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

Best Creatine Free Pre-Workouts

By Ryan Bucki, ISSA-CFT
Updated on: January 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 Build Fast Formula FullBlitz

Build Fast Formula Fullblitz

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Best for Energy

Highlights:


  • 2g NO3-T Arginine Nitrate
  • 335mg Caffeine
  • 800mg DMAE

Our #2 Rated

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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 Peak X

Core Nutritionals Peak X

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Best for Stim-Free

Highlights:


  • 1.5g Nitrosigine®
  • Stim-Free
  • 2g Peak O2
  • 300mg Vaso6

Our #4 Rated

Fitness Informant Logo

8.6 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 Build Fast Formula FullBlitz

Build Fast Formula Fullblitz
  • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
  • Servings: 24
  • Best For: Pumps

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Pros

  • Effective dosage on ALL ingredients
  • 335mg Caffeine
  • 2g NO3-T Arginine Nitrate
  • Fully transparent label
  • Great energy & focus
  • 6g L-Citrulline

Cons

  • Yohimbine may be too much for some
  • Too simple of a formula for those looking for a fully-loaded pre-workout

FullBlitz from Build Fast Formula is a pre-workout gaining a lot of popularity due to its ability to elicit real full pumps. FullBlitz is a pump first stim-based pre-work that doesn't overdue the stims to ensure the pumps are some of the best you've ever had from a single supplement.

To start, it has 6 grams of Citrulline, which is a good dose. Good news is, they don’t just rely on Citrulline like many other companies do. You also get 2 grams of Arginine Nitrate! Nitrates are a surefire way to get powerful and dense pumps.

FullBlitz contains Betaine Anhydrous at 2.5 grams, Beta-Alanine at 3.2 grams, and Calcium Lactate at 2 grams. All help with performance, and all are dosed well. It’s common knowledge at this point that the clinical dose of Beta-alanine is 3.2 grams. Betaine at 2.5 grams is solid as well.

Now come the energy and focus boosters. First we have 335mg of Caffeine Anhydrous. This needs no introduction, as we all know and love the energy boosting effects of caffeine. 335mg is more than enough and it should please everyone, even stim-junkies. After that, we have 800mg of DMAE. This is a nootropic ingredient, and it’s the highest dose of DMAE we have ever tried, and needless to say, we LOVED it. It puts you on a different level of focus, and it should be felt. Lastly, we have Yohimbe Bark Extract at 2.3 grams. It’s a small dose of actual Yohimbine, however don’t let that fool you. You will notice an increase in sweating and perhaps a small jittery feeling.

Who Makes It?

Build Fast Formula is a brand I bet none of you heard of. The creators of this brand are the forces behind one of the greatest pre-workouts in history: The Original Jack3d. If you've ever experienced that pre-workout, you know that they can do some cool stuff with ingredients. They did just that with FullBlitz.

What's In It?

One serving (two-scoops) contains:

  • 6L-Citrulline – promotes blood flow
  • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous – improves strength, power & endurance giving you more time to achieve the pump
  • 2g Arginine Nitrate (NO3-T) – this produces Nitric Oxide and larger pumps
  • 2g Calcium Lactate – muscle stimulator to assist in contraction
  • 800mg 2-(dimethylamino)ethanol Bitartrate - great for focus
  • 335mg Caffeine Anhydrous - good for energy
  • 2.3g Yohimbe Bark Extract - stimulant that aids in fat loss and energy
FullBlitz Label

Bottom Line:

FullBlitz is going to be the best stimulant based pre-workout you can buy that is going to give you the best pumps. It is a simple, effective formula that is affordable. Nitrates are some of the best ingredients to use to give full pumps, and if you don't believe us, you need to try this for yourself. The pump is the single most important achievement in the gym. If you want to look fuller, while having great energy and focus, Build Fast Formula FullBlitz is your choice. 


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 Peak X

Core Nutritionals Peak X
  • Rating: 8.6 out of 10
  • Servings: 40/20
  • Best For: Stim-Free

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Pros

  • 3.2g Beta-Alanine
  • 3.2g Beta-Alanine
  • 150mg ElevATPTransparent label
  • Transparent Label
  • 300mg Vaso6

Cons

  • Mixability

Peak X​ from Core Nutritionals is one of our favorite products here on Fitness Informant, and for good reason. It is a very straight-forward product that gives you everything you need, and isn't redundant. 

It starts us off with Beta-Alanine at 3.2 grams, which is the clinical dose. This may aid with endurance and is pretty much a staple for pre-workouts these days. Following Beta-Alanine, is Peak O2, an ingredient from Compound Solutions. This blend of mushrooms may increase VO2 Max, which may aid in endurance, althoug through a different pathway than Beta-Alanine.

Now we come to Nitrosigine®, which has been shown to increase pumps. At 1.5g in Peak X, it is clinically dosed and we love seeing it in here. We also have Vaso6, which is an ingredient that has been shown to aid in pumps. At 300mg, it is dosed well. 

Finally, we have ElevATP, which helps your body produce more ATP, the energy currency for cells. At 150mg, it is dosed effectively. 

All around, Peak X is a great non-swim pre-workout, and honestly if you simply add a Caffeine source to it, it'd be a great pre-workout as well. One look at the profile, and it's simple to see why this is on the list. 

Who Makes It?

Core Nutritionals doesn’t do anything sexy about their packaging, but what’s inside of those units is sexy. Core Nutritionals focuses on creating and developing some of the best products on the market. Core ABC is just one example. With Core Nutritionals you can expect full transparency and top-of-the-line quality.

What's In It?

One serving (two-scoops) contains:

  • 3.2 Beta-Alanine- buffers lactic acid which may aid in endurance
  • 2g Peak O2 - increases VO2 max which may aid in endurance
  • 1.5g Nitrosigine® - aids in pumps
  • 300mg Vaso6 - aids in pumps
  • ElevATP® - may increase power output and energy
Core Nutritionals Peak X label

Bottom Line:

Core Nutritionals Peak X is a great stim-free pre-workout. It provides endurance, strength, and pumps, and if you must have stims, simply add some caffeine to it and you'll have a well-rounded pre-workout. The profile is straight forward, and we would recommend this to just about anybody who is in the market for a swim-free pre-workout.


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.

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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.