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There are a lot of times when we as men will be a bit boastful and refuse help from anyone or anything—unless that’s a scoop of pre-workout to help get us through leg day. The problem, however, is that there are so many options to pick from—the global pre-workout industry was valued at more than $15 billion in 20211.   

So while it might be hard for some to pick out the best pre-workout for men, that’s not the case for us. As a morning gym-goer, I’ve tried my fair share of pre-workouts to increase energy and help me complete my workout, and as a certified nutrition coach, I know how to tell the good ones from the junk brands. 

In this piece, we’ll run down our picks for the best pre-workout for men and have Laila Ouldibbat, a New York City-based registered dietitian who’s pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, explains the benefits of each one. 

Get the Scoop on the Best Supplements on the Market 

In addition to being regular gym-goers who know the ins-and-outs of barbells and mass gainers, the Garage Gym Reviews team is stacked with nutritional experts, certified personal trainers, CrossFit Level 1 Trainers, and competitive athletes. We’ve spent a good portion of our lives testing and researching these products for our personal enjoyment and professional curiosity. 

And because we take our jobs so seriously, we enlist the help of registered dietitians like Laila to give us an even more in-depth understanding of these pre-workout supplements so we can give you all the information you need before making a decision on which one is best for your training needs. 

The 14 Best Pre-Workouts For Men 

Best Overall Pre-Workout For Men: Kaged Pre-Kaged

Good for: Those who are looking for a good all-in-one pre-workout that can cover multiple needs 

Best Overall

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite

Product Highlights

  • Pre-workout formulated with creatine monohydrate and creatine nitrate
  • 5 grams of total creatine
  • Expensive—$3 per serving
  • Third-party tested
  • 3 flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Glacier Grape

Pros & Cons


  • Pre-workout and creatine in one
  • Contains 5 grams of total creatine
  • Third-party tested


  • Expensive

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a product that combines a pre-workout with creatine, Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite might be a good choice.

If you’re looking for a pre-workout that’ll do more than get you buzzed off caffeine and stimulants, we highly recommend checking out Pre-Kaged. There are a few things we love about this product, most notably its highly transparent ingredient label and clinically dosed ingredients—meaning there’s enough of certain compounds to help with things like power output and energy, as supported by research. 

Laila also pointed out that Pre-Kaged contains both taurine and L-tyrosine, two compounds that reportedly help with electrolyte balance (which can help ensure your muscles work properly and improve cellular function) and neurotransmitters to assist with the mind-muscle connection and increase your focus.

Pre-Kaged comes with 274 milligrams of caffeine per scoop, which is roughly three eight-ounce cups of coffee. It also comes with 1.5 grams of creatine HCI, which is a more bioavailable form of creatine (meaning your body can more easily absorb it) and like creatine monohydrate (the most popular form of creatine), has been linked to increased strength and improved recovery.  

You also get 100 milligrams of antioxidants from whole food sources to support cellular and metabolic health, Laila points out. Speaking of whole foods, Pre-Kaged is also a good choice for those looking for organic pre-workouts as there are no artificial flavors or colors or synthetic ingredients—it’s au naturale. 

It’s also vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and has zero genetically modified organisms. 

Although Pre-Kaged is pretty expensive at $2.25 per scoop, we think its high-quality and well-dosed ingredients make it the best pre-workout for men—and women, too. 

My taste-testing thoughts: I liked the Krisp Apple flavor but I did notice a weird mouth-feel while drinking it, and there were some clumps leftover after mixing.

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

Best Budget Pre-Workout for Men: Cellucor C4

An image of Cellucor C4 pre-workout in a shaker

Good for: People who are on a budget 

Best Budget

Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


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


  • 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.

At a time when the price of just about everything seems to be going up, I’m thankful for products like Cellucor C4, which comes out to just about $1 per scoop (it’s even less than that if you put it on a monthly subscription). 

As is the case with most budget-friendly products, Cellucor C4 doesn’t provide quite as much oomph as the other pre-workouts on this list, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. 

It’s a great choice for those looking for a low-caffeine workout—it contains 150 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly a cup and a half of coffee. It also has 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, which Laila says can help mitigate muscular fatigue and increase endurance. 

While it doesn’t contain clinical dosages of many ingredients such as creatine— it only has 1 gram and the recommended dose is 3 to 5 grams—Laila points out it has an “abundance” of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, vitamin B12, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B6) to support overall health and immune function. It’s also strong on nitric oxide support, which promotes blood flow, via citrulline malate and the creatine.

It does contain synthetic ingredients, such as the man-made sweetener acesulfame potassium, which might matter to some people. 

I’m a big fan of C4’s variety of different flavors. Actually, I’ve liked every flavor of C4 I’ve tried. 

Price per serving$0.99 
Key ingredients Caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, nitrates
Flavors Fruit Punch, Cherry Limeade, Icy Blue Razz, Watermelon, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Margarita

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

An image of Legion Pulse pre-workout in a shaker

Good for: Anyone who values natural products 

Best Natural

Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


  • 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


  • 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.

Not only does Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout have 100-percent natural ingredients— with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or food dyes—but all of its ingredients are present in research-backed doses to maximize energy production and strength levels.

We should warn that each two-scoop serving comes with 350 milligrams of caffeine, which might be a lot for some people, but you can easily just take one scoop. Unfortunately, that does mean you won’t get the clinical dose of ingredients like citrulline and beta-alanine, but you’re still getting a good amount of each with a half-serving. 

There are also 350 milligrams of the amino acid L-theanine, which can help boost mental awareness and counteract some of the negative side effects of caffeine.  

Citrulline is an ingredient that’s been linked to increases in high-intensity performance, and Legion puts 8 grams in each full serving, which is the amount that most researchers use in studies. 

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that has been found to support an increase muscular endurance and decrease fatigue in high-performance athletes, but it does create a skin-tingling sensation known as paresthesia (it essentially feels like you’re very itchy, though that feeling subsides after taking beta-alanine for a while). 

Legion has a bitter taste that may take some getting used to, but the high caffeine content doesn’t seem to have any negative side effects. Pulse might be an acquired taste, but I will say, I got this down before a strength training workout and felt all the positive effects.

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

Best Pre-Workout for Men for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN

Good for: Those on a cut, or people who are trying to lose body fat 

Best for Weight Loss

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


  • 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


  • 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.

It should be noted that no supplement, regardless of its marketing claims, is going to be the magic key for weight loss. That said, LEAN has some ingredients that, coupled with a good training plan and diet, could help support your weight loss journey. 

Most notably, this pre-workout formula contains research-backed doses of iodine and zinc to assist thyroid function, which plays a huge role in regulating your metabolism. There’s also selenium to support hormone metabolism and antioxidant function. 

The 180 milligrams of caffeine might seem low—it’s about a cup and a half of coffee—but Laila points out that Transparent Labs adds a compound called Infinergy that helps prolong caffeine’s performance-enhancing side effects (increased energy and stamina). In other words, the caffeine will stay in your system longer and you won’t experience a crash. 

She also says the lower caffeine content won’t interfere with your body’s internal thermometer, or thermoregulation, like some people see with higher doses (this is why some people might feel a bit cold if they drink too much coffee). 

There are also 6 grams of citrulline malate, which can support reduced muscle fatigue and improve training performance. 

I personally found Transparent Labs’ flavors to be just fine, but they were a bit flat. I did enjoy the increased energy boost without the crash.

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

Best Pre-Workout for Men for Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs BULK

Good for: People who are focused on gaining muscle in the gym 

Best for Muscle Gain

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


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


  • 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 its name would suggest, Transparent Labs BULK is meant for people who are looking to increase their muscle mass. The company claims its products can help boost testosterone levels, which can help boost energy levels and muscle when coupled with a resistance training plan. 

Some might be thrown off by the lower caffeine levels, but Laila says that’s actually a good thing for individuals looking to get in as many reps as possible. “Moderate doses have been found to ‘significantly increase repetitions to failure and readiness to invest effort in athletes,’’’ she says, pointing to a pair2 of studies3

Those increased reps and effort can help build muscle gain, which is exactly the goal of those looking to BULK (puns are always intended around here). There is no creatine in this product, but I personally didn’t miss it. There’s also 4 grams of BCAAs, which have the potential to support muscle growth (the jury is still out, according to research).

The 4 grams of beta-alanine is more than the daily recommended dose, and though that amount can help boost muscular endurance and reduce muscle soreness, it can lead to a notable skin-tingling sensation for those who haven’t taken much of the amino acid in the past. 

As someone who’s taken his fair share of beta-alanine in the past, I feel like most trained individuals will be just fine taking this pre-workout, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. The taste isn’t disagreeable but it’s nothing to write home about. 

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

Best Pre-Workout for Men for Pumps: Gorilla Mode 

An image of Gorilla Mode pre-workout in a shaker

Good for: Bodybuilders, or anyone else who wants to ensure a good muscle pump after their workout 

Best for Pumps

Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


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


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

Bottom Line

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

I’m not saying I agree with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infamous quote about getting a pump (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up when you’re not near children), but I’m not going to deny that it’s not a great feeling. If you’re looking to experience that at the gym, we recommend Gorilla Mode. 

It has 2.5 grams of creatine, which is just under the daily recommended dose to help increase muscle size and strength, but Laila says one of the star ingredients in this pre-workout is the 1.5  grams of Glycerpump complex—a highly concentrated version of glycerol. Glycerol, she says, can support increased muscular hydration, which can lead to a fuller look. 

L-Citrulline and agmatine have also been linked to increased nitric oxide production and increased blood flow to the muscles, Laila says, both of which can help create a good pump at the gym. 

It’s not all brawn with this pre-workout, as it comes packed with some nootropics (L-tyrosine, Kanna, Huperzine A) to assist with cognitive function, focus, and mental acuity (the brain’s ability to respond to external stimuli). 

Each two-scoop serving has 175 milligrams of caffeine, which as Laila points out is a good dose for those looking to eke out as many reps as possible, which, again, can help produce a good pump. 

The Fruit Punch flavor reminds me of Hawaiian Punch in both its taste and smell. 

Price per serving$1.23
Key ingredientsCitrulline, creatine, caffeine, GlycerPump, Huperzine A
Flavors Bombsicle, 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 Men with Creatine: BlackWolf

An image of BlackWolf pre-workout in a shaker

Good for: Anyone who wants creatine in their pre-workout for that extra oomph 

Best with Creatine

BlackWolf Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


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


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

Bottom Line

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

There are a lot of questionable ingredients in pre-workouts and other supplements, but creatine’s benefits cannot be doubted. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that creatine improves endurance, strength, and power,” Laila says. “This study5 found that creatine monohydrate increased the fat-free mass in a group of bodybuilders by an average of 2 kilograms in just eight weeks.”

Blackwolf contains 3 grams of creatine, which is at the lower end of the daily recommended dose, but still enough to help support performance in the gym as indicated by research. 

It also has a clinically recommended 6 grams of citrulline malate, which Laila says can “increase blood flow and boost nitric oxide levels, which relieves muscle soreness and stifles fatigue. It also enhances athletic performance and boosts stamina.”

There are three flavors to pick from, including a caffeine-free Fruit Punch that uses DMAE and huperzine to support focus. Laila says DMAE increases the production of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which helps with focus and alertness (like caffeine), and huperzine slows down the breakdown of acetylcholine. 

The caffeinated versions come with 200 milligrams—which is a pretty moderate dose—plusamino acids, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to help with muscle recovery

I tried out the Green Apple flavor. 

“[I] thought the taste and solubility was just fine—not my favorite, but not horrible.” 

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

Best High-Caffeine Pre-Workout for Men: Huge Supplements Wrecked

Good for: Those who need a big jolt of caffeine to get through their workout 

Lots of Caffeine

Huge Supplements Wrecked Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • 4 flavor options
  • 435mg of caffeine (from various sources)
  • Clinically dosed ingredients
  • $2.50 per serving

Pros & Cons


  • Clinically-dosed ingredients
  • Customer reviews state it's great for pumps
  • Uses whole food sources


  • Expensive, at $2.50 per serving
  • Very high caffeine content
  • No creatine

Bottom Line

Huge Supplements Wrecked is a high-caffeine pre-workout supplement that uses clinically-dosed ingredients to support increased energy levels and pumps.

We all know that person who can chug a Red Bull at 8 p.m. and still fall asleep two hours later, so if that’s you or someone you know, they might need Huge Supplements Wrecked. 

To support intense workouts, it contains 250 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous, which is a dehydrated form of caffeine that can help boost your performance in the gym, along with 100 milligrams of  di-caffeine malate, which is a buffered form of caffeine that stays in your system longer. It also has additional energy from coffee bean and green tea extract. 

Laila says caffeine isn’t the only thing on the ingredient list that’s present in high amounts—it also has 8 grams of L-citrulline, which helps support blood flow and reduced muscle soreness and fatigue. Most pre-workouts typically have around 6 grams of L-citrulline, but it should be noted that the extra 2 grams won’t make a substantial difference here. 

There’s no creatine, but it does have a clinically backed dose of beta-alanine, 3.5 grams, which can also help support strength levels. 

Although there are some artificial fillers, it also contains a number of whole food sources such as turmeric, fruits, vegetables, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms. 

We have not personally tested Huge Supplements Wrecked, but we will update this article when we get our hands on it.  

Price per serving$2.50
Key ingredientsCaffeine, Betaine Anhydrous, Di-Caffeine Malate
Flavors Raspberry Mojito, Bomb Popsicle, Rainbow Burst, Peach Rings

Best Pre-Workout for Men for Beginners: MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

An image of MyProtein THE Pre-Workout in a shaker

Good for: Beginners who have never taken pre-workout before 

Best for Beginners

MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

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

Pros & Cons


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


  • Uses sucralose for flavor

Bottom Line

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

Pre-workout is a supplement you need to ease yourself into, and MyProtein THE Pre-Workout is a great introduction to anyone who’s never taken this supplement before. It only has 150 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly a cup and a half coffee. 

It also has 50 milligrams of theacrine, which is a compound found in some Chinese teas and acts like caffeine in the body, Laila says. 

We also like the fact that it comes with niacin, folic acid, and Vitamin B12 for overall health, immune function, and metabolism. The 4 grams of L-citrulline can also help with blood flow and assist with delivering nutrients to your muscles. 

There’s only 2 grams of creatine, which is under the daily recommended dose of at least 3 grams, and there are some artificial ingredients and sweeteners (again, something that might not matter to some people). 

The Ruby Red Grapefruit flavor is 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.

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

Best Pre-Workout for Men Without Caffeine: Genius Pre 

Good for: Evening gym-goers or those who don’t want caffeine 

No Caffeine

Genius Pre

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free
  • $1.89 per serving
  • 3 flavor options
  • Nootropics for increased alertness

Pros & Cons


  • Clinically dosed ingredients
  • Great for pumps
  • No stimulants or caffeine


  • Only 3 flavor options
  • Some customers say it has a poor taste
  • Only 20 servings per tub

Bottom Line

Genius Pre stimulant-free workout that uses nootropics in place of caffeine to increase energy levels and awareness.

Although Genius Pre doesn’t have caffeine, Laila notes that many of its ingredients can help boost mental awareness and focus without messing with your energy levels. 

It has high levels of L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and adenosine triphosphate, all of which can lead to increased blood flow to the muscles and an improved mind-muscle connection (hence the “Genius” name).

There are a number of nootropics that can support increased focus and alertness, making up for the fact that this is caffeine-free pre-workout, and it has a high dose of amino acids for muscle recovery. 

At about $1.90 per serving, Genius Pre falls in the mid-price range but you can save even more money by putting it on a monthly subscription. 

Tasting notes: I went with the Blue Raspberry flavor and it gives the perfect amount of childhood nostalgia without being overly sweet. I definitely felt the beta-alanine kick and felt more focused after taking it. Would highly recommend it.

Price per serving$1.89
Key ingredients L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and adenosine triphosphate
SpecGrape Limeade, Sour Apple, Blue Raspberry

Best Stim-Free Pre-Workout for Men: Swolverine PRE

Good for: People who don’t want stimulants in their pre-workout 

Stime Free

Swolverine PRE

Product Highlights

  • Natural pre-workout 
  • Over $2 per serving 
  • Active ingredients include citrulline malate, beta-alanine, betaine-anhydrous, l-carnitine 
  • Available in Mango Lemonade flavor

Pros & Cons


  • Ingredient transparency
  • No stimulants
  • Users praise the flavor and consistency


  • Pricey
  • No creatine
  • Only one flavor available

Bottom Line

Swolverine PRE is a natural, stimulant-free pre-workout that although expensive, could be the right choice for you if you are particular about ingredients.

If caffeine and other stimulants give you the jitters, check out Swolverine PRE, a natural supplement that’s more focused on supporting increases in your strength levels and reducing muscular fatigue rather than increasing your energy. 

Laila noted it uses 5 grams of citrulline malate, which supports greater endurance, muscle force, power, and delays muscle fatigue. “Citrulline malate is proven to help promote strength, improve endurance, and optimize muscle recovery by stimulating muscle protein synthesis,” she says. 

Additionally, it contains 1 gram of Siberian ginseng, which can help improve performance, reduce muscle fatigue, and improve mental focus. The 3.2 grams of beta-alanine can also support athletic performance and has been found to reduce the build up of lactic acid in your muscles by increasing your carnosine levels. 

For those looking for natural supplements, Swolverine PRE is all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, and has zero GMOs. Laila also gave it bonus points for not using any proprietary blends, which allows companies to not disclose the exact amount of some compounds used in their products. 

We will update this review when we try out Swolverine PRE. 

Price per serving$2.11
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, Siberian ginseng, beta-alanine
Flavors Mango Lemonade 

Best Pre-Workout for Men Energy Drink: Beyond Raw Lit On-the-Go

Good for: Anyone who prefers their pre-workout drink in cans 

On the Go

Beyond Raw Lit on the Go Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • A pre-workout energy drink sold in ready-to-drink cans
  • Available in 7 flavors
  • Contains a 250-mg dose of caffeine, as well as citrulline, beta-alanine, and arginine

Pros & Cons


  • Good for on-the-go athletes
  • Good flavor selection that is supposedly tasty


  • Doesn’t contain creatine or betaine anhydrous
  • Contains large dose of stimulant, which may not work for some people

Bottom Line

If you’re on the go and looking for a pre-workout supplement, Beyond Raw Lit On the Go could be a good option for you.

For those who don’t want to bother with a shaker bottle, Beyond Raw Lit On-the-Go comes in cans so you can just grab it and chug for your energy boost. 

The convenience isn’t the only reason to consider this energy drink. Laila noted it contains 100 milligrams of a coffee arabica and fruit extract blend called NeuroFactor (BDNF), which has been backed by clinical studies6  for its ability to increase a compound known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and support cognitive function. 

“Some theorize that BDNF production by muscles is the reason why exercise supports brain function in aging,” Laila says. 

There are also 3.2 grams of carnosyn beta-alanine to delay muscle fatigue and improve athletic performance. 

I’ve tried Beyond Raw Lit On-the-Go and, to be honest, I get it more for convenience than the taste. They use artificial flavors and preservatives in the product and it’s very noticeable when you taste it. 

Price per serving$1.99 per can (12 cans per order) 
Key ingredientsNeuroFactor, carnosyn beta-alanine, caffeine anhydrous 
Flavors Snow Cone, Gummy Worm, Beyond Dew, Jolly Rancher Green Apple, Jolly Rancher Watermelon, Jolly Rancher Blue Raspberry, Jolly Rancher Grape

Best Pre-Workout for Men with Deer Antler Velvet: Bucked Up

Good for: People who are curious about the benefits of deer velvet 

Best with Deer Antler Velvet

Bucked Up Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • Pre-workout supplement available in more than 15 flavors
  • Contains research-backed levels of caffeine, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine 
  • Also contains Astra-Gin, which may reduce bloating

Pros & Cons


  • No proprietary blends
  • Lots of flavors to choose from
  • Reasonably priced


  • No creatine, so not ideal for muscle-building
  • Contains stimulants, so may not be ideal for all people

Bottom Line

Bucked Up pre-workout contains research-backed doses of important pre-workout ingredients at a reasonable price with lots of flavor options.

Deer antler velvet7 has become a very popular compound among bodybuilders due to its reported benefits for promoting youthfulness and fertility, supporting blood pressure levels, as well as strength and endurance, Laila says. 

Bucked Up contains 50 milligrams of deer antler velvet extract, which is far less than the clinically recommended dose of around 500 milligrams, but to get the proper amount of the compound you’d have to pay a lot more money.  

The pre-workout comes out to about $1.66 per serving, which is just about average. You’ll get 200 milligrams of caffeine, 6 grams of citrulline, and 2 grams of beta-alanine. 

I will note that, as someone who’s taken this pre-workout in the past, it can hit you pretty hard. Perhaps it’s the addition of deer antler velvet or one of the other compounds, but this is one that will stick with you well until your workout is done. 

There’s an endless list of flavor options, and I’ve found that each of them taste pretty good. Not the best, but they are enjoyable. 

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsDeer antler velvet, caffeine anhydrous, citrulline, beta-alanine 

Best Tasting Pre-Workout for Men: Redcon1 Total War 

Good for: Anyone who wants a good-tasting pre-workout 


RedCon1 Total War Pre-Workout

Product Highlights

  • 20+ flavors
  • $1.43 per serving
  • 320 mg of caffeine
  • No creatine
  • Clinically-dosed ingredients

Pros & Cons


  • 20+ flavors
  • $1.43 per serving
  • No proprietary blends
  • Good-tasting flavors
  • Mixes well


  • 320 mg of caffeine may be a bit much for some
  • Uses artificial ingredients
  • No creatine (may not be a con for some)

Bottom Line

RedCon1 Total War is a good-tasting pre-workout that comes in more than two dozen flavors, all with clinically dosed ingredients to help boost energy and strength levels.

Redcon1 Total War comes in more than two dozen flavors, and while I haven’t tried all of them, the ones I have used all taste incredible. Right now, I’m on a tub of their limited-edition Star Wars flavor (the Light Side edition), which is an arctic frost flavor similar to those rocket ice pops you used to get from the ice cream truck as a child (aka, it’s really yummy). 

The fun and tasty flavors, though, should be taken with a word of caution as each scoop gives you a total of 320 milligrams of caffeine—250 milligrams from caffeine anhydrous, 100 milligrams from di-caffeine malate, 45 from green tea, and 150 juniper. 

It has 3.2 grams of beta-alanine to reduce muscle fatigue and increase athletic performance, and 6 grams of citrulline malate for increased blood flow, reduced muscle soreness, and increased stamina. 

Price per serving$1.43
Key ingredients Caffeine anhydrous, di-caffeine malate, beta-alanine, citrulline malate 

How We Picked and Tested the Best Pre-Workout for Men 

With literally hundreds of pre-workouts on the market, narrowing our list for the best pre-workout supplements for men down to 14 proved to be an exhausting task. Here are a few of the criteria we used to make our decision. 

  • Ingredients: We wanted to make sure key compounds like caffeine, creatine, citrulline, beta-alanine, and others were present in research-backed amounts, and if one of those were missing, we checked to see if other compounds were present to help with things like strength or mental awareness. 
  • Flavors: Were there a variety of flavors to pick from and did they taste good? 
  • Cost: What was the price per serving? 
  • Mixability: Did the pre-workout mix well when shaken with water in a shaker bottle? 

Pre-Workout Ingredients 

Laila shared her thoughts on a number of ingredients commonly found in pre-workouts, and her take on their benefits. 

  • L-citrulline malate: Citrulline malate, according to this study8, can help increase blood flow and boost nitric oxide levels, which can alleviate muscle soreness and delay fatigue. The study also found it increased athletic performance and stamina.
  • Beta-alanine: A study9 found that beta-alanine can enhance athletic performance by blocking lactic acid build-up in the muscles by increasing the amount of carnosine. 
  • Creatine monohydrate: There are hundreds of scientific studies proving creatine’s benefits for power, strength, and endurance. This particular study5 showed that creatine monohydrate increased bodybuilders’ fat-free mass by an average of 2 kilograms in eight weeks.
  • Betaine anhydrous: Betanine anhydrous, according to this clinical trial,10 can support protein synthesis and lead to greater strength and muscle gains.
  • L-arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate: This non-essential amino acid can help boost nitric oxide production and lead to increased strength and power output, according to this study11.
  • Caffeine anhydrous: A dehydrated form of caffeine that makes you more alert and can help increase your power and cardiovascular endurance. One study12 found that it led to better performance during resistance training when taken just before hitting the gym.
  • Taurine: Taurine supplementation, according to this study,13 can help decrease fatigue and recovery time, and increase muscle contraction.
  • L-tyrosine: This compound has been linked to14 improved mood and motivation, improved endurance, and more alertness.
  • Dynamine: Similar to caffeine, Dynamine can increase alertness and energy levels and also increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles. 
  • Coconut water powder: Coconut water is filled with electrolytes, which can ensure you stay hydrated during high-intensity workouts.
  • Bioperine: Bioperine has been shown to15 have anti-inflammatory effects, and some studies16 show that it can increase other minerals’ bioavailability.  
  • DMAE and Huperzine: DMAE can help increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which increases focus and alertness, while huperzine delays the breakdown of it.

Benefits of Pre-Workout

If you’re wondering if taking pre-workout powder is right for you, here are some of the benefits to taking a scoop before your next training session. 

Increased Energy

While caffeine isn’t the only compound present in pre-workouts, it is one of the most notorious. The increased energy not only helps you get through your workout, but it’s also been linked to increased muscle strength and stamina, and compounds like citrulline are used to support increased blood flow to muscles for improved performance and endurance. 

Increased Muscle Strength

Pre-workouts often contain ingredients shown to support increased muscle strength and performance, like creatine and beta-alanine, and additionally can help with recovery.  

Improved Cognition

Caffeine, in addition to things like nootropics, can help with what’s known as the mind-muscle connection, or the brain’s ability to be aware of the stimulus being placed on the muscles being trained. They can also make you more alert and in tune with your body, which can reduce the risk of injury during training. 

What to Look for in a Pre-Workout for Men

Not sure which of our pre-workout products is best for you? Here’s how to narrow it down. 

Scan for Important Active Ingredients 

Effective pre-workouts can contain citrulline and beta-alanine, as well as caffeine and creatine, which have all been shown to support increased performance. 

Stay Clear of Proprietary Blends

Some companies use proprietary blends to disguise how much of a certain ingredient is present in their supplement, which most of the time means they’re underdosing things like beta-alanine or creatine. 

Athlete? Check Twice 

Some ingredients used in pre-workouts may be banned by certain sports federations or committees due to their performance-enhancing effects. Some companies offer third-party testing to ensure their dietary supplements are clear of banned substances, though that’s not always the case. Look for the Informed Choice, NSF, or BSCG logos on the container to ensure you’re in the clear.

Best Pre-Workout for Men FAQs

What is considered the best pre-workout? 

With hundreds of pre-workouts on the market, it’s hard to pick the absolute best, but we have our personal favorites: 

Best Overall: Kaged Pre-Kaged
Best Budget: Cellucor C4
Best Natural:  Legion Pulse
Best for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs Lean
Best for Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs BULK
Best for Pumps: Gorilla Mode
Best with Creatine: Blackwolf
Best High-Caffeine: Huge Supplements Wrecked
Best for Beginners: MyProtein THE Pre-Workout
Best without Caffeine: Genius Pre
Best Stim-free: Swolverine PRE
Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink: Beyond Raw Lit On-the-Go
Best with Deer Velvet: Bucked Up
Best Tasting: Redcon1 Total War

What is the healthiest pre-workout brand? 

It depends on what your definition of “healthiest” is. Our pick for the best natural pre-workout for men is Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout, but if you’re looking for something without caffeine, we recommend Genius Pre or Swolverine PRE.

Is pre-workout OK to take every day? 

That depends. If you’re taking a pre-workout that has no caffeine, it’s likely OK to take every day. If, however, you’re taking one with caffeine, you’ll just have to make sure you don’t overdose on caffeine throughout the day (that includes however many cups of coffee you have in addition to your pre-workout) or develop a tolerance. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends most adults keep their caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams per day. If you are taking a stimulant-containing pre-workout, it’s recommended that you cycle off of it for six to eight weeks every few months to give your body a break.

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.


  1. SkyQuest Technology Consulting Pvt. Ltd. (2022, June 7). Global pre-workout supplements market size to reach USD 28.68 billion by 2028 with growing fitness enthusiasts and gym-goers – skyquest technology. GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved December 7, 2023
  2. Duncan MJ, Smith M, Cook K, James RS. The acute effect of a caffeine-containing energy drink on mood state, readiness to invest effort, and resistance exercise to failure. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(10):2858-2865. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318241e124
  3. Meeusen R, Roelands B, Spriet LL. Caffeine, exercise and the brain. Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2013;76:1-12. doi:10.1159/000350223
  4. Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10:36. Published 2013 Aug 6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
  5. Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10:36. Published 2013 Aug 6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
  6. Robinson JL, Yanes JA, Reid MA, et al. Neurophysiological Effects of Whole Coffee Cherry Extract in Older Adults with Subjective Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Pilot Study. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021;10(2):144. Published 2021 Jan 20. doi:10.3390/antiox10020144
  7. Sleivert G, Burke V, Palmer C, et al. The effects of deer antler velvet extract or powder supplementation on aerobic power, erythropoiesis, and muscular strength and endurance characteristics. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003;13(3):251-265. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.13.3.251
  8. Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(5):1215-1222. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0
  9. Hobson RM, Harris RC, Martin D, et al. Effect of beta-alanine, with and without sodium bicarbonate, on 2000-m rowing performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013;23(5):480-487. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.23.5.480
  10. Trepanowski JF, Farney TM, McCarthy CG, Schilling BK, Craig SA, Bloomer RJ. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(12):3461-3471. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318217d48d
  11. Yavuz HU, Turnagol H, Demirel AH. Pre-exercise arginine supplementation increases time to exhaustion in elite male wrestlers. Biol Sport. 2014;31(3):187-191. doi:10.5604/20831862.1111436
  12. Richardson DL, Clarke ND. Effect of Coffee and Caffeine Ingestion on Resistance Exercise Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(10):2892-2900. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001382
  13. Balshaw TG, Bampouras TM, Barry TJ, Sparks SA. The effect of acute taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance runners. Amino Acids. 2013;44(2):555-561. doi:10.1007/s00726-012-1372-1
  14. Young SN. L-tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress?. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007;32(3):224.
  15. Derosa G, Maffioli P, Sahebkar A. Piperine and Its Role in Chronic Diseases. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;928:173-184. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-41334-1_8
  16. Research highlights. BioPerine®. (2021, September 11). Retrieved December 7, 2023

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