18 Oct 2021 9:17 AM +00:00

Best Pre-Workout 2021: Caffeine-Free, Gluten-Free, And More Top Picks

There's a lot to factor in when searching for the best pre-workout supplement, especially as there are so many different brands available offering a variety of different flavours and benefits to boost your energy levels before exercising.

Pre-workout supplements, or simply pre-workouts, are multi-ingredient dietary formulas designed to boost your energy and athletic performance and are therefore extremely popular among experienced weightlifters and athletes looking to give themselves an extra boost before exercising.

To add to your supplement collection, like the best creatine, we put together this list, based on nutrition, price, and reviews, highlighting some of the key differences that we think make each of these supplements stand out.

So if you're looking for something explosive, like this BSN N.O.-XPLODE Pre-Workout, or searching for something that is caffeine-free, like The Genius Brand Genius Pre, then we've got you covered in this list.

Best Pre-Workout

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Best Pre-Workout – Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout

Best pre-workout Cellucor product image of a silvery container with yellow and black labeling
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Image Credit: Cellucor

Brand: Cellucor | Caffeine: 150mg | Calories: 0 Per Serving

If you're a beginner to the fitness world then you may only consider the best protein powder when thinking about supplements, but in reality, there are hundreds of different dietary formulas available including pre-workout, and C4 Original is up there as one of the best on the market.

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Cellucor market its formula as a stripped-back, no-nonsense pre-workout that will likely give you a boost in performance without a plethora of ingredients you have never heard of.

The bulk of the powder consists of 150mg of caffeine to help give you a performance lift, and 1.5g's of Creatine which many people take separately as it helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise and can be found in our best Creatine guide.

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 but also helping with recovery.

Best Explosive Pre-Workout – BSN N.O.-XPLODE Pre-Workout

Best pre-workout BSN product image of a red container with black lid and purple power flavouring
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Image Credit: BSN

Brand: BSN | Caffeine: 200mg | Calories: 0 Per Serving

If you're searching for something to give you a serious boost of energy before a highly intense, explosive workout with your top barbell, then N.O.-XPLODE might be for you thanks to its 200mg of caffeine per serving.

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In addition to the caffeine, N.O.-XPLODE contains 6g's 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 3.2g's of beta-alanine which plays a role in muscular endurance during high-intensity exercise.

The formula also includes Vitamin C and niacin that help 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.

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout – The Genius Brand Genius Pre

Best pre-workout The Genius Brand product image of a white container with orange accents, lid, and labeling
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Image Credit: The Genius Brand

Brand: The Genius Brand | Caffeine: 0mg | Calories: Unspecified Per Serving

The Genius Brand market themselves 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.

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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.

The Genius Brand boasts their pre-workout, thanks to its lack of stimulant, which can even be taken in your top water bottle to 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.

Best Sweetener-Free Pre-Workout – Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout

Best pre-workout Transparent Labs product image of a white container with dark and light blue labeling
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Image Credit: Transparent Labs

Brand: Transparent Labs | Caffeine: 180mg | Calories: 0 Per Serving

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.

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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.

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 in your top gym shoes.

Best All-In-One Pre-Workout – Bulk Pro Elevate Zero

Best pre-workout Bulk product image of a black packaging pre-workout
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Image Credit: Bulk

Brand: Bulk | Caffeine: 200mg | Calories: 81 Per Serving

Elevate Zero stands out from other pre-workouts because it is so densely packed like some of the top BCAAs that, in just one 22g serving, you get 19g's of active ingredients, 2g's of carbs, and 0.2g's of sugar which makes it a great all-in-one supplement.

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It contains an above-average amount of caffeine, beta-alanine (3.5g), and Trimethylglycine (3g) which contribute to an increase in energy, muscular endurance, and metabolism, adding to the all-in-one nature of this pre-workout.

In addition to caffeine, Elevate Zero contains 18.8g's of protein to supplement your daily intake and should support muscular growth as you progress along your fitness journey, making it ideal for keen weightlifters looking to increase their size.

All-in-all, this pre-workout is a very versatile supplement that includes a number of ingredients to support your workouts, but if you're not happy with your purchase in any way, Bulk offers a money-back guarantee if returned within 28 days of purchasing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout

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.

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.

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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.

What Are Some Common Ingredients To Look Out For In Pre-Workout?

Different companies use different formulas for their pre-workout and therefore you will struggle to find one blend with the exact same ingredients and quantities as another.

One of the most common ingredients to look out for is caffeine because with increased caffeine comes increased short-term energy boosts, however, some pre-workouts are caffeine-free for those who look to reduce their caffeine intake.

Another typical ingredient is beta-alanine which helps you withstand the 'burning' feeling you get when pushing your workout to failure, and therefore should allow you to pump out a few more reps in each set.

What Are Nitric Oxide Boosters?

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If you come across ingredients such as l-citrulline then you are looking at a nitric oxide booster which, in theory, increases bloody flow to your muscles and therefore improves the 'pump' during high-rep lifting.

L-citrulline for example 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 Much Water Should I Mix With My Pre-Workout Powder?

There's no right or wrong answer to this question as it is really down to personal preference at the end of the day.

Ideally, you'd probably want at least 150ml of water to prevent the mix from being too strong and, in many cases, sweet.

C4, for example, recommends 6-12 fl. oz of water with their Original blend, which equates to around 170-355ml.

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