Choosing the Best Pre-Workout Supplements – Top 10 Brands

Best Pre Workout Supplement Brands

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If you’re into fitness at all, then you’ve no doubt heard about pre-workout supplements. With all the noise in the health industry, it can be hard to sort through what’s good and what’s bad.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly what pre-workout supplements are and how best to use them, along with our recommendation for the 10 best pre-workout supplement options.

Skip Ahead to the Best Pre-Workout Products

Starting Off

Training can be an invigorating and rewarding experience, however it takes energy and motivation to get started and to continue to train at a high level. Even the strongest and most seasoned lifters have off-days and need an extra kick to get them going.

Enter pre-workout supplements, a supplement that is often taken just prior to a workout to improve energy and alertness for an improved workout. Pre-workout supplements can be powerful additions to a training program that help to push us through difficult workouts, fatigue, and can help us find the motivation to train hard after a stressful day, as explained in a study Nutrition and Metabolism.

What are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements typically contain a variety of ingredients that are designed to increase our mental alertness, improve blood flow, and active our central nervous system to improve our neuromuscular state and speed.

Most pre-workout supplements tend to come in powder form and are meant to be mixed with water, a sports drink or some other liquid, however there are alternatives as well in bar or snack form. Powders tend to work most effectively due to their quicker absorption into the blood stream.

These supplements have been used in some form or another for years, and people have been using similar forms of supplements for much longer, for example drinking coffee prior to a task that requires a high degree of mental focus. Such supplements are typically used by more regimented or serious fitness users such as body builders, power lifters and athletes and they pair well with heavy resistance training, however the average or novice fitness enthusiast can also benefit from them in moderate doses and it can be effective with interval or aerobic training as well.

It can be used by both males and females, though it is typically not recommended for youth athletes.

Common Ingredients, Classifications and Side Effects

Pre-workout supplements are generally designed to increase both energy and muscular performance during a training session. While this can be done with one ingredient, most pre-workout supplements, and certainly the most effective ones, tend to use a well-tuned mix of ingredients.

Stim vs Stim-Free

One of the primary distinctions in ingredients is whether a pre-workout supplement falls under the classification of stim or non-stim.

“Stim” refers to a stimulant-based supplement that contains caffeine or other ingredients that are considered stimulants, a category for compounds that stimulate the brain and nervous system.

“Non-stim” supplements may have other ingredients designed to improve muscular performance such as creatine or BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) but does not have any stimulants. As a generality, the stim supplements tend to be more effective, and certainly deliver a better energy kick.

Most Common Ingredients

The ingredients in pre-workout supplements can be summarized into three primary categories, creatine, amino acids, and stimulants.

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance often found in beef and is a well-documented supplement for improving muscle growth and power.

Amino acids are diverse and include branched chain amino acids, taurine, beta-alanine, and tyrosine to name a few. Amino acids have varying effects and benefits such as improving muscle recovery, fluid retention and movement through the body, augmenting training volume and improving power performance, and even decreasing stress.

Stimulants are usually caffeine-oriented though beta-alanine can also be classified as a stimulant to a certain extent.

Precautions

Side effects from pre-workout supplements are mild as long the recommended dosage is followed. That is a critical component of using pre-workout supplements effectively, the recommended dosage is what must be consumed, over-reaching for more can have much worse side effects.

In addition, long term you will see your best results by periodically cycling off of pre-workout supplement usage in order for them to maintain their effectiveness. An example might be using them for a 12-week training program, then de-loading and cycling off of pre-workout supplements for 6-8 weeks.

Side effects from pre-workout supplements may include tingling of the skin, dehydration, an upset stomach or elevated heart rate. Most of these side effects tend to occur as a result of the stimulants involved in pre-workout supplements, thus the reason the recommended dosage is crucial.

In addition, deconditioned individuals or those with a previous cardiovascular issue such as high blood pressure should consult with a professional before taking the supplements as it may increase their heart rate. Overall, pre-workout supplements are generally considered safe and effective as long as the recommended guidelines and dosages are followed.

How & When To Take Pre-Workout Supplements

Mostly these supplements are available in powdered form and need to be mixed with milk or water for consumption. They are also available in forms of pre-made drinks, pills or bars providing similar results and containing active ingredients.

Maintain a gap between consumption and workout

Pre-workout supplements are designed to provide a short-term, temporary, boost in energy levels and support better athletic performance. Hence, it is always advised to take them before exercising. For regular intakes, people should only consume these supplements at least 20 to 45 minutes before their workout.

Follow the dosage instructions

Additionally, every product comes with detailed instructions regarding its intake. One should never be consuming the supplement more than the advised dosage. For the newbies, it is best to start with half the dosage and closely observe the reaction it has on the body.

Mix them well

Mostly available in powdered form, it is highly important that you mix them well with water or other preferred liquid in a shaker bottle. Mixing well ensures that the dosage is mixed evenly and consumed in the right proportion.

Read the Instructions

Before you select any pre-workout supplement, ensure that you are reading the instructions printed on the label. It not only gives an idea about the composition, but also lets you understand if it is the product that you are searching.

What to Look For in a Quality Pre-Workout Supplement

When choosing a pre-workout supplement there are a variety of factors to take into account. Your personal preferences will play a major part in finding the right selection for you, for example if you prefer a powdered option you can mix with a drink or an edible option like an energy bar.

Your Goals

Some pre-workout supplements will skew towards a specific demographic or training goal, such as gaining mass or losing weight; your personal goals will need to align with the stated purpose of the product in order to see the best results.

Ingredients used

The type and quality of ingredients used to manufacture a product are directly proportional to the quality of results it delivers. Hence, it should be a priority to check for products that are made using quality ingredients.

Taste of the Supplement

Flavor is of course important and not all pre-workout supplements are particularly tasty, you’ll want to search for an option with a flavor you generally like to make the supplement more palatable and easier to use.

It is always a good idea to select a product that tastes good and mixes well. Doing this will make it easy for you to consume the supplement on a regular basis. Checking out customer reviews will help in understanding its taste and mixability.

Brand Reputation

The value of a brand certainly matters and it will always play a role when selecting a particular product. Hence, going for a product from a well-known brand is always a better option when people are looking for a quality product.

Affordability & Value

Finally, price and budget are a factor as well. When cross-referenced with your other needs, the best option will need to fit into your budget, and while you generally may get what you pay for, there are some very effective pre-workout supplements that won’t break the bank.

Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended pre-workout supplements. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10, and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a pre-workout supplement. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!

10.) JYM Pre-JYM

jym-pre-jym-preworkout

Pre-JYM is an all-in-one formula developed by PhD Jim Stoppani. This advanced formula is designed for optimizing your workout for better results from each training session.

Product Highlights:

  • Transparent ingredients and dosage listing.
  • Contains a well-rounded blend of ingredients.
  • Has a lower stimulant base than other alternatives making it a good choice for beginners or those with sensitivity to extreme stimulant content.
  • A premium blend thus it is more expensive than most.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 6g citrulline malate
  • 6g BCAA’s
  • 5g betaine
  • 2g creatine HCL
  • 2g CarnoSyn brand beta-alanine
  • 300mg caffeine

Company Profile:

JYM Supplement Science produces Pre-JYM, and is a newcomer to the supplement field but is rapidly growing. It is owned and operated by a licensed PhD making their approach very scientifically based and they offer clinically proven ingredients to make quality products.

Why We Like It:

Pre-JYM is one of the highest-quality and scientifically backed products available, and it offers a very balanced blend that is ideal for improving athletic performance. It is one of the most expensive options on the list and thus in terms of value it is lower, but it is very effective and scientifically sound.

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9.) Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum-Nutrition-Gold-Standard-Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition is a well-known supplement brand that offers a simple yet effective pre-workout boost with proven ingredients and respectable brand name that delivers safety and quality.

Product Highlights:

  • Banned-substance free, making it a great choice for athletes.
  • Includes all details on ingredients and dosages for transparency.
  • Offers a well-balanced blend of pre-workout staples such as creatine, amino acids and caffeine.
  • May deliver a less-extreme boost of energy as compared to other products, but is a safe and reputable brand.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 5g Carnosyn brand beta-alanine
  • 5g L-citrulline malate
  • 3g Creapure brand creatine monohydrate
  • 375mg carnitine HCI
  • 175mg caffeine

Company Profile:

Gold Standard is produced by Optimum Nutrition, which is a staple in the sport nutrition industry and one of the biggest and well-known brands. They are best known for their protein powder but have developed effective products for a variety of needs for years.

Why We Like It:

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a great choice for a mild and well-balanced product that is safe for beginners and for athletes as they specifically state that they are banned substance free. It may produce a less extreme effect than other products but is a safe all-around choice.

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8.) Rich Piana’s 5% Nutrition Kill It

Rich-Pianas-5-Nutrition-Kill-It

The 5% Nutrition Kill It product featres the intensity well-known from its founder Rich Piana, a well-known fitness legend; it is designed to give you a powerful energy boost for you to kill your workout.

Product Highlights:

  • Boasts pre-workout staples such as creatine, amino acids and caffeine.
  • Includes an emphasis on hydration by including coconut water concentrate, negating some of the dehydration effects that can be seen from pre-workout usage.
  • Offers 4 different tasty flavors.
  • One of the more premium, and thus expensive, products.

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact amounts for all ingredients not listed)

  • 7,450mg nitric oxide/endurance blend, including citrulline malate, beta-alanine, tyrosine and caffeine (250mg)
  • 1,500mg creatine blend with magnesium creatine chelate, tri-creatine malate, and creatine pyruvate.

Company Profile:

5% Nutrition Kill It is produced by 5% Nutrition which is owned by fitness legend Rich Piana. They specialize in creating and developing supplements for many different fitness goals. Their company is built around the principle of helping clients and customers become part of the 5% of the world that strives to be the best they can be.

Why We Like It:

5% Nutrition Kill It is a solid all-around product that delivers a potent boost of energy for any workout, particularly for men. It offers a great all-around blend of ingredients and its extra emphasis on hydration can make it a great choice for anyone looking to improve performance in the gym.

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7.) BPI Sports 1.M.R. Vortex

BPI-Sports-1MR-Vortex

1.M.R. Vortex is a pre-workout supplement that features a unique blend for enhancing workouts and features a variety of ingredients that are not in traditional pre-workout supplement options, making it a great choice for anyone looking to switch things up from traditional pre-workout options.

Product Highlights:

  • One of the more affordable options on the market.
  • Its proprietary blend includes 3 unique compounds for boosting workouts.
  • Has 5 powerful ingredients not ordinarily found in pre-workout products.
  • Very stimulant based though not as strong for muscular development.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • One serving contains their unique 1,705mg proprietary blend, which consists of 4 primary ingredients, though individual amounts are not specified:
    • Securinega suffruticosa
    • Caffeine anhydrous
    • Yohimbe
    • Indigofera pulchra

Company Profile:

BPI Sports is the primary manufacturer of 1.M.R. Vortex. They are relative newcomers to the market having started in 2010, but have developed a loyal following based on their unique products.

Why We Like It:

1.M.R. Vortex is a great choice for an affordable pre-workout supplement, especially if the stimulant aspect of pre-workout supplements is important for your goals.

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6.) ENGN Pre-Workout

Engn Pre Workout

ENGN Pre-Workout from Evlution Nutrition is a new brand on the market, and its focus is unique in that it strives to deliver energy but more specifically to deliver endurance and to delay muscle fatigue so that muscles can work longer, and harder, making it a great choice for more aerobic or long-form training.

Product Highlights:

  • Contains classic pre-workout staples including creatine, amino acids and caffeine.
  • Also blends in vitamins such as niacin, B12 and B6.
  • Has good flavor options and offers great value.
  • Was named the Breakout Brand of the Year by bodybuilding.com

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact quantities not listed)

  • 2,213mg ENGN Mind-to-Muscle Matrix, including betaine anhydrous, choline bitartrate, tyrosine and caffeine anhydrous.
  • 2,000mg Creatine Complex consisting of creatine monohydrate and magnesium creatine chelate.
  • 1,600mg Carnosyn brand beta–alanine

Company Profile:

ENGN is produced by Evlution Nutrition, a new company founded by former BMX pro Mike Spinner in 2013. Their goal is a bit more holistic in nature as compared to some of the stronger pre-workout supplements, hoping to enhance the lives of their customers by helping them reach their fitness goals.

Why We Like It:

ENGN Pre-Workout is a quality product with a great value, its emphasis on delaying muscle fatigue makes it an ideal choice for fitness enthusiasts more interested in longer form or aerobic goals, such as mountain biking, rock climbing or interval training.

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5.) Pro Supps Mr. Hyde

Pro Supps Mr. Hyde

Mr. Hyde, courtesy of Pro Supps, is designed to deliver a powerful energy boost and is one of the stronger products on the list. It is developed with the concept of delivering a great pump for your workout and is a high-stimulant product for extreme energy.

Product Highlights:

  • Has a potent stimulant blend featuring caffeine, yohimbe and pikatropin.
  • Includes a thermogenic compound for added energy and pump.
  • Deliver creatine hydrochloride in each serving.
  • Offers up to 6 different flavors.
  • Very strong energy mix is ideal for those in need of extreme energy, not ideal for beginners.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 5,000mg Strength Matrix, featuring:
    • 5g beta-alanine
    • 1g Creatine Hydrochloride
    • 500mg L-leucine
    • 500mg agmatine sulfate
  • 419mg Caffeine Matrix including:
    • 300mg caffeine anhydrous
    • 69mg dicaffeine malate
    • 50mg caffeine citrate
  • 154mg Intensity Matrix
    • 50mg pikatropin
    • 50mg tyramine
    • 50mg hordenine
    • 2mg yohimbe bark extract

Company Profile:

Pro Supps, the maker of Mr. Hyde, makes a variety of supplements and sports nutrition products, though their strongest line is pre-workout supplements. They pride themselves on creating effective yet affordable products.

Why We Like It:

Mr. Hyde is a great product for delivering a strong energy boost and pump at the gym. It is not well-suited for beginners or anyone sensitive to caffeine, nor is it a great option if you prefer to work out at night, however for the experienced lifter or someone in need of a boost it is a good option.

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4.) Cellucor C4

Cellucor C4

C4 is a classic and well-known brand in the world of pre-workout supplements. C4 Extreme Energy is the latest in their product line, it contains the same ingredients and blends as the classic with some new improvements.

Product Highlights:

  • Provides a powerful energy boost and high-stimulation to kick start your workout.
  • Contains a good amount of creatine and amino acids to promote muscle growth and recovery.
  • Also boasts an impressive blend of supplemental vitamins such as vitamin C, B6, B12 and more.
  • Still offers the classic flavors such as cherry limade and icy blue razz.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • C4 Extreme Energy Blend, 831mg
    • 300mg Caffeine, TeaCrine, Creatine Nitrate
  • 2 g beta-alanine
  • 1g creatine nitrate
  • 1g arginine

Company Profile:

C4 is part of Cellucor, a well-known and long-standing supplement and sport nutrition company that has been operating since 2002. They are best known for their pre-workout supplements like C4, however they have other products as well and use proven ingredients blended by industry professionals.

Why We Like It:

C4 i a classic and has been one of the most popular pre-workout supplements for years, it delivers a great energy boost and uses creatine nitrate rather monohydrate as one of its differentiators; the high caffeine blend count can be a bit rattling for novices or those more sensitive to stimulants, but it can certainly deliver a great deal of energy for a great workout.

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3.) Betancourt Bullnox Androrush

Betancourt Bullnox Androrush

Bullnox Androrush or B-NOX for short, is a pre-workout supplement courtesy of Betancourt nutrition. It is a powerful blend with standard pre-workout ingredients including BCAA’s, amino acids and creatine. What makes B-NOX unique from other products in this list is its emphasis and additional ingredients that help with boosting testosterone. This makes it a great pre-workout supplement, especially for males, to improve energy and motivation in your next workout.

Product Highlights:

  • Testosterone boosting blend in addition to traditional pre-workout supplement ingredients.
  • Powerful energy blend.
  • Has more active ingredients than most pre-workout supplements, making for a more potent boost.
  • Has a wide variety of flavors and tends to mix well with water.
  • Primarily for men, this product is not ideal for women or youth due to its emphasis on testosterone boosting.

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact ingredient amounts not specified)

  • Strength and endurance blend of creatine, beta-alanine, taurine and others.
  • Nitric oxide blend with tyrosine, arginine, creatine AKG, and beetroot among others.
  • Endocrine ignition blend featuring zinc oxide, tribulus terrestris extract, horny goat weed extract, and more.
  • Neural energy blend featuring caffeine anhydrous and tyrosine.
  • Anabolic solidification blend featuring glutamine, valine, isoleucine.

Company Profile:

Betancourt nutrition is founded by Jorge Betancourt, and is a recent entrant to the market for sports nutrition and supplementation. Their focus is on using traditional ingredients and formulas and combining and improving them with updated formulas and additions.

Why We Like It:

B-NOX is a great choice for experienced lifters and men who need an extra boost of power in the gym. It’s added testosterone boost does not make it a great choice for women, youth or beginners, but for the seasoned lifter looking for an edge or struggling to break through a plateau it can be a powerful addition to their nutrition program.

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2.) 4 Gauge Pre-Workout

4-gauge-pre-workout-supplement

4 Gauge is a unique product in the pre-workout supplement category, as it offers all natural energy with a much lower caffeine and stimulant base than other products, offering energy without the jitters and frenetic feeling that can be accompanied from higher-stim oriented products.

Product Highlights:

  • High quality product that adheres to FDA guidelines, ensuring high quality production.
  • Delivers a solid energy boost and increased focus and mental acuity.
  • Low caffeine and no artificial flavors or sweeteners.
  • Minimal calories so that it adds energy without adding extra bulk or body fat.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 6,000 mg Citrulline Malate
  • 1,000mg Creatine Monohydrate
  • 500mg Acetly L-Carnitine
  • 300mg Red Beetroot Extract
  • 300mg Coconut Water Powder
  • 200mg L-Theanine
  • 150mg Caffeine
  • 100mg Rhodiola Rosea

Company Profile:

4 Gauge is produced by Roar Ambition, based in the UK. They tend to offer premium and high-quality products, ideally for those looking for the latest innovations in supplementation. They are open and transparent with their ingredients and blends so you know exactly what you’re getting with each product. They only sell their products directly through their website to provide the best price and direct customer support, however this is a limitation as they cannot be found on third party sites such as Amazon.

Why We Like It:

4 Gauge is an excellent choice for someone who is looking for an extra boost of energy without adding mass or bulk, and just as importantly it is a great choice for someone looking to improve their workout and energy without a huge amount of caffeine or stimulants. This is ideal for people who prefer to work out in the evening or may be especially sensitive to caffeine. It also boasts a very clean and natural ingredient list for those looking for a more organic or natural supplement.

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1.) Transparent Labs PreSeries BULK

transparent-labs-PreSeries-BULK-Pre-Workout

The PreSeries BULK product is an excellent pre-workout choice for those looking to add mass and bulk up as well as inject their workouts with a powerful energy boost. In addition, Transparent labs prides itself on being completely transparent with their product formula and not using any artificial flavors or dyes.

Product Highlights:

  • Specially made for adding muss and bulking.
  • Has a wide variety of beneficial ingredients, with 20 active ingredients.
  • Packed with amino acids such as BCAA’s and Beta-Alanine.
  • Has zero contaminants or artificial additives like dyes, sweeteners or sugars.

Key Ingredients: (per 1 serving)

  • 180mg caffeine anhydrous
  • 600mg tyrosine
  • 6g citrulline malate
  • 4g beta-alanine
  • 4g BCAA (2:1:1 ratio)
  • 4g betaine anhydrous
  • 3g taurine

Company Profile:

Transparent labs is the manufacturer of PreSeries BULK. They pride themselves on delivering honest and straightforward products based on science and research rather than marketing gimmicks or false claims. They aim with all of their products to deliver high quality products without any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners, or unnecessary fillers. They also are completely transparent with their products in that they list all of their specific dosages and all ingredients used in the product.

Why We Like It:

We like this product because of its potent blend of quality ingredients. We also feel that the Transparent brand delivers quality by focusing on the scientifically sound principles and ingredients and removing any artificial fillers of any kind. If you are looking to add bulk or mass, we feel that the Transparent labs PreSeries BULK is the ideal fit.

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