If you’re no stranger to hard and strenuous physical exertion such as hitting the weight room hard, playing sports, or MMA among others, than finding the best pre workout supplement for you can become an important ally in your overall health regimen.
These supplements have come along way since the days of the ECA stacks that were popular in the 80′s and 90′s before Ephedrine was banned. Nowadays, there are hundreds of different pre workout supplements made by dozens of manufacturers, with each one different than the other, but with all these varieties to choose from there is only one common bond amongst all of them – they are all intended to help you perform better in the gym, on the field, or where ever you need an extra boost of energy.
All in One Pre Workout Supplements
This variety of pre workout supplements provide the most robust amounts of ingredients, contain stimulants, and are the most popular versions on the market. Here you will find caffeine, creatine, arginine, BCAAs, and many more ingredients that will help you to:
- Increase Energy
- Increase Stamina
- Speed up Recovery
- Build Muscle
- Burn Fat
The extent to which these supplements will help in these major categories is highly debatable and some what controversial because everyone has a favorite product or supplement brand and many of these supplements will emphasis one, two or three categories over the others. Other factors that add to the difficulty of choosing the best pre workout supplement are price, taste, how well the supplement mixes, and possible side effects from taking them. I think that it is important to weigh each of these aspects, read lots of customer reviews, and have a good understanding of what it is you need out of these supplements that will enhance your workout experience.
Choosing The Best Pre Workout Supplement
The first two things you need to realize before you take a look at the products below is that they:
- Contain Stimulants
- Contain Creatine
If you are not looking for pre workout supplements with these two major characteristics than you should probably consider a caffeine free pre workout supplement or a pre workout supplement without creatine. Those supplements are very similar to the all in one type of pre workout products, however they do not contain one or both of these ingredients.
Top Pre Workout Supplement Reviews And Ratings
The pre workout supplements below have been hand picked as being the best pre workout supplements you can possibly get. I have researched and experimented with all of these supplements and I am always trying more as time permits and as new products hit the market. There is some quick info regarding each one but if you click the “Read Full Review…” links you will see a full report with detailed information about each supplement including ingredients, customer feedback, detailed ranking chart, best places to buy them, and my personal thoughts about the product.
Damn, these supplements are getting harder and harder to rank because there are a lot of good ones out there as you can see by the ratings below…
*This list will often change due to new products hitting the market so check back often for revisions and updates.
2. MuscleTech Neurocore
NeuroCore by MuscleTech is a straight to the point type of pre workout supplement. It was specifically designed to do two things: Get you pumped up for your workout, Get you lean muscle mass gains. The labeling is clear and the ingredients are what you would typically find in a good workout supplement. Beta-Alanine, L-Citruline, Caffeine, Creatine, and Geranium Extract are typical ingredients in most pre workouts, but instead of standard creatine monohydrate or a blend which is also common, Muscletech opted for straight Creatine HCl which I like because it is ultra-concentrated and highly absorbable. There are some other unique ingredients like Rhodiola and Vinpocetine that are not typically found in these types of supplements. Rhodiola is said to improve mental focus and Vinpocetine is said to improve cyclic GMP levels by inhibiting GMP phosphodiesterase. Whether or not these ingredients actually help is highly debatable. One other fact about Neurocore is that it does not contain Arginine, stating that it’s ineffective and therefore not needed. Again, highly debatable and borderline controversial. As far as serving size, you get 45 servings for around $32 which sounds like a deal, but most people end up taking 2 or 3 scoops per workout session so that would leave you at best 15-22 servings. Ive tried Nerocore myself and Ive spoken to others who have as well and people like this product, but always comment on the price per servings.
Lowest Prices On Neurocore (45 Servings)
3. Cellucor M5 Extreme
Cellucor M5 Extreme is an advanced PWS that has literally re-invented the pre workout landscape. This version of M5 Extreme is different from the previous version of M5E because the ingredient profile is more impressive, the split-can canister is not only convenient but also just flat out cool, and the labeling is transparent. Although I am a big fan of Cellucor products and would just as well give M5 Extreme and automatic pass based on previous experiences, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to see what makes M5 Extreme different from the other pre workout supplements. This supplement is split in two: 1 side is for energy and focus – IGNITE; the other side is for muscle building – BUILD.
This supplement is smooth, taste great, and delivers big time on both clean, vibrant energy and solid strengths gains. If you’ve got the extra coin to throw down on a PWS then throw down and M5 Extreme, it’s not the most caffeinated pre workout supplement per serving, however the blend of top quality ingredients in this 2-in-1 canister make this pre workout among the very best workout supplements to date. M5 Extreme is at the top of the food chain and if it weren’t for the price tag, this supplement would be the best.
Lowest Prices On M5 Extreme (30 Servings)
4. Fast Fuel
Fast Fuel is another supplement that highlights some of the best ingredients in a pre workout supplement, but fall short where it counts. That’s not to say this isn’t a good supplement! There are some great ingredients in here such as BCAA’s, B vitamins, L-Glutamine, Beta-Alanine, Arginine, Tyrosine, and of course Caffeine. So far so good right? All these ingredients are great, you got BCAA’s for recovery, Glutamine for sustained energy, and Caffeine and Beta-Alanine for energy and stamina, but what my biggest gripe is the inclusion of Creatine Monohydrate. With all the possible side effects that accompany ole Mono, you would think that the folks at RSP would’ve stepped it up here. With monohydrate you have to load the creatine into your muscles in order to start seeing good results from it so from your 30 servings that you get per canister, you would probably start seeing results from the creatine about ½ to ¾ of the way through. To me that’s not as effective as others with better creatine forms in them. Another issue that I have with this supplement is that they do not disclose the exact amount of caffeine per serving which is a problem for those who are sensitive to caffeine. Like I said, this is a good solid supplement that has potential if you don’t mind the 2 issues I mentioned, but in the fierce world of top supplements, you’ve got to bring your A game in order to be the best.
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5. Fierce Domination
Fierce Domination is a reformulation of S.A.N’s original Fierce. This formula has an impressive 5g of Creatine in there “Tri-Creatine ATP Fusion” of Creatine Monohydrate [CreaSolv Brand], Creatine HCL, and Creatine Nitrate. In their “Endurlac Intra-Cellular Plasma Matrix” you will find many common ingredients such as L-Taurine, B-Alanine (Carnosyn), L-Tyrosine, and Caffeine Anhydrous. Because they use a proprietary blend, I couldn’t determine the exact amount of Caffeine there is in it which kind of bothers me, but not a deal breaker by any means. There is also a healthy amount of Vitamin C to provide some anti-oxidant support. There are at the time of this writing, Fierce Domination only comes in 2 flavors – Furious Fruit Punch and Wicked Watermelon with the ladder being the top pick. You get 40 servings at around $39 so the cost per serving is good. This is a good pre workout supplement that should yield great results in the gym.
Lowest Prices On Fierce Domination (40 Servings)
6. N.O. Xplode
N.O. Xplode was one of the pioneers in the pre workout supplement category and with their 2.0 formula; they are still relevant in today’s market. The 2.0 formula shows many tried and true staples of BSN products such as the wide array of supplement ingredients, multitude of flavor varieties, and good cost per serving sizes.
The main ingredients of N.O. Xplode are L-Arginine AKG (L-Arginine-Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid), 5 different creatine sources, and caffeine, but N.O. Xplode 2.0 includes many more ingredients that not only enhance these 3 major ingredients, but also enhance your overall workout experience. The Modified Glucose Polymers (Maltodextrin) found here is well known for increasing creatine uptake into the muscles. Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn®) is also found here and is used to help fight fatigue and to build muscle. The other important ingredient profile that I like about this formula is the Phospho-Electrolyte Composite. This helps with hydration and cellular communication. BSN was one of the first companies to include this into a pre workout formula and since then, many others have caught on.
The flavor choices found here are second to none. My favorites are the blue razz, orange, and watermelon and not only do they taste good but they easily mix well in water with just a bit of graininess. The last important feature to N.O. Xplode 2.0 is the cost. 50 servings will only run you about $39 which is cheap compared to some of the other supplement brands.
Lowest Prices On N.O. Xplode 2.0 (50 Servings)
What can I say, im very impressed with Razor8. The folks at Allmax have really done their homework to deliver a very serious product. The first thing I like to mention is the transparency of their labeling which is a very good intro to what is a very intense set of ingredients. To start, there is an almost insane 385mg of combined caffeine with another 51mg of Geranamine! You will feel this hit hard. Another ingredient that isn’t normally found in PWO’s that is found in Razor8 is Yohimbine which increases fat loss, mental focus, and vasodialation. The muscle building factors that make up Razor8 is equally impressive. The 5g of Creatine Monohydrate that is included here is very pure and very refined, I would say on the same level as Creapure. There is also 325mg of Beta-Alanine which helps with energy and strength production and can be found in many of the best pre workout supplements, but what isn’t normally found in other PWO’s that is found in Razor8 is COP (Creatinol-o-Phosphate) which also increases strength and stamina, whilst decreasing acidification. To top is all of there is an impressive 4 different forms of L-Arginine that pump all of this muscle building mayhem in and throughout your body. If you are not a serious lifter and have never taken a pre workout supplement before than I caution you to try this, but if you are searching for real power and are not scared of the dark side than pick up some Razor8 Blast Powder. A new bar has been set. Although it’s not at the top spot, I would give Razor 8 Blast powder the best pre workout supplement award for strongest stimulant profile to date.
Lowest Prices On Razor8 Blast Powder (80 Servings)
8. Craze by Driven Sports
Craze by Driven Sports is a feel good, stimulant-heavy PWO that has been getting some excellent reviews by bodybuilders and athletes alike. This is a different pre workout because it addresses an important aspect of supplementation and nitric oxide production – negative by products. By including L-Arginine, vitamin C, Creatine Monohydrate, and Citrulline, the muscles are able to produce a greater amount of ATP production and nutrients while still being about to shuttle out ammonia – a byproduct of amino acid breakdown. By addressing this issue a lifter is able to not only increase power but also maintain it. Craze also delivers on the energy and mental focus aspect of this formula by including caffeine, Dendrobex™, Citramine, and PEA. Another noteworthy aspect of craze is the great taste! Of course it’s not as important as other factors, it does make it that much more enjoyable. Craze is a bit different from other PWOs because it takes a different look at what bodybuilders really need in the gym. The energy and focus on the product is very intense and worth every penny you spend on it. If your looking for a great tasting PWO that gets you super pumped in the gym than this is your supplement.
Lowest Prices On Craze (45 Servings)
9. C4 Extreme
Yet another great supplement from Cellucor is making the top 10 list. Actually, C4 Extreme has been around for a while, but the ingredients in it are similar to its big brother M5 Extreme, however C4 Extreme is has less of them and is cheaper. The main ingredients in C4 Extreme is Creatine Nitrate (NO3 technology), Caffeine (100mg per scoop), Arginine (1000mg), Beta Alanine, Mucuna Pruriens, and a few other ingredients like Vitamin B12 and L-Tyrosine. I was actually one of the first people to try C4 Extreme and review it when it first came out. You can read the full Cellucor C4 Extreme Review here. Anyway, I enjoyed this supplement. The taste was amazing, the pump was clean and smooth, and I got stronger while using it. So why is M5 Extreme better than C4 extreme? Well, to start M5 Extreme has 2 different Creatines in it as well as more of it per serving, whereas C4 just has Creatine Nitrate in it. M5 Extreme has twice as much Arginine, Betaine HCL, Citrulline Malate, and Grape Seed Extract, in addition to coming in a 2-in-1 container. That’s why I consider M5 Extreme to be the bigger, badder version of C4 Extreme. Don’t get me wrong here, I think that C4 Extreme is still a good supplement otherwise it wouldn’t be hanging around my top 10 list, but I know that some of you will be looking at both products and wondering what the difference is. Either way, C4 Extreme is still a viable product that works well and get the job done. If you don’t want to go hardcore on your stimulants but still want some muscle building benefits then C4 Extreme is the best pre workout supplement for you.
Lowest Prices On C4 Extreme (30 Servings)
10. The Curse
The Curse is a no-frills kind of PWO made by Cobra Labs, a relatively unknown supplement company that has put a lot more stock in the marketing of this product over the actual ingredients themselves. To start, yes the name and slick graphics on the canister are cool, but after you get over that, you are left with a pretty basic ingredient profile that is hidden behind a proprietary blend. I mean, seriously? There are only a handful of ingredients and you couldn’t even disclose how much creatine or caffeine is in it? Anyway, the directions say to take between 1-3 scoops so at 1 scoop you get (I’m guessing) about 3g of creatine monohydrate and about 130-135mg of caffeine. Most of us will opt for the 2-3 scoop range which will put your creatine intake well above the 5g standard and would yield you anywhere between 17-25 servings for about $30. It really kind of reminds me of the ingredients of Jack3d, just repackaged with a prettier bow. Will it work? Sure, but for me there are better products out there that will give you more bang for your buck.
Lowest Prices On The Curse (50 Servings)
11. Gamma Labs Pre-Training Formula (PTF)
Gamma Labs Pre-Training Formula (PTF) is a solid product that will help you build muscle as well as give you a good burst of energy. There are some real pluses in this formula like the Strength and Endurance blend comprised of Creatine Monohydrate, Magnesium Chelate (Magna Power™) Di Creatine Malate, Beta Alanine (CarnoSyn®) and Taurine. There is also a nice Arginine profile consisting of 3 different sources of Arginine and a good array of vitamins and minerals. You don’t usually see Vitamin E in a pre-workout supplement, but I guess I could always use some help in the hair, skin, and nail department. There is another aspect of this supplement, the Energy and Focus complex that has 150mg of caffeine per scoop (300mg is the recommended serving size) with L-Tyrosine, ATP, Vinpocetine, Huperzine, and Mucuna Pruriens (20% L-Dopa) Acetyl L-Carnitine (Hell Yah!).
There are 40 servings (scoops) per tube with a recommended serving size of 2 scoops per use. That would yield you 20 days’ worth of product at about $34 a tub. There are some decent reviews out there on this product so if you were to run into it at the store, I don’t think you will be too disappointed with the outcome.
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12. Serum by Magnum Nutraceuticals
Serum by Magnum Nutraceuticals is a complex all-in-1 pre workout formula that combines 6 sources of Creatine formulas and 5 Arginine formulas. To add to the list of notable ingredients are Calcium, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, L-Taurine, BCAA’s L-Tyrosine, and Alpha Lipoic Acid among others. That’s right, MN has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink with this “Accelerated” blend. To begin, the Creatine Blends are Creatine Ethyl Ester, Tri-Creatine Malate, Creatine Pyruvate, Creatine Orotate, and Creatine Decanote. Sounds impressive huh? I personally have not had too much experience with these forms of Creatine, but the bottom line here is that all of these forms of Creatine have another element bonded with it to improve absorption into your muscles. For instance, Creatine Ethyl Ester is Creatine bonded with Esters – A reaction of carboxylic acid and alcohols. Tri-Creatine Malate is three creatine molecules attached to one molecule of malic acid whereas Creatine Pyruvate is Creatine bonded with pyruvic acid. I personally have not had too much experience with these forms of Creatine, but the bottom line here is that all of these forms of Creatine have another element bonded with it to improve absorption into your muscles. The same can be said with the 5 forms of Arginine whereas the Arginine is boned with another element to improve circulation the circulation of Arginine and improve the “pump”. My issues with this supplement is that they did not include Glutamine and they did not disclose the exact amounts of each ingredient making it a guessing game as to what your exactly getting per serving. These are some minor issues considering everything else you get here. From what I can tell, this is a good pre workout supplement with loads of endurance and muscle building ingredients and at about $40 for 40 servings, that makes this product a great value and worth trying out.
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13. 1.M.R. from BPI Sports
Here is the new and improved version of 1.M.R. from BPI Sports. This pre workout supplement is 3x stronger than the original version with much the same ingredients. To much of my disappointment, BPI Sports like some of the other supplement manufacturers are still using proprietary blends that do not full disclose the amounts of the ingredients used which, if you’ve read any of my other reviews, it rather pisses me off. None the less 1.M.R. can still hold its own when stacked up against some of the other blends found here. Like many newer supplements, this one is considered a “concentrated” formula because it simply contains more stimulants and perhaps a bit more creatine. Speaking of creatine, I am a bit disappointed they opted for the standard monohydrate instead of using a concentrated derivative such as HCl, Nitrate, or Magnesium Chelate. I am also not a big fan of Niacin or Beta-Alanine. So whats good? First off, its strong. Definetly one of the more hardcore PWOs so beginners beware. Second, the new formula taste pretty good and mixes well. Lastly, there are some good fat burning properties in here so this supplement really is a mixed bag.
Lowest Prices On 1.M.R. (28 Servings)
14. Juggernaut by Infinite Labs
Juggernaut by Infinite labs is surprisingly strong at 200mg of caffeine per serving so if you dare venture into the highest dosage recommendation at 2 scoops/servings, you can be sure to be brimming with constant energy for hours and hours, but that’s not all the Juggernaut offers. Their muscle building matrix is impressive with Creatine Myo-Matrix™ (Dicreatine Malate, Creatine MagnaPower® Magnesium Creatine Chelate), whey protein complex, and carnite complex. Top that off with various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B12, E, Potassium, and Chromium and you got yourself a great pre workout supplement. All those ingredients are great but when I noticed the added electrolytes, it was just icing on the cake.
Lowest Prices On Juggernaut (40 Servings)
15. Beast Mode
I’m a fan of Beast Sports Nutrition’s line of products because they deliver solid and reliable supplements. Beast Mode is no exception. This pre workout product contains many good ingredients to get you amped. Some of the highlights of this supplement are the B Vitamins for cell growth and support, Calcium, Beta Alanine, Citrlline Malate, Di-Arginine Malate, and Vandium Citrate. The Energy blend is pretty standardized as this portion of PWO’s remain relatively the same aside from a few ingredients scattered here and there to make it look different. This energy blend is no different aside from the inclusion of Niacin. Many pre workout supplements include Niacin and for the life of my I don’t know why. Niacin gives you that brief tingling sensation that you feel a few minutes after you consume it. Now I don’t exactly know why some companies included it, so I can only speculate that the reason is because it kind of tricks you into thinking the supplement is working, but as far as Niacin helping you in the gym, I don’t think so. My other main problem with this supplement is the lack of transparency with the ingredient labeling. I would like to know exactly how much Creatine and Caffeine I get pre 2 scoops. Since these ingredients are labeled first in each blend I know that the majority of the proprietary blends are those ingredients, but I would be guessing as to exactly how much. Aside from that, I like this supplement. There is only 1 flavor which is ok, but I would like to see a few more flavors to add some variety.
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16. Nano Vapor Performance Series
Nano Vapor Performance Series is MuscleTech’s revised version of the standard Nano Vapor that made a mark on the industry but didn’t really knock any of us off of our feet. This re-invented formula is stronger than its predecessor (at the full 3 scoop serving size) and has a few tweaks in it such as including Yohimbe Extract and leaving out the L-Arginine. The muscle building ingredient is 1667mg Creatine Monohydrate per scoop which is low. MuscleTech would like you and I to work ourselves up to a full 3 scoop serving so we can reach the coveted 5g standard but would also give us about 400mg of caffeine. I’ve been taking caffeine in supplements for years and I think 400mg is a bit much, but this seems to be where MuscleTech is a company. There Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite fat burner doesn’t even have that much caffeine in it (270mg caffeine per serving) so it’s not clear to me why there would be so much in it, but I’m sure there are plenty of dudes out there that get all excited about taking that much caffeine. Aside from that, I do like the new transparent labeling and the inclusion of Yohimbe Extract so if I were to buy this I would stay around 2 scoops and save my kidney’s for old age.
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The best way to take PWOs is anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes prior to exercising to really get full use of the stimulants. I usually start feeling these supplements in a matter of minutes after taking them, but I usually like to wait a bit longer than that to allow time for the Caffeine, Creatine, and other nutrients to begin to go into the blood stream. That’s when I usually do a 5 or 10 minute warm up anyway so it works out good for me. I also like to take them about an hour or so after eating to minimize any potential stomach aches or bloating.
For your pre workout meal, keep it clean and simple and especially stay away from processed, refined, or foods with a lot of oil in it such as fried foods. Protein and meal replacement shakes are a great choice as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats that are not cooked in a lot of fats or oils. Oats and whole wheat types of carbohydrates are OK to have as part of a pre workout meal, but should be kept at a minimum.
Thanks for taking the time to check out the list. If you think there should be a supplement here on the page than let me know in the comments section.