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We know your home gym is filled with the best home gym equipment on the market, and you’re putting in the work day in and day out to get stronger, faster, and better. Have you ever wondered about nutritional supplementation to take your results up a notch? 

Pre-workout supplements are multi-ingredient products designed to boost energy and improve exercise performance. Given how popular these products are, and the countless formulas that exist, it’s worth knowing what ones contain research-backed ingredients and are worth your money. 

Choosing the right pre-workout can be overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up the 14 best pre-workouts on the market today to help you find the right product for your performance goals. 

A Lecturer + Expert Product Testers Walk Into A Room 

The Garage Gym Reviews team is a leader in the gym equipment review space—the team of expert product testers is full of certified personal trainers, CrossFit Level 1 coaches, and weightlifting coaches. They know a thing or two about working out and guide you with a no-BS approach to the best products for your home gym. 

Personally, I’m a lecturer in Exercise and Sports Sciences within the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve published 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and six book chapters in areas related to exercise, body composition, nutrition, and recovery. 

My research areas and interests include dietary supplement interventions to enhance the effects of exercise, and the effects of creatine monohydrate—all this to say, I know a thing or two about supplements. 

Together, GGR and I make a pretty awesome team. 

Best Pre-Workouts 2022

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs BULK

Good for: Men looking for a product to support testosterone levels and to promote increased muscle growth*

Best Pre-Workout For Muscle Gain

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to help support muscle gain 
  • 20 grams of research-based active ingredients per serving 
  • 8 flavor variations are available
 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Transparent ingredient list
  • No artificial sweetener or color
  • Moderate dose of caffeine
  • 8 flavor options
  • 60-day money-back assurance

Cons

  • No creatine
  • Some users report it tastes bad

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ BULK supplement is attractive to those whose primary focus is split between potential muscle gain and a pre-workout pump. While the taste is questionable, the product works well for most users.

As the name would suggest, BULK pre-workout is marketed to individuals who are looking to bulk up and gain muscle mass. It’s got an impressive line-up of ingredients, transparent labeling,  and is free from artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and gluten. 

Each serving contains 6 grams of citrulline malate, a staple in most pre-workouts these days as it can improve strength, aerobic performance, and ease temporary muscle soreness following intense exercise. Kudos to Transparent Labs for including the research-backed dose of this ingredient. *

Next on the list is beta-alanine, which BULK has a whopping 4 grams per serving. Although that’s the recommended dose to take in a day to support improvements in muscular endurance, it’s a hefty serving to take all at once. Just be aware you may be experiencing some tingles in your face and hands. *

An image of a woman mixing Transparent Labs BULK pre-workout in a shaker

Like other Transparent Labs products, BULK contains a blend of caffeine and L-Theanine—a combination shown to promote increased energy and reaction time. Add in the L-Tyrosine and Alpha GPC and you’ve got yourself a nice little cocktail to support increased mental focus. *

Besides the omission of creatine, the most researched supplement known to increase muscle strength and size, there aren’t too many cons with this product. Based on reviews, the flavor appears to be less than desirable, and the 4 grams of BCAAs add nothing but “bulk” (no pun intended) to the product. * 

But overall, this is a product that contains research-backed ingredients to enhance strength, stamina, focus, and energy, and could be suitable for bodybuilders or those just looking to pack on muscle. *

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“Blue Raspberry was tasty, and it mixed well. I experienced significant tingling and only took half a serving, so there’s something to be said of that mega dose of beta-alanine.” *

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCitrulline-malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsWatermelon, Sour Grape, Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Lemon Lime

Best All-in-One Pre-Workout: Kaged Pre-Kaged

Good for: People looking for the all-in-one pre-workout to train harder, build muscle, and support increased strength * 

Best All-in-One Pre-Workout

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Contains research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and citrulline
  • Informed Sport-certified, meaning it’s been tested for quality assurance and banned substances. 
  • 7 flavors are available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good formulation of research-backed ingredients
  • Label transparency
  • 7 flavors and users overwhelmingly like the taste

Cons

  • Big serving size
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Kaged Pre-Kaged is expensive, but is formulated with research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline.

Pre-Kaged is the one-stop-shop when it comes to pre-workouts. It’s fully loaded with all the ingredients you’d want in a pre-workout, and has 100% transparency on the label so you know exactly what active ingredients (and how much of each) you’re putting in your body.

It’s one of the most popular pre-workouts on the market, and for good reason. It’s formulated with research-backed ingredients, and because it contains good dosages for key ingredients (e.g. caffeine, creatine, citrulline), you won’t need to purchase additional dietary supplements to fill any pre-workout gaps. That’s good, because Pre-Kaged is expensive, costing $2.25 per serving—the most expensive on our list. 

An image of a woman mixing Kaged Pre-Kaged pre-workout in a shaker

Pre-Kaged gets a gold star for being third-party tested, as well as Informed Sport-certified. This is a must-have for me—I won’t recommend any product that hasn’t been batch-tested to ensure quality.

The only thing I’m not a fan of is the large scoop size. Perhaps if they took out the 6.5 grams of BCAAs (because let’s face it, they don’t really do much for you), you could easily mix it with 6 ounces of water and have it down in a couple minutes.

Overall, this is one of the best pre-workout in 2022 and worth the money.

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“I tried the Krisp Apple flavor, and definitely noticed the smell of apples as soon as I opened my shaker. It wasn’t too sweet and I liked the flavor, but found that there was an unpleasant mouth-feel after each sip. It also didn’t mix super well.” *

Price per serving$2.25
Key ingredientsCitrulline, beta-alanine, creatine, caffeine
FlavorsGrape, Fruit Punch, Pink Lemonade, Berry Blast, Krisp Apple, Orange Crush, Cherry Bomb

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN

Good for: Individuals looking to support fat burning while maintaining muscle mass *

Best Pre-Workout For Weight Loss

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Formulated for those looking to lose weight but maintain muscle mass
  • 14 grams of evidence-based ingredients
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened with Stevia
  • Available in 9 different flavors
  • Backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Includes vitamins/micronutrients to support thyroid production
  • High levels of citrulline to increase oxygen delivery to muscles
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No artificial colors
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Bitter and unpleasant taste for some consumers
  • Several reports of receiving wrong item

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ LEAN pre-workout supplement promises to deliver better endurance, power, alertness, and focus. The fat loss component is less of a guarantee with few reports of an actual change in body composition.

LEAN pre-workout is a supplement designed for individuals who want to lose body fat (as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan) and maintain muscle mass. The product’s biggest selling point is that it contains key vitamins and minerals to help maintain healthy thyroid function and support weight loss. * 

It contains both iodine and zinc, which can be beneficial for supporting thyroid function, as well as selenium, which is required by the thyroid for antioxidant function and metabolism of hormones. While these ingredients are safe to use, the benefits are usually only seen in individuals who are deficient in them. The verdict is still out there whether or not they can aid in weight loss for otherwise healthy adults. 

At 180 milligrams of caffeine per serving in LEAN, you’ll get a decent boost in energy and focus support. This product also contains L-theanine, which when combined with caffeine, can provide a synergistic effect in promoting cognition and attention. * 

The recommended dose of beta-alanine is 3 grams a day, so at only 2 grams per serving, LEAN is hitting just under the mark. However, there are 6 grams of citrulline malate per serving, which is the research-backed dose shown to help reduce fatigue and support improved performance in the gym. *

At about $1.65 per scoop, it’s in the mid to upper range of price. That being said, you are getting a quality product free from artificial sweeteners and colors, so you may find the price is worth it. Plus, with almost 10 flavors to choose from, including Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, and Green Apple, you’ll have a nice variety available.

This is a solid pre-workout for beginners or for someone who doesn’t want a ton of caffeine in their supplement. I wouldn’t purchase this product solely for its fat loss support claims, however it can certainly be added to a balanced diet and regular exercise to enhance their effects. * 

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“Tropical Punch LEAN was slightly bitter and not too sweet—an okay combination. It didn’t dissolve completely, but that didn’t affect the experience in my opinion. I didn’t notice any jitters, and just a bit of tingling.”

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCitrulline-malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsWatermelon, Sour Grape, Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Lemon Lime, Sour Peach

Best Pre-Workout for Men: Xwerks Ignite

Good for: Men looking for a quality pre-workout to help increase muscle strength and size

Best Pre-Workout For Men

Xwerks Ignite Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Designed to provide sustainable energy without the crash
  • Uses a blend of caffeine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, rhodiola rosea, DMAE, L-tyrosine, carnosyn beta-alanine, L-citrulline malate, as well as calcium and magnesium lactate.
  • Xwerks claims that this product increases muscle growth and repair, enhances focus, and expands muscular endurance and work capacity
  • Available in 4 flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Natural ingredients
  • Less caffeine than other pre-workout supplements on the market
  • No crash
  • Great-tasting

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May make you feel jittery or experience other side effects like headaches or digestive problems

Bottom Line

Xwerks Ignite is an all natural pre-workout supplement with both energy-boosting and focus-enhancing ingredients. It may be a good choice for those who want a clean and effective product with a dose of vitamins.

Xwerks Ignite is a naturally and artificially sweetened pre-workout chock full of ingredients shown to support increased performance and focus during workouts. * 

What I love most about this product is its combination of nootropics to support brain function and focus. If you’re new to the world of nootropics, they are a group of ingredients known as “cognitive enhancers,” which claim to promote increased mental alertness, as well as boost energy levels. Ignite’s formula contains Rhodiola Rosea, DMAE Bitartrate, Caffeine, and L-Tyrosine—all scientifically backed ingredients that can aid in memory and concentration, while easing minor daily stress. *

An image of Xwerks Ignite pre-workout in a shaker

Ignite also contains beta-alanine, which can enhance muscular endurance and help regulate muscular pH. The 1.5-gram dose is half the recommended daily dose; however, if taken regularly, you may still see a benefit. *

The 150-milligram dose of caffeine may be a little low for habitual caffeine users; however, it’s the perfect starting point for anyone new or sensitive to the effects of caffeine. 

Ignite does contain sucralose (an artificial sweetener). This isn’t much of a dealbreaker for me, as I’d prefer to drink a pre-workout that doesn’t taste like grass. However, if you’re on the lookout for a product free from anything artificial, you’ll want to steer clear of this one.

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“Of all the pre-workouts I tried, this one gave me the best energy boost and helped with my focus, but I did experience tingling—win some, lose some. This powder is very soluble, but I did think the Watermelon flavor was pretty artificial-tasting and too sweet for my liking.” *

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, citrulline malate, Rhodiola Rosea, DMAE Bitartrate
FlavorsGreen Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon

Best Pre-Workout for Women: Cira Pre-Game

Good for: Women looking for a solid pick-me-up in the gym, without a post-workout energy crash*

Best Pre-Workout For Women

Cira Pre-Game

Product Highlights

  • 8 notable ingredients including citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, tyrosine, caffeine, theanine, Theobromine, and AstraGin.
  • AstraGin helps with absorption and decreases bloating 
  • Each flavor has added vitamins
  • Subscribe-and-save option to save 15%

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 8 effective ingredients
  • Each flavor has added vitamins
  • AstraGin may reduce bloating
  • Specifically marketed for women, not typical in pre-workout drinks
  • Subscribe-and-save option to save 15%

Cons

  • Flavors are unique
  • No creatine so not ideal for muscle building

Bottom Line

Made with eight quality yet common pre-workout ingredients, Cira Pre-Game pre-workout supplement is a viable option for men and women alike. So long as you are not on the hunt for a product that contains creatine, this may work for you.

Cira Pre-Game is a pre-workout designed specifically with women in mind. It’s formulated to support increased energy, endurance, focus, and strength, and it’s a great product for both women and any first-time pre-workout user. 

An image of Cira Pre-Game pre-workout

Overall, Cira did a nice job with their product formulation. A couple of the ingredients, like betaine anhydrous and L-Tyrosine, are slightly underdosed; however, it does deliver an adequate dose of caffeine (200 milligrams), L-citrulline (6,000 milligrams), L-Theanine (100 milligrams), and beta-alanine (1,600 milligrams)—all ingredients that can promote increased energy, focus, and drive during your workouts. *

The only con for me is the omission of creatine, an ingredient shown to increase strength and enhance recovery in both men and women. Despite this, Cira is an affordable, beginner-friendly pre-workout that comes in fun flavors. 

Nicole, our expert product tester, says:

“Yummy! I tried Pink Candy, and actually really liked it. The consistency is a bit thicker than some other pre-workouts, but it really does taste like cotton candy. I took this on my way to CrossFit—I definitely felt energized, but there was no crash and no tinglies, which I appreciated.” *

Price per serving$1.16
Key ingredientsCitrulline, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsPink Candy, Peach Bellini, Glow-Jito, Strawberry Margarita

Best Natural Pre-Workout: Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

Good for: People looking for a 100% nature-based pre-workout that delivers a hefty dose of caffeine   

Best Natural Pre-Workout

Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • 100% nature-based
  • Free from added sugar, food dyes, and other chemicals
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All natural ingredients
  • Free from dye and chemicals
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Intended to avoid the dreaded crash
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available

Cons

  • Natural sweeteners make for a different taste—it may not be your cup of tea
  • Only 21 servings per tub

Bottom Line

Formulated with all-natural ingredients, each of which are present at a high level, Pulse is a fan-favorite. If you’re trying to avoid artificial flavors and chemicals, this may be a good choice.

Pulse pre-workout has been specifically designed to boost energy levels, support increased strength and endurance, and help reduce fatigue. The reason it’s so effective is because each ingredient is backed by scientific research and dosed at research-backed levels. *

Pulse contains 8 grams of citrulline malate, which is the exact dose used in research studies showing improvements in muscular endurance and strength performance in both men and women. Each serving also has 3.6 grams of beta-alanine, which is the recommended daily dose to lead to support improvements in muscular endurance and reduce fatigue during high-intensity exercise. * 

If you’ve never taken beta-alanine before, just be aware that it can cause paresthesia—a harmless prickling sensation usually felt in the hands, arms, or legs. This typically only happens the first week or so taking beta-alanine.

An image of Legion Pulse pre-workout in a shaker

We can’t talk about Pulse without mentioning the 350 milligrams of caffeine! It’s a hefty dose that will surely give you enough energy to fuel your workouts. This dose can be overwhelming to those who are sensitive to caffeine, but you can always just take half. To help prevent a potential energy crash post-workout, there’s 350mg of L-theanine, which can help ease some of the effects associated with caffeine use.

The only downside: Each serving is two scoops and there’s only 21 servings in a bottle—meaning if you take pre-workout every day you’ll run through this product pretty quickly. Regardless, I’m giving Pulse an A+.  

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“I tried Blue Raspberry and boy, is it blue! While it mixes well, it does have a bitter taste and an unpleasant aftertaste. I think Pulse is an acquired taste, but I will say, I got this down before a strength training workout and felt all the positive effects—a good energy boost with no jitters.” *

Price per serving$1.71
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsFruit Punch, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Tropical Punch

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout: Cellucor C4

Good for: Anyone looking for a no-frills, good-tasting, energy-supporting pre-workout*

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Powerful ingredients
  • Gives a solid boost of energy
  • Dissolves well
  • Affordable price per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Powerful ingredients
  • Gives a solid boost of energy
  • Can aid in training performance
  • Dissolves well
  • Affordable price per serving

Cons

  • Some users report unpleasant aftertaste
  • Gives some people headaches
  • Some experience tingling in the face

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable pre-workout drink from a big-name supplement company, give C4 a look.

C4 is the flagship product for Cellucor, and is considered by many as the No. 1 pre-workout in the country. It’s carbohydrate-free and contains 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving—a similar dose found in about 1.5 cups of coffee. 

An image of Cellucor C4 pre-workout in a shaker

It also contains 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, which, if taken consistently, can help reduce the accumulation of metabolic waste productions (like hydrogen ions) and help prevent muscular fatigue. *

As a bonus, this just tastes good—with flavors like Fruit Punch, Icy Blue Razz, and Cherry Limeade, it’s a cult favorite with 4.7 out of 5 stars after nearly 6,500 ratings on Amazon. 

Our expert product tester says:

“C4 was the first pre-workout I tried, probably seven years ago now. Icy Blue Razz never fails! And actually, I’ve liked every flavor of C4 I’ve tried. Good energy, and if you can give the tingles a pass, it’s a solid pre-workout.” *

Price per serving$0.78
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, nitrates
FlavorsFruit Punch, Cherry Limeade, Icy Blue Razz, Watermelon, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Margarita

Best Pre-Workout With Creatine: Gorilla Mode 

Good for: People who want to maximize muscle size and strength gains 

Best Pre-Workout With Creatine

Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Ingredients shown to improve mental focus, muscle endurance, and energy
  • 11 flavors
  • Can be bought in bulk for discount

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Ingredients shown to improve mental focus, muscle endurance, and energy
  • 11 flavors
  • Can be bought in bulk for discount

Cons

  • A bunch of reviewers did not feel its effect
  • Expensive at $2.50 about per serving
  • Contains stimulants

Bottom Line

While Gorilla Mode receives mixed reviews, it is formulated with all the key ingredients you want in a pre-workout drink to improve performance in the gym. However, if you are sensitive or want to avoid stimulants, this may not be the supplement for you.

Gorilla Mode has been formulated specifically to support increased energy, focus, muscle strength, and endurance. The combination of L-Citrulline, GlycerPump, and Agmatine can boost nitric oxide production, promote increased blood flow, and improve intramuscular hydration. 

Moving down the ingredient list, we see a unique blend of nootropics designed to support enhanced focus and mood. The combination of L-Tyrosine, Kanna, and Huperzine A are known for their cognitive-supporting properties and their ability to help ease daily stress. *

An image of Gorilla Mode pre-workout in a shaker

Add in the 160 milligrams of caffeine and 2,500 milligrams of creatine per serving and you have yourself a pre-workout cocktail that could help get you closer to your goal of bigger, stronger muscles. * 

If you’re an athlete, or undergo regular drug testing, you may need to check if N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate (also known as Eria Jarensis extract) is an approved ingredient to take. There are some countries, like Australia, and some sports associations where the stimulant is banned.

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“The Fruit Punch flavor smells and tastes like Hawaiian Punch, so I was instantly transported to childhood. I’ll be honest and say the full two-scoop dose scared me so I halved it, and that was the perfect amount of energy.” *

Price per serving$1.23
Key ingredientsCitrulline, creatine, caffeine, GlycerPump, Huperzine A
FlavorsBombsicle, Firefly Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Mojo Mojito, Volcano Burst, Mango Peach, Tiger’s Blood, Cherry Blackout, Mouth Watering Watermelon, Jungle Juice, Lemon Lime

Best Pre-Workout For Running: MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

Good for: Endurance athletes looking for more energy during their cardio workouts and quicker recovery times afterwards*

Best Pre-Workout For Running

MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • 4 grams of citrulline, 50 milligrams of theacrine, and 2,500 milligrams of betaine anhydrous
  • Available in 9 flavors
  • Mixes well with water.
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Mixes well
  • 9 flavors
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free

Cons

  • Uses sucralose for flavor

Bottom Line

THE Pre-Workout supplement is made by a reputable brand and can potentially help support your health and fitness goals. Its higher cost may be prohibitive to some.

MyProtein manufactures a range of dietary supplements including protein powders and bars, BCAAs, and of course, pre-workouts. THE Pre-Workout is their premium pre-workout product containing research-backed ingredients shown to enhance muscular endurance and speed up the recovery process after a tough treadmill workout. *

Let’s take a closer look at the specific ingredients that make this product an excellent pre-workout choice for endurance athletes. Each serving packs in a healthy dose of vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B9 (folic acid,) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) to support a healthy metabolism, as well as immune function and health. It also contains 4 grams of L-citrulline, which can assist with blood flow and nutrient delivery to working muscles. *

An image of MyProtein THE Pre-Workout in a shaker

We can’t talk about a pre-workout without mentioning caffeine, and with 150 milligrams of caffeine, this product has just the right amount to help boost energy levels without leaving you with the jitters or post-workout energy crash. *

Other notable ingredients include beta-alanine, which has been shown to improve time to exhaustion when taken continuously for a period of four weeks, and creatine, which can help your body recover faster from high-intensity workouts. *

It’s worth noting that MyProtein uses full transparency on their labels, so you know exactly which ingredients, and at what dose, you are receiving in your supplements. Although this product is one of the more expensive pre-workouts currently on the market, you’re likely to find one of the nine flavors that suits your taste buds best. 

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“The Ruby Red Grapefruit flavor was absolutely delicious! Not too sweet with just a tinge of sour. There were some floaties in there after I mixed it, but it wasn’t offputting. I did get a tingling sensation after I took this, but it definitely boosted me through my CrossFit workout.” *

Price per serving$1.50
Key ingredientsCitrulline, caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, vitamins B3, B9, and B12
FlavorsWatermelon, Peach Ring, Orange Paradise, Lemonade Green Apple, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Blueberry Pomegranate, Black Cherry Vanilla

Best Pre-Workout For A Pump: 4 Gauge

Good for: People looking for the perfect mix of muscle pumps and enhanced performance out of their pre-workout *

Best Pre-Workout For A Pump

4 Gauge Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • 4 claimed benefits in just one serving: “explosive power, improved focus, extra stamina, and an intense muscle pump” 
  • Third-party-tested 
  • Company emphasizes transparency in reporting accurate dosages of each ingredient

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Nature-based ingredients
  • No proprietary blends
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No preservatives
  • Tastes good according to users
  • Third-party tested

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Lower dose of caffeine at 150mg (not a deal breaker but definitely an issue for some)
  • Only one flavor

Bottom Line

Although expensive, 4 Gauge pre-workout supplement provides research-backed doses of high-quality and nature-based ingredients to give users the best possible outcomes.

According to their website, 4 Gauge is an “explosive” pre-workout designed to be one of the strongest pre-workouts on the market. The product claims to increase muscle pumps, support improved focus and motivation, promote blood flow, and increase stamina so you can work out longer and harder. Taking a closer look at the ingredient label, I can see that 4 Gauge uses research-backed ingredients to provide a balance between strength, focus, energy, and muscle pumps. *  

4 Gauge provides 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving—not the highest amount we’ve seen in pre-workouts, but enough to provide a small boost of energy. Perhaps more impressive is the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine found in the product. When taken together, this dynamic duo can support increased energy levels, enhance cognitive function, and help ease levels of daily stress. *

An image of 4 Gauge pre-workout in shaker

If you came looking for incredible muscle pumps, grab your dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells) and listen up. The research-backed combination of citrulline malate and beetroot extract can contribute to significant increases in nitric oxide production, supporting blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles. *

Throw in 100 milligrams of Rhodiola rosea to promote improved focus and 500 milligrams of L-carnitine to curb temporary muscle soreness, and you’ve got yourself a research-backed supplement sure to deliver on its claims. *

The downside? It only comes in one flavor, so you might be out of luck if Fruit Punch isn’t your jam. And at $2.25 per serving, it can get quite pricey if you use pre-workout even multiple times per week.  

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“4 Gauge mixes really well, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor. If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet pre-workouts, this might be a great option for you though. We gave this one the “best pre-workout for a pump” title and I agree with that—I felt pretty jacked during and after my workout!” *

Price per serving$2.25
Key ingredientsCaffeine, theanine, creatine, citrulline-malate, Rhodiola Rosea
FlavorsFruit Blast

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 

Good for: Individuals looking for a beginner-friendly pre-workout to enhance energy and support focus in the gym*

Best Pre-Workout For Beginners

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Reputable brand 
  • Combines 175 milligrams of caffeine with 3 grams of creatine monohydrate and 1.5 grams beta-alanine
  • Available in 4 flavors
  • Mixes well
  • Tastes good

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Contains creatine
  • A slew of vitamins in this formula
  • Reputable brand
  • Tastes good
  • Affordable
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Some flavors reported to have a synthetic aftertaste

Bottom Line

Made with simple yet effective ingredients, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout provides users with a good boost of energy, improved focus, and enhanced performance.

Optimum Nutrition is one of the biggest names in the supplement industry, and they’re well-known for developing quality products designed to fuel your workouts. Gold Standard Pre-Workout has been around for decades, and like most pre-workouts, it contains caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline. Despite using a couple proprietary blends, I can see that it has 3 grams of creatine and 1.5 grams of beta-alanine per serving, which hit the mark when it comes to adequately dosing these ingredients. *

Some may find that its caffeine content is a bit low. At 175 milligrams per serving, it’s about what you would find in a couple cups of coffee and is on the lower end for pre-workouts. If your tolerance to caffeine is low, this might actually be a great product for you. If, however, you are a habitual caffeine user, it’s unlikely you’ll feel much of an effect from a single serving.  

Additionally, there’s only 750 milligrams of citrulline per serving, which is far below the recommended 6,000 milligrams to support an increase in blood flow. Lastly, this product contains N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, the less desirable form of L-Tyrosine as your body doesn’t absorb it as well. * 

You’ll still get plenty of benefits out of this product though: The addition of beta-alanine, creatine, and vitamins can have a positive effect on endurance and focus during your workouts. Where Gold Standard Pre-Workout does come out on top is in the flavor department. It’s often praised for its taste and texture when mixed with water.

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, didn’t get to taste this one yet. When she does, we’ll update this text.

Price per serving$1.00
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, citrulline
FlavorsFlavors: Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, Watermelon

Best Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout: Blackwolf Pre-Workout

Good for: People who prefer to train in the afternoons or evening, or want to avoid caffeine altogether

Best Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout

BlackWolf Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Stimulant-free 
  • Backed by over 25 clinical trials
  • Available in 3 flavors
  • Mixes well
  • One flavor is caffeine-free

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Stimulant-free
  • Tastes great
  • Mixes well
  • No post-workout crash
  • Caffeine-free option
  • 11 scientifically backed ingredients
  • Free 10-week training program and cookbook included with purchase

Cons

  • The dosage of beta-alanine can cause tingling and itching of the skin
  • No user reviews on their website

Bottom Line

BlackWolf Pre-Workout contains 11 scientifically proven ingredients designed to improve energy, focus, and performance without any unwanted side effects.

Containing 11 key ingredients and no proprietary blends, Blackwolf pre-workout is formulated to provide you with heightened focus support and maximal endurance to improve overall athletic performance. Whether you enjoy training in the evening, or just looking for a stimulant-free pre-workout, the fruit-flavored version of Blackwolf pre-workout is designed to support and enhance your performance without caffeine. *

Each serving contains 6 grams of citrulline malate, which has been shown to promote increased blood flow. This can contribute to improved oxygen delivery to your muscles during workouts, as well as faster removal of metabolic byproducts caused by intense training sessions. Similar to citrulline, L-Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate works as a nitric oxide booster to help you get more out of your workouts. *

An image of BlackWolf pre-workout in a shaker

The 3.2 grams of beta-alanine is a clinically effective dose shown to support increased carnosine levels in the muscle, ultimately help delay muscle fatigue. This product also contains creatine monohydrate and betaine anhydrous, both of which can assist with muscle strength and exercise performance. Despite the absence of caffeine, you can still expect support for focus and concentration due to the addition of DMAE and Huperzine A. These powerful nootropics can enhance cognitive function during workouts. * 

Apart from the pricier cost per serving ($2.05), this is a top-rated supplement sure to give you more drive and focus during your workouts. 

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“I tried Green Apple, and thought the taste and solubility was just fine—not my favorite, but not horrible. I like that it’s stimulant-free—I still noticed a boost, but different from what caffeine does to you.” *

Price per serving$2.05
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, creatine, caffeine, DMAE, Huperzine
FlavorsGreen Apple, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: Onnit Total Strength + Performance

Good for: Individuals looking for a nature-based, caffeine-free pre-workout *

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout

Onnit Total Strength & Performance Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based
  • Blended with botanical ingredients, vitamins, and adaptogens 
  • Third-party tested
  • Deemed banned substance-tested

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Website links to controlled studies
  • Plant-based
  • Band-substance tested and approved
  • Gluten-, soy-, dairy-, and caffeine-free

Cons

  • Only one flavor
  • Some consumers did not like the taste
  • Some consumers also say it does not mix well

Bottom Line

Onnit’s Total Strength & Performance provides a unique blend of botanical ingredients, adaptogens, and vitamins to enhance performance leading to research-backed strength gains.

Onnit’s Total Strength + Performance pre workout is formulated to support improved physical performance, and prompt strength and power gains. The main ingredients are divided into three proprietary blend categories, so while I can’t tell the exact dosage of each ingredient, we can take a closer look at what each ingredient/category is intended to do. 

The Performance Blend is a combination of BCAAs, glutamine, and beta-alanine. Out of those three, beta-alanine has the most research backing up its use as a performance aid. When taken consistently for four weeks, beta-alanine can increase muscular endurance and help delay fatigue. *

The second category is the Power Blend, and contains a handful of ingredients linked to maintaining hormone health. The combination of d-aspartic acid, longjack extract, and nettle root extract may assist with supporting testosterone production. Without knowing the exact dose of each ingredient, it’s difficult to say whether or not you’ll see a noticeable effect. *

The Support Blend is the third category and contains red clover extract, luteolin, and resveratrol. These ingredients can support mood when consumed in an adequate dose. 

While this product contains ingredients with a decent amount of evidence to suggest they could positively affect your workout, the use of proprietary blends makes it difficult to know how effective the doses are. 

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, didn’t get to taste this one yet. When she does, we’ll update this text. 

Price per serving$1.99
Key ingredientsBeta-alanine, longjack extract, nettle root extract
FlavorsStrawberry Lemonade

Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

Good for: Vegans who want to get their sweat on

Best Vegan Pre-Workout

Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Naked Energy is a vegan pre-workout supplement formulated with just 10 ingredients and nothing artificial. 
  • Three flavors are available: Fruit Punch, Citrus, and Unflavored.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Formulated with just 10 ingredients
  • Affordable at less than $1 per serving
  • Available in unflavored option
  • Vegan

Cons

  • Small dose of creatine
  • No nitric oxide boosters, so don’t expect a muscle pump

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a vegan pre-workout supplement, Naked Energy may be a good choice. Made with just 10 ingredients and nothing artificial, it was designed to support increased energy without the fillers.

Naked Energy is a vegan pre-workout from the company Naked Nutrition. According to their website, it’s designed to enhance your energy, strength, and power using nature-based, vegan-friendly ingredients. Like all Naked Nutrition products, their pre-workout is third-party tested to ensure quality and safety, and it’s suitable for both men and women. *

The formulation of Naked Energy is simple: It only contains 10 ingredients, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. 

An image of Naked Nutrition Naked Energy pre-workout in a shaker

It combines vitamins B3, B6, B9 (folate), and B12—a group of vitamins that do a variety of jobs for your body, including converting food to energy, transporting oxygen to active tissue, and maintaining healthy skin and nails. Naked Energy also contains a healthy dose of Vitamin C to help support healthy immune system function. *

The addition of beta-alanine and creatine to the mix can promote a faster recovery from intense workouts, meaning less down time between workouts and better performance at the gym.   

Last, but certainly not least, the 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving is the perfect dose to provide you with extra motivation during your workouts, but without the post-workout energy crash. 

Some reviews claim the taste is less than desirable, but the potential benefits far outweigh the taste profile and at less than a dollar per serving, it’s worth giving it a go. 

Nicole, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says:

“I tried the plain flavor and mixed it with water, which in hindsight, probably should’ve been a sports drink. It doesn’t taste like much—just slightly bitter—but it’s nice that you can mix it with another drink. Also, it comes with the tiniest scooper ever!”

Price per serving$0.90
Key ingredientsBeta-alanine, creatine, caffeine, vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12
FlavorsUnflavored, Fruit Punch, Citrus

Other Pre-Workouts We Researched

There are lots and lots of pre-workouts on the market. We liked plenty more than just 14, but some just didn’t make the cut. 

  • Pre Lab Pro: If you’re going to charge a premium price for a pre-workout (nearly $3.00 per serving), I’m expecting it to be loaded with all the bells and whistles. Despite using research-backed ingredients, the majority are underdosed. Additionally, Pre Lab Pro only comes in one flavor (Fruit Punch), and only contains 20 servings per tub.  
  • HugeSupplements Wrecked: While we can agree that caffeine can boost energy levels and provide focus to a workout, too much caffeine can have the opposite effect. Wrecked contains a combination of four different stimulants: caffeine anhydrous (250 milligrams), Di-caffeine malate (100 milligrams), Eria Jarensis extract (250 milligrams) and Theobromine (150 milligrams). Individuals who are sensitive to caffeine may experience less than desirable side effects, like rapid heart rate, and jitteriness. Not to mention, Eria Jarensis Extract (N-phenethyl dimethylamine) is a banned substance in some countries and by some sports associations.
  • BPI Sports One More Rep: One More Rep is an inexpensive pre-workout with a decent dose of caffeine (300 milligrams) per serving…and that’s about it. Some of the other ingredients, like L-Citrulline, are underdosed, and each serving only has 6 grams of active ingredients. Additionally, the product contains a proprietary energy blend, so it is difficult to know how much Theobromine, Phosphatidylcholine, or Yohimbe extract is actually in the product.  
  • Jacked Factory Nitrosurge: Nitrosurge is described as a “powerhouse pre-workout that promotes enhanced body composition for both men and women.” Unfortunately, the formulation is underdosed and is missing key ingredients, like creatine monohydrate, which has been shown to increase strength. *

How We Picked and Tested

Deciding on the 14 best pre-workouts was no easy feat. We weighed the pros and cons of each product after analyzing these factors:

  • Ingredients: Are important ingredients like caffeine, creatine, citrulline, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine included?
  • Formulation: Are research-backed dosages of each ingredient included to ensure that you’re getting the maximum potential benefit? 
  • Flavors: Are a variety of flavors available for varied palettes?
  • Cost: Is there a pick for a variety of budgets? 
  • User satisfaction: What do customers think of the product?

Pre-Workout Ingredients

When you’re on the search for a good pre-workout formula, make sure it contains a majority—if not all—of the common ingredients below.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system, helping to support increased mental alertness while reducing the perception of fatigue. Additionally, it can increase fat oxidation and spare muscle glycogen levels. *

Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occuring substrate that aids in energy production. When taken as a dietary supplement, creatine has been shown to promote increased muscle strength, muscle size, speed, and high-intensity exercise capacity. * 

Citrulline

L-citrulline is an amino acid that helps increase the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide supports improved blood flow via vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). *

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a compound that combines citrulline with malate, a substrate essential for the production of energy needed for muscle contractions. Citrulline malate has been shown to help delay muscle fatigue and increase oxygen delivery to muscles. *

Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that binds with histidine to form carnosine. In your muscles, carnosine acts as a hydrogen ion buffer to help delay fatigue and improve high-intensity exercise performance. *

Benefits of Pre-Workout

Wondering why you should consider drinking a pre-workout before your next sweat session? Some benefits include:

Promotes Increased Energy

Pre-workouts are probably best known for their ability to support increased energy and focus during workouts. Caffeine is well-known for its ability to boost energy and endurance levels during intense workouts, and nitric oxide boosters (like citrulline and beetroot extract) can promote blood flow, which may result in more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to your muscles to maximize performance. *  

Improves Muscle Strength

Pre-workouts can enhance strength in several ways. For one, they can provide you with more energy so that you hit your workouts harder and increase your training volume. Pre-workouts can also help you recover faster in between sessions so you’re taking less time off. *

But, perhaps the most important ingredient for increasing strength is creatine. Creatine, which is present in some pre-workouts, aids in energy production during short, intense efforts and has been shown to increase strength when combined with resistance training in numerous research studies. *

Supports Enhanced Cognition

Ingredients like L-Theanine, Rhodiola rosea, and L-Tyrosine can help you stay focused and motivated throughout your workout. Nootropics like these have also been shown to enhance memory, attention, and concentration. 

Combat Fatigue

One way to boost stamina during your workouts is to combat feelings of fatigue. Caffeine has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, which in turn can lower one’s perception of effort and muscle pain associated with exercise. Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase intramuscular stores of carnosine. Carnosine works as an intracellular buffer to reduce the accumulation of hydrogen ions–ultimately delaying fatigue.

What To Look For in Pre-Workout

When you’re ready to purchase a pre-workout, keep these factors in mind.

Look For Key Ingredients 

Caffeine, citrulline, beta-alanine, and creatine can help maximize your energy and strength, while reducing fatigue. * 

Try To Avoid Proprietary Blends

These blends will make it difficult to know exact dosages used. A detailed ingredient list that clearly states the dose of each ingredient will ensure you know exactly what you are consuming. 

Choose Products That Are Third-Party Tested 

This means that a company, not affiliated with the supplement manufacturer, evaluates the dietary supplement to ensure what is printed on the label is actually inside the product. 

Check Twice If You’re An Athlete

If you’re an athlete, it’s critical that your pre-workout is free from any banned substance. Look for the Informed Sport, NSF, or Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG) logos on the product’s packaging to ensure the product has been batch-tested. 

Is Pre-Workout Dangerous?

When taken as directed, pre-workouts are generally considered safe to use for healthy individuals. There are special populations, like pregnant women and adolescents, who should avoid them altogether though. Always check with your doctor before taking a new supplement.

If you’re taking a new pre-workout, it’s recommended that you start with half the dose to see how your body reacts and then gradually increase from there. You should never consume more than the recommended dose, especially if the product contains stimulants like caffeine. 

Dry Scooping

Dry scooping refers to consuming a pre-workout powder dry, and then chasing it down with water. Although this practice has been around for years, it can be quite dangerous as it may lead to choking or a sudden increase in heart rate. 

Traditionally, pre-workouts are added to water and consumed 30 minutes before a workout. Diluting the pre-workout not only allows for easier consumption of the product, but it also means a slower absorption of ingredients. Dry scooping can lead to a concentrated hit of caffeine to your system. 

A dose of 150 milligrams to 300 milligrams of caffeine all at once can cause a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure. It can also lead to an accidental inhale of powder, which may cause choking. If you are planning to use a pre-workout, follow the directions and mix it with water. 

FAQs About the Best Pre-Workouts

Which pre-workout is most effective?

With countless pre-workout supplements currently on the market suitable for just about every goal, the choices can seem overwhelming. Our pick for best overall pre-workout is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged because it contains research-backed ingredients shown to support increased workout performance, it uses transparent labeling, and it’s third-party tested to ensure safety and quality. Our other top picks include:

Best Pre-Workout for Women: Cira Pre-Game 
Best Pre-Workout for Men: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 
Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Xwerks Ignite
Best Natural Pre-Workout: Legion Athletics Pulse 
Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN
Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs BULK
Best Tasting Pre-Workout: Cellucor C4 
Best Pre-Workout with Creatine: Gorilla Mode 
Best Pre-Workout for Running: MyProtein THE Pre-Workout
Best Pre-Workout for a Pump: 4 Gauge 
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: Blackwolf 
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: Onnit Total Strength + Performance
Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

Is pre-workout OK to take every day?

Pre-workouts are okay to take on a regular basis, but keep in mind that you can build up tolerance to stimulants, like caffeine. It’s recommended that you cycle off stimulant-containing supplements every couple of months for 6 to 8 weeks. This will give your body some time to reset. Stimulant-free pre-workouts can be taken every day without cycling on/off. 

Is C4 a good pre-workout?

C4 is manufactured by Cellucor, a well-known and established company in the supplement space, and is one of the most popular pre-workouts on the market. It’s affordable and no-frills, but still contains important ingredients like caffeine and beta-alanine. We recommend it on our list of best pre-workouts because of these attributes. GGR readers get an exclusive discount at C4energy.com, so be sure to check it out.

What is dry scooping and is it effective?

Dry scooping is a term used to describe taking a pre-workout powder without dissolving it in a fluid. It is no more effective than mixing a pre-workout in water, and can be potentially dangerous. Dry scooping can cause choking if the powder is accidentally inhaled, and can even cause a sudden increase in heart and blood pressure due to the immediate hit of caffeine to your system. It is recommended that you follow the instructions listed on the product label and mix your pre-workout powder in 8 to 12 ounces of water. 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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