Boost Workout

Supplement Spotlight: Fuel Up with These Pre-Workouts

You have the motivation, now here’s the supplementation so you can crush each workout.

Supplement Spotlight: Fuel Up with These Pre-Wrokouts

You walk into the gym, ready for the greatest workout of your life—but will you have enough in the tank to finish what you start? The right food will provide most of the raw energy you need to lift, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Whole food won’t prime your central nervous system, increase nitric oxide, or help muscle fibers contract harder.

You need supplements that can do these things, and help you sustain high intensity levels. Here are six categories of energy supplements you should consider adding to your regimen before you head to the gym.


If you don’t take in calories before you train, then your body is like a hybrid vehicle without gas: No matter how much you charge it with other forms of energy, you aren’t going to go very far. Here’s what you need before workouts.
Protein Eat a whole-food meal about 60–90 minutes before training, then drink a pre-workout shake as you head to the gym. The shake should have about 25–50 grams of protein, depending on how much you weigh. Research shows a mix of whey and casein is one of the best choices at this time.
Carbs Fast-digesting carbs release insulin, driving the delivery of nutrients to muscle tissue. Take carbs in a 1:1 ratio with protein in your pre-workout shake.


Boosting strength in the short term is possible with these three supplements. Consider them as standalones or look for products that blend them.
Creatine Creatine drives fluid into your muscle cells, blunting soreness and allowing you to lift heavier for longer. Look for creatine monohydrate, the gold standard of creatines.
Beta-Alanine This amino acid boosts muscular strength and endurance by increasing your body’s levels of carnosine, a small peptide formed of beta-alanine and histidine.
Cordyceps This Tibetan fungus helps boost immediate strength by contributing to your ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) cycle. Combine creatine and Cordyceps for greater immediate strength.


Energy boosters work in a wide variety of ways—some stimulate your central nervous system (CNS), while others increase brain activity. Each of these forms of energy allows you to train harder for longer.
Caffeine Anhydrous Research demonstrates that this dry form of the stimulant is the best for increasing energy and strength. Taking caffeine helps reduce the perceived pain of lifting weights.
BCAAs This group of amino acids includes leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are absorbed more readily into your system, bypassing your liver to go directly to working muscles, delivering fast energy. n Yohimbe As with caffeine, this extract from bark helps drive up energy levels by reducing stored body fat you can use as energy.


Muscle pumps provide more than an aesthetic improvement. A good pump delivers blood and nutrients to muscle tissue, helping it recover and grow.
Arginine This amino acid converts in your body to nitric oxide (NO), a gas molecule that allows your blood vessels to expand so that more blood, oxygen and nutrients reach your working muscles.
Citrulline Research shows that citrulline may convert to arginine more effectively than supplemental arginine. Additional research shows that taking a combo of citrulline and arginine may be more effective for increasing NO production than taking either alone.
Agmatine Sulfate This relatively new supplement supports nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that helps produce NO from arginine.


Excess body fat isn’t good for much except this: It’s a great source of workout fuel. The key is to get your body to let go of this stored energy pre- and post-workout. These supps provide a two-for-one, helping fuel workouts with your own fat.
Raspberry Ketones Rising in popularity, raspberry ketones can increase metabolic rate and release fat from storage.
Capsicum Sometimes listed as capsaicin, this supplement from chili peppers helps drive up your metabolic rate so you naturally burn more calories.
Green Coffee Bean Extract This fat burner contains a higher concentration of chlorogenic acid than do roasted beans. This is the chemical that works with caffeine to release and burn body fat.


Increased brain activity means increased focus—and that means more intense workouts.
Tyrosine This amino acid elevates mood, enhances focus and even boosts sex drive. In your body, tyrosine is used to support production of hormones and neurotransmitters that include dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and thyroid hormone.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) A metabolite of the amino acid phenylalanine, PEA helps boost brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Choline This nutrient is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for signaling muscle contractions and other brain activity. In addition, choline helps improve memory.



This product contains a unique blend of yohimbe, caffeine, white leadwort, glycerol, and lesser-known stimulants including Indigofera pulchra and Securinega, both of which are plant derived. Designed to help provide energy and get you focused during workouts, this product also helps strip away body fat. For best results, consume about 15–30 minutes before workouts, without food or a protein shake.




This pre-workout powder delivers about 90 milligrams of natural caffeine from green tea yerba mate and guarana, great for those who don’t want to be overstimulated. AUX is sweetened with stevia, not sugar. In addition, AUX doesn’t use a proprietary blend, and reveals exactly how much of each supplement it contains. This includes beta-alanine (1,500 milligrams), citrulline (1,000 milligrams), GPLC (1,250 milligrams) and red beet powder (300 milligrams).


This pre-workout whey protein provides ingredients to support muscle-building and encourage body-fat loss simultaneously. The product contains 20 grams of protein with more than 3 milligrams of leucine, at a total of 100 calories per serving. In addition, the shredded complex adds several fat burners, which include green coffee bean extract, caffeine and capsicum extract.


Universal Nutrition

Animal Rage XL takes a “kitchen sink” approach to pre-workouts, with proprietary blends that support focus and performance and boost instant and sustained energy. Ingredients for these blends include creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, N-acetyl tyrosine, phenylethylamine (PEA), Rhodiola rosea, Cordyceps, caffeine and coffee bean extract. Take 20–30 minutes before workouts, following label directions.


Relying on several proprietary blends designed to amplify ATP production, activate insulin, boost performance, and support energy and neurological activity, Assault boosts energy while helping you focus. Its patented PurEnergy contains ingredients that last eight times longer than normal caffeine, but without the crash that often follows. Take a one-scoop dose about 20–30 minutes before training.


Novex Biotech
Endothil uses a blend of green tomato extract, arginine, glycerol, beta-alanine and caffeine to stimulate growth from intense workouts. For best results, you should consume one rounded scoop about 30 minutes before your workouts. Research performed specifically on this product demonstrates its ability to help fit males increase upper- and lower-body strength and add muscle mass.



MHP designed its pre-workout product to amplify training through multiple mechanisms, including focus, fat burning, power and pump. In addition, an anticortisol formulation helps reduce catabolism (muscle breakdown). Fit Trainer contains creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, agmatine sulfate, raspberry ketones, and high-potency Withania somnifera, which helps reduce cortisol.



Hemo-Rage Black uses a proprietary blend that includes creatine monohydrate, taurine, arginine, caffeine anhydrous, Mucuna pruriens and Citrus aurantium. The Beyond Extreme Underground Pre-workout Detonator contains almost 5.5 grams of these ingredients. Take only one serving in a 24-hour period, about 30–45 minutes before training sessions.


Nature’s Best

Each serving of this unique protein powder contains not only 20 grams of protein at 110 calories, but also real coffee, making it ideal as a pre-workout supplement. The protein itself comes from a blend of whey concentrate, isolate and hydrolysates. Each serving of JavaPro also delivers 80 milligrams of caffeine to support more energy and strength during workouts.



Each two-scoop dose of Nuclear X pre-workout powder contains 400 milligrams of caffeine and almost 5 grams of beta-alanine to increase strength and endurance while training. In addition, the product contains arginine and citrulline to help boost NO production. Agmatine sulfate is naturally produced in the body, and is related to arginine metabolism, helping increase blood flow and muscle pumps.



This pre-workout product uses a proprietary blend of creatine, mTORC1 molecule (creatine-L-leucine) and L-leucine-L-isoleucine peptide. In addition to this unique formulation, mTORC1 delivers almost 4 grams of BCAAs in a 2:2:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine. The product also contains a proprietary thermogenic blend of caffeine and theacrine.



You know exactly what you’re getting in every scoop of MusclePrime Core-Factor. This includes more than 4 grams of BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine), and more than a half-gram of beta-alanine. MusclePrime also delivers supplements to increase GH and NO. These supplements include multiple forms of arginine, citrulline, American ginseng, Cordyceps and N-acetyl cysteine.



Each scoop of Nano Vapor contains 45 calories, mostly from amino acids, and a bevy of other powerful supplements. These include the Pump and Performance Complex of citrulline (nearly 2.7 grams) and beta-alanine (more than 1 gram). Other ingredients include creatine monohydrate, yohimbe, caffeine anhydrous and theanine, delivering cell-volumization, energy and focus.



This product contains a high citrulline-to-arginine ratio to support better NO production. The vasoactive arginase-regulating fraction of the proprietary formulation incudes 2-amino-5-pentanoic acid, arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate and other ingredients. The acute energy and focus fraction contains 3-aminopropanoic acid (as CarnoSyn); 2-amino-4-butyric acid and Rauwolscine; and calcium fructopyranose borate (CFB) to boost testosterone.

Optimum Nutrition

Optimum tells you exactly what you get in a double-dose serving: 4 grams of citrulline, a precursor to nitric oxide (NO); more than 3 grams of beta-alanine to support your training endurance; and DMAE bitartrate (500 milligrams). Other ingredients, including 400 milligrams of caffeine and 250 milligrams of capsicum, deliver nutrients, support energy production and reduce body fat.



Designed with CrossFitters in mind, PreWOD contains many of the same ingredients other athletes also need in a pre-workout: creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, tyrosine, agmatine sulfate and caffeine. To assess your tolerance, take a half-dose on an empty stomach 20–30 minutes before an intense workout. Work up to a full dose as your tolerance allows.


Top Secret

Pump Igniter provides a pump-and-performance blend that contains beta-alanine, citrulline, beet root extract and other ingredients that support strength and muscle pumps. A nootropic mood-booster contains choline bitartrate, caffeine anhydrous, agmatine sulfate and other ingredients that aid focus and energy.


Body Fortress

A combination of proprietary formulations in Super Advanced NOS Blast includes Crea-Pump, VasoSurge, Neuro-Energy and NitroMax. These blends deliver a wide spectrum of ingredients that include creatine monohydrate, arginine, glutamine, caffeine anhydrous and BCAAs. Each dose is only 60 calories.



SNAC’s formulation was designed to energize your mind and body for powerful, effective workouts. Xpedite contains carnitine (750 milligrams), beta-alanine (1,000 milligrams), citrulline (1,000 milligrams) and caffeine anhydrous (125 milligrams), in addition to many others. This product supports and improves energy levels, reaction time, strength and mental focus. Mix two scoops with 12 ounces of water about 20 minutes before workouts.


Designed to promote stamina and prevent fatigue, Aerobitine improves blood flow during exercise and contains ingredients shown to reduce exercise waste by-products like lactic acid, ammonia and carbon dioxide buildup. These include arginine, citrulline, lipoic acid and a tocopherol blend.



Arnold Schwarzenegger’s own pre-workout provides efficacious doses of L-arginine nitrate, a fusion of arginine and nitric oxide. Arnold Iron Pump helps amplify performance by delivering nutrients—including a payload of niacin and vitamins B6 and B12— where they’re needed.



Helping you unleash your genetic potential, Mesomorph contains a blend of beta-alanine, arginine alpha ketoglutarate, citrulline, L-taurine and multiple forms of creatine to support cell-volumizing and ATP production. The product adds a neuro-energizing matrix.



Each scoop provides 5 grams of NO Super Pump Volumizing Complex, which consists of a creatine complex, an arginine matrix and citrulline malate. The Muscle Strength Blend delivers BCAAs, L-taurine, CarnoSyn beta-alanine, Sustamine and many other ingredients.