The 16 Best Pre-Workout Supplements (Spring 2023 Update) – Fitnessnacks

    Of all the workout products you can buy, pre-workout supplements may have the widest variety of ingredients, dosages, and potential effects — which is why it can be hard to find the best pre-workout supplement for your individual needs. Also, isn’t better 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 help improve performance.

    However, choosing the right pre-workout can be challenging. Besides caffeine, scores of other ingredients appear in these products, including amino acids, greens powders and extracts, and other powders meant to improve endurance, power output, mental 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 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 looking for an excellent pre-workout supplement, we value research-backed ingredients in clearly disclosed dosages. Transparent Labs is a company that heavily prioritizes 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 sweeteners, colors, or flavors. At 200 milligrams per scoop, BULK’s caffeine content is more manageable than some others on the market (which can get up to nearly 300mg per serving). BULK also features big hits of citrulline (8,000mg) and beta-alanine (4,000mg). Each scoop contains a solid dose of 3,000mcg of boron, which has some links to potentially increasing testosterone production in the body. (1)

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    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.

    Aside from the stimulants and blood flow ingredients, each scoop also has components to potentially aid in focus, like 300mg of alpha-GPC, 1,300mg of taurine, and 1,000mg of l-tyrosine. The 13 ergogenic ingredients topped with B vitamins and electrolytes all make for a top-shelf-worthy pre-workout. You can pick up a 30-serving tub for the moderate price of about $49.99 (around $1.67 per scoop) and select from 11 different tasty and unique flavors. 

    BarBend Testing Transparent Labs BULK Pre-WorkoutTransparent Labs BULK at BarBend for testing

    Who Should Buy Transparent Labs BULK

    • People who want a clearly labeled, research-backed, and well-dosed supplement.
    • Anyone who wants to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors.
    • Folks who like an emphasis on focus — this pick contains alpha-GPC, taurine, and tyrosine here, all of which may help with focus.

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs BULK

    • Anyone who is sensitive to beta-alanine or doesn’t like the tingling sensation it can cause will want to steer clear of the large dose here.
    • Though BULK is priced fairly for the formula, there are certainly cheaper pre-workouts out there, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look at other options on this list.
    • People who are not interested in ingredients that may improve testosterone production.

    Transparent Labs clearly put a great deal of care into crafting a potent and effective yet refined pre-workout. BULK has all the right doses and ingredients to potentially aid in focus, energy, blood flow, and testosterone production.

    Read our full review of Transparent Labs BULK.

    Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain

    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 in Transparent Labs BULK with an ingredients list full of potential contents for focus, blood flow, energy, and testosterone.

    Transparent Labs BULK

    This research-backed formula features a wide range of time-tested ingredients designed to aid in promoting muscle growth. The formula has 13 well-dosed components, plus B vitamins and electrolytes to potentially support energy, focus, testosterone production, and blood flow — all of which may have a role in gaining muscle in their own right. Each scoop has a large dose of 8,000mg of citrulline and 2,500mg of betaine to potentially help you achieve better pumps and improved blood flow. The 3,000mcg dose of boron may help support healthy testosterone levels too, which has the potential to improve muscle gains.

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    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.

    If you’re seeking energy, 200mg of caffeine and 4,000mg of beta-alanine might help you fight off fatigue and work out for longer, which could lead to more muscle growth. People might have trouble focusing while in the gym and that could hamper your gains. BULK has ingredients that are intended to promote focus like 300mg of alpha-GPC, 200mg of theanine, and 50mg of theobromine. The price is fair (for such a broad range of well-dosed ingredients) at about $49.99 for a 30-serving tub, which works out to around $1.67 per serving. It also comes in 11 flavors with classics, like Blue Raspberry, and unique options for the eccentric pre-workout taker, like Piña Colada.

    Who Should Buy Transparent Labs BULK

    • If you want to pack on muscle then having a pre-workout to support it from multiple angles — blood flow, focus, energy, and more — might be more beneficial than a pre that simply provides energy.
    • Anyone who wants to have a bunch of flavors to choose from will appreciate the 11 different tasty options here.
    • Those who have trouble focusing or finding enough energy to push in the gym may like the alpha-GPC and caffeine in here.

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs BULK

    • People who don’t tolerate caffeine or beta-alanine well might want to look for a stimulant free pre-workout with a lower dose of beta-alanine. The 4,000mg dose in here is quite large.
    • Anyone who isn’t interested in increasing their testosterone levels may want to look for a pre-workout without boron.
    • Those who are on a tight budget can likely find a cheaper pre-workout, though this one is priced fairly for its robust formula.

    If you’re trying to punch your one-way ticket to hop on the gains train, Transparent Labs BULK might be the right pre-workout for you. It approaches optimizing performance from a variety of angles, like testosterone production, blood flow and pump, energy, and focus all while being moderately priced with a ton of flavor options.

    Strongest Pre-Workout

    This pick’s ingredients stay true to its name — Jacked Factory maxes out the doses of its ingredients to provide one of the strongest pre-workouts on the market for those who want a little extra kick.

    Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max

    Nitrosurge Max is named to sound like a strong pre-workout, and it lives up to the hype. Despite being a potent formula, it isn’t too strong for beginners since Jacked Factory designed the full dose to be two scoops, leaving a more mellow experience when needed. If you opt for the full two-scoop serving then you’ll be ingesting a massive dose of 9,000mg of citrulline, 2,500mg of betaine, 350mg of caffeine, and some nootropics to round out the list of 10 clinically dosed ingredients.

    Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max

    Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max

    Nitrosurge Max is packed with massive doses of all your favorite pre-workout ingredients. For every two-scoop serving you’ll receive 9,000mg of citrulline, 2,500mg of betaine, 2,000mg of tyrosine, 350mg of caffeine, 250mcg of huperzine A, and more.

    While you might expect a pre-workout as potent as this one to command a high price, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s rather affordable. You can grab a 40-serving tub of Nitrosurge Max for around $39.99, which works out to just under $1.00 per serving — though if you’re taking two scoops at a time, you’ll be closer to $2.00 per serving. Pick your favorite of three tasty flavors — Watermelon Rocket, Cherry Bomb, and Electric Blue Raspberry.

    Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max

    • 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 a lot of caffeine. This product contains 350mg per two-scoop serving. 
    • People who want a cost-effective pre-workout. This is just under $1.00 per serving if you take one scoop at a time. 

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max

    • People who are sensitive to caffeine or want a stimulant-free pre-workout will want to check out other options on this list. 
    • Customers who are looking for in-depth explanations of the ingredients will be left wanting more since Jacked Factory doesn’t give much information about this product aside from listing the inclusions.
    • Those who may want more robust flavor choices than the three provided here.

    For a powerful pre-workout with high doses of ingredients like citrulline, beta-alanine, and caffeine, Nitrosurge Max is undoubtedly the way to go. We like the flexibility too so you can dial it back by taking one scoop instead of the full two scoops for days when you don’t need such a boost.

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

    Best Pre-Workout for Men

    Although many men may supplement with a pre-workout to help boost energy, maintain focus, and potentially 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 Transparent Labs BULK Black is the best pre-workout for men on the market right now, checking more boxes than we knew we needed.

    Transparent Labs BULK Black

    Transparent Labs designed this formula to be hard-hitting without being overwhelming, and the ingredients list backs that up. BULK Black contains 250mcg of vitamin B12, and research suggests that men may be more likely to have a B12 deficiency. (1) With each scoop you’ll also receive a potent dose of 8,000mg of citrulline and 2,500mg of betaine to potentially aid in blood flow. If you need some extra pep in your step, there are about three cups of coffee’s worth of caffeine (305mg) included. Among the total of 17 clinically dosed ingredients, there are ones intended to aid in focus and endurance to round out the formula.

    Transparent Labs BULK Black

    Transparent Labs BULK Black

    Packed with over 17 grams of clinically-dosed ingredients like citrulline malate, caffeine, beta-alanine, and betaine anhydrous this formula has all the good things we look for in a pre-workout. It leaves out what we’d rather avoid like artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives.

    The one downside here is that this only comes in three flavors — Cherry Kiwi, Peach Mango, and Blue Raspberry — and despite them being tasty, they may not be for everyone. While it’s not the cheapest pre-workout in the world, we think the price is fair for the high quality and quantity of ingredients included. Each 30-serving container costs about $54.99, which works out to around $1.83 per serving. When you consider that some less potent pre-workouts can cost over $2.00 per serving, BULK Black is reasonably priced.

    Who Should Buy Transparent Labs BULK Black

    • Men who want to optimize their B12 supplementation to ensure they aren’t deficient will like that this supplement has over 10,000 percent of your RDI for B12. 
    • People who enjoy a highly caffeinated pre-workout. This contains the caffeine equivalent of about three cups of coffee.
    • Those who want a robust and highly-dosed ingredient list with plenty of ingredients for focus and pump should look no further than this supplement. 

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs BULK Black

    • If you want a pre-workout that is caffeine-free, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This pre is designed to get you wired with over 300mg of caffeine. 
    • Anyone looking for a pre-workout that contains creatine may be disappointed that this one doesn’t have any in it.
    • Anyone looking for an unflavored option or a more diverse flavor selection. There are only three flavors available for this product.

    This pre-workout contains a whopping 10,417 percent of your daily vitamin B12 needs to potentially help you avoid B12 deficiencies, which research suggests may disproportionately affect men. 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 also has two types of caffeine, beta-alanine, and citrulline.

    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 — more blood to the muscles may also help with hypertrophy and reduce muscle soreness. This specific pre-workout can help facilitate pumps by potentially increasing blood flow to your muscles, the same way nitric oxide supplements do. 

    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. 

    Huge Supplements Wrecked

    Huge Supplements Wrecked

    This product packs 17 ingredients at high doses, including 8,000mg of citrulline, 3,500mg of beta alanine, 250mg of caffeine, and 3,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,500mg of tyrosine and 197mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

    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.

    One Serving of Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-WorkoutOne Serving of Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

    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 or added sugars, 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

    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.

    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 can provide 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 high-quality pre-workout supplements.

    Nick Reading Swolverine's PRE Supplement FactsNick Reading Swolverine’s PRE Supplement Facts

    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 and burning fat 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 burner supplements. 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.

    Transparent Labs LEAN for Weight Loss

    Transparent Labs LEAN for Weight Loss

    Third-party tested and clearly dosed, Transparent Labs LEAN has a huge variety of ingredients for endurance, power, alertness, and focus. 

    Plus, it’s well-dosed with many other mainstay pre-workout ingredients, like citrulline, beta-alanine, and theanine, the latter of which can help reduce the potential jitters from the caffeine.

    Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-WorkoutTransparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

    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 multiple flavors to choose from — this product comes in Peach, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Cherry Limeade, Sour Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch and Watermelon flavors.

    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.

    Read our full review of Transparent Labs LEAN.

    Best Tasting Pre-Workout

    With any supplement, it helps greatly if you can stomach the taste. The last thing you need is your stomach turning in the middle of a set of squats. If you’re seeking a palatable pre-workout, then this pick is for you.

    Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged

    Wrecked Enraged comes in four flavors — Blood Razz, Death Wish, Blue Razz, and Mango Citrus — all of which are objectively delicious and rather unique. Each scoop packs a robust ingredient list aimed at enhancing energy, focus, and endurance. You’ll find a handful of traditional pre-workout ingredients on the Enraged nutrition label including a massive dose of caffeine (450mg) and beta-alanine (4,000mg). 

    Huge Supplements Enraged

    Huge Supplements Enraged

    If you want energy and focus this pre-workout features massive doses of energy and focus ingredients with 225mg of caffeine per scoop, 500mg of alpha GPC, and 25mg of huperzine A from only one scoop though Huge provides information regarding two scoops for people who want more potency.

    You’ll also find less common ingredients, like a giant dose of 1,000mg of alpha-GPC, which may help improve focus and mood. A normal dose of alpha GPC is around 300 to 500mg — this product offers double that. It’s worth noting, however, that this contains a potentially focus-enhancing ingredient called n-phenethyl dimethylamine (175mg), which is banned by the NCAA.  If you don’t need to worry about that then this is a powerful and delicious pre-workout supplement. You can pick up a 40-serving container for about $44.95 (around $2.25 per serving), making this pre-workout tasty for your wallet, too.

    Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged

    • Anyone who wants more than just the basic pre-workout ingredients will like the 10 ingredients included in this product. 
    • People who want four great tasting (and unique) flavors to choose from. This pre comes in both unique and staple flavors.
    • People who want a potent pre-workout with above-average dosages will like that this pre-workout contains 1,000mg of alpha GPC, 4,000mg of beta-alanine, and 450mg of caffeine. 

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged

    • Customers who are looking for a pre-workout that is safe to take when competing in an NCAA-tested sport will want to look elsewhere. 
    • Anyone who’s allergic to caffeine will want to avoid this product as it contains 450mg of it. 
    • People who are looking for creatine in their pre-workout sadly won’t find it here.

    Delicious, well-priced, and fully dosed, Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged is a pre-workout with clinically-proven ingredients for gym rats who want a variety of tasty and unique flavors to choose from.

    Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout

    You don’t need to be bouncing off the walls to have an effective workout. Plenty of gymgoers 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 non stimulant 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.

    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.

    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 Suggested UseSwolverine PRE Pre-Workout Suggested Use

    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, though it is possible to balance strength training and running. For those reasons, you want a pre-workout that prioritizes ingredients that stimulate long-term energy, focus, and performance. 

    Xwerks Ignite

    Runners chasing more miles and improved focus will prize Xwerks’ science-backed ingredient list. This formula notably includes calcium and magnesium lactate which, despite broad claims that lactic acid is a hindrance to performance, have been shown to bolster endurance. (3) You’ll also find 3,000mg of citrulline, which can potentially aid in blood flow to deliver much-needed oxygen to tired muscles.

    Xwerks Ignite

    Xwerks Ignite

    This pre-workout includes calcium and magnesium lactate, which have been shown to bolster endurance. Plus, it contains vitamins B6 and B12 that may help maintain healthy energy levels.

    Beta-alanine is dosed moderately (at 1,500mg) with the purpose of improving endurance without giving crazy tingles and making your run uncomfortable. There’s also 200mg of DMAE (Dimethylethanolamine), a compound that may improve brain health, 150mg of caffeine that may help stimulate performance, and vitamins B6 and B12 that may help maintain healthy energy levels. To top things off, 500mg of rhodiola rosea can help to provide energy, a better mood, and focus.

    Who Should Buy Xwerks Ignite

    • Runners who want an extra edge or kick for their endurance capabilities will like the citrulline and beta-alanine here. 
    • Folks who like ingredients that may help them “focus” during hard runs, as this contains l-tyrosine, DMAE, and the herb rhodiola rosea (which may have neuroprotective properties).
    • People who like products backed by research. Xwerks backs up the inclusion of most ingredients, specifically lactate acid, with citations to notable journals on their website. 

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Xwerks Ignite

    • People who don’t like the tingling sensation from beta-alanine. Despite the reserved 1,500mg dose, some people who haven’t taken it before may find it too much.
    • Runners or lifters who don’t want caffeine. Though the 150mg dose is modest, it’s still equivalent to about a cup and a half of coffee.
    • Those who want some hydration-focused ingredients in their pre-workout will want to look at other options on this list.

    Xwerks’ thoughtfully designed blend promotes the endurance and energy that runners — veterans and newbies alike — will appreciate. The well-dosed (but not overpowering) ingredients for possible boosts in energy, blood flow, and focus make this a winner in our book.

    Best Research Backed Pre-Workout

    Pre-workouts often have proprietary blends of ingredients that may or not be supported by research. Huge takes the guesswork out of the equation and only uses ingredients that they’re confident are supported by research. 

    Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

    Huge Supplements did their homework when developing their formula for their pre-workout, Wrecked. All of the doses are backed by science and the ingredients used are well-researched. This product is also one of the stronger pre-workouts on the market with 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 beta-alanine is dosed at 3,500mg, which is appropriate according to the literature. (5) 

    Huge Supplements Wrecked

    Huge Supplements Wrecked

    This product packs 17 ingredients at high doses, including 8,000mg of citrulline, 3,500mg of beta alanine, 250mg of caffeine, and 3,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,500mg of tyrosine and 197mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

    On top of the stimulants, Wrecked comes stacked with ingredients that are designed to help with your pump, including betaine anhydrous (3,000mg) and l-citrulline (8,000mg). It comes in four different flavors — Raspberry Mojito, Bomb Popsicle, Rainbow Burst, and Peach Rings, and is priced around $2.50 per serving, which is a bit high — but it may be worth it for the research-backed ingredients and doses. 

    Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-WorkoutHuge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

    Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

    • Athletes who want a pre-workout with ingredients and doses that are supported by the available body of research.
    • 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 want a pre-workout with a variety of tasty and unique flavors to choose from — this has five.

    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.
    • Those who are looking for the most cost-effective pre-workout they can buy will want to look at other options.

    Loaded with clinically dosed, research-backed 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 for maximum potential.

    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)

    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.

    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's Pre-Kaged Elite Highly Dosed IngredientsHighly Dosed Ingredients in Pre-Kaged Elite

    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 some extras for focus and endurance.

    Swolverine PRE

    Beginners often benefit from keeping things simple in the weight room, and the same can be said for their supplements. Don’t be fooled though as this simple formula is dense with effective doses. Beginner lifters may often want to experience a pump to feel like the correct muscles are being used, so Swolverine PRE includes a large dose of 5,000mg of citrulline and 2,500mg of betaine. This formula also includes 3,200mg of beta-alanine and 1,500mg of carnitine to potentially aid in endurance. Carnitine pulls double duty here as a potential fat-burning aid since many beginners start working out in order to lose weight. 

    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.

    If you’re worried about staying hydrated, you’re covered there too with 1,000mg of coconut water powder. Notably absent are caffeine and other stimulants. While some folks may want a pre-workout with some zip, it might be best for beginners to start off without a caffeinated pre-workout until they need the extra push down the line. The major downside for some people is that PRE only comes in one flavor — Mango Lemonade — which is great if you like that flavor but prohibitive if you’re not a fan. Each 25-serving container costs about $52.99 (or $2.12 per serving).

    Swolverine PRE Pre-WorkoutSwolverine PRE Pre-Workout

    Who Should Buy Swolverine PRE

    • New pre-workout users who don’t want too many ingredients in their pre-workout but want some tried and true pre ingredients, like betaine, beta-alanine, and citrulline, which may improve their performance and endurance in the gym.
    • People who are looking to potentially burn some fat while working out will appreciate the carnitine here.
    • Newer lifters who may not have the endurance for longer sessions and high-rep sets will appreciate the addition of ingredients like beta-alanine to help promote lactic acid buffering.

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine PRE

    • Folks who want a more potent ingredients list or a pre-workout with stimulants may want to check out other options.
    • People who don’t like the flavor of mangos or lemonade probably won’t like this pre-workout’s flavor. 
    • Those who are interested in a pre-workout with creatine or added BCAAs in it will want to check out other picks on this list.

    Swolverine PRE contains common pre-workout ingredients — 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.

    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. 

    Onnit Total Strength + Performance

    The three blends in this vegan product — Performance, Power, and Support blends — are all designed to accommodate a different aspect of working out. BCAAs, glutamine, and beta-alanine are in the performance blend, which may help you perform better for longer. (5) You’ll find d-aspartic acid, grains of paradise, and other herbs in the power blend. The longjack plant may help support the hormones and neural transmissions that provide fuel for muscle contractions. And the resveratrol in the support blend can potentially help your cells stand up to the stress of difficult gym sessions.

    10% Off

    Onnit Total Strength + Performance

    Onnit Total Strength + Performance

    Onnit contains a Power Blend with longjack, which can help fuel muscle contractions, a Performance Blend with BCAAs, glutamine and beta-alanine, which can help boost performance during exercise, and a Support Blend with resveratrol that can help you push through during tough training.

    One downside of this product is that most of the ingredients are blends, which means you won’t know the exact amount of each ingredient present. Onnit does come in tasty Strawberry Lemonade or Pink Grapefruit flavors though, and is priced well considering this product is Informed Sport Certified to be free of banned substances. Each 30-serving container will set you back about $59.95 (approximately $1.99 per serving). We should note that this product is caffeine free too for people who want a stim-heavy pre-workout.

    Onnit Total Strength + PerformanceOnnit Total Strength + Performance

    Who Should Buy Onnit Total Strength + Performance

    • Those who focus on strength training and want a specific formula that may help provide fuel for muscle contractions, aiding in heavy lifts at the gym.
    • People who follow a vegan diet will appreciate that this pre-workout is 100 percent vegan. 
    • Anyone who wants a dose of BCAAs within their pre-workout — people who take a separate BCAA supplement will like that this formula provides BCAAs, so you won’t have to take both a pre-workout and BCAAs as separate supplements — potentially saving you money. 

    Who Shouldn’t Buy Onnit Total Strength + Performance

    • Anyone who wants a more traditional list of pre-workout ingredients — many pre-workouts boast caffeine, creatine, citrulline, and betaine. If you’re looking for this more typical formula, you’ll want to look elsewhere. 
    • Athletes who want a pre-workout that contains caffeine. This product does not. 
    • Those who are looking for a cost-effective pre-workout can find cheaper alternatives on this list.

    If you’re looking for a pre-workout that may help you prolong your time in the gym and fuel your muscles, this pick has all the ingredients you need. BCAAs, glutamine, and resveratrol are all designed to support your workouts in different ways. This pre-workout may not be typical, but it’s hitting all the right notes.

    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).

    Transparent Labs LEAN for Thermogenics

    Transparent Labs LEAN for Thermogenics

    Third-party tested and clearly dosed, Transparent Labs LEAN has a huge variety of ingredients for endurance, power, alertness, and focus. 

    There’s also a dose of 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 lineup if you’re looking to reach your fat loss goals.

    Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-WorkoutTransparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

    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 consume them), KOS Bolt from the Blue has some potentially beneficial ingredients that may support women’s intense training sessions and aid in improving performance.

    KOS Bolt from the Blue

    At first glance, you’ll be able to tell that this isn’t your typical pre-workout that’s loaded with chemicals and stimulants. You will receive some gentle potential energy to the tune of 70mg of caffeine (about a cup of coffee) from organic green coffee beans. On top of that, you’ll find ingredients that may support your mood, like ashwagandha, which can reduce stress and anxiety. This can be particularly beneficial for women who might find the gym environment intimidating or anxiety-inducing.

    KOS Bolt from the Blue

    KOS Bolt from the Blue

    This pre-workout strays from the typical ingredients list and pulls its effectiveness from a blue energy and focus blend with ingredients for energy like ginseng and green coffee beans along with potential mood boosters like ashwagandha and rhodiola for a balanced and clean and organic pre-workout devoid of artificial ingredients.

    There are also immune-supporting ingredients since the gym (though we love it) can be somewhat grimy at times. You’ll find doses of cordyceps and lion’s mane mushrooms. This formula also has a dose of 20mcg of folate and a vitamin B-complex, which can be important for women as well for supporting energy and reproductive health. You can grab a 28-serving container for about $36.99 or around $1.32 per serving — which is much cheaper than many other pre-workouts on the market. The major downside is that this only comes in one flavor — Electric Boostberry (blue raspberry).

    Who Should Buy KOS Bolt from the Blue

    • Women who want to potentially support their reproductive health while still receiving a light kick of energy will appreciate the folate and caffeine here.
    • Anyone looking for potential mood support in their pre-workout will like the ashwagandha and rhodiola here. 
    • Those who are interested in immune support with their pre-workout. The lion’s mane and cordyceps here may support your immune system and provide some energy to boot.

    Who Shouldn’t Buy KOS Bolt from the Blue

    • If you want more ingredients specifically geared toward women’s health in every way, you may want to try a pre-workout specifically designed for women.
    • Women who are interested in a more traditional style of pre-workout with staple ingredients will want to check out other options on this list.
    • Athletes who want a more stimulant-heavy pre-workout might be disappointed here. This only has 70mg of caffeine per serving. 

    If you’re looking for a squeaky clean organic pre-workout to support a woman’s needs when going to the gym then this might be a good option for you. The folate and b-vitamin complex are squarely in line with women’s needs, while the mood and immune support are nice additions here too. 

    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 can allow 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 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 you’re getting it in a relatively complete dose.

    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 $1.43 per serving to as high as about $3.00 per serving. On average, you can expect to pay about $2.05 per serving.

    Best Pre-Workout Overall Transparent Labs BULK $49.99

    Per Serving: $167

    Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain Transparent Labs BULK $49.99

    Per Serving: $1.67

    Strongest Pre-Workout Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Max $39.99

    Per Serving: $1.99

    Best Pre-Workout for Men Transparent Labs BULK Black $54.99

    Per Serving: $1.83

    Best Pre-Workout for Pump Huge Supplements Wrecked $49.95

    Per Serving: $1.99

    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 Huge Supplements Wrecked Enraged $44.95

    Per Serving: $2.25

    Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout Swolverine PRE Pre-Workout $52.99

    Per Serving: $2.11

    Best Pre-Workout for Running Xwerks Ignite $49.00 

    Per Serving: $1.63

    Best Research Backed Pre-Workout  Huge Supplements Wrecked $49.95

    Per Serving: $1.99

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

    Per Serving: $3.00

    Best Pre-Workout for Beginners Swolverine PRE $52.99

    Per Serving: $2.12

    Best Vegan Pre-Workout Onnit Total Strength + Performance $59.95

    Per Serving: $1.99

    Best Thermogenic Pre-Workout Transparent Labs LEAN $49.99

    Per Serving: $1.66

    Best Pre-Workout for Women KOS Bolt from the Blue $36.99

    Per Serving: $1.32

    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. 

    You need to know what you want out of your 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 need to shell out more.

    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)

    How much caffeine do you really need though? 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 and other ingredients 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.

    Running OutsideImage via Shutterstock/4 PM production

    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 Picked the Best Pre-Workouts

    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. 


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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 Ingredients Are In Your Pre-Workout Supplement?

    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 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.


    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)

    Commonly Labeled Pre-Workout IngredientsCommonly Labeled Pre-Workout Ingredients


    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)

    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) 


    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 anytime 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)


    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)


    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 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.

    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) If you’re in a rush, a meal replacement shake typically has a good balance of macros to launch you into a workout.

    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 with water into your favorite shaker bottle. (21) 

    Final Word

    If you’re engaged in sports, 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 “high 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. 


    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.

    What is the best pre-workout?

    There are so many options on the market for pre-workouts and many seem to have similar formulas. One that stands out from the noise with a potent and robust ingredients list is Transparent Labs BULK. It has well-dosed levels of citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine to potentially support blood flow and endurance. You’ll also find a moderate helping of stimulants and focus ingredients with 200mg of caffeine along with alpha-GPC, theobromine, and taurine.

    How much does a pre-workout cost?

    The short answer here is that the price of a pre-workout supplement will vary greatly depending on the ingredient list, dosages, and quality of each ingredient. Most fluctuate between about $1.40 to $3.00 per serving with the average price costing about $2.05 per serving. Although this may seem expensive to some, you tend to get what you pay for with pre-workout supplements.

    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.


    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.
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