7 Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements have become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts looking to boost their performance and energy in the gym. With so many health supplements on the market, it can be tricky to determine which products are truly effective. Whether you are someone that needs all of the caffeine just to get into the gym, or someone that needs sustained energy during a workout, pre-workout is often the solution.

This article will provide an overview of 7 of the best pre workout supplements available based on ingredients, effectiveness, taste, and cost. Wheteher you are after the healthiest pre workout or the strongest pre workout to give you a boost, this article will help you make a buying decision. As you explore exactly what pre-workouts are, the desired effects, potential risks, and factors to consider when selecting a product, you’ll be able to choose what is the best pre workout for you.

Some of the most common desired effects from the pre-workout supplements include increased energy, focus, strength, endurance, and power output. Quality pre-workouts will contain scientifically-proven performance enhancers such as caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, citrulline, and amino acids. However, not all products are created equal. It’s important to assess the formula, purity of ingredients, taste, mixability, and cost per serving when choosing a supplement.

1. Thorne Amino Complex

Thorne Amino Complex is a high-quality pre-workout that contains a blend of amino acids to support energy, muscle building, endurance, and recovery. It is free of unnecessary fillers and artificial ingredients. At around $1.5 per serving, it is more expensive than some other options but contains proven muscle-supporting amino acids like L-citrulline and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Thorne Amino
Thorne Amino Complex

When Thorne Amino Complex is combined with other products as a subscription, you’ll receive a discounted price. If you join the Athletic Insight partner program (fill out the form above), you’ll receive 25% off which brings this price down substantially, making it the most budget friendly option as well as the highest quality option.

Customers report sustaining energy, decreasing fatigue, supporting muscle growth when paired with exercise, and improving workout capacity without crashes. With a high user rating, it does contain a couple cons. Some customers thought the product contained a bitter taste. Also, those sensitive to stimulants should be aware it contains green tea extract.

Overall, Thorne Amino Complex is a clean and effective pre-workout targeting endurance, focus, muscle building, and energy goals for high-intensity training when taken about 30 minutes before a workout. Unlike most of the pre-workouts on the market, this contains green tea extract which provides a calm sense of energy, not the kind that makes you itchy and jittery which is often followed by a crash.

2. Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout is a stimulant-based pre-workout supplement that aims to boost energy, strength, endurance, focus, and muscle pumps. It contains ingredients like citrulline, beta-alanine, BCAAs, betaine, taurine, and caffeine. At around $1.50 per serving, it is reasonably priced for the quality and around the average cost compared to the others on this list.

Transparent Labs BULK Pre Workout
Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Some benefits of Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout come from the customers that mention clean energy, better mind-muscle connection during workouts, and excellent taste options like blue raspberry. Some of the customers report itchy skin from the beta-alanine which is quite common when looking into most pre-workouts. It also contains artificial dyes if that is a deal breaker for you.

Transparent Labs BULK is a great choice pre-workout for increasing energy, stamina, and performance during intensive training sessions. The clinically effective dosages make it one of the best pre-workouts for men and women alike.

3. Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout is a best-selling pre-workout containing ingredients like creatine, beta-alanine, arginine, and caffeine for boosts in energy, focus, pumps, endurance, and power. With multiple flavor options available, C4 is a highly used product.

Cellucor C4 Original Pre Workout
Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 costs around 60 cents per serving. Customers mention excellent stimulant effects and strength gains when paired with training. Some don’t like the proprietary blend of undisclosed amounts per ingredient. Some also claim to have bad jitters when supplementing with C4.

Cellucor C4 is an affordable pre-workout that still delivers on par with more expensive pre-workout supplements, according to experienced consumers. The combination of creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine has been scientifically shown to improve various markers of exercise performance.

4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout combines creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, and amino acids to boost strength, endurance, focus, and energy. The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout offers a cost of just under $1 per serving which makes this the best budget friendly option.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Customers mention clean energy, improved concentration, support for muscle building, and great taste options like fruit punch. While the majority only experience benefits while taking the product, some don’t like the tingling skin sensation from niacin. While mostly clean, it does contain artificial colorings if that is a factor for you.

Overall, Optimum Nutrition Pre-Workout is an affordable and effective pre-workout supplement from a reputable brand. It works well for strength training, HIIT workouts, CrossFit style training, and other high-intensity exercises.

5. EVLUTION ENGN Pre-Workout

EVLUTION ENGN Pre-Workout combines stimulants like caffeine with performance enhancers such as creatine, citrulline, and beta-alanine to improve energy, pumps, strength, endurance, and focus. The EVLUTION ENGEN pre-workout costs around $0.70 per serving.


Many customers mention significantly elevated workout capacity and stamina. While some dislike the bitter taste, the majority did not find the product bitter. The product also does contain artificial dyes.

ENGN is a reasonably priced pre-workout that provides energy, mental drive, vasodilation, endurance, and strength benefits for training. It is designed for men and women pushing their bodies to the limit in the gym.

6. Legion Pulse Pre-Workout

Legion Pulse is a pre-workout supplement containing ingredients like citrulline, ornithine, beta-alanine, caffeine, and theanine for enhanced energy, focus, pumps, strength, and endurance. The product costs around $1.10 per serving but is often found cheaper via discounts and promotions.

Legion Pulse Pre Workout
Legion Pulse Pre-Workout

Customer reviews mention an ability to train harder and longer with increased power output when supplementing with Legion. Some of the customers don’t like the tingling sensation from beta-alanine, but it is a common side effect. The flavor options are also limited, but most show to be pleased with the product selection.

Legion Pulse is an all-natural stimulant and non-stimulant pre-workout designed to help men and women maximize training results. The ingredients are science-backed for boosting physical performance.

7. Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre-Workout

Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre-Workout features a blend of stimulants like caffeine along with performance enhancers such as creatine, beta-alanine, and vasodilators for energy, pumps, strength, and endurance. Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre-workout costs around $1.50 per serving.

Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre Workout
Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre-Workout

The customers that take Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre-Workout mention intense workouts with clean energy and stamina. Some report overly stimulant-driven effects if misused and slightly itchy skin, but this is only for those that exceed the recommended dosage. While the product has a limited flavor selection, most customers enjoy the small selection.

Nutrex Outlift Amped provides an affordable stimulant pre-workout option containing a blend of ingredients to boost energy, focus, pumps, power, and muscle endurance during training. Overall, it is an optimal solution for those seeking to benefit from a pre-workout kick.

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are powdered supplements designed to be taken about 30-60 minutes before exercising to boost workout performance, energy, focus, endurance, and recovery. They typically contain a blend of ingredients like caffeine, creatine, amino acids, nitric oxide boosters, and herbal extracts depending on the goals of the user.

While effects vary based on the precise formula, most pre-workout supplements aim to increase physical energy, mental focus, muscle strength and power, workout capacity, motivation, blood flow, and oxygen delivery to muscles. Quality pre-workout formulas contain research-backed ingredients at clinical dosages. Their effects are most noticeable when paired with a consistent training program.

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Some key factors to evaluate when selecting a pre-workout supplement includes ingredients, transparency, price, flavor/mixability, artificial additives, and stimulant content.

  • Ingredients: Assess the type, quality, and dosage of each ingredient
  • Transparency: Look for products that disclose all ingredients and dosages upfront
  • Price: Compare cost per serving between different products
  • Flavor/Mixability: Choose an option you find tolerable and mixes easily
  • Artificial Additives: Some products contain artificial dyes, flavors, or sweeteners
  • Stimulant content: Evaluate total caffeine/stimulant load

What Are the Ingredients in a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Common ingredients in pre-workout supplements include caffeine, creatibe, BCAAs, beta-alanine, and citulline.

  • Caffeine for energy, focus, and performance
  • Creatine for power output and muscle gain
  • BCAAs to support muscle recovery
  • Beta-alanine for endurance and strength
  • Citrulline for circulation and muscle pumps

Other potential ingredients are nitrates for vasodilation, theanine for focus, and herbal extracts like beetroot or rhodiola rosea for enhanced energy and stamina.

What Are the Risks of Taking Pre-Workout Supplements?

Potential risks of pre-workout supplements include jitters, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, overtraining, skin tingling, itching, and insomnia.

  • Side effects from stimulants like caffeine, such as jitters, anxiety, rapid heartbeat
  • Masking natural fatigue, leading to overtraining
  • Minor side effects like skin tingling, itching from ingredients like beta-alanine
  • Insomnia, if taken too late in the day

Proper dosing and avoiding overconsumption can help minimize risks when using pre-workout supplements.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Pre-Workout Supplements?

Potential benefits of quality pre-workout supplements include increased energy, better focus, alertness, elevated endurance, increased strength, more power output, muscle pumps, improved workout capacity, and faster recovery.

  • Increased energy, alertness, and focus
  • Elevated endurance, strength, power output
  • Muscle pumps from enhanced blood circulation
  • Improved workout capacity allowing for more volume
  • Faster recovery between sets and after workouts

When combined with proper nutrition and training, pre-workouts can take your workouts to the next level.

What is the Strongest Pre Workout?

The strongest pre workout on the market is Transparent Labs BULK which consists of 300 mg. of caffeine and contains a complex of other ingredients that aid in muscle recovery and endurance.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Women?

The top pre-workout supplements for women is Transparent Labs Lean Pre-Workout which contains energy boosters without excessive stimulants. It is one of the top pre-workouts for women because it provides energy, endurance, and focus benefits without relying heavily on stimulants. The natural caffeine sources provide motivation without jitters.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Men?

Transparent Labs BULK ranks among the most powerful and best pre-workouts for men due to its high stimulant content from caffeine, along with performance boosters like citrulline to take training intensity to the next level.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Swimmers?

Thorne Amino Complex ranks among the best pre-workouts for swimmers because of its ability to enhance oxygen circulation and energy, allowing swimmers to reach new performance heights in the pool.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Muscle Gain?

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is one of the best pre-workouts for muscle gain because it provides a hefty dosage of the power output booster betaine anhydrous to enhance strength and size gains.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Energy?

Thorne Amino Complex ranks among the best for sheer energy because it combines multiple forms of caffeine along with theacrine to deliver next-level energy no matter your tolerance.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Beginners?

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is one of the best pre-workout options for beginners because it provides an effective dose of caffeine for energy, focus, and performance without being overly stimulating.

Are Pre-Workouts More Effective Than Creatine Supplements?

Pre-workouts and creatine target different goals so it is difficult to say if one is definitively “more effective” than the other. Pre-workouts aim to enhance energy, focus, pumps, and endurance for enhanced training capacity and intensity. Creatine directly boosts strength and power output, muscle gain, and recovery time.

Many pre-workouts contain creatine for its strength benefits. The two can complement each other well when stacked but have distinct mechanisms of action.

Can Pre-Workout Supplements Affect Your Thyroid?

In general, pre-workout supplements are unlikely to impact thyroid function. Some early research showed potential effects of caffeine on thyroid hormone secretion but this has not been demonstrated in humans at normal dosages.

Those with underlying thyroid issues or who are sensitive to stimulants may still wish to exercise caution by starting with lower doses of caffeinated pre-workouts to assess tolerance.

Is There Caffeine in Pre-Workout Supplements?

Yes, most pre-workout supplements contain caffeine as one of the main ingredients for its ability to improve physical and mental performance. The amount of caffeine per serving can range anywhere from 50mg to over 400mg depending on the product.

Some stimulant-free pre-workout options are available for those wishing to avoid caffeine entirely. On the other hand, some people choose to avoid pre-workouts and simply drink a cup of black coffee before training.

Does a Pre-Workout Supplement Typically Contain Creatine?

While creatine is a common ingredient in many pre-workout supplements for its effects on power output and muscle gain, not all pre-workouts contain creatine. Many formulations focus more on stimulants, amino acids, and vasodilators rather than creatine.

Those specifically seeking creatine’s effects on strength and muscle gain may want to select a pre-workout containing at least 2-5 grams per serving or take it separately.

Can You Take Pre-Workout Supplements Every Day?

It is generally not advisable to take pre-workout supplements every single day, especially those containing high doses of stimulants. Most experts recommend cycling pre-workouts if using them more than 3-4 times per week. This gives the body a break from stimulants and prevents building too much of a tolerance.

Additionally, the effects of performance enhancers like creatine and beta-alanine can saturate after consistent daily use, making cycling more ideal for maximizing ongoing benefits.

Ghost vs C4 Pre-Workouts?

Ghost and C4 are two of the most popular pre-workout brands. Ghost boasts unique natural flavors and ingredient blends containing pump agents and nootropics along with stimulants. C4 relies more heavily on traditional stimulants like caffeine rather than exotic vasodilators.

Those seeking strong effects on pumps and mental drive may prefer Ghost. However, C4 provides similar performance enhancement at almost half the price. Ultimately, personal preference in terms of taste, texture, and stimulant amount guides which users prefer.

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.