Pre workouts are among the most popular bodybuilding supplements on the market today.
Second only to protein, and on par with quality BCAAs, pre workouts are the secret sauce countless athletes use to turn up the noise in the gym.
Virtually everybody takes pre workouts. That’s why you see so many ‘crazy’ looking people going to town in the gym. Are they that energetic naturally? Most of the time – hell no! Its the pre workout giving them that 10X coffee-redbull boost.
Speaking of coffee and redbull, many pre workouts are just that.
A bit of caffeine and some proprietary blend of a few clinically studied ingredients in unknown amounts adding up to 5 grams.
Its an energy boost and nothing else, because, that’s all someone with a short-term mindset will notice. And lets face it, that’s how the masses in the supplement industry label you.
The best pre workout supplements, however, are formulated with ingredients that:
- Increase energy
- Enhance focus
- Improve endurance; and
- Increase strength & muscle growth
Energy is just one small piece of the pie, alongside quality performance and recovery ingredients that include: beta-alanine, citrulline malate, betaine, creatine, and select amino acids.
Together, these ingredients help you to push out more reps, increase blood flow to your muscles, and provide a much more intense level of performance than a ‘normal day in the gym’ has to offer.
Better yet, if you do your research right; then taking a pre workout supplement can also help to support recovery after your training/exercise, which leads to quicker obtained and higher quality results.
Finding the right pre workout supplement couldn’t be any easier
We’ve put a lot of time and resources into listing the top 10 best pre workout supplements, complete with key ingredients and effective doses.
You may want to take a look at our top post workout supplements as well, as they tend to go hand-in-hand with pre workouts. But before we hit the list, lets cover a few topics that express our need to make a top 10 list in the first place. I mean, after all, can’t you just go into a store and expect to be given the best product?
The Pre Workout Supplement Industry
We’ve all seen the magazines and pre workout supplement labels… take a single scoop (two, if you dare) and you’ll experience “super human strength”, “hours and hours of explosive energy”, and “insane pumps”!
Unfortunately, the pre workout industry is among the most exaggerated and falsified of all the supplement categories (along with weight loss supplements).
In fact, pre workout supplements are notorious for a number of devious practices:
- Using proprietary blends to hide under-dosed key ingredients (to save cost)
- Including a plethora of ingredients and “filling” the nutrition label to make it appear more effective
- Basing ingredients off of inaccurate, “cherry-picked”, or self-funded “scientific studies”
- Stacking each serving with excess caffeine and maltodextrin, giving the illusion of a highly effective product
With this understanding, we’ve taken the time to identify, test, and review some of the best pre workout supplements that work to avoid the above mentioned deceitful practices. For more examples, check out the top 5 worst pre workouts.
What to Look for in a Quality Pre Workout Supplement
Those “in the know” are familiar with the actual, scientifically proven ingredients that have been determined clinically effective in high quality pre workouts. We’ve listed a handful below:
Beta-Alanine: As a naturally occurring amino acid, research shows that pre workout supplements with beta-alanine provide a trove of benefits.
One beta-alanine study states that, “Chronic BA (beta-alanine) supplementation may further enhance HIIT (high intensity interval training), improving endurance performance and lean body mass”.
Further studies support that beta-alanine supplementation can help to minimize workout-induced fatigue and even increase lean mass.
A collaboration of 23 exercise tests including supplementation with beta-alanine found clinical dosages to range between 2.6 and 6.4 grams per day.
Betaine: A compound typically found in plants (like beets) has been confirmed by multiple research-based studies to support benefits like increased strength, improved muscle endurance, and increases in the human growth hormone IGF-1.
One betaine study specifically states that, “…Betaine supplementation results in a moderate increase in total repetitions and volume load in the bench press exercise, without favorably impacting other performance measures.”
These same studies also indicate clinically effective dosages to be between 1.25 and 2.5 grams per day.
Citrulline: As one of the most common pre workout ingredients, citrulline, an amino acid (often interchangeable with L-arginine), is effective in stimulating nitric oxide production and improving muscular endurance.
As it relates to muscular endurance, one citrulline malate study states, “…Citrulline malate might be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post exercise muscle soreness.”
Clinically effective doses of citrulline have been shown to be between 6 and 8 grams per day.
While these are just a few of the premium ingredients you should be on the look out for when pursuing a new pre workout supplement, it’s not enough to just have them included in a proprietary blend.
Instead, look for products that disclose specific amounts of each of the above ingredients!
Best Pre Workout Supplements: #10-#6
Onto the good stuff. Below is a list of Supplement Demand’s 10 best pre workout supplements.
What you’ll find below includes a wide variety of products that cover an even wider variety of ingredients, brands, and packaging techniques (believe it or not, this plays a crucial role in the “purchasing decision”).
We put a great deal of time and energy into cultivating this post due to the incredibly competitive nature of the pre workout category.
With literally hundreds (if not, thousands) of pre workouts to choose from online, this list focuses on what truly matters – the highest quality products that include key ingredients with proper dosages.
With all things considered – social proof in the form of user reviews, personal experiences, and hard data, we’re incredibly confident that these are the best of the best pre workout supplements available for men, women, bodybuilders, and athletes.
Take the time to read each blurb about all of the products, even if you’re tempted to go straight to the top couple of products, as you may find a particular ingredient profile that caters more heavily to something that you’re looking for specifically. Enjoy!
#10 – The Curse by Cobra Labs
Cobra Labs finds its first listing on Supplement Demand with its popular pre workout supplement, The Curse.
It helps to promote sharp mental focus, while providing incredible intensity. User reviews seem to love the product, so we’ll continue to follow The Curse throughout 2015 to see how it progresses.
While it does include beta-alanine (in the form of Carnosyn), it is included in a 3,000 mg proprietary matrix along with creatine monohydrate and citric acid. Our guess is that there’s a higher amount of creatine, than beta-alanine.
Another prop blend includes L-citrulline and L-arginine AKG, which includes 1,000 mg. This prop doesn’t concern us as much due to the similarities of the two ingredients.
Even with the high degree of props in The Curse’s label, it certainly deserves a spot in our top 10 pre workouts due to its longevity and widespread acceptance in the fitness community.
The Curse Highlights:
- Small Servings (5 grams Per Scoop)
- 50 Servings Per Container
- Promotes Sharp Mental Focus
#9 – NeuroCore by MuscleTech
NeurcoCore, the powerful pre workout supplement by MuscleTech, is an intense energy and focus stimulant that aids to enhance muscle, strength, muscle pumps, focus, and enhanced sensory.
It provides 1,067 mg of beta-alanine, 1,000 mg of creatine HCL, and 1,000 mg of L-citrulline per serving, as well as 120 mg of caffeine anhydrous.
We applaud these guys for not hiding behind a proprietary blend, either.
This is a perfect pre workout solution for someone who is new to this type of supplement, and is unfamiliar with their tolerance for various stimulant, due to such low levels of it.
And, even with the inclusion of beta-alanine and L-citrulline, NeuroCore still uses significantly under dosed amounts of each ingredient (read the clinical effective dosages above).
- 1 Gram of Beta-Alanine
- 1 Gram of L-Citrulline
- 45 Servings Per Container
#8 – JACK3D Advanced by USPlabs
As one of the new leaders in the pre workout supplement industry, JACK3D Micro is a micro-engineered pre workout technology that helps to activate known thermogenic receptors, which boosts pumps.
It provides a clean and focused energy, with no sugars or carbs. For those that have tried its predecessor, JACK3D Advanced, we highly recommend giving this a shot and comparing the two.
With another proprietary blend, unfortunately, we’re unable to break down the exact amounts of each ingredient that you’re getting in JACK3D Micro.
We can confirm that you’re getting roughly 3.65 grams per scoop, which includes powerful ingredients like L-ctirulline, arginine, and agmatine (clearly, under-dosed key ingredients).
You also get a bit of choline bitartrate, which is the first time we’ve seen that in our first four entries. This is used primarily for its cognitive boosting properties, but is also effective as a liver health agent and helps to reduce fatty liver buildup.
JACK3D Micro Highlights:
- Very Well Know Brand / Product
- Multiple Variations (Micro vs. Advanced)
- Includes Nootropic Choline Bitartrate
#7 – B-Nox by Betancourt Nutrition
Betancourt Nutrition is a veteran in the supplement industry. Their original pre-workout, Bullnox, was one of the most well-received and beloved pre-workouts on the market during the first couple years of its launch.
The new B-Nox comes with an 18 gram scoop full of prop blends, but still contains some pretty noteworthy ingredients/complexes.
It’s a shame that a brand with as much clout and customer loyalty as Betancourt uses a proprietary blend like they do, with 6 separate complexes in their supplement facts panel.
These include; Strength-Endurance, Neural Energy, Nitric Oxide, Anabolic Solidification, Endocrine Ignition, and “Pre-Launch”.
Unfortunately, B-Nox uses multiple food dyes and sucralose. On the plus side, they offer 35 servings per tub.
- 18-Gram Serving
- Includes BCAAs
- Includes T-Boost Blend
#6 – MegaWatt HD by 1st Phorm
MegaWatt HD, by 1st Phorm, has been specifically formulated to boost energy levels and dial in your mental focus during training.
MegaWatt HD significantly helped to take my workouts (specifically, larger back and chest workouts) to the next level by increasing my muscle endurance and pump!
MegaWatt HD isn’t just a flavored powder filled with a bunch of stimulants to get you all jacked up before you hit the gym, either.
Instead, it’s a carefully developed pre-workout that helps to drive serious results, in the form of heightened energy, focus, and workout quality.
MegaWatt HD is backed with research-proven micronized creatine monohydrate to help boost ATP production, strength, and overall endurance as well.
Secondly, there’s a potent dose of beta-alanine that helps to reduce lactic acid buildup and decrease muscle fatigue so you can train longer and harder in the gym.
The third ingredient factor that we noticed was the “Intracellular VoluMax Blend”, which helps to boost blood flow as well as maximize oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscle cells for powerful muscle contractions and skin-tearing pumps.
This potent base takes your precious time in the gym to the next level and keeps your body from wanting to quit.
When it comes to training intensity, the mind is oftentimes believed to be more powerful than the body . The final element that went into the development of MegaWatt HD was the “Neurostatic Matrix”.
This is the most potent and unheard of blend of powerful nootropics that we’ve seen in 2015 so far. MegaWatt HD is designed to keep your mind not only focused, but absolutely dialed-in and blasting through the pain while keeping energy levels at an all-time high.
With MegaWatt HD’s dynamic mix of mental focus and long-lasting energy… you’re going to see some pretty cool transformations to your workouts.
PS- You’ve got to try the knuckle sandwich flavor – it’s out of this world!
MegaWatt HD Highlights:
- High-intensity pre-workout
- Epic flavors
- Includes Beta-Alanine, Agmatine Sulfate, and Hordenine
- FREE SHIPPING
Alas, Our 5 Best Pre Workout Supplements
#5 – Pre-Up by Lifted Performance
As a young brand in the all-too-competitive supplement industry, Lifted Performance makes a nice opening statement with their brand new “Pre-Up – Hardcore Natural Pre-Workout”
Here are a few things that caught our eye:
- No proprietary blends
- 30 servings per container
- Naturally sweetened, Flavored, and Colored
These statements seem pretty simple from a consumer’s standpoint, but from the manufacturing side of things, it tells a lot about the brand.
To start, it shows that they care about their customers and want to provide them with all of the information necessary for them to make their buying decision (no prop blends).
It also shows that these guys aren’t primarily interested in their bottom line profits, because the use of properly dosed key ingredients and natural sweeteners can get expensive, quickly.
Lifted Performance uses 14 ingredients that we like to see in a top-level pre-workout supplements; from citrulline malate, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, to agmatine sulfate. They even throw in 3 full grams of BCAAs and 5mg of BioPerine, to help with bioavailability and absorption. Not too bad.
- Full Label Transparency
- Natural Sweeteners
- ~19G per Serving
- Includes BCAAs
#4 – Pre-Kaged by Kaged Muscle
Kaged Muscle is one of the newest brands on the scene, started by ultimate fitness badass Kris Gethin.
We expect to see Pre-Kaged move up the list of best pre workout supplements throughout 2016 as more men, women, and influencers in the fitness community become familiar with the brand.
Pre-Kaged is a behemoth 32-gram serving and was developed the way supplements should be.
With little surprise, our favorite part is their full label disclosures, effective dosages, use of key ingredients, and the fact that it contains zero banned substances, artificial flavoring/coloring.
With 6.5 grams of fermented l-citrulline, 3.5 grams of BCAAs, 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, 2 grams of betaine, and 1/5 grams of creatine HCl, this stuff delivers a massive workout to those that can stomach its massive blend!
- 32-Gram Serving
- Full Label Transparency
- 3rd Party Tested
- Clinically-Tested Ingredients
#3 – Pre JYM by JYM (Jim Stoppani)
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, we’re big supporters of Jim Stoppani and his entire line of Jym Supplement Science products here at Supplement Demand.
The most important aspect of Pre JYM is that it includes 13 handpicked ingredients, all included at full doses.
What this shows us, as consumers, is that Jim Stoppani isn’t primarily focused on profit margins because these premium ingredients at clinically effective doses are certainly not cheap. Kudos, Jim!
It boasts 6 grams of citrulline malate, which helps to promote better muscle endurance and bigger muscle pumps, as well as 6 grams of BCAAs in the proper 2:1:1 ratio, which is used to blunt muscle fatigue, boost muscle performance, and increase muscle growth.
Those two impressive doses aside, Pre JYM also includes 2 grams of Carnosyn beta-alanine, and 1.5 grams of betaine, which, as you know, helps with greater power and strength output during workouts.
We love everything about Pre JYM. After the first few big back workouts, we found that the extra energy and strength is second to none, and the best part, perhaps, is that the energy is entirely “clean” feeling. In our experience, we had no jitters, and no “crash” post-workout.
Pre JYM Highlights:
- No Proprietary Blends
- Proper Doses
- No Concentrates
- 13 Science-Backed Ingredients Includes Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine (Carnosyn), and Betaine
#2 – Koala Freak by Staunch Nation
Bodybuilding guru, Calum Von Moger, founder of Staunch Nation, developed Koala Freak pre workout with a simple goal in mind; to make the kind of pre workout he’s always wanted to take, and break all the under-dosing in the supplement industry.
Koala Freak is an enthusiasts pre workout supplement that prides itself on its ability to deliver four key benefits:
- Increased energy and blood flow
- Reduced fatigue
- Improved muscular endurance; and
- Sharpened mental focus (big time)
After using Koala Freak on a two-week trial, I can personally attest to the true power of this supplement.
My team and I have had the opportunity to try countless different pre workout supplements in the past 4 years and we’re confident in saying that Koala Freak is, without a doubt, one of the best all around pre workout supplements that we’ve ever tried.
What we appreciate the most, is the determination Staunch Nation had towards making a product that works. Just look at some of the ingredients…
- Beta-Alanine: Reduces exercise-induced fatigue, improves anaerobic exercise capacity, and increases potential workload, which results in increased lean mass. Each serving of Koala Freak contains 4 grams of beta-alanine.
- Caffeine Anhydrous: Increases muscle endurance and strength. Each serving of Koala Freak contains 360 mg.
- L-Theanine: When paired with caffeine, theanine has been shown to reduce the effects of mental and physical stress, increase the production of nitric oxide, and improve alertness, focus, attention, memory, mental task performance, and mood. Each serving of Koala Freak contains 360 mg of l-theanine.
- Citrulline Malate: Improves muscle endurance, decreases muscle soreness, and improves aerobic performance. Each serving of Koala Freak includes 6 grams of citrulline malate.
- Betaine: Improves muscle endurance, increases strength, and increases growth hormone and IGF-1. Each serving of Koala Freak contains 2 grams of betaine.
All-in-all, Koala Freak and Calum Von Moger has nothing but love from the Supplement Demand team! We realize that it isn’t one of the major, commercialized brands that most of you are familiar with, but if you’re in the market for a truly killer pre workout, we highly recommend giving this one a try!
#1: PreSeries BULK by Transparent Labs
The purpose of Supplement Demand, as many of you know, is to scour the internet (and the rest of the supplement world) to find supplement companies that offer the best products.
And for most people, “best” is a relative term, defined differently by everyone. But for us, “best” is defined by a pretty simple standard… we’re looking for products that offer 100% label and formula transparency, the use of key ingredients at clinically effective dosages, and for zero added fillers and harmful additives.
As a consumer, you should demand this!
One of our readers sent us an email last week telling us about his experience with PreSeries BULK and asked us to check it out to see if these guys are worthy of our #1 best pre-workout supplement.
Here’s what we found:
Transparent Labs PreSeries BULK Pre-Workout
Transparent Labs offers 3 different pre-workout supplements; PreSeries BULK, PreSeries LEAN, and PreSeries STIM-FREE.
We’re big fans of this set up – it’s different.
As a consumer, it allows you to choose the version of your supplement that best aligns with your overall fitness goal, whether it’s “bulking” or “cutting”.
They also offer the best stimulant-free pre-workout, for those that are looking to cycle off of stimulated supplements or are simply intolerant of stimulants.
PreSeries BULK Ingredients
PreSeries BULK’s label is 100% transparent.
It also includes 20 powerful, active ingredients to deliver the best pre-workout experience.
The image to the right, from the Transparent Lab’s site shows all of the ingredients in an interactive “click-and-expand” way that allows you to read more about each ingredient, as well as the researched they use to justify each ingredient.
This alone… the fact that they don’t use a proprietary blend (and provide specific research studies) gave us enough interest to request a sample of their PreSeries BULK to review for our readers.
We can count the number of high-quality, non-proprietary blend pre-workouts on 1 hand that we’ve come across here at Supplement Demand.
Unfortunately, they’re too few and far between.
Our immediate assessment is that this stuff must cost these guys a fortune to make, which tells us that Transparent Labs is more focused on creating a high-quality product, not necessarily a high profit one.
Each scoop/serving is almost 23 grams… yes, 23 grams.
That’s the size of a small protein scoop, or 3-4 times your average pre-workout. The differentiator for PreSeries BULK, as it relates to its PreSeries LEAN counterpart, is the Testosterone Support complex, which includes Vitamin D3, Boron, and Zinc.
PreSeries BULK also includes 5mg of BioPerine, which is crucial for a serving size of this volume, to help increase the bioavailability and absorption rates of the active ingredients.
PreSeries BULK Review
After testing it for 6 weeks, the entire Supplement Demand team agrees that PreSeries BULK is the real deal and is the most deserving of our best pre-workout supplement rating.
The “pump factor”, which is crucial for so many gym goers was incredibly noticeable – the 6 grams of citrulline malate hits incredibly hard, providing intense vascularity and blood flow during intense workouts.
The beta-alanine, tyrosine, and betaine provided a highly noticeable amount of energy and focus, which allowed for far more productive workouts.
All-in-all, PreSeries BULK is the highest quality pre-workout on paper (hands down), but also delivers the best pre-workout experience I, personally, have ever tried… and i’ve tried just about all of them!
We recommend trying it yourself – there’s nothing like finding a pre-workout that you love, that provides you with the immediate gratification of a killer workout, that’s also affordable.
PreSeries BULK Highlights:
- 100 Label & Formula Transparency
- 20 Key Ingredients w/ Clinically Effective Dosages
- 6g of Citrulline Malate
- 4g of Beta-Alanine
- 4g of Betaine HCl
- 1.3g of Taurine
- Full 30 Servings
- 110% Certified Awesomeness
Best Pre Workout Supplements Round Up
If you guys (or ladies) read this entire article, we commend you! Most supplement seekers tend to scroll to the bottom of every top 10 best pre-workout supplement list just to look at what the top 1 or 2 recommended products are.
They want to make sure that they coincide with their preconceived notions of what the top, commercialized pre-workout products have been, historically.
For those of you that took the time to read about each of the top 10 best pre workout supplements, whether you would consider buying “the 10th best product” or not, it shows your commitment to learn about what’s really “under the hood” of some of your favorite products.
Whether it’s understanding the ineffective ingredients used to make seemingly “impressive” ingredient panels, citing misinterpreted scientific studies so they’re able to use the claims in their marketing efforts, or simply under-dosing key ingredients and hiding them in “proprietary blends”, at least now you’re more well-informed.
With all of that said, we always appreciate you stopping by Supplement Demand! We put a lot of time and resources into testing and reviewing these products to provide you with the best possible reviews of what we believe to be the 10 best pre workout supplements!