We have affiliate relationships through which we are paid a commission on sales through some of the links on our site. Read our disclosures.

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. 

14 Best Pre-Workouts 

Best Pre-Workout Overall: Kaged Pre-Kaged

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

Best Pre-Workout Overall
Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout
Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

Pre-Kaged is a popular pre-workout supplement available from Kaged. It combines ingredients like caffeine (274 milligrams), creatine (1.5 grams), beta-alanine (1.6 grams), and citrulline (6.5 grams) for a powerful formula that’s designed to support increased energy and endurance, muscle pumps, and focus. It’s been third-party tested for banned substances and contains no flavors or colors from artificial sources.Seven flavors are available: Grape, Fruit Punch, Pink Lemonade, Berry Blast, Krisp Apple, Orange Crush, and Cherry Bomb. One downside of this product is its price per serving, though—there are only 20 servings per tub, and at about $2.25 per serving, that’s on the very high end for pre-workouts.* 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.

Pros

  • Contains research-backed doses of ingredients shown to boost energy and performance 
  • Third-party-tested by Informed Sport for banned substances
  • Full transparency on the ingredient label so you know the exact dose of each ingredient

Cons

  • Serving size is about twice the amount of most pre-workouts
  • Only 20 servings per container
  • One of the more expensive pre-workouts at $2.25 per serving

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 supplements 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 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
Cira Pre-Game

Cira Pre-Game pre-workout supplement consists of highly researched and popular pre-workout ingredients designed to help with endurance and power output. Although specifically marketed for women, this product will effectively support increased energy, focus, and strength for anyone looking for that extra boost. Key ingredients include citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, tyrosine, caffeine, theanine, theobromine, and AstraGin. What makes this supplement a bit different from competitors is the inclusion of AstraGin. AstraGin reportedly helps with absorption which, in turn, decreases bloating often experienced with pre-workout supplements. The presence of citrulline promotes blood flow and, at 6,000 milligrams per serving, Cira’s Pre-Game is dosed effectively.If you're someone who prefers the basic flavors, Pre-Game may not be the best for you. Four unique flavors put a twist on traditional tastes: Pink Candy, Peach Bellini, Glo-Jito, and Strawberry Margarita. Although enjoyed by most consumers, these flavors are not for everyone. Cira does not contain creatine, so if you are looking for something to help you build muscle, this may not be for you.* 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.

Pros

  • Contains L-theanine, which can boost the effects of caffeine when taken together*
  • Great value at less than $1.20 per serving
  • Comes in unique flavors like Pink Candy and Peach Bellini

Cons

  • Doesn’t contain creatine, an ingredient shown to improve strength and recovery 
  • Not third-party tested for banned ingredients

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 Pre-Workout for Men: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 

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

Best Pre-Workout For Men
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

One of the more reputable brands in sports nutrition, Optimum Nutrition, has included a solid choice in its line up of supplements: Gold Standard Pre-Workout. Formulated with 175 milligrams of caffeine, 3 grams of creatine, and 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, this drink supports increased focus, performance, energy, and endurance. Gold Standard Pre-Workout is available in four flavors—Green Apple, Watermelon, Fruit Punch, and Blueberry Lemonade—all of which are reported to mix well and taste good. More importantly, this product appears to deliver all that it promises, optimizing performance for users. * 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.

Pros

  • Each serving contains 3 grams of creatine, which has been shown to support increased muscle strength and size* 
  • Contains 1.5 grams of beta-alanine per serving, which can help delay muscular fatigue*
  • Certified through supplement certification company Informed Sport and tested for banned substances

Cons

  • Only contains 175 milligrams of caffeine per serving, which may not be enough to see a performance benefit for larger individuals (150 pounds or heavier)
  • Some ingredients are part of a proprietary blend, making the dosage for each ingredient unclear
  • Contains less than 1 gram of citrulline, far below the recommended 6 to 10 grams shown to help boost blood flow and nutrient delivery *

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 Pre-Workout for Beginners: Xwerks Ignite

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

Best Pre-Workout For Beginners
Xwerks Ignite Pre-Workout
Xwerks Ignite Pre-Workout

When it comes to pre-workout drinks, having high-quality and natural ingredients that do not lead to a crash as soon as your sweat session is done is paramount. The Xwerks Ignite pre-workout supplement is a good option for anyone who prioritizes natural ingredients and would benefit from added vitamins. This product is designed to improve energy, focus, and endurance with a unique 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.Ignite’s lineup of ingredients can be grouped into three categories based on how they allegedly affect your body. Xwerks claims the main benefits include energy, focus, and endurance. The energy blend combines 150mg of caffeine, 20 milligrams of vitamin B6, and 3,000 micrograms of vitamin B12, all of which are intended to provide a natural boost of energy. The focus blend contains 500 milligrams of Rhodiola, 200 milligrams of DMAE, and 2 grams of l-tyrosine, which Xwerks states help with cognitive function, focus, and mental clarity. And the endurance blend consists of 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, 35 milligrams of magnesium lactate, and 3 grams of l-citrulline malate, which are stated to enhance power output and endurance during exercise. Unlike fake-tasting pre-workout drinks on the market, Xwerks Ignite pre-workout reportedly tastes great and is soy-, dairy-, and sugar-free. Consumers are impressed with both the taste and the boost it provides to sustain them through a grueling workout. It’s important to point out that Xwerks Ignite is more costly than some of its competitors and buyers have reported shipping takes awhile.

 

Pros

  • Contains ingredients (Rhodiola rosea, DMAE, and L-tyrosine) shown to promote enhanced focus and alertness*
  • Transparent label so you know the exact ingredients and their dosage
  • Dairy-free and gluten-free

Cons

  • Only contains 150 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to about 1.5 cups of coffee), and may not be enough for habitual caffeine users
  • Contains only half the recommended dose of citrulline malate per serving (3 grams vs the recommended 6 to 10 grams)
  • On the pricier side at $50 a bottle

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 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
Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

If all-natural ingredients are of top priority for you, Pulse Natural Pre-Workout drink may be for you. This product is 100% nature-based and formulated to enhance mood, energy, and focus. Peer-reviewed and scientifically researched ingredients are assessed for clinical effectiveness to reach optimal performance improving strength, muscular endurance, and recovery. What’s more, Pulse is naturally sweetened and flavored so it’s free from food dyes and other chemicals. Users overwhelmingly report it to be tasty without an aftertaste. Pulse also combines ingredients in such a way as to prevent the post-workout crash common with many pre-workout drinks. Pulse’s ingredient list is impressive in quality as well and quantity. It consists of 350 milligrams of caffeine, 350 milligrams of L-theanine, 300 milligrams of Alpha-GPC, 8 grams of Citrulline Malate, 3.6 grams of Beta-Alanine, and 2.5 grams of Betaine. While these ingredients are not unique to Pulse, the amount of each ingredient is higher than competitors.Not interested in caffeine? No problem. Pulse can be bought with or without caffeine and in any of the four flavors.* 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.

Pros

  • A whopping 350 milligrams of caffeine per serving–certainly more than just a pick-me-up!
  • Research-backed doses of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and caffeine
  • 100% nature-based ingredients

Cons

  • Users may experience skin tingles (paresthesia) due to the higher dose of beta-alanine per serving
  • Serving size is 2 scoops, which means you’ll go through the product quicker than your typical 30-day supply 
  • Can leave a weird aftertaste in your mouth

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 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
Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs’ LEAN Pre-Workout supplement is designed for those looking to optimize both body composition and fitness performance. Each serving is formulated with 14 grams of active research-based ingredients including citrulline malate, BetaPure betaine, beta-alanine, and Infinergy sustained-release caffeine. Additionally, LEAN Pre-Workout features micronutrients that help promote thyroid hormone production. All ingredients serve a very specific purpose. LEAN is intended to support improved focus, endurance, and power and to boost digestion, adrenaline, and fat loss. The variety of ingredients and effects are appreciated by consumers who report better overall performance. Transparent Labs has had LEAN Pre-Workout drink third-party tested to ensure its effectiveness.Available in nine different flavors, many consumers struggled with the taste. They are naturally flavored and sweetened with Stevia but many report a bitter aftertaste.* 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.

Pros

  • Contains a research-backed dose of citrulline malate, which can help delay muscular fatigue and aid in post-workout recovery* 
  • Provides nootropics to support healthy brain function
  • 9 different flavors

Cons

  • At only 180 milligrams of caffeine per serving, larger individuals may not experience a thermogenic effect from this product 
  • Contains only 2.5 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), a dose too low to see any benefit from the ingredient 
  • Underdosed when it comes to beta-alanine and L-Carnitine HCL

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 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
Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

If you’re looking to gain muscle and also want a solid pre-workout drink to help you through your next pump session, Transparent Labs’ BULK may be for you. This blend claims to support increases in your levels of testosterone, which contributes to muscle mass. In addition, BULK’s lineup of evidence-based ingredients are formulated to support enhanced strength, muscular endurance, stamina, focus, and energy. As the brand name alludes, Transparent Labs is fully transparent in their ingredient list, which means you know the exact quantity of every ingredient. Third-party testing and analysis is conducted on this product for banned substances. Key ingredients include citrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAAs, BetaPure betaine anhydrous, taurine, tyrosine, AlphaSize Alpha-GPC, theanine, caffeine anhydrous, theobromine, Infinergy, and AstraGin.Available in eight flavors, many consumers found that the taste leaves a lot to be desired. But, the product is free from artificial sweeteners and colors, which may account for the bitter taste reported. Additionally, buyers should be aware BULK does not contain creatine, an ingredient some athletes seek in a pre-workout supplement.* 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.

Pros

  • The inclusion of vitamin D, zinc, and boron may help support testosterone levels* 
  • The combination of citrulline malate and taurine may help ease temporary muscle soreness post-workout*
  • Clinically dosed ingredients and transparent labeling

Cons

  • Lacking creatine, the most researched supplement shown to increase muscle size and strength *
  • The 4 grams of beta-alanine is more than twice what is typically recommended to take in one serving. Although still considered safe to use, it will likely cause tingling in your face and hands.

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-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
Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout

Cellucor’s C4 Original Pre-Workout is stacked with high-quality, powerful ingredients that the company designed to enhance muscular endurance, foster a faster recovery, delay the onset of lactic acid, and increase focus, lean muscle mass, and motivation. The key ingredients that, when combined are said to provide you with the boost you’re looking for, include CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG, and a proprietary Explosive Energy Blend containing 150 milligrams of caffeine and L-Tyrosine.  Cellucor C4 comes in powder form that dissolves well in water. There are five sugar-free flavors, and, taken 20 to 30 minutes before a workout, C4 is stated to lead to faster and more noticeable results, whatever your fitness goals may be. Plus, with a price per serving of about 80 cents, it's one of the most affordable pre-workouts on the market. Some users stated that there was an unpleasant aftertaste, and several also had issues with the powder crystalizing before finishing it—both things to be aware of.* 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.

Pros

  • Comes in a variety of unique flavors  
  • At 78 cents per serving, this product is one of the least expensive pre-workouts on the market
  • The 150 milligrams serving of caffeine is enough to give you energy support during your workouts, but without the effects associated with a higher stimulant dose *

Cons

  • Uses a proprietary blend of ingredients, making it difficult to know the exact amounts of each substance 
  • Only contains 1 gram of creatine, which falls short on delivering the recommended 5 grams of creatine per day
  • Clumps may form in the product, especially when stored in humid places

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
Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout

Gorilla Mode pre-workout supplement claims to support an increase in nitric oxide levels, intramuscular hydration, energy, focus, and a significant boost in strength all from a non-hormonal product. Formulated with a combination of a stimulant complex and high-dosed nootropics—which can help increase focus during workouts—the majority of users rave over its effectiveness and their improved performance in the gym. Gorilla Mode is engineered with powerful ingredients. It contains a high level of L-Citrulline, GlyerPump, amatine, creatine, and betaine, which improves blood flow to muscles also aiding recovery. Gorilla Mode does have an intense stimulant complex, which combines caffeine and N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate. If you are sensitive to stimulants, this may not be the product for you. Gorilla Mode also has high doses of L-Tyrosine, Kanna, and Huperzine A. These nootropics are designed to increase energy and focus. This product receives mixed reviews. Many rave over its effectiveness, taste, and the flavor options. On the other hand, some consumers did not notice a marked difference in their workout when taking Gorilla Mode.Also, a serving is two scoops, which means it costs about $2.50 per serving—on the high end for pre-workouts. Overall though, it certainly contains high levels of all the ingredients that should make for a solid pre-workout drink.* 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.

Pros

  • Contains citrulline, an effective supplement for boosting nitric oxide levels in the blood which may support increased blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles *
  • Includes a handful of nootropics (like L-tyrosine, Huperzine A, caffeine), which can promote increased energy and focus during workouts *
  • Has 1.5 grams of GlycerPump, an ingredient that can support increased hydration and aid in nutrient absorption *

Cons

  • The recommended dose (2 scoops) may contribute to effects associated with high stimulant use (jitteriness, nausea, etc.)
  • If following the recommended dose of 2 scoops, each serving comes out to $2.50, which is quite expensive for a pre-workout 
  • Contains N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate, which is legal in the U.S. but banned in other countries  

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
MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

Produced by a reputable brand, MyProtein THE Pre-Workout is made with a blend of ingredients designed to push you through your next workout. Of the 12 active ingredients, perhaps the most notable is an impressive 2,500 milligrams of betaine anhydrous intended to increase power output in the gym.Also promoting muscle growth is 2,000 milligrams of creatine, while 4 grams of citrulline increases blood flow. MyProtein is formulated with 50 milligrams of theacrine, which is said to contribute to better motivation and focus. It does come with a premium price tag so may not fit everyone’s budget. MyProtein THE Pre-Workout is available in nine flavors, each of which is reported to mix well with 8 to 16 ounces of water. The powder is very fine, which contributes to mixability and prevents granules from setting on the bottom of your glass. That said, the flavors are not loved by all, leaving a synthetic aftertaste.* 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.

Pros

  • Contains a generous dose of beta-alanine, a research-backed ingredient that can help delay fatigue and support improved performance 
  • Contains n-acetyl l-tyrosine, a neurotransmitter that may help support improved cognitive function and mood*
  • Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly

Cons

  • The low dose of theacrine (50 milligrams) is unlikely to have any beneficial effect and just adds more bulk to the product
  • Due to the use of artificial flavoring, some users are less than impressed with the taste of the product

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
4 Gauge Pre-Workout

4 Gauge pre-workout is a potent, nature-based supplement for enhancing physical and mental performance formulated from research-backed, high-quality ingredients. This supplement consists of eight fast acting ingredients: caffeine anhydrous, theanine, creatine, citrulline malate, red beet, Rhodiola Rosea, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and coconut water. The name 4 Gauge stems from the claim that this pre-workout blend provides four impressive benefits in just one serving: “explosive power, improved focus, extra stamina, and an intense muscle pump.” This drink is only available in one flavor but consumers appreciate the taste. What’s more, it is free of artificial ingredients and colors. 4 Gauge takes pride in its proportioned formula ensuring they are up to date with the most recent studies to give you the best workout possible. While it is pricey at $2.25 per serving, customers overwhelmingly like the taste and say it’s effective. * 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.

Pros

  • Uses research-backed ingredients and no proprietary blends
  • Contains 6 grams of citrulline malate per serving, which can help curb temporary post-exercise muscle soreness*

Cons

  • Only available to purchase online
  • Only comes in one flavor, Fruit Punch, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea
  • At $2.25 per serving, it’s more expensive than a lot of other similar pre-workout products

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 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 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
BlackWolf Pre-Workout

BlackWolf’s Pre-Workout supplement is loaded with research-backed ingredients proven to support increased energy, reduced fatigue, faster recovery, maximized endurance, and improved overall athletic performance. According to BlackWolf, over 25 clinical studies were conducted on this product to ensure it delivers. Key ingredients include Betaine Anhydrous, L-Arginine, L-Citrulline, caffeine, Taurine, L-Tyrosine, Dynamine, coconut water powder, Bioperine, DMAE, and Huperzine A. BlackWolf Pre-Workout is available in three flavors: Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, and Fruit Punch. For those sensitive to caffeine, the Fruit Punch is caffeine-free, relying on DMAE and Huperzine A to enhance focus. Professional athletes like boxing champ Ekow Essuman and double Olympian swimmer Ekaterina Avramova use BlackWolf’s Pre-Workout to power their workouts. While the BlackWolf website does not have any user reviews, there seems to be an athletic following for this supplement. * 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.

Pros

  • Zero caffeine in the stimulant-free version, meaning you can take this in the evening and it won’t disrupt your sleep 
  • Well-researched formula containing full doses of citrulline malate, creatine, and beta-alanine
  • Suitable for vegans

Cons

  • Only the Fruit Punch flavor is caffeine-free
  • If you’re not used to taking beta-alanine, the 3.2-gram serving size can cause temporary itching and tingling of the skin 
  • The addition of coconut water powder is unlikely to provide any additional hydration benefit over drinking water alone

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
Onnit Total Strength & Performance Pre-Workout

Onnit’s Total Strength & Performance puts a twist on a typical pre-workout supplement. It’s a blend of adaptogens, vitamins, and botanical ingredients that are formulated to support improved power and force. This pre-workout is free from chemicals and synthetic formulas. As such, it supports enhanced strength gains using plant-based power, performance, and support blends. Onnit’s website provides a direct link to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that analyzes the effects of the Total Strength & Performance supplement. Not only were the results impressive but the fact that this company provides the actual studies conducted is testament to its transparency and pride in their product. Key ingredients include Mucuna Pruriens Seed Extract, Longjack Root Extract Nettle Root Extract,  Red Clover Flower Extract, Luteolin, Beta Alanine, BCAA Amino Blend, L-Glutamine, Aspartic Acid, Resveratrol, BioPerine, Vitamin B6, and Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B-5). The resulting formula has been third-party, banned-substance tested to ensure it is free and clear from any illegal substances. 

Pros

  • Contains beta-alanine, which may help boost performance by helping delay fatigue during workouts *
  • The combination of longjack extract and nettle root extract may support testosterone production*
  • No artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • Uses multiple proprietary blends, which makes it extremely difficult to know the actual dosage of each ingredient 
  • Some of the ingredients (glutamine, d-aspartic acid, red clover extract ) have little, if any, research supporting their use in healthy, active adults 
  • Very low scores in the tasting department 

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
Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Pre-Workout

Naked Energy is a vegan pre-workout supplement that’s formulated with just 10 ingredients and nothing artificial. Created with creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine, but also vitamins C, B3, B6, and B12, this product supports increased energy and power levels. However, there are no nitric oxide boosters in this formula, and the dose of creatine is small. Three flavors are available: Fruit Punch, Citrus, and Unflavored, which you can mix with a flavored sports drink or the like. At just about 90 cents per serving, this product provides a great value.* 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.

Pros

  • Amazing value at less than a dollar per serving
  • With only 10 ingredients, you avoid a product full of fillers and artificial ingredients
  • Sugar-free

Cons

  • Doesn’t contain any nitric oxide boosters, so don’t expect much of a pump from this pre-workout
  • Small dose of creatine, unlikely to provide any benefit
  • Questionable taste profile

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.

Further reading

AssaultBike Review (2022): Our Take on the OG CrossFit Bike Cover Image
AssaultBike Review (2022): Our Take on the OG CrossFit Bike

Our AssaultBike review covers the AssaultBike Classic, Elite, and Pro in depth to help you decide which one is worth the money. Read more

Best Budget Massage Guns (2022): More Massage, Less Moolah Cover Image
Best Budget Massage Guns (2022): More Massage, Less Moolah

Our guide to the best budget massage guns shows you which products give you the best percussive treatment for the lowest price. Read more

Rogue Resistance Bands Review: Monster and Tube Bands 2022 Cover Image
Rogue Resistance Bands Review: Monster and Tube Bands 2022

In this Rogue resistance bands review, we’ll dive into two of Rogue’s most popular options: the Monster and Tube Bands. Read more

Torque Endless Rope Trainer Review: Versatile Home Gym Rope Pulley System Cover Image
Torque Endless Rope Trainer Review: Versatile Home Gym Rope Pulley System

The Torque Endless Rope Trainerturns a typically difficult movement to do in a home gym, into something convenient with no setup time. I love doing rope pulls for both back/bicep hypertrophy as well as conditioning work, but it’s cumbersome to set up. The Torque Endless Rope Trainer is extremely well done, very compact, and a piece of equipment I will use every week. It is a bit spendy, but it’s well done. Read more