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We know your home gym is filled with the best home gym equipment on the market, and you’re working to get stronger, faster, and better. Nutritional supplementation could help. Pre-workout supplements are multi-ingredient products designed to boost energy and improve exercise performance1 that have been used by novice and veteran weightlifters for decades to give them an extra boost.

Choosing the right pre-workout can be overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up the 10 best pre-workouts on the market based on our in-depth, multi-point testing methodology. We specifically rate and personally test products for factors such as the following:

  • Formulation: Does it have scientifically-backed ingredients and dosages?
  • Third-party tested: Can we trust that the label is accurate?
  • Taste: Is it drinkable, and are there multiple flavor options?
  • Price per serving: Does it fall in line with the market average, or are you paying too much?
  • Solubility: Does it mix well with the recommended amount of liquid?

On staff, we have certified personal trainers, certified nutrition coaches, USA Weightlifting coaches, and elite-level athletes who personally tested more than 100 pre-workouts for various types of training—including preparing for international weightlifting competitions.

They detailed their hands-on experiences with each product, and I used my Ph.D. in exercise physiology to assess which pre-workouts contain research-backed ingredients, are effective, and are worth your money.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider

18 Best Pre-Workout Supplements Of 2024

We’ve Got the Scoop on Dozens of Pre-Workouts

Our team of certified personal trainers, world-class athletes, and nutrition experts have tested and researched nearly 75 different pre-workout supplements, so we know what works for one person might not work for another. Here’s a look at our other best-of-class pre-workout roundups:

Best Pre-Workout Supplement Video Review

Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs BULK

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

Best Pre-Workout Overall

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

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—but it should work for anyone, regardless of their fitness goals. It’s got an impressive line-up of ingredients, transparent labeling, and is free from artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and gluten. 

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and certified nutrition coach, tried the Blue Raspberry flavor of BULK.

“It was tasty, and it mixed well,” she says, rating it a perfect 5-out-of-5 for both taste and solubility. “I experienced significant tingling and only took half a serving, so there’s something to be said of that mega dose of beta-alanine.”

One of our favorite pre workout, Transparent Labs Bulk being tested in a shaker bottle

Each serving contains 8 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, according to a 2021 metanalysis2. 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 endurance3, it’s a hefty serving to take all at once. Just be aware you may be experiencing some tingles in your face and hands due to a condition called paresthesia.

Like other Transparent Labs products, BULK contains a blend of caffeine and L-Theanine—a combination shown to promote increased energy and reaction time4. Add in the L-Tyrosine5 and Alpha GPC6 and you’ve got yourself a nice little cocktail to support increased mental focus.

One important callout is that this pre-workout has 180 milligrams of caffeine, which is on the lower side compared to other pre-workouts. “Despite the lower caffeine content, I feel energized without jitters, and the focus it provides is like putting horse blinders on your brain and the only thing you can see are the weights,” says GGR performance editor and certified personal trainer Anthony O’Reilly. “The pump is also filthier than a pig rolling in mud.”

Besides the omission of creatine, the most researched supplement known to increase muscle strength and size7, there aren’t too many cons with this product. Based on reviews, the flavor appears to be less than desirable to many reviewers (but we liked it), 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.

Anthony has one warning: “The scoop is huge, bigger than most other pre-workouts.”

Want to learn more? Check out our Transparent Labs BULK Pre-workout review.

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
Third-party tested?Yes, Informed Choice

Best Pre-Workout for Women: Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

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

Best Pre-Workout for Women

Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

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.

When it comes to pre-workout, women don’t actually need something different from men. We had men and women test the Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout. It has been specifically designed to boost energy levels, support increased strength and endurance, and help reduce fatigue. The reason it’s so effective is that each ingredient is backed by scientific research and dosed at research-backed levels. We rated this high in terms of effects, giving it a 4 out of 5.

Jacob Penner, USA Weightlifting L-2 coach, has used Legion Pulse before more than two dozen workouts. He has personally tried roughly 50 pre-workouts himself, and says this is one of his favorites. “This blend has a 1:1 ratio of l-theanine to caffeine, so you get a really balanced experience,” he says. “If you set aside all of the high-stim pre-workouts, this is probably one of my favorites because every time I use it, I feel energized but not over-stimulated.”

Woman holding a shaker bottle with Legion-Pulse best pre-workout

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 women3. 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 exercise4.

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.

We can’t talk about Pulse without mentioning the 350 milligrams of caffeine (for two scoops)! It’s a hefty dose that will surely give you enough energy to fuel your workouts8. 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 use4.

Jacob and GGR editor Nicole Davis both really like the taste. Nicole, a precision nutrition coach, gave Blue Raspberry a 4 out of 5, saying, “While it mixes well, it does have a bitter taste and an unpleasant aftertaste.”

Jacob, however, tried the Peach Ring flavor, and he says the taste is a 5 out of 5: “I would drink it just for the taste.”

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+.

For more, check out our Legion Pulse pre-workout review .

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

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

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

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.

For what it’s worth, men and women don’t really have different needs when it comes to pre-workout, although we called this the best pre-workout for men. We do like XWERKS Ignite because is a naturally and artificially sweetened pre-workout chock full of ingredients shown to support increased performance and focus during workouts, which can benefit men (and anyone else who takes it). We also had both men and women test this product, and everyone agrees that it works well.

Nicole Davis, a GGR editor and precision nutrition coach who personally tried more than a dozen pre-workouts, used Ignite a few times prior to her workouts.

“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,” she says, giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 for its effects.

What I love most about this product is its combination of nootropics to support brain function and focus. If you’re What I love most about this product is its combination of nootropics to support brain function and focus9. 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 Rosea10, DMAE Bitartrate11, caffeine8, and L-Tyrosine5—all scientifically backed ingredients that can aid in memory and concentration, while easing minor daily stress.

A woman holds up a scoop of XWERKS Ignite Pre-Workout.

Ignite also contains beta-alanine, which can enhance muscular endurance and help regulate muscular pH.4 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.

“This powder is very soluble,” Nicole notes, giving it a perfect score on that rating, “but I did think the Watermelon flavor was pretty artificial-tasting and too sweet for my liking.”

Read more about our experience with this pre-workout in our XWERKS Ignite review.

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

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge  

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

Best Pre-Workout For Beginners

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout Powder

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan pre-workout 
  • 180 mg of caffeine per scoop 
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Available in multiple sizes: 30 or 60 servings
  • Subscribe and save 15%
  • Available in 11 flavors
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility
  • Vegan
  • Affordable at under $1 per serving (1 scoop serving)

Cons

  • Mixed reviews on taste
  • Mixed reviews on effectiveness
  • Contains sucralose

Bottom Line

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout is a generally positively reviewed pre-workout with 180 milligrams of caffeine and a large variety of flavor options.

Our expert product testers agreed Jacked Factory Nitrosurge is the best pre-workout for beginners because it gives you the option to use one or two scoops with clear labeling of dosages for both options. The one-scoop option, which we recommend for beginners, provides enough energy to help you power through your workouts without overloading you with pre-workout ingredients that rookies sometimes struggle with, such as beta-alanine (the face itch is no joke).

“I like that you still get 180 milligrams of caffeine with this so you get the energy, but without all the other effects,” says GGR Head of Content Kate Meier, who tested Nitrosurge along with members of her weightlifting team, giving it a 4 out of 5 for its effects on energy and focus. “If you do half a scoop of other pre-workouts, you don’t get all that caffeine.”

one of our top pre-workout, jacked factory nitrosurge, being tested in a shaker bottle

The 180 milligrams of caffeine is about what you’d get in two 8-ounce cups of coffee.

One of Kate’s weightlifting teammates tried a two-scoop portion and said he got a boost from it, though it was “mild” compared to stronger pre-workouts.

Kate and her team tried the Strawberry Margarita flavor of Nitrosurge, giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 for taste. Kate calls it “wildly delicious,” noting, “I’d drink this by the side of a pool over ice. I could drink it all day. It is by far my favorite pre-workout.”

Another reason we like Nitrosurge for beginners is that it’s simple, and we mean that in the best way possible. Aside from caffeine, you’re also getting L-Citrulline for oxygen and nutrient delivery12, L-Theanine, which when combined with caffeine can help increase energy and reaction time4 We love a pre-workout that focuses on providing high-quality ingredients, rather than some trendy stimulants with little research to back them up.

It should be noted that you won’t get the optimal doses of these and other ingredients if you only take one scoop, but once you’re more comfortable with taking a pre-workout you can easily move onto a two-scoop serving or a stronger pre-workout.

Read all of our thoughts on this product in our Nitrosurge pre-workout review.

Price per serving$0.99/$0.83
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, L-Citrulline, Betaine Anhydrous
FlavorsCherry Limeade, Blue Raspberry, Pineapple, Watermelon, Arctic White, Fruit Punch, Grape, Cotton Candy, Sour Peach Rings, Blueberry Lemonade, Black Cherry
Third-party tested?No

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

GGR Score: 4.05 starstarstarstarstar

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.

Transparent Labs 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.

Jacob Penner, USA Weightlifting L-2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting, has used LEAN before several weightlifting workouts. “This is a fine pre-workout if you want something that isn’t over-stimulating,” he says. “In fact, I typically use more than one scoop to get a bigger boost in energy.”

LEAN contains both iodine13 and zinc14, which can be beneficial for supporting thyroid function, as well as selenium15, 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 on whether or not they can aid in weight loss for otherwise healthy adults.

Caine Wilkes is shown mixing a batch of Transparent Labs Pre-Workout.

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 price range. 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.

Nicole Davis, GGR editor and a certified personal trainer, tried the Tropical Punch Flavor, rating it a 5 out of 5.

“It was slightly bitter and not too sweet—an okay combination,” she says in our Transparent Labs LEAN review. “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.”

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 its effects.

Price per serving$1.67 ($1.50 if placed on subscription)
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, Citrulline Malate, Betaine Anhydrous, Huperzine A,
FlavorsStrawberry Lemonade, Sour Grape, Fruit Punch, Cherry Splash, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Tropical Punch
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Budget Pre-Workout: Nutricost Pre-X

Good for: Those who want a high-quality and affordable pre-workout powder

Best Budget

Nutricost Pre-X Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.14 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Pre-workout formula with B vitamins
  • 300 mg of caffeine per serving
  • About $1 per serving
  • Third-party tested
  • 5 flavor options

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Contains B vitamins
  • Gluten-free and non-GMO
  • Affordable price per serving

Cons

  • Not enough research to support the ingredients that claim to support cognitive function
  • Caffeine content may be too much for some folks

Bottom Line

Nutricost Pre-X is an affordable pre-workout at about $1 per serving. There are five flavors to choose from, each with a light and refreshing taste. Each serving contains 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to about 3 cups of coffee.

Nutricost Pre-X can cost anywhere from 83 to 63 cents per serving, depending on the container size and flavor you order. This is typically the part where we’d say something like “You get what you pay for,” but in this case, you’re getting more bang for less buck. 

“I think this is one of the best, and I’ve tested more than 50 pre-workouts,” says Jacob Penner, a Level-2 USA Weightlifting coach. “This feels like a clean product without anything stupid in it, so it’s not causing negative side effects. I feel the way I should feel after taking a pre-workout.”

Man drinking Nutricost Pre-X Pre-Workout

Each scoop comes with 300 milligrams of caffeine for energy and focus, 4 grams of L-Citrulline to help with nitric oxide production and get a pump, and 1.5 grams of betaine anhydrous for strength output and muscular endurance. We’re knocking one point off for formulation and giving it a 4 out of 5 because there are extra stimulants, such as DMAE, that some people may be sensitive to. 

Jacob and his weightlifting partner Micky said the pre-workout mainly helped them with focus, and both said there was no crash despite the high number of stimulants. “With this one, even two hours after taking it, I didn’t have a comedown or feel tired,” says Micky. “I could still work really hard through my sessions.”

Some cheaper pre-workouts tend to be lacking when it comes to taste—but again, that doesn’t apply to Nutricost. Jacob rates the Blue Raspberry flavor a 5 out of 5 and says he remembers their other flavors being just as good. “I have always liked the Nutricost pre-workout for the taste, they do a really good job,” he says. 

If we had to say one bad thing about Nutricost it would be that it doesn’t completly mix when shaken with water, getting a 4 out of 5 for solubility. “This dissolves almost all the way, but there are still some little bits — like little beads,” Jacob says. 

Price per serving$0.63-$0.83 (varies by flavor and container size)
Key ingredientsCaffeine, DMAE, L-Citrulline, Taurine, Betaine Anhydrous, Huperzine A
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Grape, Fruit Punch
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Pre-Workout for Running: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance

Good for: Runners looking for a pre-workout loaded with ingredients to help with endurance

Best for Runners

1st Phorm Endura-Formance

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Combines creatine and beta-alanine 
  • Enhances strength, power, and endurance
  • Increases muscle hydration 
  • Promotes oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles
  • Available in four flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Added creatine
  • Reportedly effective
  • No caffeine
  • No jitters or post-workout crash
  • Includes PeakO2 adaptogen blend

Cons

  • Taste is not for everyone
  • Sucralose included

Bottom Line

Endura-Formance is formulated with all the key ingredients one would look for in a pre-workout drink. While the taste is not for everyone, most users experienced improved performance at the gym.

Certified personal trainer and former competitive triathlete Amanda Capritto used 1st Phorm Endura-Formance when training for her races and says it always gave her a boost, giving it a 5 out of 5 for effects. “I love taking this before all types of workouts, but especially endurance workouts since it has ample sodium,” Amanda says in her 1st Phorm Endura-Formance review.

As a reminder, sodium is an electrolyte that can help fuel longer workouts that leave your clothes drenched in sweat. “It also contains the clinical dosage of creatine which is awesome to see, plus beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, and L-tyrosine, all great ingredients in pre-workout,” Amanda adds.

Amanda points to two other ingredients that make this a perfect fit for runners: PeakO2 and S7. “PeakO2 is a patented compound that is said to increase oxygen utilization while decreasing lactate, a combo that results in greater work capacity,” Amanda explains. “S7 is a blend of seven nutraceuticals that has been clinically shown to increase nitric oxide production by up to 230 percent.”

1st phorm endura-formance pre-workout

In English, these compounds may help you get stronger and faster.

As far as taste, Amanda says the Berry-Lemonade flavor is one of the best-tasting supplements she’s tried in her long fitness career. “It’s fantastic: Not too sweet, slightly tart, no weird aftertaste,” she says, rating it a 4.5 out of 5.

Price per serving$1.50
Key ingredientsSodium, potassium, PeakO2, S7,
FlavorsBerry Lemonade, Black Cherry, Grape, Orange
Third-party tested?Yes

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout: Cellucor C4

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

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

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.

We had multiple testers try various flavors of Cellucor C4, and everyone agreed each was a 5 out of 5 in the taste department. “Icy Blue Razz never fails,” says certified personal trainer and GGR Performance Editor Anthony O’Reilly. “And actually, I’ve liked every flavor of C4 I’ve tried.” 

Nicole Davis, a precision nutrition coach and GGR Head of Content, calls it the “quintessential pre-workout flavor, probably because it’s the one I used when I first started taking pre-workout and the one I’ve probably had the most of over the years. 

“It’s definitely sweet but not too sweet in my opinion,” she continues. 

C4 pre-workout review

C4 Original is considered the No.1 pre-workout in the country not just for its taste, though that doesn’t hurt. It’s carbohydrate-free and contains 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving—a similar dose found in about 1.5 cups of coffee. 

“I will sometimes do a caffeine detox, and this is a great powder for dipping your toes back into the stim pool,” he says. “You’re not going to get Mr. Olympia-level pumps from it, but your sleeves will feel a bit tighter than they were before you started the workout.

It also contains 2 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. 

At under $1 per serving when placed on subscription, the original C4 is one of the most affordable pre-workout powders on the market and gets a 5 out of 5 on pricing (most pre-workouts range from $1.50-$2 per serving).

It should be noted that some ingredients in C4 Original are underdosed. For example, it only has 1.2 grams of l-citrulline when the clinically recommended dose is closer to 3 to 6 grams. Cellucor offers other versions of their popular workout that have higher doses of these ingredients, though you’ll have to pay a little extra. 

Check out our full C4 pre-workout review for more.

Price per serving$1.17 ($0.93 if placed on subscription)
Key ingredientsCaffeine, Beta-alanine, L-Citrulline, L-Arginine, Creatine
FlavorsIcy Blue Razz, Watermelon, Rainbow Blast
Third-party tested?No

Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Onnit Alpha Brain

Good for: People who want a vegan-friendly pre-workout that does the job well

Best Vegan Pre-Workout

Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Includes beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Priced around $3/serving; subscribe-and-save option available
  • 2 flavors currently available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Tiger's Blood flavor tastes great
  • Includes 225 mg of ashwagandha extract
  • Contains beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Subscribe-and-save option is available

Cons

  • Only 2 flavors available, and Yuzu Peach isn't popular among our product testers
  • $3/serving is expensive
  • Key ingredients like citrulline and beta-alanine are under-dosed

Bottom Line

Onnit's Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout is a unique blend of ingredients that our testers enjoyed for workouts where they wanted to be focused and energized. It only comes in two flavors; the Tiger's Blood flavor is our preferred choice.

Onnit’s Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout took us by a bit of a surprise, and it contains all-natural and vegan ingredients.

Two of our product testers (USA Weightlifting coaches and certified personal trainers) found it highly beneficial before their workouts, rating it a 4 out of 5 for its positive effects. 

We got our hands on the only two flavors this pre-workout comes in: Yuzu Peach and Tiger’s Blood. Four people on GGR Head of Content Kate Meier’s weightlifting team tested Alpha BRAIN for multiple workouts. Every single person commented on their increased focus and energy going into the workout.

“I felt incredibly clear and prepared for my lifting session,” says Jacob Penner, USAW-L2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting. “While I didn’t get the tingles like I do with other pre-workouts, I definitely still got a pump.”

At first glance, the formulation is clearly unique.

Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout has some of the common ingredients you’ll find in most of these supplements, earning an overall 4 out of 5 for its formulation. It has 200 milligrams of caffeine, but is under-dosed in both beta-alanine (2.4 grams) and l-citrulline (2.4 grams), according to clinically-backed recommended dosages. The formula is also missing betaine anhydrous, which is well-studied for its beneficial effects on muscular power and work capacity, as well as creatine, the most-researched sports supplement that has proven beneficial effects on increased exercise performance and muscle mass.

Woman Drinking Alpha Brain Pre Workout

However, a noticeable addition is ashwagandha, an herb known for its calming effects.

“Alpha BRAIN does contain some novel ingredients like NooGandha which is a patented form of Ashwagandha, a nootropic that recent research16 has shown to have benefits to athletic performance,” says Destini Moody, registered dietitan. 

Alpha BRAIN also contains Dynamine, which acts as an enhancement to caffeine by increasing alertness and energy levels. “Be careful, though; Onnit warns that if you decide to take this supplement, you should not do it in combination with any other foods, drinks or supplements that contain more than 50 milligrams of caffeine,” Destini says.

As far as taste goes, be warned: None of our testers enjoyed Yuzu Peach, calling it bitter (“I couldn’t even finish mine,” Kate says). However, Tiger’s Blood got our stamp of approval, bringing a much more enjoyable blend of coconut, watermelon, and strawberry flavors. Overall, we rated this a 4 out of 5 for taste.

This pre-workout is more expensive than most, ringing in at $3 a serving. However, Onnit offers a subscribe-and-save option.

For more, read our full Onnit Alpha Brain Pre-Workout review.

Price per serving$3
Key ingredientsCaffeine, ashwagandha, Dynamine, beta-alanine and l-citrulline
FlavorsYuzu Peach, Tiger’s Blood
Third-party tested?N/A

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

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

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.

4 Gauge 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.

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says in our 4 Gauge Pre-Workout review “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!” 

A woman drinking 4 Gauge Pre-Workout

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.

If you came looking for incredible muscle pumps, grab your dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells) and listen up. The research-backed combination of citrulline malat  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.

“4 Gauge mixes really well, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor,” Nicole says. “If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet pre-workouts, this might be a great option for you.”

Need a second opinion? One of our expert product testers, certified personal trainer Lindsay Scheele, tried this supplement for her 4 Gauge pre-workout video review.

Price per serving$1.50
Key ingredientsL-Citrulline, Red Beet, Carnitine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Creatine
FlavorsFrozen Lemonade, Fruit Blast, Pina Colada
Third-party tested?N/A

Best Natural Pre-Workout: Pre-Lab Pro

Good for: People looking for a pre-workout free from artificial dyes and flavoring

Best Natural

Pre-Lab Pro

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Natural berry flavor
  • Moderate caffeine content
  • Vegan, vegetarian, GMO-free
  • 1 serving is 1 scoop
  • Nootropic-enhanced

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Vegan and vegetarian
  • Gluten-free, soy-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Nootropic-enhanced

Cons

  • Moderate dose of caffeine may not be enough for everyone
  • Only 1 flavor available

Bottom Line

Pre-Lab Pro is vegan and vegetarian-friendly, allergen-friendly, non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and free from artificial flavors and synthetic additives

Pre-Lab Pro is free of artificial dyes and sweeteners, and uses natural ingredients like red beet powder and Himalayan pink salt to provide increased energy, blood flow, and focus. Taking a closer look at the ingredient label, I can see that Pre-Lab uses research-backed ingredients to provide a balance between strength, focus, and energy.   

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says in our Pre-Lab Pro review: “The reason I keep taking this despite its not-so-great taste is because of the effects,” she says. “I really like it.” Those effects include increased energy and focus, which she credits to the included nootropics. “I really feel focused and energized when I take this,” Nicole says.

A deep red and frothy shake sits front and center, with a container of Pre Lab Pro pre-workout just behind the shake.

Nicole warns, however, that this pre-workout might not be for the heavy hitters. For one, it only has 80 milligrams of caffeine and 2.2 grams of l-citrulline, a compound found to increase blood flow and create skin-splitting pumps. Most pre-workouts have around six grams of l-citrulline.

“Someone who wants to feel super stimulated and get a pump would not like this product,” Nicole says, rating the overall effects a 3 out of 5.

On the bright side, it contains l-theanine, an amino acid that when combined with caffeine provides increased energy, enhanced cognition, and reduces stress.

As Nicole mentioned, the taste isn’t the best. Both her and expert product tester Lindsay Scheele rated the Natural Berry flavor (the only option at this time) a 2 out of 5 and Nicole says it smells like cocoa(?). “It tastes like drinking a sour Flintstones vitamin,” she says.

The other downside is the price. At nearly $3 per serving, it won’t fit everyone’s budget but if you’re looking for something that’s clear of artificial ingredients and still provide some benefits this is your best bet.

Price per serving$2.95
Key ingredientsCaffeine, l-theanine, red beet powder, Himalayan pink salt
FlavorsBerry
Third-party tested?Yes

Best All-in-One Pre-Workout: Beyond Raw Lit

Good for: Those who want all the best pre-workout ingredients in one package

Best All-in-One

Beyond Raw Lit Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 3.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Produced by well-known retailer GNC
  • Transparent label
  • Ingredients to support energy, mental clarity, and pump

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Full dosage of beta-alanine at 3.2 g
  • 250 mg of caffeine for a burst of energy
  • ElevATP promotes energy from your own mitochondria
  • Combination of nitrosignine and l-citrulline increases nitric oxide
  • Competitively priced at $1.50/serving
  • Partnered with Jolly Rancher for a familiar taste

Cons

  • Creatine is under-dosed at only 1.5 g
  • Sucralose is a cheap sweetener

Bottom Line

Lit is a delicious, potent pre-workout that comes from a company with almost a century of experience learning what works and what doesn’t. This product is safe and intended to serve a variety of consumers, from first time gym-goers to the experienced athlete.

Beyond Raw Lit is a 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.

“This is a good training pre-workout,” Jacob Penner, USAW-L2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting, says in our LIT pre-workout review. “I’m not wired, I’m just moving through my workout with that pre-workout ‘warm.’ “This is a happy medium between those high-stim pre-workouts or the ones that get you wired, and the ones that have zero effect.”

It has a clinically recommended 3.2-gram dose of beta-alanine to help with muscular endurance, 250 milligrams of caffeine, and a 1.5-gram dose of creatine to help with muscle strength and recovery. All of that is enough to give it a 4 out of 5 when it comes to formulation — it would’ve gotten a 5 if they had 3 grams of creatine per serving.

Beyond Raw Lit Scoop

Additionally, it contains an ingredient called elevATP, a combination of apple extract and ancient peat that’s been linked to increased levels of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s energy source.

Overall, Jacob rated his workout experience with Beyond Raw Lit a 4 out of 5.

This affordable pre-workout supplement comes in 11 flavors. Jacob tested the Jolly Rancher Blue Raspberry and gave it a 4 out of 5. “Reminds me of the blue raspberry slushies at the movies,” Jacob says. “I’ve taken this brand many times in the past and had other flavors from, including Gummy Worm, and I like all the flavors I’ve tried.”

It costs around $1.33 per serving when purchased one time, or about $1.20 if put on a recurring subscription.

Price per serving$1.33 (or $1.20 if placed on subscription)
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, elevATP
Flavors11
Third-party tested?N/A

Best Sweetener-Free Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Pre-Workout

Good for: People looking for a pre-workout free from sweeteners and artificial coloring

Best Sweetener-Free Pre-Workout

Naked Nutrition Stim-Free Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.13 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free/stimulant-free 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Claimed to improve focus, performance, and recovery
  • Includes CarnoSyn beta-alanine
  • Unflavored
  • No additives or artificial ingredients
  • Third-party tested for efficacy

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No additives or artificial sweeteners
  • Non-stimulant
  • Non-gmo
  • Vegan and keto friendly
  • Free from sugar, soy, and dairy

Cons

  • Some don’t care for the taste
  • Not a lot of reviews of the non-stim version

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a clean pre-workout supplement with a simple list of natural vitamins and minerals, Naked Nutrition's Stim Free Pre Workout may be for you.

If you’re looking for a simple pre-workout without any sweeteners, Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Pre-Workout’s unflavored option may be a good fit (the flavored ones include sweeteners). The unflavored supplement is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and non-GMO. Also, there are no proprietary blends in Naked Energy, which is third-party tested. That means that what’s on this label is exactly what’s inside this product both in terms of ingredients and dosing, which is why we we feel confident in making this our pick for the best natural pre-workout.

Nicole Davis, GGR senior editor and a certified nutrition coach, says Naked Energy is a “nice little pick-me-up” when it comes to energy and gives it a 4 out of 5 for effects. It comes with the industry standard 200 milligrams of caffeine but doesn’t have some of the other pre-workout classics, such as l-citrulline or beta-alanine.

Naked Energy best pre-workout

It does have one gram of creatine, which is better than nothing but not enough to cause a significant uptick in strength and muscle mass. Overall, we’d recommend this for a beginner who’s just getting into pre-workout and wants to know what it feels like to take a jolt of caffeine before placing themselves under the barbell.

When it comes to flavors, Naked Nutrition has three—all of which contain no artificial sweeteners: Unflavored, Fruit Punch, and Citrus. Nicole tried the unflavored option and said it was a bit bitter, though it would go well with a sports drink.

The 90 cents per-serving cost is another big plus in our books, and each container comes with 50 two-scoop servings.

Price per serving$0.90
Key ingredientsCaffeine, Creatine
FlavorsUnflavored, Fruit Punch, Citrus
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Pre-Workout with Creatine: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Good for: Those who want creatine and pre-workout in one supplement

Best with Creatine

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

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.

Creatine is the most-studied sports supplement on the planet, with countless researchers affirming it can help boost your performance in the gym. This is why many people combine it with their pre-workout of choice, but we think it’s better to use Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout since each scoop contains a research-backed 3 grams of creatine per scoop. 

Overall, we’re rating this a 4 out of 5 for its formulation. We would’ve liked to see more L-Citrulline (there’s less than one gram) and the 175 milligrams of caffeine is slightly lower than the 200 milligrams we typically like to see in pre-workouts. Still, GGR Director of Content and certified personal trainer Kate Meier says her weightlifting team got consistent results when using it. 

“Great focus and great energy level from this,” she says. “Not the strongest pump, but this is always a reliable choice for pre-workout.” Due to the lack of a pump, we’re rating the effects a 4 out of 5. 

Another reason why Kate and her weightlifting team love Optimum Nutrition so much is because it’s third-party tested for banned and harmful substances, earning it a 5 out of 5 for transparency. 

The taste is another 5 out of 5, with each member of Kate’s team raving about the four flavors available: Watermelon, Green Apple, Fruit Punch, and Blueberry Lemonade. “They’re sweet but not too sweet,” Kate says. 

As an added bonus, it earns a 4.5 out of 5 on pricing since each scoop comes out to $1.10. 

Price per serving$1.10
Key ingredientsCaffeine, Creatine
FlavorsWatermelon, Green Apple, Fruit Punch, Blueberry Lemonade
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: Transparent Labs Stim-Free

Good for: People who train at night or who don’t like caffeine in their pre-workout supplement

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Stim-free pre-workout
  • No caffeine
  • 7 flavors available
  • Easily mix with water
  • Good for people who work out at night
  • Won't give you the jitters or tingling sensations

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free of artificial colors, sweeteners, and other additives
  • Non-stim (no caffeine)
  • Won't give you the jitters
  • Designed to increase nitric oxide uptake in the muscle cells
  • Can subscribe and save

Cons

  • Those who want caffeine should look elsewhere
  • Doesn't contain creatine or BCAAs

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout is an uncaffeinated pre-workout powder that will not give you the jitters or tingling commonly associated with pre-workout supplements. This pre-workout contains a blend of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, L-tyrosine, taurine, and elevATP, a compound claimed to increase ATP activity in muscle cells.

We gave Transparent Labs Stim-Free pre-workout a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5 on its formulation. It is essentially a caffeine-free version of their standard pre-workouts for those who prefer to train at night, or simply want all their caffeine to come from coffee. The primary ingredient is citrulline malate, which a 2021 review17 stated was vital for nitric oxide production to help support skeletal muscle function and improve blood flow to muscles.

Huperzine A, Taurine, and L-Tyrosine are also added to help with mental focus, especially since there’s no caffeine to help with mental alertness. Anthony O’Reilly, GGR’s performance editor and expert product tester, said he didn’t miss the caffeine jolt.

transparent-labs-stim-free-pre-work-out-cover

“I usually need a little pick-me-up to remain focused on my workouts,” Anthony says, “but after taking this I might have to change my supplement stack. I felt focused at all times and there was no energy crash at the end of my workout.” 

Sodium and potassium act primarily as electrolytes to promote hydration, though studies18 tell us they can also assist in helping you get a pump. Similarly, beetroot powder is added for color and can also help improve nitric oxide production.

Amanda Capritto, GGR staff writer and expert product tester who also tested this pre-workout, said the Cherry Limeade flavor was tasty and not overly sweet, though she said it was difficult to get it thoroughly mixed. Read more about our experience using this pre-workout in our Transparent Labs stim-free pre-workout review.

Price per serving$1.67 ($1.50 if placed on subscription)
Key ingredientsCitrulline Malate, Huperzine A, Taurine, L-Tyrosine
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Peach Mango, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Cherry Limeade, Orange, Sour Grape
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: GENIUS PRE

Good for: Those who are looking for a reliable, caffeine-free pre-workout 

Best Caffeine Free

The Genius Brand Genius Pre

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free nootropics-based pre-workout 
  • Doubles as a productivity booster 
  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Subscribe and save 20%
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee (from the ship date)
  • Available in 4 flavors

Cons

  • Only available in 20 serving containers
  • No 3rd-party certifications
  • May cause skin tingling

Bottom Line

The Genius Brand Genius Pre is a stimulant-free, nootropic-based pre-workout designed to help improve your focus and performance in the gym. It has very positive reviews, although customers do wish they could buy containers with more than 20 servings so they didn’t have to purchase as often.

Jacob Penner, a USA Weightlifting coach who has been testing different pre-workouts for years, used Genius PRE a number of times to check out its efficacy and gave it a 4 out of 5 for its workout effects, despite the fact it has no caffeine.

“This is stim-free, so it doesn’t get you all jacked up. I felt almost euphoric taking this. It gave me a very calm focus,” he says. “It almost felt like taking a mood stabilizer, because I was relaxed, not stimulated; clear, and ready to take action.” 

The only reason we docked a point is because Jacob says the pump, while noticeable, is short-lived.

“I did a workout with a lot of upper back work, and my shoulders were so pumped up from it,” he says. “The pump was really good, but it didn’t last long. Pretty much by the time I was done lifting, the pump was fading.”

person scooping genius pre-workout

In terms of formulation, we gave this a 4 out of 5, only knocking it down a point because it lacks a stimulant, which is something most people are looking for in a pre-workout. However, by all other accounts, this checks a lot of boxes with its ingredient lineup.

Amanda Capritto, certified sports nutrition coach and former GGR senior staff writer, points out there are clinically-backed ingredients and dosages of key pre-workout players like l-citrulline malate, carnosyn, betain anhydrous, l-tyrosine, l-arginine, and taurine. There are also nootropics like choline19 and huperzia, which support cognitive function.

In terms of taste, Jacob rated this a perfect 5 out of 5. “I took Blue Raspberry. Absolutely love the taste – this is like a blue icee. Taste-wise, this is one of the best pre-workouts I’ve ever had, and I’ve had more than 50 pre-workouts.”

Read more in our Genius pre-workout review.

Price per serving$1.89 for a one-time purchase or $1.52 with subscribe-and-save
Key ingredientsL-citrulline malate, CarnoSyn beta-alanine, AstraGin, ElevATP, L-tyrosine, L-arginine
FlavorsGrape Limeade, Sour Apple, Blue Raspberry, Sour Cherry
Third-party tested?Yes

Best Pre-Workout for Focus: Pre JYM Pre-Workout

Good for: Anyone who needs help keeping the focus on their workout routine

Best Pre-Workout For Focus

JYM Supplement Science Pre JYM Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • A pre-workout powder powerhouse
  • Packed with lab- and gym-tested ingredients
  • 9 different flavors to pick from
  • Boosts strength, energy, endurance, mindset, and muscle growth
  • 14 active ingredients and a nutritional supplement
  • Higher potency with 26-gram scoops
  • Award-winning brand and pre-workout supplement

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Helps boost your energy for any workout
  • Supports mental focus with caffeine, alpha-GPC, and huperzine A
  • Includes amino acids to promote muscular strength and endurance
  • Great for men and women

Cons

  • Do not take up to 6 hours before bed
  • Some reviewers don’t love the flavors
  • Reviewer complaints about high sucralose and sugar levels
  • Shares equipment that handles eggs, milk, soy, tree nuts, and wheat
  • Not third-party tested

Bottom Line

Fuel your body with a delicious pre-workout supplement with nutrients and 14 active ingredients for an energy-boosting workout.

Earning a perfect 5 out of 5 for its workout effects, Pre JYM Pre-workout is our pick for best for focus. Anthony O’Reilly says taking it was like being hypnotized before entering the weight room. “Staying focused is difficult for me during workouts,” says the GGR performance editor and certified personal trainer. “That said, my focus was at 100 percent each time I downed a scoop of this pre-workout.” 

Anthony’s far from alone in that assessment. “I’ve taken this at least half a dozen times, and I always felt really clear and super stimulated for my workouts,” says Jacob Penner, member of GGR’s expert panel and a USA Weightlifting Level 2 Coach.

jym-supplement-stack

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, since this pre-workout supplement was designed by Jim Stoppani, who holds a doctorate degree in exercise physiology and is one of the most prominent names in the nutrition space. 

Caffeine, of course, is one of the primary ingredients that help with increased focus as is Huperzine A20 and L-Tyrosine. Additionally, each serving comes with a gram of Taurine, which “Plays an important role as a basic factor for maintaining cellular integrity in the heart, muscle, retina, and throughout the [central nervous system],” and, according to studies21, could act as a neurotransmitter.

In terms of taste, both Anthony and Jacob rate this a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5.

“I want to drink the Pineapple Strawberry flavor while on a beach,” Anthony says.

“Rainbow sherbet is pretty good, just like getting a mouthful of sweetness,” Jacob says.
Both also note that this pre-workout mixes perfectly in a shaker bottle with water. You can read more of their thoughts in our full JYM Pre-Workout review.

Price per serving$1.83-$2.24 (depending on size)
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, creatine, beta-alanine, betaine, beet root extract, caffeine
FlavorsOrange Mango, Rainbow Sherbet, Tangerine, Grape Candy, Pink Lemonade, Pineapple Strawberry, Black Cherry, Strawberry Kiwi, Cherry Limeade, Raspberry Lemonade
Third-party tested?N/A

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Kaged Pre-Kaged 

Good for: Those who are looking for a supplement that will aid their muscle-building journey 

Best for Muscle Gain

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.16 starstarstarstarstar

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.

Anthony O’Reilly, GGR performance editor and pre-workout aficionado, has taken Pre-Kaged before a number of strength-based workouts. He says, “I like this for workouts where I’m focusing on muscular endurance, which might be due to the fact that there’s coconut water powder in it. I’ve lost count on my reps after taking this because I feel like I can just keep curling/pressing/whatever I’m doing cause I just don’t get as fatigued.”

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.

Anthony warns that this isn’t necessarily the best pre-workout for a pump. “I don’t get the same oomph or pump that I get from something like Transparent Labs,” he says.

Kaged Pre Kaged Pre Workout

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 no time.

In terms of flavor, both Anthony and Nicole Davis, GGR editor and certified personal trainer, says the taste gets a perfect 5 out of 5 rating

“I tried the Krisp Apple flavor, and definitely noticed the smell of apples as soon as I opened my shaker,” Nicole says. “It wasn’t too sweet and I liked the flavor, but found that there was an unpleasant mouthfeel after each sip. It also didn’t mix super well. It’s actually a little thick.
Read more in our Kaged Pre-Kaged review.

Price per serving$2.25 ($2.02 if placed on subscription)
Key ingredientsCaffeine, Creatine, Coconut Water Powder, Taurine
FlavorsCherry Bomb, Pink Lemonade, Grape, Krisp Apple, Orange Krush, Fruit Punch, Berry Blast
Third-party tested?Yes

Other Pre-Workouts We Tested and Researched

There are lots and lots of pre-workouts on the market. We liked plenty more than just 18, but some just didn’t make the cut. 

Seven different types of the best pre workouts we’ve tested at Garage Gym Reviews in our testing facility
  • HugeSupplements Wrecked: While we can agree that caffeine can boost energy levels and provide focus to a workout11, too much caffeine can have the opposite effect22. 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. Find out more in our Wrecked Pre-Workout review.
  • 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.  
  • BPN Flight Pre-Workout: Although it contains more than 300 milligrams of stimulants, BPN’s Flight only has 2 grams of L-Citruline and the recommended dose is closer to 6-8 grams.
  • BPN Endopump: This is the stim-free version of BPN Flight, and while we enjoyed the taste we don’t feel like it offered anything that you can’t find in other pre-workouts.
  • Insane Labz Psychotic Pre-Workout: Save your money. This popular pre-workout contains a number of stimulants, but it’s comprised of proprietary blends so it’s difficult to figure out how much of each ingredients is in this pre-workout powder. Read our Psychotic Pre-Workout review for our full thoughts.
  • El Jefe Pre-Workout: We’re actually fans of this high-stim pre-workout, despite the use of proprietary blends, because they tell us outright how much caffeine is in it—300 milligrams, plus 100 milligrams di-caffeine malate, a buffered form of caffeine that stays in your system longer. “It kicked in almost right away,” one of our expert product testers said in our El Jefe pre-workout review. “I didn’t feel like my skin was crawling, but still had that energy. The biggest thing was the focus—this is one of the best feelings of being “locked in” compared to other pre-workouts I’ve tried (I’ve used 20-30 different ones).”
  • Ryse Godzilla Pre-Workout: Ryse has gone semi-viral on TikTok, but is it worth the hype? “This is a stronger pre-workout than what I have used before; and this is the first time I really felt the strong tingles,” says Rose, a member of Kate’s weightlifting team, “and I have a strong tolerance to caffeine.” Our Ryse pre-workout review has our full thoughts and ratings.
  • Ghost Pre-Workout: We’ve tested dozens of pre-workout powders, and somehow Ghost pre-workout made us more stimulated than those with many more stimulants. “You won’t be sitting still and relaxing,” Jacob says. “I wouldn’t say it’s too stimulating, but I definitely feel excitable after taking it.” This isn’t a good or bad thing, just something to note.
  • Bucked Up Woke AF: Registered dietitian and supplements expert Bob Iafelice said he could not endorse this product because of the large number of stimulants, including some banned by the NCAA, NFL, and MLB. “Is this product worth the risk? I don’t think so,” Iafelice says in our Woke AF pre-workout review. “Other than the stimulant package, it’s a good product with significant amounts of key ingredients such as citrulline malate and beta-alanine.”
  • RedCon1 Total War: This popular pre-workout supplement has a good formulation, though you can find similar products at a more affordable per-serving cost. That said, if you have the money for it we’ve had some of the best workouts of our lives while taking this, as you can see in our Total War Pre-Workout review.
  • Apollon Nutrition Hooligan: This is a pre-workout for seasoned veterans who need an extra kick in the pants in the form of 450 milligrams of caffeine and 200 milligrams of di-caffeine malate. GGR Performance Editor Anthony O’Reilly, who has a high caffeine tolerance, said he’d only take this on days he’s going for PRs or has a prolonged training session.
  • Swolverine PRE: This stim-free pre-workout is on the expensive side.
El Jefe Pre-Workout

How We Picked and Tested The Best Pre-Workouts

Deciding on the 19 best pre-workouts was no easy feat. We weighed the pros and cons of each product after analyzing these factors and using our GGR supplement testing methodology:

Ingredients, Formulation, and Dosages

Are important ingredients like caffeine, creatine, citrulline, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine included? Are there research-backed dosages of said ingredients to ensure you’re getting maximum potential benefits? Are there proprietary blends, where you can’t tell how much of each ingredient is used? Are there high levels of stimulants that have been shown to have detrimental effects?

Research-backed dosages:

  • Caffeine: 200 milligrams 
  • Creatine: At least 3 grams (5 grams is the daily recommended dose per day but not many pre-workouts contain this much)
  • Citrulline: 6 grams 
  • Citrulline Malate: 6-8 grams 
  • Beta-Alanine: 3 grams 

Stimulants to keep an eye out for: High levels of caffeine, dendrobium, synephrine, DMAE, rauwolfia vomitora.

Flavors and Taste

This is subjective, but we base it on the views of our testers, as well as what the general consensus is in online customer reviews. We took the individual flavor and full range of flavors into consideration.

We also looked at whether unflavored options were available.

Solubility

How well does this product dissolve in the suggested amount of liquid? Are there floaties? Is it grainy? Is it super thick or super thin? Does it separate after a few minutes?

Cost and Price Per Serving

The price per serving can range from $0.80 on the low end to upwards of $2 on the high end.

Customer Reviews

What do customers think of the product? Are reviews consistent? Does the company interact with customer reviews?

Value

If a pre-workout is expensive, is it at least packed with unique ingredients that you couldn’t find in cheaper pre-workouts? If not, you might as well buy a more affordable supplement.

Transparency and Third-Party Testing

Since dietary supplements are not approved by the FDA, having an independent third-party lab verify that what’s on the label is what’s in the pre-workout is super important, especially for athletes. This is particularly important for pre-workouts, because overloading on stimulants can be dangerous. 

Transparency also plays a part in this—does the company provide COAs, not use proprietary blends, and generally seem very upfront about what’s used in their pre-workout and why?

Pre-Workout Supplement 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 pre-workout ingredients below.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system, helping to support increased mental alertness while reducing the perception of fatigue8. Additionally, it can increase fat oxidation and spare muscle glycogen levels23. *

Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring 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 capacity7.  

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)12.

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 muscles2.

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 performance3.

Man Opening Alpha Brain Pre Workout

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 fatigue24.

muscletech vapor x5 pre workout supplement facts

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.

Research-Backed Dosages

Make sure key ingredients are present in research-backed dosages. There are countless research studies that pinpoint the minimal dose needed to experience energy- or strength-boosting effects from ingredients like beta-alanine and creatine, but here are a few you should know before you start shopping:

Research-backed doses of pre-workout ingredients:

  • Caffeine: 200 milligrams 
  • Creatine: At least 3 grams (5 grams is the daily recommended dose per day but not many pre-workouts contain this much)
  • Citrulline: 6 grams 
  • Citrulline Malate: 6-8 grams 
  • Beta-Alanine: 3 grams 

Try To Avoid Proprietary Blends

These blends will make it difficult to know the 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. 

RELATED: Best supplements for men

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. 

When Should I Take Pre-Workout?

The name pretty much gives it away—pre-workouts should be taken before your training session, with most people downing their supplement 20-30 minutes before they intend to start seriously training. The key phrase there is “seriously” training because you don’t want the caffeine to hit while you’re stretching or warming up and wear off before you even hit the weights.

RELATED: The Best Ashwagandha Supplements

If you’re someone who works out in the afternoons or evenings, you should know that caffeine can sometimes stay in your system several hours after you take it. That means if you down a pre-workout even at 1 p.m., the caffeine can cause disruptions in your sleep cycle or make it hard for you to fall asleep in the first place. Consider using one of the best stim-free pre-workouts or moving your workout to earlier in the day.

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 Transparent Labs BULK 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: Legion Athletics Pulse 
Best Pre-Workout for Men: XWERKS Ignite
Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge
Best Budget Pre-Workout: Beyond Raw Lit Pre-Workout
Best-Tasting Pre-Workout: Podium Fuse
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance
Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout
Best Natural Pre-Workout: Pre-Lab Pro
Best Sweetener-Free Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Pre-Workout

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.

References

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