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The 5 Best Pre-Workout Supplements in 2020: Our Tested Reviews

Best Creatine Free Pre-Workouts

By Ryan Bucki, ISSA-CFT
Updated on: October 3, 2020

Honest Review Guarantee from Fitness Informant:
Our product testing team uses the full 30 day serving amount in container before reviewing. Learn more about our review process here.

While many fitness enthusiasts take creatine regularly and swear by the results, not all supplements are a good fit for everyone.  Despite this substance’s popularity, there are creatine-free pre-workout options if you decide to go that route.  Fitness Informant is here to provide you the best options available on the market.

Be Informed. Live Fit.

The following products on our top creatine-free pre-workout rankings list were used by the author of this article. 

He used each of these 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 zero creatine pre-workout list is the real deal.

Here at Fitness Informant, we don’t steer you wrong. If you're looking for a creatine free pre-workout option that you can trust, look no further than our top 5 picks below.


The Best Rated Creatine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements on the Market Today

Here's the top 5 picks for the best creatine-free pre-workout supplements that money can buy:

Product Name

Highlights

Rating

#1 Performax Labs Hypermax Extreme

HyperMax Extreme

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Overall Best Pre-Workout Supplement

Highlights:


  • 400mg Caffeine
  • 250mg Era Jarensis
  • 400mg PEA

Our #1 Rated

Fitness Informant Logo

8.9 out of 10

in the Pre-Workout Category

#2 Alpha Lion SuperHuman Burn

Superhuman Burn

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Best for Fat Loss

Highlights:



  • 500mg of MitoBurn
  • Solid Nootropic Formula
  • Well-Rounded Pre-   Workout
  • Our #2 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    8.9 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category

    #3 ASC Supplements El Jefe

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    Best for Sustained Energy

    Highlights:


    • 400mg Caffeine
    • Hordenine HCl, J. Regia, Erica J, Alpha-Yohimbine
    • Well-Dosed Ergogenics

    Our #3 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    8.6 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category

    #4 Core Nutritionals PUMP

    core pump

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    Best for Stim-Free

    Highlights:



  • 2.5g Betaine Nitrate
  • 2g Peak O2
  • No Overlapping Ingredients
  • Our #4 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    8.9 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category

    #5 NutraBio PRE Extreme

    PRE-Extreme Bottle

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    Best for Comprehensive Ingredients

    Highlights:


    • 350mg Caffeine
    • 6g L-Citrulline
    • 15g HBCD Carbohydrates

    Our #5 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    8.8 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category

    There are hundreds of different brands and variations of pre-workout supplements out there.

    How did these 5 make Fitness Informant's top 5 list? Read on and we'll tell you:


    #1 Performax Labs Hypermax Extreme

    HyperMax Extreme
    • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Top Overall Product

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    Pros

    • Fully transparent label
    • Effective dosage on ALL ingredients
    • 300mg Vaso6 for pumps
    • Great energy & focus
    • Solid pumps

    Cons

    • Borderline Too Much Caffeine
    • Limited Flavors

    Hypermax Extreme ​is ​​a top tier pre-workout from Performax Labs. Performax Labs has long been known for making some of the better formulated products on the market, and HyperMax Extreme is one of them.

    HyperMax Extreme starts us off with 3 ingredients that are great for pumps. We get 6g of L-Citrulline, 1 gram of Agmatine, and 300mg of Vaso6. All three ingredients are dosed well, and we have nothing to complain about. This blend is followed by both Beta-Alanine, and Betaine Anhydrous. The Beta-Alanine is at 3.2g, and the Betaine is at 2.5g, so both are dosed correctly.

    Next we have 3 different exotic stimulants. First off we have have 400mg B-Phentylethylamine HCl, followed by N,N-Dimethylphenethylamine Citrate at 250mg. Lastly, we have Hordenine HCl at 60mg. These are some hefty doses, and probably the reason why HyperMax Extreme is once again the #1 Strongest Pre-workout here on FI.

    Lastly, we have the Extreme Energy and Drive blend, which starts us off with 1g of Tyrosine. Following this, we have 400mg of Caffeine Anhydrous, which is a hefty dose of Caffeine. The last two ingredients are Synephrine at 50mg, which is a solid dose, and 2mg of Alpha-Yohimbine. 

    With solid dosages with proven ingredients for the categories we all want out of a pre-workout, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be in any websites’ strongest pre-workout list.

    Who Makes It?

    Performax Labs is a company that has been around for several years now, and they have always been respected for making EFFECTIVE products. It is one of the most underrated companies in our opinion.

    What's In It?

    One serving (two scoops) contains:

    • 6g L-Citrulline - Converts to arginine to aid in nitric oxide production
    • 1g Agmatine Sulfate - Metabolite of Arginine which may aid in pumps
    • 300mg Vaso6™ - Patented ingredient which may aid in pumps
    • 3.2g Beta-Alanine - Increases endurance
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - May increase power output
    • 400mg B-Phenylethylamine HCl - Good for focus and mental cognition
    • N,N Dimethylphenethylamine Citrate - Cognitive enhancing stimulant
    • 60mg Hordenine HCl - Prevents noradrenaline from being broken down
    • 1,000mg L-Tyrosine -  a well-researched amino acid with many benefits. May be good for fat loss, focus, and stress
    • 400mg Caffeine Anhydrous - Good for energy
    • 50mg Synephrine HCl - a fat burning stimulant that provides energy
    • 2mg Rauwolfia Vomitoria Extract - a crazy strong stim that aids in fat loss and energy production

    Bottom Line:

    Performax Labs HyperMax Extreme nails it on energy, focus and pumps. This is one of the best pre-workout supplements on the market today. This is also one of the strongest pre-workout supplements you will find that is also safe. If you're looking for a hard-hitting pre-workout while still getting great pumps, HyperMax Extreme should be a choice you consider.


    Read our full review here.

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    #2 Alpha Lion SuperHuman Burn

    Superhuman Burn
    • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
    • Servings: 50/25
    • Best For: Fat Loss

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    Pros

    • Effective dosage on ALL ingredients
    • 300mg Caffeine
    • 1g of Tyrosine
    • Fully transparent label
    • 500mg MitoBurn™
    • 4g L-Citrulline

    Cons

    • Taste isn't perfect

    SuperHuman Burn is a product from Alpha Lion, and it is really becoming one of our favorite pre-workouts for the year of 2020. Alpha Lion already has multiple variations of SuperHuman pre-workouts, and they have all been impressive to us. 

    SuperHuman Burn is a pre-workout that is meant to help with fat loss, however just looking at the profile, it is much more than that. It starts off with a performance blend which consists of Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, and Taurine. All of them are at solid doses, and they can aid with pumps and endurance. Following this you get the energy blend, which consists of 300mg of total Caffeine, coming from both Caffeine Anhydrous and Infinergy (a time-released Caffeine). So you get energy immediately, and then energy that is released slowly to help prevent a crash. You also get 225mg of Theanine, which can help reduce anxiety or jitters brought on by Caffeine. 

    Next up, we have what really makes this product special. The Fat Burning Matrix starts us off with a new ingredient introduced to the market called MitoBurn™. This ingredient is a source of BAIBA, which is a myokine that your body releases when you workout. This ingredient may be good for oxidizing fat, as well as lowering blood sugar. It is what really separates this product from the rest. Along with this interesting new ingredient, you get you get a Cocoabuterol®, Advantra Z® (a source of Synephrine), and CaloriBurn GP™, which is Grains of Paradise. These are all solid ingredients and they are all dosed well. 

    Finally, this rounds out with a nootropic blend and absorption blend. You get 1 gram of Choline Bitartrate, 1 gram of ALCAR, and 1 gram of Choline Bitartrate. These are 3 ingredients that can help with focus, and all are dosed well. After this we get both AstraGin® and BioPerine® at solid doses, which may aid in absorption.

    Due to the profile and marketing, it is meant to be taken pre-workout. With that said, you could technically take it at any time of the day. This is deserving of its spot on our list easily, and we love seeing Alpha Lion not be afraid to use new interesting ingredients such as MitoBurn™.

    Who Makes It?

    Alpha Lion is a newer company, but with clever marketing and solid products, they have burst onto the scene. With awesome products, cool product names, great flavoring, if you haven't tried Alpha Lion yet, it is worth .

    What's In It?

    One serving (two-scoops) contains:

    • 4g L-Citrulline - Helps with pumps
    • 3.6g of Beta-Alanine  - Good for endurance
    • 1g Taurine - Helps with blood flow and prevents cramping
    • 225mg Caffeine Anhydrous - patented form of Ashwagandha, good for stress levels 
    • 225mg  L-Theanine - amino acid that helps with calming
    • 100mg Infinergy™ - time-released Caffeine
    • 100mg MitoBurn™ - new ingredient that may help with fat loss
    • 100mg Cocoabuterol® - a source of Theobromine and other antioxidants.
    • 40mg CaloriBurn GP™ - a fat burning ingredient with human research to back it
    • 100mg Advantra Z - a beta-agonist which may aid in fat loss
    • 1g Choline Bitartrate - may help with focus
    • 1g Acetyl-L-Carnitine - may help with fat loss and focus
    • 1000mg L-Tyrosine - a precursor to Dopamine that may aid in focus
    • 25mg AstraGin® - helps with absorption
    • 10mg BioPerine - helps with absorption
    alpha lion superhuman

    Bottom Line:

    SuperHuman Burn is a solid fat burning supplement that is is also a pre-workout. With the use of MitoBurn and other fat burning ingredients, the thermogenesis is very noticeable, and it must be experienced. It is a loaded pre-workout, and we highly suggest you try it for yourself.


    Read our full review here.

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    #3 ASC Supplements El Jefe

    • Rating: 8.6 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Energy

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    Pros

    • Ergogenic ingredients dosed well
    • 400mg Caffeine
    • Eria Jarensis for focus
    • 1.5g Nitrosigine®
    • Great energy and focus

    Cons

    • Taste
    • Proprietary Blend

    El Jefe ​is a pre-workout from a smaller company that really hit us hard this year. El Jefe is a pre-workout from a smaller company called ASC Supplements, and we enjoyed our experience with it. The pre-workouts is quite loaded, and for what is disclosed, we have little to complain about. 

    El Jefe starts us off with 7g of Citrulline Malate, and 3.2g of Beta-Alanine. Both of these ingredients are pretty standard in pre-workouts these days, and both are dosed well in El Jefe. The next two ingredients are Betaine Anhydrous at 2.5g and Taurine at 2g. Both of these ingredients may aid in performance, and both are dosed effectively. Finally, we come to Nitrosigine® and ElevATP. Nitrosigine® at 1.5g is dosed perfectly, and it is one of our favorite ingredients here on FI. ElevATP at 150mg is dosed correctly, and we have nothing to complain about when it comes to the Performance & Pump Matrix in El Jefe.

    Next we come to what makes El Jefe so impressive here. The stimulant blend in El Jefe is quite powerful. The whole blend, which amounts to 2642mg of ingredients, consists of Choline Bitartrate, Caffeine Anhydrous, Theobromine, Eria J, J Regia, Di Caffeine Malate, Hordenine HCl, Higenamine HCl, Alpha Yohimbine, and Huperzine A. Of course, we have to mention that we wish it was not in a blend, but we are happy that ASC provides the amount of Caffeine and Alpha Yohimbine. Caffeine comes in at 400mg total, while Alpha Yohimbine is at 1.6mg. All of this with some J Regia and Eria J shoots El Jefe onto this list. 

    Who Makes It?

    ASC Supplements is a Veteran owned company that makes some killer formulas. They are a smaller company, however their formulas can compete with some of the big dogs out there in this industry. One great part about ASC Supplements is that 15% of all profits are donated, something we can easily get behind here on FI.

    What's In It?

    One serving (two-scoops) contains:

    • 7g Citrulline Malate (2:1) – promotes blood flow
    • 3.2g Beta-Alanine - buffers lactic acid which may aid in endurance
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous – improves strength, power 
    • 2g Taurine – aids in hydration and blood flow 
    • 1.5g Nitrosigine® – aids in pumps​
    • 150mg ElevATP - may help with ATP production

               Jefe Stim Matrix

    • Choline Bitartrate - source of Choline which may aid in focus
    • Caffeine Anhydrous - provides energy
    • Theobromine - may aid in energy
    • Eria Jarensis - helps with energy and focus
    • J Regia - aids in energy and focus
    • Di-Caffeine Malate - time-released Caffeine
    • Hordenine HCl - Prevents noradrenaline from being broken down
    • Higenamine HCl - good for energy
    • Alpha Yohimbine - a crazy strong stim that aids in fat loss and energy production
    • Huperzine A - prevents Choline from being broken down in the brain
    • Black Pepper Extract may aid in absorption of certain ingredients

    El Jefe Label

    Bottom Line:

    El Jefe is a solid pre-workout with a very impressive ingredient profile. Not only is the energy strong, but the ergogenic ingredients are all dosed well. So all around, there is little to complain about in this pre-workout. Of course, we have to mention that we would prefer a transparent label, but we are happy that the Caffeine and Alpha Yohimbine are given to us. 


    Read our full review here.

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    #4 Core Nutritionals PUMP

    core pump
    • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Stim-Free

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    Pros

    • 3.2g Beta-Alanine
    • 2.5g Betaine Nitrate (NO3-T®)
    • 2g PeakO2®
    • Transparent Label
    • 600mg Alpha GPC

    Cons

    • PeakO2 may hurt taste

    Core Nutritionals PUMP is a non-stim pre-workout that was released in 2020, as part of Core’s rebrand. It has easily taken over as one of the best products on the market, and we can’t praise it enough. One of the best aspects to the profile is that there are no overlapping/redundant ingredients. 

    The profile starts off with 6 grams of Citrulline, and 3.2 grams of Beta-Alanine. Citrulline is great for pumps, as it converts to Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide. As for Beta-Alanine, it is used for aiding in endurance. Both are dosed well.

    Next up, we have the powerhouse behind this product, which is Betaine Nitrate (NO3-T®). Nitrates are very effective at causing vasodilation, and we get a solid 2.5 grams of Betaine Nitrate in here. This is the ingredient that really puts it over the top for us here on FI.

    The next ingredient we have is PeakO2®, which is a blend of mushrooms from Compound Solutions. This is a blend of mushrooms that is used to increase VO2 Max, which can increase endurance. It is a great ingredient with solid research behind it, and at 2 grams, it is dosed well. Following this we have HydroMax®, which is a trademarked form of Glycerol Monostearate. This ingredient can help with cellular hydration, and is great for aiding with pumps. At 2 grams, it is dosed well. 

    Finally, we have Alpha GPC, which is a source of Choline. Choline is converted to Acetylcholine in the brain which is a neurotransmitter. This can aid with focus, and the Alpha GPC is dosed well in here. 

    Core PUMP is well deserving of being on this list, and we highly suggest grabbing it if you want a consistent creatine free pre-workout.

    Who Makes It?

    Core Nutritionals has recently gone through a rebrand, and they now look like a sexy brand, something they were kind of lacking beforehand. The brand has consistently come out with solid products, and are now killing it in 2020 with their new product launches. With a team that really cares about efficacious dosing and products that work, Core Nutritionals is a brand for everybody. 

    What's In It?

    One serving (two-scoops) contains:

    • 6g L-Citrulline - converts to Arginine in the body and may help with pumps
    • 3.2 Beta-Alanine- buffers lactic acid which may aid in endurance
    • 2.5g Betaine Nitrate (NO3-T®) - a source of Nitrates which aids in pumps
    • 2g Peak O2 - increases VO2 max which may aid in endurance
    • 2g HydroMax® - helps with cellular hydration
    • 600mg Alpha GPC - source of Choline that aids in focus
    core pump

    Bottom Line:

    Core Nutritionals PUMP is a great non-swim pre-workout that is easily one of the best on the market. With 6 grams of Citrulline, Betaine Nitrates, and HydroMax®, there is no way you're not going to get a noticeable pump. It is technically a stim-free pre-workout, and the product stacks well with many stem-based pre-workout out there. This is certainly a product worth stocking up on.


    Read our full review here.

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    #5 RYSE Pre-Workout Project Black

    RYSE Supplements Project Blackout Pre-Workout
    • Rating: 8.8 out of 10
    • Servings: 25
    • Best For: Exotic-Stimulant Free

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    Pros

    • 1.5g NO3-T Nitrates
    • 410mg Total Caffeine
    • Taste
    • Clinical Dose of Beta-Alanine
    • Transparent Label

    Cons

    • Could use a better form of Choline
    • Flavor Selection is Limited

    Ryse Preworkout Project Black ​was released Ryse mid-2019, and it did not disappoint. Ryse is a brand that comes out with products that are effective, without using any ingredients that will get banned anytime soon. 

    Project Black starts us off with Beta-Alanine at 3.2g per serving, which is the clinical dose. Following this is Choline Bitartrate, which may aid in focus. Choline Bitartrate is at 1.5g, which is a good dose, however we have to mention that we would prefer a better source of Choline. After this, we get 1.5g of Betaine Anhydrous. Betaine may aid in power output, and at 1.5g, is dosed pretty well in here. 

    The following two ingredients really make this product great, which are the Nitrates. You get Betaine Nitrate (NO3-T) at 1g, followed by Sodium Nitrate (NO3-T) at 500mg. So you're getting 1.5g of Nitrate bound ingredients, this is solid. After this, we get 500mg of Calci-K®, which may aid in hydration. No problems here!

    This product ends with caffeine, which is around 400mg total. So if you're looking for a straight caffeine pre-workout that can give you great pumps along with a solid boost of energy, Project Black may be worth looking into.

    Who Makes It?

    Ryse is a brand that has been around for a few years yet is making some great headway in this industry, especially as of late. They don't have an extensive list of products, yet the ones they have released have been quite good. What we really like about Ryse, is that the people behind it have a lot of integrity. Unlike many other brands, Ryse did not start out with a high-stim pre-workout with DMHA. No, they started out with products that any noobie or even advanced lifter could get by with. 

    What's In It?

    One serving contains:

    • 3.2g Beta-Alanine –  buffers lactic acid which may lead to endurance
    • 1.5g Choline Bitartrate – a source of Choline which may aid in focus
    • 1.5g Betaine Anhydrous - improves power output
    • 1g Betaine Anhydrous (as NO3-T®) – this produces Nitric Oxide and larger pumps
    • 500mg Sodium Nitrate (as NO3-T®) – this produces Nitric Oxide and larger pumps
    • 500mg Calci-K® - provides electrolytes for hydration
    • 350mg Caffeine Anhydrous - provides energy​​
    • 200mg Theobromine - helps with energy without increasing blood pressure​​
    • 100mg VitaShure® Caffeine - sustained release Caffeine​​
    • Huperzine A - prevents Choline from being broken down in the brain
    RYSE Project Blackout Pre-Workout label

    Bottom Line:

    Ryse Pre-Workout Project Black is a solid pre-workout product that we enjoyed here on FI. While it does not contain any of those exotic stimulants like the other pre-workouts do on this list, that's the point. The pumps you get from this are solid, which is why it makes the list. 


    Read our full review here.

    Use coupon code INFORMANT to save 10%


    Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Workout Supplements

    Why Do You Need To Supplement with a Pre-Workout?

    Pre-workout supplements provide benefits that can significantly improve your workout and muscle growth. Pre-workout supplements can be more than just “energy” supplements. They are not just glorified caffeine pills.

    The best pre-workouts can provide you with:

    • Increased Energy

    This is the first place most consumers look for in a pre-workout. How much caffeine is this giving me?! There are many different types of caffeine, and they are not all treated the same.

    • Prolonged Endurance

    Certain ingredients are included in pre-workouts to assist you in the endurance category. Energy is nice, but we want that energy to last throughout a lengthy workout so we can do some work in the gym.

    • Strength Gains

    Ingredients are included in the best pre-workouts to help assist in the strength department. These ingredients are selected to help you get one more rep, maybe put on five more pounds. Strength gains in the gym lead to muscle gains outside of it.

    • Improved Focus

    You can be jacked up on caffeine, but if you’re not focused on the task at-hand, it can all be wasted. Nootropics and other cognitive enhancing ingredients are used in the best pre-workout supplements to help you achieve your desired results in the gym.

    • Massive Pumps

    The pump is what we all strive for in the gym. We want to look huge, right? The best pre-workout supplements include pump enhancing ingredients that are not meant for just show, but a solid pump improves blood flow into your muscles which aids in muscle recovery and growth.

    What is Creatine?

    Whether your medicine cabinet is full of dozens of the latest workout supplements or you’re just starting your journey to better health at the gym, you’ve likely heard about or even been recommended the popular supplement creatine. You ingest natural creatine with seafood and red meat, but people who want more of it take it in powder or pill form. It has a number of different functions in the body, but athletes and exercise enthusiasts use creatine to boost their performance and increase muscle mass.

    Creatine is one of the most studied and researched amino acids on the planet, with hundreds of scientific studies exploring the potential benefits of daily supplementation for all types of people. Touted as a substance that provides extra energy with low risk and few side effects, it’s become an increasingly popular choice among gym goers, professional athletes, and those looking for extra energy to navigate their day.

    When choosing to take any supplement, it’s important to be able to make a fully informed decision on whether or not it is right for you. In its most basic form, creatine is often purchased in powder form and then mixed with either water or milk in hopes of getting an energy boost in the gym, during a run, or even just going through a typical day.

    While many fitness enthusiasts take creatine regularly and swear by the results, not all supplements are a good fit for everyone. Despite this substance’s popularity, there are creatine-free pre-workout options if you decide to go that route.

    As with most fitness and supplement recommendations, you should never simply follow the common mainstream advice without first doing your research and determining if a particular supplement fits nicely with your goals and body composition. Fortunately, if you do decide to invest in a pre-workout supplement, there are plenty of creatine-free options available for you to choose from.


    Our Testing Process

    We examined five different areas of each pre-workout supplement when we compiled our rankings:

    1. Ingredients Profile
    2. Effectiveness
    3. Taste
    4. Mixability
    5. Value

    preworkout powder in bottleIngredients Profile

    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

    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.

    Taste

    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

    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

    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.

    Why We Test Like This

    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.