It can be hard to know where to start when looking for the best pre-workout supplement. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pre-workout products on the market, and every brand claims that theirs is the game changer! Here we will outline our top 10 pre-workout drinks, ingredients to look our for, and which one YOU should choose.
Pre-workout comparison chart (top 10 highest rated products)
|Product||Best For||Our Rating||Pricing|
|Hydrazine||Laser focus||10/10||Check Price|
|Excelsior||All day nootropic and energy||9/10||Check Price|
|Frenzy||Energy and performance||7/10||Check Price|
|Pre Jym||High quality ingredients||7/10||Check Price|
|CRZ OG||Old-school pre-workout feel||8/10||Check Price|
|Pathogen||High caffeine content||8/10||Check Price|
|Arez||A pre that does it all||8/10||Check Price|
|Game Day||Quality and flavour||7/10||Check Price|
|C4||Introduction to pre-workout||4/10||Check Price|
What are the best pre workout ingredients?
It is difficult to give a definitive list of 'best' pre-workout ingredients as this will largely depend on what you are trying to achieve. We could break down ingredients into subcategories for the goal they serve, whether it be pump, performance, energy or focus. As far as commonly seen ingredients that have the most literature backing their efficacy, we will discuss a handful of them here.
The world’s most popular psychoactive drug. Caffeine is a stimulant that works on the central nervous system to increase energy, alertness and productivity. Often, people will associate more caffeine with a 'stronger' pre-workout. This is not always the case! Caffeine can work synergistically with other ingredients from teacrine to dynamine and l-theanine. 200-250mg is a commonly seen dose, more can cause jitters in caffeine-sensitive individuals.
2. Creatine Monohydrate
Considered ‘the most researched supplement in the world’, a quick internet search will pull up thousands of studies backing creatine’s ability to increase strength and power. The inclusion of creatine in pre-workouts seems to divide consumers, however when an effective dose (minimum of 3g, in this case 4.5g) is used, it is great value for money for the athlete and more convenient than having to supplement creatine separately. Creatine works by donating a phosphate to ADP for the regeneration of ATP so that energy can continue to be released for processes such as muscular contraction.
3. Beta Alanine
Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid needed for the production of carnosine. Carnosine is a buffer of lactic acid, meaning it can increase exercise capacity. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions after supplementing beta alanine. But it is not just suitable for bodybuilders! Beta alanine can improve performance in a number of sports and competitions from rowing to sprinting. Beta alanine is also sometimes seen as 'Carnosyn' on supplement labels, this is a high quality patented form.
4. L-Citrulline / L-Citrulline Malate
Citrulline is one of the most commonly seen ingredients on supplement labels, but do be aware that citrulline malate requires a higher dose to be effective. Citrulline malate is formed by adding a malic acid to L-Citrulline (generally citrulline malate is a 2:1 ratio). At least 3g of L-Citrulline per day is recommended for circulatory health. A larger dose, taken before exercise, can reduce time to fatigue, increase training volume and increase nitric oxide production for improved performance.
5. Nitric Oxide Boosters
Boosting nitric oxide yields multiple benefits from better muscle pumps, increased vascularity, improved blood flow and increased endurance and energy. Popular nitric oxide boosting ingredients include beetroot, L-arginine and L-Norvaline. Many caffeine-free pre-workouts will be loaded with pump ingredients like nitric oxide boosters to allow you to train harder and longer without any crash or stimulant related side effects.
Betaine (also seen under the name trimethylglycine) increases intracellular hydration in a similar way to creatine. For exercise performance, betaine might increase power output and improve volume and endurance in a workout. Betaine has been shown to be liver and cardioprotective. For anyone looking to maximise performance, Betaine is a no-brainer.
Ingredients to increase hydration can reduce time to muscle fatigue and even improve pumps. These include coconut water, a natural source of electrolytes, and glycerol which facilitates H2O retention and can prevent excessive water loss.
8. Fat Burners
Many ingredients found in fat burners can double up to boost workouts as they have properties including increasing heart rate, sweating and calorie burn or even increasing metabolism and fatty acid mobilisation. Ones that you might commonly see include green tea, a natural source of caffeine, and l-carnitine, which helps us use fat for fuel.
What is the best pre workout supplement? Here’s our 2020 top 10 list:
With so many great pre-workouts in our store, we couldn't pick just one 'best'. We have however simplified things by narrowing it down to our top pre-workout supplements for each goal in 2020. We will also delve into key ingredients, customer reviews and price points.
1. Hydrazine (Best Nootropic Pre-Workout)
Hydrazine is the only capsule pre-workout we are going to feature in this list... and is the only capsule pre-workout you will ever need. Hydrazine delivers unrivalled nootropic effects for laser focus and increased motivation, with all day energy that keeps mood elevated for hours with no comedown.
- Bauhinia Purpurea Extract
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Kigelia Africana Extract
- Cymbidium Goeringii Extract
'I’ve tried a few pre workouts now and personally just can’t get on board with all the jittery feels and the itch! I much prefer just clean energy and focus and this product delivers just that! I’ve been consistently using it for a few years and it remains my go to pre-workout. The focus is unreal and long lasting, I find my days overall are just so much more productive when I take it early in the day.'
2. Excelsior (Best Energy Pre-Workout)
Excelsior by Imprerial Labs brings back the glory days of pre-workouts with cutting edge stims and a neurocognitive experience that can only be compared to the likes of Hydrazine.
- Kigelia Africana Extract
- Caffeine Anhydrous
'For me, excelsior is 'the one'. This review is purely speaking from personal experience. In a nutshell, I find the product enjoyable. I experience absolutely no anxiety, no sickness, no heart palpitations, no jitters or crash. I can describe the feeling as 'perfectly clean, natural feeling energy' with a great sense of well being. Basically it just feels 'right'. I feel switched on and capable of owning my session. I use 1 scoop with no side effects. Absolutely love this stuff!'
3. Cellucor C4 (Best Known Pre-Workout)
For those who've been in fitness or bodybuilding for some time now, it's very likely you'll have heard of the legendary C4 pre-workout! C4 is a good introduction to pre-workouts. Although only quite low dosed in ingredients like creatine, beta alanine and l-tyrosine, it has just enough for an energy boost and to provide some support to athletic performance. It also comes in great flavours. We'd group this with products like NO-Xplode and Gold Standard Pre-Workout. If you'd prefer anything more effective, look to another product on this list!
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
- Carnosyn Beta Alanine
- Creatine Monohydrate
'This is by far the best Pre-workout on the market! Blue razz reminds me of being a kid eating sweets so it's perfect to give you that kick before a run or lifting weights.'
4. Pre-Jym (Best US Pre-Workout)
Pre Jym provides 13 clinically validated ingredients to give you a physical and mental edge for all types of physical activity. With Pre Jym, all ingredients are clinically dosed and fully transparent on the label, unlike other brands which use proprietary blends. For those who enjoy Pre-Jym, we'd also recommend checking out rival product Pre-Kaged.
- Creatine Hydrochloride
- Beta Alanine
- Branched Chain Amino Acids
'Excellent product. From nutritional profile to it's effects are absolutely awesome. Probably the best product that's going to help you with endurance and stamina during prolonged weight training or cardio based workout. I wouldn’t change this product for any other pre-workouts going.'
5. Arez (Best All-In-One)
It is rare that we see a pre-workout successfully cover pump, energy and focus, but NTEL Nutra have done just that with Arez. NTEL Nutra Arez is a complete pre-workout containing minerals, amino acids, ergogenic ingredients, stimulants and nootropics which have shown to promote optimal mental and physical performance. If you are looking for an all-in-one pre-workout which provides and increase in energy, focus and overall physical performance in the gym then Arez is definitely for you!
- Beta Alanine
- Alpha GPC
- Rhodiola Rosea
'When manufacturers use sentences such as “God like surge” it usually sounds to good to be true. In this case it isn’t! Best PWO product in a long while, hands down. And the best part, no crash! Like it - Love it.'
Frenzy is considered one of the most powerful pre-workout supplements in the world to achieve high levels of power, speed, strength, or endurance. Frenzy is certainly not one for beginners!
- Creatine Monohydrate
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate
'2 full scoops on an empty stomach and this is something else! The rush and intense focus is just amazing!'
Fusion Supplements are known for their range of hardcore supplements... so, of course, their pre-workout is no different. Finally, a preworkout that brings back a level of rage and intensity not seen since the days of the OG Jack3d. Obliterate is loaded with stims and 6 neural energisers which will get a response from even those with a high tolerance to their current pre-workout. You'll also find key ergogenics for endurance and pump!
- Beta Alanine
'After constantly switching pre workouts; trying to find one that gives me the focus, energy and endurance I need, I came across this. Best thing about it is that 1 levelled scoop is all you need, with other Pre's I have to take two scoops so it was costing me more. It mixes really well and tasted great.'
8. CRZ OG
You may have heard legends of the original Craze pre-workout. Now, after many years of careful reformulation, Driven Sports can offer CRZ OG, which delivers the same supercharged focus and tunnel vision OG Craze users loved. For hours after drinking, CRZ OG will deliver an enhancement in CNS activity leading to greater strength expression. Add in the enhanced level of smooth energy it confers and Crz will further potentiate your athletic performance.
- Erythropalum scanden
CRZ OG Review:
'The first 3-4 hours are about 90% of the feel of the original Craze. Insane mood enhancement, tunnel vision focus, and that feeling of being able to train for hours without getting tired. Time ceases to exist and I feel like I am in another dimension for most of the day. I am dosing at 1.5 scoops and it’s gives me an out of body experience when it first kicks in around 30 minutes after drinking. Everything is better on CRZ!'
All the way from the US, Outbreak Nutrition and there super cool branding are not one to sleep on. Pathogen has a unique formula and ultimate combination of compounds for focus, performance and pump, not to mention a high dose 350mg caffeine!
- L-Citrulline Malate
- Beta Alanine
'Gives full body tingles from the huge helping of beta alanine and a slight pump on the way to the gym. Comfortably managed 2-3 extra reps per set with around 10% increase in weight too. Had a noticeable pump while working out. In terms of performance it's one of the best I've ever had.'
10. Game Day
Man Sports never fail to impress us with their range of supplements, and their pre-workout Game Day is no different. Game day provides clean crisp energy during your workouts,powered by a formula which includes amp citrate, an ingredient which is classed by many as the most potent stimulant around.
- Creatine HCL
- Beta Alanine
- Natural Caffeine
- Choline Bitartrate
Game Day Review:
'All pre work outs will try to throw flashy key words at you like laser focus and extreme pumps etc and I have used my fair share of pre work outs over the years so I feel I can judge some big and small brands now. Man Sports' game day is not perfect but the ingredients are pretty much what you could ever want from a pre work out, it offers every thing at the right dose or there about and doesn't mess around with adding huge amounts of things that do the same things. It uses key ingredients for muscle pumps and a high caffeine content that does not leave me feeling sick after like a lot of other brands do.'
And here we have it! Our top pre-workout supplements for boosting energy levels, assisting muscle growth, fat loss and more. Remember, not all pre-workouts were created equal! Many of what were once the most loved pre-workouts on the market have fallen behind the times, and others are horribly underdosed or hide behind blends that leave the truth of the ingredients a complete mystery. We would advise the more educated user to avoid these gimmicky products like Legion Pulse or the original Hyde.
How late can I take a pre-workout?
If your pre-workout is free from stimulants, you can take it any time you wish! If using a caffeine pre-workout, be mindful that caffeine has a half life of around 6 hours (so if you take 200mg at 5pm, approximately 100mg will be in your system at 11pm). If caffeine interferes with sleep, avoid it after midday.
How long does pre-workout take to kick in?
This will depend on factors such as: if stimulants are included, what the stimulants are, if/how much you have eaten and if the capsule is in a capsule or powder form. You might notice the 'beta alanine tingle' within 10 minutes or so of consuming a pre-workout, but most will need 20-30 minutes from drinking for all active ingredients to start taking effect. Allow an extra 10 minutes or so if using capsules.
Should I use pre-workout?
If you are able to perform well on your pre-workout meal alone, a pre-workout supplement might not always be essential. But if you really want to maximize progress and put yourself in the best position to perform, a pre-workout can support you towards your goals. There are pre-workout alternatives available.