- Pre-Workout Energy Supplements
- Performix Ion shows us why you can’t always judge a book by its cover
- 10 Best Pre-Workout Products Compared
- Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout Supplements
- What Is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
- What Are the Ingredients Used in Pre-Workout Products?
- What Is the Difference Between Stim Pre-Workout vs Stim-Free Pre-Workout?
- What Are the Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements?
- Who Can Benefit from Using a Pre-Workout Supplement?
- How Do I Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?
- Are There Any Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements?
- How Do I Pick a Good Pre-Workout Product?
- Pre Workout – Best Top Selling Pre Workout Energy Product, Supplement, Vitamins, Health & Wellness Product at Our Sports Nutrition Warehouse in Australia
- Top pre-workout supplements to get you primed for your workout
- 1. Prioritize getting enough good quality sleep.
- 2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- 3. Grab a snack.
- 4. Make sure you’re wearing the right clothes and footwear for the workout you’re doing.
- 5. Work in a dynamic warm-up.
- What Is Pre-workout?
- What’s in My Pre-workout and Is It Safe?
- What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Look Out For?
- What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Avoid?
- When Should I Take Pre-workout?
- The Pros and Cons of Taking Pre-workout
- Your One-stop Supplement Guide
- Natural Pre-workouts
- Is Pre-Workout Bad For You? This Is What The Supplement Is Really Doing To Your Body
- Pre-Workout Drinks: Are They Really Bad for You?
Pre-Workout Energy Supplements
One of my most frequently asked questions is about whether I recommend taking pre-workout supplements.
If you aren’t familiar with pre-workout, it’s an energy supplement designed to give you a huge energy boost during your workout. Pre-workout is a powder substance that is formulated with specific ingredients to increase your energy, your heart rate, blood flow, endurance, strength and improved focus during your workout. I will discuss the pros and cons of taking pre-workout, as well as my personal experience and recommendation.
A few of the main ingredients that make up an effective pre-workout supplement are:
The most popular and well-known stimulant, caffeine, has been proven to increase energy levels and improve endurance for short periods of time. Since caffeine is widely used by many, those who are already accustomed to a regular intake of caffeine may need a slightly larger dose as their tolerance grows.
Recommended Dosage: 200-500mg. Do not exceed more than 600mg per day
BCAA are Branched-Chain Amino Acids which are the building blocks for your body. They make up 35% of your muscles and are required for molecular growth, regulating protein metabolism and protein synethsis, and they assist in preventing protein breakdown. Essentially, BCAA help to protect your muscles and prevent your body from turning to muscle as an energy source. (You want only fat to be your energy source).
Recommended Dosage: 3-5g in pre-workout, 10-15g total through the day, or up to 20g if you are an athlete.
This will help you keep the intensity up throughout your workout and is what will help you get through those last, and most important reps. Beta-Alanine is also where that “tingling” sensation comes from that many report feeling after taking pre-workout. This is called “parethesia” and different people may feel it to different degrees depending on their stimulant tolerance level.
Recommended Dosage: 1.5-5g
4. Vitamin B12
Its basic purpose is for proper metabolism function, for forming red blood cells, and also keeps your nervous system healthy, reducing depression and stress; all of these are assisted by a proper amount of vitamin B12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and some varieties of fish, so those following a plant-based diet need to supplement their diet with Vitamin B12 when removing these food sources. However, in the context of improving athletic ability, you need them in an even higher amount, more than what you can get from food, so many pre-workout brands add vitamin B12 to their formulas. The benefits of additional vitamin B12 in your diet for athletic purposes are: increased endurace, improved recovery rates, improved immune system and improved energy levels.
Recommended Dosage: 500mcg per serving
5. Creatine Monohydrate (optional)
I am including creatine here because it IS a common pre-workout ingredient and you may want it, or you may not, depending on your workout routine and your goals. Creatine is most commonly thought of as a supplement for men, but it’s not just for men. As I mentioned, it depends on your goals. Creatine is what will help assist you in powering through lower rep, higher weight workouts. It saturates your muscles and creates what is commonly referred to as “a pump”. A pump is when your muscles swell up during your workout, but then go back to normal afterwards. Often times, you see people taking selfies, flexing during or after their workout when they have this “pump”, but then their muscles go back to their normal, relaxed state post-workout. (Guilty! :P)
Recommended Dosage: No more than 5g.
*There are other ingredients pre-workout will contain, these are just 5 of the most popular / common ingredients.
When should you take pre-workout? Most labels say 30 minutes before but I believe that’s way too long. I recommend taking it no sooner than 10 minutes before you start your warm-up or workout. The reason being: if you take it 30 minutes before, or say if you’re in traffic and on your way to the gym; that tingling feeling can kick in and if you’re not moving (exercising), it can start to get painful. I don’t want that to deter you from trying it, you just need to know not to take it too early. Personally, I will take pre-workout right when I’ve parked at the gym.
Additionally, I would be aware of the timing you take pre-workout in relation to when you go to bed. I found if I take pre-workout after 5-6pm, it will impact my sleep and keep me awake, so I will take it only before that time of day. If you do work out later in the evening and need an energy boost, I would recommend testing out half a scoop to see if that’s enough to get you through your workout without keeping you up at night. (Or try an espresso!)
Aside from the individual dosage recommendations of each of the above ingredients, if you’ve never taken pre-workout before, I recommend taking half a scoop your first time trying it. Each person responds to pre-workout differently, and especially if you don’t have a high tolerance for caffeine, one scoop could be too much. Start with half, see how it feels, then work your way up to one full scoop from there.
Over time, your body will adjust and get used to the pre-workout formula you’re taking, so I do recommend cycling pre-workout and either trying a different pre-workout brand, or taking a break every few months entirely.
As I mentioned above, everyone reacts differently to pre-workout and stimulants. The ingredients I listed above are just a few of the main ingredients to look out for, but there will be several other ingredients in the formula. It is possible there could be an ingredient you don’t respond well to, and while I personally have never had this happen, Luca has. The particular ingredient he is sensitive to is Yohimbine and he gets flu-like symtpoms anytime he takes pre-workout with this one ingredient, so he has to steer clear. If you feel anything out of the ordinary (aside from tingling and intense energy) after taking pre-workout, it could be the cause. In that case, I recommend trying a different brand with a different formula.
Also, if you struggle with any heart conditions such as arrhythmia, I do not recommend taking pre-workout as it could lead to cardiac arrest. Another case in which I recommend against taking pre-workout is if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
The last caution about pre-workout is that like most supplements, they do not require the FDA’s approval before hitting the market. The manufactures and distributors themselves are responsible for making sure their products are safe. Unfortunately, there have been charges filed against a few supplement companies in the past after their pre-workout products were linked to severe health problems. These instances are few and far between, but I want to mention this to emphasize the importance of researching brands, checking reviews, and looking into possible side effects before taking any new supplement.
While there is a wealth of information out there these days, we are still learning about what is safe, about new ingredients and new formulas. On top of that, remember that different things work for different people. Your priority should first and foremost be your health and my personal viewpoint when it comes to pre-workout and supplements in general is that less is more. Aim for pre-workouts that have a minimal list of ingredients and if possible, limit your pre-workout consumption to a few times a week at most.
One question I am often asked in regard to pre-workout is how clean it is. To be honest, it’s not all that clean. One of the premises of “clean” eating is to minimize additives and processed ingredients; pre-workout doesn’t quite pass that test. So why do I take it? When I first started working out, it was later in the day after school when I was exhausted, and pre-workout was the only thing getting me to the gym. Many of you are familiar with my 80/20 approach, and since my diet is so clean, I filed pre-workout under the 20% category. It made such a big difference in my workouts and helped me push myself further, whereas if I hadn’t used the pre-workout, I likely wouldn’t have been as motivated to work out knowing I had so little energy. So for me, pre-workout was worth it. Pretty much since the beginning of my journey, I’ve taken pre-workout. That is, until I moved to Rome and discovered espresso. See, I’ve never been a coffee person. I’ve never been an energy drink drinker and I even didn’t drink soda because I really disliked any mood-altering substance, like caffeine. I never liked the idea of being dependent on any one stimulant and I never wanted to need to take something in order to feel “normal”.
After some time of taking pre-workout, I will note that it eventually turned into a sort of placebo effect for me. Since my body adjusted to taking pre-workout, it wasn’t so much the pre-workout itself that was pushing me than it was the fact that I was taking pre-workout, and that fact alone made me push even harder. I don’t necessarily think this was a good mentality to have because the days where we ran out of pre-workout, or I forgot it at home, I would instantly decide the workout was going to suck because I didn’t have that boost. It was almost more of a mental dependency than a physical one, which is exactly what I’ve disliked about stimulants my whole life.
So when I moved to Rome where drinking espresso is the norm, it took some time; well over a year before I would try my first espresso. Eventually I realized that if I was having pre-workout anyways, espresso was a more natural energy booster, so I started alternating pre-workout and espresso for my workout energy needs. For the last two years, I would have pre-workout on my FBG Strength Training Days and an espresso on my cardio days. Fast-forward to today, and I’ve entirely switched to espresso, with maybe the occasional day of taking pre-workout if I decide to lift heavier or if I am really struggling with energy that day.
Is pre-workout or espresso required for a good workout?
NO! Neither pre-workout nor espresso are required for a good workout. Whether you want or need to take them, it’s entirely up to you. It depends on your natural energy levels and simply what you’re used to! Some people have never worked out a day in their life taking a stimulant and they’ve done great and crush their workouts.
The only time I recommend pre-workout, or espresso, is if you find that you’re consistently lacking energy during your workouts and need an extra boost.
Please also note that energy levels are also (primarily) affected by your overall diet, water intake, and sleep habits. Taking pre-workout will not fix any of those issues alone and if your lack of energy is a result of one of those, the problem needs to be fixed at the source before you see any real improvement.
A bit of real talk about pre-workout and supplements in general… no supplement is required for living a healthy lifestyle. If someone tells you that you absolutely need it, they are likely trying to sell you product. There’s nothing wrong with buying that product when you know its uses and feel you could benefit from it, but there is no magic pill that will entirely transform you or your journey. Anyone who is tells you otherwise is selling you on false hopes. A healthy lifestyle and significant physical change comes first and foremost from a healthy, balanced diet and killer workout routine. Yes, supplements can help, but if you aren’t seeing results, it’s not because you aren’t taking supplements. The reason likely lies in your eating and workout routine, and no supplement can make up for that.
So now that we’ve covered the pre-workout basics, is there anything else you’d like to know or are still curious about?
Let me know your thoughts and if you found this blog helpful.
Performix Ion shows us why you can’t always judge a book by its cover
When we first got a hold of Performix’s Ion, it was actually after the brand sent us the supplement’s facts panel. It was there that we noticed just like a few others that even though the pre-workout featured a proprietary blend, its doses didn’t look to be as high as we’re used to. With that said and like with most products we review, we cracked the supplement open anyway and gave it go. Much to our surprise and as you may have gathered from our updates on social media, Performix’s Ion is one of those rare products that’s a lot more than it appears. Of course being as skeptical and thorough as we are, we didn’t use Ion just the once and get out the pen and paper. Over the last week or two the pre-workout has been put to the test, compared to some of our favorites and used more than enough times to get a solid idea on it. Today we bring you the review that is actually the most surprising one we’ve done for a very long time.
The key thing we have to mention is that as stated earlier, we did not think Performix were going to deliver overly well on Ion. Like a number of fans expressed on social media, the ingredients in the supplement despite being in a proprietary blend, definitely don’t look like they’re at the doses we’ve come to enjoy. The brand’s one and only 3.714g complex is led by CarnoSyn beta-alanine, citrulline malate, betaine and creatine HCl, which when doubled totals 7.428g. As some figured out even if you just take a look at the first two on the list CarnoSyn and citrulline, and compare the doses that Jim Stoppani uses in Pre Jym, you’re already looking at 9.2g almost two grams more than Ion’s entire blend. That was enough to create concern for us, however didn’t alter our philosophy of not knocking a product until we’ve tried it.
Going off the assumption that Ion wasn’t going to be the greatest pre-workout we’ve experienced, jumping right to the maximum of two scoops only made sense. Much to our surprise about five or ten minutes after taking in the formula, we realized a build up to the maximum may not have been such a bad idea. Ion pretty much kicks in with no warning taking you from zero to 100 in about 60 seconds. One minute you will literally be thinking about what you might do for warm up, then the next shaking in your seat trying to find a car park or sprinting the rest of the way to the gym. Even though Ion lists a caffeine dose of 175mg or 350mg when using its two scoop maximum, that initial kick that doesn’t really wear off, is most definitely more powerful than what’s listed. We will touch on that later as we did get explanation on why it feels that way, but it is that massive hit of energy that starts it all off.
At times Ion can feel like it has a focus side to it, although with the energy having such a strong presence right from the get go, it is easy to confuse an enhanced amount of mental activity with the mind racing power of over-the-top energy. We did find that when you tone down the formula to one or one and a half scoops the balance is a lot more obvious, revealing a mild dose of focus that does help get your head in the right place. We also found that the light and at times unnoticeable effect is made equally as obvious when you’ve used the supplement a handful of times. You honestly won’t ever get used to the level of energy, but that kick start does become less violent where you will then notice the touch of focus doing its best to get you in the zone. As for a good description of the actual energy, for those familiar with pre-workouts it is definitely on the stimulant side. The hard hitting power of Ion would best be compared to the likes of Chaos and Pain’s Ferox, Pure Lab’s Turbo or possibly a much stronger version of Neon’s Volt. The product kind of takes you to a level of energy so strong where you can’t even imagine what normal feels like. It’s a lot heavier than a lift or a kick, more like filling you up with rocket fuel and giving you a destination that’s dangled in front of you that you need to hit in a hurry. As much as Ion creates an endless environment for your body to perform, there are other effects at play that help ensure you don’t die out too early in your workout.
The highlight we always appreciate being a part of pre-workouts is intensity, where a supplement will decrease your rest periods without sacrificing your ability to perform. Sometimes it is difficult to understand if you haven’t had a product that features the effect at a good enough level, however when it does work you’ll know exactly what we mean. In some formulas it does get a little difficult as the balance of energy and intensity isn’t always great. It is those competitors that give you the energy and urge to keep going set after set, rep after rep, only to completely exhaust you half way through your workout. The supplement of today isn’t one of the products you’ll get that unfortunate side effect, as despite Ion’s energy being extremely hardcore and sometimes in the area of too much. Its power to restore your ability to perform at your best may play catch up in some parts, but will restore your energy efficiently enough to positively power you through an intense workout. The combination of the high octane energy and mild intensity, will have you effectively getting through your sets at a pace and level of performance that will shock you when you finish 10 or 20 minutes early. In other pre-workouts where we have seen these two effects work well and encourage a seemingly rushed session, you are sometimes left with the intention to do more. In Ion it is a bit different as once you’re finished due to the intensity, and focus that dies off early on in the experience, you won’t find you have that unnatural drive or interest in going any longer. The fact that the supplement delivers a very stimulant powered performance may have something to do with it, although for us we know what it’s like to have a product pushing you further, which isn’t what happens when you finish with Ion.
While the energy and intensity do dominate Performix’s Ion, so much so that you probably wouldn’t mind if that’s all that the supplement features. We did find that the pre-workout had a bit of pump weaved into it. Some of us were on the fence about it, however we did come up with a bit of an idea about what separated the opinions. As with most mild pump pre-workouts, or formulas that don’t really have pump as a star character. Ion’s artificial amount of pump that does bring the swole factor temporarily increasing the size of specific areas, won’t bring itself out on every occasion. We didn’t find it had much of a showing on hamstring, back and sometimes chest days, like we’ve seen dedicated pump competitors do convincingly. On the other hand when used with biceps or triceps, quad focused days, and as mentioned the odd chest day, the bloat will be more than noticeable. Despite all that Ion does have going on, when the pump comes into play it does only amplify the experience. The bonus effect creates a lethal environment where you’ll be wanting to lift heavy and hard, pump up your muscles as much as you can, and have trouble running down your energy enough to justify ending a set. Even though you won’t have much of an urge to keep going after you’re done, you will notice Ion doesn’t exactly drop off or fade away. The intense energy tones itself down, and the intensity obviously disappears when you stop working out. A lasting alertness however is present that wards of an immediate crash and will ensure you don’t go to sleep for another six hours. There are plenty of pre-workouts that warn users not to use them too close to bed time, which in the case of Performix’s Ion is indeed wise advice.
Earlier we did state that we had an explanation as to why with Ion its 350mg of caffeine didn’t feel like 350mg of caffeine. When we were initially met by the surprise performance of the product we had to get more information as things just weren’t adding up. The brand were more than happy to educate us on the science behind the supplement, that in short meant that due to the use of their Terra Beads technology, ingredients didn’t need to be at a certain amount to feel like what you’re used to at that amount. For example caffeine wouldn’t need to be at 400mg for you to get the effects of 400mg. For those after a full explanation behind the bead technology Performix probably do have one, but seeing as this information came to us after we tried Ion we felt no more explaining was necessary. The idea that the product didn’t need as high doses to deliver the effects you’d usually get, matched perfectly with the only conclusion we could gather based on the pre-workout’s performance.
The biggest lesson we can learn from Performix is something we learned a long time ago, and that is never judge a book by its cover. In the world of supplementation there are times where you can without a doubt guarantee a product is going to perform badly, although that didn’t turn out to be the story with Ion. We already figured there was something else to the pre-workout as its price didn’t quite make sense if the formula was under dosed. As we discovered by first using the supplement then digging deeper for an explanation, a lot of thought had gone into Ion and no dose was without a purpose. The unique concoction proved to be more than effective hitting a consistently held climax right in the beginning, throwing in a level of intensity that just manages to keep up and amplify the energy. As well as touches of focus and pump that can sometimes go unnoticed or on occasions amplify the whole experience. While we don’t always encourage turning a blind eye to a pre-workout’s formula, this is one of those times were you’ll want to. Even if we didn’t get an explanation on Ion’s technology from the brand, our review would probably be going the exact same way it is now. We more than expect people to mention price on this one, so for that if you are interested compared to what else is out there make sure you grab Ion for at least less than 35 to $40. With 45 servings or 22.5 maximums it packs a bit, and is definitely a good buy if you can get it with a BOGO or BOGO half price which would drop it to 25 or $37.50 at its current retailer.
In this post: Performix
In order to help you find a good product we’ve researched & compared the best pre-workout supplements on the market right now.
10 Best Pre-Workout Products Compared
ⓘ If you buy something after visiting a link below, we get a commission.
1. Transparent Labs PreSeries BULK
PreSeries BULK is a powerful pre-workout supplement developed specifically with bulking in mind. It is designed to help give you a boost of energy during your workouts. Like all Transparent Labs products, PreSeries Bulk contains NO colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, or harmful additives. It contains many powerful and effective ingredients, masterfully blended to produce results.
- Specifically formulated for bulking
- Contains 20 active ingredients
- Contains ZERO colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, artificial sweeteners, or harmful additives
- Comes with citrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAAs, taurine, and more
- Contains a blend of vitamin d3, boron and zinc
Ingredients: One serving contains:
- 6g citrulline malate
- 4g beta-alanine
- 4g BCAA (2:1:1 ratio)
- 4g betaine anhydrous
- 3g taurine
- 600mg tyrosine
- 180mg caffeine anhydrous
Who makes it: PreSeries BULK is manufactured by Transparent Labs, one of the most honest and straightforward companies in the industry. Instead of using pseudoscience, marketing gimmicks and outrageous claims to sell their products, Transparent Labs relies on proven science and word-of-mouth advertising.
All their products are designed with one goal in mind: to deliver the best results possible, without the use of any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners, or unnecessary fillers. And, as the name suggests, Transparent Labs is completely transparent with their formulas, listing the specific dosages of ALL ingredients used, alongside an explanation of how each ingredient can help you reach your goals.
In short, Transparent Labs uses scientifically proven ingredients to create innovative, effective, and powerful fitness supplements – and they add one ingredient that is not often found in this industry: honesty.
Full Breakdown: PreSeries Bulk Review
Where to Get It
Buy on Transparentlabs.com
2. 4 Gauge Pre-Workout
4 Gauge is a unique formulation containing all natural ingredients to deliver a boost of clean energy during your workout, without the unwanted side effects – no jitters, no crashes, no itchy skin. Just clean and smooth power provided by 100% natural ingredients, low caffeine and no artificial sweeteners..
- Boosts energy levels – Feel like a beast when you train
- Laser focus & mental strength – Keeps your head in the game
- No unwanted side effects – Low caffeine content.
- No artificial flavors or sweeteners – No sucralose. 100% natural
- Made in the USA, in cGMP and FDA approved facilities – manufactured under strict regulations, to ensure you receive the highest quality product.
- Only 5 calories per serving – Won’t add body fat
- Fast worldwide shipping – From their depots in the USA and UK
One serving contains:
- 6,000mg Citrulline Malate
- 1,000mg Creatine Monohydrate
- 500mg Acetyl L-Carnitine
- 300mg Red Beetroot Extract
- 300mg Coconut Water Powder
- 200mg L-Theanine
- 150mg Caffeine
- 100mg Rhodiola Rosea
Who makes it: 4 Gauge comes from Roar Ambition, a premium sports supplements company based in the UK. They a select few high-end supplements, aimed at people who are looking for the latest formulations and the best quality available.
Unlike some supplement brands, Roar Ambition are open about their ingredients, there’s no proprietary blends or hidden ingredients. They list every ingredient and the amount and tell you how it works. All completely safe to use, in the correct amounts and backed by studies.
The downside about them is that they only sell direct online through their websites, so you can’t get them from Amazon or your local supplement shop. The company says that they do this to provide the best price and to provide direct customer support.
Full Breakdown: 4 Gauge Pre-Workout Review
Where to Get It
Buy on 4gauge.com
3. Betancourt Bullnox Androrush
B-NOX Androrush is a unique and innovative product from Betancourt Nutrition. Using an advanced blend of traditional pre-workout ingredients such as beta-alanine and creatine, mixed with testosterone-boosting ingredients like tribulus and ZMA, B-NOX Androrush provides a balanced and complete pre-workout boost. It’s a very different type of product compared to most on this list, and will provide you with a whole new type of energy and drive at the gym. Because of the powerful ingredients used, it’s not the best choice for beginners, or for women concerned about the potential testosterone boost.
- Unique and innovative blend
- The first product of its type
- Aggressive energy complex
- More active ingredients than most products on this list
- Considered by many to be the go-to pre-workout supplement for men
- Great value for money
- 6 great flavors
- Mixes easily
Ingredients: One serving contains 18.1g BullNox Pre-Workout Formula, consisting of:
- Strength and Endurance blend, consisting of creatine (3 forms), beta-alanine, taurine, and more.
- Nitric Oxide blend, consisting of tyrosine, arginine, creatine AKG, beetroot, and more.
- Endocrine Ignition blend, consisting of zinc oxide, tribulus terrestris extract, horny goat weed extract, maca extract, and more.
- Neural Energy blend, consisting of caffeine anhydrous, tyrosine, and more.
- Anabolic Solidification blend, consisting of glutamine, valine, isoleucine and more.
Who makes it: Andorush is made by Betancourt Nutrition, a relative newcomer to the sports nutrition industry. Founded by Jorge Betancourt, this company aims to create innovative products to help meet the growing demands of the fitness world. By combining traditional and proven ingredients with new and unique additions, Betancourt has introduced a whole new type of supplement to the industry.
Full Breakdown: B-NOX Androrush Review
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
4. Cellucor C4 Extreme Energy
C4 Extreme Energy by Cellucor is the latest version of the popular C4 line of pre-workout products. It contains the same effective ingredients as the original C4. Its use of creatine nitrate instead of creatine monohydrate (which can cause bloating) may make it an even more impressive product.
- Provides explosive energy
- Available in four tasty flavors – cherry limade, icy blue razz, strawberry kiwi and lemon drop
- Contains vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, folic acid and niacin
- Comes with effective doses of creatine, beta-alanine, arginine, tyrosine and more
- Contains creatine nitrate
Ingredients: One serving contains:
- 3.2g beta-alanine
- 1g creatine nitrate
- 1g arginine
- 831mg C4 Extreme Energy Blend® (300 mg Caffeine, TeaCrine®, Creatine Nitrate (NO3-T®), CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine)
Who makes it: C4 is manufactured by Cellucor, a large-scale maker of exercise and nutrition supplements. Since 2002, Cellucor has been using proven effective ingredients, blended by industry professionals, to create some of the most powerful and effective products on the market. They are best known for their C4 line of pre-workout products.
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
5. Pro Supps Mr. Hyde
Mr. Hyde is an effective supplement designed to deliver extreme energy, pump and focus for your workout. Loaded with creatine, agmatine sulfate, powerful stimulants, and more, Mr. Hyde covers all the bases to provide a balanced, effective boost.
- Uses a powerful complex of thermogenic compounds
- Contains creatine hydrochloride (1g) in every dose
- Potent caffeine blend for maximum focus and energy
- Uses agmatine sulfate
- Uses Yohimbe and Pikatropin
- Available in 6 tasty flavors
Ingredients: One serving contains:
Who makes it: Mr. Hyde is made by Pro Supps, a popular and rapidly growing exercise supplement company. Pro Supps develops all types of supplements, but their focus is on pre-workouts, with Mr. Hyde being their most popular product. Pro Supps uses scientifically proven ingredients and creative techniques to develop effective, affordable, and innovative products.
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
6. ENGN Pre-Workout by Evlution Nutrition
ENGN Pre-Workout is a unique fitness supplement made by Evlution Nutrition. It aims to provide its users with endurance, and delayed muscle fatigue – for longer, harder, more effective workouts.
- Contains creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, and more
- Contains vitamin complex with niacin, B12 and B6
- Named the Breakout Brand of the Year by Bodybuilding.com
- Great value
- Tasty flavors
Ingredients: One serving contains:
- 1,600mg Carnosyn brand beta-alanine
- 2,000mg Creatine Complex, consisting of creatine monohydrate and magnesium creatine chelate.
- 2,213mg ENGN Mind-to-Muscle Matrix Proprietary Blend, consisting of betaine anhydrous, choline bitartrate, tyrosine, caffeine anhydrous, and more.
Who makes it: ENGN pre-workout is manufactured by Evlution Nutrition, a new and rapidly growing exercise supplement company. Founded in 2013 by former BMX pro Mike Spinner, Evlution Nutrition’s stated goal is to help enhance the lives of their customers by giving them the tools they need to reach their fitness goals.
Full Breakdown: EVL Nutrition ENGN Review
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
7. Kaged Muscle PRE-Kaged
PRE-Kaged is a great pre-workout supplement made by a trusted company. This well-reviewed product features many beneficial ingredients, including caffeine, taurine, BCAAs, creatine, and more. With clearly listed doses for the included ingredients, Kaged Muscle steers clear of misleading proprietary blends and puts you in control of the supplements you are taking. It also has excellent user feedback.
- 100mg organic caffeine
- 2g taurine
- 5g creatine HCI
- 5g L-citrulline
- 500mg coconut water powder
- 6g carnosyn (beta-alanine)
- 5g fermented BCAAs
- 100mg Spectra Total Orac
- 2g Betapower (betain)
- Clearly listed ingredients – no proprietary blends
- Excellent reviews
- Affordable & great value
Who Makes It: Kaged Muscle is a sports nutrition company that focuses on creating high quality products for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. All their products are free of banned substances, and most use patented ingredients that are clinically studied. They also use third-party labs to test and verify the potency and purity of their products.
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
8. BPI Sports 1.M.R. Vortex
1.M.R. Vortex is formulated to enhance and intensify your workouts. It uses a blend of unique ingredients not found in most similar products.
- Unique blend of 5 powerful ingredients
- Uses 3 unique exclusive new compounds to boost workouts
- Very affordable
- Very tasty flavors
Ingredients: One serving contains a 1,705mg proprietary blend, consisting of:
- Securinega suffruticosa
- Caffeine anhydrous
- Indigofera pulchra
Who makes it: 1.M.R. Vortex is made by BPI Sports, a small but quickly growing sports nutrition company founded in 2010. In their short time in the industry, BPI has quickly developed a following of loyal fans, who enjoy their unique and effective products.
Full Breakdown: BPI Sports 1.M.R Review
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
9. JYM Pre-JYM
JYM Pre-JYM is an advanced pre-workout product designed to optimize your workout efforts. It uses an all-in-one formula that can help you improve your workouts and experience better results.
- No proprietary blends – all individual ingredients and dosages are fully disclosed
- Uses 13 powerful and effective ingredients
- Formulated by Jim Stoppani, PhD
Ingredients: One serving contains:
- Full doses of 13 science-backed ingredients
- 6g citrulline malate
- 6g BCAAs (2:1:1 ratio)
- 2g creatine HCL
- 2g CarnoSyn brand beta-alanine
- 5g betaine
- 300mg caffeine
Who makes it: Pre-JYM is manufactured by JYM Supplement Science, a new and rapidly growing sports nutrition company. JYM is one of the few large supplement companies that is owned by a licensed PhD, Jim Stoppani. They use clinically proven ingredients at proven effective doses to make some of the most balanced and effective products on the market.
Full Breakdown: Jym Pre Jym Review
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
10. GAT Sport NITRAFLEX
NITRAFLEX by GAT Sport is a high-intensity pre-workout cocktail that is designed to boost energy, strength and alertness during workouts. NITRAFLEX contains a vasoactive complex, to induce hyperamia, increasing blood flow to your muscles. The testosterone-boosting complex is designed to help you lift more and protect your muscles from catabolism. This product will help you to push harder and lift heavier than ever before.
- 7.2g of active ingredients per serving
- Contains both Citrulline and Citrulline Malate, for an extra energy boost
- Vasoactive compounds to encourage hyperamia
- Testosterone-Enhancing Complex
Ingredients: One serving contains:
- 7.25mg NITRAFLEX Proprieceutical Blend
- Vasoactive Arginase-Regulating NO Precursor Complex
- Acute Energy, Focus, Intensity, Neuromodulating, Endurance Complex
- Clinically Studied Testosterone-Enhancing Complex
Who makes it: NITRAFLEX is made by GAT Sport, a company with over 20 years’ experience in the manufacture of nutritional supplements. All products are manufactured in the US, in top of the range, FDA inspected facilities. All products are also third-party tested to ensure their quality and effectiveness.
Where to Get It
Buy on Amazon
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout Supplements
What Is a Pre-Workout Supplement?
To put things simply, a pre-workout supplement is a product you take shortly before exercising that helps maximize your workout.
These products aim to provide extra energy, power, strength and endurance for a short period after consumption.
Whether you’re lifting at the gym, sparring in the ring, running at the park, or swimming in the pool, pre-workout products will help give you the edge you need to push yourself harder and achieve better results.
Most of the time, pre-workout supplements are in powder form, and must be mixed with water, or another liquid of your choice.
You can also find pre-made drinks, bars, and even pills that contain the same active ingredients found in the popular powders.
There are pros and cons to each form of supplement, but in general the more effective pre-workouts come in powder form. Powdered products tend to absorb and digest faster, giving you a quick boost of energy and strength.
What Are the Ingredients Used in Pre-Workout Products?
There are a large number of different types of ingredients used in these products designed to boost your workout performance.
Some individual supplements, such as creatine, can provide real benefits on their own, while most individual ingredients perform better when blended.
Here are some of the more common ingredients used:
Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements available.
An organic acid found naturally in the body, creatine has been the subject of countless academic studies, and when it comes to increasing strength and weightlifting performance, the evidence is clear: creatine works (1).
Creatine can help increase strength, power and endurance by replenishing your body’s natural supply of ATP, the main energy your body uses for muscle contractions (2).
Creatine is often taken on its own, or as part of a pre-workout shake.
See Our: Top 10 Creatine Supplements
Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the body.
It is used for a variety of physiological uses, including controlling muscle contractions and maintaining healthy fluid levels within the body.
When you exercise, the body’s natural stores of taurine are depleted. Supplements containing taurine replenish the body’s supply, keeping muscles operating properly.
Also, taurine combined with BCAAs has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness (3).
See Our: Top 10 Taurine Supplements
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, help build muscle, provide energy and reduce muscle tissue breakdown (4).
The 3 BCAAs are leucine, which has been shown to increase strength during workouts, isoleucine, which can help stimulate protein synthesis and aid metabolism during exercise, and valine, which stimulates muscle growth and increases endurance (5, 6).
See Our: Top 10 BCAA Supplements
Beta-alanine is a building block of carnosine. It can help increase physical performance in the 60–240-second range (7).
Carnosine helps to reduce neuromuscular fatigue, leading to increased endurance and increase lean mass (8). Note: beta-alanine can sometimes cause tingling of the skin.
See Our: Top 10 Beta-Alanine Supplements
Citrulline malate is an amino acid which helps to optimize blood flow, increase ATP production, and reduce the effects of fatigue.
Citrulline malate has been shown to help increase strength, aerobic performance, and muscle endurance.
L-arginine is a similarly effective amino acid that is often used in place of citrulline malate (9).
See Our: Top 10 Citrulline Supplements
Tyrosine may potentially help reduce the effects of stress (both mental and physical stress) to increase mental focus and physical endurance (10).
See Our: Top 10 Tyrosine Supplements
Caffeine is an ingredient we all know well.
In supplement form, caffeine anhydrous is the most used type.
Caffeine helps provide energy, while reducing the sensation of effort during exercise (11).
See Our: Top 10 Caffeine Supplements
What Is the Difference Between Stim Pre-Workout vs Stim-Free Pre-Workout?
As you know from reading the previous section, pre-workout supplements generally contain a blend of ingredients, ranging from BCAAs to taurine to creatine to caffeine and more.
Although all pre-workouts use a blend of ingredients, there are two distinct categories of these products: stimulant-based, and stimulant-free.
- Stimulant-based, often just called “stim” pre-workouts, include stimulants such as caffeine, yohimbe and others. These tend to be the most popular, and often most effective blends. Stimulants give you energy to exercise harder and longer (caffeine is one of the most effective pre-workout boosters out there), and therefore products that include stimulants can be quite effective.
- Stimulant-free, often called “stim free” pre-workouts, use a blend of ingredients like creatine, BCAAs, etc. but do NOT include anything considered a stimulant. While these products can be slightly less effective due to the lack of an energy boost, they are still quite popular and useful.
So, what’s better – Stim vs Stim-free pre-workouts?
The answer to that question depends on your specific needs and wants.
If you’re looking for the most intense boost to your workout, absolutely go with a stimulant based product.
If you’re looking to avoid stimulants and caffeine, go with stim-free.
Additionally, think about what time of the day you usually exercise.
Caffeine can interfere with sleep patterns, so if you exercise in the late afternoon or evening, avoid stimulant-based pre-workouts (12).
What Are the Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workouts are commonly used by weightlifters and athletes hoping to improve their workouts.
Keep in mind that pre-workouts always contain a blend of ingredients, so effects may differ from product to product.
These are the primary pre-workout uses that have been studied:
- Energy: Multiple ingredients included in many pre-workouts can boost energy and stamina. Caffeine, which is found in most pre-workouts may increase adrenaline and other catecholamines, and signal your liver to release sugar into your bloodstream for more energy – all of which can have an effect on energy levels (13). Caffeine has also been shown to reduce the sensation of effort during hard workouts, which adds to the perceived increase in energy levels (14).
- Strength: Some pre-workouts may actually temporarily boost your strength and endurance. This is largely due to creatine. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, creatine was found to increase max performance and power by up to 15% (16). Creatine is particularly effective for “short-burst” energy, such as weightlifting, sprinting and racing (17). Other ingredients found in pre-workout supplements may also help to improve strength, such as leucine and other BCAAs (18).
- Endurance: Pre-workouts are designed to help boost your endurance. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a common ingredient in these products. BCAAs have been shown to reduce concentrations of fatigue substances in the body after prolonged exercise, leading to enhanced endurance and performance (19). This affect is twofold: reducing the fatigue substances such as serotonin helps to reduce muscle damage substances including CK and LDH. Other ingredients, such as beta alanine, can reduce neuromuscular fatigue which may also help to enhance endurance (20, 21).
- Recovery: While not the primary purpose of a pre-workout supplement, some ingredients can also help to speed recovery time. BCAAs combined with taurine have been shown to reduce symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle damage, and both of these ingredients are commonly found in pre-workout blends (22).
- Exercise performance: The underlying goal of pre-workout supplements is to enhance athletic performance. This goal is achieved by a number of key ingredients, including citrulline malate (which can enhance athletic anaerobic performance), creatine (which can enhance power by up to 15%), tyrosine (which can help to improve mental focus and endurance), and several other ingredients (23, 24, 25).
Who Can Benefit from Using a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Just about anyone who has a desire to exercise at max capacity can benefit from taking pre-workout supplements.
Here are the types of people who will benefit the most:
- Men – Most men have a desire to be strong and physically fit. While diet and exercise are important ingredients in the path to physical health, proper supplementation can greatly speed up the process. The top ranked products will provide the boost in energy, strength and endurance needed to build muscle and smash through fitness goals.
- Women – Women can also benefit greatly from taking supplements to boost their workouts. These supplements help to increase fat burning potential and endurance, which can lead to longer, more effective workouts.
- Bodybuilders, weightlifters, powerlifters, etc – This group will perhaps see the greatest benefit from taking a pre-workout. The average lifter already has a lot of muscle and strength, and as you get bigger and stronger, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make gains.
When you reach the higher levels of fitness, you can often hit a wall that’s hard to get past.
It’s called a training plateau, and anyone who has been bodybuilding for any significant amount of time has likely encountered one.
How Do I Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?
Since pre-workout supplements are designed to give a short-term boost in energy and athletic performance, they’re best taken shortly before exercising.
Generally, supplements should be consumed 20-45 minutes before exercise, although it varies depending on the product.
Each product will have detailed instructions on how and when to take it. It’s very important that you follow dosing instructions.
Do NOT take more than the recommended dose.
In fact, if you’re new to this type of supplement, you may want to start with a half dose to see how it affects you – especially if you are sensitive to stimulants.
Take a Break Every Few Months
After a month or two of taking a specific product, your body may become adapted to the ingredients used, which can reduce the effectiveness of these supplements.
Because of this effect, many people choose to cycle supplements by using them for 6-8 weeks, then taking a 2-3 week break.
Other people take a product for 6-8 weeks, then switch to another product for 6-8 weeks, and repeat.
Pre-Workout Supplements are almost always in powder form, which means you will need to mix it with water in a shaker bottle.
For the ultimate convenience, we recommend you use a BlenderBottle. They’re inexpensive and get the job done!
Read the Label!
Before taking any supplements, make sure you read the instructions that the manufacturer has placed on the label. This is a very important step.
Go to: Best Ranked Shaker Bottles & Mixers
Are There Any Side Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements?
Like any supplement you take, it’s important to know the potential side effects of using pre-workout supplements. Side effects vary depending on the product and the individual taking said product, although generally side effects are mild as long as the product dosage recommendations are followed.
A few common side effects of a pre-workout supplement might include:
- Tingling of the skin
Many first-time users of pre-workout supplements will be surprised by a tingling sensation felt shortly after consuming the product.
This is a very common side-effect. This tingling, called paresthesia, is caused by large doses of beta-alanine.
It is a harmless side effect, and most people only notice it the first few times they take these supplements (26).
Some users experience bloating when first using these supplements.
This is largely attributed to creatine monohydrate, a powerful and effective ingredient found in most pre-workout products.
Creatine causes the muscles to draw in extra water, which helps build and repair muscle faster. The bloating is caused by this extra water weight.
This bloating is only temporary, and you will drop the water weight/bloat shortly after stopping creatine supplementation.
For most people, this bloating is not an issue. For some women, the cosmetic downsides of bloating are an annoyance, which is why many products marketed as pre-workouts for women do not contain creatine.
Dehydration can be caused by a number of ingredients found commonly in these supplements.
Creatine can cause dehydration because it causes muscles to absorb more moisture, while caffeine and other stimulants can increase dehydration because of their diuretic effects.
To combat the effects of dehydration, make sure you drink enough water.
Insomnia or sleeplessness can be caused by stimulants like caffeine, commonly found in these supplements.
To combat this, simply allow enough time before consuming the supplement and going to bed (usually 2-3 hours) to allow the effects of caffeine to wear off.
In other words, don’t use a pre-workout supplement for a late-night workout, or you might have trouble falling asleep.
- Upset stomach
Some people experience stomach upset and/or diarrhea when first starting to take pre-workout supplements.
Everyone reacts differently to the various ingredients used in these products, so it’s hard to narrow down a cause for this side effect.
If you experience stomach upset after beginning a new supplement of any kind, it’s recommended to stop taking that product right away.
In general, side effects are very mild. However, it’s very important to follow the dosing recommendations for these products to avoid potentially more serious side effects. Which leads to our next section…
As always, we recommend you speak with your doctor before taking any supplements featured on this site.
How Do I Pick a Good Pre-Workout Product?
There are many factors that go into choosing the right pre-workout supplement for you. Here are some things to look for:
- Application to your goals – Ask yourself, does the product apply to your goals? If you’re looking to lift heavy and get shredded, you’ll want to find the a pre-workout for pump. If you’re looking to lose weight and get more toned, you should look for a pre-workout product for cutting.
- Quality of ingredients – Take a close look at the ingredient list of any product you are considering. Look at the type of ingredients they use, and the quality/sources of those ingredients.
- Brand recognition – Have you heard of the brand? Are they well respected in the industry? Generally, sticking to the well-known, reputable brands will lead you to the best products.
- Value for money – How much does the product cost per serving? How does that compare to the other products you’re considering? Be sure to compare on a per-serving basis instead of just looking at the package price of different products.
- Taste/mixability – You’ll want to find a good-tasting product that mixes well, so you’ll actually want to take it on a regular basis. The best way to find out how a product tastes is to read reviews. A lot of pre-workout reviews will contain detailed information about taste and mixability.
- Can you make it yourself – Did you know you can buy a lot of the ingredients in a pre-workout on their own and make your own drink. Here is our homemade pre-workout recipe.
Pre Workout – Best Top Selling Pre Workout Energy Product, Supplement, Vitamins, Health & Wellness Product at Our Sports Nutrition Warehouse in Australia
TOP 10 Pre Workouts
If you knew you had an impending long drive along an unfamiliar route, would you simply hop into your car without researching the route first? Likewise, if you’re going on a foreign holiday, you’ll surely read up on your intended destination before making any bookings. The same attention to preparation to detail should be applied for exercising. You can’t just show up at the gym and expect to pump iron or pound the treadmill effortlessly. A top-quality pre-workout supplement is essential for maximising your workout performance and getting your body (and mind) tuned into exercise mode. The best pre-workout supplements will boost energy levels and lead to greater muscle mass and strength, improve endurance, greater pump and sharper mental focus. This is achieved through the inclusion of vital ingredients such as carbohydrates, vitamins C, B6 & B12, creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, arginine and green tea extracts.
Top pre-workout supplements to get you primed for your workout
We stock all the top pre-workout supplement brands, including Platinum Labs, Cellucor and Muscletech, and you can be assured that you’ll get the best pre-workout supplements from our impressive selection. We know that you cannot afford to compromise on peak exercise preparation, which is why we only stock the best pre-workout products, which are most effective when taken 15-30 minutes prior to beginning your gym routine.
When it comes to your fitness routine, the time you spend sweating it out in the gym tends to get all the credit—but it shouldn’t. If you know what to do before a workout and what to do after a workout, you’ll know exactly how to tweak your routine in order to impact your progress and results.
“The workout is actually the easiest part of a fitness routine,” says Jay Cardiello, celebrity trainer and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member. “Whether you walk, jog, lift weights, or do CrossFit, an hour is only four percent of your day, and you can’t the 23 other hours.”
Things like good nutrition and quality sleep matter too, and smart pre- and post-workout rituals can ensure you’re recovering properly, fueling your efforts, and crushing it in every single workout. Here are the 10 things that should definitely be a part of your fitness routine if you want to maximize your results.
1. Prioritize getting enough good quality sleep.
“The most imperative thing in any fitness program starts the minute you go to sleep—that’s where all the magic happens,” says Cardiello. Being well-rested not only energizes you through every burpee or sprint, but it also keeps your hunger hormones in check, so you’re not undoing your efforts in the gym by overeating the rest of the day.
“Whoever I work out with, they don’t show up to the gym unless they’re getting seven hours of sleep,” says Cardiello. “I tell them to go home.” (Whoa.) If you can’t do seven, at least try for six and a half hours, he says—he recommends his clients set boundaries with their electronics before bed so the light doesn’t keep them awake. A good sleep is also super important after a workout, too—that’s when muscles really get to recover.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
You already know that drinking your H20 is crucial to overall health, but it plays an especially important role in a fitness routine—when you’re sweating it out, you need to make sure your body is properly hydrated since you’re losing water. Plus, being hydrated will make sure your energy levels are where they need to be, says Cardiello.
“Just look at the parallels between oil in a car and water in a body—a car can’t run without oil, a body can’t run without water,” says Cardiello. You should be sipping it before, during, and after a workout.
Although exact water needs vary from person to person, he recommends aiming for half of your bodyweight in ounces per day (so, if you weight 150 pounds, try to get in 75 ounces). If your urine is dark, it probably means you’re not hydrated enough. Here are easy ways to drink more of it.
3. Grab a snack.
If you’re really not feeling a pre-workout snack, there’s no need to force food down ahead of time, but don’t ignore your body if you feel like you need some fuel. “If there’s no food in, there’s no energy out,” says Cardiello. He suggests a piece of toast with almond butter to get you going. The sweet spot? “I don’t want you to be starving, but I don’t want you to be feeling full either.”
4. Make sure you’re wearing the right clothes and footwear for the workout you’re doing.
Being able to move, jump, run, stretch, and get into certain positions and poses is about more than just your athletic prowess or your mobility and flexibility. It’s also about having the right gear for the job. For example, you might not care much about which sports bra you choose for yoga, but for running, you’ll want a high-impact one. Wearing the right sneakers on a long run will mean way more comfort, which could translate to better endurance and a more enjoyable workout. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the gym or setting out the door only to discover you’re actually a little (or a lot) uncomfortable. Before you head out the door, do a once over and make sure you’re outfitted properly. Check out the leggings, shorts, and sports bras that SELF editors loved so much, they won the SELF Fitness Awards. Check out more winners (and more apparel to choose from!) here.
5. Work in a dynamic warm-up.
Skipping your warm-up is a definite no-no—even if your workout is only 10 minutes long. ” is meant to give your body the opportunity to raise your body temperature, increase range of motion, and prepare yourself for what you’re about to do,” says Cardiello. It also helps decrease your chance of injury when you ease into your workout, rather than jumping straight from a resting state to the hard work.
If you’re fed up of turning up to your workouts feeling tired, lethargic and unmotivated, taking pre-workout may help you alleviate your training lull.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that combining pre-workout with HIIT workouts resulted in significant increases in VO2 max, training volume and lean body mass while also speeding up the rate at which moderately-trained recreational athletes lost body fat.
That study shows the efficacy of pre-workout, but if you decide to supplement your workouts with the supp, you need to know how to do it safely and smartly, which is why we’ve created a complete guide to pre-workout that includes everything from a professional sports nutritionist’s opinion to the supp’s pros and cons. You’ll also find a guide to the products that can give you a natural pre-workout boost as well as MH’s guide to the best pre-workout of 2019.
Consider this article your pre pre-workout.
What Is Pre-workout?
If you don’t fuel yourself properly before exercises, you’ll be less energised, weaker and will fatigue faster than normal. Pre-workout is designed to help fight this. So while the supplement can be taken in a variety of formats — from meals, to shakes to pills and more — they’re all designed to boost energy levels and increase focus.
For many, pre-workout supplements are usually mixed with a drink and taken around 30 minutes before the beginning of a workout. That’s because, by supplying your body with extra carbohydrates, the glucose in the pre-workout helps raise blood sugar levels and supply additional energy during a workout.
What’s in My Pre-workout and Is It Safe?
As pre-workout is designed to help you cruise through a particularly tough workout, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they supply your system with sugar, caffeine and other energy-boosting stimulants.
Still, it pays to read the ingredients label before you invest in a fresh pot of pre-workout. Caffeine is the key ingredient to look out for as the content can vary from mild to way too much, and in extreme cases, high levels of caffeine can cause some pretty serious health issues like anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure.
For most men, however, pre-workout is a safe supplement to take, but, even at the safe end of the spectrum, its side effects can still cause jitters, itching and interrupted sleep, which are harmless but still uncomfortable. Our advice: if you’re new to pre-workout, go for half doses to begin with and see how your body reacts.
What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Look Out For?
Creatine Monohydrate: Another popular supplement among gym-goers, creatine is included in many pre-workouts due to its potential to increase muscle power and performance during training.
BCAAs: Branch chain amino acids have been found to improve endurance during a workout and increase strength by maintaining cellular energy and supporting protein synthesis.
Taurine: Found in various animal meats, taurine is a sulfonic acid that contributes to the metabolism of fats and fights oxidative stress during workouts.
B-vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2 B5, and B6 all play important roles in energy production and efficiency, while Vitamin B12 supports blood production and Vitamin B3 boosts DNA repair and promote healthier skin.
NO2-boosters (ex. Arginine, Citrulline): Arginine, for example, is a nitrogen dioxide booster and an amino acid that acts as a ‘vasodilator’. Essentially, arginine (and other similar nitrogen dioxide supplements) expand your veins and arteries, making it easier for blood to flow around your body, delivering nutrients quicker and more efficiently.
What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Avoid?
Research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology cited that 400mg of caffeine a day is the upper limit for adults. What does this mean to you? One cup of instant coffee contains 60-80mg of caffeine, but high street flat whites contain anything between 65mg (Pret-a-Manger) and 160mg at Starbucks.
Some pre-workout brands spill over the recommended daily dose. ProSupps Mr Hyde NitroX pre-workout, for example, houses an uncomfortable 410mg of caffeine in a 7.5g scoop.
As sports nutritionist Matt Lovell points out there are definitely some pre-workout products that you should actively avoid. “I would say any speed cousins, amphetamine cousins. Some pre-workouts basically contain ecstasy. Or close to it,” says Lovell.
When Should I Take Pre-workout?
The all important question: if you’re going to boost your performance with pre-workout, when is the optimum time to take it? As, Lowell explains, just because it’s called pre-workout that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take it pre your workout. “You can take them 15-20 minute before training,” says Lovell. “But for longer sessions, you could delay until an hour into the session.” Always refer to the label of your pre-workout for specifics. In fact, it may be worth cycling your pre-workout intake, says Lovell.
If you continue to take pre-workout on a regular basis, your body can build up a tolerance to its effects, which is why Lovell advises cycling the supplement, or coming off it for 6 to 8 weeks at a time to give your body a chance to reset. “Cycling is the way forwards,” says Lovell. “Also get some stimulant-free ones you can use most days or just some plain old tyrosine which is a very good budget pre-workout.”
The Pros and Cons of Taking Pre-workout
- Improved performance: Research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that pre-workout supplements “have promise as an ergogenic aid for active individuals,” or, in other words, they enhance the performance of people who already exhaust the gym.
- Increased concentration and focus: Pre-workout is packed with caffeine, which is know to enhance cognition. As research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found, caffeine works on people’s arousal, mood and concentration, so if you want to be focused on a workout, pre-workout is the supp for you.
- Negative side effects caused by overstimulation: if the jitters and interrupted sleep we mentioned earlier don’t sound like fun, perhaps give pre-workout a miss.
- You can build up a tolerance with over use: if taken excessively, your body can become immune to pre-workout’s effects. To avoid this, it’s probably best to save pre-workout for those sessions where it’s either ‘go hard or go home’ or try cycling the supplement once in a while.
- Can cause digestion problems: Ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, creatine and caffeine can all cause digestion issues. Avoid this by trying different pre-workout supplements until you find one that works for you.
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Coffee: It may be smarter to stick to a cup of black coffee (with or without sugar) before your workout to up your energy levels.
Bananas: Rich in starchy carbohydrates, one banana will contain around 14g of sugar, made of glucose and fructose – two sugar types that are ideal for athletic performance. Similarly, bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, providing electrolytes to your body that — when lost — will cause muscle cramps and fatigue, so it’s best to keep your levels topped-up. Each banana will contain around 20-27g of carbohydrates, fuelling your muscles before strenuous exercise.
Vita Coco Natural Coconut Water 500ml hollandandbarrett.com £2.99
Coconut Water: Like bananas, coconut water is naturally full of electrolytes. With an improper electrolyte balance leading to muscle cramps, stiffness, nausea, headaches and fatigue, drinking coconut water will help top-up your body’s electrolyte supply. You’ll want to ditch your energy drink too, because coconut water contains more nutrients per serving and up to 25 per cent fewer calories when compared to market-leading sports drinks.
The Best Pre-workouts to Buy in 2019
Gold Standard Pre Workout Optimum Nutrition amazon.co.uk £12.99
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout
Per scoop: 33kcal, 175mg caffeine
Optimum Nutrition’s pre-workout contains creatine monohydrate, beta alanine, caffeine and vitamin B complex. Helping you grind through a particularly tough workout, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre-workout contains 165mg of caffeine from natural sources to help increase alertness and focus.
Cellucor C4 Original Pre Workout Cellucor amazon.co.uk £19.25
Cellucor C4 Original Pre-workout
Per scoop: 5kcal, 150mg caffeine
Backed by man-mountain and three-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser, Cellucor’s C4 pre-workout is America’s #1 pre-workout. Cellucor uses an in-house product development team alongside athlete feedback to create its C4 pre-workout.
Complete Pre-Workout™ Caffeine Free Bulk Powders bulkpowders.co.uk £7.99
Bulk Powders Complete Pre-workout, Caffeine-free
Per serving: 56kcal, 0g caffeine
If you’re concerned about the caffeine content of your pre-workout, Bulk Powders’ caffeine-free pre-workout is a safer bet. Offering similar benefits to conventional pre-workout supplements, this contains 5g BCAAs and 3g of creatine monohydrate.
Grenade 50 Calibre Pre-Workout Grenade amazon.co.uk £19.95
Grenade 50 Calibre Pre-workout
Per serving: 25kcal, 125mg caffeine
Explosive! Energy! During! Workouts! Grenade’s 50 Calibre Pre-workout, with its battle-hardened style, is another favourite among lifters. With a goal to include every possible natural component that aids performance — including theobroma and beet extract — it comes in berry, cola and lemon flavour.
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Edward Cooper Ed Cooper is the Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health UK, writing and editing about anything you want to know about — from tech to fitness, mental health to style, food and so much more.
If you’re a regular gym goer or athlete, you’ve likely heard the buzz around pre-workout supplements. These products typically come in pill or powder form and promise to boost energy and enhance workout performance.
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But before you gulp down that pre-workout, it’s important to know what’s actually in it and how it affects your body.
Pre-workout buzz: caffeine
The main ingredient in most pre-workout products is caffeine. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Caffeine can be great in the appropriate amount, says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD. It stimulates the body’s central nervous system, improves reaction time and can reduce fatigue.
All these things sound great for a workout or hard training session, right?
“Keep in mind that having too much caffeine can have serious side effects,” says Patton. “You can experience things like a racing heart, tingling, high blood pressure, GI issues and even nausea.”
Most brands of pre-workout range from 150 mg to 300 mg of caffeine per serving. This roughly translate as one to three cups of coffee.
So that label promising increased energy, focus and performance is usually made possibly through a jolt of caffeine. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, it’s wise to read the product label and proceed with caution.
Not all bad news, but focus on real food
Pre-workouts can be beneficial and safe to take if the ingredients are correctly listed on the label and the company is credible, says Patton. She also says that many of the safe, natural ingredients typically found in pre-workouts can be obtained through eating real food instead.
“You don’t always know what other ingredients are packaged into some pre-workout supplements,” says Patton. “But with whole foods you know what you’re getting.”
Some of the best ways to fit in pre-workout ingredient-filled food include:
- Coffee (with even adding a teaspoon of sugar).
- Whole-grain sandwich with lean protein.
Take a deeper look at some typical pre-workout ingredients, what they do and how to get them naturally in your diet:
Is Pre-Workout Bad For You? This Is What The Supplement Is Really Doing To Your Body
You know when you’re so sleep-deprived, you’re pretty sure you’re hearing colors?
I feel this on a spiritual level, as I may or may not be writing this article as we speak on two hours of sleep.
And TBH, when I think of the HIIT circuit I have planned for later, I’m pretty sure the only way I’ll be able to make it through the sluggishness is with the magic of a pre-workout supplement.
When it comes to these pre-workout products, there are lots of competing opinions on whether or not they’re actually good for your body, and whether they actually help you maintain energy for a workout.
Some people swear by this often sugar-infused substance, while others opt for a more natural alternative to fuel their sweat sesh.
Elite Daily spoke with personal trainer Greer Rothermel to get the literal scoop on this caffeinated craze.
She begins by asking a rather important question:
First things first, have you ever actually looked at the ingredient list on the side of a pre-workout supplement? If so, you probably can’t understand even half of what’s listed, which is a clear indication that you probably shouldn’t be putting it into your body.
Rothermel explains there are two things that most pre-workout supplements contain: vasodilators and stimulants — both of which can put a really heavy load on your heart and your blood pressure.
These ingredients dilate your blood vessels, which gives you great aerobic capacity (especially during exercise) and helps you get pumped up and energetic for your workout.
But stimulants in particular actually have the potential for abuse and addiction.
So if you start feeling like you need your magic pre-workout juice to get you through that HIIT circuit, you’re probably not wrong.
But it’s also your body’s way of sending you a huge red flag.
Plus, the typical recommended amount of pre-workout to take is often not actually safe for all individuals.
According to a New York Times article, army private Michael Lee Sparling collapsed after taking a pre-workout supplement while running with his unit in 2011.
He went into cardiac arrest and passed away later that day.
This just goes to show how an elevated heart rate brought on by these types of pre-workout supplements, combined with strenuous cardiovascular activity, can put way too much of an unnecessary strain on the heart.
Clearly, a single scoop may be a lot more serious than you’d think.
Rothermel tells Elite Daily that other side effects of taking pre-workout supplements include dehydration, kidney problems, and high blood pressure:
The best advice I can give to fueling a good workout is a combination of natural foods in the form of carbohydrates (like bananas or oatmeal), protein, and definitely water — rather than consuming a pre-workout supplement.
Bottom line: It’s probably best to toss your pre-lift powder. It’s not doing you or your body any real favors.
Peace out, pre-workout.
Pre-Workout Drinks: Are They Really Bad for You?
Eating something before going to the gym is a big deal because if you don’t fuel up, you probably won’t be able to give it your best. You could take your own pre-workout nutrition at home, but it’s always tempting to go for a more convenient option.
I started working out seriously again earlier this year and going to the supplement store was a hugely confusing experience. I’ve been using a protein supplement with my workout intermittently for years now, but I’ve never tried the other stuff. That was until I picked up the courage to try out a pre-workout drink mix. I bought the Cellucor C4 Extreme and the store attendant told me to just follow the instructions on the can.
Since it was my first time, I took one serving and went to the gym for a back and biceps workout. I felt flush with energy, and I gained intense focus when I went ahead and lifted heavier weights than I have ever done before. I came back from the gym and I was still buzzing with energy, so I spent that time reading about the product as much as possible.
These drinks have a huge variety of random side effects that totally differ from person to person. One of them is a strange tingly feeling and/or numbness that persisted for a couple of hours. Some people experience tunnel vision, which made them very anxious. A few others also reported mild loose motions and itchy skin. I didn’t experience any of this but be warned that all of this can happen.
Now that the bad news is out of the way, let’s focus on the many benefits pre-workout drinks bring. Each manufacturer has its own formula but the target is the same and that is to give you higher performance levels. Ingredients like Beta-Alanine and Creatine Monohydrate give you huge bursts of anerobic strength and delay muscle fatigue so that you can go from 10 reps to 15 reps. Caffeine gives you a burst of energy and intense focus while Glutamine keep muscle from breaking down during intense workouts while helping you recover later. I could go on with other major ingredients but these are the most common ones. Look up other compounds you’re unfamiliar with before you buy a supplement.
So yes, pre-workout supplements might cause side effects but if you’re like me, you might never experience them. I encourage any new users to follow the dosage instructions very carefully. Start with the minimum dose and you should be just fine. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, then one serving should be more than enough for you. Another big tip is to take the supplement only if you are definitely going to the gym because it’ll take a while for the effects to wear off if you don’t put yourself under any physical exertion.
Train Hard! Push yourself because the aim of these supplements is give you a boost to reach difficult targets. These supplements are meant for people who are looking to make big gains in their heavy weight training and cardio regimes, so don’t use it if you’re simply going to jog on the treadmill for 20 minutes! The last thing I would like to add is that everyone responds differently to supplements so try it a few times before committing to make it a part of our workout routine.