The 5 Best Pre-Workout Supplements in 2021: Our Tested Reviews

Top Rated Pre-Workout Powders

By Ryan Bucki, ISSA-CFT
Updated on: October 3, 2022

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.

ATTENTION: Many of the “top 10 pre workouts” lists you find online are written by content writers with no in-gym or supplement experience.  These lists are written by content writers that are paid by the word count to write an article for a website trying to generate money.

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 pre-workout rankings 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.

The Best Rated Pre-Workout Supplements on the Market Today

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

Product Name



#1 Performax Labs Hypermax-3D

Performax Labs HyperMax-3D

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Overall Best Pre-Workout Supplement


  • 400mg Caffeine
  • 6g 3DPump
  • PEAs for focus, energy, and euphoria

Our #1 Rated

Fitness Informant Logo

9.1 out of 10

in the Pre-Workout Category

#2 Core Nutritionals Fury

core fury

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Best for Performance


  • 400mg Caffeine
  • 100mg Halostachine
  • 10mg Pregnenolone 
  • Our #2 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    9.0 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category

    morphogen nutrition

    #3 Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5

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    Best for Non-Stimulant


    • Non-Stim
    • Greta Nootropic Formula
    • Azazing Pumps

    Our #3 Rated

    Fitness Informant Logo

    8.9 out of 10

    in the Pre-Workout Category


    #4 Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5

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    Best for Energy


  • 630mg Caffeine
  • Great Nootropic Formula
  • Clinically Dosed Ergogenics

  • 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


    • 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-3D

    Performax Labs HyperMax-3D
    • Rating: 9.1 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Best Overall

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    • 250mg NeuroPEA
    • 400mg Caffeine Anhydrous
    • 2g Tyrosine
    • Powerful Focus
    • Greta Pump
    • Great Flavors


    • Mixability

    Performax Hypermax-3D is the #1 pre-workout for the year of 2021, and we have to say, we really fell in love with this one. Hypermax Extreme was a powerful pre-workout, however this formulation is a jump in the right direction.

    Hypermax-3D starts off with a brand new ingredient known as 3D-Pump, which is a blend of Citrulline, Glycerol, and Amla Extract. You get 6 grams of it in here, which is a good dose. You also get an additional 3 grams of Citrulline, so you're going to be getting a powerful pump in here. Of course, you also get clinical doses of Betaine Anhydrous and Beta-Alanine as well. To add to pumps, you get S7, which while on it's own isn't the greatest for pumps, however it may be a nice addition when combined with other ingredients. At 50mg, you are getting a clinical dose. 

    In true Performax fashion, you do get a strong nootropic and energy blend. You start off with Tyrosine at 2 grams which is a strong dose. One new interesdting ingredient is ThinFen, which is a source of Beta-PEAs. This will help with focus, energy, and euphoria. Of course you get Caffeine in here, and you get 400mg, which is on the stronger side. 

    Also in this blend, you get NeuroPEA, which is another source of PEAs, however this one is from Eria Jarensis. Following this you get Cocoabuterol, which is a source of Theobromine, which is structurally similar to Caffeine. Rounding this out you get Citrus Aurantium Extract and Alpha Yohimbine from Rauwolfia Vomitoria. Seriously, this is no joke of a stim/nootropic blend.

    Hypermax-3D delivers in all categories. Pumps are great, focus is AMAZING, and of course the energy is powerful. This is certainly a contender for pre-workout of the year for 2021. 

    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. They re simply a brand that does not get the respect that they deserve, and they can go head to head with many of the other top brands out there.

    What's In It?

    One serving (two-scoops) contains:

    • 6g 3DPUMP Breakthrough - Helps with pumps
    • 3.2g of Beta-Alanine  - Good for endurance
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - may increase power output
    • 50mg S7 - Helps with pumps
    • 2,000mg L-Tyrosine -  a well-researched amino acid with many benefits. May be good for fat loss, focus, and stress
    • 400mg ThinFen - source of PEAs, great for energy, focus, and euphoria
    • 400mg Caffeine Anhydrous - helps with energy 
    • 250mg  NeuroPEA - source of PEAs that help with energy, focus, and euphoria
    • 60mg Cocoabuterol® - a source of Theobromine and other antioxidants.
    • 2mg Rauwolfia Vomitoria - helps with fat loss and energy
    Performax Labs HyperMax-3D SFP

    Bottom Line:

    If you want a powerful pre-workout from an awesome brand, then Hypermax-3D is certainly one you need to try. It delivers in energy, focus, as well as pumps, something the last formula was lacking. With the new 3DPump, it is certainly going to deliver pumps as well as many other pre-workouts on the market.

    With the new and improved flavoring, as well as the new branding, expect to see a lot more people knowing of Performax Labs. 

    Read our full review here.

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    #2 Core Nutritionals Fury

    core fury
    • Rating: 9.0 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Performance

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    • Fully transparent label
    • 375mg Total Caffeine
    • 2g Tyrosine
    • 10mg Pregnenolone
    • Solid pumps, energy & focus


    • Mixability due to serving size

    Core Nutritionals Fury really hit the market hard this year. Not only did Core Nutritionals do some awesome rebranding, they made their already impressive product line even better. Core Fury is a great example of this, and is certainly in the talk for Pre-Workout of the Year for 2020.

    Fury has some of your standard pre-workout ingredients, such as 6 grams of L-Citrulline for pumps, 2.5 grams of Betaine Anhydrous for increased power output, and 2 grams of GlycerSize™ to aid in cellular hydration. Fury also contains VasoDrive-AP™ at 254mg, which is a very underutilized ingredient which may aid in pumps.

    It doesn't stop there, it also contains some impressive energy and focus ingredients as well. Of course Caffeine Anhydrous is the first one we have to note, which is at 375mg, putting Fury close to our preferred limit for Caffeine. However it also come with a great dose of Tyrosine. You get 2 grams of Tyrosine, which is a precursor to Dopamine. This is a great dose of Tyrosine and it should certainly aid in focus and mood. 

    They also include Citicholine, which is a source of Choline with a high bioavailability. Core also includes Halostachine, which provides PEAs, which will elevate your mood and increase energy/focus. Now the most interesting ingredient in here is the Pregnenolone. This is a "neurosteroid" that has been shown in some animal studies to aid in focus. To date, this is the first pre-workout that we know of to use this ingredient, and it's really cool to see Core use something different. 

    Overall it's a great pre-workout, and as far as overall top pre-workout, this could very well be #1. The taste is great, the focus is great, the profile is great... there is essentially nothing we can complain about when it comes to this pre-workout.

    Who Makes It?

    Core Nutritionals is a brand from Doug Miller. It has been around for a long time now, and has certainly stood the test of time. They are known for making some of the best formulas on the market and never seem to disappoint when it comes to new product or flavor launches. 

    What's In It?

    One serving (one scoop) contains:

    • 6g L-Citrulline - Converts to arginine to aid in nitric oxide production
    • 5g Creatine Monohydrate - A popular ingredient used to aid in overall power output
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - May increase power output
    • 2g GlycerSize™ - glycerol powder that allows muscles to absorb fluids
    • 2,000mg L-Tyrosine -  a well-researched amino acid with many benefits. May be good for fat loss, focus, and stress
    • 375mg Caffeine Anhydrous - Good for energy
    • 254mg VasoDrive-AP® - a derivative of Casein that may aid in pumps
    • 250mg Citicholine - Cognitive enhancing stimulant
    • 100mg Halostachine - Source of PEA
    • 20mg Huperzine A (1%) - May help with focus
    • 10mg Pregnenolone - a "neurosteroid" that may aid in focus
    Core FURY label

    Bottom Line:

    Core Nutritionals has certainly set a new standard here with the new Fury. Not only does the rebrand look cool, but the profile is simply top notch and we can't complain about anything. The addition of Pregnenolone makes it interesting, and the inclusion of high quality ingredients such as Citicholine and VasoDrive-AP make it well worth the money. This is a pre-workout that is staple worthy, and easily worth trying at least once. 

    Read our full review here.

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    #3 Morphogen Nutrition Volugen

    morphogen nutrition
    • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
    • Servings: 20
    • Best For: Stimulant Free

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    • 508mg VasoDrive-AP
    • 8g Citrulline
    • No Caffeine
    • Fully transparent label
    • 1.5g Nitrosigine®
    • Great Pumps


    • Taste
    • Not Widely Available

    Morphogen is a brand that really makes some of us supplement nerds giddy. With some of the most loaded formulas on the market, there is no way we couldn’t get our hands on at least one of their products. Well, after finally trying Volugen, there was no way we couldn’t add this to our list.  

    Volugen is a loaded stim-free pre-workout, that simply delivers. The profile starts off with 8 grams of L-Citrulline and 3 grams of GlycerSize™. Both can help with pumps but work through different pathways, and both are dosed great. Following this you get a clinical dose of Betaine Anhydrous at 2.5g, which can help with power output. 

    Morphogen decided to add some mushrooms to Volugen, in the form of PeakO2®, an ingredient from Compound Solutions. This blend of mushrooms can help with performance by increasing your VO2 Max, and at 2 grams, is at the clinical dose. Nitrosigine® is the next ingredient in Volugen, and it is a powerhouse. It is arginine-silicate with inositol, and has been shown to be more effective gram per gram at aiding with pumps than Citrulline. Of course, it is at the clinical dose.

    Next up comes our favorite form of Carnitine, which is Acetyl-L-Carnitine. ALCAR is a solid nootropic and can help with focus. At one gram, it is dosed well. Rhodiola is the next ingredient in Volugen, and is a popular adaptogen. It can help with focus under times of stress, and not only does Volugen use a solid dose, but they also have a great standardization of the actives in Rhodiola. 

    VasoDrive™ is the next ingredient, and it is known for being expensive. It is derived from Casein, and has solid research backing it. It can help with pumps and gets better the longer you use it. To our knowledge, Volugen is currently the only product that contains 508mg, which is the dose you really want, and you mostly see this at 254mg. Have to give credit where it’s due.

    The last two ingredients are L-Norvaline and Vaso6™. Norvaline is an amino acid that prevents Arginine from being broken down. At 250mg, it is dosed well. As for the Vaso6™, it is a specific extract derived from Green Tea which has been shown to increase nitric oxide and act as a vasorelaxant. 

    Overall, there is no way we cannot love this product, and although we have stated that the flavor could use some work, we can easily overlook that for the profile and effectiveness of the product. If you want a loaded product, this is the one you really want to go out of your way to try. Well worth trying at least once in your life.

    Who Makes It?

    Morphogen is a brand that is known for their loaded products with impressive profiles. While not widely available, this gives them the option to make some of the best formulated products on the market. With the owner being an industry veteran with plenty of experience and qualifications when it comes to formulations, Morphogen knows how to deliver loaded, yet fun products that are almost too goo for their own good sometimes. There is no Morphogen product that disappoints as far as we know. 

    What's In It?

    One serving (two-scoops) contains:

    • 8g Citrulline – clinically dosed Citrulline to help move blood into the muscles
    • 3g Hydromax - a newer form of Glycerol, allows muscle to retain water for repair and growth. Helps with pumps
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - good for power output
    • 2g PeakO2™ – blend of mushrooms that helps with endurance.
    • 1,500mg Nitrosigine – enhances body's NO production
    • 1g Acetyl-L-Carnitine – helps with focus
    • 680mg Rhodiola Resea – an adaptogen that can help with focus in times under stress
    • 508mg VasoDrive™ - a derivative of Casein that helps with pumps
    • 300mg Norvaline – inhibits the body from reaching a max NO production
    • 300mg Vaso6™ - an extract from Green Tea that acts as a vasorelaxant and aids with nitric oxide production
    • 250mg Norvaline – inhibits the body from reaching a max NO production

    Bottom Line:

    Morphogen Nutrition Volugen is certainly a pump product to be reckoned with. In our review (linked below), we had to ask ourselves, even with more pump ingredients... would anyone notice a better pump at the gym than this? Either way, Volugen deserves the spot on this list due to the loaded profile, insane pumps, and awesome performance benefits, and affordability. Seriously if you like pump products, Volugen is one you have to try for yourself. 

    Read our full review here.

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    #4 Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5

    • Rating: 8.9 out of 10
    • Servings: 40/20
    • Best For: Energy

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    • Effective dosage on ALL ingredients
    • 630mg of Caffeine!
    • Clinical doses on all ergogenic ingredients
    • Fully transparent label
    • Great energy & focus
    • Great pumps


    • Not for beginners
    • Taste

    Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5 is currently our #1 rated pre-workout for strength on another ranking guide, and this should be no surprise. To start this off, we have to say that THIS IS NOT A PRE-WORKOUT for everybody, and isn't even something we recommend using more than once or twice a week. This is for those with a high tolerance for Caffeine.

    Speaking of Caffeine, that is a huge reason why this product is so high on this list. Hooligan has made some noise and drawn some attention to themselves for using a whopping 630mg of total Caffeine per serving. This is more than double the average 300mg you see these days, and certainly makes for an experience... even to those that are experienced with stimulants. Hooligan provides a powerful boost in energy that is strong, yet somehow clean, with no crash due to the time-released Caffeine as well. It is a formula that doesn't need any sketchy ingredients to create a powerful boost.

    Hooligan V5 makes this list for more than just the Caffeine content though. The profile is simply LOADED! From the 7 grams of Citrulline, to the clinical doses of Betaine Anhydrous and Beta-Alanine, Apollon did not skimp out on the ergogenic ingredients. Also, Hooligan doesn't rely on Caffeine for everything, you also get a great dose of Tyrosine, which is a great nootropic ingredient, as well as a clinical dose of Alpha GPC at 600mg. Really, there is more, so check out the ingredient list below, and be sure to check out the review.

    This is certainly a product that impresses without going the down sketch street, and even if the Caffeine was dosed in half, it would be on of the top pre-workouts on the market, simply due to the profile being loaded.

    Again though, yes this is the strongest on the list, and there is a good reason for that. So with that said, this is not a pre-workout for everybody, and if you do have the tolerance for Hooligan like we do, use it sparingly! 

    Who Makes It?

    Apollon Nutrition is a hardcore supplement line that isn't afraid to go places other brands haven't. Not only are they hardcore, they know how to make great products and care about providing clinical doses of ingredients. Certainly not a brand for beginners, however seasoned veterans and supplement nerds will certainly be impressed with what they do.

    What's In It?

    One serving (one-scoop) contains:

    • 7g L-Citrulline - Converts to arginine to aid in nitric oxide productio
    • 3.5Beta-Alanine - Increases endurance
    • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - May increase power output
    • 1,000mg L-Tyrosine -  a well-researched amino acid with many benefits. May be good for fat loss, focus, and stress
    • 1.5g Agmatine Sulfate - Metabolite of Arginine which may aid in pumps
    • 1000mg Lion's Mane - Mushroom that helps with brain function and health
    • 600mg Alpha GPC - Source of Choline that helps with focus and has a high bioavailability 
    • 450Caffeine Anhydrous - Helps with energy
    • 300mg Theobromine - Helps with energy without increasing blood pressure
    • 250mg Pink Himalayan Sea Salt - Source of trace minerals and helps with hydration
    • 200mg Rhodiola Rosea - Adaptogen that helps with energy and stress
    • 200mg Di-Caffeine Malate - Time-released Caffeine
    • 150mg ElevATP - May help with ATP production
    • 50mg AstraGin® - Helps with absorption

    Bottom Line:

    There should not be any list of strong pre-workouts which don’t include Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5. The formula gets it right in the aspects that we all look for, those being ENERGY, strength, endurance, and focus. 

    If you really want to go with one of the strongest pre-workouts out there. Apollon Nutrition Hooligan V5 may be for you. We do have to warn you though... it is not a pre-workout for everyone, and it is only for those who have a high-tolerance for Caffeine and know their limits. Certainly a pre-workout that you use once a week or so when you are feeling frisky.

    Read the in-depth full review here.

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    #5 NutraBio PRE Extreme

    PRE-Extreme Bottle
    • Rating: 8.8 out of 10
    • Servings: 20
    • Best For: Comprehensive Ingredient Profile

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    • 15g HBCD pre-load carbs for energy and pumps
    • 350mg Caffeine (two forms) for sustained energy
    • Focus and stimulant matrix
    • Good flavor selection
    • 100% transparent label


    • If limited carbohydrate in your macros, the 15g here may be too much
    • Over 44g serving size makes it one of the biggest in the industry

    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.

    Who Makes It?

    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.

    What's In It?

    One serving contains:

  • 3g PharmaPure™ Creatine Monohydrate - may increase strength and endurance in the gym
  • 500mg Creatine MagnaPower
  • 15g HBCD (Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin) - a fast acting carb source that is easy on the stomach and does not spike insulin
  • 3.5g L-Leucine - BCAA that may aid in recovery
  • 3.2g Beta-Alanine - buffers lactic acid and may increase endurance
  • 2.5g Betaine Anhydrous - may increase power output
  • 1.5g Malic Acid - has a variety of benefits and may aid in the absorption of creatine
  • 6g of L-Citrulline - converts to Arginine which can increase pumps in the gym
  • 1Agmatine Sulfate - metabolite of Arginine which can aid in pumps
  • 750mg Nitrosigine - a bonded form of Arginine that aids in pumps
  • 1.5g L-Tyrosine - a well-researched amino acid with many benefits. May be good for fat loss, focus, and stress
  • 500mg Choline Bitartrate - a form of choline which may aid in focus
  • 350mg Caffeine Anhydrous/Infinergy - two forms of caffeine, one being fast acting and the other being a buffered form which will make the energy last longer
  • 300mg TheaPure - patented form of L-Theanine. May aid in cognition and can prevent people sensitive to stimulants from getting the “jitters”
  • 50mg N-Methyl Tyramine - helps regulate blood pressure
  • 50mg Hordenine HCl - may aid in energy  
  • 4mg Yohimbine HCl - increases adrenaline in the body and may help in fat burning
  • 2g of Taurine - may help with power output and blood flow
  • 100mcg Huperzine A - helps with focus
  • 525mg Calcium Potassium Phosphate Citrate - electrolytes, good for cramping
  • 189mg Sodium Phosphate - electrolytes, good for cramping
  • Pre Extreme Label

    Bottom Line:

    NutraBio PRE Extreme is one of the most comprehensive formulas on the market today. With 15g of carbs pre-workout and the actives, you have the largest serving size we've seen on a pre equalling over 44g. This pre-workout is NOT messing around. It is safe, effective and has the highest quality ingredients used. If you want something that is for the advanced user, NutraBio PRE Extreme is the choice for you.

    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 To Look For in a Pre-Workout?

    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 thermogenic 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.

    Pre Workout Supps for Men

    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.

    Pre-Workouts for Women

    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!)

    Pre-workouts for 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.

    Taking a Pre Workout for the Energy Benefit

    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:

    • Caffeine: caffeine does come in various forms, the most popular is Caffeine Anhydrous. Other forms include Infinergy a.k.a. Di-Caffeine Malate and Caffeine Citrate. You may see some company’s utilize a combination of the three. They do this to provide instant energy (Caffeine Anhydrous) and then provide slow-acting energy as you workout (Di-Caffeine Malate). There are no clinical dosages on stimulants, but you will typically see caffeine dosed around 200-350mg per serving. A black cup of coffee contains 90mg of caffeine.
    • TeaCrine: this is very similar to caffeine but does have some major differences. It is similar in that it’s energy boosting effects similar to caffeine without the jitters, the crash and the habituation that often accompanies caffeine. Typical dosage of TeaCrine 100mg-150mg.
    • DMAA: also known as 1,3-Dimethylamylamine is best described as caffeine on steroids. DMAA, as of 2017, has been banned by the FDA. Typical dosages of DMAA were anywhere from 50mg-100mg.
    • DMHA: also known as 2-Aminoisoheptane is the second-coming of DMAA. This is still legal in the US. It is not as strong as DMAA so you will typically find dosages around 125mg-200mg.
    • Eria Jarensis: this stimulant is also very similar to DMAA and Ephedra. You will find this coupled with DMHA and caffeine in a lot of pre-workouts to provide a huge rush of energy. Typical dosage of this is 150mg-250mg.

    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.

    Pre-Workout Supplements for Strength & Muscle Gains

    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:

    • Beta-Alanine: known as the “tingly” ingredient in which it is the one ingredient in your pre-workout that will give you that itchy/tingly feeling that people either love or hate. However, Beta-Alanine has a strength output benefit. When dosed properly it has been shown to increase strength. Effective dosage of Beta Alanine is 3.2g.
    • Betaine Anhydrous: this has been shown to improve power output and strength gains. Effective dosage of Betaine is 2.5g.
    • Taurine: this is found in many pre-workouts and has been proven to help contribute to overall strength output and gains. Effective dosages of Taurine is between 500mg and 2000mg. Typically you will find this around 1g in pre-workouts.
    • Creatine: there are many forms of creatine that you find in your pre-workouts. Creatine is one of the most proven ingredients on the market shown to increase your strength. Effective dosage of creatine varies on the type, but 5g of Creatine Monohydrate and 2g of Creatine HCL. However, some may want a creatine-free preworkout.

    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.

    Pre-Workout Supplements for Increased Focus

    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:

    • L-Tyrosine: an amino acid known for producing an anti-stress effect helps calm you and focus on the task at-hand…the gym and crushing your workout. The most effective dosages of L-Tyrosine are 500-2,000mg. You will typically find this dosed around 1,000mg.
    • L-Theanine: yet another amino acid known for it’s relaxation effects. Theanine is found in a lot of pre-workouts along with L-Tyrosine to provide the relaxation needed to crush your workout. Studies show 100-200mg, along side caffeine, tends to be the most effective.
    • Choline: this is a molecule known for it’s cognitive enhancing abilities. It is gaining more popularity in the pre-workout market. You can find this in various forms, but they all contribute to improving cognition. Dosages should be 200-500mg.
    • Mucuna Pruriens: this is a bean that provides a good source of L-DOPA. This helps clear the mind and acts as an anti-stressor. Typical dosage will vary.
    • Huperzine-A: this is a cognitive enhancer that fights against cognitive decline. This is gaining more popularity in the pre-workout market. Recommended dosage is 50-200mcg.
    • Nootropics: this is the biggest buzz word in the world of Silicon Valley and the bodybuilding community. More and more companies are incorporating nootropics into their pre-workouts. Examples include Alpha-GPC and Noopept, along with many more. These are awesome enhancements that only help your workout.

    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.

    Pre-Workout Supplements for Pump

    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:

    • L-Citrulline: this might be the most popular pump ingredient found in pre-workouts. There are various forms of L-Citrulline but they all work the same way to contribute to an increased pump. Clinical dosages of L-Citrulline is 3-5g.
    • Agmatine Sulfate: this ingredient serves two functions, one is to increase NO production in the body, and the other is to “mask” pain. You want this so you can bang out one more rep, even if it hurts. Agmatine dosage varies but you will typically find this around 1g.
    • HydroMax/GlycerSize (Glycerol Powder): this powder increases the concentration of fluids in your muscles. More and more pre-workout powders are using Glycerol Powder a.k.a. HydroMax as part of their pump enhancing complex. Dosage will vary as there is not a clinical dosage at this time.
    • Nitrosigine: this is being used more to improve pumps and vascularity. Dosages of 750mg-1,500mg have been seen. In some pump products, this can be as high as 2,000mg.

    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.

    Pre-Workout Supplements for Endurance Athletes

    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:

    • Caffeine: this is an energy ingredient, but it also works with your central nervous system to provide cognitive benefits and increased endurance. For an endurance athlete, you do not need 200+mg dosage. A dosage of 150mg would suffice. Many times there are other forms of caffeine meant to last longer than Caffeine Anhydrous.
    • Beta-Alanine: didn’t we say this was for strength gains? Yes we did, but it has also been show to improve endurance. Dosage should be at 3.2g.
    • Taurine: another ingredient we mentioned under strength ingredients, but it also contributes to overall improved endurance. You would want to supplement with 500-2,000mg of Taurine to be effective.
    • ElevATP: this is a newer ingredient with a lot of science behind it, that has been proven to enhance mitochondrial ATP production (which is what our body uses for energy). There is not a standard dosage for this, but look for it to be around 200mg.
    • Peak O2: another unique, newer ingredient proven to enhance endurance. Peak O2 fights damage from oxidative stress in the body, helping athletes train longer, recover faster and leading to more oxygen uptake. No standard dosage exists but look for this to be 500-1,000mg.

    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.

    Great Tasting Pre-Workout Supplements

    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.

    Stimulant vs Non-Stimulant Pre Workouts

    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 a stimulant-free pre-workout, 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.

    This completes our pre-workout supplement rankings for the year 2018. The products listed above earned the right to be in 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. Thoughts? Comment below!

    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 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.

    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.