Top 10 Best Pre Workout Supplements, According To A Certified Nutrition Coach

by Joe Costello, CNC | Pre Workout

When it comes to pre workout, it is absolutely critical that you choose one of the top shelf, highest rated best pre workout supplements. Many people think any pre workout will do the trick and that all you need is an energy boost, but this couldn’t be further from the truth…

It comes down to the simple fact that input = output. In other words, you get the best output in the gym when you put the best possible pre workout into your body. It’s absolutely vital that you give your body all of the nutrients it needs to perform. As a NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, I frequently get asked by my clients for pre workout recommendations, which is the reason I decided to write this article.

These are what I believe to be the best pre workout powders on the market based on my SFP (supplement facts panel) analysis, combined with my personal experience actually testing these products to ensure their efficacy. I personally take the below top ranked pre workout myself every day before hitting the gym, which is why it is also the pre workout I recommend most often to my clients. Anyways, here’s the top 10…


TSR Tested? (Y/N)

Best for



Black Wolf


Stamina, strength, energy, focus


Pre Series Bulk


Stamina, strength, energy


4 Gauge


Stamina, energy, bulking


Pre Train


Stamina, strength


Pre Jym


Endurance, pump


Lit Pre Workout


Energy, focus


  Legion Pulse


Energy, strength


Gat Nitraflex


Pump, energy


Mr. Hyde


Energy, focus






What are the best pre workout supplement ingredients?

We already talked about how better input leads to better output, but what exactly do we mean when we talk about input? We’re talking about the nutrients and specific ingredients that you put into your body before your workout. Let’s talk about the most important and effective pre workout supplement ingredients…

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline Malate is an absolutely crucial ingredient when it comes to pre workout supplements. The amino acid L-Citrulline is the most powerful nitric oxide booster in existence next to L-Arginine. Citrulline is going to open up your blood vessels and allow nutrients to flow more freely throughout the body. For that reason pre workout powder supplements with big Citrulline dosages enhance muscular endurance, produce incredible strength, and give you better muscle pumps.


Creatine is the single most widely studied ingredient in all of sports nutrition. Creatine has proven itself time and time again across clinical studies to enhance athletic performance. Many researchers believe it increases strength and allows users to build muscle mass more efficiently as a result. I can personally attest to these benefits, especially the enhanced muscle pumps. Creatine gives me an amazing pump.


BCAAs, or branched chain amino acids, play a major role in your workout. During your workout, they are responsible for maximizing endurance and stamina. There’s also a ton of evidence showing that BCAAs continue producing benefits long after your workout. Researchers believe BCAAs can help speed up recovery and contribute to lean muscle mass production.

Beta Alanine

Beta Alanine has long been considered to be one of the most vital pre workout supplement ingredients due to the effect it has on muscle fatigue. Research has shown that beta alanine can potentially prevent your muscles from becoming fatigued too early, which can then lead to longer, more efficient workout routines. However, I personally don’t see it as a necessary ingredient just because it can cause side effects like feeling itchy, jittery, and anxious.

Caffeine Anhydrous

This one should be obvious, but it’s still worth talking about. Pre workout supplements need to contain a significant amount of caffeine (somewhere around 150-250 milligrams of caffeine) in order to effectively increase energy levels and focus. Moreover, caffeine anhydrous in particular is actually the purest form of caffeine in existence, which makes it more effective than just a cup of coffee for example.

What are the different types of pre workout supplements?

There are two different types of pre workout: Stimulant, and Non-Stimulant. Stimulant-based pre workout supplements contain ingredients that are classified as “stimulants” such as caffeine anhydrous. Stimulant free pre workout supplements do not contain caffeine or any other ingredient that would be considered a stimulant.

If you can not handle stimulants, that’s totally fine. Non-stim pre workout is fine to use if your body reacts poorly to stimulants. However, if you can handle stimulants like caffeine, I would recommend opting for a stimulant-based pre workout for obvious reasons.

Stimulants allow you to perform more efficiently and focus more intensely. These ingredients are what give you the energy to get that extra rep or stay at the gym for that extra 5 minutes, which may not sound like a lot, but that extra rep adds up over time. Also, it’s worth noting that every pre workout on this list is an all natural pre workout, and every single one is a vegan pre workout as well.

What is the best pre workout supplement? Here’s my top 10 list:

I used my unique SFP (supplement facts panel) analysis formula to analyze the most popular pre workout supplements on the market and determine which of them are the best. The top option on this list is far and away the best, but any of the top three supplements below are good choices. As a Nutrition Coach (CNC)I have personally tested over a dozen pre workouts, and Black Wolf is far and away the best one I have ever tried, which is why I still use it to this day. Check them out…

1. Black Wolf (Best pre workout supplement overall)

Black wolf jar

Black Wolf is an excellent pre workout supplement pretty much all across the board. It’s another very high quality supplement that checks all of the boxes and contains all of the right ingredients. I especially love the massive dosages of Creatine and Citrulline, which are extremely key when it comes so strength and endurance.

Black Wolf contains nutrients that are specifically meant to boost strength and stamina, whereas most basic pre workout supplements are just designed to increase energy levels…boring. This one provides a whole lot more than just an energy boost.

Black Wolf is very well formulated, and you might not find a more impressive SFP (supplement facts panel) in the entire pre workout market. Below are some details on the amazing ingredients Black Wolf contains. It’s also worth noting that I had an amazing personal experience with this stuff with regard to muscle growth. Muscle growth is generally my primary goal, and this pre workout was the most effective one I have ever tried in terms of seeing really significant muscle growth and serious gains.


  • Beta Alanine
  • L-Citrulline Malate
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • L-Arginine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Taurine



2. Pre Series Bulk (Best for high intensity workouts)

Pre Series Bulk jar

Pre Series Bulk Pre Workout by Transparent Labs is one of the top supplements on the market due to its exceptionally high potency levels and dosage sizes. This is an extremely comprehensive formula that covers all of the bases in terms of nitric oxide boosters, BCAAs, stimulants, and more.

TL’s Pre Series Bulk Pre Workout doses all of its ingredients higher than average, which means it is a stronger supplement than average. I can tell you from personal experience that this stuff is really strong and effective. It’s excellent for increasing stamina, strength, and focus.

Transparent Labs’ Bulk Pre Workout supplement is a particularly intense one, which makes it particularly effective with regard to performance enhancement, and in turn muscle gain. If your goal is to gain muscle, this is a pretty good bet. See more on the ingredients below…


  • Citrulline Malate
  • Beta Alanine
  • BCAA 2:1:1
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Taurine
  • L-Theanine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine



3. 4 Gauge (Good for muscle gain)

4 Gauge Pre Workout jar

4 Gauge is the most exciting pre workout we’ve seen hit the market in years, and not just because of the kickass packaging! 4 Gauge is a no-nonsense, top-shelf product that packs over 9,000 MG of overall nutrients per serving. It utilizes highly potent ingredients such as L-Citrulline, Creatine Monohydrate, and more all in very large dosages.

4 Gauge is actually the only supplement on this whole list that contains all of the above listed ingredients. The formula is comprehensive, transparent, and highly potent. It checks all of our boxes and then some, which is why it was the clear choice for this year’s best pre workout.

Considering that you’re getting 9,000 milligrams worth of high quality ingredients in every serving, it’s actually pretty inexpensive too. Many top shelf pre workout powders tend to be overpriced, but not this one.


  • L-Citrulle Malate
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • L-Carnitine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • L-Theanine
  • Beet Root Extract
  • Rhodiola Rosea



4. Pre Train (good pre workout for beginners)

Rule One Pre Train jar

Pre Train is a great pre workout powder made by Rule One Proteins. It contains excellent ingredients, and the formula as a whole is very comprehensive and transparent. The one thing it lacks that the supplements ranked above it have is exceptionally high overall potency.

We say it’s best for beginners because it’s not very potent, so it’s not going to be overwhelming. Some of the best pre workout powders can be a little too intense for beginners. This one lacks the potency and intensity, so it could be a good option if you’d prefer a less potent pre workout.


  • Beta Alanine
  • L-Citrulline
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Taurine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Theacrine
  • Theobromine


5. Pre Jym (good for men)

pre jym jar

Pre Jym is rapidly becoming a rising star in the pre workout supplement space. Though it is significantly less potent and comprehensive than the top pre workout supplements, our review of Pre Jym presents the case for why we have it deserves to be amongst the top 10.

It is one of many supplements created by the famous authority figure in the sports nutrition space, Dr. Jym Stoppani. Many people blindly buy Jym Stopanni supplements simply based on their faith in him and his expertise. This is a dangerous decision to make…just because someone you like endorses or creates a product does not automatically mean it is a high quality product.

It’s also very expensive and has a high price per serving, which is another reason I do not believe it’s worth buying. It’s worth noting that they do also have a stimulant free option, which I think is one of the best non stim pre workouts, but again it’s incredibly expensive.


  • Creatine HCL
  • Betaine
  • Beta Alanine
  • Taurine
  • N-Acetyl L-Cysteine
  • Alpha GPC
  • Citrulline Malate


6. Lit Pre Workout (good for maximizing energy levels)

Lit pre workout jar

Lit Pre Workout earned a spot on this list through its extremely large dosages and usage of clinically proven ingredients. We love the formula as a whole, but the problem we have lies in the user reviews.

Lit Pre Workout is a very strong pre workout that contains a lot of stimulants. In my opinion, it contains too many stimulants in too large of dosages (including too much caffeine). This can result in side effects such as anxiety, loss of focus, and jitters.

If you’re looking for a really strong and intense pre workout, this is a solid choice, but there’s a reason so many users have given it a negative rating. It’s a little too intense for some people.


  • CarnoSyn Beta Alanine
  • Micronized Creatine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • ElevATP
  • L-Citrulline
  • Nitrosigine


7. Legion Pulse (good for bodybuilding)

legion pulse jar

Legion Pulse is perhaps the single most powerful pre workout supplement when it comes to nitric oxide boosting specifically. It contains a whopping 8,000 milligrams of L-Citrulline, which is about twice the standard dosage. The formula is impressive, but some of the dosages may actually be a little too high.

Another example of an over-dosed ingredient is Beta Alanine at 3,600 milligrams per serving. The standard dosage is 3,200, and that even that dosage size causes side effects. Beta Alanine is not an ingredient that you want to be over-dosed due to the potential side effects, which include anxiety, jitters, and shaky hands while exercising.


  • Beta Alanine
  • L-Citrulline
  • L-Theanine
  • Betaine Anhydrous
  • Caffeine Anhydrous


8. Gat Nitraflex (good for women)

Gat Nitraflex jar

Gat Nitraflex is a great pre workout supplement, but it’s missing one of the most important ingredients: Creatine. This is a very significant con for men, but it actually may be a good thing for women.

Many women prefer supplements without creatine since it can cause people to gain water weight. Water weight is not necessarily a bad thing, but if your goal is weight loss, gaining water weight may not be in your best interest.

It should also be noted that another major con of this supplement is the fact that it uses a proprietary blend, meaning not all dosages are disclosed, so you don’t know exactly what you’re taking here.


  • Citrulline Malate
  • L-Arginine
  • Resveratrol
  • Beta Alanine
  • Caffeine
  • Theanine


9. Mr. Hyde (solid budget pre workout)

Mr. Hyde Pre Workout jar

Mr. Hyde is a very popular pre workout supplement that has been around for a long time. Due to the reputation of the supplement, people assume it is a high quality product, but this is really not the case here.

They offer one of the better prices on the market which makes it an attractive option for people who are on a tight budget, but if you have a few extra bucks, we would recommend buying a better pre workout since this one is simply too weak.

It only has 5,000 milligrams per serving of total nutrients, which is about half the amount of our top ranked pre workout. So, you’re really not getting that great of a supplement here, but if you’re interested in taking pre workout with a low price per serving, this could be a decent choice.

Another low price per serving pre workout is Gold Standard Pre Workout by Optimum Nutrition. If you know the supplement space, chances are you have heard of Optimum Nutrition. They are a massive company, but I have to say that their pre workout is really nothing to write home about. It’s very similar to Mr Hyde in that it does have a pretty low price per serving, but you are getting what you pay for…it just really lacks potency in too many key areas.


  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • L-Citrulline
  • L-Theanine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Theacrine
  • N-Acetyl Tyrosine


10. C4 (the top most popular pre workout on the market)

C4 Pre Workout jar

C4 is easily the most popular pre workout on the market, so how did it end up at the bottom of this list? The answer is actually rather simple, and the SFP (supplement facts panel) proves that C4 is not worthy of a top 5 or top 3 spot.

It only contains three active ingredients outside of its “explosive energy blend,” which is a proprietary blend. The proprietary blend itself is pretty weak at a total of only 425 milligrams per serving, and the dosages outside of the blend are even worse.

The formula is essentially 1,000 MG of L-Arginine, 1,000 MG of Creatine, and 1,600 MG of Beta Alanine. All of those dosages are significantly too small, as you will see if you compare them to the dosage sizes of our top ranked options. The one positive thing I will say is that C4 is probably the best tasting pre workout I have tried due to the amount of artificial sweeteners it contains…so kind of a good news bad news situation there. You generally want to avoid artificial sweeteners.


  • Beta Alanine
  • Creatine
  • L-Arginine
  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine


Health Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre workouts are primarily known for their ability to help increase muscle endurance, enhance exercise performance, and stimulate muscle growth. It’s pretty simple really…pre workouts help improve blood flow, which allows your body to deliver key nutrients to your muscles more efficiently, thereby increasing your overall athletic performance. Let’s talk about some of the specific benefits pre workouts can produce…

  1. Increased Energy Levels
    • Pre-workout supplements often contain stimulants like caffeine to increase energy, allowing individuals to perform at a higher intensity during workouts. With higher sustained energy, your workout performance can improve both in terms of intensity and duration.
  2. Improved Focus and Mental Alertness
    • Caffeine and other ingredients can enhance mental focus, concentration, and alertness, promoting a more productive and focused workout. Pre workouts can improve both cardio workouts and muscular workouts via this mechanism.
  3. Enhanced Athletic Performance
    • The combination of ingredients in pre-workout supplements may help improve exercise performance, allowing individuals to lift heavier weights, perform more reps, or engage in longer-duration activities. Overall workout performance is the biggest benefit that pre workouts have to offer. It’s as simple as this: if you are performing better in the gym, you are going to get better results.
  4. Muscle Endurance and Reduced Fatigue
    • Ingredients like beta-alanine and BCAAs may help reduce muscle fatigue, which can then increase muscular endurance and improve performance during intense exercise.
  5. Faster Recovery
    • Some ingredients with antioxidant properties, like taurine, may contribute to faster muscle recovery by reducing exercise induced oxidative stress.

How Pre Workouts Effect Blood Flow

Pre workouts may contain ingredients that are believed to enhance blood flow, which can have potential benefits for exercise performance. Here are some common ingredients found in pre workouts that are associated with improved blood circulation throughout the body:

  1. L-Arginine and Citrulline Malate:
    • Mechanism: L-Arginine is an amino acid that the body converts into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels (vasodilation). Citrulline Malate is another amino acid that is converted into L-Arginine, increasing nitric oxide production.
    • Effect: Nitric oxide promotes vasodilation, widening the blood vessels and improving blood circulation. This can lead to increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to working muscles during exercise. I believe that ALL pre workouts should contain a healthy dosage of Citrulline or Arginine. I personally prefer pre workout drinks that use Citrulline as I have found it is more effective with regard to muscle building in particular.
  2. Beetroot Extract:
    • Mechanism: Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn, relaxes blood vessels.
    • Effect: Improved vasodilation, potentially enhancing blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles. Beetroot supplementation is associated with enhanced performance and better muscular endurance, which is why many pre workouts contain this ingredient. The problem is Beetroot tastes pretty bad, so if your pre workout drink contains it, it may not taste great.
  3. Taurine:
    • Mechanism: Taurine is an amino acid with various physiological functions, including antioxidant properties.
    • Effect: Taurine may support cardiovascular health by improving blood vessel function and reducing oxidative stress, contributing to enhanced blood circulation. Almost all pre workouts contain Taurine, which is justified in my opinion.
  4. Adaptogens (e.g., Rhodiola Rosea):
    • Mechanism: Adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea may help the body adapt to stress, potentially influencing cardiovascular function.
    • Effect: Improved cardiovascular health, which may indirectly contribute to better blood circulation. I don’t personally see adaptogens as an absolute necessity when it comes to pre workouts, but they can certainly help.
  5. Caffeine:
    • Mechanism: Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters, including adrenaline.
    • Effect: Caffeine can temporarily raise blood pressure and improve blood circulation by increasing the force of heart contractions. This effect may contribute to enhanced athletic performance, which is why virtually all pre workouts contain caffeine to some extent.

My Conclusion – Final Points and Key Takeaways

All things considered, it was really not difficult at all for me to name the top pre workout supplement. It required a lot of work, research, and testing, but once all of the research was done, Black Wolf stood out as the clear best pre workout supplement. The only supplement that comes even close to Black Wolf in terms of overall nutrition, potency, and value is Pre Series Bulk Pre Workout by Transparent Labs, which is why we ranked it #2. However, note that there is a huge quality gap between these two supplements…Black Wolf just really blows everything else out of the water. Thanks for reading!



Certified Nutrition Coach at JNC Enterprises Inc. | Website | + posts

I’m not just a supplement analyst. I’m an extremely qualified one! I am a Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) and actually received my certification directly from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I am also a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, certified by the American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA).

Hi, I’m Joe Costello CNC

I’m not just a supplement analyst. I’m an extremely qualified one! I am a Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) and actually received my certification directly from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I am also a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, certified by the American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA).