Best Pre-Workout Powders

Updated July 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

87 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best pre-workout powders

Last Updated July 2019

You’re ready to hit the gym, determined to crush your workout. What can you take to make sure you can power through, no matter how tough your routine? A potent pre-workout powder can add an extra boost to any exercise regimen. With the right one, you can propel yourself safely to improve, with extra energy and endurance to boot.

Pre-workout powder can be a powerful exercise supplement because it contains ingredients meant to boost energy and combat muscle fatigue. It’s mainly beneficial for those looking for heightened focus, increased metabolism, more muscle mass and strength, and better overall performance.

Not all pre-workout powder is created equal, however, and it’s important to understand your body as well as your training goals before selecting one. Here, we’ve put together some factors to consider when choosing a pre-workout powder, as well as some of our top recommendations.

Beta-alanine, commonly found in pre-workout powders, is known to improve immunity as well as performance.

Key considerations

Caffeine

When searching for a pre-workout powder, you’ll want to understand how your body reacts to stimulants. The main stimulant used in these products is caffeine, and many of them deliver anywhere from 100 to 400 milligrams (by comparison, an eight-ounce cup of coffee has 95 milligrams). The added caffeine increases alertness and energy, but can also increase body temperature and heart rate.

The main difference between drinking a large cup of caffeinated coffee and using a pre-workout powder is the scientific blend of caffeine with other components made specifically for increasing performance. So, not only will you get the added stimulation of caffeine but, depending on what powder you use, you’ll also have added support for building muscle or recovering faster.  

Amino acids

Pre-workout powders that don’t contain caffeine undoubtedly contain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They play a vital role in building muscle and regulating the immune system. As a supplement, amino acids are considered a more natural way to increase performance.

Though your body needs 20 different amino acids, 9 are considered essential. Of those, the ones commonly found in pre-workout powder are called branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Unlike other amino acids, these are broken down in the muscles, not the liver, and thus play a bigger role in energy production during workouts. In pre-workout powder, amino acids combat muscle fatigue, increase blood flow, or convert fatty acids into energy.

DID YOU KNOW?

After taking the same pre-workout powder for an extended period of time, it may seem less effective. This is normal. Take a break, or look for ways to boost the product by adding more amino acids or creatine.

DID YOU KNOW?

Typically, you should take a pre-workout powder 20 minutes before exercising, drink BCAAs during your workout to fight fatigue, and drink or eat protein within 30 minutes of finishing a workout.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you drink coffee, be careful about adding a caffeine-heavy pre-workout powder to your supplement list. If you want to use a strong pre-workout powder, eliminate coffee from your diet to make sure you don’t overdo the caffeine intake.

Pre-workout powder features

Proprietary blends

Amino acids and caffeine are just a few of the more common additives that manufactures use to fuel their products. A “proprietary blend” describes a manufacturer’s own combination of multiple active ingredients to create a powerful mixture of energy-boosting power. They create these blends to add subtle properties to make one pre-workout powder stand out from the rest.

For example, small amounts of l-citrulline and beta-alanine (both nonessential amino acids) may be added to a product along with creatine to provide more energy-boosting, and muscle building properties. While they might not be listed individually as ingredients, they’ll be grouped together as part of a proprietary blend.

Make sure you read the labeling on the product to make sure it provides you with exactly what you’re looking for and doesn’t include ingredients you don’t want.   

Flavors

The good news about pre-workout powders is that there are endless flavor options. Unlike protein powders, pre-workout powders can range from flavorless to super sweet. Some products use natural flavorings, so be sure to check the label if you want to avoid artificial sweeteners. If you’re shopping offline, many stores allow customers to taste a small sample before purchasing.

Size and variations

Most pre-workout powders come in a 30-serving container, enough for a month or two for those who work out regularly.

Some pre-workout powders also come in liquid form. These are commonly referred to as OTG (On the Go) and are intended for a one-time quick energy boost if you aren’t able to mix your own.

Pre-workout powder prices

High quality pre-workout powders aren’t cheap, but you certainly don’t want to put your health at risk by cutting any corners with this product. The cost of a standard 30-day supply ranges from $20 to $80. Beginners can find a safe and effective product for about $40.

Keep in mind that many of the main ingredients, such as caffeine, BCAAs, and amino acids, can be purchased on their own. If you understand your needs, you can create your own pre-workout mixture and potentially save money.

High-performing supplement

If you’re looking for a fast-acting, no-frills pre-workout powder, this is it. C4 contains key ingredients to boost both your energy level and muscle performance. It comes in 21 flavors, mixes well, and starts to take effect within 15 minutes.

Tips

  • Stay hydrated. Increased stimulation means more sweat. Drink plenty of water.

  • Adhere to dosage guidelines. If you’re using a pre-workout powder for the first time, start with half a dose to gauge your body’s response.

  • Shake the container. When left alone for a while, the pre-workout powder can settle and harden. Give the container a good shake to loosen the powder. As long as the product isn’t past the expiration date, it should be fine.

  • Take a break or change the mix. If you feel like your pre-workout powder is no longer having the same effect, instead of increasing the dose, take a break. Or you can try adding a bit more of a single ingredient like l-citrulline, beta-alanine, or BCAAs.

Clean energy without the jitters

Essential Amino Energy uses the power of amino acids to provide additional energy for your workouts and a boost for your brain. It comes in 30 tasty flavors, mixes well without clumping, and is a perfect alternative to other caffeine-heavy options.

Other products we considered

The Viva Deo PureBeets Beetroot Powder is an excellent 100% organic pre-workout alternative. This beetroot powder stands out for its antioxidants, and in addition to boosting energy and stamina, it purports to support brain health, blood pressure, and liver function. Another popular product is the Pro Supps Mr. Hyde NitroX Pre-Workout Powder. It comes in ten different flavors and is packed with l-citrulline, beta-alanine, and creatine for energy and muscle-pumping power. What’s great is the TeaCrine formula provides an energy boost without increasing heart rate or blood pressure. 

Store your pre-workout powder in a cool, dry place.

FAQ

Q. Can I take a pre-workout powder before my evening workout?
A.
Stimulants affect everyone differently. Even after a workout, the body can continue to feel the effects of a potent pre-workout powder. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid caffeinated pre-workout powders in the evening because you might have trouble falling asleep.

Q. How long will the effects of a pre-workout powder last?
A.
Depending on the dosage, the effects will kick in after about 15 to 20 minutes and last for several hours.

Q. Is a powder formula better than a liquid or pill formula?
A.
Liquid pre-workout supplements tend to begin to work more quickly than powdered, pill, or capsule formulas. Ultimately, it comes down to convenience and flexibility. Powder is the most popular option because you can easily adjust the dosage to get the most from the product and your workout.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer
  • Taji
    Taji
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey