Pre-workout supplements are awesome at optimizing peak athletic performance. It’s mostly known for being taken before the gym—we know you might’ve taken it before parties in college, but that’s not what pre-workout is for.
These days, there are a lot of pre-workouts popping up on the market. Some have their own unique spin as to why they’re unique from the rest. Others simply have wild names and designs to coincide with an aggressive marketing strategy.
We looked for the six best pre-workout supplements on the market and found what makes each one tic. But before we start, it’s important we clear the air on what pre-workout exactly is. We also want to answer the question of safety that’s asked around the use of the supplement.
What is Pre-Workout Made From?
Pre-workout is designed to fuel your body before a workout. It’s a supplement, and a supplement’s purpose is to aid in what we should already be taking in throughout the day. The keyword in the prior sentence is “should,” because it can become a challenge for us to properly fuel our bodies with all the nutrients we need—especially if we are about to exert maximum amounts of energy.
In essence, pre-workout is designed to boost energy levels and increase focus. This can be done in a number of ways but the main ingredients companies will use are sugars, caffeine, and other energy-boosting supplements.
There are also sometimes added nutrients and vitamins to make a more optimized supplement for workouts. Ingredients like creatine (a supplement known to increase muscle power and performance) as well as BCAAs (helps with endurance and supports protein synthesis) are oftentimes added.
B-vitamins are also common to see added to pre-workout, as some of them play important roles in energy production. Two. examples include Vitamin B12, which supports blood production, and Vitamin B3, which supports DNA repair.
How Safe is Pre-Workout?
Pre-workout is not subject to FDA approval, but that does not mean it’s unsafe. The answer to navigating which pre-workouts are safe is knowing what to look for and doing your research.
A general rule of thumb for pre-workout is avoiding the ones loaded with insane amounts of caffeine and/or sugar. A daily recommendation for caffeine in adults is about 400mg (two to three cups), so anything near or over that can cause effects like jitters, restlessness, and even heart problems.
With wild amounts of sugar, you’re most at risk for simply canceling out your gains. Too much sugar can lead to high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and diabetes.
The last note we’ll say is to read the label. If you’re unfamiliar with an ingredient it’s worth researching and seeing what the FDA says about it. You also want to make sure it doesn’t contain any banned substances (especially if you are competing in any sports).
The 6 Best Pre-Workouts On the Market
Like mentioned earlier, we looked for the six best pre-workouts on the market. Read on below to see what we found and learn about the ingredients in each one.
Best Bang for your Buck: C4 Ripped Sport Pre Workout Powder Fruit Punch
C4 is probably the most known pre-workout supplement out there. C4 Ripped contains much of the same ingredients as the original C4 except it’s taken down a notch in caffeine with 135mg. It’s formulated with CarnnoSyn Beta-Alanine, which has been found to support muscular endurance and fight fatigue—it also can cause that slight tingling sensation C4 users all know too well. The best part about C4 Ripped is it’s NSF Certified for Sport and is recognized by USADA, the MLB, and the NHL. Oh, and it’s also sugar-free.
Best for Sports: Legion Pulse Pre Workout Supplement Blue Raspberry
Pulse is naturally sweetened and flavored. It also contains all-natural energy sources—350mg of caffeine and 350mg L-Theanine. Included is citrulline malate, which relieves muscle soreness and increases blood flow, and beta-alanine for reducing fatigue and increasing performance. Made in the USA at an NSF-certified facility.
Best Low-Energy Delivery: Jocko GO Pre Workout (Mango Mayhem)
Jocko Willnik’s supplements line has quickly climbed to the top of the game. Jocko GO is his signature pre-workout. It’s keto-friendly and includes vitamin C and l-citrulline. What’s unique is Jocko GO is a low-energy supplement, designed to give a steady flow of sharp focus (95mg of caffeine and 95mg of L-Theanine). Another cool aspect about Jocko GO is it’s naturally sweetened by monk fruit—so the sugar-free formula contains zero artificial sweeteners or flavors.
Biggest Boost of Energy: Redcon1 Total War Sour Gummy Bear—Pre Workout Powder
Redcon1’s Total War can essentially be described by the name itself. It’s boosted with 350mg of caffeine, so you’re going to feel the energy boost pretty fast (to take this safely you’ll want to monitor other caffeine intakes throughout the day). Total War is keto-friendly and includes beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and a nitric oxide booster (improves blood flow). The sour gummy bear flavor is the cherry on top of this strong formula.
Best Vegan-Friendly: Honey Badger Performance Energy Mango Peach
Honey Badger is vegan, keto, and paleo-friendly. It contains zero sugar, zero calories and is gluten-free and soy-free. The pre-workout draws its energy from natural caffeine-anhydrous, which is a more concentrated form of caffeine extracted from the seeds and leaves of a coffee plant. Honey Badger also has added BCAAs that are non-GMO. If you’re looking for a clean pre-workout made in the USA, this is a solid choice.
The OG Pick: C4 Original Pre Workout Powder ICY Blue Razz
The original C4 pre-workout formula. Before C4 Ripped, there was this bad boy. It contains 150mg of caffeine, Beta-Alanine, creatine, and Vitamin C. Featuring the classic must-try flavor, ICY Blue Razz.
John is the Style & Gear Editor for BroBible. You can contact him on Twitter @johnthompsoniv or via email John@brobible.com
The BroBible team writes about gear that we think you want. Occasionally, we write about items that are a part of one of our affiliate partnerships and we will get a percentage of the revenue from sales.