Pre-workout supplements are designed to give you a boost in performance prior to your exercise. Basically, their purpose is in the generalized term “pre-workout”. Pre-workout supplements ren’t like normal supplements that primarily promote muscle growth and protein synthesis.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s in Pre-Workout?
- 2 Do You Need Pre-Workout?
What’s in Pre-Workout?
The following are the most common ingredients seen in pre-workout formulas.
- A non-essential nutrient (your body already makes) and acts as an energy reserve for your body.
- Commonly thought of as a psychoactive stimulant that doesn’t necessarily help your mind so much as it puts your mind in the right state.
- A chemical that enhances muscle strength, but doesn’t necessarily promote its growth.
- Another type of amino acid that promotes bodily function through the nervous system and blood flow.
There is a wide variety of pre-workouts on the market by different companies and brands. No two of them are exactly the same but you’re likely to get the same results with any supplement–an influx of energy most would liken to an intensive sugar rush.
Like we mentioned before, pre-workout supplements are designed to get your mind and body to the right focus and energy level to conduct your intensive workouts. They may not be direct contributors to muscle growth, but they’re going to get you started on the path towards it.
The following pre-workouts are among the best and most popular on the market:
Cellucor’s C4 brand is one of the most popular pre-work supplements on the market. It combines caffeine, creatine, CarnoSyn beta-alanine, TeaCrine, and arginine for an explosive mixture. Each of these ingredients combines to give you muscle endurance, focus, and overall energy.
C4 Original comes in a variety of flavors, but keep in mind that some of them will have different levels of caffeine, creatine, etc. Different levels will mean different prices, so make sure you’re choosing the correct tub with the ideal diversion of ingredients.
Approximate cost per serving (60 servings)-($1.66)
BSN is another widely popular brand of supplements that is also featured on our best protein powder’s guide. Their Endorush pre-workout mixture is equally as popular and contains caffeine, creatine monohydrate, creatine nitrate, and beta-alanine.
The 390g tub is the largest of the available selections but comes in a couple of different flavors. For customers looking to get a primarily creatine fueled boost to their workout, Endorush has proven to be the ideal mixture.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)-($1.33)
ENGN by Evlution Nutrition supplies the usual ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine. However, we imagine that ENGN’s inclusion of smaller, lesser-known components such as L-Tyrosine (an amino acid), and Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine (a natural compound for brain activity).
Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine may be a bit of a tongue twister, but most pre-workouts like ENGN have specially included elements to maximize efficiency in the parts of your brain that control focus.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)-($.62)
Another supplement by Evlution Nutrition is Pump Mode that uses a couple of different compounds in its formula. It includes betaine nitrate (metabolizes in Nitric Oxide), hydromax (a form of glycerol), and Vitamins C and D.
Those are all some fancy words, so what do they all do? Nitric Oxide is involved in the flow of oxygen in your flood, which keeps your endurance up. Hydromax Glycerol is a compound that prevents dehydration during exercise. Overall, Pump Mode is more of an endurance mixture designed for certain types of workouts involving pumps and lifts.
You can learn more about Hydromax Glycerol here.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)-($.63)
Vintage Blast by Old School Labs is one of the most popular pre-workout supplements we’ve seen thus far. With a nearly perfect 4.5/5 star rating, we imagine that the simplicity behind Vintage Blast is the reason behind its success.
Vintage Blast prides itself on being a “two-stage” mixture. Instead of kicking in soon after consumption and lasting for a given amount of time, Vintage Blast works slowly to fuel longer workouts and prevent a hard crash. It is also tasteless, gluten-free, and GMO-free. In the end, you’re getting a relatively pure pre-workout mixture.
Approximate cost per serving (20 servings)-($1.99)
The Key ingredients of Stimulant-1 are Eria Jarensis, TeaCrine, and Cymbidium Goeringii. Those are some complicated and rare names, so let’s explore them. Eria Jarensis is a stimulant linked to the increase in Dopamine (that feel-good sensation). TeaCrine is another stimulant that reduces stress without lowering blood pressure or affecting vital areas of your body. Cymbidium Goeringii is derived from a herb of the same name to that increases the energy level in cells and overcome stress.
As you can see, T6 isn’t simply a hyperactive boost to your energy level. The ingredients combine to keep your body focused and on task for as long as possible while relieving perhaps the biggest hurdle in exercise: stress.
Approximate cost per serving (25 servings)-($1.40)
Nitrosurge combines a lot of the energy boosting ingredients like Beta Alanine, Caffeine for a potent mix. Nitrosurge is designed to push you beyond your normal limits. Other elements include L-Citrulline, Betaine Anhydrous that are involved with energy increase and retention over time.
For a 240g tub, Nitrosurge provides a lot of energy-boosting material for a moderate price. We’d say it’s even on par with C4.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)-($.79)
One of the most popular brands on the market is Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy. This version comes in a multitude of flavors and a couple of different sizes for your convenience. Amino Energy’s caffeine recipe comes from either green tea or coffee beans, which is more natural and pure form of caffeine.
The cheapest and most popular version is the 30 serving size that features 5g of free-form amino acids in each scoop. You’ll be getting the energy you need to conduct those tougher lifts or recover afterward.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)-($.60)
Genius is probably the most different than any pre-workout on our list because it contains zero caffeine. This mix uses L-Citrulline, EleATP, and L-Arginine, which are key to energy boosts in cells without the other additives that come with flavors or artificial compounds.
Judging by its nearly perfect rating, we can safely say that Genius’ formula is making customers happy. Its complex blend does make it a bit pricey compared to other mixtures, but you’ll also be getting a whopping 17g of Genius per 2 scoops.
Approximate cost per serving (20 servings)- ($1.90)
Alpha Gx7’s primary ingredient is beta-alanine, which is a huge plus in our book because the amount of caffeine in some pre-workouts can be downright worrying. Beta-alanine’s job as an important amino acid is to preserve muscle growth over time, not just make your body jittery.
This pre-work is on the more expensive side but comes in a couple of different flavors that dissolve just as easily in water, coffee, or milk as any other pre-workout mix.
Approximate cost per serving (30 servings)- ($1.00)
Do You Need Pre-Workout?
You don’t absolutely need pre-workout in order to conduct your heavy lifts. However, if you plan for days that you are going to be particularly tough, pre-workout can provide the energy mentally and physically to see you through the exercise.
You might be noticing that not all of these chemicals and amino acids specifically say “promote muscle growth”. While the amino acids definitely contribute to muscle growth, a pre-workout’s purpose is not to promote muscle growth but push your body and mind over their respective hurdles and limits.
For example: If you’re looking to up the weight on a squat, deadlift, or bench press that you know you’ve been having trouble with, taking pre-workout can provide your brain and body with the energy to overcome the excess weight.
- You should look to increase weight and resistance in levels, instead of jump huge distances. Trying to lift, push, and pull too much initially will lead to injury.
Remember: Your body can become adjusted to certain exercises and weights. Increasing resistance and weight as you become stronger will lead to the best results over time.