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12 Best Pre-Workout Supplements For 2022 | What Are They & Who Should Take Them

In their most basic form, pre-workout supplements are designed to help you get more out of your workouts.

Many are full of caffeine, taurine, amino acids, niacin, creatine, and a dozen other vitamins, proprietary blends, and flavorings. Ideally, these supplements should help you to:

  • Feel more focused and energized going into your workout.
  • Help you sustain energy over periods of high exertion.
  • Aid in vasodilation (get that "pump" with your reps).
  • Reduce intraworkout fatigue.

As with any category of supplements, however, not all pre-workouts are made the same. Some are fantastic! Others are just overpriced tubs of caffeine with some flavoring mixed in. In this article, we'll walk through what to look for in pre-workout supplements and give you our recommendations of pre-workout supplements we can't get enough of.

Top 12 pre-workout supplements comparison

Pre-Workout Supplements We Love Here are our top 12 selections. More on each below. 
Brand Taste Effectiveness Cost Cost Per Serving Overall Score Stimulants?
Jacked Factory NitroSurge Pre-Workout 4 5 $25.50 $0.85 4.166666667 Contains Stimulants
Swolverine Citrulline Malate 4 3.5 $59.99 $0.60 4 Stimulant Free
MUSCLETECH VAPOR X5 RIPPED PRE-WORKOUT 4 4.5 $24.95 $0.83 4 Contains Stimulants
Optimum Nutrition Pre-workout 4 4 $29.99 $1.00 3.666666667 Contains Stimulants
Gorilla Mind Gorilla Mode 5 4 $49.00 $1.23 3.666666667 Contains Stimulants
Bodybuilding.com Signature 3 4 $27.99 $0.93 3.583333333 Contains Stimulants
Bucked Up 5 4 $42.95 $1.43 3.5 Contains Stimulants
EVLUTION NUTRITION L-Citrulline2000 3 3 $19.99 $0.67 3.5 Stimulant Free
EVLUTION NUTRITION PumpMode Nitric Oxide 3 2.5 $22.99 $0.77 3.166666667 Stimulant Free
BSN NO-Xplode 3 4.5 $39.99 $1.33 3.083333333 Contains Stimulants
Cellucor C4 Preworkout 3 3 $29.99 $1.00 3 Contains Stimulants
AminoCo Perform 3 3.75 $75.00 $2.50 2.58 Contains Stimulants
 

You can't go wrong with any of these supplements, but as you can see, we've taken the time to rank them for you from our highest scoring to our lowest score. 

The way the scores are determined is based on averages. The categories Taste and Effectiveness are scored on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Then, we broke down the cost per serving of each supplement and placed those on a scale of 1-5 as well, with 1 being closest to $0.50 per serving and 5 being $1.50 per serving or higher. We then calculated the average of taste, effectiveness, and cost combined to calculate the overall score. 

It should be noted that taste and effectiveness are both subjective. We're basing this exclusively on our own personal preferences and how we responded to each supplement. You may try a different flavor or have different preferences which could cause your experiences to vary. For supplements that come in a pill or tablet, we settled on a taste score of 3 since it's neither bad nor good. 

Highlights

Jacked Factory

Jacked Factory has been my personal go-to pre-workout supplement for a while. I wish so badly that they would let me into their affiliate program so that I could earn commissions by recommending them, but for now, that's off the table (yo, Jacked Factory, if you see this... call me). Until then, you can buy it here on Amazon and support me that way.

What I like about Jacked Factory is that when it hits you, it hits you. It's hard to take that supplement and not go hard in the gym. 

If you're sensitive to caffeine or easily flush when taking a supplement like niacin, this product probably isn't for you! If you like those juicy pumps (I feel so bro-y) and high-paced workouts, it's perfect. 

Amino Co Perform

Amino Co Perform BlendEven though Amino Co's Perform product came in 12th place in this round-up based upon our criteria, it's still a great one that deserves to be highlighted. Amino Co is a fascinating company with years of clinical research to back up its claims. 

Amino Co's Perform does contain caffeine, but not as much as a lot of other pre-workout supplements. It does not cause flushing or heart palpitations, which is relieving. It can help you power through a workout, but won't leave you jittery. 

Because it's comparatively low in caffeine, it can also be taken as an afternoon pick-me-up. Unlike a lot of pre-workout supplements, if you take it and don't immediately go to workout, you're not going to regret it.

If you want to try it for yourself, you can find it here.  

Bucked Up

DAS Labs Bucked Up

Bucked Up is the pre-workout supplement I've tried most recently. It's a lot like Jacked Factory in terms of its observed effectiveness and flavor. It is slightly more expensive than Jacked Factory, but in my experience, it doesn't cause uncomfortable flushing. 

I wasn't a fan of Bucked Up's marketing at first– there's something oddly rural and patriotic, yet also "swoll" culture, about it– so I had held off on trying it out. Now that I have, it's quickly becoming one of my favorites. 

You can find Bucked Up and try it out for yourself here. 

Swolverine Citrulline Malate (Stim-Free)

Swolverine Citrulline MalateIf you're looking for a stimulant-free pre-workout product, you're not going to find a better one than Swolverine's Citrulline Malate. Find it here. 

Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid. The name "non-essential" is a bit misleading. You have to have citrulline in your body, but it is considered non-essential because your body can produce its own. 

Taking additional citrulline, however, helps with vasodilation and research suggests that it can contribute to significantly enhanced athletic performance. Additionally, taking citrulline long-term is thought to support heart health. 

Who Should Take Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are ideal for folks who have planned long, intense workouts. They cause vasodilation, elevated heart rate, and sustained energy. 

For HIIT, powerlifting, weightlifting, Crossfit, and circuit training (among similar workouts), a pre-workout supplement can be an ideal way to ensure you have sustained energy for your entire workout

Pre-workout supplements also help with the "pump." That pump not only makes your veins pop and look great during your workouts but also contributes to your muscle development. Vasodilation increases the delivery of fuel to your muscles, and it also increases the delivery of amino acids, testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin growth factor to your engaged muscles, which stimulates faster muscle growth.

Who Should NOT Take a Pre-Workout Supplement?

If you have heart issues, are pregnant or may become pregnant, or take prescription medications, do not take pre-workout supplements until you've talked to your doctor. In general, it's best to avoid taking new supplements until a medical professional has signed off on them for you, but that's especially true for supplements that contain stimulants. 

Additionally, if you are sensitive to caffeine or prone to niacin flushing, it's best to avoid pre-workout supplements as well. They may be too intense if you're not used to consuming caffeine; in that case, you may also want to consider starting with a half-dose or smaller to test your tolerance. 

Shop This Article

Curious about any of the other pre-workouts in our round-up of the 12 best? Check them out at the links below. 

We may earn a commission from some purchases through links in this article, but that doesn't prevent us from only recommending supplements we've tried and are comfortable endorsing. To learn more about how we pick products and choose to use affiliate links, check out our editorial policy. 

Blake Reichenbach
He/ Him. Founder of HowdyLLC. Blake is a writer, gym addict, dog dad, researcher, and general life enthusiast. He's passionate about helping others reach their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives. Both ISSA and ICF certified, Blake is a personal trainer and wellness coach who loves to challenge his clients to rise to their full potential.