18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (2024)

Table of Contents
The 12 Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2024 About Our Expert Best Pre-Workout Supplements Video Review How We Picked and Tested the Best Pre-Workouts 1. Value 2. Transparency 3. Dosage 4. Third-Party Testing 5. Taste 6. Solubility 7. Side Effects 8. Ingredients Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs Bulk Specs Pros Cons Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Specs Pros Cons Best Tasting Pre-Workout: XWERKS Ignite Specs Pros Cons Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Onnit Alpha-BRAIN Specs Pros Cons Best All-Natural Pre-Workout: Legion Pulse Specs Pros Cons Best Pre-Workout for Men: Pre Lab Pro Pre-Workout Specs Pros Cons Strongest Pre-Workout: Transparent Labs BULK Black Specs Pros Cons Best Budget Pre-Workout: Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout Specs Pros Cons Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance Specs Pros Cons Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy Specs Pros Cons Best Pre-Workout for Women: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout Specs Pros Cons Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN Specs Pros Cons How to Choose the Best Pre-Workout for You Ingredients Dosages Third-Party Testing Flavors Potential Side Effects When Should I Take Pre-Workout? How Much Do Pre-Workouts Cost? Benefits of Pre-Workouts More Energy Improved Blood Flow Boosted Performance One Downside Other Pre-Workouts We Tested What Ingredients Are In Your Pre-Workout Supplement? Caffeine Creatine Citrulline Beta-Alanine Betaine Anhydrous Taurine Tyrosine Potential Side Effects of Pre-Workout The Scoop on Dry Scooping Pre-Workout Final Word FAQs References References

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  • Best Pre-Workouts
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  • How We Chose
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  • Benefits
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  • What to Consider
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  • FAQs

One of the most popular supplements on the market, pre-workouts often increase energy, blood flow, endurance, power, and even hydration. As such, you can find different combinations of beneficial ingredients (like caffeine, citrulline, and beta-alanine) in the form of powders, pre-made drinks, small liquid shots, and even chews and gum.

But with the glut of information on pre-workouts from ill-advised TikTok trends (i.e., dry scooping) to fit-fluencers peddling that good-good on all platforms, it’s easy to get lost. Which pre-workouts work, and which ones are just noise? We’ve spent years testing out the best pre-workouts for weight loss, men, women, and more, and we’ve got opinions. After working with a registered dietitian and personally putting these products to the test, here are what we consider to be the best pre-workout supplements for just about any fitness goal.

The 12 Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2024

  • Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs BULK
  • Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge
  • Best Tasting Pre-Workout: XWERKS Ignite
  • Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Onnit Alpha-BRAIN
  • Best All-Natural Pre-Workout: Legion Pulse
  • Best Pre-Workout for Men: Pre Lab Pro Pre-Workout
  • Strongest Pre-Workout: Transparent Labs BULK Black
  • Best Budget Pre-Workout: Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout
  • Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance
  • Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy
  • Best Pre-Workout for Women: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
  • Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine.

About Our Expert

This article has been reviewed by Justine Hays, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, a registered dietitian and experienced health writer. She reviewed the research we cite and the efficacy of the pre-workouts we list to help ensure we’re providing advice that’s safe and sound. However, everyone’s body is different, so before you try any new products, it’s best to consult your doctor.

Best Pre-Workout Supplements Video Review

JoinBarBendexpert testerJake Herod, NASM-CNC, and registered dietician nutritionistChelsea Rae Bourgeois, MS, RDN, LD, as they share some of their favorite pre-workout supplements, including non-stim and all-natural options.

[Related: Are Preworkouts Worth It?]

How We Picked and Tested the Best Pre-Workouts

We tried a lot of pre-workouts (and hit a lot of PRs) before landing on this list. Our team of Barbend expert product testers, including certified personal trainers, athletes, and nutritionists, tried 70 different pre-workout supplements to find something that works for every customer. Here are the criteria we looked at.

1. Value

Most pre-workouts cost between $1.00 and $2.00 per serving. Plenty are more expensive, and usually, the price is justified, but over two dollars per serving counts as “you should know this is pricey” territory. We made sure that all of the prices of the product on this list were in line (in our eyes, at least) with the ingredients included and the potency of the formula.

2. Transparency

A considerable number of pre-workouts consist of proprietary blends that tell you the ingredients but not the amounts that are provided. That means you won’t know exactly what’s effective and what’s not. Now, legally, they have to order the components by weight, so you can usually get a decent guess at the dose, and proprietary blends are so prominent in the industry that we didn’t outright disqualify a product that has one — but it definitely loses points for lack of transparency. We also chose some products for this list specifically because of their crystal-clear dosing.

3. Dosage

On a related note, scores of pre-workouts take research-backed ingredients but don’t use research-backed doses. For example, creatine needs to be dosed at three to five grams to have the desired effect. We know the research front and back, so we can assess how effective a dose is. (Note that sometimes, as is the case with tyrosine, we don’t really know the minimum dosage, but we can make an educated guess.) For the most part, we have only included picks on this list that contain the proper dosage for their ingredients.

4. Third-Party Testing

Some companies will employ a third party, like Informed Choice, Informed Sport, or NSF, to test their products (or their facility) for substances on the World Anti-Doping Agency or NCAA banned list. Many athletes will only take third-party tested products, particularly since questionable pre-workouts can be the ones that produce positive results.

5. Taste

If you don’t enjoy the way a supplement tastes, you’re probably not going to enjoy drinking it. While we know everybody is different, we still like to give some personal perspective on the flavor. After all, if we think a flavor is absolutely undrinkable, it’s good to know in advance.

6. Solubility

Solubility is another important factor we like to consider. Practically speaking, you’re probably not going to be using a blender to mix up your pre-workout. For most of us, we like to toss a scoop in a shaker bottle and head to the gym. Considering pre-workout chunks are pretty bitter and difficult to swallow, good solubility is a must-have.

7. Side Effects

As mentioned above, everyone’s body is different, so while some people may feel tingly or jittery after a pre-workout, others may not. That’s why we have a variety of testers with different bodies and tolerances to give a well-rounded perspective on the side effects.

With that said, it’s impossible to give a review that’s true for everyone. So, if you’ve never taken a pre-workout supplement before or have pre-existing medical conditions, it’s best to consult your personal physician before you buy.

8. Ingredients

Our team worked closely with a dietitian to review all the products we listed on this page. We picked and chose pre-workout supplements with ingredients that are ok for most people in safe doses. With that said, different products work for different athletes, so if you have any pre-existing conditions or concerns, it’s best to consult your medical professional before taking a pre-workout.

Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs Bulk

Transparent Labs BULK

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Transparent Labs BULK

Transparent Labs BULK contains all-natural ingredients and big doses of L-citrulline malate and beta-alanine to promote muscle gain for your next workout.

Shop Transparent Labs

Specs

  • Caffeine: 200mg
  • Key Ingredients: 8g of citrulline malate, 4g of beta-alanine, 2.5g of betaine anhydrous, 200mg caffeine, 200mg l-theanine, 1.3g taurine
  • Flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Strawberry Kiwi, Pina Colada, Blue Raspberry, Black Cherry, Peach Mango, Tropical Punch, Sour Grape, Watermelon, Watermelon Peach, Cherry Splash, Blueberry Pomegranate
  • Sweeteners:
  • Sweeteners: Stevia
  • Third-Party Testing: Informed Choice Certified
  • Price Per Serving: $1.66

Pros

  • This pre-workout is transparent with clearly labeled, research-backed, and effectively-dosed ingredients.
  • BULK has boron and zinc that might help increase testosterone.
  • This pick contains alpha-GPC, taurine, and tyrosine, all of which may help with focus.

Cons

  • The large dose of beta-alanine may cause too much tingling.
  • BULK is somewhat expensive compared to similar options.
  • Transparent Labs uses stevia to sweeten this, which may taste bitter.

When looking for an excellent pre-workout supplement, we value research-backed ingredients in clearly disclosed dosages. Transparent Labs is a company that heavily prioritizes both of those elements in their BULK pre-workout. “Bulk gets a 4.25 out of 5 for its formulation,” according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN. “It gets high scores for its ratio of ingredients and deductions for the proprietary blends and sodium content.”

Transparent Labs BULK is our best-rated pre-workout, thanks in a big part to its…transparency. There aren’t any blends, it’s gluten-free and contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. If you read the label, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting and how much — which is crucial if you also take other supplements. (Accidentally doubling up on dosages for specific ingredients is dangerous at worst and redundant at best.)

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (2)Tester trying a scoop of Transparent Labs Bulk.

BULK’s 200 milligrams of caffeine (per serving), helping our tester feel a productive surge of energy without a post-workout crash. BULK features big hits of citrulline and beta-alanine, too. “Beta-Alanine is well researched and generally regarded as safe when taken by most adults, as directed,” says Justine Hays, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, a registered dietitian and experienced health writer. “Beta-Alanine works by preventing muscle fatigue, allowing you to work out at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.”

The flavors are on point as well, especially Blue Raspberry — our tester, a certified nutrition coach, rated it a perfect 5 out of 5. “It tasted the way you think a blue raspberry would taste,” he said. “This has a sweet flavor, but it isn’t so sweet that you have trouble drinking it.”

After shaking up this product in a standard shaker bottle with a blender ball, our tester gave the solubility a perfect 5 out of 5, too. This one mixes very clear without any unwanted clumping or floaties in the beverage.

Unfortunately, BULK isn’t the most cost-friendly pre-workout supplement on the market. One 30-serving container costs $49.99. We gave this product a 3.5 out of 5 for cost per serving, as the $1.66 per serve price tag is a little costly and may not fall in everyone’s budget.

Read our full Transparent Labs BULK Review.

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge

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Jacked Factory Nitrosurge

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge is among our favorite pre-workout picks for athletes looking to build strength. This one also comes in 14 different flavors, so you're sure to find one that works for you!

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Specs

  • Caffeine: 180mg
  • Key Ingredients: 3g of l-citrulline, 1.6g of beta-alanine, 1.25g of betaine anhydrous, 180mg caffeine, 90mg l-theanine, 25mg AstraGin
  • Flavors: Swoleberry, Green Apple, Cherry Bomb, Blue Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, Arctic White, Pineapple, Watermelon, Fruit Punch, Grape, Sour Peach Rings, Blueberry Lemonade, Black Cherry, Cotton Candy
  • Sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $1

Pros

  • Jacked Factory Nitrosurge has ingredients, like betaine anhydrous, which may help promote muscle growth.
  • The price per serving is reasonable, considering the potency of this formula.
  • The product lists ingredients for both one and two scoops.

Cons

  • The caffeine content from two scoops of this pre-workout may be too high for some.
  • With such an intense formula, it’s surprising that there’s no creatine in here.

Generally, pre-workout supplements don’t have a ton of muscle-growth-focused ingredients. But some research has shown that betaine supplementation may help improve your body composition and strength. (32) And in this formula, you get one and a quarter grams per serving, though, research has shown results with at least two and a half grams daily.

“Nitro Surge scores a 3.75 out of 5 for its formulation, with high marks for the ingredients used but deductions for the low dosages,” according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN. Luckily, Jacked Factory does provide supplement facts for two servings! However, the caffeine content per two servings may be too high for some athletes, so proceed with caution.

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge comes in 14 flavors, all of which are objectively delicious and pretty unique. Our testers unanimously gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 for taste. Kate Meier, BarBend editorial member and competitive weightlifter, says Nitrosurge is her go-to pre-workout because the Strawberry Margarita flavor “is like heaven on earth. If it weren’t for the caffeine, I’d probably just drink this all day long,” she said.

After trying the product herself, Meier gave Nitrosurge a 5 out of 5 for overall effects, but has a word of warning: “I only use one scoop each time I work out, which has 180 milligrams of caffeine but is lighter on ingredients like beta-alanine and betaine,” she said. “There is a two-scoop dosage on the can, but that is too much caffeine for me. One scoop is just right!”

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (4)

This product dissolves beautifully in a shaker cup, earning a 5 out of 5 for solubility. And at around $1 per serving, it’s hard to find a flaw with this pre-workout. However, we do wish this pre-workout were third-party tested. Jacked Factory doesn’t show evidence of any lab testing performed on Nitrosurge.

Read our full Jacked Factory Nitrosurge review.

Best Tasting Pre-Workout: XWERKS Ignite

Xwerks Ignite

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Xwerks Ignite

XWERKS Ignite contains ingredients that help both strength and endurance athletes before a training session. We also love that you can choose from four different flavors.

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Specs

  • Caffeine: 150mg
  • Key Ingredients: 3g of citrulline malate, 1.5g of beta-alanine, 2g l-tyrosine, 150mg caffeine
  • Flavors: Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon
  • Sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $1.63

Pros

  • After trying multiple flavors, our tester loved the taste.
  • This contains l-tyrosine, DMAE, and the herb rhodiola rosea, which may help you focus more while running.
  • Xwerks cites research to back up its ingredients.

Cons

  • Some people may not like the beta-alanine tingles.
  • This product has caffeine, which may not be ideal for some runners.
  • There aren’t any hydration-focused ingredients in this pre-workout.

If you’re planning to sip a pre-workout supplement several days a week before training, you want one you actually enjoy drinking. After trying the Green Apple and Watermelon flavors, our testers gave this one a 4.5 out of 5 for taste. “This pre-workout tasted fantastic,” our tester said. “I didn’t think it was overly sweet and I thought XWERKS did a good job of replicating the flavor on the label.”

This formula notably includes electrolytes like calcium and magnesium lactate. Despite broad claims that lactate hinders performance, it may bolster endurance and can be gentler on the stomach than other forms of magnesium. (6) However, we do wish the doses were higher. “I’d give Ignite a 2.5 out of 5 for its formulation,” Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN, says. “Considering its cost per serving, I wish its ingredients were more clinically dosed.”

After taking this product, our tester, herself an avid runner, reported that her energy levels and focus were great, with no jitters to speak of. We also gave this product a 5 out of 5 for solubility, which our tester loved. “This one is really soluble,” they said. “When dissolved, the consistency was thin and easy to drink.”

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (6)Our tester mixing up XWERKS Ignite pre-workout

Unfortunately, we did have to give this product a 2 out of 5 for third-party testing. We didn’t notice any evidence of third-party lab testing on this product. However, we do like that XWERKS offers pretty transparent labels.

We do also think the price per serving is a little costly, especially for athletes shopping on a budget. One 30-serving container is $49, which is about $1.63 per serving. Our team gave the cost a 3 out of 5, as you can find cheaper products on this list.

Read our full XWERKS Ignite Pre-Workout Review.

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Onnit Alpha-BRAIN

Onnit Alpha-BRAIN Pre-Workout

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Onnit Alpha-BRAIN Pre-Workout

Onnit Alpha-BRAIN Pre-Workout boasts a unique formula aimed to increase energy and focus. Choose between two flavors and several subscription options to save money.

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Specs

  • Caffeine: 200mg
  • Key Ingredients: 2.4g of l-citrulline, 2.4g of beta-alanine, 200mg caffeine, 225mg ashwagandha, 250mg African palm oil
  • Flavors: Yuzu Peach and Tiger’s Blood
  • Sweeteners: Stevia
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $2.99

Pros

  • You get lighter dosages of ingredients like caffeine and beta-alanine, ideal for beginners.
  • Beginners can bundle this product with other ONNIT supplements.
  • You can subscribe to monthly deliveries for a discounted price.

Cons

  • The price per serving is pretty expensive.
  • There are only two flavors to choose from.
  • This doesn’t seem to be third-party tested.

Being a beginner in the gym can feel intimidating, but with the right guidance and supplementation, it may be a bit less daunting. Onnit Alpha-BRAIN Pre-Workout is designed with some of the most important basic essentials while giving you some extras for focus and endurance.

We had several testers try Alpha-BRAIN (which is also the name of one of Onnit’s best multivitamins). Every single person commented on their increase in focus, which comes as no surprise with the nootropics like ashwagandha and dynamine.

I usually feel more focused with most pre-workouts, but Alpha-BRAIN is one of the best for this,” one of our testers, a competitive weightlifter, remarked, giving the effects a 4 out of 5. “I have even taken this before work instead of coffee just for that extra attention.”

You’ll also find 2.4 grams of l-citrulline, which works to help increase the nitric oxide available for use to expand blood vessels and improve blood flow, while betaine may enhance muscular endurance. This is a winning combination for some gnarly muscle pumps. (8) However, our expert, Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN, gave the formulation a 3.25 out of 5, as it contains little citrulline, compared to other pre-workouts.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (8)Barbend tester scooping Onnit Alpha Brain.

Our testers unanimously recommend Tiger’s Blood over Yuzu Peach. “I’d give Yuzu Peach a 3 out of 5 for flavor because it is bitter, but Tiger’s Blood is a clear 5 out of 5,” one tester reported. They also gave the solubility a 5 out of 5, as the product dissolved well with no issues.

If you choose to go with Alpha-BRAIN, be warned that it comes at a price: $2.99 per serving to be exact. That makes it the most expensive pre-workouts on this list, earning a 1 out of 5 for cost per serving. Unfortunately, this may not fall in every beginner’s budget. However, Onnit will knock 15 percent off the price if you opt for a subscription.

Best All-Natural Pre-Workout: Legion Pulse

Legion Pulse Pre-Workout

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Legion Pulse Pre-Workout

This pre-workout supplement can come with or without caffeine and in 16 different flavors. Each serving provides 350 milligrams of L-theanine and eight grams of citrulline malate, which may facilitate better pumps.

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Specs

  • Caffeine: 350mg
  • Key Ingredients: 8g of citrulline malate, 3.6g of beta-alanine, 2.5g of betaine anhydrous, 350mg caffeine, 350mg l-theanine
  • Flavors: Fruit Punch, Blueberry Lemonade, Cherry Limeade, Pina Colada, Rainbow Sherbet, and Strawberry Kiwi
  • Sweeteners: Erythritol
  • Third-Party Testing: Labdoor Tested for Purity
  • Price Per Serving: $2.25

Pros

  • No artificial colors, preservatives, or ingredients.
  • No additional sugars
  • Clinically-backed pre-workout ingredients
  • Third-party testing
  • Also available in a stimulant-free option

Cons

  • High price per serving at $2.25
  • Doesn’t contain creatine
  • Uses erythritol for sweeteners, the taste of which some people don’t like

If you’re choosing to use a pre-workout to boost your energy, focus, and pumps, but you want to avoid artificial or added sugars, colors, preservatives, and flavors, Legion Pulse might just be the best natural pre-workout for you. The brand claims this is “100% all-natural,” and because they use Labdoor for third-party testing, we’re inclined to believe it.

“Legion Pulse scores a 4.5 out of 5 for its formulation, with high marks for its natural ingredients, all of which serve a purpose,” according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN. Several of our testers, including two personal trainers, have tested Legion Pulse. One actually went through the entire container because he liked it so much.

I like the one-to-one ratio of caffeine and l-theanine because the caffeine content here is high, but the l-theanine balances it out so you don’t feel jittery or over-stimulated,” he said. Plus, if you don’t want the caffeine, Pulse comes in a stim-free version.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (10)Our tester and a shaker cup with Legion Pulse

There are several flavor options available for Pulse. Our testers rated the flavors an average of 4 out of 5, noting that you might pick up on an aftertaste. “To keep the product natural, Legion uses erythritol as a sweetener,” points out one of our testers, a certified health coach. “That can sometimes create a bit of an aftertaste, which I definitely got.”

Legion Pulse comes in around $2.25 per serving, which is definitely higher than average, earning a 2 out of 5 for cost. We see the brand offer big sales around the holidays, and they also have a subscription savings that takes as much as 30 percent off the price.

Check out our full Legion Pulse Pre-Workout Review.

Best Pre-Workout for Men: Pre Lab Pro Pre-Workout

Pre Lab Pro

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (11)

Pre Lab Pro

Pre Lab Pro contains red beetroot powder, which may help with blood flow for better pumps. This pre-workout is taken in powder form, and comes in a Natural Berry Flavor.

Shop Pre Lab Pro

Specs

  • Caffeine: 80mg
  • Key Ingredients: 1.6g l-theanine, 4g l-tyrosine, 80mg caffeine, 2.2g Setria Performance Blend
  • Flavors: Natural Berry Flavor
  • Sweeteners: Xylitol, erythritol, monk fruit extract, stevia extract, Swerve
  • Third-Party Testing: Informed for Sort Certified
  • Price Per Serving: $2.95

Pros

  • Since men are more likely to have a B12 deficiency, the 83 percent dose of your RDI in here might help. (4) (Of course, always check with your doctor)
  • This product uses natural sweeteners and is vegan-approved.
  • You get a free shaker bottle with every order.

Cons

  • The caffeine content may be too little for some.
  • This only comes in one flavor.

Many athletes supplement with a pre-workout to help boost energy, maintain focus, and potentially gain more muscle and strength. But some can also help fill some nutritional gaps. Pre Lab Pro Pre-Workout packs vitamin D3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and iron.

We like Pre Lab Pro because it contains 83 percent of your daily need for vitamin B12, and research suggests that people assigned male at birth may be more likely to have a B12 deficiency. (4)

Our testers had mixed perspectives on the side effects, though. One didn’t really feel much of anything after taking this product, giving the side effects a 1 out of 5. Our other product tester, though, gave the side effects a 5 out of 5. “I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, so one serving was plenty to give me energy without the jitters,” they said. So, if you’re sensitive to stimulants, this may be more ideal.

When it comes to flavor, neither of our testers were particularly satisfied. We had to give this category a 1.5 out of 5, as the product tasted a little too acidic. “This is incredibly sour and difficult to drink,” one tester said. “It is completely natural, though, so I get it. But still, its incredibly acidic.”

Unfortunately, this is among the most expensive pre-workout supplements on this list. A one-month supply costs $59, which is about $2.95 per serving. You can subscribe to a four month supply and save 25 percent but our team did still have to give the cost a 1 out of 5.

Read our full list of the Best Pre-Workouts for Men.

Strongest Pre-Workout: Transparent Labs BULK Black

Transparent Labs BULK Black

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Transparent Labs BULK Black

Transparent Labs BULK Black is one of the strongest pre-workout supplements on the market. This product comes in five delicious flavors and has high levels of must-have pre-workout ingredients, like caffeine, citrulline, and beta-alanine.

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Specs

  • Caffeine: 180mg
  • Key Ingredients: 3g of l-citrulline, 1.6g of beta-alanine, 1.25g of betaine anhydrous, 1g of creatine hcl, 180mg caffeine, 90mg l-theanine, 75mg l-elevATP, 25mg AstraGin
  • Flavors: Cherry Kiwi, Blue Raspberry, Peach Mango, Sour Gummy, Black Cherry
  • Sweeteners: Stevia
  • Third-Party Testing: Informed Choice Certified
  • Price Per Serving: $1.83

Pros

  • This contains the caffeine equivalent of about three cups of strong coffee.
  • The doses of beta-alanine and citrulline are higher than they are in most other pre-workouts.
  • BULK Black doesn’t just hone in on energy; it also has ingredients for blood flow and focus.

Cons

  • Other pre-workout supplements include a small dose of creatine, too.
  • Most of the flavors are more on the unique side, and there aren’t a ton to choose from.

For athletes who love sipping on caffeine before a workout, not just any pre-workout can offer an adequate energy boost. After testing this product ourselves, we think Transparent Labs BULK Black exceeds other formulas in energy-producing ingredients, making it the strongest pre-workout on the market.

One reason we like this formula for strength is that it contains a large, 8,000mg dose of citrulline malate. This ingredient may be able to help improve strength and endurance, as it increases blood flow to your muscles, according to the Cleveland Clinic. That’s paired with 305 milligrams of caffeine, which is more than most pre-workout supplements. You also get 4,000 milligrams of beta-alanine, which can help reduce muscular fatigue. (31)

“I’d give Transparent Labs Bulk Black a 4.25 out of 5 for formulation with deductions based on the proprietary blends used,” according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN. We also like the added vitamin D in this formula.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (13)Our tester scooping Transparent Labs Bulk Black as best pre-workout

One of our expert product testers who has used nearly 40 pre-workout products himself rates BULK Black as his favorite supplement of all time. His favorite flavor is Peach Mango, which he gave a 5 out of 5 rating. “This is so good that I don’t want to finish it. I want to sip it like a fine wine,” he says. We also gave this supplement a 5 out of 5 for solubility, as it mixed perfectly.

We did have to dock this supplement a little in the price department. One 30-serving container costs $54.99, which is about $1.83 per serve. If you’re really wanting a strong pre-workout, we do still recommend this product. But if price is a problem, you can definitely find cheaper options.

Want the full scoop on pre-workouts? See our complete guide to pre-workout supplements here.

Best Budget Pre-Workout: Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout

Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout

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Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout

Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout is one of our favorite budget-friendly pre-workout supplements. This comes in five flavors, too and multiple size options, for those who prefer to buy in bulk.

Specs

  • Caffeine: 300 mg
  • Key Ingredients: 4g l-citrulline, 2g beta-alanine, 1.5g betaine anhydrous, 300mg caffeine, 250mg n-acetyl l-tyrosine
  • Flavors: Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, Fruit Punch, Grape, Peach Mango
  • Sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $1.09 or $0.91, depending on the size you select

Pros

  • At only $1.09 per serving (or $0.91 per serving for the 60-serving container), this is one of the most budget-friendly supplements on this list.
  • You get 300mg of caffeine per serving.
  • There are multiple size options, allowing you to buy in bulk and save.

Cons

  • We can’t find the specific third-party testing.
  • Contains artificial flavors and sucralose

Let’s be real, spending hundreds of dollars on supplements each month isn’t convenient. But this budget-friendly pre-workout may help keep your wallet happy. This supplement is only $1.09 per serving and only $0.91 per serve if you opt for the 60-serving container. Nutricost Pre X Pre-Workout definitely earned a 5 out of 5 for value.

This formula is pretty solid, too. You get all the must-have pre-workout ingredients (like l-citrulline, beta-alanine, taurine, and betaine anhydrous) but also some beneficial additions, including 60mg of vitamin B6 and 200mcg of vitamin B12. We did have to give the formula a 4 out of 5, though, because this one does contain artificial flavors and sucralose, which may not sit well with every athlete.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (15)

You get five flavor options with this product, which is more than most other pre-workout supplements. “I really liked the Blue Raspberry flavor,” one of our testers said, giving the taste a 5 out of 5. “It’s accurate to the name for sure. I’ve also tried the Watermelon and remember liking that one, too.”

Our testers also really liked the solubility with this product, giving this category a 4 out of 5. “I didn’t notice any clumping,” one tester said. “When I shook it in a regular water bottle, though, I did notice a little bit of floaties at the bottom.”

We gave this supplement a 3 out of 5 for third-party testing. The product description does say that this supplement was third-party tested. But our team wasn’t able to find exactly which third-party lab tested the product.

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance

1st Phorm Endura-Formance

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1st Phorm Endura-Formance

This pre-workout is designed to help with endurance. It features added electrolytes, as well as adaptogenic mushrooms, turmeric, tart cherry, and betaine.

Shop 1st Phorm

Specs

  • Caffeine: N/A
  • Key Ingredients: 5g creatine monohydrate, 3.2g beta-alanine, 2.5g betaine, 1g Peak02 blend, 1g tyrosine, 50mg S7 blend
  • Flavors: Strawberry Pineapple, Peach Ring, Black Cherry, Berry Lemonade, Grape, Orange
  • Sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $1.50

Pros

  • This formula is totally stimulant-free.
  • Additional sodium can help you stay hydrated as you sweat.
  • The taste here was a big hit among our testers.

Cons

  • Some athletes may need the extra kick stimulants can offer.
  • This product only comes in four flavors, which is less than most others.

Some athletes may not do well with caffeine and others may prefer to workout at night. In either case, a pre-workout full of stimulants won’t do the trick. 1st Phorm Endura-Formance is our favorite stim-free product.

“Endura-Formance scores a 4.25 out of 5 for its formulation, with high marks for the science-backed doses and deductions for the multiple proprietary blends,” Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN, said. This product has zero stimulants and does include creatine, which is a great bonus, especially for athletes looking to gain strength.

Our tester loved the taste (which is not something she can say for all of the products she has tested in her time working for us), giving it a 4.5 out of 5 in the flavor department. “I tried the Berry Lemonade, and it is by far one of the best-tasting supplements I’ve had. It isn’t too sweet, it’s a little tart, and it doesn’t have an aftertaste — I love it.”

After mixing this product in a plain water bottle and shaker cup, we noticed no chunks or grainy bits, giving the solubility a 4 out of 5. Our testers didn’t notice any negative side effects either, which is ideal for a stim-free pick. However, you probably won’t get much of a kick from this product either. So, if you really want the extra energy or jitters, an option with caffeine may be better.

As far as price goes, this supplement is pretty middle-of-the-road. One 30-serving container costs $44.99, which is about $1.50 per serve. This isn’t the priciest on this list but you still can find more budget-friendly options, so our team gave this category a 3 out of 5.

Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

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Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

Naked Nutrition Naked Energy is a simple, powerful formula that is vegan-friendly. It comes in several flavors as well as options for a non-stimulant version.

Shop Naked Nutrition

Specs

  • Caffeine: 200 mg or stim-free, depending on the flavor
  • Key Ingredients: 2g beta-alanine, 1g creatine, 1g l-arginine, Vitamins C, B3, B6, B12, folate, and calcium
  • Flavors: Unflavored, Citrus, Fruit-Punch, Stim-Free (this flavor has a slightly different ingredient profile)
  • Sweeteners: Cane sugar
  • Third-Party Testing: Independent Third-Party Tested
  • Price Per Serving: $1.50

Pros

  • This product is certified vegan and totally free of animal products.
  • You can choose from both flavored and unflavored options.
  • There are no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors

Cons

  • There are six grams of sugar in this pick.
  • Unflavored option is a little bitter.

If you’re following a vegan diet, it can be difficult to find a pre-workout that caters to your dietary restrictions. We like Naked Nutrition because its pre-workout formula is certified vegan and you can opt for a stimulant-free version, if that’s preferable.

I tested the unflavored version that has 200 milligrams of caffeine, and it had great effects on my workout,” said one of our testers, who rated it a 4 out of 5 for its effects. “I love that I didn’t get the tingles from it but still felt a boost in energy.”

This isn’t just a good vegan pre-workout; it’s just a good pre-workout, according to our testers.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (18)A scoop of Naked Nutrition Naked Energy

The formulation for each Naked Nutrition pre-workout varies depending on which option you want (flavor- and stimulant-wise). All options contain added vitamins like B6, B12, and C. You’ll also find a modest amount of beta-alanine and creatine. These dosages are under what we typically expect from a pre-workout, however.

“I’d give Naked Energy a 3.75 out of 5 for formulation,” according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN. “ It has a fairly low dose of L-arginine.” We also do wish this product had some higher doses of other ingredients.

In terms of taste, our team was able to try both the unflavored version as well as the Citrus flavor. The unflavored product left a bitter taste in our tester’s mouth – literally. “If you choose the unflavored option, I recommend mixing it in a sports drink,” she said. The Citrus flavor, on the other hand, earned a perfect 5 out of 5 from our tester.

For cost per serving, our team gave this one a 3 out of 5. Naked Nutrition Naked Energy costs $1.50 per serving, which isn’t the cheapest but it’s not the most expensive, either.

Best Pre-Workout for Women: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

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Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a third-party tested supplement that has clinically supported dosages of key ingredients. Highly rated for its taste, this product also comes in at a great price.

Specs

  • Caffeine: 175mg
  • Key Ingredients: 3g creatine, 1.5g beta-alanine, 750mg l-citrulline
  • Flavors: Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, Watermelon
  • Sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Third-Party Testing: N/A
  • Price Per Serving: $1.09

Pros

  • This formula packs folate, which is crucial for overall health for adults assigned female at birth.
  • At $1.09 per serving, this one is pretty budget-friendly.
  • It’s Informed Choice third-party tested.

Cons

  • This contains some artificial flavors and sucralose.
  • Not the best pre-workout for pumps.

Most pre-workouts aren’t specifically designed for men or women (and we believe men, women, and non-binary people alike can consume them). Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard has some ingredients that may support women during intense training sessions and aid in improving performance, making it one of the best pre-workouts for women.

This formula has a dose of folate and a vitamin B-complex. “Folate is an important nutrient for overall health, especially in women,” Justine Hays, R.D., says. Folic acid supplements (or folate) can be important for women for supporting energy and reproductive and post-menopausal health. It’s also involved in red blood cell health — folate deficiency can cause anemia and severe fatigue, making it much harder to function daily, let alone push hard during workouts.

Our tester, Kate Meier, has used Gold Standard Pre-Workout several times. “This gave me a really good energy level and focus for my workout without insane tingles, like some pre-workouts cause,” she said.

Kate gave the taste of Gold Standard a perfect 5 out of 5 for taste, noting that you’ll definitely experience a sweet taste, but it isn’t so sweet that you can’t drink it. She also noted that you’ll have no problem getting this to dissolve in water. “I didn’t even use the blender ball one time, and its solubility was still perfect,” she said.

We love that the Gold Standard line from Optimum Nutrition is third-party tested through Informed Choice, so we know that we can trust the label. We don’t love that the label has several artificial ingredients. Also, we should point out that you’ll find sucralose in this pre-workout, which is probably why Kate and our other testers found the drink to be so sweet.

Read our full Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout Review.

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN

Transparent Labs LEAN for Weight Loss

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Transparent Labs LEAN for Weight Loss

  • Caffeine:180mg
  • Key Ingredients:8,000mg of citrulline malate, 4,000mg of beta-alanine, and 300mg of alpha GPC
  • Flavors:Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Sour Peach, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Cherry Limeade, Sour Grape, Watermelon, Tropical Punch
  • Price Per Serving:$1.66

Shop Transparent Labs

Specs

  • Caffeine: 180mg
  • Key Ingredients: 6g of citrulline malate, 2g of beta-alanine, 1.5g of betaine anhydrous, 180mg caffeine, 1.8g l-theanine
  • Flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Sour Grape, Fruit Punch, Sour Peach, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Tropical Punch
  • Sweeteners: Stevia
  • Third-Party Testing: Informed Choice Certified
  • Price Per Serving: $1.66

Pros

  • LEAN has ingredients that may help support weight loss.
  • This product is free of artificial sweeteners and colors.
  • This product comes in eight tasty flavors.

Cons

  • The caffeine content might be too low for some people.
  • LEAN is a solid product, but it may not be one of the best fat burners.

The key to weight loss and burning fat is consuming fewer calories than you burn, but is there a pre-workout that might offer a little extra help? We think Transparent Labs steps up to the plate big time with this unique pre-workout formula.

Disclaimer: Please note that none of these products describe themselves as weight loss supplements and should not be taken as such. Please consult with a medical professional before beginning any weight loss protocol.

Transparent Labs LEAN has a lot of ingredients that you’ll also find in fat burner supplements. The iodine and zinc, may also support thyroid health. Thyroid health is important for maintaining a healthy body weight, as it controls your metabolism. Some research shows that your thyroid may slow hormone production and your metabolism when you lose weight, so having those support ingredients is potentially very helpful if weight loss is your goal. (5)

If you’re taking it with a multivitamin, Hays urges caution, however. “If using this supplement along with a daily multivitamin or other supplements, be sure to read the labels so as to not overdo it on some micronutrients, such as copper.”

During testing, we did notice that this product doesn’t mix very well — there were floaties in the water even after some hardcore shaking, giving the solubility a 2 out of 5. It’s not a huge issue, but if floating bits are a deal-breaker for you, you may want to try a different pre. Also, our tester wasn’t a fan of the taste, noting that it’s slightly bitter.

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When it comes to cost per serving, this one earned a 2.75 out of 5. At $1.66 per serving, this definitely isn’t the most cost-friendly option on this list. If you’re an athlete looking to save a little money on their monthly supplement stack, there are other options that may be better suited.

Read our full Transparent Labs LEAN Review.

How to Choose the Best Pre-Workout for You

These sorts of products can make some folks a little concerned about side effects and unintended consequences. They’re legal, so the potential for damage is low (though you should consult your doctor first), but there are some things worth keeping in mind when you’re trying to figure out which is the best pre-workout supplement for you.

Ingredients

No two pre-workout supplements are exactly the same. Different brands and products have different formulas. So, before you buy any supplement, be sure to read the ingredient label thoroughly and consult your personal physician if you have any pre-existing conditions.

In most pre-workouts, you can expect to find caffeine. This ingredient helps provide energy but can have some potential downsides, too. It can cause anxiety, diarrhea, and maybe even temporary high blood pressure. This doesn’t mean that caffeine is inherently bad for you. It just means everyone has a different tolerance for caffeine.

18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (22)Commonly Labeled Pre-Workout Ingredients

Perhaps the most common pre-workout ingredient that isn’t caffeine (or flavoring), beta-alanine typically causes paresthesia, a “tingling” sensation on the skin. It’s temporary and harmless, and while some love the feeling of the ingredient “kicking in,” not everyone likes it.

Some pre-workout products also have banned substances. These aren’t necessarily illegal or dangerous but they may not be permitted if you’re a competing athlete. Read the rules of your competing federation or organization carefully to ensure you’re not sipping a supplement with prohibited ingredients.

Dosages

Just as different formulas have different ingredients, they also provide varying doses of these ingredients. For most pre-workout ingredients, there isn’t a daily recommended value, which can make it a little challenging to discern whether the dose is adequate.

For an ingredient like caffeine, consider the daily recommended maximum of caffeine, which is 400 milligrams. For other substances, like beta-alanine or l-carnitine, do a little research to uncover the clinically-effective doses.

Third-Party Testing

Pre-workout supplements aren’t closely regulated by the FDA, so it’s best to prioritize products that are third-party tested. That means that an independent company tested the formula to guarantee that the ingredient label accurately reflects the ingredients and doses.

Flavors

You don’t want to sip on a supplement that tastes disgusting, right? Luckily, pre-workout supplements come in a pretty wide variety of flavors. So, chances are, there’s something for everyone. Before you settle on one flavor, take a peek through the product reviews.

Potential Side Effects

Every athlete is different and while your gym partner might have no issue sipping their pre-workout, you might find the beta-alanine overwhelming, for instance. None of the pre-workout supplements on this list are dangerous but you might not love your body’s reaction to the ingredients. Read any of the product’s warnings or side effects before you give it a try.

And, when in doubt, try half a serving (or less) and assess your tolerance. An entire scoop may be too much for your body but you may be totally fine with half.

When Should I Take Pre-Workout?

As the name implies, you want to take your pre-workout before you train. The general rule is to mix the powder (if you’re taking a powder, not a pill) in about eight ounces of water and ingest it 30 to 60 minutes before training. This time can allow the ingredients — like caffeine, beta-alanine, and taurine — to absorb and start taking effect. (29)

It might be helpful to take particularly high-dose and large pre-workouts a bit longer before training to allow your body more time to process the extra ingredients, though. On the flip side, if you like to take a long warmup, taking it closer to your arrival might allow for the effects to not kick in fully until you’re done warming up.

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If you train at night, you may want to avoid caffeinated pre-workouts. Some pres contain 150mg of caffeine, with certain products packing 300mg or more. The half-life of caffeine has a huge range from three to nine hours, depending on the individual. If you take 300mg at 5 p.m., you could still have 150mg circulating at 8 p.m. on the low end, or it may still be circulating at nearly full potency.

How Much Do Pre-Workouts Cost?

The price of pre-workout varies (though not significantly) primarily based on a) the ingredients used and b) the doses of those ingredients. Products that prioritize transparent dosing — meaning the ingredients aren’t wrapped up in obscure blends — will typically be pricier. The reason is that you’re actually getting that ingredient, and you’re getting it in a relatively complete dose.

Best OverallTransparent Labs BULK$1.66
Best for Muscle GainJacked Factory Nitrosurge Build$1
Best TastingXWERKS Ignite$1.63
Best for BeginnersOnnit Alpha-BRAIN Pre-Workout$2.99
Best All-NaturalLegion Pulse$2.25
Best for MenPre Lab Pro Pre-Workout$2.95
Strongest Transparent Labs BULK Black$1.83
Best BudgetNutricost Pre X Pre-Workout$1.09
Best Non-Stim1st Phorm Endura-Formance$1.50
Best VeganNaked Nutrition Naked Energy$1.50
Best for WomenOptimum Nutrition Gold Standard$1.09
Best for Weight LossTransparent Labs LEAN$1.66

When considering the price of pre-workouts, you’ll want to look at the price of the container in unison with the number of servings you’re getting rather than just the price of the container as a whole. The pre-workouts on this list range from around $1.43 per serving to about $3.00 per serving. On average, you can expect to pay about $2.05 per serving. The number of ingredients also affects the price. A product that has creatine in addition to basic pre-workout ingredients, for example, will almost always carry a higher price tag. Supplements with added vitamins and nutrients also jack up the price a bit.

It helps a lot if you know what kind of support you want out of your pre-workout. If you’re looking for a little energy, then a basic pick with ample caffeine will do the job (and probably for less money). If you want the full kit — pumps, energy, focus, and hydrating minerals — then know you’ll likely need to shell out more.

[Related: What to Look for in a Pre-Mixed Pre-Workout]

Benefits of Pre-Workouts

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Everyone is different. So, you may not experience every single effect pre-workout has to offer. With that said, there’s a host of benefits most pre-workout supplements have to offer.

More Energy

The first thing people tend to associate with pre-workouts is their potential stimulative effects, which can affect just about every part of a workout. Obviously, caffeine (often the primary ingredient in pre-workouts) is a stimulant, but it is also linked to better power, endurance, perceived exertion, and even cognition. (12)(13)(14) For example, a randomized, double-blind study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that when compared to a placebo, 10 athletes improved their speed, reaction time, movement time, and decision-making time when supplementing with caffeine. (15)

How much caffeine do you really need, though? For reference, a small cup of coffee has about 60 to 100 milligrams of caffeine, and pre-workouts range from 70 to over 400 milligrams per serving. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends three to 6mg per kilogram of body weight.

Improved Blood Flow

Citrulline is one common ingredient you can expect to find in most pre-workout supplements. Most companies include this product to help promote blood flow to potentially help increase your muscular endurance and promote muscle pump. And while there’s some research that shows citrulline may help promote improved blood flow in adults, there is no conclusive evidence yet. (31)

Boosted Performance

In most formulas, you can expect to find some beta-alanine. Generally, this ingredient is known for causing your skin to feel a little tingly — which not every athlete loves, so start with small doses at first. But this ingredient may also be able to help reduce lactate concentrations, improving endurance and performance. (32)

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Another meta-analysis of 15 studies published in Amino Acids found that beta-alanine reliably increases muscular endurance for short-duration activities (between one to four minutes). (16)(17) But most research on the subject involves higher doses than you’ll find in most pre-workout supplements, which is worth noting.

With regard to betaine (also called trimethylglycine), two studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition have shown significant power increases in the back squat among men who took 1.25 grams of it twice a day for two weeks. (18)(19)

One Downside

Herbal ingredients also have the highest rates of contamination, and without third-party testing, there’s no guarantee that a product won’t be contaminated. They don’t have to provide proof of purity, safety, or efficacy as long as they aren’t using any new ingredients as of 1994 (due to the DSHEA Act).

When judging the effectiveness of a pre-workout, we didn’t disqualify anything that had a questionable ingredient. Rather, we looked at the overall impact of the product. Even if a product contains a couple of not-so-science-backed inclusions, we still consider it reputable if there are enough quality, well-dosed ingredients.

Other Pre-Workouts We Tested

While we narrowed down the best pre-workouts to our list above, they weren’t the only products we tried. Here are a few others we tried but didn’t think were the best of the best.

  • Cellucor C4 Powder: Cellucor’s C4 supplement is a popular option that’s pretty cheap, too (less than $1 per serving). But it’s not third-party tested, it’s pretty below average with caffeine, and it lacks some of the ingredients we love in other products (like creatine).
  • Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout: This one has a pretty high dose of caffeine (about 350mg per serving), which may be too high for most gymgoers. Plus, our testers thought the aftertaste was a little unpleasant, like an artificial sweetener.
  • Naked Nutrition Pre-Workout: We actually enjoyed this product and think it deserves an honorable mention. However, we think you can get better products with more robust ingredient lists (like our picks above) for $1 per serving.
  • Cira Pump Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: This is a caffeine-free pre-workout that we just didn’t love more than our stim-free pick above. Our testers generally find Cira supplements a little too sweet and that was the case here, too.

[Related: How to Cook Up Your Own Homemade Pre-Workout]

What Ingredients Are In Your Pre-Workout Supplement?

Not all pre-workout ingredients are useful, while others might be surprisingly beneficial. Here’s a rundown of the ingredients that you’ll usually find and actually want in your pre-workout.

Wondering whether you can build a tolerance to pre-workout? Learn more in our video.

Let’s talk a bit more about those ingredients and what the research says in regard to each of them.

Caffeine

Caffeine is associated with alertness, endurance, power output, strength, and perceived exertion. (12) The FDA puts one small cup of coffee at 100 milligrams of caffeine, while a tall (355ml) coffee from Starbucks has about 235 milligrams.

Pre-workouts typically contain anywhere from 80 to 350mg of caffeine. An effective dose is three to 6mg per kilogram of body weight.

Creatine

The best-researched ergogenic aid besides caffeine, creatine helps power output, anaerobic capacity, and fatigue, all while increasing muscle size by drawing more water into them. You don’t have to take it with your pre-workout since it’s an anytime supplement — the point is to increase the creatine in your muscles over time rather than loading creatine quickly.

Three to five grams daily of creatine is effective. (24) She also notes that creatine monohydrate is the most commonly used and cost-effective creatine, though other types of creatine are on the market.

Citrulline

Older research suggested that five or so grams of citrulline, an amino acid that’s found in high amounts in watermelons, may help with circulation and thereby improve most areas of performance, from endurance to power output. (30) However, a more recent meta-analysis suggests that citrulline doesn’t improve performance. (22) While there are a few meta-analyses that have shown mixed results, the benefits are minor at best.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is linked to improved endurance, both in cardio-focused intervals and strength training with higher reps (between 60 and 120 seconds of continuous work). It’s also known for the tingly feeling (paresthesia) you may feel in your extremities when you take it. Because it allows you to endure more, it may help with hypertrophy. The standard dose is 1.6 to 3.2 grams.

If you can’t stand the tingles, splitting the dose into 0.8 to 1.6 grams every three to four hours can prevent the paresthesia. (21)

Betaine Anhydrous

Found in beets and leafy greens, betaine is best known for links to power output, blood flow improvements, and muscular endurance, but it might also slightly decrease post-exercise cortisol, which can actually be helpful in your body’s response to stress. An effective dose is 2.5g per day, split into two doses for resistance training. (23)

Taurine

Taurine may help with improving focus. Since it might draw water into cells, it may enhance recovery and muscle cramps, as well. You can take up to six grams per day about one to two hours before exercise. (25)

Tyrosine

Also used for “focus,” data suggests tyrosine may reduce particularly acute stress — like exercise — by helping you produce adrenaline and dopamine. Research has only been performed on people taking at least 5 grams, and a minimum effective dose hasn’t been established, but look for at least 500 milligrams.

An effective dose might be 100 to 150mg per kilogram of body weight taken an hour before exercise, but large doses can cause GI distress and might need to be split up. (26)

Potential Side Effects of Pre-Workout

Pre-workout isn’t inherently harmful to healthy people who can tolerate the ingredients well. If you’ve never taken a pre-workout before or if you’re starting a new one, it’s usually advisable to start off with a half scoop or less to assess your tolerance and how you react to the ingredients. Some people may not tolerate certain ingredients well, so it’s important to start small.

We also strongly recommend talking to your doctor before starting any supplement regimen, pre-workouts especially. If you have any pre-existing conditions, speaking with a physician before making changes to your diet or supplement routine is a must. Nevertheless, here are a few side effects some athletes may experience as they start this supplement.

  • Jitteriness or Tingles: Pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, which can certain side effects, including headache, irritability, jitteriness, or nausea, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is more common for individuals who are sensitive to caffeine. That’s why we recommend starting with a smaller dose (like half a scoop or less) to assess your tolerance. Kind of like the caffeine side-effects, beta-alanine (another common pre-workout ingredient) can cause tingling in your skin. For the most part, this is harmless but may not feel great for some athletes.
  • Dehydration: Per the Mayo Clinic, caffeine can increase your heart rate. And if you’re in the middle of a workout, an increased heart rate can cause more sweat. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you do want to be conscious of how much water you’re consuming. Keep a water bottle handy and stay hydrated while you train.
  • Stomach Upset: The ingredients in a pre-workout may just not sit well in your stomach. In some cases, artificial sweeteners may be the cause, as these tend to cause digestive unrest, according to the Mayo Clinic. Again, we recommend taking a pretty small dose the first time. If you experience any discomfort, it’s probably best to nix the supplement.

The Scoop on Dry Scooping Pre-Workout

Social media stars on platforms like TikTok and Instagram have started a trend known as dry-scooping — where you scoop pre-workout powder directly into your mouth. This is ill-advised and dangerous.

Many pre-workouts have hundreds of milligrams of caffeine in them, and diluting that powder into water allows your body more time to absorb and process it. Otherwise, you risk absorbing too much caffeine too quickly, which can lead to jitters, an upset stomach, and an elevated heart rate.

The dangers of dry-scooping is about both the rate of ingestion and the amount, but much more so the amount. A person dry-scooping one or two scoops is still only getting 150 to 300mg most likely, which isn’t a toxic dose, even short-term. A toxic dose would be 20 to 40mg per kilogram of bodyweight, or about 1,800 to 2,000mg for a 200 pound individual.

Still, there are other potential hazards associated with dry scooping. For example, you can also choke on the powder. There’s a reason the directions on pre-workout powders tell you to mix it with water into your favorite shaker bottle. (28)

Final Word

If you’re engaged in sports, supplements (like pre-workouts) may be super helpful. They might increase the amount of energy you have and the effectiveness of the exercise. We’ve tried dozens of pre-workouts to land on this list of the best pre-workout supplements on the market for almost any athlete, whether you love or hate caffeine, want to improve your run time, or just get a better pump.

We looked at the price, taste, ingredients, and effectiveness of every one of these supplements. While plenty of people have different ideas about what constitutes a “high quality” pre-workout, we think we’ve put together a tremendous guide to picking the best pre-workout supplements for a variety of fitness goals.

FAQs

What does a pre-workout do?

It depends on what’s in the pre-workout, but ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, and betaine have been linked to higher energy levels, better power production, and improved endurance. Some ingredients, like tyrosine and taurine, may even improve focus.

What is the best pre-workout?

There are so many options on the market for pre-workouts, and many seem to have similar formulas. One that stands out from the noise with a potent and robust ingredients list is Transparent Labs BULK. It has well-dosed levels of citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine to potentially support blood flow and endurance. You’ll also find a moderate helping of stimulants and focus ingredients with 200mg of caffeine along with alpha-GPC, theobromine, and taurine.

Can I take pre-workout every day?

Strictly speaking, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so, but it is usually ill-advised. The more regularly you take pre-workout, the less effective each dose usually becomes because you build up a tolerance. We generally try to only take pre-workout before particularly challenging sessions or when we really need an extra kick of energy. It’s also a good idea to occasionally take some time off from pre-workouts. You’ll be surprised how much more you might notice the effects after a week away from the ingredients.

How long does pre-workout last?

Everyone’s body processes the ingredients in pre-workouts differently, so it’s difficult to pin down an exact time. That said, you can usually feel the effects of a pre for anywhere from two to six hours, depending on a variety of factors. What and how recently you’ve eaten, how strong the pre-workout is, and your own biochemistry all may play a role in how long a pre-workout lasts.

How much does a pre-workout cost?

The short answer here is that the price of a pre-workout supplement will vary greatly depending on the ingredient list, dosages, and quality of each ingredient. Most fluctuate between about $1.40 to $3.00 per serving with the average price costing about $2.05 per serving. Although this may seem expensive to some, you tend to get what you pay for with pre-workout supplements.

What is dry scooping pre-workout?

Dry scooping refers to taking a scoop of pre-workout powder dry, as the name implies, without mixing it in a shaker bottle or cup, then (optionally) washing it down with water after. It can be dangerous, though, as mixing the pre-workout with water allows your body time to absorb the ingredients more slowly. We advise against it and always recommend following the label of your pre-workout supplement for instructions on how best to take it.

Is it better to drink pre-workout before or during workout?

It’s best to drink your pre-workout before going to the gym, as it can take a good thirty minutes to “kick in.” For optimal results, and if you’re in a hurry, it may be best to take pre-workout on an empty stomach so that it digests quickly.

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18 Best Pre-Workouts of 2024, RDN-Approved (June Update) (2024)

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