The 9 Best Pre-Workout Supplements to Try

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
9 Best Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements aim to enhance performance, mainly through boosting energy and increasing mental focus.

Pre-workout supplements are products that aim to provide you with an extra boost of energy when you exercise.

These supplements are often available in various forms, including:

  • Chews
  • Capsules
  • Canned drinks
  • Powders
  • Colorful liquid in shaker bottles

Pre-workout products often claim to help boost sleep, immunity, relaxation, gut health, and post-workout recovery.

While some pre-workouts may contain safe, energy-boosting ingredients, others can be pointless or potentially harmful.

9 best pre-workout supplements to increase your exercise capacity

  1. Caffeine
    • Caffeine is a stimulant that boosts energy and alertness and improves overall performance.
    • Studies report that it can help improve sports performance and enhance aerobic endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, jumping performance, and speed.
    • Caffeine causes vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), leading to more blood and oxygen delivered to working muscles.
    • It plays a role in muscle contraction and cognition, which contributes to the mental effects of pre-workout.
    • Pre-workout supplements may contain a range of 150 to 300 mg (about three cups) of caffeine per serving.
  2. Creatine monohydrate
    • Creatine is one of the most well-researched sports supplements over the past 20 years.
    • Creatine is a derivative of three amino acids that are naturally produced in the body and stored in the muscles as a source of quick energy.
    • Creatine supplements increase stores of phosphocreatine within muscles, which is the main energy source used for sudden bursts of high-intensity exercise (such as a deadlift).
    • Creatine is associated with lean body mass gains during resistance training.
    • Studies consistently report that in normal doses, three to five grams per day over the long term, it is safe for healthy adults.
  3. Beta-alanine
    • Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is a precursor for carnosine, an intracellular pH buffer that helps you do high-intensity exercises and fight muscle fatigue.
    • When a person exercises, there is an accumulation of hydrogen ions in the muscles, which makes them more acidic (acidosis). This is associated with early fatigue.
    • Beta-alanine acts as a pH buffer; carnosine prevents muscle acidosis and allows your muscles to keep working for longer before they are fatigued.
  4. L-citrulline
    • This amino acid is a precursor to nitric oxide (produced naturally), which acts as a vasodilator (widens blood vessels).
    • L-citrulline helps increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles, providing them with more energy for movement and reducing muscle soreness after exercise.
    • A recommended dose of six grams of L-citrulline is sufficient to improve aspects of endurance and weight-training performance.
  5. Glutamine
    • Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, produced in the body under some physiological circumstances (such as physical stress, injury, or excessive exercise).
    • Glutamine supplements reduce muscle damage and inflammation caused by exercise, and it aids in exercise recovery, making you ready for the next session.
  6. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
    • BCAAs are building blocks to proteins that are often included in pre-workout formulas. They promote muscle building and reduce muscle breakdown.
    • BCAAs consist of three important molecules: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are found in high quantities in many protein-containing foods, particularly animal products.
    • BCAAs help reduces exercise-induced muscle damage, which can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness.
    • The recommended doses of BCAAs may vary but are often 5 to 20 grams.
  7. Nitrate
    • Nitrate is a molecule found in vegetables, such as spinach, turnips, and beetroot.
    • Studies report that the nitrates in beetroot juice are converted into a molecule called nitric oxide, which can increase blood flow and exercise performance by decreasing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise.
    • It improves vascular health by repairing and maintaining the innermost layer of blood vessels.
    • The optimal dose of nitrate is 2.7 to 5.9 mg per pound of body weight.
  8. Sodium bicarbonate
    • Also called baking soda, it acts as a buffering agent that helps fight against acid buildup in the body.
    • Lactic acid accumulation is characterized by the burning feeling in the muscles, and sodium bicarbonate may help reduce fatigue during exercise, thus reducing this burning sensation.
    • The optimal dose for better exercise performance is about 136 mg per pound of body weight.
  9. Carbohydrates
    • When exercising, especially at high intensities, the body uses blood glucose and glycogen (stored carbs) as its main energy source.
    • Topping off carbs levels before you start your workout can help increase energy availability and performance.


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5 pros of pre-workout supplements

  1. Improves performance
  2. Increases endurance, concentration, and focus
  3. Increases speed, stamina, and strength
  4. Provides a faster recovery
  5. Beneficial changes in body composition

4 cons of pre-workout supplements

Because pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, safety is a big concern. Lack of regulation and knowledge about the ingredients on a supplement’s label can make a pre-workout product dangerous.

  1. Jittery feeling or interrupted sleep caused by overstimulation
  2. Tolerance with overuse
  3. Digestive problems
  4. Some side effects of pre-workout supplements include:

Why do people take pre-workout supplements?

Most people take pre-workout supplements to exercise harder or feel better and less overwhelmed when working out.

The hope is that the pre-workout supplement will help enhance performance, mainly through boosting energy and increased mental focus.

Should you take a pre-workout supplement?

As with any supplement, you need to talk to your doctor before you take a pre-workout supplement, especially if you have any health conditions, are pregnant, or are on any medications.

For the best results, use pre-workout three to four times a week. You can buy a premade product or make one yourself.

Taking the pre-workout consistently and 30 to 60 minutes before you exercise can make your workouts last longer, and you might feel less tired during and after them.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
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