The journey of pre-workout supplements is a fascinating one. While today’s formulations are backed by advanced science, the concept dates back several decades. Early athletes and fitness enthusiasts sought natural ways to boost their energy, leading to the initial use of basic ingredients that have since evolved into the complex blends we see today.
Having trained intensively for years and experimented with various supplements, I’ve found that a pre-workout supplement is indispensable for those intense workouts where muscle fatigue becomes a real challenge.
But in a market with so many low-grade products, it's best to choose stronger pre-workouts carefully.
Here are pre-workouts we reviewed to help you maximize your time at the gym.
The Best Pre-Workout For Men
- Best Overall Pre Workout for Men: Gorilla Mode Pre-workout
- Cheapest Pre Workout for Men: Pre-Kaged Premium Pre-Workout
- Best Caffeinated Pre-Workout for Males: Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout
- Best Tasting Pre-Workout for Men: 4 Gauge
- Leading Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout for Men: Pre Lab Pro
- Best Men's Pre-Workout Powder for Muscle Pumps: Nitrosurge Pre-Workout
- Best Flavor Variety Pre-Workout for Men: C4 Original by Cellucor
Top Pre-Workout Supplements Formulated for Men (December 2023)
1 - Gorilla Mode Pre-workout (Best Overall)
From my personal experience and feedback from fellow athletes, Gorilla Mode Pre-workout not only lives up to its claims but has consistently elevated both my physical and mental performance during grueling sessions.
When taken 30 minutes before your workout, this supplement gives you the muscle strength and endurance you need to start and finish your routine without feeling fatigued.
Additionally, it provides such an intense pump that you'll be completely focused on finishing your workout in no time.
Due to the full clinically effective doses of each ingredient, Gorilla Mode is well worth the investment; therefore, purchase in bulk to save money.
- Increases endurance by enhancing nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscles, which promotes sustained performance during workouts
- Rehydrates your muscle cells, allowing you to perform better
- It contains powerful stimulants that will boost your energy, mental focus, and mood
- There are a wide variety of refreshing flavors to choose from
- It is a bit more expensive than other pre-workouts
Gorilla Mode has had a remarkable impact on my workouts. I remember the push of energy that it gave me, which allowed me to go through extra repetitions easily and redefine the intensity of my workouts.
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2 - Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout (Best Caffeinated Supplement)
If you're a coffee drinker and stimulants don't bother you, then a good dose of caffeine can make quite a difference to your mental performance and motivation.
What a lot of users highlight about PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout is that you get a good dose of BCAAs and beta-alanine in each serving. These protein types play a role in reducing premature fatigue, as well as speeding up muscle recovery.
- Contains a lot of caffeine for effective motivation
- With 4 g of BCAAs, it can help combat fatigue and muscle soreness
- Has 4 g of beta-alanine that can increase muscular endurance and performance
- Available in a good selection of flavors
- Not the cheapest option but it does deliver
While this pre-workout supplement is on the pricier side, its blend of amino acids and performance nutrition has been appreciated by many users.
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3 - 4 Gauge (Best Tasting)
Having tested numerous pre-workouts over the years, the effectiveness of 4 Gauge truly matches its impressive marketing, making it a favorite in my gym bag.
I was hesitant because, more often than not, these aggressive marketing tactics indicate that a bit is lacking in what is delivered.
This pre-workout supplement offers a variety of flavors, including Frozen Lemonade, Pina Colada, and the classic Fruit Blast, providing options for those who like to switch things up.
Having personally trained with several athletes and fitness enthusiasts, I have witnessed the impact of creatine on enhancing strength and performance during intense activity. In fact, even a research study from PubMed backs this up .
- 150 mg of caffeine can increase mental endurance
- Can enhance athletic performance through creatine
- No artificial sweeteners or preservatives
- Doesn't use sugar or refined carbs for artificial performance boost
- May cause an upset stomach
What's also commendable is that you won't get any refined or empty carbs on this pre-workout. Thus, users experience no blood sugar spikes.
Another highlight is that this pre-workout is suitable for women.
This pre-workout supplement is easy to mix, tastes quite nice, and now comes in two additional flavors. Personally, I get bored of the same flavors, so it's refreshing to be able to choose between Frozen Lemonade, Pina Colada, and the classic Fruit Blast flavor, which tastes something like a fruit punch. For more info, read our full 4 Gauge Pre-Workout review.
4 - Pre Lab Pro (Best Stimulant-Free)
Pre Lab Pro claims to have selected scientifically chosen ingredients like creatine and L-citrulline, which, according to an eight-week study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, can help you power up your fitness and exercise routines .
Many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts that I work with have noted that this nitric oxide booster pre-workout gives them a lot better pumps during weight training as well.
- A combination of creatine and L-citrulline can raise available energy in muscles
- Bodybuilders can gain from raised nitric oxide for better pumps
- Used by many athletes daily without adverse effects
- Caffeine-free and vegan-friendly ingredients
- Taking 4 pre-workout capsules in one go before an intense exercise is not as convenient as a shake
For individuals looking for a stimulant-free alternative, especially those who are sensitive to caffeine, this product is ideal. But keep in mind that you'll have to swallow 4 to 6 capsules of this best vegan pre-workout supplement to get the full dose.
5 - Nitrosurge Pre-Workout (Best for Muscle Pumps)
If you're specifically after effectively maximizing your muscle pumps, then Nitrosurge may well be your top choice out of all the best pre-workout supplements on this list.
Studies have shown that 3 g of L-citrulline can increase blood flow to your muscles .
Although not the strongest pre-workout, it comes with a strong dose of caffeine and L-theanine, so make sure you avoid coffee around the same time as that could cause some jitters.
- With no added sugar or carbs, it won't mess with your healthy diet efforts
- Claims to raise nitric oxide levels, so you get better pumps
- Strong stimulant effect from 180 mg of caffeine per serving
- Suitable for vegans with a plant-based formula
- Doesn't contain creatine but still increases endurance
The one thing I was missing on the ingredients label was some creatine. Despite this, many reviews still say that this well-rounded pre-workout provided an excellent strength and performance boost in all types of sports.
6 - C4 Original by Cellucor (Best Flavor Variety)
If you've been around sports nutrition long enough, you have most likely come across Cellucor in one form or another.
What I like about this best pre-workout is that you get an energy boost from stimulants. With 150 mg of caffeine anhydrous, it is not too overpowering to cause jitters.
A lot of athletes say that it's effective enough to power up your fitness routine by providing some extra strength. There is a stronger version of it available, but you don't always need the maximum dose of active ingredients to see some benefits.
- Provides a notable increase in energy levels
- A balanced amount of high-quality ingredients including beta-alanine and modest caffeine content
- Good discounts available with subscription options
- An impressive selection of tasty flavors
- Some people found the consistency a bit chalky
One thing I would agree with some reviews is that it doesn't mix all that easily with water in a shaker.
7 - Pre-Kaged Premium Pre-Workout (Cheapest Option)
Here is one of the most recommended pre-workout supplements in some bodybuilding forums that I regularly check. A lot of people said that it was pretty effective for weight training where you want to achieve maximum pumps.
It also provides a nice boost of protein that can help you prepare for the recovery phase. Essentially, you can have enough protein in your system to make sure your muscles can immediately start the recovery process.
- Many users highlight the better pumps they get
- Good selection of amino acids to increase muscle power and recovery
- Very low-calorie so it won't mess with your diet
- Third-party tested for banned substances
- The flavors are a bit sweet tasting so you may want to add more water
Quite a few people mentioned that with the sweeteners used, you may want to water this high-quality pre-workout down just a little to reduce the sugary effects.
8 - Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy
Optimum Nutrition's specific approach focuses on simplicity to distinguish itself from the variety of other pre-workout supplements on the market. Essentially, you get some targeted protein to help with muscle power and endurance and very little else.
They don't even go overboard when it comes to caffeine. Overall, you won't have to worry about messing with your diet due to the low-calorie content.
- Focuses on providing amino acids with no fillers or additives
- A modest 100 mg of caffeine won't make you too jittery
- Low in calories so it won't mess up your diet
- The company hides behind a proprietary blend
- Contains artificial flavors and some of them are a bit fake
However, it's not all good news. Some of the details on the active ingredients list are hidden behind proprietary information. And there are also some artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners added in as well.
9 - Pre JYM Pre-Workout Powder
I know a good few athletes who need a strong pre-workout with a maximum dose of stimulants to power through their exercise routines, but you're not going to take fewer cups of coffee to do that. Pre JYM has solved this with a pretty impressive 300 mg of caffeine.
While Pre JYM may not be ideal for everyone due to its stimulant content, it can be a game-changer for those who don't experience jitters.
- Protein sources provide a boost in essential amino acids
- Good selection of flavors
- A strong dose of stimulants with 300 mg of caffeine
- Added black pepper to help with absorption
- Has some artificial flavors and sweeteners
- Also contains sugar, which can impact specific diets
One thing to keep in mind is that from a content perspective, it's not all good news. You have to account for some added sugar as well as artificial flavors, which a lot of people try to avoid these days.
10 - Battle Ready Fuel Pre Workout
Another very well-marketed brand is Battle Ready Fuel, and they have managed to gain quite some following in the sports and fitness supplements industry. Many bodybuilders I work with make sure they add this to their stacks on their high-intensity days.
It comes with some added whey protein so that your body has some nutrition ready for the recovery phase. You also get some vitamins and minerals that your muscles will need for a healthy and fast recovery.
- It can aid in better strength and endurance during heavy weight training
- Added whey protein helps to protect muscle growth
- Contains added vitamins to support overall health and muscle recovery
- Mixes easily with water for a quick pre-workout drink
- Rather high caffeine dose of 250 mg
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you will get quite a high dose of caffeine, which is equivalent to about 2 to 3 cups of coffee. Make sure you avoid taking it later in the evening or opt for caffeine-free pre-workout supplements instead.
How We Tested Each Product
When it came to selecting the best pre-workouts for men, we considered a multitude of factors. Trust us, we’ve been down this road countless times, having personally tested and sifted through hundreds of products to find the real game-changers.
Our comprehensive selection process is rooted in both personal experience and scientific rigor.
Here’s a breakdown of the four major criteria we kept in mind.
1. Efficacy and Performance Enhancement
First and foremost, a pre-workout should do what it promises. We closely monitored our performance metrics, such as strength, endurance, and workout intensity, both with and without the supplement.
The top pre-workouts in our list consistently provided a noticeable boost, allowing us to push past our limits and get those extra reps or shave off that extra minute from our run.
2. Ingredient Quality and Transparency
In an industry rife with proprietary blends and undisclosed amounts, we prioritized products that are transparent about their ingredient list and dosages.
Not only did we want to know what we were putting in our bodies, but we also delved deep into the latest research to ensure that these ingredients are backed by solid science.
If a product contained any fillers or questionable ingredients, it was immediately ruled out.
3. Tolerance and Side Effects
Let's face it—nobody wants to deal with an upset stomach or a jittery feeling during a workout. Our selection prioritized products with minimal side effects.
Personal experiences varied, of course, but we paid attention to how our bodies reacted in terms of digestion, potential jitters, and post-workout crashes.
The chosen pre-workouts provided clean energy without the unwanted after-effects.
4. Taste and Mixability
While this may sound superficial compared to the above points, taste and ease of mixing play a crucial role. After all, you're more likely to stick with a product that you enjoy consuming.
Drawing from our taste tests, we've picked out flavors that are palatable and refreshing.
Also, nobody wants clumpy residues at the bottom of their shaker; the top products on our list mix smoothly, ensuring an enjoyable drinking experience every time.
What Is Pre-workout?
A pre-workout is a supplement designed to amplify your exercise performance. It does so by boosting your energy levels and improving your focus. Athletes typically use it—particularly bodybuilders and runners—before doing high-intensity interval training or lifting weights to lose body fat.
The ingredients and benefits of pre-workout supplements vary by brand, but most use stimulants like caffeine to increase energy and boost focus. Some also have creatine to facilitate the growth of muscle.
Who Should Use Pre-workouts?
People looking to supercharge their training sessions should use the best pre-workout for men.
However, before starting a pre-workout, ensure that you’ve got your basics covered. You must eat right to meet your body’s nutritional requirements, hydrate sufficiently, and get adequate sleep.
Who Shouldn’t Use Pre-workouts?
Individuals with any medical conditions and those who are allergic to its common ingredients, such as creatine, beta-alanine, and niacin, shouldn’t use pre-workouts.
Some of the best pre-workout supplements for men with high caffeine content may cause potential side effects, but you can opt for the best non-stim pre-workout instead.
3 Benefits of Pre-workouts
As someone who has continually pursued fitness and engaged in rigorous workout routines, I understand the critical role of pre-workout supplements for powering through intense workout sessions. Beyond just boosting energy levels, pre-workouts can greatly contribute to achieving your overall health and fitness goals. Let's dive into these benefits.
1. Muscle Gain
A pre-workout containing branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and citrulline can aid muscle protein synthesis and improve blood flow to the muscles.
2. Enhanced Strength
The best pre-workout for men includes creatine in their pre-workout formula to boost metabolism and increase strength as you work out.
The nitrate in pre-workout products also helps your body transport more amino acids and other nutrients to your muscles.
3. Improved Endurance
The best pre-workout for men boosts muscle endurance using two ingredients: caffeine and beta-alanine.
Caffeine charges you up and gives you energy, while beta-Aaanine has been demonstrated to increase strength and stamina, allowing you to work out for longer and more intensely .
What All-Natural Ingredients Should You Look For?
Here are the four critical ingredients you should look for in the best pre-workout for men.
While your body can produce this amino acid, you won't always have the optimum amount readily available. With even a small boost before you hit the gym, you can enjoy effects that can improve your muscle growth and boost performance .
My in-depth research revealed a brand called Transparent Labs to be the best creatine choice.
In its various forms, which over the years have become more and more advanced, creatine has been recognized by the scientific community and the hard-training athlete as a product that delivers on its promise of improved strength and enhanced muscle size.
- David Robson, Personal Trainer
Researchers found that coffee and caffeine significantly improve resistance training performance . Caffeine can provide that boost, and even a relatively small amount of 150 mg per serving can be enough to stay sharp. However, the opposite applies when you're caffeine-sensitive since it might cause some jitters or sleeplessness, so opt for half a serving instead.
The best caffeine supplement we've found is from a brand called Nutricost. To provide a visual perspective, here is an image of the Nutricost caffeine supplement container that I have personally used during my sessions.
My bodybuilder clients are always looking for the best pre-workout products to get better muscle pumps, and the only way to achieve that is through increased blood flow. Pre-workout supplements that contain L-citrulline malate have been clinically studied and proven that it does indeed enhance blood flow .
The best L-Citrulline Malate is from a brand called BulkSupplements.
This amino acid has also been shown to increase blood flow and can help with workout performance and muscle building . It's not as common in the best pre-workout for men but can make a difference worth trying out.
When it comes to Arginine supplements, one that stands out is from a well-known brand called Nutricost.
What Pre-workout Ingredients Should I Avoid?
You should avoid common pre-workout ingredients like artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, Yohimbe, DMAA, and high-dose caffeine. Here's why.
Artificial Colors and Flavors - Synthetic ingredients may harm your health, especially artificial colors, which have a carcinogenic effect . It applies even if it tastes like authentic green apple, strawberry lemonade, pink lemonade, blue raspberry, tropical punch, jungle juice, and other flavors.
Yohimbe - Yohimbe has been found to cause stomach problems, tachycardia, high blood pressure, and anxiety . It has also been associated with heart attacks and seizures.
DMAA - DMAA (aka 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, or geranium extractis) is often marketed as a "natural" stimulant, but that is a baseless claim. This ingredient can raise blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems, including shortness of breath and tightening in the chest, which may lead to a heart attack .
High-dose caffeine - Some pre-workout for men exceed the maximum 500mg daily dosage recommendation for caffeine. Consuming too much of this stimulant in pre-workout may cause insomnia, jitters, upset stomach, and anxiety .
What Is the Difference Between Stim Pre vs. Stim-Free Pre-Workouts?
The main difference between stim pre-workouts and stim-free pre-workouts is the use of stimulants like caffeine. In some cases, the dose in these best pre-workout products can be equivalent to 3 cups of coffee all in one go.
If you're sensitive to caffeine or simply not a heavy coffee drinker, then stimulant-free pre-workout should be your choice. Also, keep in mind that you might struggle to get a healthy night's sleep.
When Should I Take the Best Pre-workout?
You should aim to take your pre-workout supplement about 20 minutes before you start your warmup routine. The effects of these products usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to start working, so you may need to experiment a bit.
Is It Okay To Take the Best Pre-workout Supplement On An Empty Stomach?
Yes, it is generally okay to take the best pre-workouts on an empty stomach. But if you haven't tried a particular pre-workout for men before, then it may be best to at least have a small snack prior.
Related Article: How Long Does It Take for Pre-Workout to Kick In?
I often see people drinking their pre-workout as they're walking into the gym. Most of the active ingredients in your pre-workout drink take 30-60 minutes to reach peak levels in your blood. If you wait until you reach the gym to take it, you'll be well into your second or third exercise before the full effects kick in.
- Krissy Kendall, Ph.D
How Do I Take a Great Pre-Workout Supplement?
You take the best-tasting pre-workout supplement as a powder mixed into a sports drink to boost energy levels and blood flow. This is very similar to a regular gluten-free protein shake, but you might also find popular pre-workout products that come in capsule form.
Can You Stack A Pre-Workout With Other Dietary Supplements?
Yes, you can stack pre-workouts with other huge supplements. Many performance athletes very much rely on carefully planned stacks.
For personalized guidance specific to your unique fitness journey, consulting a nutritionist can provide invaluable insights to find the right balance in your supplement regimen. Additionally, while incorporating various pre-workout and protein products, it's crucial to be mindful of caffeine content. Avoiding excessive caffeine doses is essential to preventing unwanted jitters and ensuring restful sleep to support overall wellness.
Also, keep in mind that different pre-workouts and other protein products contain caffeine. This means you could quickly end up with an unhealthy dose that can make you jittery and pretty much sleepless.
What Side Effects Should You Expect?
You should expect very few side effects from pre-workouts, which is why they have become so popular in all types of sports. From a health perspective, the most common negative effect is overstimulation from caffeine, which can leave you staring at the ceiling all night.
But, it's not that uncommon to suffer from an upset stomach and nausea if you take huge doses of natural pre-workout for men, especially when you haven't eaten much food.
For an ideal start begin with a smaller dose after a snack for digestive adaptation.
Is Pre-workout Dangerous?
No, pre-workout is not dangerous, but you want to ensure you don't take them higher than the recommended dose. This can lead to cramping and nausea, which won't help at the gym.
What Is Dry Scooping And Is It Effective?
Dry scooping is consuming pre-workout powder without mixing it with liquid. Its effectiveness varies among individuals, with potential benefits for some.
Conclusion: Which Pre-Workout Supplement Should You Choose
Having personally tested Gorilla Mode pre-workout alongside several teammates, we unanimously agree on its standout effectiveness and flavor, making it a staple in our training regimen.
The potent stimulant complex, high-dosed nootropics, and amino acid L-Citrulline work together to deliver an intense pump and razor-sharp focus, putting you in the best mood for a more effective workout routine.
Also, the clever inclusion of glycerol powder helps retain water in muscle tissues, allowing creatine and caffeine to increase muscle strength without dehydrating the body
So, start leveling up your gym traiing today by checking out Gorilla Mode at their official website.
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