Working out takes a lot of energy, focus, and muscle power. A good meal with some carbs before you exercise can be a good energy booster, but there is an entire industry based on getting yourself ready for an intense workout. Here we will explore the best pre-workout supplements for almost every situation and training style.
Pre-workout supplements have expanded from just a few options about a decade ago into a massive sprawling industry full of hundreds of different options, many of which are specialized for extremely specific needs. With all the diversity in the market. It can be difficult to decide which option is best for your set of circumstances.
Which supplement you need really depends heavily on the type of workout or exercise you are about to engage in. For some, a simple caffeine drink will do the trick if you are just going for a quick jog for a few miles around the neighborhood, while others will need a balanced intense supplement that sustains your body for hours. In this guide, we look at the best possible pre-workout supplements for many different situations.
Best Pre Workout Supplement Overall- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout, Vitamin D for Immune Support, with Creatine, Beta-Alanine, and Caffeine for Energy, Keto Friendly, Watermelon Candy
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Vitamin D Watermelon Candy powder is the best choice for a pre-workout supplement for most people. It comes in a powder which is mixed with water for a sweet easy drink before you work out. It has a significant boost of caffeine in it as well, 175 mg. As with most of these supplements, it is recommended you drink them 15 to 30 minutes before your workout.
It is said to improve your energy level, performance, endurance, and focus. The supplement includes:
- Beta-Alanine helps to boost endurance
- Caffeine (175 Mg) for improving focus and energy
- Vitamin D for immune system support
- Creatine (3 grams) will improve your performance overall
- Citrulline Malate- Nitric oxide precursor for improved circulation
There are no banned substances present in this supplement. The caffeine content is derived from natural and safe sources like coffee beans and tea leaves. It is a safe supplement and not awfully expensive considering how much you get in one container (10.5 Oz).
To use it is easy. Just use the included scoop and fill it to the top, mixing it with 8 Oz of water until the powder is totally dissolved. The manufacturer recommends not to consume more than 2 scoops per day.
Because it is a supplement there are questions about it helping you lose weight. It is not used for this purpose. It will not help you lose weight or gain weight either. It is designed to prepare you for an intense workout.
- Nutrient packed
- Plenty of caffeine
- Pleasant flavor
- Contains vitamin D
- Not as expensive as it could be
- If you are a newbie this could seem too strong (caffeine content is high)
The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Vitamin D Watermelon Candy powder is the best all-around pre-workout powder because it hits all the needs of most people that buy this stuff. It enhances your performance, clarity, circulation, and endurance which is the point of pre-workout supplements, to begin with. It is a bit stronger than some, but you can always use less than a full scoop for a calmer workout experience.
Best for Men- KAGED MUSCLE Pre-Kaged Pre Workout for Men Pink Lemonade, Natural Flavor
If you are a man looking for the right supplement to take before your workout, this is quite possibly the one you need. The Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged supplement is loved by thousands of men and will deliver the results you need for a serious workout.
When you look at it, it appears to look like a Monster energy drink or something similar with the color scheme and font choice on the packaging. This is honesty in advertising. This is technically a pre-workout supplement, but it is also a blast of serious energy.
This supplement has some simple ingredients compared to some others in this category:
- Calcium Silicate
- Sunflower Lecithin
- Citric Acid
- Beet Root Extract
- Sea Salt
Like almost all pre-workout powders this one contains a massive amount of caffeine, 274 milligrams. For some context, a standard cup of coffee has 95 Mg. This is like swigging almost 3 cups of coffee at once! This will get your heart pumping and have you running around at full speed. Notable in this supplement are also:
- 5 Grams of fermented BCAAs
- 5 Grams of Fermented L-Citrulline
- 5 Grams of their patented ‘Betapower’ which is natural Betatine
- 6 Grams of Carnosyn Beta-Alanine
- 5 Grams Patented Creatine HCL
- 500 Mg Coconut water powder
- 100 Mg Spectra antioxidants
- Tastes great
- Focused on performance
- Packed with healthy ingredients
- Delivers a ton of energy
- Helps foster muscle growth
- A bit on the expensive side compared to some
The Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged supplement is tailored to deliver the results that men are looking for. It has thousands of happy customers who report the change it has made in their workout regimes. It has a pleasing lemon flavor and delivers more results per ounce than competing powders. It is much more refined and condensed. One scoop will keep you going for hours. This supplement is specially formulated to help with muscle growth, which is part of why it’s such a solid choice for men.
Best Pre Workout for Women- Legion Pulse– Powerful Nitric Oxide Pre Workout, Effective Pre Workout for Weight Loss.
The coolest thing about Legion Pulse is that it is 100% natural, there are no artificial sweeteners or flavors present in this powder. This is a fact the manufacturers are proud of, and the fans love it too. It comes in a blue raspberry flavor that the customers seem to love.
It comes in a plastic container with a screw-top lid like most of these supplements. Legion Pulse has a money-back satisfaction guarantee on this supplement, you can simply let them know for a full refund.
The supplement creators are happy to share the ingredients which are:
- Betaine Anhydrous
- Alpha GPC
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Stevia Rebaudiana extract
- Red beet juice powder
You may have heard of Mike Matthews who is a bestselling fitness author. Well, Legion Pulse is Mike Matthews’ product. The story goes that he was tired of all the BS and false claims in the supplement industry, so he created this supplement as an honest natural alternative to the noise and hype.
Legion is specially formulated to be a nitric oxide booster. Nitric oxide is known to increase circulation and deliver more oxygen deep into the muscle tissue, giving you more intense workouts.
- All-natural ingredients
- Nitric oxide booster
- Money-back guarantee
- Over 10,000 positive reviews
- Especially helpful for women athletes
- Aids in weight loss
- The blue raspberry flavor will be a turnoff to some customers
Legion is a well-known company in the fitness industry that goes a long way to calm suspicions. This is an industry full of scammers and overhyped products, so this offering is a breath of fresh air. All-natural ingredients that boost your nitric oxide production are a recipe for a great workout.
This is one of a few supplements of this type that will assist you in losing some weight. Based on the ingredient list and the over 10k happy customers, I think this is a great choice for women.
Best Pre Workout Supplement for Running Athletes- 6 AM RUN Marathon Run – Pre Workout Powder for Running & Essential Amino Energy Powder – Pre Workout No Jitters – Keto Pre Workout Powder – Vegan Pre Workout Powder – Peach Mango – 40 Scoops
The 6 AM Run supplement is specifically designed for runners. It packs a solid energy punch and contains the following ingredients:
- 12 unique BCAA aminos (5000 MG)
- Free-form amino acids
- 175 Mg green tea energy blend
One of the most unique things about the 6 AM Run pre-workout drink is that it has no crash, and the energy lasts all day which is great for a marathon or day of spaced-out running drills. The manufacturer claims the energy will last over 10 hours and they do offer a money-back guarantee, which is nice if you want to try it out and do not like it.
The ingredients in this drink are known to build and heal muscle, whether you are actively running or just having a busy day running errands around town. As stated earlier it is created and designed for runners, but any athlete will get a benefit from the 6 AM Run. It provides focus, power, and stamina and only has 5 calories per scoop, so it will not make you fat.
- No crash or burnout
- No jitters
- Money-back guarantee
- Not as much caffeine as some others
- Comparatively expensive
6 AM Run is a solid pre-workout supplement if you are a runner in need of all-day energy with no crash. It has vegan ingredients and BCAAs and amino that will help you repair and build muscle for a healthier body. It is not the cheapest option out there, but one jar will last you for quite a while and you won’t need to drink it more than once per running day.
Best for Muscle Gain- NITROSURGE Pre Workout Supplement – Endless Energy, Instant Strength Gains, Clear Focus, Intense Pumps – Nitric Oxide Booster & Powerful Preworkout Energy Powder – 30 Servings, Cherry Limeade
NitroSurge is a creatine-free pre-workout drink that is specifically designed to aid in the growth of new muscle mass. Notably, you can stack this with some other components if you need to.
Some customers say they like to add some additional caffeine to theirs. This product is laser-focused on muscle gain, so it has less caffeine than some others, but it is still a serious energy booster!
NitroSurge contains the following ingredients:
This supplement also contains no artificial colorants or dyes. These ingredients are formulated to help boost your nitric oxide production which in turn gets more oxygen deeper into your muscle fiber. It is made in the USA.
NitroSurge has very transparent labeling which clearly explains all the ingredients so you can choose whether it is the right supplement for you or not. The energy boost you get is a regimented delivery, meaning instead of getting the big blast right when you drink it, it just lasts for hours more sustainably.
- Great for muscle building
- No creatine
- No fillers or dyes
- All-day energy
- Not awfully expensive
- Not as much of a big initial caffeine rush as some others
If you are looking for a muscle-building-specific pre-workout drink, NitroSurge may be the right choice for you. It is creatine-free and contains no dyes or additives and has slowly released all-day energy. It is not the most expensive supplement of its type, yet still manages to have clean ingredients and is manufactured in the USA. It comes in a wide variety of flavors like black cherry, blue raspberry, or cotton candy (many more).
Best Pre Workout for Energy- Insane Labz Hellboy Edition, High Stimulant Pre Workout Powder and NO Booster with Beta-Alanine, L Citrulline, and Caffeine, Boosts Focus, Energy, Endurance, Nitric Oxide Levels, 35 Srvgs, Fruit Punch
This is a low carb, extremely high energy supplement by Insane Labz. It is designed to give you a massive energy burst that lasts all day long, not just during your workout. The ingredients are:
- Vomoitoria Extract
- Agmatine Sulfate
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- DMAE Bitartrate
Like many of the other drinks in this list, Psychotic is designed to help you produce more nitrous oxide to aid in the delivery of oxygen deep into your muscles. One of the key points of this drink is the focus-enhancing effect it has on you all day.
Keeping focused on your workout is not always easy with all the distractions at the gym or even in your basement gym. Being able to stay focused on your reps is not easy but this supplement does a good job helping you accomplish this.
It is extremely effective at providing ample energy for your workout. It was created specifically to boost energy which is why the packaging is so…. Insane. The scary clown face is just a reminder that this is a serious energy booster and to be prepared when you take it!
- Extreme energy boost
- All-day focus
- Good endurance results
- Long-lasting effects
- May be too strong for some people
Insane Labz Hellboy Edition is a hardcore pre-workout energy supplement that will provide a ton of stimulation. It is a powerful nitric oxide booster that will give you hours of focus and energy with just one serving. This is not recommended for those looking for a little boost, this is a high stimulant, high octane product, and should be taken for that effect.
Best for Weight Loss- RSP AminoLean – All-in-One Pre Workout, Amino Energy, Weight Management Supplement with Amino Acids, Complete Preworkout Energy for Men & Women, Fruit Punch, 30 (Packaging May Vary)
RSP AminoLean is designed to help you manage your weight and provide energy for your workout as well. Notably, this product has a massive number of positive reviews (over 15 thousand) and it is extremely popular. It is one of the few supplements of this type that specifically claims to help with body weight. It contains:
- Calcium Silicate
- Malic Acid
- Gum blend
- Green tea extract
- And many more
This pre-workout drink has the most ingredients of any on this list, probably due to the weight loss factor. The ingredients listed above are just some of them. It also contains artificial flavors and colors as well, so it is certainly not the most natural option here.
It is effective at what it aims to do. Each serving contains 125 Mg of Caffeine which is far less than some of the other options, but the caffeine is cleaner, sourced from green tea extract. It gives you a nice energy boost without the nasty crash at the end that some other caffeine sources can do.
RSP Aminolean also contains essential amino acids for helping you to recover faster after an intense workout. Notably, this supplement has no sugars no carbs, and no calories, which is unique in this space!
- Good for energy and weight loss
- No carbs or sugars
- Contains essential amino acids
- Good for post-workout recovery
- Not the most intense stimulant
- Has a lot more ingredients than most
If you need a pre-workout drink that will also help you lose and manage body weight, this is a good choice for you. It is designed especially for the management of weight and will also help you lose weight. It has no carbs, calories, or sugars and will help you recover after an intense workout or prepare you for a new one. It has more ingredients than I would like to see, but it is not just an energy supplement it is also for weight loss.
Best for Beginners- C4 Sport Pre Workout Powder Watermelon – NSF Certified for Sport + Preworkout Energy Supplement for Men & Women – 135mg Caffeine + Creatine Monohydrate – 30 Servings
C4 Sport is a pre-workout powder that will fit in almost any budget or workout routine. It is designed specifically to give you the energy to last all day long and build muscle strength and endurance over time. It costs about half as much as many of the other options in this list while still providing solid results. For this reason, it is the first choice for many beginners.
In the pre-workout supplement space, there are lots of choices, each one with its own specialty. The C4 Sport powder is a good general supplement that will be beneficial to you whether you have been working out for years or if you are brand new to this. It has been around longer than most of its competitors and has been tested by any third parties, which is comforting if you are new to this space.
It contains relatively few ingredients, they are:
- Micronized Creatine Monohydrate
- Pyridoxal-5 Phosphate
- Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate
- Sodium Citrate
- Magnesium Chloride
- Dipotassium Phosphate
- Caffeine Anhydrous
All the ingredients come together in a powder you simply add water to, and you have a powerful pre-workout energy drink you take before your daily routine.
C4 is also known for the endurance it produces, beyond just an energy boost. It will help you continue your workout longer resulting in more tangible results with each workout.
- Well known supplement
- Not as powerful as some more intense powders
C4 Sport is great for beginners who need the extra energy and focus of a pre-workout supplement but do not have a big budget to spend on it. It provides a high energy boost and all-day focus at a third of the price of some of its competitors. It has been well studied and is safe and effective as well. If you are just starting and want to try out a pre-workout powder that will show you what this is all about, C4 Sport is a good one to start with.
Best for Early Morning- Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy – Pre Workout with Green Tea, BCAA, Amino Acids, Keto Friendly, Green Coffee Extract, Energy Powder – Strawberry Lime, 30 Servings
With so many options out there in the pre-workout drink world, it is hard to know which one is going to be the best first thing in the morning. Not everyone is a morning person, and some supplements may be much too strong (or too weak) for that early in the day. Optimum Nutrition makes this Amino Energy supplement that seems exactly right for early morning workouts.
Optimum Nutrition is a well-known supplement brand that has been in business for years and has a good reputation. Amino Energy is popular and has over 11 thousand positive reviews already. It comes in a handful of flavors and contains:
- Amino Blend
- Citric Acid
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
- Malic Acid
- Silicon Dioxide
- Energy Blend
- Calcium Silicate
- Gum Blend
The label on the bottle will explain what is in the ‘amino blend’ and the ‘energy blend’ if you want to get all the specifics. There are only 5 to 10 calories per service and 100 mg of caffeine per serving as well. This supplement is designed to be used multiple times a day if needed, unlike some that are very intense and the effects last all day.
Amino Energy is best for the morning because it’s plenty of energy but it’s not so intense that it is going to be distracting.
- Can be used multiple times a day safely
- Pleasant taste
- Not too intense
- Low calorie
- No sugar
- Need to use multiple times a day (not all-day strength)
- Small container
This supplement is the perfect solution for you if you are a morning workout person. It is not going to keep you jacked all day like many of the more intense options in this list, but it is plenty of caffeine to get you going. It is not awfully expensive, but the bottle is smaller than most in this category. If you like it, you may end up having to buy several bottles for a month due to the size and strength being mild.
Best for Vegans- RSP Vegan AminoLean – All Natural Preworkout with Vegan BCAAs, All-In-One Amino Energy, Weight Management, Recovery, and Focus, 25 Serv, Cucumber Lemon
RSP Vegan Aminolean fills an important gap in the market, being designed specifically for vegans. Since it is vegan it has no animal products in it. It is made by RSP nutrition which is not a new company in the supplement world, it has been around for several years.
Not only is this supplement vegan, but it is also all-natural. It has no artificial ingredients and it still manages to taste good and do the job. This supplement has fewer ingredients than most of these on this list, they are:
- Amino acid blend
- Organic tapioca polymers
- Weight management blend
- Natural energy and focus blend
- Citric acid
For more information on the ‘blend’ ingredients, you can consult the bottle. It is created mainly from fermented tea leaves guarana and organic matcha. These are all good ingredients, matcha is one of the more popular styles of green tea in the world!
It has a comprehensive blend of vegan amino that will boost your performance and aid in muscle repair and growth as well. This is a versatile supplement that can be used as a coffee replacement or a pre-workout drink or both.
- Tastes great
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- It more of a good supplement for health in general not specific for getting ripped
RSP Vegan Aminolean is a great supplement if you are a person who is trying to get healthier and does some exercising daily. It is not designed for the hardcore muscle builder, but more for the normal person looking for a vegan supplement that will deliver clean healthy energy and muscle growth/repair assistance. It is not expensive and will not make you think you are going crazy when you consume it and the caffeine buzz kicks in (not too much caffeine!)
Types of Pre Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements are all remarkably similar in the way that they are meant to affect your body. However, they do come in a few different forms. Each different form is there to match your needs. The 3 forms you can currently find them in are:
- Pre Mixed
Powders are first because they are the most plentiful in the marketplace. There are hundreds of powdered pre-workout drinks. This is the most popular form because it is easy to make (just add water) and powder is not very heavy so it is easy to ship and store for the manufacturer.
With powders, many people like to purchase a special bottle just for mixing the drinks on the go. There is even a whole category of them designed just for pre-workout mixes. There are as many flavors as there are powders in this category. Some of the most common are blue raspberry, watermelon, and lemon/lime.
This type of supplement is loved by many, it is a familiar format in the fitness world. People are already used to their protein powders and nutritional supplements and weight loss shakes, so it makes sense for these to come in powders.
Pre-workout gummies are getting more popular, but they are not nearly as popular as powders. They come in similar packaging mostly, though some do come in more of a traditional candy-style package. Some look like an ice cream container. They come in the form of gummy bears or worms or simple squares in some cases.
They are similarly priced to the powders, ranging from about ten bucks for a smaller bottle up to about 30 bucks for a large container. Some high-end gummies go for even more than 30 bucks. They have similar flavor schemes as well with the typical blue raspberry, bubble gum, lemon-lime, and all the usual candy flavors.
Gummies are great if you like candy and do not want to mess around with making a drink, just grab a few gummies and get going!
Surprisingly, the premixed supplements seem to be the least popular form. You would think that because they are so easy to use, they would be dominating, but that is not the case. There are only a handful of good pre-workouts that are made in the premade liquid form. They look like the popular vitamin water you may have seen before.
The pricing for the premixed is like the other 2 forms with no significant difference for the liquid form.
Of course, you may be familiar with Monster energy drinks and the avalanche of energy drinks out there. These are not the same as pre-workout supplements, but some people like to drink them before a workout just for the pure energy buzz. These ‘energy drinks’ could technically qualify as premade, but they are not quite official pre-workout supplements.
Whichever form of these you choose to use, they will all have similar ingredients and produce similar results. The different forms are just here to make it more convenient for you to consume them in the way that is easiest for you in your life. Personally, I think the powders are the winners for the simple fact that you get more bang for the buck and one scoop is all you need with most of them for a full day’s energy where it would take several gummies.
Features to Look For
There are a few key things to consider when you are choosing the best pre-workout supplement for your personal use. Obviously, the different forms of these supplements should be considered, choose the one which matches up with your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Beyond your personal preference in the form of the supplement, there are 3 things that I think are the most important factors to consider before making the purchase:
- Safe and Natural Ingredients
- Fits with Your Fitness Goals and Body Type
- Does Not Contain Unhealthy Substances
Safe and Natural Ingredients
There are so many supplements out there with hundreds of fancy-sounding ingredients that use long and scientific works to describe them. It is difficult to know what the heck you are putting in your body while reading the ingredient list!
This is not by any means a full accounting of all the natural ingredients you will find in these supplements, but it is a list of some of the most common.
This sounds like a lab-created chemical, but it is actually a naturally occurring compound that is found in black or green tea and even in certain mushrooms. It is natural and does have some health benefits.
This is something that occurs naturally in the body, so it is quite natural. However, its use in pre-workout supplements is inconclusive by fact-based science. There have been some small tests showing it helped endurance, but nothing on a large scale with multiple third-party testing.
This is a white powder that is technically natural because it comes from wheat, rice, corn, or potato, which are all naturally occurring. However, maltodextrin is weird because it is heavily processed to get the form it comes in, a powdery white substance. It is typically used as a filler to make these supplements more substantial. It is a high-carb substance. It is safe but it is just very starchy and contains lots of carbs.
It is an amino acid, but it is unique in the way that it is not used to create protein. L-citrulline is found in watermelon which is, of course, a natural source. It has many uses in the medical world and is beneficial for many things, including:
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart failure
- Sickle cell disease
It is also made naturally in the body. The body will transform it into a different amino called L-arginine, as well as nitric oxide. The fact that it helps produce nitric oxide is why it is present in these supplements.
Fits with Your Fitness Goals and Body Type
When choosing the right one be sure to pay special attention to what it is designed to do and who it is designed for. If you are someone who does not tolerate caffeine very well, you want to make sure you get one that does not have a lot of caffeine.
Almost all of them do contain caffeine, but there can be a dramatic difference in how much caffeine each one has. Some have as little as 100 Mg, while others have over 300 Mg (that is a LOT).
If you are just starting and doing light workouts with some free weights in your home gym or some bodyweight exercises and jogging, you do not need a hardcore supplement that gives you insane amounts of energy that you will not burn off. You will end up wide awake in bed when you should be sleeping, and nobody wants that! You need to match up your activity level with the amount of caffeine and energy each one produces.
If you are a serious weightlifter, you know you will need a serious energy supplement with lots of muscle repair and building capabilities. This is a completely different kind of supplement from the type of supplements newbies will need. For serious athletes, the caffeine will be burned off faster and will be better tolerated.
There are some of these supplements that make it easy to know if it is right for you. For example, some are specifically made to help with weight loss, some are made just for runners, some are for early morning workouts.
Does not Contain Unhealthy Substances
These are almost all sweet-tasting flavors, and to get sweet, you need something like sugar or sugar alcohols. While sugar products are not going to kill you, they are not good for you. There is no need to get excess sugar in your diet, so keep an eye out for sugar alcohols in these supplements.
Caffeine is present in almost all of them! This is something everyone is familiar with and it is found in coffee, tea, soda, and many other sources. Caffeine is not a harmful chemical by itself, but in excess, it can be dangerous causing anxiety, heart issues, and restlessness. Make sure you look at the labels and find out exactly how much caffeine is in your supplement. It is quite easy to overdo it when the thing tastes so good. Be careful with caffeine intake, it can sneak up on you and ruin your day.
While creatine is naturally produced by the body, it is also present in many supplements. Creatine is not dangerous on its own, but it is on this list because it does have some effects many people do not want. It is known to help build muscle, so it is extremely popular with weightlifters. However, there is a downside with creatine, it is known to make you gain weight and can cause some water retention. You will come across some of these that point out that they contain no creatine, which many people are looking for since creatine is known to help you gain weight which many people do not want!
The best pre-workout supplements are the ones that match your needs and budget. Hopefully, you were able to find one that works best for you!