Want to work out harder and for longer, and to get more out of your session? 

Of course you do!

Well, you may be in luck, because pre-workout supplements are designed to help you achieve exactly that.

“What does a pre-workout do?”, we hear you ask.

This type of supplement is supposed to improve your motivation and increase your endurance in order to support more intense workouts. 

The idea is that you’ll exert more effort in the gym, burn more calories, improve muscle tone, and burn more fat than you would have otherwise.

And depending on your goals and your physique, different pre-workout formulas will appeal more than others. 

Traditionally men tend to want products that help them increase strength and build muscle, as a result many products push the boundaries when it comes to safety and stimulant content. 

Conversely, women usually require supplements to help boost their energy levels a little without ingredients that promote muscle growth or water retention.

Clearly, choosing the right pre-workout comes down to your personal taste and goals, and it’s definitely worth spending time researching what’s most appropriate for you.

To make the best decision, we recommend looking at the ingredients, their claimed benefits, potential side effects, as well as reviews from real customers. 

With this in mind…

We’ve rounded up some of the best-known pre-workouts available on the market to point you in the right direction. As always, we encourage you to do your own research as well and not just to take our word for it.

The best pre-workouts in 2020

There are so many pre-workout supplements available nowadays. The market contains pre-workout shakes, drinks, pills, and more. All come with a variety of different claims such as:

  • Increased strength
  • Improved motivation
  • Greater Stamina 
  • Quicker weight loss

Whilst it’s important to note that a pre-workout is unlikely to contribute directly to weight loss, that doesn’t mean they can’t provide tangible benefits. 

Some pre-workouts help to improve focus and concentration through ingredients like caffeine and L-Tyrosine.

Others will emphasize increased stamina, with ingredients like vitamin B12 and beta-alanine.

Those that claim to build muscle will include ingredients to stimulate nitric oxide production and muscular blood-flow, like L-Arginine and citrulline malate.

If you’re wondering whether you should take a pre-workout, a solid overview of the products available should give you a good idea of what’s available, and help to give you a clearer steer on any potential advantages. 

Here are some popular choices: 

1. Powher - pre-workout for women
photo: from Powher

Powher’s Pre-Workout for Women is a great tasting, simple to use supplement designed especially for female use. Just mix into water for a pre-workout drink that claims to be fantastically effective.

And it is exactly this type of approach that separates Powher from the pack. Whilst many products are geared toward men who want to get ripped, Powher is designed to be a safe choice that won’t give you side effects.

A lot of other products in this list will seem more macho than Powher. But the makers of this female supplement have gone all out to create a clever formula for women.

Powher includes ingredients that will boost your endurance while also reducing tiredness and fatigue.

There is a focus on ‘stim-free’ ingredients so that you don’t get a massive caffeine crash: instead, the effects of a small amount of natural caffeine are enhanced by EnXtra - a natural amplifier.

This pre-workout is getting some positive reviews including this before and after from Mary, based in the UK:
Mary from UK

Mary says that Powher "was a complete godsend" thanks to its natural ingredients and "no harmful stimulants".

She says that while pre-workouts usually "look so masculine and the names are usually aggressive and kind of off-putting,” Powher left her feeling more motivated than any other supplement she’d tried.

Key features:

  • Specifically formulated for women wanting to speed up weight loss.
  • No muscle-building ingredients, just naturally energizing ones.
  • Zero side effects.
  • Great tasting, and simple to use.

You can buy Powher Pre-Workout from their official website.
 

2. Cellucor C4 Sport
photo: from Cellucor

This macho looking pre-workout drink from Cellucor comes in a range of flavours including blue raspberry, fruit punch, and watermelon. It’s striking, and designed to get you PUMPED.

The ingredients list is bold. There’s caffeine, which claims to power you up, vitamins, which claim to reduce tiredness and fatigue, and beta-alanine, which claims to ramp up your muscle endurance.

Cellucor C4 claims to be America’s number 1 pre workout brand, but for now it’ll have to make do with second spot on our list.

Key features:

  • Reputable brand.
  • Comes in a range of flavours.
  • Boost your energy and helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
  • Can be stacked with other supplements in the range.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

3. MP All Natural Pre-Workout
photo: from Muscle Pharm

This pre-workout combines caffeine, green tea, electrolytes, and more to deliver a tasty and effective boost.

Designed with your training goals in mind, and with no reliance on unnatural ingredients, this really is a pre-workout to get familiar with.

If you like clean ingredients straight from nature, then this product from MP will align nicely with your preferences. 

The packaging is a lot more gentle and subdued than some others on this list, and customer reviews suggest the overall effect is more mellow – but no less impactful – than the more macho supplements.

Key features:

  • Amazon’s Choice for natural pre-workouts.
  • A clean boost with all-natural ingredients.
  • 25 double servings or 50 single servings per bottle.
  • Amazon’s Choice for pre-workout products.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

4. VINTAGE BLAST pre-workout
photo: from Cosidla

Boasting a unique two-stage formula that “delivers steady energy and hydration”, Vintage Blast’s pre-workout drink claims to help you start strong and FINISH strong.

By delivering electrolytes and micronutrients that help your body to stay hydrated, keep pH levels balanced, and decrease oxidation, this supplement claims to set you up for peak performance and to prepare you for the post-workout recovery too.

Key features:

  • Two groups of ingredients to help you start strong, and finish strong.
  • Contains nine electrolytes to help you during recovery.
  • Delivers results for men and women.
  • Hand-picked ingredients harvested at prime season for max potency.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.
 

5. GNC Beyond Raw L-Carnitine
photo: from GNC

If you shop for pre workouts at GNC then this is one of the products you’ll be greeted with.

Despite understated and unassuming packaging, this supplement promises big things. Lab-grade L-Carnitine support the metabolism of long-chain fatty acids and helps your body to transport them correctly.

In layman’s terms: it helps you to burn more fat during a workout.

GNC claims that this supplement will fuel your workout and support your recovery. They say it can be taken as a pre-workout or as a post-workout, too, so you’ve got more flexibility. 

The super simple ingredients make this a great pre-workout supplement for beginners: there aren’t tons of things to become familiar with, and you’ll be able to map your progress to one ingredient.

Key features:

  • Priced more competitively than some other supplements in this list.
  • Functions as a pre-workout or post-workout.
  • Boosts your natural metabolism to help you burn fat.
  • Contains only one ingredient, and it’s naturally occurring.

Buy this pre-workout on GNC here.

6. Pure Power pre-workout
photo: from Smart Strength

A cutting edge pre-workout designed to reduce your recovery time, enhance your endurance, and give you sustained power and focus.

This pre-workout drink delivers five herbal nootropics designed to give you “laser-focus” while you’re working out.

There's also more to be excited about with this product. It's vegan, paleo, and keto friendly, meaning it can slot seamlessly into pretty much any diet.

Key features:

  • Delivers nootropics to keep your mind focussed during a workout.
  • Builds muscle while boosting strength and burning fat.
  • Vegan, paleo, and keto-friendly.
  • All-natural ingredients.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

7. KAGED MUSCLE pre-workout
photo: from Kaged Muscle

This pre-workout is designed to help unleash the power within you when you step foot in the gym: bold, inspiring words. 

Kaged claim that rapidly dissolving ingredients let you mix your pre-workout faster, and start feeling the effects more quickly.

The formula contains ingredients claimed to prime your central nervous system, maximize your nitric oxide levels, and prep your muscles for maximum performance. The promised result is massive muscle pumps and a real bang for your workout buck.

Key features:

  • Chosen by Amazon editorial as the best pre-workout.
  • 6.5g of pure l-citrulline per dose for massive muscle pumps.
  • 3.5g of BCAA blend per serving which goes straight to your muscles.
  • Their “neuro support matrix” claims to promote high mental clarity and focus.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.
 

8. Legion Pulse pre-workout Supplement
photo: from Legion Atheletics

Billed as the world’s leading pre-workout supplement, Legion Pulse has a reputation to live up to.

The formula features potent ingredients representing the latest research and is designed to elevate your body and mind to peak performance.

This brand was founded by Mike Matthews - author of international best-selling fitness books - whose mission was to bring something to the supplement market, that wasn’t "bogus".

Key features:

  • Science-backed ingredients based on cutting-edge research.
  • Chosen by Amazon editorial as the strongest pre-workout.
  • Ingredients are chosen to promote energy, performance, and endurance.
  • Founded by an internationally best-selling fitness author.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

9. Pre JYM pre-workout Powder
photo: from JYM Supplement Science

Another popular pre-workout supplement, Jym combines ingredients for muscle growth (BCAAs and creatine), endurance (citrulline and creatine), and strength (beta-alanine and betaine).

Watch your workout get stronger and harder, and begin to feel "in the zone" without worrying about getting overloaded with stimulants.

Pre Jym pre-workout claims to give you energy without the jitters or the crash that some other supplements may deliver.

Key features:

  • A raft of ingredients to power up your workout from all angles.
  • Caffeine at levels that will energize you, not burn you out.
  • Great for cardio, bulking, or getting ripped.
  • Amazon’s Choice for pre-workout products.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.
 

10. Onnit Total Strength and Performance
photo: from Onnit

This pre-workout has been university tested at Florida State and found to be effective when compared to placebo, which is a good sign.

Although many products feature ingredients that have been tested in scientific environments, it’s not too common that the products themselves have been tested.

The formula is designed to optimize hormone balance, improve athletic performance, boost your strength and power during workouts, and help with recovery.

Key features:

  • This product has been tested in a university setting.
  • Overall max lift weight increased in a four week period over placebo.
  • All-natural ingredients, “earth-grown” as the packaging says.
  • Free of stimulant ingredients.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

11. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
photo: from Optimum Nutrition

This pre-workout contains naturally-sourced caffeine for energy, as well as L-Carnitine and N-Acetyl-Tyrosine for focus, so you can bring your best self to your workout. 

There are also ingredients to boost power and performance, as well as a nitric oxide precursor to help you operate at your peak.

What’s more, it comes in a range of exciting flavours including apple, watermelon, pineapple, fruit punch, and pink lemonade.

Key features:

  • Amazon’s Choice for pre-workouts.
  • Helps you to reach maximum focus and motivation.
  • Ingredients list accredited by Informed Choice, a third-party organization with a special 'Banned Substance Tested' award.
  • Comes in a range of tasty flavours for maximum enjoyment.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.
 

12. Caffeine Bullet
photo: from Caffeine Bullet

Caffeine Bullet is different from the other pre-workouts in this list, in that it’s a chewy sweet rather than a powder.

Just pop one in your mouth and chew it before your workout for a banging pre-workout snack. Each dose delivers 100mg of caffeine - about as much as a strong cup of coffee - and the electrolytes you need to stay hydrated and balanced.

Depending on your caffeine tolerance and workout goals you can easily scale your intake, although the manufacturers recommend familiarising yourself during training and increasing gradually (and we agree with their advice!)

Key features:

  • It’s a sweet!
  • Easy to scale your caffeine intake.
  • Contains electrolytes to keep you balanced.
  • Quick-release caffeine thanks to the format.

Buy this pre-workout snack on Amazon here.
 

13. TOTAL WAR Sour Gummies
photo: from Redcon1

We’ll be honest, the branding of this pre-workout cracked us up.

When you see TOTAL WAR written across the bottle, with a claim that they’re with you “WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BRING THE NOISE”, you don’t expect to see cute, colourful gummies spilling out.

But that’s exactly what Redcon1 have delivered. These gummies – though cute – mean business.

Each one brings a powerful combo of stimulants and focus factors, giving you the power you need to workout harder than ever. So hard, they claim, that "somebody will need to pull you out of the gym".

Key features:

  • Possibly the most stimulant laden gummy bears you’ll ever eat.
  • A powerful, impactful pre-workout, despite its unusual appearance.
  • Comprehensive ingredient list to cover several angles.
  • Chosen as the Vitamin Shoppe's Best Pre-Workout Product of 2019.

Buy this pre-workout snack on Amazon here.

14. Muscletech Prime Series Amino / BCAA
photo: from Prime Series

This combination of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), vitamins, and electrolytes works just as great pre-workout, between workouts, or even after your workout, thanks to the recovery boosts given by the enhanced protein synthesis it makes possible.

Active ingredients are included in optimal doses to power up your workout and help you to hit your goals.

Key features:

  • Enhanced protein synthesis for a better recover.
  • Can be used before, between, or afteryour workout.
  • Build muscle and stay balanced with BCAAs and vitamins.
  • Simple and hassle-free.

Buy this pre-workout on Amazon here.

15. Genius Pre
photo: from The Genius Brand

“Brains over brawn,” the saying goes. But this pre-workout says WHY NOT BOTH?

The "mind to muscle" formula lets you unlock strength that the manufacturer's say will "push you to new levels of excellence". This is the world's 1st clinically dosed nootropics pre-workout, and based on the reception it's getting, we're sure it won't be the last.

Key features:

  • A world-first: clinically dosed nootropics pre-workout.
  • Huperzine A, taurine, and l tyrosine claim to energize your mind.
  • Citrulline malate, beta alanine, and ATP claim to build your muscle.
  • 100% naturally flavoured: no artificial sweeteners.

Buy this pre-workout nootropic on Amazon here.

 

The best pre-workout ingredients

As we’ve established, a pre-workout is an exercise supplement with ingredients intended to increase your focus, motivation, and energy during a workout.

To give you the fuel you need to work out harder, for longer, and to see more results.

After browsing the supplements in this list you may also be wondering whether pre-workouts actually work. Unfortunately, there’s not a blanket answer for all the products on the market.

The right pre-workout effects are the reason people use one before hitting the gym, and efficacy depends on the ingredients used, the dosages, and the combinations.

Research is your friend. Look at the ingredients list of any supplement you’re interested in, then spend time building an understanding of whether the science aligns with the claimed effects.

This will help you to make sure that the pre-workout you’re getting fits your goals and your physique.

Before we close, let’s take a look at some ingredients you’ll come across in pre-workouts:

L-Citrulline Malate is a naturally-occurring amino acid that boosts nitric oxide production in the body.

Citrulline is converted to arginine by your kidneys, and then arginine is used to create nitric oxide, known for expanding blood vessels (source).

This expansion may increase blood flow, and in turn, the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while exercising.

This process removes waste products from your muscles more quickly than otherwise and helps to reduce fatigue. As a result you can work out for longer.

Taurine is another amino acid abundant in your muscles and brain. Studies have found that combining taurine with caffeine could further boost your mental performance, giving you the focus and clarity you need for a powerful workout.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that taurine supplementation "may be a useful nutritional strategy for attenuating exercise-induced DOMS and muscle damage".

DOMS stands for delayed-onset muscle soreness, so definitely something to avoid if you can help it!

Beta-Alanine is a component in your body's production of carnosine, and this chemical is thought to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles.

This, in turn, might help delay the onset of muscle fatigue during exercise.

Because carnosine levels have been found to be lower in women than men, it is a popular ingredient in pre-workouts for women.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition claims that beta-alinine "has been shown to improve exercise performance".

Caffeine is famous for the boost it gives to motivation and concentration, both of which are hugely useful when it comes to a good workout.

Studies also suggest that your alertness and work output will be improved, as well as your endurance capacity.

In short, you’ll work out harder and for longer.Caffeine is thought to be most effective before endurance activities and sports with periods of intermittent effort, as opposed to weightlifting and similar activities using intense bursts.

Vitamin B5 -also called pantothenic acid – supports reductions in tiredness and fatigue, and helps your body to maintain its energy-yielding metabolism.

This means glucose will be broken down efficiently to provide energy during your workout.A cause-and-effect relationship has been found by European health safety authorities between vitamin B5, and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 supports normal protein and glycogen metabolisms - meaning your body will burn energy efficiently to provide fuel while exercising.

B6 is also linked to reduced tiredness and fatigue: perfect for keeping you going harder and longer during a workout.Health safety authorities have also found cause and effect relationships between vitamin B6 and these effects.

Vitamin B12 has been found to be more deficient amongst people who exercise regularly, suggesting that supplementing your intake is an important part of an active lifestyle.

As with other B vitamins, B12 helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue while supporting your body's natural metabolic processes.

The US Office of Dietary Supplements notes that B12 "is frequently promoted as an energy enhancer and an athletic performance and endurance booster."

If you’ve been asking yourself whether a pre-workout is bad for you or not then hopefully the information in this list should go some way to answering that.

The organisations and publications cited also provide a good starting point for any of your own research you’d like to do into pre-workout ingredients.

In conclusion

Choosing a pre-workout shouldn’t be as complicated as you might think, even though there are hundreds of different products to choose from on Amazon and through retailers like GNC.

Instead, it’s just a case of doing your research and building a good understanding of your needs and the products that best suit you.

The 15 pre-workouts we’ve chosen for this list are designed to point you in the right direction.The top spot in the list goes to Powher’s Pre-Workout for Women - one of the most popular around.