Pre-workout supplements are a popular option for those looking to gain muscle. Designed to be consumed 15–45 minutes before your workout, pre-workout supplements commonly contain stimulating ingredients like caffeine and others that allow you to work out harder and longer. However, many pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that haven’t been shown to be effective for muscle gain — or not effective enough to have any benefit. Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates supplements differently than medicines and that the long-term effects of pre-workout supplements remain unknown. Most pre-workout supplements contain stimulants like caffeine that are responsible for their immediate effects.
Nutrex Research Outlift
Outlift by Nutrex Research has a lot to offer in one scoop. In each scoop, you receive an effective dose of the following ingredients: Citrulline malate. Citrulline enhances the production of nitric oxide, a potent molecule that increases blood flow to exercising muscles. Beta-alanine (CarnoSyn). Beta-alanine delays fatigue with exercise. CarnoSyn is a patented, pure form of beta-alanine. Creatine (Creapure). Creatine enhances muscle strength, power, and growth. Creapure is a patented form of creatine produced in accordance with strong quality and purity standards. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The BCAAs — L-leucine, L-valine, and L-isoleucine — help promote muscle recovery and growth. Caffeine. Known for its stimulating effects, caffeine allows you to work out more intensely so you can lift heavier weights or perform more repetitions. For enhanced focused, Outlift contains the ingredient, N-acetyl L-tyrosine (NALT). The product also contains black pepper fruit extract, which may enhance the absorption of its other ingredients like creatine and beta-alanine.
Citadel Nutrition Tier 1
Sometimes less is more when it comes to pre-workout supplements. This mantra is true for Citadel Nutrition’s Tier 1 product, which contains four effective ingredients in their studied doses. These ingredients include: creatine monohydrate (Creapure), beta-alanine (Carnosyn), L-tyrosine, caffeine, Tier1 contains 200 mg of caffeine per serving. In addition to using high-quality raw ingredients, Citadel Nutrition uses third-part testing by Labdoor to ensure their product contains what’s stated on the label.
PreWO by Dymatize was designed to maximize energy, strength, and intensity in the gym. Each two-scoop serving provides citrulline malate, beta-alanine (CarnoSyn), and N-acetyl L-tyrosine in effective doses. PreWo also contains the following patented ingredients: Betaine (BetaPower). Derived from beetroot, betaine may improve muscle strength and power, but more research is needed. BetaPower is a highly purified form of betaine. Inositol-stabilized arginine silicate (Nitrosigine). A patented compound composed of arginine and silicon, Nitrosigine may enhance energy and improve workout recovery. Theacrine (TeaCrine). Similar in structure to caffeine, theacrine may work synergistically with caffeine to enhance exercise performance. However, one small study found no benefit of theacrine on muscle strength or power). Additional ingredients found in PreWO include vitamins, such as vitamin C and niacin, that may increase the production of nitric oxide and enhance its absorption, allowing for increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to exercising muscles.
NutraBio’s PRE product has been on the market since 2002. Since then, NutraBio has made continuous improvements to the formula to make it one of the most impressive pre-workout products today. In addition to containing an effective dose of beta-alanine, creatine, and citrulline, PRE provides several other ingredients that can help increase muscle gain by enhancing the quality and intensity of your workouts. PRE also contains several ingredients purported to enhance focus and delay fatigue with exercise, such as choline bitartrate (VitaCholine) and huperzine A. However, research on these ingredients for the purpose of muscle gain remains limited. Similarly to Outlift by Nutrex Research, PRE contains a hefty dose of caffeine at 350 mg per scoop. It also provides a patented form of L-theanine called TheaPure. L-theanine is a natural component of green tea that helps promote relaxation without causing drowsiness.
Genius Brand Genius Pre
Genius Pre by the Genius Brand is a nootropic pre-workout. Nootropics refer to compounds or supplements that can boost mental performance, the most widely consumed being caffeine. Here are some of the nootropics Genius Pre contains: Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (A-GPC). A-GPC may improve the mind-muscle connection, allowing for gains in muscle strength. Alpha-hydroxyisocaproic acid (HICA). HICA may decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle gain, but more research is needed. Ancient peat and apple fruit extract (ElevATP). This patented ingredient may fuel energy levels, allowing for increased muscle strength and power. Rhodiola rosea. Also known as golden root extract, Rhodiola rosea may decrease fatigue with exercise. Genius Pre is caffeine-free but contains theobromine, a compound that exerts stimulating effects similar to those of caffeine. The product contains an effective dose of citrulline malate for increased blood flow.
Rari Nutrition Infinity
Rari Nutrition’s Infinity contains an effective dose of citrulline malate and beta-alanine per two scoops. The pre-workout supplement also offers a high dose of caffeine, tyrosine, and agmatine for increased energy and focus. Infinity does not contain creatine and is tested for quality by third-party laboratories, but Rari Nutrition does not specify which ones.
Pulse by Legion contains an effective dose of L-citrulline and beta-alanine (CarnoSyn) in each scoop. It also contains 350 mg of both caffeine and L-theanine for increased energy and enhanced focus. For increased strength and power, Legion contains betaine and A-GPC. Legion utilizes third-party testing by Labdoor to assure quality and purity.
NutraBio PRE Stim-Free
NutraBio’s PRE Stim-Free product contains the same beneficial ingredients in the same doses as the PRE product minus the caffeine and L-theanine. These ingredients include beta-alanine (CarnoSyn), creatine monohydrate, betaine, and L-citrulline, among others. As noted above, NutraBio ensures the quality of their supplements through third-party lab testing.
Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout
Transparent Labs’ Stim-Free Pre-Workout supplement contains a full dose of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine (BetaPure). The product also contains ingredients for focus and nitric oxide production, such as choline bitartrate, N-acetyl L-tyrosine, and L-norvaline. L-norvaline is related to the BCAA valine and inhibits the breakdown of nitric oxide.
HumanN Beetelite is unique in that it contains concentrated beet crystals. Beets are high in dietary nitrates, which help increase nitric oxide production in your body. Multiple studies have shown that beetroot — due to its high nitrate content — can enhance exercise performance by delaying fatigue and improving oxygen delivery to muscles. Each serving of Beetelite is equivalent to six beets. Because the product contains beetroot, some may find the taste earthy.