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These lists are influenced by brands who pay for placement and contain pre-workout supplement recommendations that are, for the lack of a better word, GARBAGE.
The following products on our best preworkout list were used by the author of this article.
He used each of the pre-workout supplements through the duration of a full container. Sample packs were not used in determining the rankings.
Stop relying on faulty information that is influenced by outside writers and money. This pre-workout list is the real deal. Here at Fitness Informant, we don’t steer you wrong.
Be Informed. Live Fit.
Table of Contents
The following comparison table ranks the top 5 rated pre-workouts of 2018 in order from #1 to #5:
|Pre-Workout||Best Pick For||Ingredients & Features||Rating|
1. NTel Nutra Arez
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|Overall Effectiveness, Value, & Ingredients||- 300mg Caffeine|
- 5mg Grains of Paradise
- 300mg Lotus Leaf Extract
2. NutraBio PRE Extreme
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|Ingredients Profile||- 350mg Caffeine|
- 6g L-Citrulline DL Malate
- 1.75g Nitric Oxide Booster
3. Sparta Nutrition Kraken
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|Pump||- 300mg Vaso6|
- 2g HydroMax
- 15mg Cocoabuterol
4. VMI Sports K-XR
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|Taste||- 632.5g Maximum Energy Blend|
- 3.3g Intense Pump Blend
- 4 Great Flavors
5. Repp Sports Reactr
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|Value||- 322mg Energy Blend|
- 555g Focus Blend
- 4,000mg Pump/Strength Blend
The best pre-workouts can provide you with:
With the influx of pre-workout supplements, many people are unsure of what they are looking for when they purchase their pre-workout. Our 5 top rated pre-workout list incorporates many areas to give you the best of the best when it comes to an all-in-one pre-workout supplement. These pre-workouts are optimal if you’re a man, woman, looking for energy, strength, focus, pump, endurance, or are looking for a weight loss pre workout supplement.
Each of those bullet points listed above have certain criteria you want to look for when selecting the right pre-workout for you. We will take you through each of these and give you ideas on what you should look for when buying your pre-workout. Don’t be fooled by pushy sales reps or non-credible websites. Find the correct information you need right here and experience your workouts be taken to the next-level.
It is not surprising to hear that there are biological differences in a man and a woman. Our make-ups have the same organs and do similar functions, but we do have a set of human behaviors, cognition and body types [source: National Center for Biotechnology Information] Due to these differences, different pre-workouts may be required based on your sex.
Men typically carry more body weight than women. It may take more dosage of certain ingredients to be effective for men versus women. Men may require a heavier dose of stimulants to give them the energy they need to perform optimally at the gym.
The point is, effective pre-workouts will be different for men than women, and vice versa. When purchasing your next pre-workout, and you’re a man, keep in mind that you may want to look for higher, clinically dosed pre-workouts.
Similar to what we just noted about pre-workouts for men, women need to be cognizant of what to look for in an effective pre-workout for them. Women may be more sensitive to stimulants, and may want to look for a pre-workout with little to no caffeine (yes, I am well aware that there are women who are bigger than men…in that case, knock yourself out with stimulants!)
Women may require less than the clinical dosage of certain ingredients to be fully effective. What does this mean? Women may be able to purchase “under dosed” pre-workouts, in terms of clinically dosage standards, and still obtain an effective dose for their body type. Thus, they may be able to get more servings or save a few dollars on a pre-workout supplement versus a man.
The #1 reason why people use a pre-workout powder is for added energy. The #1 ingredient people look at in any pre-workout is the stimulant we all know as caffeine.
However, it is important to note, there are many different ingredients supplement companies use to provide a boost of energy, including multiple forms of caffeine. Here are just some of the ingredients you want to look for on a supplement facts label that produce energy:
Look for these ingredients on the pre workout powder’s label to determine if it is going to contain an energy rush or an energy dud.
Everyone wants to get stronger when they workout. There are certain ingredients you can look for on your pre-workout label that will help with your overall strength gains. Look for the following ones on your pre-workout label:
Strength gains are important and are an important focus of pre-workout supplements. Be sure to check your labels to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of strength contributing ingredients listed above.
Maybe one of the most under appreciated areas of a good pre-workout is the cognitive enhancing abilities that it provides. When you look at stimulant free pre-workouts, they rely on focus ingredients to help us get through out workout.
When these are combined with stimulants, such as caffeine (side note: caffeine is a focus ingredient as well as it works with your central nervous system to help sharpen mental alertness), it can provide a laser focus that is incomparable. The following ingredients are common in today’s pre-workouts that contribute to enhancing you cognition:
It is important to not neglect the focus factor in a pre workout. Look for supplements that contain these ingredients and nootropics to provide the best tunnel vision you can have.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his bodybuilding and acting career, but also for his line in “Pumping Iron” when he talks about the Pump being the equivalent to sex. The “pump” provides so much more than just an amazing look to your physique. In fact, the pump plays a much larger role.
When you obtain a good pump from a pre-workout, it means blood is flowing into your muscles bringing them essential nutrients they need to repair, recover and regrow. The following are popular pump activating ingredients to look for in your pre-workout supplement:
Remember, the pump is more than just the look. It is important to your overall growth and physique. Obtain the pump you want through an effective pre-workout containing pump activating ingredients.
If you’re an endurance athlete, you may not want all of the ingredients that promote strength or pump. You may just want ingredients that will help your heart beat longer at faster rates through the use of supplementation. The following ingredients are used in in pre-workouts to help with improving your endurance:
As an endurance athlete, you must look for ingredients that will help contribute to your type of training as it is vastly different than strength training. In fact, a whole other muscle type (slow-twice aka Type 1) is being trained.
In addition to people looking for a solid energy producing pre-workout, maybe equally, people are looking for a good tasting pre-workout drink. Now we caution you, don’t make your pre-workout decision solely based on taste. If that was the case, you might as well buy a container of Kool-Aid.
However, we realize taste is important, so you do want to find one in which you can drink and not have to choke down. Look for pre-workouts with minimal artificial flavors, sweeteners and fillers. These will benefit you most in the long run.
Many people are sensitive to stimulants. If you are one of those people, read the energy section above and avoid all those ingredients. Many companies have two variations of their popular pre-workouts. One would include stimulants like caffeine, while the other would be considered “Stim-Free” meaning there’s no caffeine or any other “like” ingredients being used.
Another time that stimulant free may be sought after would be if you work out later at night before bed. The use of stimulant pre workout powders at that time of day could affect your sleep. We need proper sleep to help with muscle recovery and HGH production.
We examined five different areas of each pre-workout supplement when we compiled our rankings:
When we review each pre-workout supplement on their ingredient profile, we look at the ingredients used and the dosage they are being used at.
Many pre-workouts include a variety of beneficial ingredients, but under dose them proving to be non-effective. This section also looks at how many of the sub-categories are being hit (energy, focus, strength and pump).
Effectiveness is an extension of ingredient profile. If the product uses proven ingredients at clinically suggested dosages, then typically the product should be effective.
Everyone is different. Everyone takes to different ingredients differently at varying dosages. We have tried and tested each of these products throughout the full duration of their container to ensure these products are effective over their life.
We review taste on two different components. First, how close does the pre-workout taste to the actual name printed on the label. For example, does Blue Raz actually taste like blue raspberry. Second, we review it on overall taste (in our opinion) versus others in the same flavor category.
Mixability refers to how well does the product mix in 8-12oz of water. The testing process for a pre workout drink we use here is a generic Blender Bottle with the chrome spiral ball. We use regular tap water with no ice.
Value is a combination of ingredient profile, effectiveness, taste, mixability and cost. We do not just look at the price tag like a lot of others do. If a product is priced at a premium, we inform you if it is worth the premium price or not based on all the categories. We look at the overall picture of the pre-workout supplement, and how it compares to other pre-workout supplements on the market.
In an industry with so many players and choices choosing the right supplement for you can be difficult. The pre-workout category is no different. Pre-workouts are a staple supplement for many brands.
Many new start-up brands start with them because it is easy to copy other’s formulas and slap a label on a container and call it your own.
All of this for a minimal investment.
We’ve all read the hype about pre-workout supplements. The bark is way louder than their bite. Cool marketing slogans and product package designs make it difficult to select one that is correct for you. This is especially true if you’re just starting out in the game. We test so you know what’s legitimate and what is not.
Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, here’s our list of our top rated pre-workout supplements for 2018. These are the best for energy, focus, and pump, all-in-one pre-workout supp:
Arez God of the Gym by NTel Nutra knocks off the rest to get to our #1 rated pre-workout of 2018. How did they do it? Simple, a nice combination of stims with the added strength, pump and focus makes it a must-try to enhance your workouts.
While most pre-workouts are a variation of something already on the market, Area God of the Gym is completely different. We have not seen a formula like this out there yet. It is interesting, unique, but most importantly, it works. For energy, you get the nice combination of 300mg Caffeine mixed with several stems including Lotus Leaf Extract and Grains of Paradise.
You get more than just a stim high, you also get 4.3g of pure Citrulline (pump), 100mg of Alpha GPC (focus) and Chinese Skullcap (mood/memory). We’re not the only ones on the internet who thinks this is the #1 rated pre-workout. NTel did something special with this pre-workout and it has to be good to beat out #5-#2 on this list!
NTel Nutra makes several different supplements, but their Area series is by far their most popular. Each supplements in the NTel Nutra line up utilizes unique combinations of not-so-common ingredients which makes you believe they take their time to study these ingredients and the synergies between them. We’ve had several NTel products and have liked them all so far.
One serving contains:
Area God of the Gym is a great ore-workout designed to improve energy, endurance and focus…with pump to boot. Unique ingredients uniquely combined produces one helluva workout that you will love. We’ve had a lot of pre-workout supplements over the years, this one is one of our highest rated in the history of pre-workouts.
Area deserves our #1 spot for all these reasons. It hits on profile, effectiveness, flavor, fixability and price. I am not sure why you’re still waiting, run, don’t walk to get your Area now! Check out our in-depth review here.
PRE Extreme from NutraBio is a more “extreme” version of their popular pre-workout supplement PRE. PRE Extreme includes more caffeine than the original PRE. PRE Extreme was formulated to target five areas of your workout: pre-load, endurance & performance, electrolyte & hydration, focus and pump.
PRE Extreme is a high quality pre-workout supplement made by one of the most well-respected brands in the sports nutrition industry.
PRE Extreme is a step-up from NutraBio’s PRE pre-workout supplement. PRE Extreme is a stimulant based preworkout supplement that we guarantee will enhance your workouts and take you to the next level.
PRE Extreme includes high quality ingredients targeted at specific areas of concern during your workout: athletic endurance and performance, power strength and recovery, hydration and electrolytes, focus and cognitive functions and nitric oxide production. The label is 100% transparent so you know the exact dosage you are receiving per serving.
NutraBio has been in business since 1996 producing some of the highest quality supplements you can buy today. They not only promote awesome, high quality products, but education as well.
NutraBio has been trying to educate the consumer on the sports nutrition industry for several years to ensure that you are purchasing supplements of high quality and not just a marketing gimmick. All of their products contain a 100% transparent label to ensure you know what you are putting in your body.
One serving contains:
PRE Extreme is a fully packed pre-workout supplement that works, and it works very well. There are no risky ingredients in PRE Extreme. The ingredients used are high quality well researched ingredients by one of the best companies in the world.
PRE Extreme will provide the energy and pump you desire while keeping you on-point with your focus in the gym. This pre-workout supplement will make you not want to stop during your workouts. PRE Extreme could have very well been our number one pre since it is that good. For even more analysis, check out our entire PRE Extreme review here.
Kraken by Sparta Nutrition reformulated their previously ranked #1 rated pre-workout Kraken in 2018 to remove DMHA from the formula. Many people were let down by this change, but I can assure you that it didn’t hurt the pre-workout all that much. Yes, this was our former #1 rated pre-workout, and the reformulation forced it out of the top spot, but it still makes our top 5 pre-workout supplements.
The reformulated version still has a great pump profile consisting of 2g HydroMax combined with 300mg of Vaso6, a new ingredient in the reformulated version. You will get one of the best pumps with this pre-workout. You also get Theobromine and Citrulline to contribute to this!
So what did they do to replace DMHA? They added 250mg TeaCrine, 30mg N-Methyl-Tyramine HCl and 15mg Cocoabuterol to contribute to the overall energy profile. It still works, just a slight step back from the OG version.
Some have criticized the reformulated Kraken, but the criticism is not fair at all. Take it from a guy who actually lifts and uses pre-workout supplements. Kraken, the reformulated version, deserves to be in our top 5 and that’s right where you find it!
Sparta Nutrition BURST onto the scene with the original version of Kraken back in 2017. They became one of the fastest growing supplement companies in the world. Since then, they’ve released a whole plethora of supplements including a Keto line and a top rated protein powder.
Sparta Nutrition is owned by two brothers, one is the business/marketing guru, and the other is the formulator/business guru. Collectively they created a special brand that we expect a lot from in the very near future!
One serving contains:
The reformulated version of Kraken STILL deserves to be in top pre-workouts. Made by a company who holds true to their promise of producing quality supplements, Kraken is a quality supplement. A well rounded ingredient profile that provides great energy, awesome pump and good focus should be in anyone’s top pre-workout list.
Kraken did a nice job of replacing DMHA with the combination of caffeine, TeaCrine and stims. Do we miss the OG? Sure, but it’s time to move on and accept the reformulated Kraken, and give it the credit it deserves. Click here to read our full review of the reformulated version of Kraken.
K-XR from VMI Sports is a highly effective pre-workout that will enhance any workout. K-XR contains three different blends targeting three very important areas of your workout: energy, focus and pump. Backed by veterans in the industry VMI Sports delivers a high intense pre-workout supplement in K-XR.
K-XR is not a fully disclosed label but it does work, and it contains great patent ingredients. K-XR targets three important areas of your workout: energy, focus and pump with three different blends. The doses work well together to provide an excellent workout.
VMI Sports prides itself on making products that actually work. They used patent ingredients in this pre-workout supplement to follow-up on that promise. Although we’d like to see the ingredients broken out to know doses we will take the awesome workout and entrust in VMI Sports for this formulation.
VMI Sports was a brand formed in 2012 with sports nutrition experts with a commitment to creating products that really work. They have a wide variety of products that cover the sports nutrition world ranging from pre-workouts to pump to proteins. The leaders behind VMI Sports have served many various roles in the sports nutrition industry including the minds behind Lone Star Sports (distributor).
One serving contains:
K-XR is an awesome pre-workout supplement. If you like the energy kick then this is a great choice. It also comes in four tasty flavors which anyone can enjoy. You’ll take one serving of K-XR and want to lift every weight in the gym. Check out our full K-XR pre-workout review here.
Reactr from Repp Sports is a solid pre-workout using three different proprietary blends to provide a very effective, tasty pre-workout supplement. Although we are not fans of proprietary blends, Repp Sports does something right with their combination of pump, focus and energy.
Reactr utilizes DMHA in their energy complex, which is essentially caffeine on steroids. Unfortunately, we don’t know the dosage, but we do know that it uses 322mg. Based on the amount of ingredients, we can assume DMHA is around 100mg (give or take) with caffeine being around 200mg (give or take) since the other ingredients used are typically dosed less.
Let’s not forget about pump and focus. The two blends do provide a solid combination of ingredients to give you a pump in which you still may want to supplement with a pump product, but a focus that works wonders.
On-top-of-the effectiveness, Reactr comes in many tasty flavors and at a price tag we can all afford. At 45-servings, you get a preworkout that is bound to last you a while, even if you take two scoops.
Repp Sports debuted in 2017 releasing many products that were deemed “hardcore.” Reactr is evidence of this since it uses DMHA, which has been called into question by various supplement industry naysayers. They also produce other great products like Raze, Broken Arrow, Laxogenin and Hyper Sleep.
One serving contains:
Even though Reactr is a proprietary blend, the combination of the three blends work well together to provide a solid, effective, tasty and affordable pre-workout powder that you will enjoy. With it being 45-servings, you can double your serving size to get more effective doses and still have close to 25-servings.
This completes our full list of the best rated pre-workouts for the year 2018. The pre-workout supplements listed above earned the right to be the top 5 category. Each supplement had a great ingredient profile that promoted energy, endurance, strength, focus and pump.
Stay tuned to Fitness Informant throughout the year for updates as new products are tested and reviewed!