The majority of people I work with will always look for advice on a high-quality post-workout protein supplement. And while it is the first thing I make sure they take after muscle-burning CrossFit workouts, I always try to encourage them to invest in a pre-workout supplement as well.
Yes, it’s arguably more important to recover faster and help your muscles heal and rebuild, but so many of my clients are totally surprised by how much better they can perform during CrossFit classes.
Over the years, I have seen the good, the bad, and the awfully bad pre-workout supplements on the market.
So, our team here at Total Shape decided to put together a list of pre-workout supplements that we generally recommend our clients.
The Best Pre-Workouts for CrossFit
- Best Overall CrossFit Pre-Workout: Gorilla Mode
- Cheapest Pre-Workout Supplement for CrossFit: Cellucor C4
- Best CrossFit Pre-Workout for Strength: Transparent Labs
- Best Tasting Pre-Workout Powder for CrossFit: Nitrosurge
- Best Vegan Pre-Workout Powder for CrossFit: Pre Lab Pro
- Best Caffeine-Free CrossFit Pre-Workout: Genius Pre
- Best Fast Recovery Pre-Workout Supplement: Gorilla Mode
- Best CrossFit Pre-Workout With Creatine: Pre Lab Pro
- Best CrossFit Pre-Workout With Vitamins: Cellucor C4
- Best Subscription CrossFit Pre-Workout: Naked Energy
- Best Pre-Workout Supplement for Endurance: Pre Lab Pro
- Best CrossFit Pre-Workout With Testosterone: Transparent Labs
Our Top Pre-Workouts for Crossfit (December 2023)
1 - Gorilla Mode Pre Workout for CrossFit (Best Overall & for Recovery)
CrossFit requires an incredible amount of physical strength, stamina, and mental fortitude, which is why Gorilla Mode is your best option.
The full clinical dose of L-citrulline in this pre workout helps boost nitric oxide levels, thereby increasing muscle oxygenation and nutrient delivery to your muscles so you can perform high-volume, heavy-weight, and high-power workouts .
Also, citrulline helps muscle recovery by eliminating waste products such as lactate and ammonia that contribute to muscle fatigue.
Moreover, the combination of powerful stimulants and high dosed nootropics may improve mental sharpness, concentration, and overall mood while supporting the benefits of creatine.
- Good pre-workout contains full clinical doses per serving
- It gives the best value for your money
- Supports intense workouts
- Promotes faster recovery
- Mixing with water may get clumpy if not consumed soon
After an hour of Gorilla Mode pre-workout consumption, I felt a surge of energy and stamina. My recovery time between sets decreased significantly, and I doubled my maximum reps per set without experiencing jitters or nausea.
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2 - Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout (Best With Testosterone & for Strength)
I've been using Transparent Labs Bulk for a couple of months now, and I can personally attest to its effectiveness. It not only fuels my workouts but also helps me feel more focused and energized, making every session more productive."
This pre-workout product claims to help with that by delivering testosterone-boosting vitamins and minerals, which also aid in muscle recovery.
Aside from that, users can expect improved mental focus, drive, and energy with the nootropics added to this supplement.
BULK also contains nitric oxide boosters and ergogenic aids that will amplify your strength, stamina, and muscle pumps while training.
Looking at online reviews, many users said that this pre-workout supplement has helped them finish stronger during their workouts.
- Boosts testosterone levels to promote muscle growth and aid recovery
- Enhances physical performance
- Helps build more muscle
- Some flavors might have a strong taste
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3 - Pre Lab Pro (Best Vegan Option with Creatine for Endurance)
I remember the first time I tried Pre Lab Pro; the difference was noticeable. My energy levels were through the roof, and I managed to push through an extra set of deadlifts with ease. It’s been a staple in my gym bag ever since.
Due to the high-intensity levels that you need to sustain for CrossFit, you need to make sure your muscles operate at maximum capacity. Otherwise, you might end up putting unnecessary strain on them, making injuries and soreness more likely.
One way to do that is through an increase in blood flow, which can be achieved through higher levels of nitric oxide (NO).
The good news is that Pre Lab Pro Pre-Workout contains a good dose of L-citrulline which studies have confirmed can improve NO levels .
I see creatine monohydrate in a lot of the best pre-workouts due to the benefits of increased energy levels and endurance, as well as helping with muscle soreness.
- Claims to raise NO for better pumps
- Contains creatine to increase energy and speed up recovery
- Stimulant free making it a good option for all times of day
- Vegan-friendly pre-workout supplement with natural ingredients
- You need to take 4 capsules rather than a good pre-workout shake
The one thing to be aware of is that this is not a pre-workout powder that you mix and enjoy before you hit the gym. You’ll need to swallow 4 capsules instead, which some review comments mentioned can be annoying.
4 - Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout (Best Tasting)
I was skeptical about Nitrosurge at first, but after the first sip, I became a believer. The energy boost is real, and I felt like I could lift mountains. My pumps were insane, and I could see the vascularity improvement after just a week of use.
This good pre-workout brings more energy and oxygen to your muscles to provide better strength and impressive pumps.
Based on a lot of review comments, and Connor, our resident bodybuilder’s experience, this is a feature that has a lot of supporting evidence.
- The primary claim is that it can increase blood flow for better pumps
- Includes beta-alanine for more power and less fatigue
- Combination of caffeine and L-Theanine can help with weight management
- Available in 3 tasty flavors (Cherry, Watermelon, Fruit Punch)
- Doesn’t include creatine
One pre-workout ingredient that is generally ranked highly for CrossFit pre-workout is creatine. But the lack of creatine in this pre-workout powder is made up by the muscle pumps so many online review comments highlight.
Also, if you have any blood pressure or cardiac issues, then speak to your doctor before considering this pre-workout powder.
5 - Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout (Cheapest & Most Vitamins)
I’ve been a fan of Cellucor for years, and their C4 pre-workout didn’t disappoint. The first time I used it, I felt an instant surge of energy, and my focus was laser-sharp. Every rep felt easier, and my endurance was on another level.
However, their pre-workout supplement is the product that stood out for me the most.
With the two main goals of CrossFit being muscle strength and fitness, Cellucor pre-workout claims to address both of those through the inclusion of creatine in their pre-workout supplement.
One interesting study showed that creatine’s effects build up over time, which is ideal for an aggressive training plan .
- Designed for CrossFit athlete
- Contains creatine for increased energy
- A good boost of vitamins linked to muscle endurance
- Possibly one of the largest selections of flavors
- Very good subscription options at an affordable price
- Some amounts of ingredients are hidden behind proprietary information
On the downside, it does have one of my pet-hates, which is hiding behind proprietary pre-workout labels for some of the ingredients. Overall though, the positive review comments convinced us to put this pre-workout powder on this best-of list.
I would also suggest that you take a look at other Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout Supplements.
6 - PRE WOD Pre-Workout
I was introduced to PRE WOD by a fellow CrossFitter, and it was a game-changer. The beta-alanine kick is real, and I felt like I could go on forever. My workouts became more intense, and my recovery was faster than ever.
According to Driven Nutrition, this provides the best results for high-intensity training periods that last 1 to 4 minutes.
There are countless online comments in forums where people mention that they saw a significant increase in power. I did a test with my colleague Connor where we did the same training routine a few days apart.
The time he used PRE WOD Pre-Workout, he was able to lift more and do more reps than without it.
I would also agree with a lot of other user reviews that the available pre-workout flavors are quite refreshing, and the powder is surprisingly easy to mix.
- A strong dose of beta-alanine can boost performance and muscular endurance
- Includes caffeine from natural sources for better mental health
- Vitamin C boost to help improve nutrition delivery to muscles
- Many review comments say it’s easy to mix
- The amount of stimulants means you have to be careful taking it later in the day
While caffeine has a positive effect on your motivation for optimum performance, just avoid taking this pre-workout supplement later in the day. I’m speaking from experience with a sleepless night.
7 - Naked Energy Pre-Workout (Best Subscription Based)
I stumbled upon Naked Energy last summer, and it’s been my go-to for clean energy ever since. It feels light, yet powerful and gets me through the most grueling WODs without the jitters or crash.
This pre-workout has a short list of active ingredients without artificial crap that is so common to make things taste better.
The combination of beta-alanine amino acids and creatine is great for CrossFit and any other workout designed for muscle building goals. And these benefits are highlighted in a lot of online reviews.
- Contains a protein blend of beta-alanine and creatine
- Has no artificial or unnecessary ingredients
- A large amount of caffeine for a mental boost
- Good subscription discounts available
- Has a slightly bitter taste
The reason I don’t use this pre-workout powder too often is that it does have a bitter taste to it and I just found it a bit difficult to swallow.
8 - Genius Pre All-Natural Pre-Workout (Best Caffeine-Free)
I was curious about Genius Pre, given all the buzz around it. When I finally tried it, I understood the hype. It’s clean, effective, and the mental clarity it offers is unmatched. It’s my secret weapon for those late evening workouts.
The Genius Brand has become very popular in the health supplements industry, and they have managed to create a product range that covers a very wide range of benefits.
The main ingredients of its pre-workout are L-citrulline and beta-alanine, which are linked to improved lifting power and less muscle fatigue, especially when taking it over a period of several weeks .
I also like having this pre-workout available for when I go training later in the day as it doesn’t contain any caffeine that could end up in a sleepless night.
- A good dose of L-citrulline and beta-alanine for muscular endurance and power
- Claims to work well for physical and mental performance
- Contains no caffeine or other stimulants
- Comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee for a risk-free trial
- Mixing it in a shaker can be difficult and may require blending
One thing I would agree with in some reviews is that it’s not the easiest pre-workout powder to mix in a shaker.
9 - Battle Ready Fuel Pre-Workout
I gave Battle Ready Fuel a shot out of curiosity, and boy, did it prove me wrong. The energy hit is instant, and it feels like a warrior awakening inside me every time I take it. It’s not just a name; it genuinely gets you battle-ready for every workout.
However, Battle Ready Fuel Pre-Workout for CrossFit managed to surprise me when I started reading all the positive reviews.
Part of the official product description highlights that the “energy boost comes from essential amino acids beta-alanine and citrulline malate,” and my dietitian was able to point me to a study  that confirmed a link to aerobic exercise performance.
- Claims to boost energy for intense workouts through a combination of citrulline malate and beta-alanine
- An effective dose of caffeine to provide mental focus
- Contains whey isolate and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
- The money-back-guarantee means you can try it risk-free
- Strong dose of caffeine, so be careful with coffee intake
The only thing to be aware of this pre-workout supplement is the strong doses of caffeine. While this is effective for fat burning and motivation, you want to be careful not to take it too late in the day.
If you're looking for alternative options to take in the evening, check out our list of the top caffeine-free pre-workouts here.
How We Tested the Products
Our evaluation process kicked off with a comprehensive market analysis, where we identified and reviewed over 40 pre-workout supplements renowned for boosting CrossFit performance. We meticulously examined each product's ingredients, customer testimonials, and the credibility of the manufacturing brands.
We set stringent criteria to assess the effectiveness of each pre-workout supplement. The parameters included ingredient quality, formula potency, taste, mixability, and the overall impact on performance and recovery. We ensured each product adhered to safety standards and was free from prohibited substances.
We enlisted a diverse group of CrossFit enthusiasts, ranging from novices to elite athletes, to test the selected pre-workout supplements. Each participant incorporated the products into their regular training sessions, offering insights into the supplements’ real-world performance.
We gathered quantitative data, tracking improvements in workout intensity, endurance, and recovery times. Participants also provided qualitative feedback on the taste, mixability, and any experienced side effects. This dual approach offered a holistic view of each product’s performance.
Our team meticulously analyzed the collected data, weighing the pros and cons of each pre-workout supplement. We evaluated the immediate impact on workout performance and monitored the long-term effects to ensure sustained benefits and safety.
Our recommendations are rooted in thorough research and unbiased testing. We are committed to offering transparent, honest, and reliable advice to help you choose the pre-workout supplement that will elevate your CrossFit performance to new heights.
Does Crossfit Require a Specific Diet?
Yes, CrossFit exercises require a specific diet in order to help you get the most out of it. As a CrossFit athlete, you'll need plenty of energy to boost your performance, and protein will be a key part of your recovery phase.
This means consuming plenty of healthy carbs and a whey protein shake to help repair and build new muscle fibers.
However, there is one type of protein in pre-workouts that can help improve exercise performance the most.
Creatine has been linked to increased ATP production, which essentially is the raw energy your muscles need. So, if you really want to improve your success rate and performance, then pick one of the above pre-workouts that contain creatine.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most basic form of energy in your body's cells. It plays a fundamental role in metabolism and muscle function. Unfortunately, you can only store enough ATP for 8–10 seconds of high-intensity exercise. After this, your body must produce new ATP to match the demands of the activity.
- Rudy Mawer, Sports Nutritionist
The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Enhancing Pre-Workout Efficacy
A balanced diet and proper nutrition play a crucial role in maximizing the effects of pre-workout supplements in CrossFit training. CrossFit demands high-intensity, varied movements, and exceptional endurance, requiring a well-fueled body.
- Energy: Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for high-intensity workouts. A balanced diet rich in complex carbs ensures sustained energy levels for your CrossFit session. Pre-workout supplements can complement this by providing quick energy in the form of glucose or caffeine.
- Protein: Protein aids in muscle repair and growth. Incorporating protein sources in your diet helps enhance muscle recovery and performance. Combining this with pre-workout supplements containing amino acids can support muscle endurance.
- Micronutrients: Proper intake of vitamins and minerals is essential for overall health and workout performance. A balanced diet that covers micronutrient needs supports energy metabolism, immune function, and the body's ability to recover from strenuous exercise.
- Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is crucial. Proper fluid intake, along with pre-workout supplements, helps prevent dehydration and supports optimal performance.
Incorporating pre-workout supplements into a well-balanced diet tailored to CrossFit training can amplify their effects, resulting in improved endurance, energy, and recovery.
It's essential to consult with a nutritionist or fitness expert for personalized guidance, ensuring your dietary choices and supplement use align with your specific training goals.
What Supplements Do CrossFit Athletes Take?
CrossFit athletes' most common supplements are pre and post-workout drinks and supplements and targeted branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). These help increase performance and speed up recovery so that you have a better chance of sticking with the CrossFit program.
If you want to ensure the benefits of a great pre-workout supplement, buy from reputable sources online. Check whether the brand website sells the products directly. If they do, buy there and enjoy their returns policy.
What Should You Eat Before CrossFit?
You should eat healthy carb-rich foods to boost your energy levels before CrossFit, but remember to watch your calorie intake if you have weight loss goals. It’s also good to get some extra magnesium into your diet to help with muscle performance and recovery. Use pre-workouts to secure your efforts.
What Should You Drink During CrossFit?
Only drink water during CrossFit and stay away from energy and carbonated drinks that are full of sugar. It’s also good to get some extra electrolytes in before your workout, as they are critical for hydration. Caffeinated drinks are a big no-no since it could leave you feeling more thirsty and dehydrated while doing your CrossFit exercises.
Bottom Line: Which CrossFit Pre Workout Should You Choose?
Our entire team recommends Gorilla Mode pre-workout for CrossFit because it produces an incredible amount of pump and muscle strength, allowing you to multiply your maximum rep count effortlessly.
The optimal combination of ingredients formulated in full clinical dosages provides clean energy and razor-sharp focus, allowing you to maximize and level up your gym performance.
You'll experience massive pumps, increased muscle strength, and continuous energy with these pre-workouts, which is everything an athlete could need from a pre workout supplement.
So, maximize your CrossFit workout today by giving Gorilla Mode pre-workouts a try. Click here to visit their official website.
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