There comes a time when just about everyone appreciates having a little pre-workout in their life. Maybe you didn’t sleep as well as you’d like the night before and feel like you’re really dragging yourself around. Or, perhaps you’re gearing up for your max PR on squats and feel like you’d definitely appreciate a little something to give you that extra drive. Or, maybe you’re on a mission to get ripped and want a boost.
Whatever the case, the best pre workout can help get you those results. A pre-workout supplement is, as the name suggests, a workout supplement that you’ll take before you hit the gym to optimize your gym performance. It’s designed to work with your body to help out on a variety of different areas, ensuring that you are ready to crush it each and every time you pick up the iron.
One quick look online or at your local supplement store however will quickly overwhelm you as you see you are faced with hundreds of options to choose from.
So which should you direct your attention to? Which pre-workout will be the best of the best?
In order for a pre-workout to stand above the crowd, it needs to satisfy five different categories. When you can check all those boxes, you know you’ve found a winner.
Here are your requirements for the best pre workout supplement.
The first requirement and one of the most obvious is that the pre-workout needs to provide you with an excellent dose of energy. A pre-workout serves as a great pick-me up when you’ve had a busy day and still have that workout left to do. You might feel like just skipping the gym altogether, but once you get the pre-workout in you, you’ll be much more in the mood.
When seeking the best pre-workout, you’ll want to look for one that does contain caffeine, as this has been proven to be one of the best ingredients to increase energy and one that will help to boost overall strength and performance (1). Those athletes who use caffeine will have a longer time to fatigue than those who don’t.
Next up the best pre workout should also help you achieve better muscle pumps in the gym. Many people think that muscle pumps are more just for looks and for motivation.
While it’s true, there’s nothing like seeing your muscles full and enlarged to give you that all-powerful feeling that will surely make you push just a bit harder, muscle pumps do more than that.
When you have a good muscle pump, this means you’re getting increased blood, oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues. This helps reduce the build-up of byproducts caused during muscle contractions and therefore, can help you push a lot harder in the gym.
Those who have good muscle pumps typically get better endurance as they workout and can do more sets and reps before fatigue sets in.
So which ingredients do you want to be on the lookout for to achieve mind-blowing pumps?
L-Citrulline Malate is your top pick. This ingredient not only will give you a great energy boost, but will also help to inflate your muscles (2). Most products come in with just a gram or two of this per serving, so try and find a product that lists this as one of it’s key components. 5000 mg or more per serving is a good starting point.
A second ingredient to look out for is Arginine. Arginine acts as the pre-curser in the body for nitric oxide, which is another powerful substance that causes vasodilation to take place, which then means more blood and oxygen are getting to the muscle tissues.
That’s not the only benefit of arginine however. Research has shown (3) that arginine may also help to boost the release of growth hormone in the body, which is a key hormone that will help direct mass gains as well as body fat burning. It may also help to assist with the synthesis of creatine, which, if you’ve done any research on supplementation at all, you know is another of the most powerful supplements you could take. With more creatine floating around in your system, this can also help you perform more total reps without suffering from that unwanted fatigue.
If you can get both L-Citrulline Malate and Arginine in a single pre-workout supplement, you can feel confident that’s one that will carry you to great performance.
Strength is another primary focus of any product considered the best pre workout supplement. This product should have you feeling like you can lift pounds more than normal, crushing all your personal bests to date.
Two of the best ingredients to be on the lookout for here include beta alanine as well as betaine anhydrous. Beta alanine helps to generate carnosine production in the body and that helps to improve overall levels of muscle endurance when you are performing intense exercise.
Basically, as things heat up in the gym, beta alanine ensures you don’t tire out. This means more weight lifted, more sets performed, more growth results.
Betaine anhydrous on the other hand has been proven to help improve overall body composition, assisting with the growth of lean muscle mass and burning of body fat, while also improving total work capacity on key lifts and increase muscle size (4).
If you are training for power, this ingredient is one that you’ll definitely want to have added into the mix (5).
Focus is the next area to pay attention to when purchasing your pre-workout supplement. The good news is that if the product contains caffeine, you’ll already be getting focus related benefits.
Caffeine has been proven to not only boost athletic performance but also enhance cognitive performance as well (6), so this can help give you that drive you’re looking for when in the gym.
Many people overlook the psychological element of their gym sessions, thinking they only need to tend to the physical but as you get lifting heavier weights, your psychological drive and status becomes just as important.
Now, all of this sounds great and you might think, the higher the dosage of these ingredients, the better, right?
Wrong. The problem is that if you dose these ingredients too high, while you might get one crazy-insane workout in, you’ll be in for a serious crash after that workout is over (or even before you leave the gym in some cases).
This can leave you feeling miserable and worse, depending on what’s in the product, you could become reliant on it to feel good again. Caffeine, as you may have already found out the hard way, does have an acclimatization effect in the body, meaning your body adapts to the amount you take. Meaning, if you begin with a massive dose, soon that dose won’t do much for you and you’ll need to take even more. This puts you on a one-way street to burnout.
You shouldn’t feel terrible as your pre-workout wears off. Instead, you should just notice a slight decline in energy the longer out of your workout you are. A moderate dose of caffeine will help provide this.
Some pre-workout supplements simply pack in as much caffeine as they can to try and make up for the lack of other helpful ingredients, so this should be avoided. With the right ingredient mix, you shouldn’t need 400+ mg of caffeine per serving.
It’s also helpful if the product contains L-Theanine, which can help promote relaxation in the body without causing you to feel drowsy. This will help ensure you come down off the preworkout feeling well, not like you need to go lay down for the rest of the day.
There you have the key pillars that make up the best pre workout. If you want results, it’s in your best interests to ensure that these are in the picture. Get everything you need in one go with Alpha Lion Superhuman pre-workout, which offers all these key ingredients and more to help you optimize your workout performance.
Wrapped up in a single, easy to use great tasting product and it’s all you need before you hit the gym.
- Graham, Terry E. “Caffeine and exercise.” Sports medicine 31.11 (2001): 785-807.
- Gardiner, Paul, and Marvin Heuer. “Nutritional composition for enhancing lean muscle stimulus, growth, strength and recovery, creating and prolonging intense muscle pumps, supporting endurance, strength, performance, size and stamina, providing a transducer effect for nitric oxide, increasing nutrient delivery and/or promoting increased vascular response in an individual.” U.S. Patent Application No. 11/119,168.
- Campbell, Bill I., Paul M. La Bounty, and Mike Roberts. “The ergogenic potential of arginine.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 1.2 (2004): 35.
- Cholewa, Jason M., et al. “Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 39.
- Cholewa, Jason M., Lucas Guimaraes-Ferreira, and Nelo Eidy Zanchi. “Effects of betaine on performance and body composition: a review of recent findings and potential mechanisms.” Amino acids 46.8 (2014): 1785-1793.
- Giles, Grace E., et al. “Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose.” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 102.4 (2012): 569-577.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
Now I’m on a mission to transform as many lives as possible and I’m so excited you found us!
I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside and pick the brain of some of the best pro athletes, bodybuilders and trainers in the world – and this site represents over 15+ years of insights from the world’s best.
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