Last Updated: August 20, 2023
If you’ve been working out for any decent amount of time, you know that you don’t always show up for every workout with your tail wagging. In fact, there are times when you may be feeling tired, unmotivated, and just plain mopey.
When it comes down to making gains at the gym, there’s a big difference between having a “good enough” session and testing your limits. After all, it’s by squeezing out those last few reps, by giving it that one last push, where you really start to see the best rewards for your efforts.
The Top 5 Pre-workout Supplements Ranked
On other sites I see “best pre-workout reviews” listing the top 10, top 15, even the top 20 supplements. As far as I’m concerned, that’s way too many products to wade through – it’s confusing, and it doesn’t do you or anybody else any good.
You just want to know the best of the best, and that’s what I aim to do here.
I’ve tried I don’t know how many pre-workout supplements and powders over the years, but I currently have my list of go-to favorites narrowed down to just three. I like to cycle through them, so when I polish off a container of one brand, I switch to one of the others.
Perfect for beginners and seasoned pros alike, these supplements are all-purpose, meeting or exceeding the needs of most people’s fitness goals, and hit all the key areas you look for when choosing the right pre-workout.
And while there are definitely cheaper pre-workout powders on the market, the following brands can’t be beat when it comes to quality, effectiveness, and (most importantly) results. These products are worth every penny in my book.
Manufacturer: Roar Ambition Ltd.
Description: Based on years of scientific research and clinical studies, 4 Gauge is considered by many to be the most powerful natural supplement that boosts both physical and mental performance, helping you achieve better workout results than ever before.
4 Gauge is an industry-leading 4-in-1 pre-workout supplement that enhances every aspect of your workout performance: strength, energy, focus, and intense muscle pumps. This is the only pre-workout that provides these levels of results while being all-natural, including even the trace ingredients like sweeteners.
- Explosive Power – Develop a stronger link between your body and brain to lift more weight, and build more muscle.
- Super-Sharp Focus – Greater concentration during your workouts, with a laser-like focus to give 110% to your training.
- Prolonged Stamina – Longer workout sessions with greater endurance, enjoying more strength for longer periods to boost your gains.
- Awesome Muscle Pumps – Feel more blood surging to your muscles during workouts. See greater gains in size, vascularity, and stamina.
Directions: Mix two level scoops of 4 Gauge to 10-12 oz. of water or juice 20-30 minutes prior to workout. Once tolerance has been assessed, you may take 3-4 total scoops for an extra energy boost.
Servings Per Container: 20
Bottom Line: The 4 Gauge preworkout supplement is perfect for anyone who wants to see faster results in the gym and perform better athletically. There may be cheaper alternatives, but there is no other pre-workout supplement on the market that offers this many high-performing ingredients with these kinds of results.
If you want to take your workouts to the next level, you’ll definitely want to try 4 Gauge. Highly recommended.
Pre Lab Pro
Manufacturer: Opti-Nutra Ltd.
Description: Perfect for athletes and bodybuilders, Pre Lab Pro is a truly unique preworkout supplement that allows you to unleash the power of your muscles. It boosts and sustains blood flow, which enhances strength, stamina, focus and endurance.
Pre Lab Pro also extends into post-workout for muscle recovery, making your body will feel like it has an unlimited supply of energy.
Pre-Lab Pro contains a truly unique blend of ingredients designed to give athletes full energy before they start their workout. That way when it’s time for lift or sprints on the field or court – all systems are go.
The main active ingredients that make this product so highly rated are its Setria Performance Blend and the RedNite beet root extract. Together, they boost the only 2 nutritional NO2 pathways known to science.
RedNite beetroot extract supplies dietary nitrate that is reduced into nitrite, which is then converted into nitric oxide. The Setria Performance Blend supplies L-Citrulline that is converted to L-Arginine, which increases nitric oxide levels in the blood.
It also supplies L-Glutathione to protect and extend NOx activity. Additionally, because the RedNite extract is fast-acting, and the Setria Performance Blend is extended, Pre Lab Pro provides a strong NO2 boost, followed by a secondary surge to help you give you a strong finish that carries over into post-workout to maintain nitric oxide muscle benefits while recovering.
Directions: Mix one scoop into 12 oz. of water. Drink 30 minutes prior to workout.
If desired, two scoops may be used to increase potency. Doses may also be split up and taken intra-workout if desired.
Servings Per Container: 20
Bottom Line: In my opinion, Pre Lab Pro is a holy grail among pre-workout supplements. It not only provides a clean rush that enhances strength and stamina, but it also extends past your workout to help kick start muscle recovery post-exercise.
The clean rush of blood flow will make you feel stronger, more energized and focused during your workout. Plus, it makes post-workout recovery a breeze, making this a must-try product.
Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train
Manufacturer: Wolfson Berg Limited
Description: Crazy Nutrition’s Intensive Pre-Train is a high-quality energy-boosting pre-workout powder designed for getting the maximum gains from your workouts.
Intensive Pre-Train is formulated with a unique combination of vitamin C, caffeine, and l-tyrosine, which supports the production of catecholamines. Catecholamines are neurotransmitters that trigger signals in the brain to get your body ready primed for highly intense physical activity.
It comes in a great-tasting blue raspberry flavor, is vegan-friendly, and is 100% gluten-free. Some of the main benefits gained from using Intensive Pre-Train include:
- Increased energy and stamina for training.
- Alertness and focus during workouts.
- Unique formula prevents that “caffeine crash”.
To take your training to the next level, and for maximum results, this product is designed to be stacked with Crazy Nutrition’s Tri-Protein powder and Ultimate CRN-5, which is my go-to creatine supplement and made the top of our Best Creatine Supplements list. Using these three products together will turbo-charge your results, no question about it.
Directions: Mix one scoop in approximately 16 oz. of water in a shaker bottle. Shake thoroughly and consume 20-30 minutes before exercise.
Do not consume more than one serving per day. You may mix with more or less water according to taste.
Servings Per Container: 30
Bottom Line: Like all of the Crazy Nutrition line of supplements, Intensive Pre-Train pre-workout powder is a high-quality and effective product. If you’re serious about getting the most return on investment at the gym, then give this a try – your results will be all the proof you need.
Transparent Labs PreSeries LEAN Pre-Workout
Manufacturer: Transparent Labs
Description: PreSeries LEAN was created with one purpose in mind: to be the best “Cutting” Pre-workout available, for both men and women. All the key ingredients, including citrulline malate and beta-alanine as well as betaine and BCCAs, are included in this supplement in Clinically effective doses.
It contain no harmful additives, fillers or colored dyes.
PreSeries LEAN has 100% formula transparency and a powerful Fat Burning and Thyroid Support complex that includes Zinc and Chromium Picolinate. It is ideal for anyone who wants to target stubborn fat while also preventing muscle loss.
PreSeries LEAN comes in large containers for a reason. Each serving is more than 15g and contains 21 active ingredients that are synergistically combined to create a highly-intensive workout, while specifically targeting fat loss and increased performance energy.
PRESeries LEAN is made with fermented Vegan BCAAs, and is a vegan-friendly pre-workout supplement.
Directions: It is recommend to take PreSeries LEAN 20-30 minutes before your workout. Mix 1/2 scoop to 6-8 fl. oz of water (to test tolerance), or 1 full scoop to 12-16 fl. oz of water.
Bottom Line: PreSeries LEAN can be used to burn fat while maintaining and preparing muscles for the highest possible performance. Taking PreSeries LEAN is a great way for me to turbocharge my workouts, lose the fat, maximize muscle preservation, and accelerate athletic development.
Manufacturer: MuscleClub Limited
Description: BlackWolf is a pre-workout supplement used and endorsed by elite athletes and packed with scientifically-researched ingredients. Dosed at clinically effective levels, it’s got just the right amount of ingredients you need to deliver a power-packed workout every session.
It’s got l-citrulline, dynamine, creatine, and caffeine for ongoing energy, but without the crash. Then there’s dynamine, taurine and l-tyrosine so you can stay laser-focused on every facet of your workout.
And beta alanine, betaine, and AAKG give you the stamina to maintain peak performance for longer, no matter how vigorous your workout. Finally, there’s coconut water powder for hydration and recovery, and BioPerine to enhance absorption of all these ingredients for a much more effective product.
And for those who work out at night or who otherwise prefer to forego the caffeine, the BlackWolf Fruit Punch flavor pre-workout contains absolutely no caffeine. Instead, it’s formulated with DMAE and huperzine to enhance focus and concentration during your sessions.
BlackWolf is also 100% free of meat, eggs, dairy, or other animal-derived substances, and is 100% vegan-friendly.
Directions: Mix one scoop of BlackWolf pre-workout powder with water to taste, 15-30 minutes prior to exercise.
Servings Per Container: 22
Bottom Line: BlackWolf charges you up for your training sessions in all the beneficial ways you want, and in none of the negative ways you don’t – jitter-free and crash-free. It delivers clean, high-quality, prolonged energy and focus for next-level performance that won’t have you feeling wired.
Why Use a Pre-Workout Supplement?
The truth is that unless you fuel your body before performing any prolonged strenuous activity, you’ll feel weaker and less energized, and your batteries will start to run low in a hurry. Pre-workouts exist to counteract this, and to help you keep going harder and for longer.
Many bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts use pre-workout supplements before exercise for a number of benefits, including:
- Boost energy
- Increase strength and power output
- Promote muscle growth
- Encourage fat loss
- Speed recovery time
- Improve blood flow
- Enhance athletic performance, such as speed and endurance.
Pre-workouts can also improve concentration to fully focus on your exercises, and give you motivation for that kick in the ass when you need it.
Bottom line: these supplements are designed to let you squeeze every last drop of performance out of each workout.
What’s In Pre-Workout Supplements?
Out of all the workout supplements being made, pre-workouts are among those with the widest variety of ingredients and benefits. This is one of the main reasons why it’s so difficult trying to determine the best pre-workout from the rest.
For starters, most pre-workout supplements contain some type of stimulant to give you a boost of energy and stamina. But they can also include many other ingredients, like amino acids, vitamins, herbal extracts, and others, all formulated to enhance muscle growth, endurance, fat loss, recovery, strength, blood flow, and more.
But is it even necessary to use a pre-workout? Shouldn’t good diet, nutrition, sleep, and other positive lifestyle choices be all you need for a great workout?
Well, there’s no doubt that these things can make a dramatic improvement to your athletic performance (and just about every other aspect of your life), but for those who want to take it to their workouts to the next level, who need a competitive edge, or just want the added advantage, using a pre workout supplement can make a significant impact to your results.
All that said, no supplement will work all by itself, and as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. You’ll still need to put the effort in at the gym and be smart about your diet and nutrition. However, pre-workouts can offer you an advantage by utilizing extra resources of energy and endurance you didn’t even know you had in you.
Mark McIntyre is the founder of MaleHealthReview.com and acts as it’s chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men’s health. More about this author…