What Is The Best Pre Workout Supplement?
If you’re no stranger to hard and strenuous physical exertion such as hitting the weight room hard, playing sports, or MMA among others, than buying the best pre workout supplement for yourself can become an important decision for your overall muscle building plan.
These type supplements have come a long way since the days of the ECA stacks that were popular in the 80′s and 90′s before Ephedrine was banned. Nowadays, there are hundreds of different pre workout supplements made by dozens of manufacturers, with each one different than the other.
With all these varieties to choose from it does get slightly cumbersome trying to distinguish to good from the not so good. I have spent several years researching and using these supplements and I’ve come to the conclusion that many of them are no more than a tub of caffeine and arginine with some other dusted in nutrients that barely work.
That being said, I do feel that there are some really great ones out there, you just have to know what to look for.
The good news is that modern pre workout supplements are getting better and better because many supplement companies have been able to create several versions of their supplements, making modifications and improvements along the way.
- All In One Pre Workout Supplements -
More than mere caffeine?
This variety of pre workout supplements provide the most robust amounts of ingredients, contain stimulants, and are the most popular versions on the market. In them you will usually find things like caffeine, creatine, nitric oxide precursors, BCAAs, and many more ingredients that will help you to:
- Increase Energy
- Increase Focus
- Increase Stamina
- Increase raw power
- Speed up Recovery
- Build Muscle
- Burn Fat
The extent to which these supplements will help in these major categories is highly debatable and some what controversial because everyone has a favorite product or supplement brand and many of these supplements will emphasis one, two or three categories over the others.
Other factors that add to the difficulty of choosing the best pre workout drink are price, taste, how well the supplement mixes, and possible side effects from taking them. I think that it is important to weigh each of these aspects, read lots of customer reviews, and have a good understanding of what it is you need out of these supplements that will enhance your workout experience.
~ Top Pre Workout Supplements for 2013~
#15 -ANS Performance: RITUAL
RITUAL is a pre workout supplement that combines some powerful ingredients together in a healthy 45 serving container for great muscle pumps, endurance, and power.
To start, RITUAL contains 1600mg of Beta Alanine to aid in endurance and fight fatigue. Next up is 1500mg of L-Citrulline, one of the most influential muscle building ingredients to hit the scene since Creatine. The other major ingredient found here is 1500mg of CreaPure® Creatine.
Other noteworthy ingredients are N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, Dendrobium nobile extract, and Xanthaurine. Xanthaurine is a new ingredient to me, so I cannot comment on its usefulness, but it is used as an antioxidant. Other claims made by ANS Performance are that it “amplifies nitric oxide levels 300% acutely after ingestion”.
RITUAL comes in a 45 serving container with 2 flavors – Candy Green Apple and Icy Blue Freeze. The cost per serving is $0.67 but according to the manufacturers labeling, you can take 2 full scoops once you get used to 1 scoop if necessary which I would only advise to do 1 or 2 times per week.
#14 -Scivation: PSYCHO
Psycho is a new pre workout supplement by SciVation that has a decent blend of ingredients that is suited for people seeking a nice clean boost of energy with a little creatine and citrulline Malate sprinkled in it. Despite the fancy graphics and slick marketing description, Psycho is a light-weight as far as pre workout supplements are concerned. That’s not to say it isn’t good for people who are not really looking to go all out on heavy stimulants and other nutrients so it does have its place at the table. I like SciVation products as well as many others so I suspect that there will be plenty of people that will like this supplement for its nice clean energy, pump, and lite but juicy flavoring.
This supplement comes in 2 flavors – “Apple Asylum” and “Ragin’ Punch” , and will set you back $32 per container, about $0.50 per serving. There are 60 servings per container, but many people will be taking 2 servings. Many people will be like “Wow, that’s cheap for a pre workout supplement.”, but keep in mind that 1 serving is only 5 grams total. Many other pre workout supplements have at the very least double if not quadruple the nutrients. This to me is a good cardio pre workout supplement because it is light. Not that great for bodybuilders though.
#13 – Cellucor C4 Extreme
Yet another great supplement from Cellucor is making the top 10 list. Actually, C4 Extreme has been around for a while, but the ingredients in it are similar to its big brother M5 Extreme, however C4 Extreme is has less of them and is cheaper.
The main ingredients in C4 Extreme is Creatine Nitrate (NO3 technology), Caffeine (135mg per scoop), Arginine AKG (1000mg), Beta Alanine, Mucuna Pruriens, and a few other ingredients like Vitamin B12 and L-Tyrosine
The taste was amazing, the pump was clean and smooth, and I got stronger while using it. So why is M5 Extreme better than C4 extreme? Well, to start M5 Extreme has 2 different Creatines in it as well as more of it per serving, whereas C4 just has Creatine Nitrate in it.
M5 Extreme has twice as much Arginine, Betaine HCL, Citrulline Malate, and Grape Seed Extract, in addition to coming in a 2-in-1 container. That’s why I consider M5 Extreme to be the bigger, badder version of C4 Extreme. Don’t get me wrong here, I think that C4 Extreme is still a good supplement
#12 – Athletic Edge Nutrition: PreSurge
PreSurge is the newest pre workout formula by Athletic Edge Nutrition that has a great ingredient profile with lasting clean energy. The main highlights to PreSurge are the Creapure® creatine monohydrate, Russian Tarragon Extract, and Neuravena™ (Wild Green Oat Extract).
PreSurge contains Creapure® Creatine, the highest quality of creatine you can purchase. Although there is a proprietary blend I would estimate the amount to be around 2.5-3g which is a good amount.
The next ingredient is the Russian Tarragon Extract which its sole purpose is to increase creatine uptake. Athletic Edge Nutrition is the only company that I see with this ingredient in it and they have used it in their other pre workout supplement PreSurge Unleashed as well.
The last notable ingredient in PreSurge is Neuravena ™, a green oat extract that is believed to increase the neurotransmitter dopamine and cyclic adenosine monophosphate(cAMP). The results are a more euphoric mental state that helps increase mental focus.
PreSurge has a total of 35 scoops per container at about $0.90 per scoop. There are currently 4 flavors to choose from and taste good and mixes well.
PreSurge has a nice clean energy to it that comes on strong and leaves gracefully with little to no crash. I wouldn’t say it has really strong stimulants in it, but it is effective enough to give you a great workout without you feeling hung over.
#11 -Infinite Labs: Juggernaut HP
Juggernaut HP is the newest version of the Juggernaut pre workout line and it packs a solid muscle building punch of great ingredients, energy, and taste. This version of Juggernaut differs from its predecessor in that it does not contain any Arginine but instead is replaced by Agmatine Sulfate which is basically Arginine without the CO2 molecule.
The benefit to taking Agmatine Sulfate is that it is absorbed and utilized by the brain and body quicker than standard Arginine. You also get 4 Creatine sources including Monohydrate, Magnapower, Creatine Pyruvate, and Di-Creatine Malate. By including these 4 variations you get the full benefits of the tried and tested Mono, the increased absorption properties of Magnapower and Di-Creatine Malate, and the added endurance benefits of Creatine Pyruvate so not only do you get optimal ATP production but you can also carry you workouts farther than normal.
On the energy side of this supplement, Juggernaut HP has L-Taurine, Caffeine Anhydrous, and L-Tyrosine included in it to give you energy and enhanced focus and although 1 serving only contains 150mg of caffeine, a full dose of 2 scoops or servings is really the intended amount to be taken which makes the energy the ideal amount for pre workout supplements.
Together as a blend, this supplement really taste great considering there is 4 creatines found in it. This combination of ingredients is the ideal combination for any serious bodybuilder who wants to pack on muscle quickly, but still enjoy their supplement.
#10 – Driven Sports: CRAZE
***Craze is currently under investigation and is not being sold in most retailers. You can still buy it for $35 here.
Craze by Driven Sports is a feel good, stimulant-heavy PWO that is one of the best pre workouts for getting you dialed into your workout.
This is a different pre workout because it addresses an important aspect of supplementation and nitric oxide production – negative by products. By including L-Arginine, vitamin C, Creatine Monohydrate, and L-Citrulline, the muscles are able to produce a greater amount of ATP production and nutrients while still being about to shuttle out ammonia – a byproduct of amino acid breakdown. By addressing this issue a lifter is able to not only increase power but also maintain it.
Craze also delivers on the energy and mental focus aspect of this formula by including caffeine, Dendrobex™, Citramine, and PEA. Another noteworthy aspect of craze is the great taste! Of course it’s not as important as other factors, it does make it that much more enjoyable.
Craze is a bit different from other PWOs because it takes a different look at what bodybuilders really need in the gym. The energy and focus on the product is very intense and worth every penny you spend on it. If your looking for a great tasting PWO that gets you super pumped in the gym than this is your supplement.
#9 - iSatori: PWR
PWR is a concentrated pre workout drink that contains Beta-Alanine, Creatine MagnaPower®, Red Dralion™, and L-Arginine AKG 2:1 AminoShield® as its major ingredients.
Although PWR shows a proprietary blend of ingredients, they do separate the major components so that you can assess much of what it is comprised of. The power and strength blend is essential 2600mg of Beta-Alanine and Creatine Magnesium Chelate. The pump blend is L-Arginine AKG 2:1 and AminoShield®, an extract taken from the loquat plant and is believed to help to grow and preserve muscle as well as enhance endurance.
The energy and focus blend is 334mg of caffeine anhydrous, Schisandra Chinesis Extract (Fruit), Advantra Z® (Citrus Aurantium L. Extract (Fruit), 50% Synephrine Alkaloids) Red Dralion™ Sceletium Tortuosum Extract, and a few other ingredients such as Alpha-Yohimine.
PWR comes in a true 30 serving container at a cost of $1.00 per serving, however due to its extreme potency you may only need a ½ scoop per workout.
#8 - F3 Nutrition: AIR SPEED
AIR SPEED is a pre workout drink designed specifically for endurance athletes, martial artists, runners, and the like.
The major ingredients that stand out in this supplement are the amino acids, Creatine Citrate, Beta-Alanine, and the Phospholyte blend. There are proprietary blends in Air Speed, but from what I can tell, it does contain a large amount of amino acids, beet root juice, and N-Acetyl Cystine.
The other major part of this supplement is the 2.8g Phospholyte blend, a key component for cell ionization, increased oxygen, and healthy blood flow. Other ingredients include Iron, Thiamin, and Vitamins B6 and B12.
AIR SPEED comes in one size – a 390 gram container that yields 30 servings. The cost per serving is $1.27 which is a bit on the high end, but there are some solid reviews that support its effectiveness during high cardio environments.
#7 - BPI Sports: Pump-HD
Pump-HD is the next generation to BPI Sports pre workout supplements and is considered one of the more popular supplements to date. Like the name implies, Pump-HD’s main focus is to give you a great muscle gorging pump which many supplements of this kind claim to achieve. So did BPI Sports crack the code? Not from what I can tell. Most if not all of the ingredients found here can be found in many other PWOs, but that’s not to say that this supplement doesn’t work. The stimulants are more toned down than 1MR, but there are some good aspects to the supplement. The first thing that I like about it is the electrolyte blend. It also contains 1000mg of L-Leucine, perhaps the most important BCAA of the bunch. There’s also 1000mg of Beta-Alanine for improved endurance, L-Tyrosine that stimulated dopamine, and L-Carnitine which helps the body turn fat into energy. Speaking of energy, there is caffeine in this product but I can’t determine how much, but I do know that its not as much as 1MR. The name kind of implies this insane surge of energy and yes a great pump, but the energy is more even and steady. The taste is another good aspect to Pump-HD. There are 2 flavors to choose from with Blue Ice Lemonade being the favorite. You get 30 servings for about $35 per container which slightly higher than some others but still very affordable.
#6 -Pro Supps: MR. HYDE
MR. HYDE by Pro Supps is a stimulant-heavy, extreme pre workout drink that will ignite your workouts. This supplement is has over 300mg of caffeine per scoop so if you are sensitive to stimulants than-keep away.
The three main benefits to this supplement is the Insane stimulants, 1000 mg Creatine Hydrochloride, and the 5000 mg Beta-Alaine. It also contains Pikatropin™ which is said to help with concentration, coordination, and mental fatigue.
There are 40 full doses in Mr. Hyde at about $0.90 per dose. There are 6 flavor varieties with most flavors ranking very favorable bodybuilding.com
If you are a fan of Creatine HCl and huge amounts of caffeine than grab this one. Sometimes its good to get a supplement this stimulant heavy and just reduce the dosage to 1/2 or 3/4 of a dose. This way you get to use it for a longer period of time and end up saving a few dollars in the process.
#5 – Cellucore: M5 Extreme
Cellucor M5 Extreme is an advanced PWS that has literally re-invented the pre workout landscape. This version of M5 Extreme is different from the previous version of M5E because the ingredient profile is more impressive, the split-can canister is not only convenient but also just flat out cool, and the labeling is transparent.
Although I am a big fan of Cellucor products and would just as well give M5 Extreme and automatic pass based on previous experiences, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to see what makes M5 Extreme different from the other pre workout supplements.
This supplement is split in two: 1 side is for energy and focus - IGNITE; the other side is for muscle building – BUILD.
This supplement is smooth, taste great, and delivers big time on both clean, vibrant energy and solid strengths gains. If you’ve got the extra coin to throw down on a PWS then throw down and M5 Extreme, it’s not the most caffeinated pre workout supplement per serving, however the blend of top quality ingredients in this 2-in-1 canister make this pre workout among the very best workout supplements to date.
M5 Extreme is at the top of the food chain and if it weren’t for the price tag, this supplement would be the best.
#4 – Bodybuilding.com: SCREAM
These are some high-quality supplements. SCREAM is bb.com take on a pre-workout supplement that has really surprised me!
To start, you only need 1 scoop which is basically the norm for most modern pre workout supplements, but instead of peppering some catchy under-dosed ingredients, the folks at bb.com has made it a point to supply you with generous amounts of each, ensuring you get the best bang for your buck.
The Psychoactive Cognitive Activator is the energy blend that has the correct 300mg of caffeine, 1.5g Taurine for focus, 1.5g L-Tyrosine, and 500mg Glucuronolactone. Next, you get 3g Creapure Creatine and 1.6g Beta-Alanine to boost ATP and help you sustain your workouts. As one of the first supplement brands to really push L-Citrulline to the forefront of top ingredients, the component found in this supplement really makes SCREAM shine bright because you get a huge 3g dose so the pumps you get from this is truly insane. Not to be outshined by L-Citrulline, the Anabolic Recovery Amplification Matrix contains a serious 8g of 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs for stamina and muscle building.
There is also 500mg of Sustamine™ combined with L-Alanine that has showed to replenish energy and low glycogen stores, help fight fatigue, and increase hydration which by itself is great, but when these two powerful ingredients are combined with a great electrolyte profile such as the one found in SCREAM, you know, for a fact, that you are getting the best ingredients at the most optimal amounts that is all scientifically supported to work.
So with all of these great ingredients in SCREAM how does it taste? Just as good as any other pre workout supplement in my opinion, but if I had to choose a flavor I would go with Watermelon because it’s a little sweeter than the Fruit Punch. The bottom line here is that this supplement is all substance with no filler.
There is no proprietary blend so you know exactly what you are getting and the combination of ingredients not only addresses all aspects of assisting your workouts, but they are all high grade nutrients that will set your workouts on fire.
#3 -Myogenix: HYPERSHOCK RAGE
Hypershock Rage by Myogenix is the predecessor to the original Rage formula which has made many improvements in order to create a very complete and potent pre workout formula. If you take a look at the ingredients listed here, it will take up your entire screen! Even though Myogenix has opted to use a proprietary blend for Hypershock Rage, they still manage to squeeze in over 20,000 mg of noteworthy ingredients per scoop, that really get the job done. There are many things I like about this product, here are a few.
- Contains pure L-Citrulline and micronized L-Arginine. Usually pre workouts have one or the other, this one has both. They are included to give you that N.O. pump which is very apparent in this product.
- Has a great creatine blend. MagnaPower Creatine, micronized creatine, and creatine gluconate are all combined in this one product. Creatinol-O-Phosphate or COP is also included, but it is not creatine, but it does help to rid the muscles of lactic acid build ups.
- Has a great energy blend that lasts for hours.
- Amino Acids and a great hydration formula that has been included for recovery and stamina.
Hypershock Rage comes in 5 flavors and will cost you about $1.00 per serving for 40 servings. That’s outstanding when you look at all the ingredients, but the only set back I see is in the suggested servings. It states that you can mix 1-3 scoops which tells me that only beginners will use 1 scoop, while most people who uses pre workout drinks will mix 2-3 scoops every time so that will cut that impressive 40 servings down to 20 or less. It’s still a great product with great ingredients in it but just be aware that you made need more than 1 scoop to really feel it working.
#2 -JYM: Pre JYM
Pre JYM is a revolutionary pre workout supplement that has really got me hooked. Unlike many formula’s that ive researched before Pre JYM is completely transparent. I have always complained about how many supplements do not disclose what is actually in them or they only disclose a few ingredients and not the most important ones. Pre JYM discloses 100% of its nutrients which gives me more confidence buying it because I know exactly what im getting into, instead of just guessing.
Another great feature about this product is that it provides FULL doses of its ingredients and not these micro doses that are just intended to trick you into believing its good when its not. For example, Pre JYM has a full 6 grams of Citrulline Malate, 300mg caffeine, 2 grams of Creatine Hydrochloride, and 6 grams of a 2-1-1 ratio of BCAAs, all in one dose. This is a factor that many do not take into consideration until after they’ve already bought the product and have taken it a few times and have found it underwhelming to say the least.
There are currently 2 flavors – Cherry Limeade and Raspberry Lemonade, both of which taste awesome and mix easily. The cost of this product is $1.74 per serving for 20 servings per container = $34.87. Not cheap by any means, but I’m a firm believer in “You get what you pay for”, and Pre JYM in no exception. It’s backed by real science, has a killer ingredient profile, taste great, and people are raving about their results. Pre JYM is no joke, it’s a great phreaking pre workout supplement.
#1 – MusclePharm: Assault (New Version)
The new Assault is finally here and it is better than ever! I was a big fan of the previous version and was anxiously awaiting the next generation to come out, but now the wait is finally over. There have been some exciting new improvements with this new version, but some aspects have remained the same such as including L-Glutamine, Beta-Alanine, and a good assortment of vitamins and minerals that was in the previous formula.
So what’s new about the new Assault?
The biggest change in this version is the “ION-3 Nitrate Technology Matrix”. MusclePharm has decided to take N03 to a new level by binding nitric acid to Creatine (CreNitrate), Arginine (ArgNitrate), and BCAA’s (BCAA Nitrate 3:1:2) to greatly increase the delivery of these nutrients into the blood stream and muscles through a process known as vasodilation. This makes the new Assault more effective than any other pre workout supplement because a lot more of the nutrients are being shuttled and delivered into your muscles instead of running through the intestines as waste.
The other 2 glaring improvements are the inclusion of Coconut Water Powder for hydration and Pterostilbene-Caffeine, and new version of caffeine that is said to last 7 times longer than regular caffeine that has a more gradual tapering effect which results in a no crash scenario.
Truth be told, it felt like Christmas when I got mine a few days ago. I got Blue Raspberry and actually really love the flavor; it tastes better than what I remember and the energy is incredible! MusclePharm has really delivered this time and at just $1.00 per true serving, you’d be insane not to try it at least once. So there you have it, the new Assault has once again recaptured the top spot. There are many pre workout supplements out there, but there’s only 1 Assault.
A Few Last Words
The best way to take PWOs is anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes prior to exercising to really get full use of the stimulants. I usually start feeling these supplements in a matter of minutes after taking them, but I usually like to wait a bit longer than that to allow time for the Caffeine, Creatine, and other nutrients to begin to go into the blood stream. That’s when I usually do a 5 or 10 minute warm up anyway so it works out good for me. I also like to take them about an hour or so after eating to minimize any potential stomach aches or bloating.
For your pre workout meal, keep it clean and simple and especially stay away from processed, refined, or foods with a lot of oil in it such as fried foods. Protein and meal replacement shakes are a great choice as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats that are not cooked in a lot of fats or oils. Oats and whole wheat types of carbohydrates are OK to have as part of a pre workout meal, but should be kept at a minimum.
Thanks for taking the time to check out the list. If you think there should be a supplement here on the page than let me know in the comments section.