From my years of training, I’ve seen countless gym-goers, including myself at one point, rely on a cup of coffee or an energy drink as their go-to pre-workout.
Why? Because caffeine works.
Unfortunately, it also works when it comes to producing jitters, mood swings, and insomnia. So, the price for using it to jump start a workout can be unacceptably high.
Having spent over a decade as a sports nutritionist and an avid gym enthusiast, I’ve not only advised athletes but also experimented with various pre-workout supplements myself. The right choice truly makes a difference in the intensity and results of a workout.
In this review, I present my findings on the top seven caffeine-free pre-workout supplements based on scientific evidence and professional experience.
The Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements
- Best Overall Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement: Transparent Labs Stim-Free
- Cheapest Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement: PUMPSURGE Stim-Free
- Best Tasting Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement: Gorilla Mode Nitric
- Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout for Muscle Building: Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode
- Best Organic Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement: Organic Muscle
- Best Flavor Variety Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Supplement: BSN N.O. Xplode
- Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout with BCAAs: PEScience High Volume
Our Best Caffeine-Free Pre-Workouts (December 2023)
1 - Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout (Best Overall)
When I first tried the PreSeries Stim-Free pre-workout by Transparent Labs, I was skeptical. But to my surprise, it genuinely amplified my workouts, giving me the boost I needed without the jitters.
It includes 13 active ingredients that help increase nitric oxide, enhances your mental focus and endurance, and help you gain lean muscles.
This solid pre-workout supplement also contains ingredients like citrulline malate, beta-alanine, betaine, creatine, and taurine, so this pre-workout allows you to have continued energy without getting tired quickly.
The best part is the caffeine content won't cause jitters and sleep disruptions.
On top of that, the PreSeries STIM-FREE pre-workout supplement does not contain artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives, and is gluten-free and non-GMO.
After trying Transparent Labs Stim-Free, I noticed an improvement in my endurance and focus. It provided the necessary energy for my routines without side effects.
- L-Citrulline: 6000mg
- BCAAs: 4000mg
- Beta-Alanine: 4000mg
- Great for high-intensity workouts
- Increases mental focus & endurance
- Clean ingredients list
- Great range of flavors
- Flavor can be strong if not mixed with enough water
In essence, this pre-workout makes you lift more and workout longer without experiencing any of the nasty side-effects of caffeine with other pre-workouts.
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2 - Gorilla Mode Nitric (Best Tasting)
I’ve come across various brands in my fitness journey, and Gorilla Mode stands out. Having tried their supplements, I can vouch for their commitment to using scientifically-backed ingredients.
And what stood out the most for our test group was the 5000 mg of L-citrulline for muscle pumps. It’s one of the highest doses we’ve ever seen, and the results in our trial training were impressive.
We also saw a significant boost in strength levels when we compared our weight loads and reps to previous workouts without any supplements.
- L-Citrulline: 5000mg
- Creatine: 2500mg
- Betaine: 2000mg
- Scientifically designed to boost nitric oxide levels as much as possible
- A great dose of creatine and betaine to boost strength levels
- The powder mixes easily with water, and the flavors taste great
- Not available in capsule form for more convenience
It’s also a great product for stacking with other Gorilla Mode supplements, as they have been designed to complement each other.
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3 - PUMPSURGE Stim-Free Pre-Workout (Cheapest Option)
I remember the first time I incorporated Pumpsurge into my routine. The blend of L-citrulline, rhodiola, and other ingredients gave my muscles a noticeable kick, allowing me to push harder and achieve better results.
It is often inevitable during gym day that some of us reaches the point of muscle failure. Unfortunately for some, it reaches sooner than others.
With Pumpsurge, you’ll get extra boost of energy for you to be able to blast through your workouts.
Pumpsurge stim-free pre-workout also recognizes the brain/brawn connection and provide nootropics that help stimulate mental acuity and focus.
I felt mental clarity and increased endurance after using it. It kept me alert and focused, enhancing my performance.
- L-Citrulline: 5g
- Taurine: 2g
- Boosts nitric oxide for energetic workouts
- Promotes muscle growth & vascularity
- Contains ingredients for added focus
- No artificial food dyes or fillers
- Great taste, not so great texture
You’ll also experience an increase in all-important flow of blood that will allow for greater pumps and faster recovery. No wonder it's considered one of the top stim-free pre-workouts choice for athletes.
4 - Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode (Best for Muscle Building)
Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode provides a stim-free pre-workout which can help you achieve a good workout or improve your stamina for running.
It uses betaine nitrate to open the veins to accommodate greater blood circulation. It would mean that it can help you do better pumps, achieve an effective muscle tissue response and faster recovery.
Also included here is vitamin C and D complex that provides powerful antioxidants which aid in the repair of stressed muscles and the creation of larger, harder, more durable muscles.
Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode improved muscle density and fullness in my workouts.
- Creatine Monohydrate: 2000mg
- Beta-Alanine: 1600mg
- Increases muscle blood circulation
- Supports vascularity & endurance
- Fuels up your workout performance to the next level
- Can be stacked with other pre-workouts or supplements
- Some won’t like that it’s unflavored
Vitamin D, on the other hand, ensures proper muscle contraction while boosting the immune system. Again, this is to achieve good post workout and more effective muscle building efforts without caffeine.
5 - Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout (Best Organic)
Say what you want about caffeine, but it's a naturally occurring compound.
One concern many people have with the best caffeine-free pre workout supplements is that some of them achieve their effects through artificial means. However, this isn't the case with this USDA Certified Organic Powder.
It will power you through your workout with its organic ingredients. Things like Maca root, ginseng, Eleuthero root, Yerba mate, and Rhodiola Rosea.
A colleague valued Organic Muscle for its natural ingredients. It provided a clean and sustained boost, feeling less fatigued after each workout.
- Calories: 25g
- Carbs: 6g
- Protein: 1g
- Improves energy, focus, and stamina
- Non-GMO and gluten-free
- No crash & jitters
- Individual results vary
With this all-natural and stimulant-free pre-workout, you’ll feel an elevated sense of energy throughout your workout with the metabolic boost provided by matcha green tea, organic raspberry, and niacin, helping you make the most of your gym time. On top of that, you probably won't have trouble sleeping at night as well.
6 - BSN N.O. Xplode (Best Flavor Variety)
BSN N.O. Xplode is a caffeine-free pre-workout that provides all the vitamins and nutrients you need to power your way through your workout without hitting the performance wall.
The ingredient list includes known energy boosters and muscle builders including creatine and beta-alanine along with supporting nutrients like niacin, calcium and thiamin.
Xplode operates on the principle that it’s not how pumped you are at the outset of your workout, but how much energy you have when you hit that part of your routine where you’re trying to break through your new personal bests.
Caffeine often leaves you standing at the altar during this crucial phase but BSN N.O. Xplode helps you avoid that.
When tested, the supplement provided steady energy and increased endurance, allowing me to push boundaries in each session.
- Calories: 20
- Carbs: 5g
- Loaded with essential nutrients
- Enhances focus, maximizes power
- Comes in a variety of flavors
- Easy on the wallet
- Taste is nothing to write home about
If you want a dependable, affordable,caffeine-free pre-workout that will enable you to push yourself to new heights and recover faster, the consider Xplode from BSN.
7 - PEScience High Volume (Best Caffeine-Free with BCAAs)
This product from PE Science is a stim-free pre-workout loaded with essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C and D as well as L-arginine to help increase blood circulation.
Getting in a great exercise is everyone’s goal, but if the best caffeine-free pre-workout abandons you when you leave the gym what good is that?
You need a supplement that will not only help you achieve a dynamic pump but also help you recover faster and build new muscles as well.
Another team member highlighted PEScience High Volume for the pump it provides. It helped achieve a more vascular and toned appearance.
- Vitamin C: 250mg
- L-Citrulline: 4000mg
- Contains BCAAs to regulate muscle growth
- Contains essential vitamins and minerals
- Few if any side effects
- Provides a jitter-free energy boost that lasts
- Package size is unusually small
- Like some similar products, the taste won't impress
PE Science High Volume will help you achieve that, without leaving you jittery or unable to sleep.
How We Tested Our Products
Narrowing down the most potent caffeine-free pre-workouts is a task that demands both expertise and experience.
I’ve been there, sweating in the gym, needing that extra push but not wanting the jittery effects or late-night wakefulness that caffeine can induce.
Through countless trials and meticulous analysis, I’ve honed in on what truly defines an exceptional caffeine-free pre-workout.
Here's a breakdown of the four major criteria I kept at the forefront during the selection process.
1. Potent Energy Boost without Jitters
The primary function of any pre-workout is to provide an energy surge. Without caffeine in the mix, this becomes a challenging feat.
I personally tested various blends, noting their effects on my workout intensity and endurance.
The top products on our list consistently delivered a significant boost in energy without the jitters or crashes associated with caffeine, making every gym session count.
2. Nutrient Absorption and Bioavailability
It’s not just about what's in the supplement; it’s about how well your body can utilize it. Through my trials, I observed how different formulas affected my performance.
The standout products ensured optimal nutrient absorption, allowing for maximum benefits from ingredients such as amino acids, beetroot extract, and other natural stimulants.
3. Clean and Natural Ingredients
The world of supplements is vast, and not all are created equal. So, I placed a high emphasis on products that championed clean, natural, and organic ingredients.
I’ve personally felt the difference when ingesting synthetic versus natural compounds, and the chosen pre-workouts reflect this preference, being free from artificial fillers, dyes, or unnecessary additives.
4. Endurance and Recovery Enhancement
A pre-workout’s role doesn't end when you rack the weights.
I closely monitored my post-workout recovery, muscle soreness, and readiness for subsequent sessions.
The top caffeine-free pre-workouts not only supercharged my initial performance but also aided in faster recovery, thanks to ingredients like BCAAs and electrolytes.
Pros and Cons of Caffeine-Free Pre-Workouts
The point of caffeine-free pre-workout supplements is to allow you to enjoy a more effective exercise without having to pay the price that often accompanies it.
Here are some pros and cons of most pre-workout supplements:
- None of the common adverse side effects of caffeine
- Better overall support both during and after your workout
- Contains vitamins and other nutrients that improve circulation and muscle building
- Some of the best caffeine-free pre-workout supplements are only marginally effective
- Some can be pretty expensive
As a result [of taking stim-free pre-workouts], you will be able to perform more repetitions as a given weight, increase your training density through decreased rest periods, and build more muscle.
- Steve Shaw, Fitness Editorial Director at Tiger Fitness
What Ingredients Should You Look For?
One of the standout features of caffeine-free pre-workouts is their reliance on natural ingredients.
Ingredients like beetroot extract, known for improving blood flow, and amino acids, which play a crucial role in muscle function, are commonly found.
These natural powerhouses work synergistically to boost your workouts, ensuring you get the most out of every rep and set.
Here are the ingredients you should look for in stimulant-free pre-workout supplements:
- Beta-alanine - This amino acid helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid while also promoting greater endurance, enhanced workout performance, and improved blood flow.
- Creatine - This is well known for its ability to promote lean muscle mass growth, enhance strength and endurance, and improve muscle recovery.
- Magnesium - Magnesium is important when it comes to enabling proper muscle contraction, which can avoid tension and cramps.
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D also helps enable proper muscle contraction and plays a key role in promoting faster recovery.
- Beetroot - Beetroot provides for a better pump and longer endurance.
- Alpha GPC - This is a brain booster that helps you improve your memory, clear your mind, and stay focused by increasing your dopamine levels.
- Peak ATP is a patented form of ATP that improves lean muscle mass growth by enhancing blood flow and muscle recovery.
- L-citrulline - This non-essential amino acid is a nitric oxide booster that works better than L-arginine in boosting nitric oxide levels to increase blood flow and promote muscle relaxation.
A good stim-free pre-workout is determined by its content. There are ingredients, labels, and certifications that you should look for in your pre-workout to ensure that you're getting the best out of it .
It's often helpful if the stimulant-free pre-workout label includes certifications from consumer protection groups including Informed Choice, NSF or the BSCG . If you see these certifications, you can have a high degree of confidence the product is safe and effective. Regardless, ask your dietician or other similar professionals to get a more professional opinion.
Informed Choice, BSCG, and NSF offer reputable supplement certification programs that test products for banned substances in sport and provide databases with products and lots that have been certified to be free of drugs.
Your pre-workout doesn't have to include all of the above, but it should include most. Two or more ingredient combination is safe, as in the case of creatine and beta-alanine.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid?
You should avoid ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, magnesium, creatine, and caffeine in stim-free pre-workouts as they may cause digestive upset.
Also, when looking for things that should not be in your stim-free pre-workout, the first red flag should be the phrase "proprietary blend (PB)."
Manufacturers often invoke the proprietary blend when they have something to hide.
With the PB designation in place, they don't have to list how much of which ingredient is included.
This means they can scrimp on more expensive (and more effective) ingredients without you knowing.
Beyond the proprietary blend, however, you'll also want to avoid in stim-free pre-workouts:
- Synephrine - This is a fat burner that also happens to be a banned substance in most athletic circles. It also has the potential to cause serious health problems.
- Yohimbe - Typically used for weight loss this is a stimulant with unpredictable side effects and questionable effectiveness.
- DMAA - May result in shortness of breath or tightness in the chest that is a precursor of a heart attack. Also a no-no for people with high blood pressure. You can also read our article about DMAA pre-workout here.
- Caffeine - Look for caffeine to be hiding in products that are cagey about their makeup and hide behind phrases like "all natural." Remember that it is a natural compound.
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Is Caffeine-Free Pre-workout Healthier?
Yes, using a caffeine-free pre-workout is healthier and safer, especially if you’re very sensitive to stimulants. Consuming large amounts of caffeine can cause jitters, anxiety, and insomnia. So if you can get the same results from caffeine-free or stim-free pre-workouts, then it’s generally the healthier option, especially for blood flow.
Is Caffeine-Free Pre-workout Bad for Your Kidneys?
No, the best caffeine-free pre-workout is not bad for your kidneys. On the contrary, consuming excessive amounts of caffeine along with common ingredients like creatine can cause dehydration, high blood pressure, and kidney function issues. Look for pre-workout supplements without creatine if you want to avoid these possible side effects.
Can You Take Caffeine-Free Pre-workout Every Day?
Yes, you can take a caffeine-free pre-workout every day as long as you stick to the recommended dose. Even with fewer stimulants included, there can be some side effects from taking too much of it, so always stick to what’s recommended on the label.
Why Choose Caffeine-Free Pre-workout?
You should choose a caffeine-free pre-workout to avoid overstimulation, i.e., feeling jittery and anxious. If you train late in the evening, you’d also want to avoid caffeine in your pre-workout because it may cause difficulty sleeping.
Thankfully, a lot of top pre-workout brands have a caffeine-free version. So if you like your current brand, consider checking out their website for caffeine-free pre-workouts.
Our #1 Caffeine-Free Pre-Workout Is…
After comparing the supplements above, I recommend PreSeries Stim-Free from Transparent Labs for its benefits.
This product has 13 active ingredients, but caffeine, artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, and gluten are not among them.
This caffeine-free pre-workout enhances your mental focus and endurance without worrying about the “crash” side effects. It allows you to exercise and build more lean muscles.
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