The Best Pre-Workouts of 2022

man in gym mixing a pre workout


Protein | Pre-Workouts | Creatine | Multivitamins | Vitamin B12 | Collagen | Testosterone Boosters | Greens Powder | Fish Oil | BCAAs

As much as you may love to train, consistently completing your workouts day in and day out takes compelling dedication and motivation. At times when your motivation to train is low, pre-workouts may give you the kick in the pants you need to get the most out of a workout. Pre-workouts contain active ingredients designed to enhance various areas of your performance.

Specifically, taking pre-workouts regularly may lead to increased power output, improvements in lean body mass, as well as enhanced muscular endurance, though the data is mixed. While taking a pre-workout may be beneficial, not all of them are produced with the user's long-term health and safety in mind. Therefore, when shopping for a pre-workout, it's important to do your research to ensure supplement safety.

Here, the ACTIVE Reviews Team has taken care of the research portion for you to provide you with the best pre-workouts of 2022, to boost your workouts with safety in mind.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE.com's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming supplements, we prioritize products that are independently tested by a third party. Additionally, we consulted with ACTIVE's Advisory Board, which includes nutritionists, competitive athletes, coaches, and certified trainers, to make certain that the products we feature are of the highest standards. The ACTIVE Reviews Team is passionate about bringing you products we trust and would personally use.

Our Rating Scale

Price/Affordability:

Prices depend on a number of factors, and tend to fluctuate over time, so we’ve kept our affordability rating scale simple so you can easily see how products compare.

$ = under $1 per serving
$$ = $1-2 per serving
$$$ = over $2 per serving

Flavor Options:

When it comes to dietary supplements that you take frequently, or even daily, options are important. And while your protein powder or pre-workout doesn’t have to taste good to be effective, having several flavors to choose from can make it easier to stick with your fitness and health goals.

N/A = Unflavored
1 = 1-2 flavor options
2 = 3-4 flavor options
3 = 5 or more flavor options

The Best Pre-Workouts - Our Top Picks

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What to Consider When Shopping for Pre-Workout


Active Ingredients

One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a pre-workout is the active ingredients it contains. Based on your goals, you may prioritize certain active ingredients over others. Caffeine is the most popular active ingredient found in stimulant pre-workouts. Creatine is another common active ingredient in pre-workouts. It's a well-researched amino acid that's been shown to increasehigh-intensity exercise performance with daily supplementation of three to five grams. Other common ingredients include branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine, and L-citrulline.

Proprietary Blends

Proprietary blends are complexes of multiple ingredients listed on a label that don't specify the amount of each ingredient. These make it difficult to distinguish exactly how much of a given ingredient is in the pre-workout. Companies often use these to hide the fact that they are underdosing a certain ingredient. In general, it's best to steer clear of proprietary blends and stick to brands that use transparent labeling.

Third-Party Testing

Third-party testing is when a supplement company sends a sample of their products to outside labs to have them tested for contaminants and banned substances. If a pre-workout is third-party verified, this means it's free of potentially harmful or illegal substances. Choosing a pre-workout that is third-party tested ensures a certain level of safety and is highly recommended when shopping for supplements. This is especially important for those competing in federations that test for banned substances.

Cost per Serving

Pre-workouts range dramatically in price depending on the complexity of the active ingredients they provide. When shopping for a pre-workout, keep your desired budget in mind. You may calculate the cost per serving to get an idea of how different brands compare in terms of cost. We've done the leg work for you here by providing a price rating scale on all of the products we've reviewed.

Type of Sweetener

Sweeteners are added to pre-workouts to improve their flavor and mask the off-putting tastes of some of the ingredients. Most often, companies use calorie-free sweeteners to add sweetness without adding additional calories. Many sweeteners that are used come from artificial sources, thus some people try to avoid them for various reasons. Companies have responded by using natural calorie-free sweeteners such as stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract, and fermented sugar cane.

Best Overall Pre-Workout - Legion Pulse Pre-workout

Legion Pulse Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: Stimulant pre-workout
  • Serving size: 23.76g
  • Calories per serving: 10
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • Caffeine per serving: 350mg

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To select the best overall pre-workout, we considered the active ingredients included, their doses, flavor options, and label transparency, and Legion's Pulse pre-workout came out on top based on these factors. This pre-workout supplies effective doses of L-citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine, caffeine, L-theanine, and alpha-GPC.

While this pre-workout supplies a hefty 350-milligram dose of caffeine, it also comes in a caffeine-free version for those avoiding stimulants. This product includes no artificial ingredients, using natural sweeteners and red beet for color, and users rave about the seven tasty flavors. Legion Pulse is third-party certified by Labdoor, ensuring its safety for athletes.

PROS

  • Comes in a large number of appealing flavors
  • Caffeinated or caffeine-free version
  • Third-party certified by Labdoor

CONS

  • On the expensive side at $1.90/serving
  • Regular version is quite high in caffeine

BUY: Legion Pulse Pre-workout

Best Pre-Workout for Weight Loss - Jacked Factory Burn XT Fat Burner Pre-workout

Jacked Factory Burn XT Fat Burner Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: Fat burning pre-workout
  • Serving size: 3.7g
  • Calories per serving: None noted
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 270 mg

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While diet and exercise will have the most impact on your weight-loss success, select supplements have also been shown to help boost fat loss. This product made the top of our list for a few reasons. First off, it contains ingredients such as acetyl L-carnitine, green tea leaf extract, Capsimax pepper extract, Bioperine black pepper extract, and caffeine that have been shown to potentially aid in weight loss. These ingredients work either by increasing how many calories your body burns, or increasing fat burning in our body's cells. Additionally, other than these active ingredients, the supplement doesn't contain any unnecessary fillers or proprietary blends.

This pre-workout would be a great option to take during a weight loss phase before hitting the weights, or hopping on your favorite cardio machine. Note: you may notice a slight tingle on your tongue when drinking this supplement due to the pepper extracts it contains.

PROS

  • Reasonable price point
  • Science-backed ingredients
  • Transparent labeling
  • Compact serving size

CONS

  • Only available in 1 flavor currently
  • Slight tingling sensation due to pepper extracts

BUY: Jacked Factory Burn XT Fat Burner Pre-workout

Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Building - Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre-workout

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: Stimulant pre-workout
  • Serving size: 31g
  • Calories per serving: 15
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 274mg

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Building muscle is no small task. You have to consistently put in the work in the gym and stay on point with your nutrition to maximize muscle gains. But while diet and exercise are the key factors, supplementation can also help to a certain degree. Kaged Muscle's Pre-Kaged pre-workout includes scientifically-backed ingredients such as creatine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, betaine, and BCAAs, all of which can aid in muscle building. In addition, Pre-Kaged contains additional leucine, a branched-chain amino acid that is responsible for initiating muscle protein synthesis.

With 274 milligrams of caffeine sourced from green coffee beans, this pre-workout is sure to provide you with a jolt of energy to fuel you through your workout. That said, if you are sensitive to caffeine this may not be the best option for you. All Kaged Muscle supplements use transparent labeling and are third-party tested by Informed Choice to ensure safety for athletes. Lastly, it's gluten-free and vegan-friendly for those with dietary restrictions.

PROS

  • Includes desired ingredients for building muscle
  • Available in a number of appealing flavors
  • Third-party tested
  • Transparent labeling

CONS

  • Serving size is quite large
  • Rather expensive at $1.70/serving

BUY: Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre-workout

Best Pre-Workout for Runners - Nuun Energy

Nuun Energy

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Source/type: Electrolyte/Energy blend
  • Serving size: 1 tablet (5.2g)
  • Calories per serving: 15
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • Caffeine per serving: 80mg

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Running is a sport of determination and mental fortitude. While listening to music or a podcast with your favorite earbuds while on a run can provide motivation, some people may be looking for an extra edge. While many traditional pre-workouts are geared toward muscle building, there are also some that cater to the endurance side of the exercise spectrum. Among them, we found Nuun's Energy tablets to be the best pre-workout option for runners.

These tablets include a blend of electrolytes, caffeine, ginseng, and vitamins to keep you energized and hydrated during even the most grueling training sessions. While all of the other pre-workouts we've reviewed come in powder form, this particular one comes in tablet form. This makes them a convenient option when on the go—just drop a tablet into a bottle of water and you're all set. Providing 80 milligrams of caffeine sourced from organic green tea, this pre-workout provides an energy jolt without leaving you overstimulated. Each tablet also contains 100 milligrams of sodium and 200 milligrams of potassium to give you the electrolytes you need to stay hydrated.

PROS

  • Comes in convenient tablet form
  • Several flavor options available
  • Third-party tested by Informed Choice
  • Reasonable price point

CONS

  • Amount of caffeine may be too low for some people
  • Some users report taste concerns

BUY: Nuun Energy

Best Pre-Workout for Triathletes - TRIFUEL 3-in-1 Endurance, Recovery, and Hydration Drink

TRIFUEL 3-in-1 Endurance, Recovery, and Hydration Drink

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: Carbohydrate/electrolyte supplement
  • Serving size: 44g (2 scoops)
  • Calories per serving: 112
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 60mg

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Triathlons are a particularly demanding sport including running, cycling, and swimming all in one competition. Therefore participants must train in three individual sports instead of just one. These training demands require specific refueling protocols to ensure proper hydration and energy levels. Our choice for the best pre-workout for triathletes, TRIFUEL's 3-in-1 Beverage, is unique in that it's the only pre-workout we reviewed that has supplemental carbohydrates (30 grams per serving). While not all sports require these, triathlons burn through your body's energy stores at a rapid rate, thus it's important to replenish them.

This pre-workout also includes a comprehensive electrolyte matrix consisting of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride, to keep triathletes hydrated during training and competition. A combination of 60 milligrams of caffeine and 100 milligrams of L-theanine is provided for energy and mental focus. In addition, this beverage provides BCAAs to support muscle recovery during exercise. Lastly, the beverage provides L-glutamine, L-arginine, and L-citrulline malate to promote recovery and relieve fatigue.

PROS

  • Includes electrolytes, carbohydrates, and energy supplements all in one
  • Tested for banned substances
  • Official drink of Triathlon

CONS

  • Expensive at around $3.00/serving
  • Caffeine may be too low to be effective
  • Limited flavor options

BUY: TRIFUEL 3-in-1 Endurance, Recovery, and Hydration Drink

Best Pre-Workout for Cyclists - Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: Energy and electrolyte blend
  • Serving size: 9.5g (2 scoops)
  • Calories per serving: 5
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 100mg

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Cycling is a high-intensity sport that places significant energy and hydration demands on the body. Therefore, as most cyclists know, replenishing electrolytes and energy is vital to maintaining performance. Our selection for the best pre-workout for cyclists provides a blend of energy and electrolytes to keep you fueled during even the hardest of spins.

Optimum Nutrition's Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes pre-workout contains 100 milligrams of caffeine, 50 milligrams of green tea leaf extract, and 10 milligrams of green coffee bean extract to promote endurance and mental focus. In addition, it provides an electrolyte blend of sodium, potassium, and magnesium to aid in meeting your hydration needs while training. The supplement also contains a blend of amino acids to support muscle recovery during and following exercise. Lastly, it's tested for banned substances to ensure safety for users.

PROS

  • Caffeine is naturally sourced
  • Comes in an extensive array of flavors
  • Affordable price point

CONS

  • Uses ingredient blends, thus the amount of each ingredient is not fully disclosed
  • Contains artificial ingredients, which may be undesirable for some people

BUY: Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy + Electrolytes

Best Vegan Pre-Workout - Naked Energy Pure Pre-workout

Naked Energy Pure Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Type: Stimulant pre-workout
  • Serving size: 4.64g
  • Calories per serving: None noted
  • Artificial sweeteners: None noted
  • Caffeine per serving: 200mg

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Traditionally pre-workouts have contained several ingredients that were not necessarily vegan-friendly. That said, in recent years, with the surge in people following a vegan diet, many companies have modified their formulas to be vegan. For the best vegan pre-workout currently available, Naked's Energy Pure pre-workout was our top pick. This pre-workout contains 10 all-natural animal-free ingredients, and no sugar or carbs. The active ingredients include caffeine from unroasted coffee beans, beta-alanine, creatine, and L-arginine, as well as a handful of vitamins for energy support.

This pre-workout makes a great option for vegan athletes looking for a quick energy boost to power them through a tough training session. With the added creatine and beta-alanine, this product can further support energy production. In addition to being certified vegan, it's soy and gluten free. It's third-party tested to ensure safety for users, and it comes in both flavored and unflavored versions.

PROS

  • Contains tried-and-true pre-workout ingredients
  • Free of artificial ingredients
  • Third-party tested for contaminants and banned substances

CONS

  • Some ingredients are underdosed
  • Limited flavor options
  • Some users report slight bitter taste from caffeine

BUY: Naked Energy Pure Pre-workout

Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout - PEScience High Volume Pre-workout

PEScience High Volume

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Source/type: Stim-free pre-workout
  • Serving size: 14g
  • Calories per serving: Minimal
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose, acesulfame potassium
  • Caffeine per serving: N/A

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While many pre-workouts contain large amounts of caffeine, there are various stimulant-free versions on the market that are meant to enhance your workout through other ways. PEScience High Volume is our top choice for the best non-stim pre-workout. Besides its extensive selection of tasty flavors, this pre-workout includes a number of ingredients (L-citrulline, arginine nitrate, and agmatine sulfate) designed to enhance your muscle fullness during workouts. When performing muscle-building exercises, the blood flow to your muscles plays an important role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.

As an added bonus, it's carb free for those following a lower-carb or keto diet. If you're looking for better muscle pumps during strength workouts without the caffeine jolt, a stim-free product such as High Volume may be worth a try.

PROS

  • Can enhance blood flow to muscles during workouts
  • Comes in a number of appealing flavors
  • Third-party tested and produced in GMP facility

CONS

  • Container only contains 18 servings
  • Some active ingredients are slightly underdosed

BUY: PEScience High Volume

Best Budget Pre-Workout - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Type: Stimulant pre-workout
  • Serving size: 10g
  • Calories per serving: 10
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 175mg

 

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There's no question that regularly buying nutrition supplements can really add up. Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard pre-workout is a time-tested formula that includes science-backed ingredients such as creatine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, and caffeine, and provides an exceptional value for the price. In the stimulant department, it includes 175 milligrams of caffeine, which is enough to support your energy levels without leaving you jittery. This pre-workout makes a good option for beginners or budget-minded individuals looking to still take a pre-workout without breaking the bank.

PROS

  • Affordable pricing
  • Includes all common pre-workout ingredients
  • Comes in 4 flavors

CONS

  • Some active ingredients are underdosed
  • Contains artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners

BUY: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-workout

Best Tasting Pre-Workout - GHOST Legend Pre-workout

GHOST Legend Pre-workout

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Type: Stimulant pre-workout
  • Serving size: 16.5g
  • Calories per serving: 0
  • Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose
  • Caffeine per serving: 250mg

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In recent years, the flavoring of nutrition supplements has come a long way—although some pre-workouts still fall short in the flavor department. Due to caffeine's naturally bitter taste, it takes quite a bit of effort to mask this off-putting flavor. When it came to choosing the best tasting pre-workout, GHOST's Legend pre-workout really stood out. They put a unique spin on their flavoring by teaming up with well-known candy brands such as Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, and Warheads. Users of this pre-workout find the flavors to be particularly delish.

While the supplement's flavoring is on point, that's not all it has going for it. It also includes several active ingredients to boost performance such as L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and caffeine. It also includes some additional active ingredients such as theobromine and nitrosigine, which may increase the blood flow to your muscles during training. As an added bonus this supplement is gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and vegan-friendly.

PROS

  • Good selection of appealing flavors
  • Properly-dosed active ingredients
  • Third-party tested for athlete safety

CONS

  • Contains artificial flavoring and sweeteners
  • Higher price point than some

BUY: GHOST Legend Pre-workout

FAQs about Pre-Workout


Who should take a pre-workout?

Pre-workouts are designed for healthy individuals looking for improvements in energy levels and exercise performance while training. Some people may find they have plenty of energy to train, therefore a non-stimulant pre-workout may be best for them. Others may not wish to take a pre-workout at all, which is totally fine because they certainly are not necessary to perform at a high level.

What does a pre-workout do?

In simple terms, taking a pre-workout will provide you with a boost of energy and prime your body for exercise. Depending on the active ingredients in the pre-workout, different brands may have differing effects. Most pre-workouts contain a good amount of caffeine or other stimulants to provide energy and stamina. That said, some other pre-workouts are caffeine-free and focus on increasing blood flow to the working muscles to enhance the benefits of exercise.

How much caffeine is in pre-workout supplements?

Generally speaking, caffeinated pre-workouts usually contain anywhere from 100-400 milligrams of caffeine. When starting out, we recommend trying one with a lower amount of caffeine until you become accustomed to its effects. Some brands make stimulant-free pre-workouts that contain no caffeine, although they usually contain other active ingredients as a means to enhance performance in other ways.

Is pre-workout bad for you?

When used sparingly as part of a well-designed training and nutrition plan, pre-workouts are generally not bad for you. It's when pre-workouts are abused that they may have harmful effects. Always use the pre-workout as instructed on the label. In addition, it greatly depends on the specific pre-workout you choose, as some have been found to have potentially harmful ingredients. We recommend choosing a pre-workout that is third-party certified to ensure it is free of contaminants and banned substances.

When should I take pre-workout?

Most pre-workouts are designed to be taken 30-60 minutes before training for the best effect. Manufacturers will generally specify the mixing instructions on the label. Most pre-workouts require you to mix 1-2 scoops with 6-12 ounces of water, though instructions may be more specific based on your body size. If your pre-workout contains caffeine, it's important to be aware that it may affect your sleep, so taking it later in the day may not be the best idea for some people.

Protein | Pre-Workouts | Creatine | Multivitamins | Vitamin B12 | Collagen | Testosterone Boosters | Greens Powder | Fish Oil | BCAAs

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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