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Best Pre-Workout for Men: The Top 22 Pre Workouts That Work in 2022

Some of the most common claims made by pre-workout manufacturers are that their products promise mind-bending focus, skin tearing pumps, explosive energy, and so much more. While all of this is true- finding the right one can be overwhelming. After all, there are so many different formulas, price points, effects, and so much more. A good pre-workout is so much more than a fruity flavor and a dose of caffeine. It has the potential to significantly increase your overall athletic performance and gains.

As mentioned, due to the many options, it can be a bit overwhelming to find the best pre-workout. However, you are in luck- we’ve taken the time to do the research for you and put together what we feel are the top 22 best pre-workout supplements on the market today. Before we get into the reviews though, we’re going to explain a little more about what exactly a pre-workout is, the most common ingredients found in these supplements, benefits & side effects of pre-workouts, who should consider using a pre-workout, and whether or not you really NEED a pre-workout.

Finally, we’ll get into the reviews and explain the factors we used to create our list. We hope that we can help you learn more about pre-workouts and how they can help you- and to help you find one that will work for you. Keep in mind that you can try several different ones if you need to in order to find the one that meets your needs.

Pre-Workout Defined

Before we can dive in, we need to first explain what a pre-workout supplement is. This is a fitness supplement that has proven to increase energy and improve athletic performance. Most of the time, a pre-workout is a powder that you can combine with liquid (usually water) and consume approximately 20-30 minutes before you work out. It’s important to note that if you consume it too early (45+ minutes before a workout), the effects are likely to run out before the workout is complete. On the other hand, if you drink it 15 minutes or less before working out, it may not have time to take effect. In other words, you’ve got to find that sweet spot.

When you start shopping around for a pre-workout, you will be faced with a plethora of formulations. However, when it comes to the ingredient lists, you will find that there is a bit of consistency. Some of the most common ingredients include:

  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Caffeine
  • Taurine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Creatine
  • Tyrosine
  • BCAAs
  • Amino Acids

We’ll explore each of these a bit closer later on. It’s also important to note that some also include artificial sweeteners, though many people do prefer to avoid these due to the potential side effects they can cause.

You will find that the blend/dosages of these ingredients vary among the various manufacturers. They don’t all use the same ingredients at the same dosages- and since the FDA does not regulate supplements as drugs, there’s really no rules regarding what can or can’t be used.

One of the primary things you need to consider when choosing a pre-workout is that it has been third-party tested for quality, purity, and potency. If not, you should probably move on to one that has been.

Benefits Associated with Pre-Workouts

Depending upon the type of workouts you engage in, a pre-workout can be used to enhance energy levels, increase muscle mass and strength, improve endurance, increase stamina, and so much more. In fact, in some cases, a pre-workout may actually do all of the above. Below, we’re going to explore some of the most common benefits associated with using a pre-workout.

Muscle Mass is Increased

You will find that the majority of the supplements on the market contain amino acids, which are primarily responsible for muscle mass increases. In most cases, these supplements will contain the 9 essential amino acids, including high BCAA concentrations, which are 3 amino acids responsible for muscle protein synthesis. The BCAAs can immediately be used- they do not have to go through your digestive system.

Some of the pre-workouts also contain an ingredient known as citrulline, which is an amino acid responsible for improving blood flow and oxygen to the muscles. This allows additional nutrients to be carried to your muscles during intense workouts. This means that you can increase the intensity and length of your workouts- which equals increased muscle gain and improved performance.

Strength is Enhanced

Another common benefit associated with pre-workout is enhanced strength. There are several ways this is accomplished. First of all, a pre-workout increases muscle gains (as explained above), but it can also improve your metabolism- which enhances strength during your workout. Additionally, a pre-workout ensures that your strength gains last well beyond the workout itself.

According to research, creatine is the ingredient that is responsible for improving endurance, enhancing strength, and increasing muscle mass. This is the reason why it’s typically included in fitness supplements. Some pre-workouts also include nitrates, which allow more nutrients- including amino acids- to be carried to your muscles. Nitrates provide your body with everything it needs to perform at its best and enhance your strength.

Endurance is Boosted

The primary way to mitigate the effects of fatigue is to boost your endurance. A pre-workout is able to do this in two ways:

  • Caffeine provides energy
  • Beta-alanine prevents lactic acid buildup in your muscles

Another ingredient commonly found in pre-workouts that we have not mentioned yet is sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate works with the beta-alanine to reduce lactic acid in your muscles.

Finally, L-theanine is also a common ingredient in pre-workouts. It comes from green tea and helps to counteract some of the effects of caffeine, such as anxiety.

Who Needs a Pre-Workout?

Many people believe that pre-workouts are for bodybuilders, weightlifters, or serious athletes. However, the truth is that anyone that wants to improve their athletic performance or get more from their workouts needs a pre-workout. Here are just a few of the people who may want to consider adding a pre-workout to their routine:

  • Weekend warrior athletes
  • Anyone wanting to get more from their workouts
  • Anyone wanting to increase intensity and length of workouts
  • Bodybuilders, weightlifters
  • Gamers
  • Serious athletes
  • Runners
  • Cyclists
  • Anyone wanting to burn fat or lose weight

Common Pre-Workout Ingredients

We briefly mentioned some of the most common ingredients above. Now, we’ll look a little closer at some of them. It’s important to keep in mind that though most of the pre-workouts do use some combination of the following, not all of them are useful. Make sure that the pre-workout you choose has been third-party tested for quality, potency, and purity. This way, you know you can trust it. Now, let’s look at some of these common pre-workout ingredients:

Caffeine

Caffeine is the ingredient responsible for endurance, strength, alertness, perceived exertion, and power output. According to the FDA, a small cup of coffee contains approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine and a tall one (355 milliliters) contains approximately 235 milligrams. Most pre-workouts contain between 80 milligrams to 350 milligrams of caffeine.

Creatine

The second ingredient most commonly used in pre-workouts is creatine. This ingredient is helpful in reducing fatigue, as well as increasing power output and anaerobic capacity. It is also responsible for muscle growth because it pulls water into muscle tissue. It can also be found as a standalone supplement. Ideally, you should be taking 5 to 10 grams of creatine per day if you want to increase muscle size. Some people do practice loading, which is where you take a huge dose (up to 20 grams daily) for the first 5 to 7 days and then drop to a smaller dose of up to 10 grams daily. However, this really isn’t necessary.

Beta-Alanine

According to the experts, beta-alanine can improve endurance in strength training and cardio-focused workouts. It helps with hypertrophy because it allows you to endure more training. A standard dose of beta-alanine is between 1.6 grams to 3.2 grams.

Citrulline

Citrulline is an amino acid that has been found to assist with circulation and can improve most areas of performance including endurance and power output. According to the experts, 5+ grams of citrulline is effective.

Betaine Anhydrous

Betaine anhydrous is proven to improve muscular endurance and power output. Some research also indicates that it decreases post-workout cortisol, which can help with your body’s stress response. It’s also often found in leafy greens and beets.

Taurine

Taurine is believed to help improve focus when paired with caffeine. Additionally, since it may pull water into your cells, it may help with improving recovery and preventing muscle cramps. The standard dose of taurine is 1 to 2 grams.

Tyrosine

The last ingredient we’ll look at is tyrosine. This is also used to improve focus and can reduce stress during your workouts by producing dopamine and adrenaline. Most studies have used at least 5 grams, so a minimum dosage has not been established, but experts say you should look for at least 500 milligrams.

Top 22 Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Now that we’ve explained more about pre-workouts, their ingredients, benefits, and potential risks, we’re going to take a look at what we feel are the top 22 best pre-workout supplements on the market at this time. We did the work, so you don’t have to.

XWERKS Ignite

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XWERKS Ignite has been well received in the market and even won Sports Illustrated’s Pre Workout Of The Year in 2021. This pre-workout was formulated with the goal of optimizing performance.

The ingredients work together to increase stamina, energy, and focus- which means you can increase the intensity and length of your workouts. XWERKS is a top-notch company. They do not believe in hiding behind “proprietary blends”. They believe in listing each and every ingredient on their label, along with the dosages.

The ingredients included in this formula are backed by science and will ensure that you get the most from your workouts each and every time. Ignites will provide you with long-lasting, steady energy. This product does not flood you with stimulants to give you an increase in energy only to cause you to crash later. Some of the ingredients in this formula are:

  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin B6 & B12
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Beta-alanine
  • L-tyrosine

The energy blend provides you with continuous energy without the crash. The nootropic blend keeps you focused on your training. The endurance blend gives you the energy to workout longer, complete more reps, and recover quicker. This pre-workout is available in four delicious flavors: blue raspberry, green apple, orange, and watermelon.

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NSP Nutrition Energize Pre-Workout

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Energize Pre-Workout by NSP Nutrition is one of the most affordable- and top quality pre-workouts on the market today. It is available in several unique flavors, including tropical sunrise, grape blast, and lemonade fresh. When you take a scoop of this formula prior to working out, you increase your work capacity, eliminate brain fog- and remain mentally sharp, activate muscle gains, and achieve bigger pumps.

Energize contains effective dosages of the following ingredients:

  • DMAE
  • Creatine
  • Choline
  • Citrulline
  • L-theanine

Additionally, there are a few other ingredients that target mental and physical performance.

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CrazyBulk Intensive Pre Train

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Chances are you have heard of CrazyBulk. After all, it is one of the most popular names in the supplement industry. This company is known for producing high-quality, legal alternatives to steroids. Their pre-workout, Intensive Pre-Train, upholds their stellar reputation. Intensive Pre-Train provides users with decreased fatigue, enduring energy, help with HIIT workouts, and so much more.

This pre-workout contains some of the basic ingredients, as well as a couple of more unique ones:

  • EnXtra (caffeine booster)
  • KSM-66 ashwagandha extract

According to CrazyBulk, Intensive Pre-Train needs to be taken daily, even on your rest days, to increase energy and focus. In addition, it can reduce your feelings of fatigue and help you crush your workouts. This pre-workout offers an amazing price point, you get three tubs for the price of two from the competitors. Plus, it can ship anywhere in the world.

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Cellucor

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Cellucor has been in the industry for some time. In fact, chances are this is the first company you think of when you think of pre-workouts. They have two products on our list:

  • C4
  • C4 Extreme

C4 Original

Cellucor’s C4 Original is that ex you always turn back to. Most people would agree this is the first mass-produced pre-workout and chances are, you or someone you know has used it. After all, it has been around for more than a decade, making it one of the most established brands in the industry.

Cellucor C4 contains the following:

  • 6 grams beta-alanine
  • 1 gram arginine
  • 1 gram creatine
  • 150 milligrams caffeine

C4 is one of the most affordable options on our list. You can get a 30 serving container for around $30. If you prefer, you can spend $50 and get 60 servings. C4 is ideal for those who want a pre-workout that is proven effective at an affordable price.

C4 Extreme

C4 Extreme is for those who want to maximize energy and endurance. It is available in unique flavors: strawberry margarita and icy blue razz. This formula provides the same benefits as the C4 Original, with more intensity. Plus, this formula contains 0 sugar or calories, which means your weight loss goals or macronutrient balance are not affected at all.

The ingredients are the same as the C4 Original- only the dosages are higher to pack more of a punch. This is also affordable, at only $34.99 per container. Again, Cellucor is one of the most established and respected companies on our list.

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Onnit Total Strength + Performance

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Onnit has become a household name in the supplement industry. They are known for producing high-quality products targeting health and wellness from several angles. Total Strength + Performance is their pre-workout formula and is among the best options you’ll find- which is why it’s on our list. It is available in a strawberry lemonade flavor.

The flavor itself gets mixed reviews, but the formulation is among the best. It contains:

  • BCAAs
  • DAA
  • Plant/herbal extracts

It is non-caffeinated as well and contains other powerful ingredients that will give your workout a boost. It is a bit on the more expensive end, at $69 for a one-month supply. However, it’s perfect for those who want large servings with certified ingredients and noticeable benefits.

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Transparent Labs Pre-Workout

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Like many of the other brands we’ve listed so far, Transparent Labs is also well-known and respected in the industry. They are known for producing bodybuilding supplements to help users reach a variety of health and fitness goals.

At this time, Transparent Labs actually offers six different pre-workout formulas. Some help with bulking up, while others help with weight loss, and still others improve energy levels. Some are stim-free and others contain stimulants. Here are the products they offer in the pre-workout realm:

  • Preseries HowtoBeast Bulk
  • Preseries Bulk Pre-Workout
  • Preseries Jesse James West Bulk
  • Preseries Stim-Free
  • Preseries Stim Booster
  • Preseries Lean

While many of the other formulas take an “all-in-one” approach, Transparent Labs has different formulas to reach specific goals. This pre-workout is made with certified ingredients and strong dosages, making it one of the best options on the market today.

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Ladder Pre-Workout

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Ladder was founded by Lebron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger when they discovered that they could not find a good quality pre-workout to help them meet their goals. This pre-workout provides users with the following:

  • 500 milligrams citicoline
  • 100 milligrams caffeine
  • 3 grams beta-alanine
  • 250 milligrams theanine

It is also on the higher end when it comes to price, but it is also one of the few that carries the NSF Certified for Sport certification. This is critical for professional athletes to be sure that there are no ingredients that are dangerous or have been banned from the competition arena.

Ladder is always 100% transparent with their products. Each and every batch is tested to ensure quality, purity, and potency- as well as label accuracy.

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4 Gauge

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According to the website, this pre-workout provides users with amazing performance without the jitters often associated with other brands. The packaging is unique- it looks like a shotgun shell. There are no artificial sweeteners in this formula and there are only five calories per serving, so you don’t have to be worried about messing up your diet.

This pre-workout contains the following:

  • 6000 milligrams L-citrulline
  • 200 milligrams L-theanine
  • 200 milligrams Rhodiola Rosea
  • 150 milligrams caffeine

There are also several other certified ingredients, including beetroot to help dilate blood vessels.

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Pulse Pre-Workout by Legion Athletics

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This is a natural pre-workout that zeroes in on focus and mood, while also increasing energy, strength, and endurance. Pulse, like most of the other highly-rated pre-workouts reduces fatigue with natural ingredients. Each serving offers the following:

  • 8 grams citrulline malate
  • 6 grams beta alanine
  • 350 milligrams caffeine

Pulse by Legion is available in a blueberry lemonade flavor and comes with or without caffeine. If you’re interested in using a natural supplement, this may be a good option for you to keep in mind. Pulse costs $31.99 for 30 servings.

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Steel Supplements

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Steel Supplements PRE is designed to provide users with increased endurance, along with energy and focus. Steel Supplements uses clinically backed ingredients to revolutionize the world of pre-workouts. This product is formulated for both men and women who want an intermediate stimulant. One scoop will provide enough endurance, energy, and focus to crush your workout. A second scoop provides maximum potency to achieve intense results.

According to the website, whether you are new to the world of pre-workouts or you’ve been using them for some time, PRE will give you everything you need to get past your plateaus and achieve the most from each and every workout.

Steel offers some unique flavors:

  • Blue Sky
  • Candy Bliss
  • Grape Bubblegum
  • Peachy

Each container costs $30 for 30 scoops. If you’re a beginner, 1 scoop will be fine for you- but if you’ve been using pre-workouts for a while or if you’ve been working out for a while, you may want to use 2.

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Bauer Nutrition Battle-Ready Fuel Pre-Workout

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Battle Ready Fuel, also known as BRF, by Bauer Nutrition promises to improve energy levels with natural ingredients. It costs $27 for 30 servings- or just under $1 per serving. Bauer does offer a 60-day money back guarantee. This pre-workout improves energy levels, increases workout intensity and endurance, and also sharpens focus.

This pre-workout formula contains:

  • Clarinol CLA
  • Caffeine
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Vitamin C

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Beast Sports Beast Mode Black

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Beast Mode Black from Beast Sports is 380% stronger than the standard Beast Mode. It is formulated for those who want the most significant ingredient dosages for the best results. Since it is stronger than the standard version, consumers who use this experience more strength and fat burning potential per serving.

It is important to note that Beast Mode Black by Beast Sports offers one of the highest doses of caffeine per serving – up to 400 milligrams.

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PreLab Pro

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PreLab Pro supports your workout in a variety of ways. According to their website, this pre-workout formula improves strength, stamina, speed, and endurance. It is also beneficial for those who are going through anabolic workouts, cardio workouts, and even recovery.

This pre-workout contains unique ingredients not found in other pre-workout formulas, such as those supporting homeostasis and nootropics. You will pay $59 for a one-month supply of this pre-workout.

One of the primary reasons this is a favorite is the ingredients and dosages. Some of the key ingredients include:

  • Setria performance blend
  • Beetroot powder
  • L-theanine
  • Natural caffeine

This is only available in a natural berry flavor.

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Blackwolf Pre-workout

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Blackwolf may not be as highly recognized as many of the others on our list, but it is a high-quality pre-workout that uses certified ingredients, delicious flavors, and great packaging. This is a subsidiary of MuscleClub Limited, which is a dietary supplement company from the United Kingdom.

Blackwolf is new- but MuscleClub Limited has been around for some time. Blackwolf Pre-workout is offered in three fruity flavors:

  • Fruit punch
  • Green apple
  • Blue raspberry

The fruit punch is available with and without caffeine. Each serving of Blackwolf Pre-workout offers the following:

  • 2000 milligrams betaine
  • 3000 milligrams creatine
  • 1000 milligrams L-arginine
  • 6000 milligrams L-citrulline
  • 3200 milligrams of beta-alanine
  • 600 milligrams L-tyrosine
  • 1000 milligrams taurine

The caffeinated version contains all of the above ingredients, as well as:

  • 150 milligrams DMAE
  • 200 milligrams caffeine

The non-caffeinated version contains:

  • 10 milligrams Huperzine

These dosages make Blackwolf one of the strongest pre-workouts on our list.

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Ghost Legend

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In 2016, Ghost launched Legend, their flagship pre-workout with the goal of empowering their customers beyond the gym. This product has become a stand-out energy/focus formula with ingredients that help you feel like a legend. These products are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, sugar-free, and soy-free.

All of the products from Ghost have a transparent label that list each ingredient in the formula, along with the dosage. You don’t have to worry about proprietary blends with this brand. Common ingredients are:

  • 4 grams of L-citrulline
  • 2 grams of beta-alanine
  • 250 milligrams of natural caffeine

Ghost Legend also contains the following:

  • Nitrosigine
  • Senactiv
  • L-tyrosine
  • Alpha-GPC

Ghost Legend is available in a variety of interesting flavors:

  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Warheads
  • Welch’s Grape

Each tub is $44.99 and offers 50 scoops. Each serving is 2 scoops, but if you’re just getting started, you may wish to cut it down to 1 scoop until you know how it will affect you.

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Alani Nu Pre-Workout

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Alani Nu Pre-workout is popular and well-loved. They offer a lot more flavors than many of the other options we’ve listed so far. This pre-workout is different than other brands because it offers a few ingredients in high dosages:

  • 6 grams beta-alanine
  • 500 milligrams L-tyrosine
  • 6 grams citrulline
  • 200 milligrams L-theanine
  • 200 milligrams caffeine

The L-theanine, along with a few others, work together to prevent post-workout crashes and jitters. Each container lasts for about a month and costs $39.99. There are no fillers in this pre-workout, so you can trust it to be just as good as the other formulas on the list.

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Huge Supplements

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Huge Supplements is still a relatively new company, only having joined the industry in 2019. This company has 3 products on our list:

  • Wrecked
  • Wrecked Extreme
  • Wrecked Stim-Free

We’ll look at each one below:

Wrecked

This formula is offered in four flavors:

  • Peach Rings
  • Bomb Popsicle
  • Rainbow Burst
  • Raspberry Mojito

It is a bit more expensive than many of the others on the list. You get 25 servings for $44.95. However, it does contain high dosages of 18 ingredients. Some of these ingredients include:

  • 250 milligrams caffeine
  • 1000 milligrams L-tyrosine
  • 3200 milligrams beta-alanine
  • 2000 milligrams betaine anhydrous

It also contains unique ingredients, including:

  • Theobromine
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom extract
  • Inositol

You won’t find these ingredients in other formulations.

Wrecked Extreme

This is the most powerful supplement offered by Huge Supplements. This version contains the same ingredients found in the original formula, but at higher dosages. The scoop size is smaller because the dosages are more concentrated. The amount of caffeine remains basically the same. Wrecked Extreme promises to deliver more potent ingredients than the original and costs $59.95 per container.

Wrecked Stim-Free

This formula from Huge Supplements is stimulant-free. This means that there is no caffeine in this formula. It does contain most of the ingredients found in other formulas- minus the caffeine. Each serving of Wrecked Stim-Free provides:

  • 8 grams L-citrulline
  • 3 grams Glycerpump
  • 2 grams beetroot extract

According to the website, the goal with this formula is to provide users with natural energy with natural ingredients instead of flooding them with caffeine. This supplement costs $54.95 per container and is ideal for those who want max power with no caffeine.

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TestoPrime

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This is the first pre-workout on our list formulated specifically for men. It is a natural testosterone booster. This pre-workout uses natural ingredients to target hormone levels, as well as protein synthesis. This product will improve protein synthesis, mental and physical energy, and also burn fat and improve your motivation.

According to the website, this pre-workout helps with low-T, while also improving results in the gym and on the field.

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Powher Pre-Workout

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This is the first of two pre-workouts on our list that are specifically formulated for females and, though females can benefit from other pre-workout formulas on our list, this one gives them an “unfair” advantage.

Powher Pre-workout contains ingredients such as: EnXtra. This is a caffeine booster that is sourced from a plant in the ginger family. It is believed that this ingredient improves the natural effects of caffeine. In addition to the EnXtra, Powher provides users with the following ingredients:

  • Pantothenic acid
  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin B6

Each container is $45 and is the perfect pre-workout option for those that prefer a combo of certified pre-workout ingredients in smaller dosages than the other products.

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IdealLean Pre-Workout from IdealFit

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IdealLean Pre-Workout from IdealFit is the second pre-workout on our list that is specifically formulated for females. When it comes to price, it’s on par with many of the others on the list, costing $26 for 30 servings. It is only available in a blue raspberry flavor and is one of the most highly-rated options for women that want a boost to their standard workout.

One serving contains the following:

  • 1500 milligrams beta-alanine
  • 3000 milligrams citrulline
  • 1500 milligrams betaine
  • 150 milligrams caffeine
  • 310 milligrams weight loss blend

IdealLean from IdealFit is different from Powher because this formula uses stronger dosages. You can tell by their hundreds of positive reviews that this supplement is well-loved by the women who have tried it.

As you can see, there are lots of different options on the market when it comes to pre-workout supplements. We hope that these products have given you some ideas. If you’re ready to get started with pre-workouts, choose from this list. This way, you know that they are what they promise to be.

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Best OverallXWERKS Ignite$1.63 Per Serving
Best Flavor OptionsGhost Legend$1.80 Per Serving
Best For BeginnersCellucor C4$1 Per Serving
Best For VegansLadder Pre Workout$1.86 pre serving
Best For WomenPowher Pre Workout$1.80 per serving
Best For BulkingTransparent Labs Bulk$1.66 Per Serving

How We Chose Supplements for Our List

You are going to quickly discover that each and every pre-workout on the market promises to provide you with stamina, energy, and endurance to power through your workouts. That being said, they are not all created equal. They don’t all live up to their promises. In order to weed out the good from the not-so-good, we used the following criteria:

Ingredients/Dosages that are scientifically verified

As we’ve learned, the different manufacturers use different ingredients (and different amounts of those ingredients) to create their formulas. We were not biased towards any certain pre-workout, but we did consider products that have ingredients and dosages that have been verified by science. Many times, manufacturers may be using the right ingredients, but they are using ineffective dosages. In addition, some of the manufacturers hide their ingredients and dosages behind proprietary formulas. We made sure to choose brands that were transparent about what they did or did not include in their formulas.

Honesty in advertising

In our research, we discovered that there are many brands that exaggerate their benefits, promising to help you drop up to 30 pounds overnight or to turn you into a bodybuilder within a few days. However, the truth is, this is not going to happen- nothing is going to work that quickly and nothing is going to work unless you put in some effort. We chose brands that were honest in their advertising.

Third-party testing, health, and safety

If you purchase from an unlicensed manufacturer that has little to no reputation in the industry, you are at risk of getting a dangerous supplement. The best products are NSF Certified for Sport. This certification proves that they have been through rigorous testing and have been deemed high-quality.

Backed by Science

Some of the pre-workouts on the market have experts such as medical doctors, dieticians, and naturopaths standing behind them. Some manufacturers have a medical advisory board on their staff to approve all of their products before they launch them. Others are simply products of marketing teams. We focused on products that have professional, scientific backing.

Texture/Flavor

Most pre-workouts are flavored and therefore made to be mixed with water. This means that the texture and flavor must be pleasant. After all, if a product is not enjoyable, you are not likely to continue to use it. We preferred products that had a pleasant flavor and blended into a smooth texture.

Artificial ingredients/sweeteners/flavors

These days, consumers are careful what they put into their bodies. We preferred products that did not use artificial additives, including flavors and sweeteners. There are some companies that do use natural ingredients and flavors. We gave preference to those products that are all-natural.

Reputation of Manufacturer

As we mentioned, there are some companies that have a medical advisory board. These typically use standard production techniques and are honest about where their ingredients come from. That being said, there are some companies that have zero experience creating high-quality products and like to hide information about their products because they are not quality. We preferred companies that have a good reputation in the industry.

Satisfaction Guarantee

A reputable pre-workout manufacturer will stand behind their products by offering a satisfaction or money-back guarantee to their customers. Some do claim to make this offer, but they have a caveat “no refunds on items that have been opened.” We chose companies that were honest/transparent with their satisfaction or money-back guarantee.

Price/Cost/Value

There are some consumers that can spend $100+ on a supplement, while others only have $10 to spend. We made sure to include a variety of supplements for every budget and preference.

Scoop/Serving Size

We have included products with serving sizes as low as 5 grams and as high as 31 grams- which can be misleading if a customer is interested in a price per serving. As we created our list, we considered scoop and serving sizes, focusing on supplements with powerful ingredients/dosages.

Risks Associated with Pre-Workouts

When you are considering adding a supplement to your workouts, you can’t just look at the benefits- you must also consider some of the risks. For the most part, these supplements are safe and most people never have any issues. However, there are always potential risks associated with every fitness supplement. We’ll explore some of the most common risks associated with using a pre-workout.

Anxiety

One of the primary reasons that people use a pre-workout is to give them energy to power through their intense workout sessions. That being said, the ingredient that gives them that boost is caffeine. Research proves that caffeine reduces fatigue- which means a boost of energy. However, research has also proven that caffeine is associated with effects such as increased heart rate, jitteriness, insomnia, nausea, restlessness, exhaustion but unable to rest, and even anxiety.

Digestive Issues

Another common side effect associated with a pre-workout is digestive issues, including bloating. This is most likely because of the creatine- an ingredient proven to improve HIIT capacity and improve lean body mass. However, it can also cause bloating, water retention, and digestive distress. Some of the other ingredients that could contribute to digestive issues are:

  • Caffeine
  • Sodium bicarbonate

There’s another possible reason for digestive distress: not using enough water with your supplement. The directions are there for a reason. You need to make sure that you follow them carefully. If the dose is too concentrated, it could cause digestive problems- which are not good any time, especially if you are trying to work out.

Headaches

Some people experience headaches when using a pre-workout. Experts believe that this is probably a side effect of the citrulline. After all, this component opens up your blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the muscles to build muscle mass. However, it does not discriminate what muscles it opens blood flow to. Your brain is a muscle too. Increased blood flow causes pressure change- which could cause a headache and in some cases, a migraine.

Science Behind Pre-Workouts

There is plenty of scientific evidence behind pre-workouts. There have been numerous studies that indicate pre-workouts improve physical and mental performance, and results have been validated in both placebo-controlled clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies.

One study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, revealed that pre-workouts were effective “ergogenic aids” for those who lead an active lifestyle. This basically means that pre-workouts effectively improve the athletic performance of people in the gym and on the field.

Additionally, there are many studies that tout the cognitive benefits of pre-workouts. Over half of the products on the market today contain caffeine- which has been proven to be a cognitive enhancer. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicated that caffeine boosts arousal, mood, and concentration- which can help users focus on workouts.

Research has also confirmed the physical benefits of caffeine. One study showed that caffeine enhanced endurance during a workout, so participants were able to perform longer before becoming fatigued. This means participants can engage in longer, challenging workouts, increasing their performance levels throughout the session.

Finally, caffeine has also been proven as a weight loss booster. One study in 1995 indicated that energy levels were increased by 11% when participants used caffeine. The implication is that cardio workout results are better when paired with caffeine.

Studies have shown that L-citrulline, another common pre-workout ingredient, can increase bench press reps by 53%. Studies also indicate that it helps cyclists pedal 12% longer before reaching their exhaustion point.

Creatine, another popular ingredient, has been shown to improve overall athletic performance in both amateur and professional athletes. Creatine improves muscle cell generation during HIIT workouts and strength training.

Other common pre-workout ingredients that are backed by science include: L-theanine, taurine, CDP choline, and BCAAs. Also, many pre-workouts use natural ingredients, such as beetroot extract, which is known for its ability to increase nitric oxide in the body.

Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, which allows blood to flow freely through the veins- lowering blood pressure. While nitric oxide is naturally found in the body, beetroot can increase production. One study showed that there is a link between lower blood pressure and beetroot. Some other studies indicated that beetroot enhances endurance and performance.

Another natural ingredient found in pre-workouts is yohimbine. This is sourced from an African plant and has been used for years to boost flow and energy. One study confirmed these benefits, as well as increasing fat loss. This is the reason many diet supplements have yohimbine as an ingredient.

How to Take Pre-Workout Supplements

Most of the pre-workout manufacturers recommend taking one full serving of their pre-workout formula about 30 minutes to 1 hour before hitting the gym. However, as you can see by reading the reviews, there are some that recommend starting with ½ serving (1 scoop instead of 2 or ½ instead of a full scoop)- especially if it’s one of the high powered supplements.

If you are not used to caffeine, it’s best to start with a ½ serving to see how your body tolerates it. From there, you can increase as needed. Pay attention to the effects that the caffeine is having on you when you are experimenting with pre-workouts. Keep in mind that caffeine can be quite dangerous- especially in high doses. Some people even experience adverse effects in mild to moderate doses.

Experts say that adults need to restrict their caffeine intake to a maximum of 400 milligrams per day. Some of the high-powered pre-workouts contain nearly that much- which means that morning cup of coffee might not always be the best idea.

Following are the recommended dosages for the common ingredients:

  • Beta-alanine: 1.25 grams to 2.5 grams daily
  • Citrulline: up to 8 grams daily
  • Taurine: 500 milligrams to 2 grams daily
  • L-theanine: 1:2 ratio with caffeine
  • BCAAs: 10 grams prior to and following workout

Conclusion

A pre-workout is a dietary/fitness supplement that is taken prior to a workout. It provides users with the energy they need to get the most from their workouts. Many people struggle to choose the best one because there are so many, and they all claim to be the best. That is why we created this list- to help you understand which ones truly are what they claim.

If you are interested in getting started with a pre-workout, start with one from our list. You can feel free to experiment until you find one that works for you. You are not stuck with the first one you try.

ALSO READ:The Top 16 Best Ab Exercises That Work for Stronger Core Muscles

References

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