2020’s 11 Best and Most Effective Pre Workout Supplements

Best Pre Workout Supplements, Powders, Drinks, Boosters, and Pills for Energy, Pump, Vascularity, and Stamina

Top Pick: Gorilla Mode

Best pre workout supplement of 2020 Gorilla ModeIf you want a pre workout supplement that’s effective, lasts a long time, won’t send you crashing afterward, and isn’t too expensive, then you want to try Gorilla Mind’s Gorilla Mode.

Gorilla Mode contains a moderate amount of caffeine along with synergistic herbs and other ingredients to keep you pumped up and focused on your workout!

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Pre workout supplements are some of the most popular fitness products out there.

That’s because they help you get through your workout more effectively while also helping you feel good about exercising.

A good pre workout will give you energy and pump you up both physically and mentally.

What’s not to like? (Except for the cost, of course!)

But, not all pre workouts are created equal.

Every store with a fitness shelf has a selection of pre workouts, all vying to go home with you.

Which ones can you trust to empower your workouts and which ones should you leave behind?

The Best Pre Workout Supplements

ProductCaffeineServingsRatingPrice
MusclePharm Assault250 mg304.2$

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ProSupps Mr. Hyde NitroX420 mg304.2$$$

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Cellucor C4 Ultimate300 mg204.4$$$$$

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Gorilla Mode175 mg404.8$$$

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Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy110 mg304.5$$

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Evlution Nutrition ENGN Shred260 mg304.1$$$

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Legion Pulse Stim-Free0 mg214.2$$$$

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RAW Synergies ThermoPRE250 mg244.1$$$$

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N.O. XT Nitric Oxide0 mg304.5$$

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Naked Energy200 mg503.9$$

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Cellucor C4 Original150 mg304.1$$

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Best Budget Pre Workout

MusclePharm AssaultMusclePharm Assault best inexpensive cheap preworkout supplement

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Fruit Punch, Watermelon
  • Calories: 5
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 250 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Creatine, Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Taurine, Carnitine, Vitamins

See full ingredients

Overview

MusclePharm Assault is a high-dose, low-cost pre workout supplement that’s effective all by itself.

First of all, you get 30 servings per bottle, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize MP has a large serving size.

One scoop contains 250 mg of caffeine.

Half a scoop is good enough for most people!

The other ingredients work together to increase your muscular endurance so you can exercise for longer.

And, if you end up not liking MusclePharm Assault, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Pros
  • Good for lasting energy and endurance
  • Relatively clean energy without a crash
  • Tested for banned substances
  • Very economical choice
Cons
  • Doesn’t always completely mix
  • Little tingle (if that’s your jam)
  • Not as big of a pump as other preworkouts
Recommendation

MusclePharm Assault is an oft-recommended pre workout supplement that gives you clean energy without cleaning out your wallet.

Best Pre Workout for Pump and Vascularity

ProSupps Mr. Hyde NitroXMr Hyde Nitro X biggest muscle pump pre workout vasodilator

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Blue Razz Popsicle, Cherry Popsicle, Cotton Candy, Lollipop Punch, Orange Slice, Peache Oh!, Pixie Dust, Red Fish Candy, Sour Green Apple, What-O-Melon
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 420 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Arginine, Beta-Alanine, Choline, Citrulline, Creatine, GABA L-Theanine, Theacrine, Tyrosine, Yohimbe

See full ingredients

Overview

Mr. Hyde NitroX is loaded with effective ingredients to turn you into a workout-busting monster.

The Strength Maxtrix contains Beta-Alanine, Creatine Hydrochloride, Arginine Silicate (in the form of Nitrosigine), and L-Citrulline Aspartate.

That’s 4.5 grams of muscle and bloodflow-boostin’ power!

Plus, a bit of niacin, which is a vasodilator as well[1].

All this blood flow helps to empower your muscles, flush them of build-up, and makes you look GREAT in the mirror.

For energy, you have three forms of caffeine:ProSupps best vascularity pre workout powder nitrogen bloodflow

  1. Caffeine Anhydrous
  2. Di-Caffeine Malate
  3. Caffeine Citric Acid Blend

The result is 420 milligrams of caffeine in one scoop.

This is a massive amount of energy (tempered by the Theacrine and L-Theanine) that easily crosses the line into “too much” for many people.

NitroX also includes mood-boosting ingredients so you feel good as you hulk out!

You can read more in my in-depth review here.

Pros
  • Effective ingredients
  • Good for energy, vascularity, and even mood
  • Huge pump!
Cons
  • I’m not a big fan of Yohimbe
  • Loads of caffeine
  • Odd taste
Recommendation

Mr. Hyde NitroX is a big-energy pre workout supplement that will pump your muscles to the limit, but be careful of that massive caffeine dose!

Best Pre Workout for Maximum Energy

Cellucor C4 UltimateCellucor C4 Ultimate high stimulant most explosive pre-workout energy

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Cherry Limeade, Icy Blue Razz, Orange Mango, Sour Batch Bros, Strawberry Watermelon
  • Calories: 5
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 300 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Alpha-GPC, Arginine, Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, Creatine, Herbal Extracts, Niacin, Taurine, Theacrine, Vitamins

See full ingredients

Overview

Cellucor C4 Ultimate is the most energy-intense formula available from Cellucor.

It contains 300 mg, which may not be the highest dose of caffeine on this list, but raw caffeine isn’t the only factor in getting energized.

C4 Ultimate is effectively a double dose of C4 original with some extra ingredients added on top.

Many of those added ingredients, from herbal extracts (such as Velvet Bean and Huperzine) to the B-vitamins, help your body feel massively energetic.

Other pre workout supplement goals, such as increasing your pump and helping you focus on your goal, are boosted as well.

Each scoop is nearly 20 grams so you can cut down the scoop size if you don’t want to go full beast-mode!

Pros
  • Gives you both explosive and long-lasting energy
  • Helps your pump and focus, too
Cons
  • Can get a similar result by doubling up other pre workout supplements
  • Expensive
Recommendation

Cellucor C4 Ultimate is great for giving you a massive energy spike that will endure through your entire gym visit.

Best Pre Workout for Lasting Stamina

Gorilla ModeGorilla Mode most effective longest lasting preworkout drink

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Tiger’s Blood
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 175 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Agmatine, Betaine, Citrulline, Creatine, Glycerol, N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate, and Herbal Extracts

See full ingredients

Overview

Gorilla Mode, by Gorilla Mind, is a pre workout supplement that’s designed to not only give you a big pump but also to help you maintain your energy over a long period of time.

Most workout routines take half an hour to an hour.

This is long enough for you to ride a caffeinated buzz.

I’ve noticed the effects of some pre workouts fade before I’m done working out, typically during volume-heavy gym visits.

Gorilla Mode is designed to keep up your energy and focus levels for hours, not just an hour.

Agmatine, betaine, creatine, and “GlycerPump” (which is glycerol powder) load up your muscles.

Caffeine works with the N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate to keep you energized without crashing.What's in Gorilla Mode caffeine Kanna Glycerpump DMAA Huperzine A

The herbal extracts (from black pepper, Kanna, and Huperzine A) and L-Tyrosine are supposed to enhance your cognitive abilities, keeping your mind in the game longer.

The biggest warning with this product is that many of the ingredients are light and heat sensitive.

Don’t leave it in your gym bag in your car on a sunny day!

Pros
  • Boosts your stamina longer than other pre workouts
  • Good for pump, energy, and focus
Cons
  • Heat and even light will denature some ingredients and reduce this supplement’s efficacy
Recommendation

Gorilla Mode is great for working out over a long period of time, whether you’re a weightlifter or a runner. Just don’t let it get too hot!

Best Pre Workout for Muscle Gain

Evlution Nutrition BCAA EnergyBest pre workout for muscle growth synthesis BCAA Energy

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Sixteen Flavors!
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 110 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Alanine (Two Forms), BCAAs, Taurine, Vitamins

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Overview

It comes as no surprise to hear that you need to consume protein in order to grow muscles.

Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements are popular for this because that set of amino acids is used by your body in the protein synthesis pathway[2].

BCAAs also protect your muscles against the catabolic protein breakdown that can occur while you’re working out.

So, if you want to focus on muscle growth, you want to supplement BCAAs while you workout.

Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy is a pre workout powder that combines 5 grams of BCAAs with 110 mg of caffeine.

The caffeine comes from coffee bean and green tea extracts rather than pure anhydrous caffeine, so this supplement isn’t as energizing as most.

It also contains two forms of Alanine (Beta-Alanine and L-Alanine) for even better protein synthesis!

Pros
  • Good taste
  • Great at protecting your muscles from catabolism and encouraging anabolism
  • Rather inexpensive
Cons
  • Lightweight energy kick
Recommendation

Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy is great for people wanting to maximize their muscle gain, if you don’t need a heavy energy kick.

Best Pre Workout for Weight Loss

Evlution Nutrition ENGN ShredENGN Shred explosive effective pre workout for weight loss fat burner

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Blue Raz, Cherry Limeade, Fruit Punch, Furious Grape, Green Apple, Pink Lemonade
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 260 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Arginine, Betaine, Alpha GPC, Cayenne, Choline, CLA, B-Vitamins, Beta-Alanine, Huperzine A, L-Carnitine, L-Tyrosine, Yohimbe

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Overview

Where Evlution Nutrition’s BCAA Energy is optimized for muscle gain, ENGN Shred is optimized for weight loss.

ENGN Shred leans heavily into the thermogenic concept with a hefty dose of caffeine in each serving and a load of ingredients designed to get your body burning fat.

Cayenne pepper, CLA, and Yohimbe work with the caffeine and your workout to boost your body’s metabolism.

The other ingredients give you the physical and mental focus you need to finish those long and hard fat-burnin’ workouts.

In fact, Evlution Nutrition ENGN Shred made it onto my list of the best thermogenic pre workouts!

Pros
  • Effective thermogenic ingredients
  • Tastes pretty good
Cons
  • I’m not a big fan of Yohimbe
  • Large dose of caffeine
Recommendation

Evlution Nutrition ENGN Shred is a great choice for people who can handle large doses of caffeine and want to lose weight!

Just remember that weight loss starts with what you eat!

Best Stimulant Free Pre Workout without Caffeine

Legion Pulse Stim-FreeLegion Pulse best stimulant free pre workout without caffeine

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, Tropical Punch
  • Calories: 5
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 0 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, Alpha-GPC

See full ingredients

Overview

Can you have a pre workout drink without caffeine or other stimulants?

Yes!

Legion Pulse, already a well-regarded pre workout, has four caffeine-free flavors.

This supplement works by using only a few ingredients that are known to improve your muscular pump, power, and endurance.

This way, you get a better exercise experience without jitters or crashes and it works well for people with caffeine sensitivities, too!

Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline Malate, and Alpha-GPC give you a nitric oxide boost, increasing your blood flow and pumping your muscles with natural fuel.

That Alpha-GPC is good for your brain, too, and can increase your focus on the task at hand.

Pros
  • Big pumps
  • Improves your focus and endurance without stimulants
Cons
  • Expensive
Recommendation

Legion Pulse’s caffeine-free flavors are great for gym goers looking for a workout boost without having to consume caffeine. That’s excellent for students who have to workout after classes are over and still want to get to sleep before 3 a.m.!

Best Nootropic Pre Workout for Focus

RAW Synergies ThermoPRERAW Synergies THERMO PRE thermogenic nootropic pre workout

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Fruit Punch
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 250 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Beta-Alanine, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Citicholine, KSM-66 Ashwagandha, MCT, Theacrine, Yerba Mate

See full ingredients

Overview

Anybody who’s been to the gym knows that your brain is more likely to give out than your body.

Human bodies are amazing creations, capable of extreme feats of strength…

…when your mind gets out of the way and lets your muscles work!

That’s why a nootropic pre workout is a great choice for many people.Natural trademarked proprietary CGMP pre workout without banned substances

The idea here is to improve your mental clarity, focus, and endurance so you can keep your mind on the workout without getting distracted, bored, or otherwise taken out of the game.

RAW Synergies ThermoPRE is an impressive pre workout supplement for many reasons (which is why it won Best Of in my Thermogenic Pre Workout list), but my favorite reason is in the mental benefits.

ThermoPRE was formulated by a Doctor of Pharmacy to be a safe and effective pre workout supplement that also boosts your metabolism.

Pros
  • Gives you clean energy
  • Great for body and mind
  • No artificial ingredients
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Somewhat medicinal taste
Recommendation

RAW Synergies ThermoPRE is a great choice to help you keep your mind focused on your task. This is great for working out but can also be applied to studying and tests!

Best Pre Workout Pills

N.O. XT Nitric OxideNO XT nitric oxide boosting stimulant free pre workout pill tablet

Ingredients
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 0 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Arginine, Black Pepper, Citrulline, Glutathione

See full ingredients

Overview

N.O. XT Nitric Oxide is a vegetarian pill filled with nitric oxide-boosting ingredients.

It’s a simple task but will help you a lot as you exercise.

More blood flow means your muscles get more nutrients and more overall capacity, increasing your power and endurance.

Notably, N.O. XT does not contain any caffeine.

I like this.

It means that anybody can use this supplement, even if you’re caffeine-sensitive.

It also means that this supplement can be used at any time of the day or night without potentially disrupting your sleep schedule!

Pros
  • Easy to take anytime and anywhere
  • Stimulant free but still improves your energy and endurance
Cons
  • Limited ingredients that won’t give you a caffeine buzz and won’t do much for your mental focus
Recommendation

N.O. XT Nitric Oxide pills can be taken before any workout, morning or evening, and will increase your muscle’s ability to perform your exercises!

Best Natural Pre Workout

Naked EnergyNaked Energy unflavored all natural pre workout without fillers synthetic artificial junk

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Fruit Punch, Watermelon, Unflavored
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 200 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Arginine, Beta-Alanine, Creatine, Vitamins

See full ingredients

Overview

Naked Energy is about as simple of a pre workout as you can get without just dumping caffeine powder in your water.

It contains various vitamins, L-Arginine and Beta-Alanine, creatine monohydrate, and caffeine from unroasted coffee beans.

Other Ingredients: None.

Well, that’s the “Unflavored” “flavor” anyway.

The two other flavors give you 40 calories per serving from cane sugar and beet root (which itself has some positive effects)!

Whether you want the unflavored option or the fruit-flavored drinks, Naked Energy doesn’t contain fillers nor artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Pros
  • Effective
  • Simple and natural ingredients
Cons
  • Potentially bitter taste
Recommendation

Naked Energy is an effective and simple pre workout for people who don’t want to consume funky fillers and saccharine sweeteners, which also keeps the price low.

Best Pre Workout for Clean Energy

Cellucor C4 OriginalCellucor C4 Original pre workout clean energy without crashing

Ingredients
  • Flavors: Eleven!
  • Calories: 0
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Caffeine: 150 mg
  • Notable Ingredients: Arginine, Beta-Alanine, Creatine, Theacrine, Tyrosine, Vitamins

See full ingredients

Overview

Cellucor’s C4 line has many varieties:

  • Extreme
  • Sport
  • Ripped
  • Ultimate

And even combinations such as Ultimate Shred and Ripped Sport.

Of all of these, C4 Original is my favorite.

It contains ingredients you can recognize by now as ones effective for improving your energy, pump, and performance.

C4 Original also contains 150 mg of caffeine per serving, which is my sweet spot for feeling energized without jitters or crashes.

The theacrine helps as well.Best ingredients in preworkout supplement powder vitamins CarnoSyn creatine

Taking C4 Original is not like getting a caffeine buzz. Instead, you feel uplifted a bit and picking up the bar feels a bit easier.

You won’t crash after your workout either.

It’s a gentle return you may not even notice.

This makes C4 Original one of my overall favorite pre workouts, though I know other people are looking for an obvious power surge that C4 won’t give you.

The creatine nitrate will boost your nitric oxide slowly, which combines with the Beta-Alanine to boost your vascularity.

Pros
  • Clean energy without crashes or jitters
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Small container which is easy to store and transport
Cons
  • Not everyone likes the taste
Recommendation

Cellucor C4 Original is an old standby in the pre workout world that continues to be a great choice, especially if you want clean energy.

What’s In a Pre Workout?

Yogi Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy tea as a pre workout

Some teas make good preworkouts on their own!

Pre workout supplements aren’t actually required for you to start or finish a workout.

I didn’t touch pre workouts when I started my fitness journey. Not even tea or coffee!

It wasn’t until I started sharing my fitness expertise with other people that I started to consider trying out pre workouts.

People were asking about them and I didn’t have any good answers.

You know what?

They work.

I don’t use pre workouts every time I hit the gym but I do have a rotation of powder containers I’m evaluating.

A good pre workout will give you at least one of the six following effects:

  1. Energy
  2. Performance
  3. Pump
  4. Endurance
  5. Focus
  6. Recovery

Now, pre workouts aren’t shortcuts to making exercise easy.

What ingredients are in pre workout supplement powders pros cons

You can’t down a blender bottle full of Cellucor C4 and wake up an hour later with a satisfying exhaustion from a workout well done.

You still have to get under that bar and do the exercise.

But pre workouts can make it easier to stay motivated and to stay full of energy from warmup to cool down.

How to Choose a Pre Workout

Not all pre workouts are good for everyone.

You’ll have to evaluate how you feel during a workout and match the pre workout to you.

For example, do you start to lose concentration easily?

Then find a nootropic pre workout to keep you focused.

Do your muscles seem to run out of steam before you think they should?How to choose pre workout powder focus pump reps strength stimulants

Then try a pre workout that pumps you up.

Make sure to pay attention to all the ingredients, not just “Notable Ingredients,” because pre workouts tend to be flavoring cocktails that can include a sweetener you don’t like.

It can also be a good idea to have two pre workouts on hand:

One pre workout with caffeine for early to midday workouts and a stimulant-free pre workout for evening gym visits.

Tips for Maximizing Your Pre Workout

Pre workouts can sharpen your fitness edge but you’ll have to do your part to take advantage of the supplement.

Pre workout timing when to take supplement half an hour before workout

Proper Timing

It’s a good idea to consume a pre workout supplement half an hour before your workout.

It takes about that long for caffeine to start to hit your system and relieve your fatigue[3].

You could wait an entire hour for maximum effect but then you may start to lose the caffeine’s effects part way through the workout.

Most other pre workout ingredients, such as BCAAs, also take about that long to take effect.

It’s okay to start the pre workout as soon as you start working out but that won’t be optimal.

Get Enough Sleep!

Pre workouts (especially ones with creatine) can help make up for some sleep deprivation…

…but you need adequate sleep for maximum performance and recovery.

Don’t use pre workouts to cover up a failure to sleep.

Instead, get enough sleep!

You’ll be healthier and happier if you consistently get enough sleep, and your gym visits will be more effective.

Conclusion

Pre workout supplements do just that:

The supplement your workouts and you take ’em before you start exercising.

A good supplement won’t shoulder an Olympic bar all by itself, but a good pre workout will help you get more reps with a smile on your face!

References

  1. https://healthfully.com/supplements-that-dilate-blood-vessels-6166862.html
  2. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/bcaas-the-many-benefits-of-amino-acids.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/