What Makes a Premium Pre-Workout?
When it comes to the best pre-workout supplements, it can be tough to work out which one will have the biggest impact on your performance.
A good pre-workout will fill you with energy and laser focus that will allow you to train harder. They will provide your body with ingredients designed to nurture and repair and will give you an epic pump at the same time.
Many people have had bad experiences with pre-workouts in the past. This can be for various reasons—the most common reason being an insane amount of stimulants. While stimulants like caffeine are great for giving you a boost of focus and motivation, they need to be balanced carefully to prevent a crash or a heart rate that can be heard a mile away.
This is why it is so important to do your research. When you choose a product that you could be using 4-5 times a week, you need one that fits in with your life. One that doesn’t leave you exhausted and unable to enjoy the other parts of your day.
How do I Find The Best Pre-Workout Supplements?
The most important thing to look for when looking at any supplement product you intend to take is the ingredient list. Many of the pre-workouts currently circulating on the market contain what is called a “proprietary blend.” This is a major red flag, in our honest opinion. Proprietary blends mean that the manufacturer is hiding what they are putting in the product you are taking.
If the ingredients are not plain and transparent, you have no idea what you are putting in your body, and we don’t think that is a good risk for anyone.
Here are some of the ingredients studied and tested and will be a quality addition to any pre-workout.
Amazing Ingredients for Premium Pre-Workout Supplements
Caffeine (100-200 mg)
From coffee to green tea, caffeine is a well-known ingredient found naturally in the wild. It works as a stimulant to boost energy levels. This means that you can approach your workouts in the right mindset.
Caffeine doesn’t just give you energy either. It gives you focus and boosts your metabolic rate, meaning you burn more energy whilst caffeinated.
As caffeine is a stimulant, it does have the potential for a stimulant crash if you take too much. The sweet spot is around 150mg per serving. (1)
Beta-Alanine (2-5g per day)
Beta-Alanine is another common ingredient found inside good pre-workouts. It allows you to work out for longer periods of time without running into stamina problems. It does this by working against the lactic acid build-up inside your muscles. (2)
L-Citrulline (Maximum 15g per day)
In the past, manufacturers of pre-workout products found what they thought was the holy-grail of pre-workout ingredients—an ingredient called Arginine.
Unfortunately, it was debunked by a number of studies and research due to the body’s ability to absorb it being very low.
Since then, it has been found that L-citrulline is absorbed into the body first, before being converted into Arginine in the body later on. (3)
The result? Massive pumps and vasodilation of veins and arteries. (4)
Citrulline has been shown to stop your body from breaking up special amino acids, which enable massive muscle growth. While it does not have a positive correlative effect on protein building, it massively increases protein synthesis by altering certain pathways used by your body to build muscle.
Common Disproved Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements
There is a huge range of different ingredients used in pre-workout supplements that whilst not necessarily harmful, are extremely ineffective when it comes to pre-workout supplements.
These are ingredients that often have miracle claims but have been proven ineffective by numerous studies:
While Glutamine is a crucial amino acid when it comes to building lean muscle mass and improving the immune system, the majority of people get enough of it through their diet. There is a point where any additional Glutamine is wasted, and if you eat a protein-rich diet anyway, you reach this point very quickly.
As we previously discussed, Arginine was once hailed as a miracle ingredient. It was debunked when researchers found that it could not survive the stomach acid found in humans. Most of it is broken down, leaving very little to be absorbed.
Dangerous or Banned Ingredients
Whereas the ingredients above are proven to be ineffective but harmless, a few ingredients have been outright banned from the market due to their dangerous ingredients.
The most commonly known and commonly seen ingredient to have been banned is DMAA. This stimulant gives you an incredible amount of energy and motivation, but it comes at a cost.
DMAA raises blood pressure drastically and causes cardiovascular problems over time. This led to it being banned as a pre-workout supplement.
Another similar ingredient is Synephrine, which is a fat-burning chemical used by athletes.
Whilst these ingredients are banned and outright dangerous, it is worth noting that consuming too much caffeine can have a similar effect.
By including huge amounts of stimulants like caffeine per serving, you can feel like a pre-workout powder is really helping you out in your workouts. However, the side effects and the post-workout crash is never worth it, and it has been shown that high levels of caffeine in a person’s diet can lead to anxiety and heart problems over time.
Our Favourite Premium Pre Workout
Now that you know what to look for in a pre-workout let’s look at some of the best offerings on the market. When deciding upon these, we look for high-quality ingredients and a natural formula wherever possible.
We also look at the effectiveness of the workout and how well it helps with motivation, energy, and focus.
#1 National Bodybuilding Co. Stage Ready Pre-Workout
Our favorite high-quality product, one that we think ticks all the boxes, is the Stage Ready Preworkout by National Bodybuilding Co. The powder is made from all-natural ingredients and does not contain any artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Winner of a Generation Iron supplements award, and with amazing customer reviews, it works by increasing levels of Nitric Oxide in the blood. This leads to insanely satisfying pumps, and long workouts.
One thing that they have that no one else is currently doing is the addition of nootropics designed to enhance brain function, mental clarity, and energy focus, not only during the workout but throughout the rest of the day.
All of the ingredients in this product have a wealth of studies behind them and are all dosed at the optimum level. The stimulant boost is enough to push through those last reps with ease and keep you focused on the task at hand, but won’t wreck you in the hours that follow.
This is our favorite pre-workout on the market at the moment and would be our recommendation.
#2 Performax Labs Hypermax Extreme Pre-Workout Supplement
Performax Labs Hypermax Extreme Pre-Workout is our second pick. With a healthy amount of caffeine anhydrous and L-citrulline, the only reason it is number two is the lower amounts of citrulline-malate, which we find a much more effective ingredient.
This product also contains a blend of adrenaline boosters, vasodilators, and sports enhancers that will allow you to keep pushing your body further.
This product does not contain any neotropics either or focus enhancers such as B12, which is another reason why we prefer the offering from Bodybuilding Co. This is a simple formula that will give you workout energy focus and bigger pumps.
#3 Dynamic Muscle Primal Roar Intense Pre-Workout Supplement
Dynamic Muscle Primal Roar Intense Pre-Workout is a widely consumed pre-workout powder. However, it is not one that we recommend. It does not contain ingredients that current research is pointing towards being the most effective such as VASO6 and Cillurline Malate.
Furthermore, despite a smaller serving size, it contains at least twice the amount of caffeine per serving than the other two products mentioned. It is sure to give you a boost in your workouts however, this over-reliance on caffeine and a lack of other effective ingredients is worrying. While it is common in the world of pre-workouts, if you want a premium product, then this is best avoided.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223802/ DOI: 10.17226/10219
- Derave W, Ozdemir MS, Harris RC, Pottier A, Reyngoudt H, Koppo K, Wise JA, Achten E. beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00397.2007. Epub 2007 Aug 9. PMID: 17690198.
- Figueroa A, Wong A, Jaime SJ, Gonzales JU. Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Jan;20(1):92-98. DOI: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000340. PMID: 27749691.
- Chopra S, Baby C, Jacob JJ. Neuroendocrine regulation of blood pressure. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct;15 Suppl 4(Suppl4): S281-8. Doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.86860. PMID: 22145130; PMCID: PMC3230096.