A pre-workout supplement, often referred to as a “pre-workout” in the fitness world, is a dietary supplement that promises to increase energy, mitigate fatigue, and improve your overall performance in the gym and on the field. Most of them are powders that you combine with water and drink prior to your workout. However, there are a few that are capsules, which some people find more convenient.
When it comes to workout supplements, pre-workouts have the most variation when it comes to ingredients, dosages and effects. That being said, most of them do have some combination of the following basic ingredients:
It is very important that you are cautious when using a pre-workout. Unfortunately, since the FDA regulates them like food, not drugs, some companies have taken advantage of that and are not always honest in their labeling. Of course, you can be sure that the formulas listed here can be trusted. These are reputable companies and their formulas have been proven.
Do You Need a Pre-Workout?
To be honest, you really don’t need a pre-workout supplement because you really can get everything you need to support your fitness goals through your diet. It’s also important that you understand supplements are made to supplement a healthy, well-balanced diet. They are not meant to replace healthy eating habits.
However, if you want to push past your current physical and mental limits and you want the convenience of a pre-workout, you need to make sure that it has undergone third-party testing. This way we can be 100% sure of the quality, potency, and purity.
Finally, keep in mind that these supplements are considered safe for healthy adults- but it’s a good idea to speak with a medical professional before you start this or any other dietary supplement.
What to Look for in a Pre-Workout
When you are choosing a pre-workout, it’s critical to think about the type of workouts you will be doing. The “ideal” pre-workout will depend on the results you hope to achieve. The ingredients in the pre-workout will improve certain aspects of your performance and the various ingredients focus on various areas, such as stamina or endurance.
Learning more about the ingredients and understanding how they work will help you determine what’s best for you. Here are some of the ingredients you should look for in an “ideal” pre-workout supplement. We did list most of these ingredients above, but now we’ll look a little closer at these and a few other ingredients.
BCAAs- that is, branched chain amino acids, is a tripeptide, which is a combination of three amino acids Isoleucine, Valine, and Leucine. BCAAs assist with muscle growth and decrease the breakdown of protein. The most effective ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine is 2:1:1. This means if you have 7 grams of leucine, you should have 3.5 grams each of valine and isoleucine.
Beta-alanine is a staple ingredient that helps you handle the burning sensation in your muscles. This helps you push out a few more reps, which allows you to get the most out of every set.
Caffeine is what gives you the boost of energy that you need for HIIT workouts and endurance training. It enhances your power and strength and helps decrease soreness.
Creatine boosts strength, increases lean muscle mass, and helps with post-workout recovery.
L-citrulline improves blood flow by opening up your blood vessels and reducing blood pressure. The increase in blood flow allows oxygen and nutrients to get to your muscles quicker, which makes your workout much more efficient.
Ideally, you need 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D to improve muscle strength and cardio fitness, as well as improve recovery from hardcore workouts. Unfortunately, most people are deficient when it comes to Vitamin D- which makes it an even more critical part of your diet.
Another nutrient that people are often deficient in is magnesium. Ideally, you should be getting between 200 and 400 milligrams every day. Magnesium impacts muscle contractions, muscle growth, and a variety of other important bodily functions.
You only need 500 milligrams of beetroot extract to level up your endurance and improve muscle pump. When it comes to strength training, muscle pump is critical.
When you are reading over the ingredient label on a pre-workout supplement, make sure that you pay attention to keywords and phrases like “proprietary blend”. This indicates that the brand lacks transparency about the ingredients that are in their product. It’s best to choose a brand that clearly lists their ingredients and the dosages. This way, you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
Additionally, a detailed ingredient list allows you to find out exactly how the pre-workout supplement will benefit your workout performance.
Top 5 Best Healthy Pre-Workouts Highlights
|Transparent Labs Pre-Workout||
|Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout||
Top 5 Best Healthy Pre-Workouts Reviews
XWERKS Ignite is the G.O.A.T of pre-workout supplements. This is a brand that you can rely on to optimize your performance in the gym and on the field. The combination of ingredients promises to improve your stamina, focus, and energy.
XWERKS never puts a “proprietary blend” in their supplements. They make sure each and every ingredient, along with the dosage is clearly listed on the label. The ingredients in this supplement are clinically proven to ensure that you get the most out of your workouts each and every time.
XWERKS Ignite is formulated to ensure that you have refreshing, steady, and long-lasting energy. Many of the other supplements on the market overwhelm your body with stimulants that give you a boost of energy followed by a crash. Some of the most important ingredients you will see on the label are: caffeine, beta-alanine, Rhodiola rosea, Vitamin B6 and B12, and L-tyrosine.
The energy blend included in XWERKS Ignite provides you with continuous energy through your training sessions. The nootropic ingredients give your brain a boost and help keep you focused on your training. Finally, the endurance blend helps you increase the length of your workouts, add more reps, and speed up recovery compared to other brands.
One thing you can be sure of is that XWERKS only uses ingredients that are backed by science. This is why they are so popular and well-rated. This pre-workout is perfect for anyone that is looking to level up their training and actually see results they can measure.
This product comes in four flavors: orange, blue raspberry, green apple, and watermelon.
|Cost||$49.00, or $46.55 with subscription|
|Servings per container||30|
Though it’s not nearly as recognizable as some of the other well-known brands on the list, Blackwolf does offer pre-workout supplements that taste great, have ingredients that are certified, and utilize high-quality packaging. Blackwolf is part of MuscleClub Limited, which is a dietary supplement company that is located in the United Kingdom.
Blackwolf is fairly new to the market, but MuscleClub Limited has been around for several decades. Their pre-workout formula is offered in three flavors: fruit punch, blue raspberry, and green apple. It’s also important to note that they offer two formulations: one that is caffeinated and one that is non-caffeinated.
This supplement will cost you $45 for a 30 day supply. It contains 2000 milligrams of betaine, 3000 milligrams of creatine, 1000 milligrams of L-arginine, 600 milligrams of L-tyrosine, 3200 milligrams of beta-alanine, 6000 milligrams of L-citrulline, and 1000 milligrams of taurine in each dose. This is one of the highest dosages on our list.
In addition to the above, the caffeinated formulation contains 200 milligrams of caffeine and 150 milligrams of DMAE. The non-caffeinated formulation contains 10 milligrams of Huperzine.
|Servings per container||30|
Transparent Labs Pre-Workout
Transparent Labs, like a few of the other names on our list, is among the well-known and respected names in the industry. They are known for their variety of bodybuilding supplements that help you reach your fitness goals.
At this time, Transparent Labs actually offers 6 pre-workout formulas. Some of them are designed to help users bulk up, while others are formulated to increase energy levels. Some of them help with weight loss. Some are stimulant-free, while others contain stimulants. Here are the 6 pre-workout formulas offered by Transparent Labs:
- Pre-series Bulk
- Pre-series Lean
- Pre-series Jessie James West Bulk
- Pre-series HowToBeast Bulk
- Pre-series Stim-Free
- Pre-series Stim-Booster
Many of the other companies have created formulas that take the “all-in-one” approach, but Transparent Labs has created unique formulas to help you reach specific goals. This pre-workout lineup contains certified ingredients and strong dosages, which makes it one of the best on the market.
|Flavors||Watermelon, Sour Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch, Orange, Green Apple, Blue Raspberry|
|Servings per container|
Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout
C4 Pre-Workout by Cellucor is considered an “old standby”. This is one of the first mass produced pre-workout supplements and is still considered one of the best. This is the one that many people automatically think about when someone mentions the word “pre-workout”.
Cellucor provides 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, 1 gram of arginine, 1 gram of creatine, and 150 milligrams of caffeine per dose. This is four ingredients at four reasonable doses that are effective for improving your workout in a variety of ways.
Also, Cellucor C4 is one of the most affordable options on the market today. You can get a smaller bottle for around $30 and a 60 dose bottle for around $50.
Cellucor C4 is ideal for anyone that wants an affordable pre-workout that is also effective. There are two versions of Cellucor C4: Original and Extreme. The Extreme version is ideal for anyone that wants to optimize their energy and endurance.
|Cost||Starting at $30|
|Servings per container||30+|
Another popular name in the dietary supplement arena is CrazyBulk. They are known for making legal, high-quality alternatives to steroids. CrazyBulk Intensive Pre-Train supports the reputation of the company by providing lasting energy and decreased fatigue during HIIT workouts, along with a plethora of other benefits.
Just like many of the other pre-workout supplements with unique ingredients, this one contains a caffeine booster called EnXtra. In addition, KSM-66 ashwagandha is included in this formulation. This ingredient isn’t available in many other pre-workout supplements.
According to the website, CrazyBulk Pre-Train should be taken daily to improve energy levels and focus. In addition, it can help decrease fatigue and help you push past your workout limits. Another advantage of this supplement is that it’s priced affordably, and it ships all over the world. This is the perfect solution for those that want a top-quality pre-workout from a reputable brand at a price that won’t break the bank.
|Servings per container||30|
FAQs about Best Healthy Pre-Workouts
Since there’s not a lot of regulation with dietary supplements, there are often lots of questions that come up. After all, you want to make sure that a product is trustworthy before you consume it. Below, we’re going to explore some of the most frequently asked questions about best healthy pre-workouts.
Are pre-workouts really safe to consume?
For most healthy adults, pre-workouts are 100% safe to consume. That being said, it’s still a good idea to consult with a medical professional to determine if you are healthy enough to start taking this or any other supplement and/or start a new exercise or nutrition routine.
Does a pre-workout cause you to gain weight?
Yes, if you start using a pre-workout, you will see the scale go up. However, it is because you are building muscle mass and muscle weighs more than fat. Of course, you will also gain some water weight if the supplement contains creatine because this ingredient causes your body to pull water into the muscles to bulk them up. Once you stop using the pre-workout, you will lose that water weight, but the muscle will stay.
What is meant by “proprietary blend”?
Many brands list what is known as “proprietary blend” on their ingredient label. This is just a blend of ingredients where the dosages are not listed, just the total amount. Unfortunately, many of the less reputable companies use this to hide what they do and do not include in their formulas.
When should you take a pre-workout?
There is no specific answer on this, per se. You need to read the label on the supplement you are using. That being said, a good rule to follow is to consume it approximately 30 minutes prior to working out.
Can you take a pre-workout every day?
Yes, most of the pre-workouts are safe to consume daily. However, make sure that you carefully read the label on the pre-workout you are using. There are some that contain high doses of stimulants and need to be cycled.
What are some alternatives to pre-workouts?
One of the questions a lot of people ask is about the alternatives to pre-workouts. There are a few. One of the oldest (and perhaps easiest) alternatives to a pre-workout is simply a cup of coffee. Hydration and caffeine will go a long way towards improving your motivation and performance in your workout.
If you’re looking for a more modern alternative, adding MCT oil to your coffee can help give you a jolt of energy. Of course, if you feel like you can handle it, you could always put together your own pre-workout by combining beta-alanine, BCAAs, and creatine- but do you really want to do that when you can get a pre-workout that’s already mixed up for you?
Can pre-workouts be bad for you?
As a general rule, pre-workouts are 100% safe- especially if you are in generally good health. However, even if you are in good health, you may experience some negative reactions if there is a lot of caffeine or beta-alanine in the formulation.
Overdosing on caffeine can cause you to be irritable, anxious, nauseous, and/or jittery- which are not helpful if you are trying to work out. Some people experience tingling due to the beta-alanine. Another common ingredient that causes tingling is niacin. This is mostly just uncomfortable. It’s not detrimental to your health.
Do you really need a pre-workout?
If your primary goal is to simply be physically fit, you probably don’t need a pre-workout- just make sure that you’re following a healthy eating plan. However, if you are serious about your physical fitness and you want to level up your muscle gains, a pre-workout could be extremely beneficial.
Pre-workouts are ideal for workouts involving anaerobic power, aerobic endurance, and muscular strength. This means if you’re doing yoga, a pre-workout isn’t really going to do a lot for you.
The benefits of pre-workouts are related to how intense your workout is and how serious you are about pushing past your limits and achieving more from your workouts. This is the reason that pre-workouts are so popular among high-level, competitive athletics.
What does a pre-workout do?
A pre-workout prepares your body for peak performance. Each ingredient has a special role that it achieves.
- BCAAs prevent damage to your muscles. This means that you can work out more often.
- Beta-alanine keeps lactic acid from building up in your muscles. This means you can work out longer.
- Creatine gives you more power and increases the size of muscle fibers.
- Caffeine gives you more energy, allowing you to push more power with the same effort.
As you can see, each of the ingredients acts in a different way in the body- but the overall goal is to improve your athletic performance in the gym and on the field.
How long will a pre-workout remain in your system?
While it’s important to understand that elimination varies from one ingredient to another- but as a general rule, you can expect it to remain in your system for 2 to 3 hours. If you’re doing a long workout or you’re splitting 2 workouts, you may wish to use another supplement, called an intra-workout, to help keep your energy levels up- but in most cases, this won’t be needed.
If you’ve been around the fitness industry, you’ve heard people talk about pre-workout supplements, also referred to as “pre-workouts”. However, you may have been a bit confused. There are so many options on the market, it’s hard to narrow it down. This is why we’ve put together this list of top 5 best healthy pre-workouts.
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