Taking the best pre-workout supplement can significantly improve the results of your exercise plan. Here are our top choices for any training regimen.
Your diet is one of the most critical parts of your workout routine - and it's not limited to getting enough water in the middle. Protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals all affect the results of your exercise plan. The best pre-workout supplement options aren't a replacement for a proper diet, but they do make it easier to get all the nutrients you need for optimal performance.
Here are our recommendations for the best supplements to take before you work out.
How We Chose These Products
Honesty and integrity are an essential part of our rating process - so before we explain the products, you should know how we picked them.
First, we started by looking for reviews and testimonials. There are a lot of workout supplements on the market, and there was no way our team could personally test each of them through a full, long-term fitness routine. That isn't practical. Instead, we decided to rely on the wisdom of the masses and see which products were both popular and effective. We preferred products with hundreds or thousands of reviews.
Next, we sorted the products based on their intended purpose and overall nutritional value. Bodybuilders don't need the same supplements as marathon runners - but most people don't go to either extreme. We placed the most value on general-purpose supplements (which are suitable for most people) but left a little room for specialty products.
After that, we checked the products to see if they had additional nutritional value, such as extra vitamins or minerals not directly associated with exercise. This didn't significantly impact our rankings, but when all else is equal, added nutrition can be a deciding factor. This is especially true when dietary restrictions can make it harder to get the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals.
Finally, we examined the price of the product to see whether or not it was appropriate for what you're getting. Some workout supplements are priced far too high for the benefits they offer, and anything that seemed to go too far got moved down our final list. We strongly preferred products that are less than $1 per serving.
We checked all prices on Amazon at the time we made this guide.
Many of the products described below are dangerous if taken more often than directed. You should never take more than the maximum recommended dose, regardless of how much you want to realize your fitness goals. Similarly, you should not take more than one of these products at a time. Many of them contain similar ingredients, so that could also lead to an overdose.
Pre-workout supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are suffering from any health condition, talk to a doctor before using these products. Similarly, consider starting with a small dose to assess your tolerance and check for allergies. Do not continue using the product if you have an adverse reaction to it.
Be sure to drink plenty of water while exercising. Some supplements can dehydrate you unless you drink more water than usual.
Most supplements are only absorbed into the body over time. If you start exercising too quickly, your body won't be able to make use of these products. Follow the directions for use with each product. Taking the best pre-workout supplement 30-40 minutes before you begin exercising is usually appropriate if no other instructions are given.
4 Best Pre-Workout Supplements - Comparison Table
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The Best Supplements
Let's get right into the products that made it onto our list of the best pre-workout supplement choices.
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Creatine Monohydrate Powder Micronized by BulkSupplements (1 kg)
Creatine is one of the most critical parts of any workout-focused diet. In fact, it's widely believed to be the single most useful chemical for improving your overall strength, with documented effects including better exercise performance, muscle mass, and lifting power. The overall improvement can go as high as 10% - and that's incredible.
The main reason for its effectiveness is the fact that creatine is a significant part of the body's ability to generate energy within cells. This leads directly to more power while exercising, which means you can perform better for a more extended period. Over a long time, that leads to significant, measurable improvements.
This is so impactful that Bulk Supplements' highly-purified creatine bag is our top recommendation despite the lack of vitamins or other helpful ingredients. The 1 kg bag contains 400 servings, which should last you more than a year of exercising when taken as directed. Selling for about $20, we think this is easily one of the most cost-effective purchases.
Bulk Supplements also sells in a set of smaller sizes, but these aren't nearly as affordable on a per-serving basis. If you plan to share with others, you may want to get the 5kg or 25kg bags instead. These are even more affordable on a per-serving basis, although frankly, you probably don't need the 25kg bag unless you're planning to sell it to others at your local gym.
Gelatin and vegetarian capsules are available (in 100-pack and 300-pack versions) if you have trouble with the powder, but they're far more expensive as well.
The human body produces creatine, so allergic reactions to it are rare. While they do occur in a small part of the population, most people can easily tolerate the suggested dose of this product. As such, it's the single safest supplement on this list.
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Evlution Nutrition BCAA Energy, Blue Raz flavor (65-serving pack)
BCAA stands for Branched-Chain Amino Acids, three particular molecules your body can use for energy when it's low on glycogen. However, your human body can't produce these chemicals on its own - you can only get them through your diet.
When consumed before a workout, BCAAs support the growth and repair of muscles while reducing overall soreness. They don't directly improve performance while you're exercising, but over time, the results are significant.
This product includes all three types of BCAAs (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine), as well as taurine, natural energizers, and three types of vitamins. As if that weren't enough, it has natural caffeine from coffee beans, which helps to wake you up and improve the rate you burn fat. Overall, this is a reliable and surprisingly flavorful supplement.
Price-wise, it usually retails at $35 for 65 servings, a price of about 53 cents per serving. There's a less cost-efficient 30-serving size, but we don't recommend that if you plan to take Evlution's supplement on a regular basis.
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Nitrosurge Shred Pre-workout Fat Burner Supplement by Jacked Factory
The name says it all. This is a multi-purpose supplement intended to:
- Increase your energy and focus while exercising
- Reduce fat
- Build muscle
- Increase overall endurance
- Significantly boost metabolism
At this point, you might be wondering if it's only intended for men - and while the name certainly implies that, this supplement is designed for everyone. As a bonus, it focuses on natural ingredients and avoids explicitly artificial dyes, preservatives, and fillers.
One thing you may note while taking this product is a sense of warmth. That's not your imagination - it's the effect of thermogenic ingredients that raise your body temperature and make it easier to burn fat. It's already easy to get warm while you're exercising, so make sure you have a fan and drink extra water to be sure you're hydrated.
At $1 per dose ($29.99 for 30 doses, or a small discount if you subscribe for regular deliveries) this is at the high end of what we're willing to accept price-wise. That said, it offers so many benefits that you're certainly going to get what you pay for. Keep in mind that this is one of the more potent supplements, so it's particularly important to check your tolerance before you begin using it at the full dosage.
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Team Six Supplements Alpha-Yohimbine
Sometimes you're not looking to bulk up - you just want to lose weight. In fact, depending on your current weight, you might need to lose weight before you can begin adding real muscle mass. Whatever your reasons, this is one of the best pre-workout supplement choices if you're trying to shed pounds.
The main ingredient here is alpha-yohimbine, a known fat-burning compound. Experts recommend about 0.2mg per kg of body weight, so if your weight is too far off from this product's dose, you may want to buy something else instead.
Alpha-yohimbine works, but it's harder to use than some of the other supplements on this list. For that reason, we have some extra notes on safety.
First, this is a stimulatory product. People who are significantly overweight may not be ready for the effects of this supplement. Take something milder, like creatine, until your body is prepared to handle a higher heart rate and increased blood pressure. You may also suffer anxiety or symptoms of phobias - avoid this supplement if you're disposed to either of those.
Second, in recent years, many products containing yohimbine have varied dramatically from their listed doses. This is a potent supplement, so that makes it far too easy to overdose on it. To thwart this, Team Six Supplements uses third-party testing to verify that each pill contains the correct amount of the main ingredient. They also offer a money back guarantee, which is never a bad plan with a product like this.
Finally, this product does not mix well with many medications, especially neurological medicines. If you're taking any medicine, talk to your doctor before using this product.
Team Six Supplements sells 60 capsules of this product for about $15, giving a price of 25 cents per serving. That's well within the range we expect for workout supplements - a little low, actually - and between that and the independent checks for purity and dosage, it's easy to recommend this above the competition.
Together, the four supplements described above are outstanding choices for most people. If you're still not sure which of them is right for you, here's a quick review.
- Bulk Supplements' Creatine Powder: Affordable and effective, this is perhaps the single best pre-workout supplement you're going to find. It's suitable for all everyday fitness needs but doesn't contain quite enough protein for anyone trying to increase their muscle mass significantly. The body naturally produces creatine, so this is the safest choice on the list.
- Evlution Nutrition's BCAA Powder: This is an excellent choice if you want to spend more time exercising - or suffer from muscle soreness and want faster recovery. It's also a better choice for gaining muscles, and while it's not as affordable as the creatine powder, it's an excellent second choice. Also, unlike the #1 choice, it's flavored.
- Jacked Factory's Nitrosurge Shred: This is the best choice if you want to seriously improve your muscle mass and increase your metabolism. With many effects and dedication to serious results, this is ideal for intense, focused exercise. The main downside is that it's significantly more expensive per-serving than any of the other products we've suggested.
- Team Six Supplements' Alpha Yohimbine: This is the best product to get if you're focused on losing weight. However, it has more adverse effects than anything else on this list, so it's also harder to use. We strongly suggest talking to your doctor before using this particular product.
We all have different needs and goals when it comes to exercise, and no supplement is ideal for everyone. However, between the four products in this guide, you should be able to find the best pre-workout supplement for your situation. Remember, always use the products as directed if you want to maximize the benefits. Anything less could waste your investment and negatively affect your long-term results.
(The exception to this is testing the product with a small dose when you first get it. If you have an allergic reaction, starting with a trial-size dose may save your life.)