It’s obvious to see why the pre-workout supplement category is one of the hottest-selling categories on the market today. How you feel and perform in the gym determines what kind of results you’re going to get. And today’s pre-workout products are quite effective at ramping up your training intensity and getting you lifting like your life depends on it. Here are three ingredients that you should look for in your pre-workout product of choice.


If you haven’t heard of this supplement by now, then you must either be brand-new to training or living under a rock. This amino acid is this decade’s creatine. Study after study is piling up in favor if its ability to increase muscle strength and power, as well as endurance and muscle growth. It works by combining with histidine in the muscle cells to form carnosine, which keeps the muscle fibers contracting with more force and less fatigue.


Whether it’s in the form of L-citrulline or citrulline malate, you can’t go wrong having this amino acid in your pre-workout supplement. Citrulline is converted in the body to arginine. Yet because it is absorbed better than arginine, taking citrulline actually raises arginine levels in the body better than taking arginine itself. This leads to higher nitric oxide levels, which helps get more blood to your working muscles for more energy and a bigger pump.


If you think that caffeine is only added to pre-workout products for the jolt it gives you, you’re only half right. Yes, caffeine is a powerful stimulant that makes you more alert and gives you the kick in the pants you need for a tough workout. But caffeine is also one of the most researched ergogenic aids out there. And the research studies confirm that it boosts muscle strength and endurance.

Pre-Workout Supplements

This table lists several pre-workout products that contain either two or three of the ingredients covered above.

Supplement Beta-Alanine Citrulline (or Arginine) Caffeine Other Ingredients
Animal Rage Yes Yes Yes Yes
BPI Sports 1.M.R. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cellucor C4 Extreme Yes Yes Yes Yes
ON Platinum PRE Yes Yes Yes Yes
VPX 12 Gauge Shotgun Yes Yes Yes Yes