At this point, we know there are thousands of pre workouts in the supplement market. Some single brands have up to 10 different pre workouts themselves. Deciphering which one is best for you is an absolute chore! What makes matters worse is what’s best for you today, may not be tomorrow. When your training changes, your diet changes, your shifts at work change, etc, oftentimes the pre workout will need to change too.
Basic Pre Workout
A simple pre workout will typically have caffeine, beta alanine, citrulline or citrulline malate, and some stimulant or focus ingredient that will be paired with the caffeine amount. There are a LOT of simple pre workouts out there. The goal of a basic pre workout is to provide some blood flow, some uplifting feeling from the caffeine, a little tingle, and go.
Our Top 5 Basic Pre Workouts based on effectiveness & cost are:
1.) NutriStat Pre Script
Pre Script is a simplified pre workout with 350mg of caffeine and some nitrates to help with a pump & blood flow.
2.) Das Labs Bucked Up
Bucked Up has 200mg of caffeine, perfect for the entry level pre workout user and a little bit of focus & pump mixed in.
3.) AllMax Impact Igniter
Impact Igniter is a little stronger with 400mg of caffeine, pump, and some l-carnitine.
4.) Axe & Sledge Ignition Switch
Ignition Switch has 175mg of caffeine, but allows for a 1 or 2 scoop dosing to bring you up to 350mg if you wish. It also has some pump ingredients and some of the most unique flavors on the market.
5.) 1st Phorm MegaWatt
Mostly caffeine, MegaWatt is 375mg per serving and a whopping 45 servings.
Specialty Pre Workouts
Specialty pre workouts will change based on what the goal is. If a brand is making a bodybuilding specific pre workout it will focus around blood flow and maximizing muscle contractions. For endurance athletes the product will try to buffer lactic acid and provide a stimulant matrix that’s felt evenly over time with a limited crash. These products you’ll typically pay more for as their ingredient profile is more complex and specialized. You may also see some ingredients you aren’t used to seeing as well.
Our Top 5 Specialty Pre Workouts for Bodybuilding:
1.) Like A Pro Supplements Pump & Focus
No pre workouts have the pump formula of Pump & Focus. The downside? It only has 125mg of caffeine. Great for some, not enough for others. Either way you’ll have a pump that makes you feel like you can walk through walls.
2.) InnovaPharm MVPre
MVPre is a national top seller since 2020. A full dose of pump, 350mg of caffeine, and plenty of focus to keep you dialed in.
3.) Nutra Bio Pre
Don’t sleep on Nutra Bio Pre - Clinical dosing of pump and focus ingredients and 350mg of caffeine. This one has one of the biggest scoops on our shelves!
4.) MyoBlox Loco
Loco is uniquely formulated to provide cutting edge ingredients to bodybuilding enthusiasts for a mix of pump, stim, and focus.
5.) Core Nutritionals Fury
Core Nutritionals is by the book with Fury - yielding 375mg of caffeine, focus, pump, and a great flavor.
Top 5 Pre Workouts for Strength Athletes
1.) Unbound Unload
Unload maxes out your caffeine at 450mg and provides a very stimmy, energized feeling throughout your workout.
2.) Centurion Labz God of Rage
God of Rage is a legend in the pre workout game for it’s intense feeling and insane workouts.
3.) Centurion Labz God of War
God of War comes second in the Centurion Labz lineup with 450mg of caffeine.
4.) MuscleForce Defiant Unleashed
Defiant Unleashed is an ultra high stim, high focus, medium pump pre workout.
5.) Alpha Lion Super Human Extreme
Super Human Extreme is the strongest pre in the Alpha Lion series. A must try.
Must Pre Workout Have Ingredients
There are NO must have ingredients. Social media influencers have made a mint off of repeating basic information from a google search and telling people why the pre workout they’re representing is the best. We don’t need to listen to that. Ingredients like citrulline have great science backed claims, but it doesn’t always mean it’s the best. If something is very commonly used across many products / brands, it’s likely that it provides value and is a good bang for your buck ingredient.
Boosting Your Pre Workout Performance
There are products out there that can boost your pre workout performance. We’re not just talking about enhancing muscle pumps or increasing the amount of caffeine. There are products out there that are specifically designed to be paired with pre workouts to increase athlete performance.
It sounds simple, but an ultra fast gastric emptying carbohydrate paired with your pre workout will help fuel muscle glycogen and aid in workout performance as well as provide better pumps and speed up the recovery process. The type of carb does matter, but the more novice you are in tuning your diet, the less it actually matters.
Carb10: Modified pea starch
Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin
Simple & cost effective, creatine can help aid in performance, recovery, muscle output and simple muscle hydration.
- Standard Creatine
Ribose is an old school ingredient that is actually a sugar, but helps with muscular ATP and performance output. One of our low-key favorite ingredients to add to a pre workout!
Peak 02 taken over time can help with endurance through enhancing blood-oxygen levels. It’s not an immediate feel, but it can definitely help with overall performance, especially when mixed in with some of these other powerhouse ingredients.
Let’s not overlook the fact that hydration is a key component for optimal alertness, muscle contractions, and muscle engagement. Hydration typically consists of salts, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Working similarly to creatine, betaine helps hydrate the muscles at an intra-cellular level.
Not every pre workout is going to be perfect, but knowing what each thing does provides a tremendous advantage to its user. Most of the time, you can add an inexpensive raw ingredient to an already formulated pre workout and it can provide you with a completely different experience in the gym.