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean

Third-party tested and clearly dosed, Transparent Labs LEAN 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 potentially burn more calories from their pre-workout alone will appreciate that LEAN has ingredients to help them do so.
  • People who avoid artificial ingredients — this product is free of artificial sweeteners and colors, like nearly all of Transparent Labs’ products.
  • Folks who want four multiple flavors to choose from — this product comes in Green Apple, Sour Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, and Blue Raspberry. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs LEAN

  • For those who prefer big hits of caffeine; 180mg is a little over what you get in a small coffee and is less than many other pre-workouts on the market.
  • People looking for the effects of a dedicated fat burner. LEAN is a solid product, but remember that it’s a pre-workout with fat burning ingredients, not the other way around.

While it’s a bit low in BCAAs, Transparent Labs LEAN is a stand-out pre-workout that’s all-natural and might increase thermogenesis (aka the number of calories you’re burning) while you get your pump on in the gym.

Best Tasting Pre-Workout

Finding a pre-workout that you can look forward to drinking may be the ticket to getting you amped up for your tough workouts. Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout comes in seven delicious flavors that are all naturally flavored, contain one gram of sugar, and have no artificial colors. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

Much like your food and exercise program, finding a pre-workout that is enjoyable makes all the difference when it comes to creating a routine and adding a supplement to your daily regimen. Taste is a major factor when it comes to enjoyability. If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t take it – guaranteed. Luckily, Kaged has seven delicious options for their Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout. With the choice between Orange Krush, Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Cherry Bomb, and Grape, the only thing you’ll have trouble deciding is which flavor will be best for you. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged contains a robust and well-dosed ingredient list including 3,500mg of BCAAs, 6,500mg of citrulline, well over your RDI for vitamins B3, B6, and B12, 1,500mg of creatine, and a proprietary blend of Spectra™ Total Orac, which is a mix of various superfoods. Although there is only one gram of sugar, that doesn’t retract from the deliciousness of each individual flavor. All seven flavors contain no artificial flavors or colors, which helps mitigate fake tasting pre-workout or a gross aftertaste with some pre-workouts. This pre- will cost you around $2.25 per serving, making it a little more expensive than many pre-workouts on the market, but we think the ingredient list, dosages, and the delicious all-natural flavors make that price tag worth your while.

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

This pre-workout supplement comes in a 20-serving tub and provides L-Citrulline, L-Leucine, and L-Valine, to name a few, per 20-calorie scoop. There are seven flavors available including Grape, Fruit Punch, and Krisp Apple.

Who Should Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

  • Anyone who wants a pre-workout that is free from artificial colors and flavors as you won’t find those here.
  • Folks who want seven delicious flavors to choose between. This pre-workout is available in Orange Krush, Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Cherry Bomb, and Grape flavors.
  • People who want a robust and high-dosed ingredient list will enjoy the diverse, effective, and highly-dosed ingredients found here, including citrulline, BCAAs, B vitamins, and a proprietary blend of superfoods.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

  • Anyone who wants an unflavored pre-workout will have to look elsewhere. 
  • Folks on a budget. This formula costs around $2.25 per serving, making it a spendier pre-workout than some others.
  • Anyone who likes to take creatine separately will want a different pre-workout as this has 1,500mg of creatine.

This pr-workout is fully loaded, offers high doses, and most importantly, is quite tasty. Pre-Kaged comes in Orange Krush, Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Cherry Bomb, and Grape flavors, has one gram of sugar per serving, and still tastes objectively delicious.

Best Pre-Workout Without Caffeine

You don’t need to be bouncing off the walls to have an effective workout. Plenty of gym-goers prefer a pre-workout free of caffeine, and other stimulants that may cause unwanted jitters and a subsequent crash.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

The formulation on this pre-workout combines high-quality sports performance ingredients and antioxidant rich superfoods to make a great product that can help you smash workouts without any stimulants or crash. Combining citrulline malate, beta-alanine, carnitine, pomegranate, betaine, and ginseng can help to optimize your performance and improve recovery.

If you’re looking to kick your workouts up to the next level, but don’t want the caffeine jitters Swolverine PRE is where you should look. It’s made from all natural vegan ingredients, and the Mango Lemonade flavor is sweetened with stevia to taste great too.

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout
Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout may lack stimulants, but it makes up for that with a great blend of high-dosed ingredients to help improve blood flow, recovery, and endurance. The citrulline malate and betaine anhydrous can give you the edge you need to conquer your next gym session.

Who Should Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • Anyone who does not want caffeine or other stimulants in their pre-workout should really appreciate this stim-free formula. 
  • Someone who wants all natural ingredients — especially vegan ingredients. 
  • This product’s label is great for those who like transparent dosing — you know exactly how much of each ingredient you’re ingesting.
  • People who work out later in the day or evening, as this stim-free blend won’t keep you up all night.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout

  • If you don’t like the taste of stevia, or have trouble digesting it, you’ll want to steer clear of this one. 
  • Anyone who wants a stimulant-heavy pre-workout should opt for another product on the list as this is stim-free.

Stimulants aren’t the only game in town for targeting better and more intense workouts. This formula has the right blend of ingredients that can help you get an awesome workout without causing unwanted caffeine jitters.

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 LEAN

Runners chasing more miles and improved focus will prize Transparent Labs’ science-backed ingredient list. This formula notably includes Infinergy™, which is a sustained-release caffeine — this means the energy you can receive from a dose of caffeine should last longer, making it ideal for distance running. There’s also theanine, which when combined with caffeine, can help you remain focused during those long runs. Plus, you’ll find other typical pre-workout ingredients like citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine. This blend comes in nine flavors, which is a pretty solid variety.

10% Off
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean

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

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs LEAN

  • Runners who want to enhance their endurance capabilities and mental focus. 
  • Folks who like ingredients that may help them “focus” during hard runs, as this contains theanine and caffeine. 
  • People who like products backed by research. Transparent Labs explains all of its ingredients on its website. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs LEAN

  • People who don’t love the “tingly” feeling from a lot of beta-alanine. This contains 2,000mg of it.
  • Runners or lifters who don’t want caffeine. There are stim-free formulas available to you. 

Transparent Labs’ thoughtfully designed blend promotes the endurance and energy that runners — both veterans and newbies alike — will appreciate. 

Best Pre-Workout With Creatine 

If you’re someone who likes to supplement with creatine, but you don’t love the idea of taking tons of different supplements, you’ll love that Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout contains two types of creatine that equate to 5,000mg of creatine in total. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

Creatine is a common staple for many gymgoers who are looking to get stronger and bigger. While many varieties of creatine exist, Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout contains two different types of creatine — monohydrate and nitrate — that equate to 5,000mg of creatine in total. Creatine monohydrate is the most well-researched and widely available type of creatine on the market, but when paired with creatine nitrate, it may be a superior way to improve the bioavailability of creatine in the blood and skeletal muscle for the body to utilize. (2)

This supplement contains 3,000mg of creatine monohydrate and 2,000mg of creatine nitrate for a whopping total of 5,000mg of creatine per serving. It also contains some major pre-workout players, like 10,000mg of citrulline, 3,200mg of beta-alanine, and 2,500mg of betaine. Pre-Kaged Elite is available in three flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Glacier Grape, and Fruit Punch, and it’s on the more expensive side, costing you around $3.00 per serving. Because this product doubles as a pre-workout and creatine supplement, we think it’s worth the higher price tag if you’re aiming to take fewer supplements separately. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite

Pre-Kaged® Elite provides nine patented ingredients with 35 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1,000 micrograms of vitamin B12 in a single 36-gram scoop. Each serving is 25 calories and includes caffeine, taurine, l-citrulline, beta-alanine, l-tyrosine, and two types of creatine.

Who Should Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

  • Those who want the potential benefits of creatine monohydrate paired with creatine nitrate (for a total of 5,000mg of creatine), which may create a more bioavailable form of creatine for your body to use. 
  • Someone who wants a pre-workout and a creatine supplement in one. This product doesn’t fall short on the pre-workout staples like betaine, beta-alanine, and citrulline, while also including creatine in its lineup.
  • Anyone who is looking to drink a delicious pre-workout will like that this product is available in Strawberry Lemonade, Glacier Grape, and Fruit Punch flavors.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout

  • People who want to supplement their creatine and pre-workout separately. 
  • Those who want an unflavored option for their pre-workout will have to look outside of this supplement.
  • Those on a budget can find a cheaper alternative; it just may not be as robust.

If your current supplement stack could use an overhaul, you may want to add a pre-workout and creatine combo that allows you to take one less supplement per day. This pre-workout from Kaged provides pre-workout staples, like citrulline and betaine, while also including two types of creatine that equal 5,000mg altogether. 

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners

Being a novice in the gym can feel intimidating, but with the right guidance and supplementation, it may be a bit less daunting. This pre-workout is designed with some of the most important basic essentials for pre-workouts, while giving you the option to include caffeine, or go stimulant-free.

Gnarly Pre-Workout

Gnarly Pre-Workout is a natural pre-workout designed with some basic pre- staples to get you started. It includes four grams of BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which may aid in muscle repair after intense workouts. With the inclusion of five grams of citrulline malate, you may enhance anaerobic performance as well as recover faster from your workouts, which is extra beneficial for gym beginners. (3) It also contains 2.5g of beta-alanine, which may give you the “tingly” feeling and help improve your workouts via better blood flow.

Gnarly is available in caffeinated Strawberry Lemonade and Mango, as well as a caffeine-free Strawberry Lemonade flavor option. All three options are available in the regular 30-serving container, or if you’re interested in individual on-the-go sticks for travel, you can opt to buy five sticks in the caffeinated Strawberry Lemonade flavor. This pre-workout will cost you around $1.40 per serving for the steel canister supplement, or about $1.50 per stick if you choose the on-the-go version. Both are fairly reasonably priced, which is ideal for those who are just starting out and may not want to break the bank on the most extensive pre-workouts out there.

Gnarly Pre-Workout
Gnarly Pre-Workout
Gnarly Pre-Workout

Granly Pre-Workout comes in both caffeinated and caffeine-free options to support your tough workouts. This pre- contains citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine at the forefront of their ingredient list. It comes with an environmental bonus as it comes in an eco-friendly canister rather than a plastic tub.

Who Should Buy Gnarly Pre-Workout

  • New pre-workout users who don’t want too many ingredients in their pre-workout, but want some tried and true pre- ingredients, like citrulline malate, which may improve their performance and recovery in the gym.
  • Anyone who enjoys having the option between a 30-day canister of pre-workout or on-the-go pre-workout sticks will love that Gnarly provides both of these options.
  • People who want both a caffeinated and caffeine-free option of the same pre-workout supplement. 
  • Eco-conscious consumers. We like that Gnarly is thinking about the sustainable packaging of their products (more on that later in the article).

Who Shouldn’t Buy Gnarly Pre-Workout

  • Folks who want a more diverse selection of flavors to choose between as this supp only comes in two different flavors.
  • Someone who doesn’t like the “tingly” feeling you may get in your extremities from beta-alanine may want to opt for a pre-workout formula without beta-alanine. 
  • Those who want to start strong with a really robust ingredient list may want to check out a different pre-workout supplement on our list — potentially one that contains creatine.

Gnarly Pre-Workout contains tried and true pre-workout staples, like citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine, without overdoing the other ingredients and overwhelming the user. This can be a helpful supplement to take when you’re just starting out on your fitness journey and are trying to configure which ingredients will best support your workouts. It also helps that it comes in a caffeinated and caffeine-free option, as well as in a canister or in to-go sticks.

Best Vegan Pre-Workout 

If you’re following a vegan diet, it can be more difficult to find a pre-workout that caters to your dietary restrictions. Plant-based eaters can rest assured that there are pre-workout supps on the market free of any and all animal-based products — this pick is one of the best. 

Transparent Labs BULK

It’s common to see animal products in pre-workouts such as gelatin (used for consistency), lanolin, which is often found in Vitamin D3, and bee pollen (usually touted as a “superfood”). Transparent Labs BULK contains none of these ingredients and instead relies on calcium silicate as an anti-caking agent. Aside from that change, BULK is a standard pre-workout with a research-backed, full-bodied ingredient list to hone focus, bolster endurance, and provide long-lasting energy sans the crash and jitters. However, this product is a little pricier than some others you may find on this list. 

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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 lifters and endurance athletes alike. Plus, it has citrulline, which can help with nitric oxide production.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs BULK

  • Vegans who want a pre-workout that’s completely free of animal products.
  • Anyone who appreciates transparent dosing and proven ingredients.
  • Folks who prefer fruity flavors will like that this pre is available in eight fruit flavors.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs BULK

  • Folks who don’t want to be limited by vegan-only products — there are many pre-workouts that aren’t vegan-friendly.
  • People who want creatine in a pre-workout as this product does not contain creatine. 
  • Those who are watching their wallet may find this pre-workout is a little spendy compared to other products on this list. 

You don’t need to forgo pre-workouts if you’re a vegan, you just need to know what brands ditch animal products in their formulas, and Transparent Labs is one of our top picks. 

Best Thermogenic Pre-Workout

So you’re in a fat loss phase, and you want everything you eat to support that goal? You really just need to be eating the right number of calories and macros, but if you’re curious about thermogenic ingredients like acetyl l-carnitine HCI, consider the following. 

Transparent Labs LEAN

Transparent Labs LEAN is a standard pre-workout formula, offering caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline malate, which can help keep you focused, enhance your performance, and boost blood flow. In addition to the tried-and-true ingredients that can help facilitate focus, energy, and pumps, Transparent Labs LEAN contains acetyl l-carnitine HCI, an ingredient that can help transport fatty acids out of the mitochondria to enhance the fat-burning process (4).

There’s also a dose of the black pepper extract, which may bolster the absorption of these ingredients for improved efficacy. On top of that, this comes in eight tasty flavors including Blue Raspberry, Sour Grape, and Strawberry Lemonade. At $1.66 per serving, this pre-workout can be a cost-effective addition to your line up if you’re looking to reach your fat loss goals.

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Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean
Transparent Labs Lean

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

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs LEAN

  • Lifters and/or athletes in a fat loss phase who may want extra assistance losing body fat will appreciate the acetyl l-carnitine HCI here. 
  • Folks looking for a variety of delicious flavors. We really enjoyed the Sour Peach and Grape flavors. 
  • People who want a moderate amount of caffeine. This pick clocks in at 180mg per serving. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs LEAN

  • Lifters who want a stimulant-free pre-workout.
  • People who want extra vitamins, minerals, or supplements like creatine in their pre-workout. 

Transparent Labs LEAN has an excellent reputation on the market — it’s tasty, and it can help perk you up to have a solid workout. And if you’re looking to lose body fat, this pick may help speed up the process thanks to its acetyl l-carnitine HCI.

Best Pre-Workout for Women

Although most pre-workouts aren’t specifically designed for women (and we believe men, women and non-binary people alike can consumer them), Kaged Pre-Kaged has some potentially beneficial ingredients that may support women’s hormonal health and aid in improving your workouts.

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

This pre-workout contains some of the classic pre-workout ingredients (like citrulline, taurine, beta-alanine, and tyrosine) combined with more unique ingredients (like creatine and antioxidants from greens). The addition of 1,600mg of beta-alanine may be helpful for women specifically in lowering the perception of exertion during workouts and therefore, extending their training sessions to allow for longer and tougher workouts. (5

Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout comes in Orange Krush, Berry Blast, Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Cherry Bomb, and Grape flavors — all of which are delicious options on their own or to stack with other supplements in your lineup. The price is fairly high at almost $2.25 per serving, but the formula renders it to be more reasonable based on its high quality, dosages, and lengthy ingredient list. If you’re looking to optimize your training in the gym while also supporting your gym habits as a woman, we think Pre-Kaged is a solid pre-workout for you.

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged

This pre-workout supplement comes in a 20-serving tub and provides L-Citrulline, L-Leucine, and L-Valine, to name a few, per 20-calorie scoop. There are seven flavors available including Grape, Fruit Punch, and Krisp Apple.

Who Should Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

  • Women who want to potentially support their productivity in the gym to reduce perceived exertion and train for longer periods of time will enjoy the 1,600mg of beta-alanine present in this formula.
  • If you’re looking for a lengthy ingredient list that is fully formulated with high doses, you’ll love this ingredient list. 
  • Those who want a variety of flavors to choose from will be stoked that Kaged Pre-Kaged offers seven delicious flavors.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

  • If you want more ingredients specifically geared towards women’s health you may want to try a pre-workout specifically designed for women.
  • Those who want an unflavored option for a pre-workout will have to look elsewhere.
  • Athletes who don’t want to pay close to $2.25 per serving can find a cheaper option on our list. 

If you’re looking for a thoughtfully formulated pre-workout that contains the major ingredients, like citrulline, taurine, and tyrosine, this product has you covered. But if you also want to optimize some ingredients (such as beta-alanine) that may be helpful for women during tough endurance workouts, Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout may be an even more beneficial pre-workout for you as a female. 

Best Eco-Friendly Pre-Workout 

For those who are thoughtful about their impact on the environment, Gnarly might be your new favorite supplement brand. They’re focused on producing high quality products with sustainable packaging to help you feel good about your choices in and out of the gym — and their pre-workout is one of these products.

Gnarly Pre-Workout

Gnarly Pre-Workout comes equipped with all the right ingredients. It has 2,500mg of beta-alanine, 5,000mg of citrulline malate, 180mg of caffeine — if you opt for the caffeinated version — and 4,000mg of BCAAs. Most notably, though, is that they take their sustainability just as seriously as they do their pre-workout formulation. Gnarly was originally founded with outdoor activities in mind, and they’re staying true to keeping the environment wild and taken care of. 

Gnarly has already taken proactive steps to lessen their environmental impact and has phased out most of their single use plastics. They sell many of their supplements in steel canisters rather than single use plastic tubs that don’t end up getting recycled. They have also partnered with the Plastic Impact Alliance and Sustainable Packaging Movement to further phase out the rest of their single use plastics by 2025. 

This pre-workout comes in Strawberry Lemonade, Mango, and a Caffeine-Free Strawberry Lemonade flavor. In addition to their 30-day supply of pre-workout that comes in a canister, they also offer single packets for on-the-go pre-workout needs if you’re in the mountains or on a camping trip. This product is also reasonably priced for the market at around $1.40 per serving. 

Gnarly Pre-Workout
Gnarly Pre-Workout
Gnarly Pre-Workout

Granly Pre-Workout comes in both caffeinated and caffeine-free options to support your tough workouts. This pre- contains citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine at the forefront of their ingredient list. It comes with an environmental bonus as it comes in an eco-friendly canister rather than a plastic tub.

Who Should Buy Gnarly Pre-Workout

  • Those who care about their environmental impact or who try to be as plastic-free as possible will enjoy the steel canisters that Gnarly uses in place of plastic tubs.
  • If you’re looking for a pre-workout that allows you to choose between caffeine and caffeine-free options, you’ll like this product.
  • Those who want a reasonably priced pre-workout will appreciate that this supplement is around the average price of $1.40 per serving.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Gnarly Pre-Workout

  • If you want more flavor options outside of Strawberry Lemonade or Mango, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • Those who want the addition of creatine in their pre-workout.
  • Anyone who wants the most robust pre-workout may find other pre-workouts with a larger number of ingredients and higher doses for those ingredients than you’ll find in Gnarly’s pre-workout.

For outdoor lovers who enjoy taking their supplements but are cognizant of their impact on the environment, Gnarly Pre-Workout is the perfect combination of effective and sustainable to help you crush workouts without environmental guilt. Their plans to go fully plastic-free by 2025 only sweeten the deal.

When Should I Take Pre-Workout?

As the name implies, you want to take your pre-workout before you train. The general rule is to mix the powder (if you’re taking a powder, not a pill) in four to eight ounces of water and ingest it 20 to 30 minutes before training. This amount of time allows the ingredients — like caffeine, beta-alanine, and taurine — to absorb and start taking effect.

A person jumps rope in the gym while wearing headphones.
Credit: Flamingo Images / Shutterstock

If you train at night, you may want to steer clear of caffeinated pre-workouts. Some of these supps contain 150mg minimum of caffeine, with certain products packing 250mg or more. Of course, the choice is yours, but you’ll risk disrupting your sleep. Night owls may want to opt for a stim-free pre-workout.

How Much Do Pre-Workouts Cost?

The price of a pre-workout varies, though not significantly, primarily based on A) the ingredients used, and B) the doses of those ingredients. Products that prioritize transparent dosing — meaning the ingredients aren’t wrapped up in obscure blends — are typically going to be pricier. The reason being that you’re actually getting that ingredient and in a relatively complete dose.

Nowadays, most brands give you the full scoop on dosing. The number of ingredients also affects the price. A product that has creatine in addition to basic pre-workout ingredients, for example, will almost always carry a higher price tag. Supplements with added vitamins and nutrients also jack up the price a bit.

Best Pre-Workout Overall Huge Supplements Wrecked $49.95

Per Serving: $2.49

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout $54.99

Per Serving: $2.19

Strongest Pre-Workout Huge Supplements Wrecked $49.95

Per Serving: $2.00

Best Pre-Workout for Men Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout $59.99

Per Serving: $3.00

Best Pre-Workout for Pump Huge Supplements Wrecked $49.95

Per Serving: $2.00

Best All-Natural Pre-Workout Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout $52.99

Per Serving: $2.11

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss Transparent Labs LEAN $49.99 

Per Serving: $1.66

Best Tasting Pre-Workout Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout $44.99

Per Serving: $2.25

Best Pre-Workout Without Caffeine Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout $52.99

Per Serving: $2.11

Best Pre-Workout for Running Transparent Labs LEAN $49.99 

Per Serving: $1.66

Best Pre-Workout without Creatine Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout $59.99

Per Serving: $3.00

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners Gnarly Pre-Workout $42.95

Per Serving: $1.43

Best Vegan Pre-Workout Transparent Labs BULK $49.00

Per Serving: $1.63

Best Thermogenic Pre-Workout Transparent Labs LEAN $49.99

Per Serving: $1.66

Best Pre-Workout for Women Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout $44.99

Per Serving: $2.25

Best Eco-Friendly Pre-Workout Gnarly Pre-Workout $42.95

Per Serving: $1.43

That said: You need to know what you want out of a pre-workout. If you’re looking for a little energy, then a basic pick with ample caffeine will do the job (and probably for less money). If you want the full kit — pumps, energy, focus, and hydrating minerals — then know you’ll shell out more.

When considering the price of pre-workouts you’ll want to look at the price of the container in unison with the number of servings you’re getting, rather than just the price of the container as a whole. The pre-workouts on this list range from around $1.15 per serving to as high as about $2 per serving.

The Benefits of Pre-Workouts

The first thing people tend to associate with pre-workouts is their potential stimulative effects, which can affect just about every part of a workout. Obviously, caffeine (often the primary ingredient in pre-workouts) is known as a stimulant, but it is also linked to better power, endurance, perceived exertion, and even cognition. (6)(7)(8) 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. (9)

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.

But again, a pre-workout supplement isn’t just caffeine (though, some people do just take caffeine before a workout). Some pre-workouts are formulated without it. The most common additions include beta-alanine for endurance, citrulline for blood flow, betaine for power, and tyrosine for focus. All these ingredients can give you an extra boost that can help you get the most out of your training.

hill sprints
Image from ShutterStock/sportpoint

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. (10)(11) 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. (12)(13)

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 contains a couple of not-so-science-backed inclusions, we still consider it reputable if there are enough quality, well-dosed ingredients.

How We Decide Our Picks

We tried a lot of pre-workouts (and hit a lot of PRs) before landing on this list. Here are the criteria we looked at. Note that these aren’t necessarily deal-breakers — some products are on the pricey side, for example, but the ingredient list justifies it. 

Value

Most pre-workouts cost between $1.00 and $2.00 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 pricey” territory.

Transparency

A considerable number of pre-workouts consist of proprietary blends — you know the ingredients but not the amounts that are provided. That means you won’t know exactly what’s effective and what’s not. 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 definitely loses points for lack of transparency. We also chose some products for this list specifically because of their transparency.

Dosage

On a related note, scores of pre-workouts take research-backed ingredients but don’t use research-backed doses. For example, citrulline needs to be 5 grams or more. 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.) For the most part, we have only included picks on this list that contain the proper dosage for their ingredients.

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 can 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 actually want in your pre-workout.

Caffeine

Caffeine is 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. Pre-workouts typically contain anywhere from 80 to 350mg of caffeine.

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 with pre-workout, it’s an any-time supplement — the point is to increase the creatine in your muscles over time, rather than loading creatine quickly. The dose is five to 10 grams a day, and if you’re consistent, you’ll see the best results. (14)

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is linked to improved endurance, both in cardio-focused workouts and strength training with higher reps (as in over eight per set). Because it allows you to endure more, it may help with hypertrophy. The standard dose is 1.6 to 3.2 grams. (15)

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. (16)

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, which can actually be helpful in your body’s response to stress. (17

Taurine

When paired with caffeine, taurine may help with improving focus. Since it might draw water into cells, it may enhance recovery and muscle cramps, as well. The dose is one to two grams. (18)

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. (19)

What to Consider Before Buying

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.

Caffeine Is a Drug

Caffeine is a real drug. It can cause anxiety, diarrhea, and maybe even temporary high blood pressure. Caffeine isn’t inherently 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 from 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 you take them.

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. (20)

Remember the Dosage

We’ve already 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 make a purchase.

Chat with 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.

The Scoop on Dry Scooping

Social media stars on platforms like TikTok and Instagram have started a trend known as dry-scooping — where you scoop pre-workout powder directly into your mouth. This is ill-advised and dangerous. 

Many pre-workouts have hundreds of milligrams of caffeine in them, and diluting that powder into water allows your body more time to absorb and process it. Otherwise, you risk absorbing too much caffeine too quickly, which can lead to jitters, an upset stomach, an elevated heart rate, and, in extreme cases, caffeine poisoning. One woman who dry-scooped suffered a heart attack

You can also choke on the powder. There’s a reason the directions on pre-workout powders tell you to mix it in water. (21

Final Word

If you’re engaged in sport, supplements, like pre-workouts, can be super helpful. They can increase the amount of energy you have and the effectiveness of the exercise. We’ve 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 supplements. While plenty of people have different ideas about what constitutes a “quality” pre-workout, we think we’ve put together a tremendous guide to picking the best pre-workout supplements for a variety of fitness goals. 

FAQs

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 party 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.

References

  1. Margalit I, Cohen E, Goldberg E, Krause I. Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Role of Gender: A Cross-Sectional Study of a Large Cohort. Ann Nutr Metab. 2018;72(4):265-271. doi: 10.1159/000488326. Epub 2018 Mar 29. PMID: 29597190.
  2. Ostojic SM, Stajer V, Vranes M, Ostojic J. Searching for a better formulation to enhance muscle bioenergetics: A randomized controlled trial of creatine nitrate plus creatinine vs. creatine nitrate vs. creatine monohydrate in healthy men. Food Sci Nutr. 2019 Oct 3;7(11):3766-3773. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.1237. PMID: 31763026; PMCID: PMC6848817.
  3. Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0. PMID: 20386132.
  4. Brass EP. Supplemental carnitine and exercise. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2 Suppl):618S-23S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/72.2.618S. PMID: 10919968.
  5. Murphy MJ, Rushing BR, Sumner SJ, Hackney AC. Dietary Supplements for Athletic Performance in Women: Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, and Nitrate. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2022 Feb 23;32(4):311-323. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2021-0176. PMID: 35196646.
  6. Childs E, de Wit H. Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 May;185(4):514-23. doi: 10.1007/s00213-006-0341-3. Epub 2006 Mar 16. PMID: 16541243.
  7. Smillie LD, Gökçen E. Caffeine enhances working memory for extraverts. Biol Psychol. 2010 Dec;85(3):496-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.08.012. Epub 2010 Sep 15. PMID: 20816912.
  8. Mednick SC, Cai DJ, Kanady J, Drummond SP. Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory. Behav Brain Res. 2008 Nov 3;193(1):79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.04.028. Epub 2008 May 8. PMID: 18554731; PMCID: PMC2603066.
  9. Duvnjak-Zaknich DM, Dawson BT, Wallman KE, Henry G. Effect of caffeine on reactive agility time when fresh and fatigued. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Aug;43(8):1523-30. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821048ab. PMID: 21266929.
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  21. Dry scooping can be life-threatening. Get Poison Control Help Online or Call 1-800-222-1222. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.poison.org/articles/dry-scooping-can-be-life-threatening.