The best pre-workout supplement is designed to give you a boost in energy before training, making them a great option to have in any gym enthusiast's fitness arsenal.
In fact, due to the ease with which it can be consumed, pre-workout is quickly becoming one of the most popular supplements, alongside some of the best protein powders and multivitamin supplements, to take to help you hit PBs in the gym.
If this sounds like the supplement for you, then we're here to kick-start your search with our list, based on nutrition, price, and reviews, of what we believe to be the best pre-workouts on the market right now.
Whether you're looking for something packed with caffeine, like this Cellucor C4 Original blend, or searching for something caffeine-free, like this The Genius Brand Genius Pre, we've got you covered in this list.
And, if you find yourself still uncertain along the way, stay tuned until the end, where we address some of the most frequently asked questions to assist you in making a decision about whether pre-workout is the right fit for you. So, without further ado, here are our top pre-workout picks...
Best pre-workout supplement
- Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout
- BSN N.O.-XPLODE Pre-Workout
- The Genius Brand Genius Pre
- Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout
- Bulk Pro Elevate Zero
1. Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout
We feel C4 Original is up there as one of the best on the market when it comes to pre-workout.
Cellucor market its formula as a stripped-back, no-nonsense pre-workout that's built to give you a boost in performance without a plethora of ingredients you have never heard of.
Read More: Best taurine supplements
The bulk of the powder consists of 150mg of caffeine to help give you a performance lift, and 1.5gs of creatine which many people take separately as it helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Check out our list of the best creatine supplements if you're looking to increase your daily intake even further.
Moreover, the formula consists of 9 other ingredients including Vitamins C, B6, and B12 which should help combat fatigue and provide you with more energy by supporting your metabolism, making it ideal for increasing performance alongside helping with recovery.
2. BSN N.O.-XPLODE Pre-Workout
Best pre-workout for caffeine
If you're searching for something to give you a serious boost of energy before a highly intense, explosive workout, then N.O.-XPLODE might be for you thanks to its 200mg of caffeine per serving.
In addition to the caffeine, the blend contains 6gs of amino acids L-citrulline, which boosts nitric oxide production in the body, and in turn, helps your arteries relax to improve blood flow, and 3.2gs of beta-alanine, said to play a role in muscular endurance during high-intensity exercise.
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The formula also includes Vitamin C and niacin which helps contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, making it a great option if you exercise a considerable amount of times during the week and want to improve your recovery time.
A nice feature of this pre-workout is that it contains no artificial colouring and the formula is enriched with natural plant extract, making it slightly less synthetic than some other supplements on the market.
3. The Genius Brand Genius Pre
Best caffeine-free pre-workout
The Genius Brand market itself as a nootropic company, specialising in substances that may improve cognitive functioning like their Genius Pre which is a unique formula that contains no caffeine, making it a great option if you're someone who likes exercising late at night.
Genius Pre also contains quite a few ingredients like Alpha GPC, linked to improved power output, cognition, and production of growth hormone, and Betaine, associated with increased power output and focus; which are all tailored to help you perform to the best of your ability.
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The Genius Brand boasts its pre-workout, thanks to its lack of stimulants, can potentially boost performance in other areas of life away from exercise like working in an office, for example.
Ultimately, if you want a supplement to help increase your energy levels for evening workouts, then this pre-workout might be for you.
4. Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout
Best sweetener-free pre-workout
If you're looking for a pre-workout that is more natural than most, then Transparent Labs Bulk might be for you as it contains zero artificial colours, sweeteners, or preservatives, and it’s even gluten-free and non-GMO as well.
The formula has been designed as testosterone support, an important growth hormone, and includes Vitamin D3, boron, and zinc to help metabolism and increase muscle mass.
Read More: Best vegan protein powders
One key detail with this supplement is that it also contains 4g's of BCCAs which, again, aid muscle growth and decrease muscle soreness and fatigue, meaning this pre-workout will likely suit anyone looking to build muscle and improve recovery time between workouts.
It comes in a wide variety of flavours including strawberry lemonade and tropical punch that should mix well with water, making it a great option to take before starting your exercise routine.
5. Bulk Pro Elevate Zero
Best all-in-one pre-workout blend
bulk Pro Elevate Zero stands out from other pre-workouts because it is so densely packed. In just one 22g serving, you get 19gs of active ingredients, 2gs of carbs, and 0.2gs of sugar, which makes it a great all-in-one supplement in our opinion.
This potent formula also contains higher-than-average amounts of caffeine, beta-alanine (3.5g), and Trimethylglycine (3g), which combine to boost energy, enhance muscular endurance, and improve metabolism, further emphasising its all-in-one nature.
Read More: Best nitric oxide supplements
What's more, it provides an impressive 18.8g of protein, complementing your daily intake alongside the best protein-rich foods. This is especially beneficial for dedicated weightlifters aiming to maximise muscle growth seeing how important protein is in the building and repairing of muscles.
In short, then, this pre-workout is a remarkably versatile supplement, encompassing a range of ingredients to support your workouts effectively. Additionally, Bulk stands confidently behind its product with a 28-day money-back guarantee, ensuring customer satisfaction.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
People tend to have a lot of questions regarding pre-workout, especially as there are a lot of common misconceptions, but we're here to clear up some of the more typical queries you may have.
What are some common ingredients to look for in pre-workout?
Various companies utilise distinct formulations for their pre-workout supplements, making it challenging to discover an identical blend with matching components and proportions from another brand.
Caffeine stands out as a prevalent ingredient to be mindful of though, as higher caffeine content corresponds to elevated bursts of short-term energy. However, certain pre-workouts are designed without caffeine to accommodate individuals aiming to decrease their caffeine consumption.
Another common component is beta-alanine, which supposedly helps you withstand the 'burning' feeling you get when pushing your workout to failure, therefore allowing you to pump out a few more reps in each set.
Taurine is another one, typically found in energy drinks, although occasionally in pre-workout too. This is because it's perhaps best known for its potential to boost your energy levels and exercise performance, hence its use in pre-workout supplements.
The key to it all is to simply do your research. If you're unsure about any ingredients, use reliable sources to gain a better understanding of whether you should or shouldn't take them.
What are nitric oxide boosters?
If you come across ingredients such as l-citrulline then you are looking at a nitric oxide booster.
In theory, nitric oxide boosters increase blood flow to your muscles and, therefore, should improve your 'pump' during high-rep exercises.
L-citrulline, for instance, is the natural form of citrulline and its primary function is to boost nitric oxide levels which help dilate your blood vessels, meaning your muscles get more oxygen and nutrients which also combat fatigue.
How long does pre-workout last?
There is no one true answer to this question as the effects of pre-work will vary depending on your height, weight, tolerance to caffeine, and so on.
The majority of pre-workouts recommend consuming them anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes before exercising to reap the full benefits of the stimulants and to get the most out of your workout.
Thereafter, pre-workout can last between 3 to 6 hours depending on the person, meaning you should have plenty of time to complete even the most grueling and long workout whilst still feeling some effects of the supplement.
Should a beginner take pre-workout?
Pre-workout isn't for everyone, and as a beginner, you might find it to be overpowering, especially given some of the adverse effects of caffeine on your stomach.
With that being said, we'd recommend looking to improve factors like sleep, hydration, and your diet as the first port of call instead of turning to supplements to minimise tiredness and fatigue.
If you're still interested in taking pre-workout, then we'd suggest investigating the ingredients before picking one up, and make sure you stick to the recommended amounts in order to remain safe whilst taking them.
Can you take pre-workout supplements every day?
If you continually take pre-workout on a regular basis, your body can build up a tolerance to it, thus making it less effective.
Some pre-workouts recommend cycling them on and off in order to avoid building up a tolerance and, potentially, becoming addicted to the caffeine which comes with its own side effects such as increasing your blood pressure.