Pre workout supplements will make sense to most people. You need something to make you go that extra mile in the gym or before you enter the ring, pitch, or wherever else you are going to work up a sweat.
Years ago, there were bananas – and they served their purpose. You got a hit of sugar, potassium and various vitamins all packaged up neatly in its own yellow jacket. Then, along came Lucozade, Gatorade, etc – sweet, fizzy and capable of providing a quick hit of energy. But sports nutrition suddenly got a lot more scientific in the late 90s. Nutritional supplement companies began to appear, and they started offering pre-workout supplements, products that promised to boost performance.
Nowadays, however, there are a plethora of products that offer safe, legit and tested ways of enhancing your performance. For those who want to push through plateaus or go for longer under that barbell, a pre-workout can supply the necessary oomph. They can help with your fat loss goals as longer, harder workouts will help build muscle – and the more muscular a body, the more calories it burns at rest.
I’ve done the necessary research for all of you. I just know that you’ll find the top 10 supplements below to be of nothing but the best quality that will help you to achieve the best results. Hopefully, this will help you make an informed choice about what you should spend your money on and whether it is worthwhile or not. Read on to find out more.
Top 10 Pre Workout Supplements Review
1. APS Mesomorph
The main reason for taking APS Mesomorph is its incredible dosage of DMAA (1,3 Dimethylamylamine) in one scoop – an eye-popping 65mg. DMAA is not without controversy – see the ongoing Hi-Tech fight with the FDA, for example.
The product has its haters, thanks to its ban in certain countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for instance, but others argue that it is legit and that it has its place in the sports supplement world.
Because it’s such a big dose, first-time takers would be better off halving the scoop size. You will still feel the effects. And if you are a first-timer, read up on DMAA so that you understand what you are taking. Remember, anyone who is supplementing should consult their doctor or a qualified sports nutritionist first.
The other ingredients in this pre-workout supplement include 3.2g of beta-alanine and a 2.1 citrulline malate addition, both standard ingredients in such formulations. The full scoop’s worth of product will give you 3g of creatine, a significant dosage for a workout.
This product is best taken by experienced gym goers and those who have used pre-workouts to sound effects and want to make their sessions in the gym harder and longer. Make an informed choice before taking and be aware of the risks.
2. JYM Pre JYM
Remember Jim – Dr Jim Stoppani to be precise?
He is someone you will see all over bodybuilding.com giving his advice on workouts, what to eat and what to take. Bear in mind, the advice on nutritional supplementation will always be skewed as Jim has his own line of supplements – the Jym range. Naturally, he’s going to recommend his own products. You could argue that the workouts are a marketing technique for his supplement range.
What does it contain? For a start, the product has 6 grams of the good old branched-chain amino acids. They fight catabolic activity in the body – catabolic activity is where the body starts to break down muscle mass. Not good but it can happen when you are dieting and exercising hard.
It also has 6 grams of citrulline malate, which helps the body produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide gives you the pumps, and it also delivers nutrients to the muscles – so it’s something that is beneficial. It can also reduce lactic acid build-up in the muscles, reducing the pain you might otherwise get.
Pre Jym has 2g of HCL creatine, rather than the bodybuilder staple, creatine monohydrate. This ingredient doesn’t cause as much water retention in the muscles so good if you don’t like the bloaty feeling that sometimes comes with creatine. It is also less likely to give you an upset stomach. Nobody wants to do a workout feeling as if they might have a nasty accident while they do so, after all… There are also 2 grams of beta-alanine (good for fighting muscle fatigue) and betaine (1.5 grams). The latter is used to promote protein synthesis – the use of protein to help build up muscle mass.
The product is designed to be used with Post Jym. The dosage of ingredients makes up the full recommendation for fuelling intense workouts if you take both Pre and Post Jym. Users describe Pre Jym as easy to mix and great tasting, but that the effects are subtle – not the bouncing off the walls kind of thing.
3. Sparta Nutrition KRAKEN
Another product for fans of pre-workout supplements that DO make you bounce off the walls. Sparta Nutrition’s Kraken has a few things in it that are going to get you wired, so you can then get fired into that workout. (Did you like our bit of poetry there?)
What does it have in it? 200mg of caffeine, a well-known and tried stimulant in workout products and 250mg Eria Jarensis extract. What is this? N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine is a stimulant that is similar to substances such as Ephedrine, DMAA and AMP-Citrate, which are no longer allowed in supplements, though you can get DMAA products in the States.
It’s an orchid species native to China and South East Asia. It can provide therapeutic mood-boosting effects as it increases levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the body – hormones that help us to feel good. Some users also report euphoria, and the product is associated with enhanced concentration, alertness and focus. It also can suppress the appetite.
Kraken also a 4g dose of l-citrulline, and HydroMax with taurine, agmatine and l-norvaline. There is also DMHA, or 2-amino iso heptane – a similar product to DMAA, something said to provide uplift and euphoria (again) to your workouts. Users of DMHA report a higher pain threshold and that they perceive their exertion as less – meaning you can work out longer and harder.
4. NutraBio PRE Extreme
NutraBio has been around for a while, which is always reassuring. This workout contains carbohydrates in the form of dextrin (15 grams) to help give you high energy.
Dextrin is a water-soluble carbohydrate and a natural binding agent. It is also considered a prebiotic – something that feeds the good bacteria in our systems.
PRE-Extreme comes with 350mg of caffeine anhydrous – so a significant amount of stimulant that is going to make your blood fizz and your eyes pop wide open. But it is a caffeine blend, a trick nutritional supplement manufacturers often use to give a longer-lasting and gentler effect.
Other ingredients designed to get pressing that barbell high and hard are 6 grams of citrulline malate, agmatine, betaine and Nitrosigine (bonded arginine silicate). You also get electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. Electrolytes are essential for life, and they include sodium, potassium, calcium and bicarbonate. When we exercise or work out, we sweat and therefore lose electrolytes, mainly sodium and potassium. Electrolyte imbalance is dangerous, and it can trigger illness, hence the inclusion of electrolytes in many pre-workout products.
PRE-Extreme also has l-leucine – 3 grams of it. L-leucine is the most studied of the branched-chain amino acids and is regarded as the best one. It promotes muscle protein synthesis, allowing your body to get on with the job of making muscle mass.
5. Transparent Labs PreSeries BULK
Transparent Labs are relative newcomers to the world of nutritional supplementation. They solemnly promise to live up to their name – 100 percent formula transparency, and science-based ingredients in their products with clinically useful doses. They also do not use artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or harmful additives.
Pre-series BULK includes 129 active ingredients that are supposed to increase nitric oxide (your pump) and focus while you work out in the gym. It can also help with reducing tiredness and muscle soreness. Pre-series BULK doesn’t contain creatine, as the company says large doses of caffeine (its supplement contains caffeine anhydrous) negate the effects of creatine – though its stim-free products do have creatine in them. It also has L-theanine (a similar stimulant to caffeine, but one which acts more gently).
The supplement uses Stevia as its sweetener. Stevia comes from a green, leafy plant that is native to South America. It is calorie-free, helping to lower the calorie content of Pre-series BULK.
One ingredient that caught out eye was Mucuna Pruriens – or L-Dopa. This comes from the Velvet bean plant. L-Dopa is a precursor to the dopamine levels in your body.
We all know the benefits of dopamine, right? It’s our feel-good hormone, and increased dopamine production means better moods and less in the way of stress. In a pre-workout product, the ingredient boosts your growth hormone levels, decreases cortisol and promotes healthy levels of testosterone. Bear in mind, this is one pricey product. But we feel that the impressive ingredient list and purity are worth it.
6. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged
Are we allowed to be annoyed at the spelling of Caged as Kaged?!
Okay, okay – we get what he is doing. Kaged Muscle is the baby of Kris Gethin, editor at large of Bodybuilding.com, photographer, bodybuilder and all-around muscle man guru. Like Jim Stoppani, you will find Kris Gethin’s workouts all over Bodybuilding.com, and his nutritional regimes unfailingly recommend his pre and post workout stuff. The post variation is called Re-Kaged. Neat, hmm?
Pre-Kaged uses PurCaf caffeine in a 250mg dose per serving. Users report great results with PurCaf – better than those with caffeine anhydrous. Other tried and tested pre-workout goodies are fermented L-citrulline, fermented branched-chain amino acids (made through vegetable fermentation) and betaine. The hydrating ingredients are taurine, and coconut powder and the coloring is beetroot extract – another all-natural element.
You can’t argue with Kris’s commitment to his products. He tells us he has taken more than 150 blood, urine saliva, hair and GI tests for 28 months to develop Kaged Muscle and make sure that every product works and is safe. The beta-alanine in the product is 1.6 grams per serving which means it probably won’t make you tingle as much as other supplements. The creatine amount is only 1.5g, however, while 3g is the usual recommendation for pre workout nutrition.
7. Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump 250
Gaspari Super Pump 250 comes from Gaspari Nutrition. Rich Gaspari has been in bodybuilding and fitness for more than thirty years. A former Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Professional Mr. World, he began developing supplements when he retired. Gaspari Nutrition was founded in 1998.
Super Pump 250 contains DMAA – 70mg of which to be precise. As we have outlined, this isn’t an ingredient universally loved by all companies and countries, as it is banned in some locations. Bear this in mind if you decide to take this product. If you are new to the world of bodybuilding and weight lifting, other pre-workout supplements will be a better choice.
Look out for the 3g L-citrulline and 750mg agmatine silicate. Agmatine initiates nitric oxide production. It ensures your muscles have plenty of blood as quickly as possible, allowing you to work out harder and longer. Because it widens the blood vessels, protein, carbs and amino acids move there quicker too. Muscle cells are able to replenish glycogen and water stores faster, and your well-hydrated muscles look nicely pumped.
Super Pump 250 also has 250g of caffeine, so expect whacking great boosts of energy and focus before you work out, which can well explain why the product is popular. Users report insane levels of power and “game-changing” workouts, though again there is the caution that you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to dosage.
8. RedCon1 Total War
Launched in 2016, RedCon1 continues its drive to attract new customers and keep them coming back. This one is a great blend of pump and stimulants, helpful for anyone looking to blast their way through ferocious workouts in the gym.
We do like this for what it gives you. First, you have caffeine in a 250g dose. Then, there is 125mg N-Phenyl Dimethylamine (eria jarensis extract) and 100mg DMHA. You have a quick mood boost (“Yeah! I’m ready for my workout!”) and then lasting euphoria. (“Yeah! I’ve finished my workout!”)
Other stimulants include theobromine, rauwolscine and Hige Namine. Theobromine comes from the cacao plant, and it’s found in chocolate. It has milder effects than caffeine, and it reduces blood pressure. It is also a diuretic (urination aid), so make sure you drink plenty of water while taking these pre workout supplements.
9. Bulk Powders ELEVATE
ELEVATE contains thirteen active ingredients. All of which have been included in their purest forms and at their optimal doses (or higher). ELEVATE doesn’t use proprietary blends, so you know just how much of each ingredient you are getting in your pre-workout serving.
The ingredients are:
- Vitargo® (10g)
- Beta Alanine (3.2g)
- Citrulline Malate (3g)
- Arginine Alpha Ketoglutarate (3g)
- Trimethylglycine (2.5g)
- Taurine (2g)
- Glucuronolactone (500mg)
- Tyrosine (400mg)
- Grape Seed Extract (300mg)
- Caffeine (250mg)
- ACTINOS™ (180mg)
- Vitamin B6 (25mg)
- BioPerine® (5mg)
Vitargo® 10g is billed as “the ultimate sports-performance carbohydrate”. It is used by Olympic athletes, medical professionals and people wanting to improve their health and fitness. It transports to the stomach faster than any other carbohydrate for a quick hit of energy. Clinical studies have also shown that it replenishes glycogen levels 68 percent faster, allowing for an increase in fitness performance of up to 23 percent two hours after consumption.
It also has BioPerine® 5mg, a thermos-nutrient that enhances bioavailability. Extracted from the fruit of black pepper, BioPerine® is included in ELEVATE to increase the absorption rates of all the other ingredients. There is also L-Tyrosine 400mg, an amino acid, which is a precursor to adrenaline.
10. Myprotein MYPRE
MYPRE contains caffeine and guarana extract to increase alertness and improve the user’s concentration. Guarana is sometimes described as extra powerful coffee – in this pre-workout supplement, you get 400mg of caffeine. You might want to make sure your workouts are done in the morning or early afternoon… Guarana strongly reduces fatigue and increases strength and fatigue.
MYPRE comes in seven fruit flavors, including lemon & lime, watermelon blue raspberry and sour apple.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need pre workout supplements?
It’s a great question to ask because pre-workouts aren’t always necessary. If you are doing a workout that isn’t longer than about forty-five minutes, say then you don’t really need a pre-workout. Nor do you need them for a stretching session or something like yoga or pilates. Be honest with yourself about how hard you are going to work when you are in the gym and how long you will make yourself spend there. Most programs for bodybuilding and powerlifting will include supplementation that recommends pre-workouts.
How and when to take pre workout supplements?
Pre-workout nutrition includes what you eat too – and if you are taking pre workout supplements on a regular basis, they should be part of your overall nutritional plan, not an addition to it. Take into account the calories in your supplement. Most products contain in the range of 100-250 calories per serving, which is fine – but if you’re taking them two or three times, then it does add up.
As you might guess from the name, you are supposed to take them before working out. About thirty to forty-five minutes for the best effect. Most of them come in the form of powders that you mix with water or another liquid. For convenience, you can pre-mix them and store them in the fridge, so they are ready to pop in your kit bag just before you go to the gym.
How do I choose the best pre workout supplements?
You decide what you want – lots of energy, so you feel like Superman or Wonder Woman or a more sustained boost. Do you want increased strength or help with anti-catabolism and fat burning? Look for the product that supplies the ingredients that work for your goals. Buy the best product you can for your budget. This doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive. Our favorite trick is to read reviews and read them across sites to see which products rate consistently highly with users.
It’s helpful too if you know what the users are doing and how they are using their pre-workout supplements. If they are following a different training regimen to you or they are a socking great monster of a dude and you’re more the Charles Atlas pre-version, then their recommendations might not work for you. Results will vary! Remember – check with your doctor or consult an experienced sports nutritionist before taking any pre workout supplements.
What should I look for in pre workout supplements?
We are glad you asked that as we have already pulled together an article about pre-workouts, what is in them, the benefits and potential side effects. You can find it here. If you can’t be bothered clicking – life’s too short and all that plus you’ve got a workout you should be doing instead of all this reading – we look for tried and tested ingredients such as creatine monohydrate, branched-chain amino acids, l-citrulline and beta-alanine – caffeine if we are working out before three o’clock in the afternoon. The other stuff helps too, but they are bonuses.