Are you looking to ignite your workouts? In need of something that promotes maximum focus and cognitive function? Pre-workout supplements are typically the first solutions that come to mind, as their combined ingredients are generally believed to help with output, capacity, and intensity. A lazy day will immediately transform into a fueled one, allowing individuals to prosper throughout the day. One myth surrounding these supplements is that only fitness fanatics and advanced trainers can ingest them. The truth is, people of all fitness levels (novice or expert) can consider them, whether it be to support physical and mental performance.
For those of you wondering how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Our editorial team scavenged the internet, several supplement facts, the scientific community, and customer reviews, among other fundamental factors, to arrive at not one but 28 stellar pre-workout supplements of 2021. With an emphasis on research and prioritizing health, our team has since taken responsibility for all the conceivable guesswork! Curious to see what we discovered? Let’s cut right to the chase!
The Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2021
As mentioned earlier, our editorial team invested time in research. Still, before introducing our well-defined ranking system, we must allow everyone to familiarize themselves with the top contenders. Below is a brief on each one in no particular order:
- Alani Nu
- Bauer Nutrition
- Beast Mode Black
- Blackwolf Pre-Workout
- C4 Extreme
- C4 Sport
- 4 Gauge
- Wrecked Extreme
- Wrecked Stim-Free
- Pulse Pre-Workout
- NSP Nutrition
- Pre-Lab Pro
- Transparent Labs
- Company: Alani Nu
- Starting Price: $39.99
The Alani Nu team strongly believes that the “biggest gains come from your last rep, set or mile.” How do they plan to support individuals in reaching the finish line? By developing supplements that do not feature harmful ingredients and fillers. Instead, they were going for balance, whether it be in the choice of ingredients, flavors, and promoting wellness. Manufactured right here in the US, this team pledges to have “strategically designed [supplements that] provide you with everything.”
This brings us to their Workout + Recovery pre-workout supplement, which is trusted to deliver power to the mind and muscles for better performance. A serving of 9.7g is said to contain L-Citrulline Malate 2:1 (6g), Beta-Alanine (1.6g), L-Tyrosine (500mg), Caffeine (200mg), and L-Theanine (200mg). For people looking for unconventional flavors that tickle the taste bud, you’ve arrived at the right place, as the team developed the likes of Arctic White, Cosmic Stardust, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Island Crush, Breezeberry, and Rainbow Candy, among many others.
One feature unique to Alani Nu is the ability to filter through customer reviews. If side effects are of concern, reviews can be screened to see whether existing customers experienced any. Other notable questions that appear to carry answers include crash, dose, quality, feel Caffeine, sensation, consistency, color, and boost. We encourage everyone to read through these before placing an order.
Battle Ready Fuel (BRF) Pre-Workout
- Company: Bauer Nutrition
- Starting Price: $26.99
According to Angela MacRitchie, Certified Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Naturopath, the citrus burst-flavored Battle-Ready Fuel (BRF) Pre-Workout can boost stamina and provide essential support in helping everyone train hard and reach beyond their limits. Bauer Nutrition affirms that neither proprietary blends nor microdoses of ingredients will be found here, as such strategies either mask the actual concentration of ingredients or fail to reveal results respectively. Established in 2013, Bauer remains a recognized brand for its wellness, fitness, and beauty products – all of which ensure individuals feel and look their best.
What convinced us about this brand is that they prioritize the latest sports science research. This means premium ingredients backed by human studies and anything far from shortcuts. That said, for every 30g consumed, individuals, are fueling their bodies with Caffeine (250mg), L-taurine (1g), L-isoleucine (1g), L-valine (1g), Betaine HCl (1g), L-carnitine L-tartrate (1.5g), L-leucine (2g), L-glutamine (2.5g), Beta-Alanine (2.6g), Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Citrulline Malate (3g), Whey Protein Isolate (13g), Vitamin B12 (10mcg), Selenium (25mcg), Vitamin B6 (5mg), Vitamin B1 (10mg), Zinc (10mg), Pantothenic Acid (25mg), Magnesium (50mg), Potassium (50mg), and Vitamin C (200mg).
At first glance, one might conclude that this formula is quite extensive compared to the former. However, it does equip the body with natural energy boosters, BCAAs, amino acids, and protein, making this a dual-purpose supplement.
Beast Mode Black
- Company: Beast Sports
- Starting Price: $39.99
Up next, we have the Beast Sports team, one that has been operating in the realm of supplements for over two decades. What is their reasoning for existence? Let’s just say their solutions are founded on the belief that there’s a beast within all of us that needs awakening. The latter is achieved by their decision to stick to the highest quality patented ingredients while frowning upon banned substances and synthetics. Other features that naturally got us to take a closer look into this brand include their efforts involving third-party lab testing and complying with safe manufacturing processes.
Getting back to pre-workouts, this team claims to have developed the most extreme type to exist. Offered in Blue Raspberry or Beast Punch, Beast Mode Black is deemed a necessary pre-workout for the body to reach ultimate levels of growth. So, people looking to pump out more reps with heavier weights typically seek heightened nitric oxide levels for visible pumps, and maximum energy and endurance might find comfort in this solution. The question that got our team thinking is, “What is it about Beast Mode Black that makes it so ‘extreme’”? The team maintains that it “contains key active ingredients in doses up to 380% greater than [their] Beast Mode formula.”
On the topic of ingredients, a serving of 8g is said to encompass Vitamin B1 (15mg), Vitamin B12 (60mcg), Beta-Alanine (1.6g), Agmatine Sulfate (600mg), N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (500mg), Taurine (400mg), Caffeine Anhydrous (400mg), DMAE Bitartrate (300mg), FruiteX-B® Calcium Fructoborate (216mg), Yohimbe Extract (75mg) and Theacrine (25mg).
- Company: ActivLab®
- Starting Price: $45
Based in Poland, ActivLab® relies heavily on research when it comes to formulating its solutions. As per the closest translation, their first step to arriving at the finished product is conducting a literature analysis of clinical trials and scientific data. This is used to back their preliminary product assumptions (i.e., form, composition, dosage, and method, among others). Once premises have been established, the specifics such as raw materials and technological and recipe optimization tests become essential. Finally, their quality control processes supposedly entail several stages before hitting the shelves.
ActivLab® is one of the most transparent companies to have qualified for this guide, which is of no surprise seeing that they want to maintain their title of “Innovation Leader in the sports industry.” And the key to upkeep their reputation is by offering products that meet the highest pharmaceutical quality. Each 10-g serving has been divided into three blends: Lean Muscle Matrix, Energy Matrix, and B-Complex.
The first blend combines Beta-Alanine (2.5g), Creatine Monohydrate (2g), L-Arginine (2g), Calcium (120mg), and Magnesium (60mg). The second blend embodies the effects of L-Tyrosine (500mg), Bitter Orange Extract (300mg), Caffeine (200mg), and Raspberry Extract (200mg). The last handful of ingredients include Vitamin B1 (2.2mg), Vitamin B2 (2.8mg), Niacin (32mg), Pantothenic Acid (12mg), Vitamin B6 (2.8mg), Biotin (100mcg), Folic Acid (400mcg), and Vitamin B12 (5mcg). Presently, three flavors are available, including Lemon, Fruit, and Black Currant!
- Company: Cellucor
- Starting Price: $34.99
“Undisputed pre-workout champ,” Cellucor had to make it to our list, as the company has since sold over three billion servings across the globe. What tempted us about this supplements’ provider is how much they care for quality, transparency, and prompt customer service – all of which have not only been reflected in their efforts but also in garnering many awards to date. Whether individuals are exploring options that help with muscle mass, weight management, or even sports performance, Cellucor affirms to carry an appropriate solution.
Getting back to pre-workouts, their C4 Extreme is the first of two solutions worth discussing. Maintained as one that can elicit “explosive pre-workout performance,” this solution is said to be free from artificial dyes and flavors, proprietary blends, and support nothing but innovative ingredients. Interestingly, the facets described above are deemed the “backbone of Project Clear Evolution.”
Nevertheless, the reason why Cellucor is convinced their C4 Extreme is potent has to do with their formula, which comprises of Caffeine Explosive Energy® (200mg), CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (2g), Nitramax or NO3-C™ (1g), Creatine Nitrate or NO3-T® (1g), N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (200mg), and Huperzine A (50mcg). Of course, there’s a diverse flavor profile to consider, including Sour Patch Bros, Icy Blue Razz, Fruit Punch, Watermelon, Ultra Frost, and Midnight Cherry.
- Company: Cellucor
- Starting Price: $19.99
The second Cellucor pre-workout that our editorial team was attracted to is called C4 Sport. Besides evident differences in price, fitness levels were also considered. Specifically, C4 Extreme tends to advanced fitness fanatics, while C4 Sport is a softened version that includes varying fitness levels. The Cellucor team believes that regardless of one’s capacities, a goal in common is to “start off strong,” which is the foundation for C4 Sport. As it turns out, swimmers, lifters, or even daily joggers can take this supplement to kickstart their energy levels for optimized exercise performance.
Dubbed a 2-in-1 formula, each serving contains a 4.9g-blend of Micronized Creatine Monohydrate, CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine and Arginine AKG that may increase blood flow, delay fatigue, and ensure focus like never experienced. In addition, we have a 1.135g blend of Taurine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, and Methylcobalamin and Vitamin B6 (35mcg), Vitamin B12 (35mcg), Calcium (22mg), Magnesium (12mg), Sodium (60mg), and Potassium (20mg). Flavors-wise, the traditional types have been considered, as each C4 Sport is offered either in Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, or Fruit Punch.
- Company: CrazyBulk
- Starting Price: $72.95
Crazy Bulk has had heads turning ever since its establishment. This company is on a mission to create legal steroid alternatives that deliver results without reported side effects. Mind you that their solutions are all-natural and comparable in results. It’s no wonder fitness enthusiasts and serious bodybuilders are after Crazy Bulk solutions. Each formula comes with reasoning as to how they replace restricted steroids and the role that they might play based on the type of goal needing fulfillment. This is not entirely a surprise because, say, claims surrounding the Sustanon alternative are far too strong and require evidence to make it legitimate.
Intensive Pre-Train is deemed so potent that it is only recommended for people who lift heavier, sprint faster, and train hard. Each serving is reckoned to supercharge muscles, speed up the metabolism, barricade the body from experiencing fatigue, promote endurance and fast recovery, and prevent fat storage. For every 22.3g-scoop, individuals can anticipate fueling the body with Citrulline Malate 2:1 (7g), Beta-Alanine (2.4g), Betaine Anhydrous (1.8g), Glycerol Monostearate (1g), L-Arginine AKG 2:1 (1g), L-Tyrosine (1g), Taurine (1g), Glucuronolactone (400mg), L-Phenylalanine (400mg), KSM-66™ Ashwagandha (300mg), En-Xtra® (100mg) and Piperine (5mg).
- Company: Roar Ambition
- Starting Price: $45
At Roar Ambition Ltd., the goal is to ensure that consumer wellness is always protected. Therefore, the team affirms their products are formulated in “high class facilities in the USA and UK and shipped from there too,” not to forget that their suppliers and workers help to “create [their] high-end supplements.” It would have been nice to get to know the brand, but they appear to be entirely transparent regarding the contents of their solutions.
Speaking of solutions, the Roar Ambition 4 Gauge was thought-provoking, seeing that it is a 4-in-1 pre-workout supplement that enhances every conceivable aspect of working out, i.e., strength, focus, energy, and muscle pumps. Whether individuals are looking to speed up the process to their end goal or simply want to facilitate daily exercising, 4 Gauge is worth considering. Roar Ambition wants everyone to know what they are ingesting, another brand that appears to take a firm stance against proprietary blends and their mysterious nature.
Hence, every serving is said to deliver desirable results thanks to the likes of Caffeine Anhydrous (150mg), L-Theanine (200mg), Creatine Monohydrate (1g), L-Citrulline DL-Malate (6g), Rhodiola Rosea (100mg), Red Beet (300mg), Acetyl L-Carnitine (500mg), and Coconut Water Powder (300mg).
- Company: Huge Supplements
- Starting Price: $44.95
Another company that offers several takes on pre-workout supplements is Huge Supplements. Although this team is a novice one, as it was only founded in 2019, they affirm that their solutions rectify common issues in the industry. As explained on their official website, the ultimate goal is to provide access to quality solutions that do good and deliver results. Every Huge Supplements’ product exemplifies the togetherness of science, research, and extensive testing. Consequently, whether one’s goal involves muscle mass, strength, or combating fight loss, the Huge Supplements team believes that they can be there so that everyone is right on target. What drew us to this company is their efforts, which reflect ongoing education. Having started with Wrecked, the brand carries three varieties that glorify improved formulations for maximum results.
Our first pick was evidently “Wrecked,” a pre-workout that sculpts muscle pumps, ensures maintained focus and energy and boosts power. One serving comes to about 21g filled with L-Citrulline Malate 1:1 (9g), Beta-Alanine (3.2g), Betaine Anhydrous (2g), Agmatine Sulfate (1.25g), L-Tyrosine (1g), Lion’s Mane (600mg), Casein Hydrolysate (255mg), Caffeine Anhydrous (250mg), Di-Caffeine Malate (100mg), Inositol Hexanicotinate (250mg), Hordenine HCl (100mg), Himalayan Pink Salt (100mg), S7™ (100mg), N-Methyltyramine (75mg), Higenamine HCl (50mg), Theobromine (50mg), Isopropylnorsynephrine (20mg) and Rauwolscine (1mg).
- Company: Huge Supplements
- Starting Price: $59.95
The Jungle Candy-flavored Wrecked Extreme is a limited-edition pre-workout supplement that supposedly carries ingredients rarely found in competitors’ solutions. Deemed the most potent offering from Huge Supplements, each serving highlights clinical doses and superior ingredients for energy, focus, and power. Developed by The Review Bros©, this solution is perceived as a high stimulant formula. After going over customer reviews, we were able to tell that individuals can anticipate intense sweating, an efficient energy source free from jitters and skin tingles, satisfactory feeling (before, during, and after workouts), and enormous scoop size.
Each scoop embodies the likes of L-Citrulline (6g), Beta-Alanine (4g), L-Tyrosine (1.5g), Alpha GPC (600mg), Caffeine Anhydrous (250mg), N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine (200mg), Caffeine Citrate (168mg), 2-Amino-6 Methyl Heptane HCl (150mg), Di-Caffeine Malate (100mg), L-Theanine (100mg), Higenamine HCl (50mg), Paradoxine® (30mg), Huperzine A (20mg), BioPerine® (10mg) and Rauwolscine (1mg).
- Company: Huge Supplements
- Starting Price: $54.99
Finally, we have one other solution brought to us by Huge Supplements called Wrecked Stim-Free. This is merely a stimulant-free pre-workout formulated to optimize pump, muscle fullness, training capacity, and focus. Every 31g consumed is said to supply the body with Choline (580mg), Sodium (197mg), L-Citrulline (8g), Betaine Anhydrous (3g), GlycerPump™ (3g), Beet Root (2g), L-Tyrosine (1.5g), Inositol Arginine (1.5g), Agmatine Sulfate (1.25g), Pomegranate Extract (1g), VasoDrive-AP® (254mg), Huperzine A (20mg), and BioPerine® (5mg). This supplement is also offered in Jungle Juice along with Strawberry Mojito flavors. The three solutions are similar in their goals but are likely to achieve them differently.
- Company: IdealFit
- Starting Price: $19.99
The team at IdealFit is all for supporting women of different works of life. Seeing how male and female bodies differ internally, IdealFit insists that solutions need to be more tailored. In the case of the supplements industry, this, unfortunately, has become a second thought. Having been established in 2015, the brand has garnered a lot of attention as several personal trainers, nutritionists, and faces in sports have become brand ambassadors.
One such solution that appears to have been well-received is the IdealLean Pre-Workout for Women. When taken as recommended, they are likely to experience clean energy and focus, enhanced performance, improved endurance, and intra-workout pump, among others. This formula also includes a specially formulated fat-loss blend intended to speed up weight management-related goals.
With as little as five calories per serving, one can expect to see the likes of Vitamin C (20mg), Vitamin B1 (2mg), Niacin (20mg), Vitamin B6 (20mg), Vitamin B12 (1.2mg), Calcium (500mg), 310mg-IdealFit Fat Loss Blend (i.e., Phosphatidylserine, CLA, ECGC, and ThermoDiamine®), Citrulline Malate 2:1 (3g), Beta-Alanine (1.5g), Betaine Anhydrous (1.5g), L-Tyrosine (750mg), Agmatine Sulfate (750mg), Choline Bitartrate (500mg), L-Theanine (300mg), Natural Caffeine (150mg), L-Norvaline (75mg) and BioPerine® (5mg).
Unluckily, even though IdealFit has an array of flavors worth exploring, taste as a factor might be a miss based on existing reviews, but obviously, to each their own! Moreover, some customers insist that this is an appropriate pre-workout for beginners!
- Company: Ladder
- Starting Price: $14.95
If you are a sports or fitness fan, Ladder might align with your goals, as the company was founded by two widely acclaimed figures, Lebron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger. During Lebron’s and his trainer, Mike Mancias’ search for clean, adequate sports nutrition, the duo was surprised to see that no such thing even existed. Lebron’s knowledge coupled with Arnold’s wisdom on sports nutrition permitted Ladder to become a brand that supports the wellness of athletes. Additionally, Arnold wanted every Ladder product to be certified, fulfilled as they all proudly capture the NSF Certified for Sport® seal.
Available in Strawberry Lemonade and Fruit Punch flavors, Ladder’s pre-work is believed to deliver a clean, vegan source of energy from the leaves of green tea, among other things. Each serving (18.7g) contains the likes of Creatine Monohydrate (5g), Beta-Alanine or CarnoSyn® (3g), Betaine Anhydrous (2.5g), Citicoline Monosodium Salt (500mg), L-Theanine (250mg), and Green Tea Leaf Extract (100mg), which together might supercharge energy, fight fatigue, and improve focus and performance.
- Company: Legion Athletics
- Starting Price: $35.99
Bestselling author Mike Matthews founded Legion Athletics. Consumers have access to high-quality sports supplements based on sound science and to sell them honestly at a fair price. Over the years, Mike claims to have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on fat burners, testosterone boosters, and muscle builders only to see no difference in his weight management goals. In an attempt to dodge advertising, and ineffective doses, he decided to take a different path leading to Legion.
Getting back to means of boosting energy and performance, the Legion Pulse Pre-Workout Drink is a 100% natural pre-workout that enhances the former two factors and increases strength and endurance while reducing fatigue. Individuals have the option to go with or without Caffeine, which we’ve only seen with a few brands. Based on the claims made by the makers, every ingredient has been backed by peer-reviewed scientific research and has been included in clinically effective results. Moreover, the selected elements are reckoned to help everyone get fired up without any jitters or exhaustion.
So, what is in it, might you ask? For every 15.1g-serving, individuals will be getting Caffeine (350mg), L-Theanine (350mg), Citrulline Malate (8g), CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (3.6g), AlphaSize® Alpha-GPC (300mg), and Betaine (2.5g).
- Company: Legion
- Starting Price: $114.85
Yet another Legion product to make the cut is Pulse. The difference between this and the former Pulse is that the latter is a natural alternative to the former. Here, we are looking at a pre-workout that drives nitric oxide levels, energy, and endurance in a creatine-free and naturally sweetened manner. Aside from that, the same emphasis on clinically effective doses and scientifically backed ingredients have been placed with this version.
In searching for more answers, we stumbled upon an elaborate review . In it, it was argued that Legion’s decision to include “big doses of taurine and theanine” was appreciated because they can “reduce the jitters and lack of focus that can accompany a big caffeine hit.” That said, everyone might not enjoy the taste. Likewise, caffeine content may need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as it is generally high. Finally, the price isn’t as welcoming as the other solutions discussed in this guide.
As for the ingredients themselves, a two-scoop serving is said to deliver Calcium (70mg), Sodium (124mg), Potassium (277mg), L-Citrulline DL-Malate 2:1 (8g), CarnoSyn® (4.8g), Betaine Anhydrous (2.5g), L-Ornithine HCL (2.2g), Caffeine Anhydrous (350mg), and L-Theanine (350mg).
- Company: NSP Nutrition
- Starting Price: $35.99
NSP Nutrition remains a favorite among serious fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders because it reflects traditional approaches to sculpting the body. Established by former professional bodybuilder Vince Gironda in 1972, his goal for the brand was to replicate formulations celebrated by the greats of the Golden Era. As the business continues strong (45 years and counting), their product line only seems to expand. What was fascinating to us was the fact that science was resorted to even in the past. The team said, “Vince trained more Mr. Olympias and Mr. Americas than anyone else in history […] He buried himself in scientific research to discover one simple truth: Bodybuilding is 85% Nutrition […] We honor the Iron Guru’s legacy by providing the staples of natural bodybuilding Vince so strongly advocated.”
So, how is NSP Nutrition aiding those in need of a pre-workout supplement? Through their dietary supplement called “Energize.” Energize has been formulated to activate the muscle, help achieve more substantial muscle pumps, eliminate brain fog, increase working capacity, and ensure mental sharpness is not compromised. The latter is deemed possible because of the inclusion of Niacin (35mg), Vitamin B6 (2mg), Folic Acid (80mcg), Vitamin B12 (6mcg), L-Citrulline Malate (2g), Creatine Monohydrate (2g), an 800mg-proprietary blend called Focus Matrix (with N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Choline Bitartrate, DMAE Bitartrate, L-Theanine, and Bacopa Monnieri), Caffeine (200mg), and BioPerine® (2mg).
Total Strength + Performance
- Company: Onnit
- Starting Price: $69
The Onnit team developed Total Strength + Performance as a supplement that enhances performance without side effects, helps with power, and strengthens the body, and one that doesn’t contain heavy chemicals. As a result, the team claims to have combined the likes of adaptogens, vitamins, and other botanical ingredients. A known characteristic about Onnit is the importance placed on the highest standards of quality and efficacy.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at Florida State University to prove this. Participants who took Total Strength + Performance for four weeks seemingly had “greater gains on their maxes in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, with bench press performance being the main standout.” It is important to note that the participants were 27 college-aged powerlifters. Hence the question becomes whether this supplement might support women or different types of training. Regardless, their efforts need appraising, as most supplement providers do not go to such lengths to prove that their solutions are beneficial!
The ingredients found per serving (two scoops) are Vitamin B6 (7.5mg), Pantothenic Acid (100mg), Magnesium (40mg), Sodium (105mg), a 4.5g-Onnit Performance Blend™ (all three BCAAs, L-Glutamine, and CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine), a 3.4g-Onnit Power Blend™ (D-Aspartic Acid, Mucuna pruriens, Longjack, and Stinging Nettle Extract), a 490mg-Onnit Support Blend™ (Red Clover, Sophora Japonica Extract, and Giant Knotweed Extract) and BioPerine® (5mg).
Pre-Workout for Women
- Company: POWHER
- Starting Price: $45
Finally, another pre-workout explicitly formulated for women, are we right? Dubbed POWHER (offered in Pink Lemonade flavor), this supplement is believed to support more intense workouts and increase focus and motivation in a low-stimulant manner. From what we’ve gathered so far, most pre-workouts were touting muscle building and pumps; however, these might not entirely reflect the wishes of women seeking such solutions. Hence, the makers of POWHER developed a formula that elicits powerful energy yet controls the possibilities of jitters or crash – nothing more, nothing less.
Regarding the company, the POWHER team emerged after witnessing “big claims, big promises, and unrealistic images” that do not reflect the world as they saw it. Hence, the team – encompassing product scientists and Registered Dieticians – came together to design products in sync with the female body. These solutions “don’t overpromise […] don’t underperform.” The POWHER’s Registered Dietician went on to share that POWHER uses research-backed ingredients that have been branded “to enhance what is already beneficial in your standard pre workout, making the caffeine more effective and boosting the oxygen consumption during exercise.”
How exactly are these attainable? Simple, each serving (one scoop) contains Vitamin B6 (2mg), Folic Acid (400mcg), Vitamin B12 (3mcg), Beta Alanine (2g), Instantized Leucine (2g), RedNite™ (500mg), L-Tyrosine (500mg), CocoMineral™ (500mg), Oxyjun™ (400mg), EnXtra™ (300mg), and Natural Caffeine (100mg).
- Company: Opti-Nutra Ltd.
- Starting Price: $59
Opti-Nutra Ltd. is proclaimed as a company that prioritizes formulation, ingredients selection, manufacturing, and quality. Every product they’ve developed exemplifies maximizing our biological function most deeply and cleanly feasible while satisfying nutritional requirements. The team at Opti-Nutra Ltd. stands proudly behind Pre-Lab Pro, i.e., “the next-gen pre-workout formula.” As explained by the makers, this supplement has the potential to “spark a 2X muscle-pumping nitric oxide turbocharge + afterburn for all-round athletics, plus smart caffeine, hydrating factors, and restorative essentials,” among others. Thus, the outcomes may range from maximized strength, speed, stamina, and endurance to enhanced cardio, recovery, focus, calamity, and energy.
On the topic of the supplement’s fact, it suggests the inclusion of Vitamin D (12.5mcg), Vitamin B2 (500mcg), Vitamin B6 (750mcg), Folate (167mcg), Vitamin B12 (2mcg), Potassium (49.5mg), Iron (2.5mg), Himalayan Pink Salt (0.5g), Natural Caffeine (80mg), Suntheanine® (160mg), Ajipure® (400mg), a blend encompassing Kyowa Quality™ and Setria® (2.2g) and Red Beet Powder (1.5g). It is important to note that a good portion of these ingredients is patented, with the vitamins and minerals derived from NutriGenesis®. How can anyone neglect the “Vegetarian Society Vegan Approved” seal that Pre-Lab Pro wears?
- Company: WOLFSON BRANDS (UK) LIMITED
- Starting Price: $59.99
Founded by Stewart Lochrie, Wolfson Brands (UK) Limited combines people of different specializations to develop supplements that promote wellness. Whether it be nutritionists, entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers, or designers, the one thing they all have in common is “a real passion for healthy living and e-commerce business.” To prove their commitment to healthy living, the team heavily relies on cutting-edge science and time-tested strategies that support all works of life. One such solution is TestoPrime, an all-natural testosterone supplement that might increase physical and mental energy, help burn unwanted fat, build lean muscle, and improve confidence and overall mood.
The benefits described above can be reached thanks to clinically studied ingredients that allegedly have proven track records. Specifically, each serving is said to contain D-Aspartic Acid (2g), Panax Ginseng (8g), KSM 66® Ashwagandha Extract (668mg), Fenugreek (800mg), Green Tea Extract (4g), Pomegranate Extract (360mg), Vitamin D, Zinc (40mg), Vitamin B6 (5.6mg), Vitamin B5 (8mg), Garlic Extract (1.2g) and BioPerine®. In addition to the supplement, individuals will also be granted immediate access to a series of eBooks that provide education on how to make the most out of TestoPrime (i.e., exercising, eating habits, and ways to boost testosterone levels naturally).
PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout (Preseries)
- Company: Transparent Labs
- Starting Price: $49
As hinted in the name, PreSeries Bulk is designed as the bulking pre-workout supplement that embodies published scientific research and ingredients that have been clinically proven effective at their appropriate doses. In avoiding all sources of artificial ingredients, the team at Transparent Labs strongly believes that individuals can anticipate experiencing increased nitric oxide (for the attractive pump), energy, and focus while reducing fatigue and muscle soreness.
It was a no-brainer for us to include Transparent Labs in our list because this team relies on evidence and has an advisory board encompassing experts with designations such as MPH, Ph.D., RECP CSCS, RD, MS, CISSN, and CNC. Moreover, all their products come with certificates of analysis indicating testing results for heavy metals, odor, flavor, micro profile, salmonella, mold, yeast, you name it! They are also one of the only companies in this guide to provide a certificate of composition, which summarizes the solution down to the concentration of vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately, the PreSeries Bulk isn’t the only pre-workout available, as this team also launched “PreSeries HowtoBeast Bulk, PreSeries Jesse James West Bulk, PreSeries Lean, PreSeries Stim-Booster, PreSeries Stim-Free.” So, we encourage everyone to review the remaining five to see which one resonates with their respective goals! Transparent Labs was able to complete a formulation that rejoices the likes of Vitamin D3 (75mcg), Vitamin B6 (5mg), Vitamin B12 (100mcg), Zinc (30mg), Sodium (150mg), Potassium (100mg), Boron (3mg), Citrulline Malate 2:1 (6g), Beta-Alanine (4g), Instantized BCAA (2:1:1) (4g), Betaine Anhydrous (2.5g), Taurine (1.3g), L-Tyrosine (1g), L-Theanine (360mg), Alpha GPC (300mg), Caffeine Anhydrous (180mg), Theobromine (50mg), DiCaffeine Malate (30mg), and Astragin (25mg).
- Company: XWerks
- Starting Price: $49
Offered in Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, and Watermelon flavors, Xwerks’ Ignite allegedly “breaks the mold on typical pre-workout formulas that have flooded the marketplace.” The team’s reasoning for making such a strong claim arises because their solution is all-natural and stimulant-free while delivering nootropics for a smooth, refreshing, and sustainable energy source. This brand is yet another one to reflect on scientific findings, which permits Ignite to increase work capacity possibly, and push individuals to raise the bar in terms of their reps and sets. Also worth mentioning is the team’s confidence in what they created, and all credit appears to go to the combination of ingredients selected. Each serving represents the togetherness of Calcium (80mg), Vitamin B6 (20mg), Vitamin B12 (3mg), Magnesium (35mg), Rhodiola (500mg), DMAE Bitartrate (200mg), Caffeine Anhydrous (150mg), BioPerine® (5mg), L-Citrulline Malate 2:1 (3g), L-Tyrosine (2g), and CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (1.5g).
The Ranking System That Helped to Decipher the Strong from the Weak
By now, it should be clear that there are several approaches to developing pre-workouts. Some companies stuck to a simple formula, while others had their respective reasons for an extensive one. Such insights into formulation are foundational when it comes to the process of elimination. Regarding choosing one supplement over the other, our editorial team developed a ranking system of factors that had to be satisfied to qualify as a top contender of 2021. This is not to say each solution had to meet all; instead, we were going for those that checked off a subset if possible. Without any further delay, listed below are the critical factors of our ranking system:
Company & Transparency
With any product or supplement, it is imperative to have some recollection of the makers. If the supposed benefits are jaw-dropping and there’s no way of verifying the company, it’s not worth the investment. Similarly, should makers decide to hide, why should we as consumers consider their solutions? In some instances, we’ve discovered companies that do not meet transparency, and as a result, we discarded them. Examples of transparency include but are not limited to hiding supplement’s facts and essential details in the Terms and Conditions, contact information, evidence supporting claims made, and masking ingredients in proprietary blends with unknown concentrations.
Scientifically Backed Ingredients & Clinically Effective Doses
Not all ingredients have been scientifically proven to serve effectively in pre-workout supplements. There are only a select few that appear to have been validated. According to a piece (2017), including the opinions of Sports Dietician Tavis Piattoly, sought-for ingredients include Caffeine (100 to 200mg), Creatine Monohydrate (3g), Beta-Alanine (2-5g), Vitamin D (1000 to 2000 IU), Magnesium (200 to 400mg), Peak ATP (400mg) and Beetroot (500mg) . Another piece by Muscle & Fitness pinpointed eight must-have ingredients, which include Citrulline Malate (6g), N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) (500mg), Alpha GPC (150mg), Betaine Alanine (3.2g), Taurine (1g), Betaine (1.5g), Glycerol (1-1.2g), and Caffeine (100-200mg) . More on the science will be discussed later in this guide.
Free from Banned Substances & Artificial Sweeteners
Banned substances are a big deal for serious athletes, and so our goal was to try our very best to exclude any supplements that might carry them. Of course, these components are likely to vary based on the type of sport; hence, it is the customers’ responsibility to review the fine details before placing an order. Some examples of banned substances include 1,4-DMAA, amphetamine, adrafinil, and modafinil.
Serving size matters and depends heavily on how concentrated they are. If a maker decided to lower concentrations and only include 30 servings in a container, individuals are not getting their money’s worth. Why? Extra servings might be consumed to meet clinical doses, preventing consumers from having a solution that will last the supposed month. As long as each solution contains ingredients with amounts that fall inside a scientifically proven range, we were generally convinced and included them in our guide!
Advertised benefits are great to review before anything because some companies list the impossible, only to lure customers into placing an order. Anything that touts quick results and incredible transformations should be carefully analyzed. This is especially the case for pre-workouts that contain low doses per serving yet have a ridiculously high price listed per bottle. Ultimately, research is inevitable, and we ask everyone to use unlimited access to knowledge to their advantage.
Uniqueness is a factor that encompasses several layers. Given that there is a possibility to uncover two or more formulations that look identical, we need something to help with elimination. Our editorial team was open to the idea of financing options, money-back guarantees, the involvement of scientific and medical advisory boards, third-party lab testing and available results, clinical trials, certifications, diverse flavors, etc. These are some of many indications of ongoing efforts that need to be admired.
Value for Price
Value for price is what allows us to summarize the worth of a supplement. After we count the number of factors checked off on our ranking system, the least satisfied ones are discarded. Ultimately, going cheap or expensive means nothing if the above factors aren’t reflected upon.
What does Science Insinuate About Pre-Workout Ingredients?
We’ve finally arrived at the most crucial part of this guide, the scientific narrative. Without findings from science and clinical trials, we would never know whether the included ingredients serve their respective purposes. In the case of pre-workouts, individuals should not be deceived by an extensive list of ingredients because only a handful are likely to be supportive. In contrast, others may serve the very purpose of ineffective fillers. Below is a summary of the top five ingredients found across all 22 supplements. The reason for sticking to just five is to simplify this guide. In reality, we want everyone to look at the most concentrated ingredients per serving – often listed at the top.
L-Citrulline Malate 2:1
L-citrulline malate 2:1 is an amino acid (citrulline) and acid (malic acid) combination essential for heart, muscles, and brain function. Citrulline is naturally produced in the body and can be found in certain food groups. As per one source, this amino acid increases vasodilation, which involves widening arteries or veins for increased blood flow. How so? It gets converted into arginine upon ingestion, which later becomes nitric oxide, bringing us to vasodilation.
It is deemed necessary regarding the combined effect of citrulline and malate because the duo is essential for energy production. Besides energy, several studies have supposedly shown that “citrulline malate can improve weight training performance.” The author referenced a study that looked at the effect of citrulline malate on upper body exercise with 41 men. In the process, the researchers discovered that “participants were able to perform 53% more repetitions […] compared to a placebo,” adding that fatigue was significantly decreased.
Finally, existing research suggests a dose of 8g daily for maximum effects, noting that the concentration is likely to vary depending on the type of exercise performed. Taking everything into account, it is essential to note that more is less here. Specifically, anything beyond 10g won’t increase arginine as expected, meaning there is a restriction on how much to take for the body to benefit from it .
Beta-Alanine (BA) is a non-essential amino acid believed to enhance exercise performance. One group of researchers were curious to see whether BA can improve adaptive response to five weeks of resistance training. So, they randomly assigned 30 healthy, strength-trained individuals to either a placebo or control (i.e., eight times 800mg doses) groups. After the five weeks, the researchers noticed significantly more significant training improvements in the BA group concerning average power, average owe at maximum output, and strength gain .
Another source that reviewed the entirety of BA reasoned that the amino acid works by increasing carnosine levels in the muscles by 80%. Carnosine is important because it helps break down glucose (providing fuel during high-intensity exercise), induce lactate production (i.e., hydrogen ions or energy is increased), and reduce acidity in muscles. Other benefits include improved training volume, strength, and reduced fatigue. Standard dosage ranges anywhere between 2 and 5g daily .
Caffeine is usually the main ingredient in most pre-workout supplements, writes one source, adding that it “isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” Kate Patton, Med, RD, CCSD, LD insists that when taken under moderation, it can be great, as Caffeine is known for stimulating the body’s central nervous system, improving reaction time, and reducing fatigue. Unfortunately, too much may cause individuals to experience anywhere from a racing heart and tingling sensations to high blood pressure, GI issues, and even nausea. On average, individuals can anticipate 150 to 300mg of Caffeine per serving, which is equivalent to roughly one to three cups of coffee .
Regarding its mechanism, Caffeine is potent because of its ability to drive blood levels to new heights within 30 to 120 minutes, affecting not only our cells and muscle but also activating specific areas of the brain, increasing the epinephrine hormone feelings of wellness, muscle performance, thermogenesis (or heat production), and fat burning. Whether it be endurance, high-intensity, or strength training, having Caffeine appears to be advantageous. However, the amount consumed matters – too little leads nowhere, while too much can have discomforting results .
L-tyrosine is yet another non-essential amino acid that is derived from phenylalanine. As for its role, one source indicated that it plays a crucial role in the production of brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters (i.e., epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine) and melanin (i.e., a component that gives our skin its pigment). Other roles include making and regulating hormones and contributing to the structure of every conceivable protein in the body .
One study looked at the combined effects of Caffeine, theanine, and tyrosine on mental and physical performance in athletes. 20 current and former male collegiate athletes were recruited for this study, where they were randomly assigned to either the control or placebo groups. It turns out that “changes in movement accuracy during performance assessment were greater following SUP ingestion as compared to PL for both static and dynamic testing,” however, the researchers found “no differences between conditions for the changes in number of targets hit or average hit time during static testing.”
In other words, combining a low dose of Caffeine with theanine and tyrosine may improve athletes’ movement accuracy, not to forget that “theanine and tyrosine could potentially hold ergogenic value for athletes in sports; requiring rapid and accurate movements .”
The last amino acid that we’ll be looking at is L-theanine. Interestingly enough, this ingredient has been linked to reduced heart rate and blood pressure and may promote “Zen state” alpha brain waves explains one source. As a result, it is trusted that L-theanine is likely to prime the nervous system, enhancing athletic concentration . One study verified the claims described above by examining its effect on attention and reaction time response in 18 regular, healthy University student volunteers. They found that a concentration of 200mg per 100ml water “demonstrate[d] the significant enhance[ment] in activity of alpha bands, descending heart rate, elevated visual attentional performance and improved reaction time response among high anxiety propensity subjects .”
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout Supplements
Q: What is a pre-workout?
A: A pre-workout supplement combines ingredients intended to boost energy, focus, and athletic performance. Formulated in powders, individuals must add the recommended serving in water and drink it before a workout.
Q: Who is a suitable candidate for a pre-workout supplement?
A: Pre-workouts aren’t meant for everyone. The purpose of a pre-workout is to tend to active people of all levels. Those who experience exhaustion frequently are advised against resorting to them. Instead, a health practitioner’s opinion should be sought because the latter could stem from sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiencies, or the lack of movement, among other things.
Q: When should pre-workouts be taken?
A: Ideally, the recommended serving is taken 30 to 60 minutes before a workout, hence the name “pre-workout.”
Q: How long does the average pre-workout take to jumpstart my energy and focus?
A: On average, it can take anywhere between an hour and 90 minutes for a pre-workout to kick in.
Q: What are the side effects of taking pre-workouts?
A: According to one source, some of the most common side effects of taking pre-workouts include insomnia, nausea, increased heart rate, drowsiness, headaches, anxiety, jitteriness, or restlessness. Bear in mind that these are more prevalent when the caffeine content nears 500mg, close to five cups of coffee .
Q: Will pre-workouts negatively impact sleep?
A: Once again, when a caffeine-heavy pre-workout is taken to fulfill a workout in the evening, it is highly probable for consumers to experience sleep deprivation.
Q: Will pre-workouts make me feel jittery or make my skin tingle?
A: Yes, once again, taking pre-workouts in moderation is fundamental for a good experience. Bearing the latter in mind, one source explained that itchiness or skin tingling arises because of excess beta-alanine intake. Specifically, doses higher than 2g is believed to cause them .
Q: Is it okay to have food with a pre-workout?
A: If food is consumed, then it is unnecessary to take pre-workouts. The preferable choice of foods is easy-to-digest and constitutes energizing carbohydrates (with anywhere between 15 and 20g of carbohydrates). Examples include instant oats, fruit smoothies, bananas, boiled eggs, and yogurt [15,16].
Q: Are all pre-workouts made equally?
A: Of course not; from our guide alone, individuals should gather that different approaches can be implemented in the formulation stage. Some are sure to be superior to others. Therefore, our reason is for extensive product research before placing an order.
Q: What substances have been banned in pre-workouts?
A: Stimulants by the names of 1,3-DMAA, pentylamine, methylhexanamine, geranamine, floradrene, 2-hexanamine, 4-methyl OR 2-hexanamine, and 4-methyl-(9CI) OR 4-methyl-2-hexanamine OR 4-methyl-2-hexylamine, to name a few .
Q: Is it safe to pair an energy enhancer with a pre-workout?
A: While evidence suggests that an adequate source of Caffeine can boost endurance, taking anything in excess can have unwanted effects before, during, and after a workout. For these reasons, we think sticking to a good pre-workout is superior to pairing a low-quality one with an energy enhancer.
Q: Is it necessary to take pre-workouts daily?
A: Pre-workouts should be taken on workout days; otherwise, they shouldn’t be resorted to is what some people might feel. But then again, other sources insist that as long as there is a cap on caffeine intake, it shouldn’t be a problem. Hence, individuals are recommended to review their health needs before implementing daily consumption.
Q: What are the best pre-workouts of 2021?
A: Referring to our top picks above, they have been selected based on our devised ranking system that covers the fundamentals of an effective pre-workout supplement.
The Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2021 Final Verdict
Ultimately, pre-workouts are sought to improve energy, remain focused, and exhibit desirable pumps to help reach ultimate body-sculpting goals. We hope that readers can decipher two key takeaways; first, not all pre-workouts are made equally, and second, not all ingredients have been scientifically proven to elicit results. Most importantly, individuals should not be deceived by extensive lists of ingredients or touted benefits because fillers outnumber the excellent components in most cases.
Our editorial team approached this matter by devising a ranking system that first outlines the basics/must-haves of a pre-workout, and later, additional incentives. The former must be met, while the latter aids with the process of elimination, leading us to the top supplements of 2021. We strongly believe that this guide served its intentions of revealing top picks and demonstrating the steps to arriving at such a well-defined list.
In our opinion, the next best step is to assess one’s respective goals and health conditions to see whether they align with one of the top pre-workout supplements. Should individuals feel the need to discuss matters with a health practitioner, we highly encourage it! Until we meet again, we ask everyone to investigate each solution before proceeding!
The links contained in this product review may result in a small commission if you opt to purchase the product recommended at no additional cost to you. This goes towards supporting our research and editorial team and please know we only recommend high quality products.
Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.