Best Pre Workout Supplements

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By Leslie Waterson

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

Best Pre Workout Supplements

Pre workout supplements come in a wide variety of ingredient profiles and flavors to choose from. You can find some with extra stimulants to boost the caffeine rush, or even find products with no caffeine at all. The point of these supplements is to give you the performance enhancement needed to push you through an intense workout. With so many pre workout supplements out there, from Total War to Ghost Legend, how do you know which is right for you?

Supplements for workout

What Are Pre Workout Supplements?

Pre workout means that you consume the product prior to training, which is normally 20-30 minutes so the ingredients have time for digestion. No pre workout supplement is the same, and there are hundreds of different products to choose from. 

Any supplement intended for this energy rush will contain a caffeine base with extra ingredients to enhance blood flow (muscle pumps), focus, endurance, and even strength. Caffeine alone has even been found to improve strength and endurance, and is not just for an hour of energy.

Workout powder

Pre Workout Supplement Ingredients

There are far too many to cover every single ingredient use, but you can at least get an idea for what is commonly used. Some ingredients added to pre workouts have good results when the right dosage is given, and other products have too much energy boosting that your heart may not be too happy. 

Caffeine And Stimulants

Forms of caffeine are: Anhydrous, Di-Caffeine Malate, Microencapsulated Caffeine.

These 3 are the most used, or you may just see the product simply say caffeine on it. Caffeine anhydrous is the science term used to show “without water”. Basically, this is the general form used to enhance your energy levels and focus.

Di-Caffeine Malate helps reduce the fatigue and crashing effects following the energy rush, and is often added alongside anhydrous to reduce the costs of only using this form. Microencapsulated means the caffeine is slow released, which helps add energy toward the end of the workout.

Caffeine provided within pre workout supplements will range from 150-350mg. Those around the lower end commonly have di-caffeine malate or time released caffeine. Make sure to read the entire caffeine amount before assuming it only has 150mg.

Other stimulants are extra ingredients used to increase your energy beyond that of just caffeine, which reduces your body from early fatigue. 

Extra stimulants are yohimbine, theacrine (or Teacrine), theobromine, and bitter orange extract. Teacrine and theobromine have similar effects to caffeine, but without raising your blood pressure.

DMAA was a widely used stimulant that caused several heart attacks, and has been banned but can be found under other names.

Mental Focus

Ingredients added into supplements are often used as the focus portion. Focus also is the ability for the ingredient to possibly hinder the mental fatigue associated with intense workouts. 

This is where some get tunnel vision and focus solely on their lifts with little thought of what is happening around them, which can be negative for some if they go beyond workout capacity and get injured.

Ingredients for this purpose are N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Tyrosine, Lions Mane, Choline Bitartrate, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and Huperzine A. 

“Pump” Ingredients

Pump ingredients are basically the ones that improve blood flow to your muscles, and can promote better strength and endurance. The beneficial part to pump ingredients is the ability to recover after a workout with the enhanced blood flow bringing nutrients to the damaged muscles.

Common ingredient forms for this use are: arginine, citrulline, agmatine sulfate, and norvaline.


Creatine is one of the most studied and proven supplements to help improve strength, endurance, and muscle growth. Not all pre workout supplements will contain this these days, although it used to be common practice to always have this inside the product.

Common forms of creatine are monohydrate, hyrdochloride (HCL), and micronized. There really is not a huge difference on the benefits received from each, but the dosage for HCL is half that of monohydrate.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is another ingredient found in most pre workout supplements. You know this is in your product when your skin begins to tingle and possibly itch for a few minutes after consumption. This condition is not dangerous, and will subside after 20-30 minutes max.

The benefit of beta alanine is to act as a buffer for muscles to reduce fatigue during training. Studies have also shown that this ingredient is capable of developing lean muscle more efficiently, and improve muscle endurance. Can be found under the name CarnoSyn as well.

Best Pre Workout Supplements

The following pre workout supplements are the best ones available with an assortment of ingredients. The thing to look out for is proprietary blends. This is when the manufacturer places all the ingredients into one blend to show the amount per serving. Those that do this can be hiding low dosages to fool the buyer.

You should try to always search for products that fully disclose the amount of each ingredient being provided. The main excuse companies use for this practice is to hide their recipe from being reproduced by a competitor.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout

This brand has been around for quite some time, and the pre workout has been also. Over the years it has received some updates to the ingredient profile, but this pre workout is a positive one to consider.

Gold Standard pre workout contains 175mg of caffeine, which is perfect for having just enough caffeine to get you through a workout. The citrulline is micronized with 750mg. This amount could be better around 1.5g instead for optimum use. The beta alanine dosing is good, and AstraGin has been added for better absorption.

Vintage Blast

Vintage Blast

Old School Labs has come out with some great simple products to get the job done, and their pre workout Vintage Blast has a large review base. Over 8k reviews place it with 4.5 stars. Definitely shows that a simple ingredient profile can have great effects.

There is a total of 250mg of caffeine, 100mg is microencapsulated to release for the end of your workout. The 5g’s of citrulline malate is perfect to get the pumps needed for performance and recovery, and there is arginine alpha-ketoglutarate for similar effects. 

The biggest feature being Vintage Blast focuses on energizing the central nervous system without affecting the health of your body.

ProSupps Dr. Jekyll

ProSupps Dr. Jekyll

Not everyone who needs energy desires caffeine to get the heart pumping. Non stimulant supplements are available if you desire the muscle endurance and focus still. ProSupps does offer a caffeine pre workout also.

Creatine, beta alanine, and a quality arginine modified for better nitric oxide boosting. The rest of the ingredients are more based on focus.

Pre JYM Pre Workout Powder

Pre JYM Pre Workout Powder

JYM supplements are a reliable lot to take notice of. The creator is Jim Stoppani, a sports nutrition specialist with a PhD. He is pretty well known amongst the bodybuilding community, and has a well-rounded pre workout for you to consider.

You get a large caffeine anhydrous dosing of 300mg, which definitely places this as a high stim pre workout. There are 6g of citrulline malate, and an assortment of other ingredients that support focus and endurance. Bioperine is added to absorb better. 

The previous version of JYM got lots of outcry about the proprietary blend it formerly had. Over time they removed this to show all ingredients.

Final Thoughts

There are tons of pre workouts out on the market, and now you know our top picks. Use this list of best pre workout supplements and find the one that will get you fired up!

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Leslie Waterson

Leslie has been passionately involved in the health and fitness industries for over a decade. She is constantly reviewing the latest scientific research and studies in order to take a research-backed approach to lifestyle optimization. Her main areas of interest include nutrition and supplementation. Leslie shares her findings on Fitness Clone to help other health enthusiasts choose the products and routines that will help them achieve their goals.