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We know your home gym is filled with the best home gym equipment on the market, and you’re working to get stronger, faster, and better. Nutritional supplementation could help. Pre-workout supplements are multi-ingredient products designed to boost energy and improve exercise performance1.

Choosing the right pre-workout can be overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up the 18 best pre-workouts on the market based on our in-depth, multi-point testing methodology. We specifically rate and personally test products for factors such as the following:

  • Formulation: Does it have scientifically-backed ingredients and dosages?
  • Third-party tested: Can we trust that the label is accurate?
  • Taste: Is it drinkable, and are there multiple flavor options?
  • Price per serving: Does it fall in line with the market average, or are you paying too much?
  • Solubility: Does it mix well with the recommended amount of liquid?

On staff, we have certified personal trainers, certified nutrition coaches, USA Weightlifting coaches, and elite-level athletes who personally tested more than 50 pre-workouts. They detailed their hands-on experiences with each product, and I used my Ph.D. in exercise physiology to assess which pre-workouts contain research-backed ingredients, are effective, and are worth your money.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider

Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2023

Editor’s Choice: Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout

Good for: Those looking for extra focus and energy in their workout

Editor's Choice

Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 3.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Includes beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Priced around $3/serving; subscribe-and-save option available
  • 2 flavors currently available

Pros & Cons


  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Tiger's Blood flavor tastes great
  • Includes 225 mg of ashwagandha extract
  • Contains beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Subscribe-and-save option is available


  • Only 2 flavors available, and Yuzu Peach isn't popular among our product testers
  • $3/serving is expensive
  • Key ingredients like citrulline and beta-alanine are under-dosed

Bottom Line

Onnit's Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout is a unique blend of ingredients that our testers enjoyed for workouts where they wanted to be focused and energized. It only comes in two flavors; the Tiger's Blood flavor is our preferred choice.

Newly released, Onnit’s Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout took us by a bit of a surprise. It has stolen our nod for Editor’s Choice, because two of our product testers (USA Weightlifting coaches and certified personal trainers) found it highly beneficial before their workouts, rating it a 4 out of 5 for its positive effects. 

We got our hands on the only two flavors this pre-workout comes in: Yuzu Peach and Tiger’s Blood. Four people on GGR Head of Content Kate Meier’s weightlifting team tested Alpha BRAIN for multiple workouts. Every single person commented on their increased focus and energy going into the workout.

“I felt incredibly clear and prepared for my lifting session,” says Jacob Penner, USAW-L2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting. “While I didn’t get the tingles like I do with other pre-workouts, I definitely still got a pump.”

Man testing Onnit Alpha BRAIN pre-workout

At first glance, the formulation is clearly unique.

Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout has some of the common ingredients you’ll find in most of these supplements, earning an overall 4 out of 5 for its formulation. It has 200 milligrams of caffeine, but is under-dosed in both beta-alanine (2.4 grams) and l-citrulline (2.4 grams), according to clinically-backed recommended dosages. The formula is also missing betaine anhydrous, which is well-studied for its beneficial effects on muscular power and work capacity, as well as creatine, the most-researched sports supplement that has proven beneficial effects on increased exercise performance and muscle mass.

However, a noticeable addition is ashwagandha, an herb known for its calming effects.

“Alpha BRAIN does contain some novel ingredients like NooGandha which is a patented form of Ashwagandha, a nootropic that recent research2 has shown to have benefits to athletic performance,” says Destini Moody, registered dietitan. 

RELATED: The Best Ashwagandha Supplements

Woman Drinking Alpha Brain Pre Workout

Alpha BRAIN also contains Dynamine, which acts as an enhancement to caffeine by increasing alertness and energy levels. “Be careful, though; Onnit warns that if you decide to take this supplement, you should not do it in combination with any other foods, drinks or supplements that contain more than 50 milligrams of caffeine,” Destini says.

As far as taste goes, be warned: None of our testers enjoyed Yuzu Peach, calling it bitter (“I couldn’t even finish mine,” Kate says). However, Tiger’s Blood got our stamp of approval, bringing a much more enjoyable blend of coconut, watermelon, and strawberry flavors. Overall, we rated this a 4 out of 5 for taste.

This pre-workout is more expensive than most, ringing in at $3 a serving. However, Onnit offers a subscribe-and-save option.

Price per serving$3
Key ingredientsCaffeine, L-citrulline, beta-alanine, ashwagandha, African palm oil
FlavorsTiger’s Blood, Yuzu Peach

Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs BULK

Good for: Anyone looking for a product to support testosterone levels and to promote increased muscle growth

Best Pre-Workout Overall

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to help support muscle gain 
  • 20 grams of research-based active ingredients per serving 
  • 8 flavor variations are available

Pros & Cons


  • Transparent ingredient list
  • No artificial sweetener or color
  • Moderate dose of caffeine
  • 8 flavor options
  • 60-day money-back assurance


  • No creatine
  • Some users report it tastes bad

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ BULK supplement is attractive to those whose primary focus is split between potential muscle gain and a pre-workout pump. While the taste is questionable, the product works well for most users.

As the name would suggest, BULK pre-workout is marketed to individuals who are looking to bulk up and gain muscle mass—but it should work for anyone, regardless of their fitness goals. It’s got an impressive line-up of ingredients, transparent labeling, and is free from artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and gluten. 

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and certified nutrition coach, tried the Blue Raspberry flavor of BULK.

“It was tasty, and it mixed well,” she says, rating it a perfect 5-out-of-5 for both taste and solubility. “I experienced significant tingling and only took half a serving, so there’s something to be said of that mega dose of beta-alanine.”

Each serving contains 8 grams of citrulline malate, a staple in most pre-workouts these days as it can improve strength, aerobic performance, and ease temporary muscle soreness following intense exercise, according to a 2021 metanalysis3. Kudos to Transparent Labs for including the research-backed dose of this ingredient.

Next on the list is beta-alanine, which BULK has a whopping 4 grams per serving. Although that’s the recommended dose to take in a day to support improvements in muscular endurance4, it’s a hefty serving to take all at once. Just be aware you may be experiencing some tingles in your face and hands due to a condition called paresthesia.

Like other Transparent Labs products, BULK contains a blend of caffeine and L-Theanine—a combination shown to promote increased energy and reaction time5. Add in the L-Tyrosine6 and Alpha GPC7 and you’ve got yourself a nice little cocktail to support increased mental focus.

One important callout is that this pre-workout has 180 milligrams of caffeine, which is on the lower side compared to other pre-workouts. “Despite the lower caffeine content, I feel energized without jitters, and the focus it provides is like putting horse blinders on your brain and the only thing you can see are the weights,” says GGR performance editor and certified personal trainer Anthony O’Reilly. “The pump is also filthier than a pig rolling in mud.”

transparent labs bulk product bottle by plant on table

Besides the omission of creatine, the most researched supplement known to increase muscle strength and size8, there aren’t too many cons with this product. Based on reviews, the flavor appears to be less than desirable to many reviewers (but we liked it), and the 4 grams of BCAAs add nothing but “bulk” (no pun intended) to the product. 

But overall, this is a product that contains research-backed ingredients to enhance strength, stamina, focus, and energy, and could be suitable for bodybuilders or those just looking to pack on muscle.

Anthony has one warning: “The scoop is huge, bigger than most other pre-workouts.”

Want to learn more? Check out our Transparent Labs BULK Pre-workout review.

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCitrulline-malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsWatermelon, Sour Grape, Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Lemon Lime

Best Pre-Workout for Men: XWERKS Ignite

Good for: Men looking for a quality pre-workout to help increase muscle strength and size

Best Pre-Workout For Men

Xwerks Ignite Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Designed to provide sustainable energy without the crash
  • Uses a blend of caffeine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, rhodiola rosea, DMAE, L-tyrosine, carnosyn beta-alanine, L-citrulline malate, as well as calcium and magnesium lactate.
  • Xwerks claims that this product increases muscle growth and repair, enhances focus, and expands muscular endurance and work capacity
  • Available in 4 flavors

Pros & Cons


  • Natural ingredients
  • Less caffeine than other pre-workout supplements on the market
  • No crash
  • Great-tasting


  • Expensive
  • May make you feel jittery or experience other side effects like headaches or digestive problems

Bottom Line

Xwerks Ignite is an all natural pre-workout supplement with both energy-boosting and focus-enhancing ingredients. It may be a good choice for those who want a clean and effective product with a dose of vitamins.

For what it’s worth, men and women don’t really have different needs when it comes to pre-workout. We do like XWERKS Ignite because is a naturally and artificially sweetened pre-workout chock full of ingredients shown to support increased performance and focus during workouts, which can benefit men (and anyone else who takes it). We also had both men and women test this product, and everyone agrees that it works well.

Nicole Davis, a GGR editor and precision nutrition coach who personally tried more than a dozen pre-workouts, used Ignite a few times prior to her workouts.

“Of all the pre-workouts I tried, this one gave me the best energy boost and helped with my focus, but I did experience tingling,” she says, giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 for its effects.

What I love most about this product is its combination of nootropics to support brain function and focus. If you’re What I love most about this product is its combination of nootropics to support brain function and focus9. If you’re new to the world of nootropics, they are a group of ingredients known as “cognitive enhancers,” which claim to promote increased mental alertness, as well as boost energy levels. Ignite’s formula contains Rhodiola Rosea10, DMAE Bitartrate11, caffeine12, and L-Tyrosine6—all scientifically backed ingredients that can aid in memory and concentration, while easing minor daily stress.

xwerks ignite preworkout

Ignite also contains beta-alanine, which can enhance muscular endurance and help regulate muscular pH.3 The 1.5-gram dose is half the recommended daily dose; however, if taken regularly, you may still see a benefit.

The 150-milligram dose of caffeine may be a little low for habitual caffeine users; however, it’s the perfect starting point for anyone new or sensitive to the effects of caffeine. 

Ignite does contain sucralose (an artificial sweetener). This isn’t much of a dealbreaker for me, as I’d prefer to drink a pre-workout that doesn’t taste like grass. However, if you’re on the lookout for a product free from anything artificial, you’ll want to steer clear of this one.

“This powder is very soluble,” Nicole notes, giving it a perfect score on that rating, “but I did think the Watermelon flavor was pretty artificial-tasting and too sweet for my liking.”

RELATED: Best Pre-workout for Men

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, citrulline malate, Rhodiola Rosea, DMAE Bitartrate
FlavorsGreen Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon

Best Pre-Workout for Women: Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

Good for: People looking for a 100% nature-based pre-workout that delivers a hefty dose of caffeine   

Best Pre-Workout for Women

Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 100% nature-based
  • Free from added sugar, food dyes, and other chemicals
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available

Pros & Cons


  • All natural ingredients
  • Free from dye and chemicals
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Intended to avoid the dreaded crash
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available


  • Natural sweeteners make for a different taste—it may not be your cup of tea
  • Only 21 servings per tub

Bottom Line

Formulated with all-natural ingredients, each of which are present at a high level, Pulse is a fan-favorite. If you’re trying to avoid artificial flavors and chemicals, this may be a good choice.

When it comes to pre-workout, women don’t actually need something different from men. We had men and women test the Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout. It has been specifically designed to boost energy levels, support increased strength and endurance, and help reduce fatigue. The reason it’s so effective is because each ingredient is backed by scientific research and dosed at research-backed levels. We rated this high in terms of effects, giving it a 4 out of 5.

Jacob Penner, USA Weightlifting L-2 coach, has used Legion Pulse before more than two dozen workouts. He has personally tried roughly 50 pre-workouts himself, and says this is one of his favorites. “This blend has a 1:1 ratio of l-theanine to caffeine, so you get a really balanced experience,” he says. “If you set aside all of the high-stim pre-workouts, this is probably one of my favorites because every time I use it, I feel energized but not over-stimulated.”


Pulse contains 8 grams of citrulline malate, which is the exact dose used in research studies showing improvements in muscular endurance and strength performance in both men and women3. Each serving also has 3.6 grams of beta-alanine, which is the recommended daily dose to lead to support improvements in muscular endurance and reduce fatigue during high-intensity exercise4.

If you’ve never taken beta-alanine before, just be aware that it can cause paresthesia—a harmless prickling sensation usually felt in the hands, arms, or legs. This typically only happens the first week or so taking beta-alanine.

We can’t talk about Pulse without mentioning the 350 milligrams of caffeine (for two scoops)! It’s a hefty dose that will surely give you enough energy to fuel your workouts12. This dose can be overwhelming to those who are sensitive to caffeine, but you can always just take half. To help prevent a potential energy crash post-workout, there’s 350mg of L-theanine, which can help ease some of the effects associated with caffeine use5.

Jacob and GGR editor Nicole Davis both really like the taste. Nicole, a precision nutrition coach, gave Blue Raspberry a 4 out of 5, saying, “While it mixes well, it does have a bitter taste and an unpleasant aftertaste.”

Jacob, however, tried the Peach Ring flavor, and he says the taste is a 5 out of 5: “I would drink it just for the taste.”

The only downside: Each serving is two scoops and there’s only 21 servings in a bottle—meaning if you take pre-workout every day you’ll run through this product pretty quickly. Regardless, I’m giving Pulse an A+.

For more, check out our Legion Pulse pre-workout review .

Price per serving$1.71
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsFruit Punch, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Tropical Punch

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss: Transparent Labs LEAN

Good for: Individuals looking to support fat burning while maintaining muscle mass

Best Pre-Workout For Weight Loss

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated for those looking to lose weight but maintain muscle mass
  • 14 grams of evidence-based ingredients
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened with Stevia
  • Available in 9 different flavors
  • Backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee

Pros & Cons


  • Includes vitamins/micronutrients to support thyroid production
  • High levels of citrulline to increase oxygen delivery to muscles
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No artificial colors
  • 60-day money-back guarantee


  • Bitter and unpleasant taste for some consumers
  • Several reports of receiving wrong item

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ LEAN pre-workout supplement promises to deliver better endurance, power, alertness, and focus. The fat loss component is less of a guarantee with few reports of an actual change in body composition.

LEAN pre-workout is a supplement designed for individuals who want to lose body fat (as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan) and maintain muscle mass. The product’s biggest selling point is that it contains key vitamins and minerals to help maintain healthy thyroid function and support weight loss.  

Jacob Penner, USA Weightlifting L-2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting, has used LEAN before several weightlifting workouts. “This is a fine pre-workout if you want something that isn’t over-stimulating,” he says. “In fact, I typically use more than one scoop to get a bigger boost in energy.”

LEAN contains both iodine13 and zinc14, which can be beneficial for supporting thyroid function, as well as selenium15, which is required by the thyroid for antioxidant function and metabolism of hormones. While these ingredients are safe to use, the benefits are usually only seen in individuals who are deficient in them. The verdict is still out there on whether or not they can aid in weight loss for otherwise healthy adults. 

Scooping TL Lean into bottle

At 180 milligrams of caffeine per serving in LEAN, you’ll get a decent boost in energy and focus support12. This product also contains L-theanine, which when combined with caffeine, can provide a synergistic effect in promoting cognition and attention5.  

The recommended dose of beta-alanine is 3 grams a day, so at only 2 grams per serving, LEAN is hitting just under the mark. However, there are 6 grams of citrulline malate per serving, which is the research-backed dose shown to help reduce fatigue and support improved performance in the gym2.

At about $1.65 per scoop, it’s in the mid to upper range of price. That being said, you are getting a quality product free from artificial sweeteners and colors, so you may find the price is worth it. Plus, with almost 10 flavors to choose from, including Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, and Green Apple, you’ll have a nice variety available.

TL Lean label

Nicole Davis, GGR editor and a certified personal trainer, tried the Tropical Punch Flavor, rating it a 5 out of 5.

“It was slightly bitter and not too sweet—an okay combination,” she says. “It didn’t dissolve completely, but that didn’t affect the experience in my opinion. I didn’t notice any jitters, and just a bit of tingling.”

This is a solid pre-workout for beginners or for someone who doesn’t want a ton of caffeine in their supplement. I wouldn’t purchase this product solely for its fat loss support claims, however it can certainly be added to a balanced diet and regular exercise to enhance its effects.

Price per serving$1.66
Key ingredientsCitrulline-malate, beta-alanine, caffeine
FlavorsWatermelon, Sour Grape, Green Apple, Orange, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Lemon Lime, Sour Peach

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners: Jacked Factory Nitrosurge  

Good for: Individuals looking for a beginner-friendly pre-workout to enhance energy and support focus in the gym

Best Pre-Workout For Beginners

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout Powder

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan pre-workout 
  • 180 mg of caffeine per scoop 
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility

Pros & Cons


  • Available in multiple sizes: 30 or 60 servings
  • Subscribe and save 15%
  • Available in 11 flavors
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility
  • Vegan
  • Affordable at under $1 per serving (1 scoop serving)


  • Mixed reviews on taste
  • Mixed reviews on effectiveness
  • Contains sucralose

Bottom Line

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout is a generally positively reviewed pre-workout with 180 milligrams of caffeine and a large variety of flavor options.

Our expert product testers agreed Jacked Factory Nitrosurge is the best pre-workout for beginners because it gives you the option to use one or two scoops with clear labeling of dosages for both options. The one-scoop option, which we recommend for beginners, provides enough energy to help you power through your workouts without overloading you with pre-workout ingredients that rookies sometimes struggle with, such as beta-alanine (the face itch is no joke).

“I like that you still get 180 milligrams of caffeine with this so you get the energy, but without all the other effects,” says GGR Head of Content Kate Meier, who tested Nitrosurge along with members of her weightlifting team, giving it a 4 out of 5 for its effects on energy and focus. “If you do half a scoop of other pre-workouts, you don’t get all that caffeine.”

jacked factory nitrosurge

The 180 milligrams of caffeine is about what you’d get in two 8-ounce cups of coffee.

One of Kate’s weightlifting teammates tried a two-scoop portion and said he got a boost from it, though it was “mild” compared to stronger pre-workouts.

Kate and her team tried the Strawberry Margarita flavor of Nitrosurge, giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 for taste. Kate calls it “wildly delicious,” noting, “I’d drink this by the side of a pool over ice. I could drink it all day. It is by far my favorite pre-workout.”

Another reason we like Nitrosurge for beginners is that it’s simple, and we mean that in the best way possible. Aside from caffeine, you’re also getting L-Citrulline for oxygen and nutrient delivery16, L-Theanine, which when combined with caffeine can help increase energy and reaction time5 We love a pre-workout that focuses on providing high-quality ingredients, rather than some trendy stimulants with little research to back them up.

It should be noted that you won’t get the optimal doses of these and other ingredients if you only take one scoop, but once you’re more comfortable with taking a pre-workout you can easily move onto a two-scoop serving or a stronger pre-workout.

Price per serving$0.99/$0.83
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, L-Citrulline, Betaine Anhydrous
FlavorsCherry Limeade, Blue Raspberry, Pineapple, Watermelon, Arctic White, Fruit Punch, Grape, Cotton Candy, Sour Peach Rings, Blueberry Lemonade, Black Cherry

Best All-in-One Pre-Workout: Kaged Pre-Kaged

Good for: People looking for the all-in-one pre-workout supplement to train harder, build muscle, and support increased strength  

Best All-in-One Pre-Workout

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.16 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Contains research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and citrulline
  • Informed Sport-certified, meaning it’s been tested for quality assurance and banned substances. 
  • 7 flavors are available

Pros & Cons


  • Good formulation of research-backed ingredients
  • Label transparency
  • 7 flavors and users overwhelmingly like the taste


  • Big serving size
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Kaged Pre-Kaged is expensive, but is formulated with research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline.

Pre-Kaged is the one-stop shop when it comes to pre-workouts. It’s fully loaded with all the ingredients you’d want in a pre-workout and has 100% transparency on the label so you know exactly what active ingredients (and how much of each) you’re putting in your body.

Anthony O’Reilly, GGR performance editor and pre-workout aficionado, has taken this before a number of strength-based workouts. He says, “I like this for workouts where I’m focusing on muscular endurance, which might be due to the fact that there’s coconut water powder in it. I’ve lost count on my reps after taking this because I feel like I can just keep curling/pressing/whatever I’m doing cause I just don’t get as fatigued.”

It’s one of the most popular pre-workouts on the market, and for good reason. It’s formulated with research-backed ingredients, and because it contains good dosages for key ingredients (e.g. caffeine, creatine, citrulline), you won’t need to purchase additional dietary supplements to fill any pre-workout gaps. That’s good, because Pre-Kaged is expensive, costing $2.25 per serving—the most expensive on our list. 

Kaged Pre Kaged Pre Workout

Anthony does warn that this isn’t necessarily the best pre-workout for a pump. “I don’t get the same oomph or pump that I get from something like Transparent Labs,” he says.

Pre-Kaged gets a gold star for being third-party tested, as well as Informed Sport-certified. This is a must-have for me—I won’t recommend any product that hasn’t been batch-tested to ensure quality.

The only thing I’m not a fan of is the large scoop size. Perhaps if they took out the 6.5 grams of BCAAs (because let’s face it, they don’t really do much for you), you could easily mix it with 6 ounces of water and have it down in no time.

In terms of flavor, both Anthony and Nicole Davis, GGR editor and certified personal trainer, says the taste gets a perfect 5-out-of-5 rating.

“I tried the Krisp Apple flavor, and definitely noticed the smell of apples as soon as I opened my shaker,” Nicole says. “It wasn’t too sweet and I liked the flavor, but found that there was an unpleasant mouth-feel after each sip. It also didn’t mix super well. It’s actually a little thick.”

Read more in our Kaged Pre-Kaged review.

Price per serving$2.25
Key ingredientsCitrulline, beta-alanine, creatine, caffeine
FlavorsGrape, Fruit Punch, Pink Lemonade, Berry Blast, Krisp Apple, Orange Crush, Cherry Bomb

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout: Huge Supplements Pump Serum

Good for: Anyone looking for a no-frills, good-tasting, pump-producing pre-workout

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout

Huge Supplements Pump Serum Non-Stim

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Available in four flavors
  • Formulated to improve workout performance 
  • Claimed to increase pump and muscle fullness 
  • Claimed to enhance endurance and increase focus

Pros & Cons


  • Reportedly effective
  • No post-workout crash
  • Taste is popular
  • Mixes well


  • Sucralose may cause GI distress
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Although it does contain artificial ingredients, the Pump Serum Stimulant Free Pre-Workout powder is designed to pump you up for your next workout without any post-workout crash.

Huge Supplements always nails the flavor department, and the Huge Supplements Pump Serum is no exception. Kate Meier, GGR’s head of content, and members of her weightlifting team tested the Cherry Berry flavor and said it does indeed taste like cherry with berries.

“It isn’t incredibly tart, but it is definitely sweet,” says Kate, who added that she and her team found the pre-workout powder required more water than the packaging suggested. That’s why this earns a 4 out of 5 for taste with us; otherwise, it would be a perfect score. “I mixed it with about 20 ounces, instead of the recommended 8 to 12 ounces, and it was better.”

huge supplements pump serum

If Cherry Berry isn’t your speed, Huge Pump Serum also comes in Jungle Juice, Island Dream, and Strawberry Mojito. Huge Supplements uses sucralose, which might give some people an artificial aftertaste but we felt that there was just enough in their pre-workout supplements.

This pre-workout powder is caffeine-free, so you won’t get an energy boost. Kate says it lives up to its name by giving you a noticeable pump. “It gets the blood flowing,” she says.

In addition to 4 grams of L-Citrulline (8 grams if you take a two-scoop serving), Huge also has beet root powder extract, which has been linked with improved athletic performance and reduced muscle soreness, according to studies17.

Get your shaker cup ready: We rated this a 4 out of 5 for solubility. “It mixes well, but it seems to settle a little, so I just shook it before every time I took it,” Kate warns.

Price per serving$2.19
Key ingredientsL-Citrulline, Beet Root Powder Extract, Betaine Anhydrous, Glycerol Powder
FlavorsCherry Berry, Jungle Juice, Island Dream, Strawberry Mojito

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout: Onnit Total Strength + Performance

Good for: Individuals looking for a nature-based, caffeine-free pre-workout

Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout

Onnit Total Strength & Performance Pre-Workout

Community Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based
  • Blended with botanical ingredients, vitamins, and adaptogens 
  • Third-party tested
  • Deemed banned substance-tested

Pros & Cons


  • Website links to controlled studies
  • Plant-based
  • Band-substance tested and approved
  • Gluten-, soy-, dairy-, and caffeine-free


  • Only one flavor
  • Some consumers did not like the taste
  • Some consumers also say it does not mix well

Bottom Line

Onnit’s Total Strength & Performance provides a unique blend of botanical ingredients, adaptogens, and vitamins to enhance performance leading to research-backed strength gains.

Onnit’s Total Strength + Performance pre workout is formulated to support improved physical performance, and prompt strength and power gains. The main ingredients are divided into three proprietary blend categories, so while I can’t tell the exact dosage of each ingredient, we can take a closer look at what each ingredient/category is intended to do. 

RELATED: Onnit Coupon Code

The Performance Blend is a combination of BCAAs, glutamine, and beta-alanine. Out of those three, beta-alanine has the most research backing up its use as a performance aid. When taken consistently for four weeks, beta-alanine can increase muscular endurance and help delay fatigue4.

The second category is the Power Blend, and contains a handful of ingredients linked to maintaining hormone health. The combination of d-aspartic acid18, longjack extract19, and nettle root extract20 may assist with supporting testosterone production. Without knowing the exact dose of each ingredient, it’s difficult to say whether or not you’ll see a noticeable effect.

The Support Blend is the third category and contains red clover extract, luteolin, and resveratrol. These ingredients can support mood when consumed in an adequate dose. 

While this product contains ingredients with a decent amount of evidence to suggest they could positively affect your workout, the use of proprietary blends makes it difficult to know how effective the doses are.

Our list of the best stim-free pre-workouts has more recommendations for anyone trying to steer clear of caffeine or other stimulants.

Price per serving$1.99
Key ingredientsBeta-alanine, longjack extract, nettle root extract
FlavorsStrawberry Lemonade

Best Pre-Workout For A Pump: 4 Gauge

Good for: People looking for the perfect mix of muscle pumps and enhanced performance out of their pre-workout *

Best Pre-Workout For A Pump

4 Gauge Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 4 claimed benefits in just one serving: “explosive power, improved focus, extra stamina, and an intense muscle pump” 
  • Third-party-tested 
  • Company emphasizes transparency in reporting accurate dosages of each ingredient

Pros & Cons


  • Nature-based ingredients
  • No proprietary blends
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No preservatives
  • Tastes good according to users
  • Third-party tested


  • Expensive
  • Lower dose of caffeine at 150mg (not a deal breaker but definitely an issue for some)
  • Only one flavor

Bottom Line

Although expensive, 4 Gauge pre-workout supplement provides research-backed doses of high-quality and nature-based ingredients to give users the best possible outcomes.

According to their website, 4 Gauge is an “explosive” pre-workout designed to be one of the strongest pre-workouts on the market. The product claims to increase muscle pumps, support improved focus and motivation, promote blood flow, and increase stamina so you can work out longer and harder. Taking a closer look at the ingredient label, I can see that 4 Gauge uses research-backed ingredients to provide a balance between strength, focus, energy, and muscle pumps.   

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, says: “We gave this one the ‘best pre-workout for a pump’ title and I agree with that—I felt pretty jacked during and after my workout!”

4 Gauge provides 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving—not the highest amount we’ve seen in pre-workouts, but enough to provide a small boost of energy12. Perhaps more impressive is the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine found in the product. When taken together, this dynamic duo can support increased energy levels, enhance cognitive function, and help ease levels of daily stress5.

4 guage pre-workout in a shaker bottle

If you came looking for incredible muscle pumps, grab your dumbbells (or adjustable dumbbells) and listen up. The research-backed combination of citrulline malate3 and beetroot extract17 can contribute to significant increases in nitric oxide production, supporting blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles.

Throw in 100 milligrams of Rhodiola rosea13 to promote improved focus and 500 milligrams of L-carnitine21 to curb temporary muscle soreness, and you’ve got yourself a research-backed supplement sure to deliver on its claims.

The downside? It only comes in one flavor, so you might be out of luck if Fruit Punch isn’t your jam. And at $2.25 per serving, it can get quite pricey if you use pre-workout even multiple times per week.  

“4 Gauge mixes really well, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor,” Nicole says. “If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet pre-workouts, this might be a great option for you.”

Price per serving$2.25
Key ingredientsCaffeine, theanine, creatine, citrulline-malate, Rhodiola Rosea
FlavorsFruit Blast

Best Pre-Workout for Focus: Pre JYM Pre-Workout

Good for: Anyone who needs help keeping the focus on their workout routine

Best Pre-Workout For Focus

JYM Supplement Science Pre JYM Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • A pre-workout powder powerhouse
  • Packed with lab- and gym-tested ingredients
  • 9 different flavors to pick from
  • Boosts strength, energy, endurance, mindset, and muscle growth
  • 14 active ingredients and a nutritional supplement
  • Higher potency with 26-gram scoops
  • Award-winning brand and pre-workout supplement

Pros & Cons


  • Helps boost your energy for any workout
  • Supports mental focus with caffeine, alpha-GPC, and huperzine A
  • Includes amino acids to promote muscular strength and endurance
  • Great for men and women


  • Do not take up to 6 hours before bed
  • Some reviewers don’t love the flavors
  • Reviewer complaints about high sucralose and sugar levels
  • Shares equipment that handles eggs, milk, soy, tree nuts, and wheat
  • Not third-party tested

Bottom Line

Fuel your body with a delicious pre-workout supplement with nutrients and 14 active ingredients for an energy-boosting workout.

Earning a perfect 5 out of 5 for its workout effects, Pre JYM Pre-workout is our pick for best for focus. Anthony O’Reilly says taking it was like putting horse blinders on his head before entering the weight room. “Staying focused is difficult for me during workouts,” says the GGR performance editor and certified personal trainer. “That said, my focus was at 100 percent each time I downed a scoop of this pre-workout.”

Anthony’s far from alone in that assessment. “I’ve taken this at least half a dozen times, and I always felt really clear and super stimulated for my workouts,” says Jacob Penner, member of GGR’s expert panel and a USA Weightlifting Level 2 Coach.

JYM Pre Workout

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, since this pre-workout supplement was designed by Jim Stoppani, who holds a doctorate degree in exercise physiology and is one of the most prominent names in the nutrition space.

Caffeine, of course, is one of the primary ingredients that help with increased focus12, as is Huperzine A22 and L-Tyrosine6. Additionally, each serving comes with a gram of Taurine, which “Plays an important role as a basic factor for maintaining cellular integrity in the heart, muscle, retina, and throughout the [central nervous system],” and, according to studies23, could act as a neurotransmitter.

In terms of taste, both Anthony and Jacob rate this a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5.

“I want to drink the Pineapple Strawberry flavor while on a beach,” Anthony says.

“Rainbow sherbet is pretty good, just like getting a mouthful of sweetness,” Jacob says.

Both also note that this pre-workout mixes perfectly in a shaker bottle with water.

Price per serving$1.23
Key ingredientsL-Citrulline, creatine, caffeine, Huperzine A, Taurine, L-Tyrosine
FlavorsRainbow Sherbert, Tangerine, Grape Candy, Pink Lemonade, Pineapple Strawberry, Black Cherry, Strawberry Kiwi, Orange Mango, Raspberry Lemonade

Best Pre-Workout With Creatine: Gorilla Mode

Good for: People who want to maximize muscle size and strength gains 

Best Pre-Workout With Creatine

Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Ingredients shown to improve mental focus, muscle endurance, and energy
  • 11 flavors
  • Can be bought in bulk for discount

Pros & Cons


  • Ingredients shown to improve mental focus, muscle endurance, and energy
  • 11 flavors
  • Can be bought in bulk for discount


  • A bunch of reviewers did not feel its effect
  • Expensive at $2.50 about per serving
  • Contains stimulants

Bottom Line

While Gorilla Mode receives mixed reviews, it is formulated with all the key ingredients you want in a pre-workout drink to improve performance in the gym. However, if you are sensitive or want to avoid stimulants, this may not be the supplement for you.

Gorilla Mode has been formulated specifically to support increased energy, focus, muscle strength, and endurance. The combination of L-Citrulline16GlycerPump24, and Agmatine25 can boost nitric oxide production, promote increased blood flow, and improve intramuscular hydration. 

Several people tested Gorilla Mode for us, including Jacob Penner, USA Weightlifting L-2 coach and owner of Endless Strength Weightlifting Club. “Two hours later, I still feel pumped up like I did while I was working out, and I am not crashing the way you sometimes do after taking a strong pre-workout,” he says.

Gorilla Mode Pre Workout Scoop

Moving down the ingredient list, we see a unique blend of nootropics designed to support enhanced focus and mood9. The combination of L-Tyrosine6Kanna26, and Huperzine A22 are known for their cognitive-supporting properties and their ability to help ease daily stress.

Add in the 160 milligrams of caffeine and 2,500 milligrams of creatine per serving and you have yourself a pre-workout cocktail that could help get you closer to your goal of bigger, stronger muscles8.  

“I’ll be honest and say the full two-scoop dose scared me so I halved it,” says Nicole Davis, GGR senior editor and certified personal trainer who also tested Gorilla Mode. “That was the perfect amount of energy.”

RELATED: Best Creatine

Man Using Gorilla Mode Pre Workout

If you’re an athlete, or undergo regular drug testing, you may need to check if N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate (also known as Eria Jarensis extract) is an approved ingredient to take. There are some countries, like Australia, and some sports associations where the stimulant is banned.

In terms of taste, we had mixed results. Nicole, says, “The Fruit Punch flavor smells and tastes like Hawaiian Punch, so I was instantly transported to childhood.”

Jacob says, “I tried Bombsicle. I mixed one scoop with 20 ounces of water, and it tastes like all three flavors of a rocket pop at once. It just tastes like something sweet. I don’t dislike it; i’d just say that the taste isn’t the selling point here.

Price per serving$1.23
Key ingredientsCitrulline, creatine, caffeine, GlycerPump, Huperzine A
FlavorsBombsicle, Firefly Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Mojo Mojito, Volcano Burst, Mango Peach, Tiger’s Blood, Cherry Blackout, Mouth Watering Watermelon, Jungle Juice, Lemon Lime

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout: Transparent Labs Stim-Free

Good for: People who train at night or who don’t like caffeine in their pre-workout supplement

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Stim-free pre-workout
  • No caffeine
  • 10 flavors available
  • Easily mix with water
  • Good for people who work out at night
  • Won't give you the jitters or tingling sensations

Pros & Cons


  • Free of artificial colors, sweeteners, and other additives
  • Non-stim (no caffeine)
  • Won't give you the jitters
  • Designed to increase nitric oxide uptake in the muscle cells
  • Can subscribe and save


  • Those who want caffeine should look elsewhere

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout is an uncaffeinated pre-workout powder that will not give you the jitters or tingling commonly associated with pre-workout supplements. This pre-workout contains a blend of BCAAs, citrulline malate, beta-alanine, L-tyrosine, taurine, and elevATP, a compound claimed to increase ATP activity in muscle cells.

We gave Transparent Labs Stim-Free pre-workout a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5 on its formulation. It is essentially a caffeine-free version of their standard pre-workouts for those who prefer to train at night, or simply want all their caffeine to come from coffee. The primary ingredient is citrulline malate, which a 2021 review27 stated was vital for nitric oxide production to help support skeletal muscle function and improve blood flow to muscles.

Huperzine A22, Taurine, and L-Tyrosine are also added to help with mental focus, especially since there’s no caffeine to help with mental alertness. Anthony O’Reilly, GGR’s performance editor and expert product tester, said he didn’t miss the caffeine jolt.

“I usually need a little pick-me-up to remain focused on my workouts,” Anthony says, “but after taking this I might have to change my supplement stack. I felt focused at all times and there was no energy crash at the end of my workout.”

transparent labs stim free

Sodium and potassium act primarily as electrolytes to promote hydration, though studies28 tell us they can also assist in helping you get a pump. Similarly, beetroot powder is added for color and can also help improve nitric oxide production17.

Amanda Capritto, GGR staff writer and expert product tester who also tested this pre-workout, said the Cherry Limeade flavor was tasty and not overly sweet, though she said it was difficult to get it thoroughly mixed.

Price per serving$1.67
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAA 2:1:1, BetaPure™ betaine anhydrous, taurine, L-tyrosine, choline bitartrate
FlavorsCherry Limeade, Sour Grape, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Peach Mango, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch

Best Natural Pre-Workout: Swolverine PRE

Good for: People looking for a pre-workout free from artificial dyes and flavoring

Best Natural Pre-Workout

Swolverine PRE

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Natural pre-workout 
  • Over $2 per serving 
  • Active ingredients include citrulline malate, beta-alanine, betaine-anhydrous, l-carnitine 
  • Available in Mango Lemonade flavor

Pros & Cons


  • Ingredient transparency
  • No stimulants
  • Users praise the flavor and consistency


  • Pricey
  • No creatine
  • Only one flavor available

Bottom Line

Swolverine PRE is a natural, stimulant-free pre-workout that although expensive, could be the right choice for you if you are particular about ingredients.

If you’re looking for an all-natural pre-workout, or even one of the best stim-free pre-workouts, Swolverine PRE may be a good fit. It is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and non-GMO. Also, there are no proprietary blends in PRE, which is third-party tested. That means that what’s on this label is exactly what’s inside this product both in terms of ingredients and dosing, which is why we we feel confident in making this our pick for the best natural pre-workout.

Anthony O’Reilly, GGR performance editor and certified nutrition coach, has used Swolverine PRE. “It’s stimulant-free, so you won’t get that crazy energy burst, but the pump is decent, and you get some focus.” Because this formula doesn’t have some of the typical ingredients you find in pre-workouts, like caffeine, Anthony gave it a 4 out of 5 for its blend and for its overall effects.

However, being stim-free isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Anthony suggests you can use this products in ways other than before workouts. “Since it’s non-stim, I’ve often used it for focus on long drives or when I have to do lots of work.”

scooping swolverine PRE pre-workout

What it does have, however, is a collection of ingredients that make it ideal for those looking for a pump. Carnosyn, L-carnitine, and L-taurine aid in reducing muscle fatigue and increasing power output. There are some additional ingredients, 1,000 milligrams of coconut water powder, that you won’t find in most other pre-workouts. Why? Well, coconut water targets intramuscular hydration, according to Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, MS, RDN, LD. There is also the inclusion of 500 milligrams of pomegranate,29 which is intended to improve blood flow.

Let’s talk taste! There are only two flavors of PRE available: Strawberry Dragonfruit and Mango Lemonade. Anthony ordered and tried the Mango Lemonade flavor, giving it a 4 out of 5. “I taste more mango than lemonade. Pretty refreshing.”

The instructions state you should put one scoop of PRE in 4 to 8 ounces of water. Anthony did just that and gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 for solubility.

Price-wise, at $2.11 per serving, this is one of the more expensive pre-workouts. We find that third-party tested supplements usually come at a higher cost. Swolverine does offer a subscribe-and-save option for those interested.

Price per serving$2.11
Key ingredientsCarnosyn, L-carnitine, L-taurine, betaine anhydrous, citrulline malate, coconut water powder, pomegranate fruit powder
FlavorsStrawberry Dragonfruit and Mango Lemonade

Best Pre-Workout For Running: MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

Good for: Endurance athletes looking for more energy during their cardio workouts and quicker recovery times afterwards*

Best Pre-Workout For Running

MyProtein THE Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 3.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 4 grams of citrulline, 50 milligrams of theacrine, and 2,500 milligrams of betaine anhydrous
  • Available in 9 flavors
  • Mixes well with water.
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free 

Pros & Cons


  • Mixes well
  • 9 flavors
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free


  • Uses sucralose for flavor

Bottom Line

THE Pre-Workout supplement is made by a reputable brand and can potentially help support your health and fitness goals. Its higher cost may be prohibitive to some.

MyProtein manufactures a range of dietary supplements including protein powders and bars, BCAAs, and of course, pre-workouts. THE Pre-Workout is their premium pre-workout product containing research-backed ingredients shown to enhance muscular endurance and speed up the recovery process after a tough treadmill workout.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific ingredients that make this product an excellent pre-workout choice for endurance athletes. Each serving packs in a healthy dose of vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B9 (folic acid,) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) to support a healthy metabolism, as well as immune function and health30. It also contains 4 grams of L-citrulline, which can assist with blood flow and nutrient delivery to working muscles16.

myprotein the preworkout in shaker cup

We can’t talk about a pre-workout without mentioning caffeine, and with 150 milligrams of caffeine, this product has just the right amount to help boost energy levels without leaving you with the jitters or post-workout energy crash12.

Other notable ingredients include beta-alanine, which has been shown to improve time to exhaustion when taken continuously for a period of four weeks4, and creatine8, which can help your body recover faster from high-intensity workouts.

It’s worth noting that MyProtein uses full transparency on their labels, so you know exactly which ingredients, and at what dose, you are receiving in your supplements. Although this product is one of the more expensive pre-workouts currently on the market, you’re likely to find one of the nine flavors that suits your taste buds best. 

Nicole Davis, GGR Editor and our expert product tester, gave this a 5 out of 5 for taste.

“The Ruby Red Grapefruit flavor was absolutely delicious,” she says. Not too sweet with just a tinge of sour. There were some floaties in there after I mixed it, but it wasn’t offputting. I did get a tingling sensation after I took this, but it definitely boosted me through my CrossFit workout.”

Price per serving$1.50
Key ingredientsCitrulline, caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, vitamins B3, B9, and B12
FlavorsWatermelon, Peach Ring, Orange Paradise, Lemonade Green Apple, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Blueberry Pomegranate, Black Cherry Vanilla

Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Genius PRE

Good for: People who want a vegan-friendly pre-workout that does the job well

Best Vegan Pre-Workout

The Genius Brand Genius Pre

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free nootropics-based pre-workout 
  • Doubles as a productivity booster 
  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors

Pros & Cons


  • Subscribe and save 20%
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee (from the ship date)
  • Available in 4 flavors


  • Only available in 20 serving containers
  • No 3rd-party certifications
  • May cause skin tingling

Bottom Line

The Genius Brand Genius Pre is a stimulant-free, nootropic-based pre-workout designed to help improve your focus and performance in the gym. It has very positive reviews, although customers do wish they could buy containers with more than 20 servings so they didn’t have to purchase as often.

With no preservatives, no proprietary blends, no artificial flavors, and no banned substances, Genius PRE is a vegan-friendly pre-workout ideal for anyone looking for a clean product. We should also point out that this is a stimulant-free product, so there is no caffeine, and no big energy boost like you might get from other products.

Genius Pre Workout 4

Jacob Penner, a USA Weightlifting coach who has been testing different pre-workouts for years, used Genius PRE a number of times to check out its efficacy. He gave it a 4 out of 5 for its workout effects.

“I did a workout with a lot of upper back work, and my shoulders were so pumped up from it,” he says. “The pump was really good, but it didn’t last long. Pretty much by the time I was done lifting, the pump was fading.”

In terms of formulation, we gave this a 4 out of 5, only knocking it down a point because it lacks a stimulant, which is something most people are looking for in a pre-workout. However, by all other accounts, this checks a lot of boxes with its ingredient lineup.

Genius Pre Workout 1

Amanda Capritto, certified sports nutrition coach and GGR senior staff writer, points out that there are clinically-backed ingredients and dosages of key pre-workout players like l-citrulline malate, carnosyn, betain anhydrous, l-tyrosine, l-arginine, and taurine. There are also nootropics like choline31 and huperzia serrata22, which support cognitive function.

Jacob said he definitely notices the improvement in brain power.

“This is stim-free, so it doesn’t get you all jacked up. I felt almost euphoric taking this, actually. It gave me a very calm focus,” he said. “It almost felt like taking a mood stabilizer, because I was relaxed, not stimulated; clear, and ready to take action.”

In terms of taste, Jacob rated this a perfect 5 out of 5. “I took Blue Raspberry. Absolutely love the taste – this is like a blue icee. Taste-wise, this is one of the best pre-workouts I’ve ever had, and I’ve had more than 50 pre-workouts.”

Read more in our Genius pre-workout review.

Price per serving$1.90
Key ingredientsL-citrulline malate, carnosyn, betain anhydrous, l-tyrosine, l-arginine, and taurine
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Grape Limeade, Sour Cherry

Best Budget Pre-Workout: Cellucor C4

Good for: Those who want a high-quality and affordable pre-workout powder

Best Budget Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Powerful ingredients
  • Gives a solid boost of energy
  • Dissolves well
  • Affordable price per serving

Pros & Cons


  • Powerful ingredients
  • Gives a solid boost of energy
  • Can aid in training performance
  • Dissolves well
  • Affordable price per serving


  • Some users report unpleasant aftertaste
  • Gives some people headaches
  • Some experience tingling in the face

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable pre-workout drink from a big-name supplement company, give C4 a look.

C4 is the flagship product for Cellucor, and is considered by many as the No. 1 pre-workout in the country. It’s carbohydrate-free and contains 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving—a similar dose found in about 1.5 cups of coffee. At under $1 per serving, it’s also one of the most budget-friendly pre-workout powders on the market (most pre-workouts range from $1.50-$2 per serving).

Many people at Garage Gym Reviews have used both the C4 powder and the drink. Here, we will dive into the specs of the powder. Anthony O’Reilly, an editor here and a certified personal trainer, says C4 has become one of his go-to pre-workouts.

“I will sometimes do a caffeine detox, and this is a great powder for dipping your toes back into the stim pool,” he says. “You’re not going to get Mr. Olympia-level pumps from it, but your sleeves will feel a bit tighter than they were before you started the workout.”

C4 pre-workout review

It also contains 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, which, if taken consistently, can help reduce the accumulation of metabolic waste productions (like hydrogen ions) and help prevent muscular fatigue4.

As a bonus, this just tastes good—with flavors like Fruit Punch, Icy Blue Razz, and Cherry Limeade, it’s a cult favorite with 4.7 out of 5 stars after nearly 6,500 ratings on Amazon.

In terms of taste, all of our testers agree this is a 5-out-of-5 experience.

“C4 was the first pre-workout I tried, probably seven years ago now,” Anthony says. “Icy Blue Razz never fails! And actually, I’ve liked every flavor of C4 I’ve tried. Good energy, and if you can give the tingles a pass, it’s a solid pre-workout.”

Check out our full C4 pre-workout review for more.

Price per serving$0.99
Key ingredientsCaffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, nitrates
FlavorsFruit Punch, Cherry Limeade, Icy Blue Razz, Watermelon, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Margarita

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain: Blackwolf Pre-Workout

Good for: People who are focusing on adding muscle mass to their physique

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain

BlackWolf Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Stimulant-free 
  • Backed by over 25 clinical trials
  • Available in 3 flavors
  • Mixes well
  • One flavor is caffeine-free

Pros & Cons


  • Stimulant-free
  • Tastes great
  • Mixes well
  • No post-workout crash
  • Caffeine-free option
  • 11 scientifically backed ingredients
  • Free 10-week training program and cookbook included with purchase


  • The dosage of beta-alanine can cause tingling and itching of the skin
  • No user reviews on their website

Bottom Line

BlackWolf Pre-Workout contains 11 scientifically proven ingredients designed to improve energy, focus, and performance without any unwanted side effects.

Containing 11 key ingredients and no proprietary blends, Blackwolf pre-workout is formulated to provide you with heightened focus support and maximal endurance to improve overall athletic performance. Whether you enjoy training in the evening, or just looking for a stimulant-free pre-workout, the fruit-flavored version of Blackwolf pre-workout is designed to support and enhance your performance without caffeine.

Nicole Davis, GGR senior editor, gave Blackwolf a try before one of her workouts. “I like that it’s stimulant-free—I still noticed a boost, but different from what caffeine does to you.”

Each serving contains 6 grams of citrulline malate, which has been shown to promote increased blood flow2. This can contribute to improved oxygen delivery to your muscles during workouts, as well as faster removal of metabolic byproducts caused by intense training sessions. Similar to citrulline, L-Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate works as a nitric oxide booster32 to help you get more out of your workouts.

An image of BlackWolf pre-workout in a shaker

The 3.2 grams of beta-alanine is a clinically effective dose shown to support increased carnosine levels in the muscle, ultimately help delay muscle fatigue4. This product also contains creatine monohydrate8 and betaine anhydrous33, both of which can assist with muscle strength and exercise performance. Despite the absence of caffeine, you can still expect support for focus and concentration due to the addition of DMAE14 and Huperzine A22. These powerful nootropics can enhance cognitive function during workouts.

Apart from the pricier cost per serving ($2.05), this is a top-rated supplement sure to give you more drive and focus during your workouts. 

In terms of flavor, Nicole rates it at a 3 out of 5. “I tried Green Apple, and thought the taste and solubility was just fine—not my favorite, but not horrible.”

Price per serving$2.05
Key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, creatine, caffeine, DMAE, Huperzine
FlavorsGreen Apple, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch
best pre workout for focus

Other Pre-Workouts We Tested and Researched

There are lots and lots of pre-workouts on the market. We liked plenty more than just 18, but some just didn’t make the cut. 

  • Pre Lab Pro: If you’re going to charge a premium price for a pre-workout (nearly $3.00 per serving), I’m expecting it to be loaded with all the bells and whistles. Despite using research-backed ingredients, the majority are underdosed. Additionally, Pre Lab Pro only comes in one flavor (Fruit Punch), and only contains 20 servings per tub.  
  • HugeSupplements Wrecked: While we can agree that caffeine can boost energy levels and provide focus to a workout11, too much caffeine can have the opposite effect34. Wrecked contains a combination of four different stimulants: caffeine anhydrous (250 milligrams), Di-caffeine malate (100 milligrams), Eria Jarensis extract (250 milligrams) and Theobromine (150 milligrams). Individuals who are sensitive to caffeine may experience less than desirable side effects, like rapid heart rate, and jitteriness. Not to mention, Eria Jarensis Extract (N-phenethyl dimethylamine) is a banned substance in some countries and by some sports associations.
  • BPI Sports One More Rep: One More Rep is an inexpensive pre-workout with a decent dose of caffeine (300 milligrams) per serving…and that’s about it. Some of the other ingredients, like L-Citrulline, are underdosed, and each serving only has 6 grams of active ingredients. Additionally, the product contains a proprietary energy blend, so it is difficult to know how much Theobromine, Phosphatidylcholine, or Yohimbe extract is actually in the product.  
  • BPN Flight Pre-Workout: Although it contains more than 300 milligrams of stimulants, BPN’s Flight only has 2 grams of L-Citruline and the recommended dose is closer to 6-8 grams.
  • BPN Endopump: This is the stim-free version of BPN Flight, and while we enjoyed the taste we don’t feel like it offered anything that you can’t find in other pre-workouts.
  • Insane Labz Psychotic Pre-Workout: Save your money. This popular pre-workout contains a number of stimulants, but it’s comprised of proprietary blends so it’s difficult to figure out how much of each ingredients is in this pre-workout powder.
  • El Jefe Pre-Workout: We’re actually fans of this high-stim pre-workout, despite the use of proprietary blends, because they tell us outright how much caffeine is in it—300 milligrams, plus 100 milligrams di-caffeine malate, a buffered form of caffeine that stays in your system longer. “It kicked in almost right away,” one of our expert product testers said. “I didn’t feel like my skin was crawling, but still had that energy. The biggest thing was the focus—this is one of the best feelings of being “locked in” compared to other pre-workouts I’ve tried (I’ve used 20-30 different ones).”
  • Genius Pre: This stim-free pre-workout felt more like a mood stabilizer than a training supplement, according to USA Weightlifting Level 2 Coach Jacob Penner. “I felt almost euphoric taking this,” he says. “The pump was really good, but it didn’t last long.”
  • Ryse Godzilla Pre-Workout: Ryse has gone semi-viral on TikTok, but is it worth the hype? “This is a stronger pre-workout than what I have used before; and this is the first time I really felt the strong tingles,” says Rose, a member of Kate’s weightlifting team, “and I have a strong tolerance to caffeine.”
  • Ghost Pre-Workout: We’ve tested dozens of pre-workout powders, and somehow Ghost pre-workout made us more stimulated than those with many more stimulants. “You won’t be sitting still and relaxing,” Jacob says. “I wouldn’t say it’s too stimulating, but I definitely feel excitable after taking it.” This isn’t a good or bad thing, just something to note.
  • Bucked Up Woke AF: Registered dietitian and supplements expert Bob Iafelice said he could not endorse this product because of the large number of stimulants, including some banned by the NCAA, NFL, and MLB. “Is this product worth the risk? I don’t think so,” Iafelice says. “Other than the stimulant package, it’s a good product with significant amounts of key ingredients such as citrulline malate and beta-alanine.”
  • RedCon1 Total War: This popular pre-workout supplement has a good formulation, though you can find similar products at a more affordable per-serving cost. That said, if you have the money for it we’ve had some of the best workouts of our lives while taking this.
  • Apollon Nutrition Hooligan: This is a pre-workout for seasoned veterans who need an extra kick in the pants in the form of 450 milligrams of caffeine and 200 milligrams of di-caffeine malate. GGR Performance Editor Anthony O’Reilly, who has a high caffeine tolerance, said he’d only take this on days he’s going for PRs or has a prolonged training session.
El Jefe Pre-Workout

How We Picked and Tested The Best Pre-Workouts

Deciding on the 18 best pre-workouts was no easy feat. We weighed the pros and cons of each product after analyzing these factors and using our GGR supplement testing methodology:

Ingredients, Formulation, and Dosages

Are important ingredients like caffeine, creatine, citrulline, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine included? Are there research-backed dosages of said ingredients to ensure you’re getting maximum potential benefits? Are there proprietary blends, where you can’t tell how much of each ingredient is used? Are there high levels of stimulants that have been shown to have detrimental effects?

Research-backed dosages:

  • Caffeine: 200 milligrams 
  • Creatine: At least 3 grams (5 grams is the daily recommended dose per day but not many pre-workouts contain this much)
  • Citrulline: 6 grams 
  • Citrulline Malate: 6-8 grams 
  • Beta-Alanine: 3 grams 

Stimulants to keep an eye out for: High levels of caffeine, dendrobium, synephrine, DMAE, rauwolfia vomitora.

Flavors and Taste

This is subjective, but we base it on the views of our testers, as well as what the general consensus is in online customer reviews. We took the individual flavor and full range of flavors into consideration.

We also looked at whether unflavored options were available.


How well does this product dissolve in the suggested amount of liquid? Are there floaties? Is it grainy? Is it super thick or super thin? Does it separate after a few minutes?

Cost and Price Per Serving

The price per serving can range from $0.80 on the low end to upwards of $2 on the high end.

Customer Reviews

What do customers think of the product? Are reviews consistent? Does the company interact with customer reviews?


If a pre-workout is expensive, is it at least packed with unique ingredients that you couldn’t find in cheaper pre-workouts? If not, you might as well buy a more affordable supplement.

Transparency and Third-Party Testing

Since dietary supplements are not approved by the FDA, having an independent third-party lab verify that what’s on the label is what’s in the pre-workout is super important, especially for athletes. This is particularly important for pre-workouts, because overloading on stimulants can be dangerous. 

Transparency also plays a part in this—does the company provide COAs, not use proprietary blends, and generally seem very upfront about what’s used in their pre-workout and why?

Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients

When you’re on the search for a good pre-workout formula, make sure it contains a majority—if not all—of the common pre-workout ingredients below.


Caffeine is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system, helping to support increased mental alertness while reducing the perception of fatigue12. Additionally, it can increase fat oxidation and spare muscle glycogen levels35. *


Creatine is a naturally occurring substrate that aids in energy production. When taken as a dietary supplement, creatine has been shown to promote increased muscle strength, muscle size, speed, and high-intensity exercise capacity8.  


L-citrulline is an amino acid that helps increase the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide supports improved blood flow via vasodilation (widening of blood vessels)16.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a compound that combines citrulline with malate, a substrate essential for the production of energy needed for muscle contractions. Citrulline malate has been shown to help delay muscle fatigue and increase oxygen delivery to muscles3.


Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that binds with histidine to form carnosine. In your muscles, carnosine acts as a hydrogen ion buffer to help delay fatigue and improve high-intensity exercise performance4.

Woman Drinking Alpha Brain Pre Workout

Benefits of Pre-Workout

Wondering why you should consider drinking a pre-workout before your next sweat session? Some benefits include:

Promotes Increased Energy

Pre-workouts are probably best known for their ability to support increased energy and focus during workouts. Caffeine is well-known for its ability to boost energy and endurance levels during intense workouts12, and nitric oxide boosters (like citrulline15 and beetroot extract17) can promote blood flow, which may result in more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to your muscles to maximize performance.   

Improves Muscle Strength

Pre-workouts can enhance strength in several ways. For one, they can provide you with more energy so that you hit your workouts harder and increase your training volume. Pre-workouts can also help you recover faster in between sessions so you’re taking less time off.

But, perhaps the most important ingredient for increasing strength is creatine. Creatine, which is present in some pre-workouts, aids in energy production during short, intense efforts and has been shown to increase strength when combined with resistance training in numerous research studies7. *

Supports Enhanced Cognition

Ingredients like L-Theanine5, Rhodiola rosea13, and L-Tyrosine6 can help you stay focused and motivated throughout your workout. Nootropics like these have also been shown to enhance memory, attention, and concentration9

Combat Fatigue

One way to boost stamina during your workouts is to combat feelings of fatigue. Caffeine has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, which in turn can lower one’s perception of effort and muscle pain associated with exercise12. Supplementation with beta-alanine4 has been shown to increase intramuscular stores of carnosine. Carnosine works as an intracellular buffer to reduce the accumulation of hydrogen ions–ultimately delaying fatigue36.

muscletech vapor x5 pre workout

What To Look For in Pre-Workout

When you’re ready to purchase a pre-workout, keep these factors in mind.

Look For Key Ingredients 

Caffeine12, citrulline16, beta-alanine4, and creatine8 can help maximize your energy and strength while reducing fatigue.

Research-Backed Dosages

Make sure key ingredients are present in research-backed dosages. There are countless research studies that pinpoint the minimal dose needed to experience energy- or strength-boosting effects from ingredients like beta-alanine and creatine, but here are a few you should know before you start shopping:

Research-backed doses of pre-workout ingredients:

  • Caffeine: 200 milligrams 
  • Creatine: At least 3 grams (5 grams is the daily recommended dose per day but not many pre-workouts contain this much)
  • Citrulline: 6 grams 
  • Citrulline Malate: 6-8 grams 
  • Beta-Alanine: 3 grams 

Try To Avoid Proprietary Blends

These blends will make it difficult to know the exact dosages used. A detailed ingredient list that clearly states the dose of each ingredient will ensure you know exactly what you are consuming. 

Choose Products That Are Third-Party Tested 

This means that a company, not affiliated with the supplement manufacturer, evaluates the dietary supplement to ensure what is printed on the label is actually inside the product. 

Check Twice If You’re An Athlete

If you’re an athlete, it’s critical that your pre-workout is free from any banned substance. Look for the Informed Sport, NSF, or Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG) logos on the product’s packaging to ensure the product has been batch-tested. 

RELATED: Best supplements for men

Is Pre-Workout Dangerous?

When taken as directed, pre-workouts are generally considered safe to use for healthy individuals. There are special populations, like pregnant women and adolescents, who should avoid them altogether though. Always check with your doctor before taking a new supplement.

If you’re taking a new pre-workout, it’s recommended that you start with half the dose to see how your body reacts and then gradually increase from there. You should never consume more than the recommended dose, especially if the product contains stimulants like caffeine. 

When Should I Take Pre-Workout?

The name pretty much gives it away—pre-workouts should be taken before your training session, with most people downing their supplement 20-30 minutes before they intend to start seriously training. The key phrase there is “seriously” training because you don’t want the caffeine to hit while you’re stretching or warming up and wear off before you even hit the weights.

If you’re someone who works out in the afternoons or evenings, you should know that caffeine can sometimes stay in your system several hours after you take it. That means if you down a pre-workout even at 1 p.m., the caffeine can cause disruptions in your sleep cycle or make it hard for you to fall asleep in the first place. Consider using one of the best stim-free pre-workouts or moving your workout to earlier in the day.

Experts Who Contributed to This Article

FAQs About the Best Pre-Workouts

Which pre-workout is most effective?

With countless pre-workout supplements currently on the market suitable for just about every goal, the choices can seem overwhelming. Our pick for best overall pre-workout is Transparent Labs BULK because it contains research-backed ingredients shown to support increased workout performance, it uses transparent labeling, and it’s third-party tested to ensure safety and quality. Our other top picks include:

Editor’s Choice: Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout
Best Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs BULK
Best Pre-Workout for MenXWERKS Ignite
Best Pre-Workout for WomenLegion Athletics Pulse 
Best Pre-Workout for Weight LossTransparent Labs LEAN
Best Pre-Workout for BeginnersJacked Factory Nitrosurge
Best All-in-One Pre-WorkoutKaged Pre-Kaged
Best-Tasting Pre-WorkoutHuge Supplements Pump Serum
Best Caffeine-Free Pre-WorkoutOnnit Total Strength + Performance
Best Pre-Workout for a Pump4 Gauge
Best Pre-Workout for FocusPre JYM Pre-Workout
Best Pre-Workout with CreatineGorilla Mode 
Best Non-Stim Pre-WorkoutTransparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout
Best Natural Pre-Workout: Swolverine PRE
Best Pre-Workout for Running1st Phorm Endura-Formance
Best Vegan Pre-Workout: Genius Pre
Best Budget Pre-WorkoutCellucor C4 
Best Pre-Workout for Muscle GainBlackwolf 

Is pre-workout OK to take every day?

Pre-workouts are okay to take on a regular basis, but keep in mind that you can build up tolerance to stimulants, like caffeine. It’s recommended that you cycle off stimulant-containing supplements every couple of months for 6 to 8 weeks. This will give your body some time to reset. Stimulant-free pre-workouts can be taken every day without cycling on/off. 

Is C4 a good pre-workout?

C4 is manufactured by Cellucor, a well-known and established company in the supplement space, and is one of the most popular pre-workouts on the market. It’s affordable and no-frills, but still contains important ingredients like caffeine and beta-alanine. We recommend it on our list of best pre-workouts because of these attributes. GGR readers get an exclusive discount at C4energy.com, so be sure to check it out.

What is dry scooping and is it effective?

Dry scooping is a term used to describe taking a pre-workout powder without dissolving it in a fluid. It is no more effective than mixing a pre-workout in water, and can be potentially dangerous. Dry scooping can cause choking if the powder is accidentally inhaled, and can even cause a sudden increase in heart and blood pressure due to the immediate hit of caffeine to your system. It is recommended that you follow the instructions listed on the product label and mix your pre-workout powder in 8 to 12 ounces of water. 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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