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Best Cheap Pre-Workout Guide + 3 Alternatives

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: July 4, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

If you're an avid pre-workout user, you'd know that these supplements can be pretty expensive.

Luckily, there are other pre-workout options out there that won't break the bank.

After spending tons of hours researching the top pre-workout ingredients and their benefits, I came up with this cheap pre-workout guide to help you choose  and create the most affordable alternatives to store-bought pre-workout available.

Let’s get to it.

Quick Summary

  • The best cheap pre-workouts anyone can comfortably afford are black coffee, coconut water, and bananas.
  • Creatine monohydrate, BCAAs, Beta-alanine, arginine, B vitamins, taurine, and L-Citrulline are some good ingredients found in pre-workouts.
  • Pre-workouts give an individual extra energy when exercising, enhances their concentration, and improves their overall performance.

How To Make Your Own Cheap Pre-Workout Supplements

3d rendered pre workout supplement with granules inside

As useful as they are, pre-workout supplements can be a serious hit-or-miss.

I, myself, have had my fair share of pre-workout mishaps.

From products riddled with fillers and harmful additives to ones that just taste awful, I've tried every bad pre-workout imaginable.

And I found that one of the best ways to ensure you put only safe and effective ingredients in your body while saving tons of money is concocting your own pre-workout formula.

When it comes to making a personal pre-workout supplement from scratch at home, you decide on each component.

You can reap benefits by making a personal pre-workout mixture that are twofold: cost-effectiveness combined with customization options as per choice while evading harmful fillers or additives typically found in commercial products.

Remember, though, it's essential to research and carefully measure the ingredients to ensure proper dosage and safety.

Formulating one's own pre-workout supplements regime, though seemingly straightforward, would be better guided through consulting an experienced healthcare professional, given the intricacies and complexities in balancing ingredients for optimal benefit and safety.

It's a cost-effective and empowering approach to enhance your workouts while prioritizing your health and fitness goals.

Cheap Pre-Workout Ingredients

I’ve experimented with many different pre-workout blends, and the formula below is the one that I’ve had the most success with.

Here’s the ingredient list along with each of their dosages and cost per serving.

Creatine monohydrate: 5g - 11¢ per serving
Caffeine: 200mg - 5¢ per serving
Citrulline Malate: 3g - 14¢ per serving
Beta-Alanine: 3g - 12¢ per serving

Making Your Own Cheap Pre-Workout: Pros And Cons

  • When you make your own pre-workout supplement, you know exactly what you're putting in your body, and having that awareness can give you peace of mind.
  • By making your own pre-workout, you also get the freedom to customize your blend whichever way you want.
  • Buying bulk ingredients will cost you less than purchasing any off-the-shelf pre-workout, so making your own pre-workout is definitely cheaper.
  • If you don't like the skin tingles you get from other pre-workouts, you can skip the beta-alanine or just add a minimal dosage to your pre-workout. And if you want it stimulant-free, you can simply cut the caffeine.
  • Finally, you get control over the taste. If you're tired of the typical fruity flavors, you can use a different type of water enhancer to pep up your cheap pre-workout.
  • Now, you've got a great-tasting pre-workout you can actually enjoy—all without spending a dime on another store-bought pre-workout.
  • As for the drawbacks, the upfront cost for ingredients is higher. Still, making your own pre-workout allows you to save some bucks for the long term.
  • Some people might also find the process a bit tedious. Although blending the ingredients should take less than a minute, it will take longer than dumping one scoop in water.
  • That being said, some busy folks also might not have the luxury of time to shop for individual ingredients and make their own pre-workout at home.

The Best Cheap Pre-Workouts

Coffee and banana on a white clean surface

Black Coffee

As you've seen, caffeine is the cheapest ingredient in our DIY pre-workout, and coffee is an even more affordable source of caffeine.

If you run out of individual ingredients for your DIY pre-workout, a good ol' cup of coffee can surely power up your home workouts.

Coffee is one of the most commonly used stimulants in the entire world, and it also makes for a pretty good thermogenic.

However, its efficacy diminishes when it's mixed with cream, butter, and sugar, so make sure to have it black if you're using it as a pre-workout.

To enhance black coffee's energy boost effects, time consumption is strategically planned.

Although black coffee is not as comprehensive as pre-workouts on the market, the caffeine content of this drink can still give you the boost of energy you need to cruise through your workouts.

Related: Caffeine Pills vs. Coffee


A banana will contain around 14g of sugar made of glucose and fructose - two sugar types that can support athletic performance and 20 to 27g of carbohydrates that can fuel your muscles before intense exercise.

Bananas are also rich in magnesium and potassium, giving your body electrolytes that can prevent muscle cramps and muscle fatigue.

These benefits make this fruit one of the best pre-workouts from nature.

Coconut Water

Like bananas, coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes.

You'll also want to swap out your energy drinks for coconut juice as it contains more nutrients per serving and up to 25% fewer calories than your regular store-bought sports drinks.

It's one of the best natural pre-workouts, and its refreshing flavor certainly doesn't hurt.

Best And Worst Ingredients In Pre-Workouts

Good and bad ingredients written on a sticky note

The Good

Creatine Monohydrate: Creatine is a substance so popular among gym-goers because of its potential to increase muscle power and training performance. Taking a creatine supplement can also help you pack on muscle mass.

Moreover, creatine is one of the cheapest and safest supplements available. In fact, there are hundreds of studies to back up its effectiveness as well as safety for long-term use. [1].

BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids are known to boost your endurance during a workout and increase strength by preserving cellular energy levels and supporting protein synthesis.

Getting enough protein can also help you maximize your muscle pump and get the best results from your workouts.

Taurine: Taurine is a sulfonic acid that promotes the metabolism of fats and combats oxidative stress during workouts.

B-Vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2 B5, and B6 all play vital roles in energy production and efficiency. Vitamin B3 assists with DNA repair and promotes healthier skin, while Vitamin B12 supports blood production.

Arginine & L-Citrulline: Arginine and L-citrulline are a nitrogen dioxide booster and amino acid that expands your blood vessels, making it easier for blood to circulate within your body. This, in turn, helps deliver nutrients faster and more efficiently.

In one study, L-citrulline has been shown to enhance sports performance by reducing fatigue and post-workout muscle soreness [2].

Beta-Alanine: Beta-alanine is a time-tested substance that increases muscle carnosine levels that help neutralize lactic acid buildup. This ingredient must be taken in sufficient doses—around 4 to 6g daily—for one to feel its desirable effects.

The Bad

Excessive Caffeine

Research shows that excessive caffeine consumption can cause negative side effects, including anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the daily caffeine limit for healthy adults is 400mg [3]. Unfortunately, some pre-workouts go way above this recommended daily dose of caffeine, which is why making your cheap pre-workout at home is, often, much safer.

So if you have low caffeine tolerance, it might be best to choose a caffeine-free pre-workout to be safe.

Tips On Taking Your Pre-Workout

Man writing the word 'tips' on a see through mirror

Despite what it's called, a pre-workout doesn't necessarily have to be taken before your workout.

"You can take them 15-20 minutes before training. But for longer sessions, you could delay until an hour into the session."

- Matt Lovell, Sports Nutritionist

Before taking your supplement, check the label first for specific instructions on when to use them.

Since you will be taking your pre-workout regularly, your system can build up a tolerance to its effects over time.

To avoid this, you can practice cycling, which involves coming off your pre-workout for six to eight weeks at a time to give your body a chance to reset.

Another way you can prevent this is by limiting your pre-workout intake to only the most intense sessions.

You can also choose a stimulant-free supplement that you can use most days, like tyrosine, a great budget pre-workout.

Cheap Pre-Workout Guide: Final Thoughts

A pre-workout can supercharge your training, but it does so sometimes at a cost. That's because many of these products contain artificial sweeteners, fillers, excessive doses of caffeine, etc., that you don't want to be putting in your body.

To ensure that you use only the best pre-workout, you can simply make your own at home. Luckily, mixing a DIY cheap pre-workout is fairly easy.

There are many options out there, so we have tested dozens of pre-workouts and compiled a list of the best:

However, you must remember that nothing can substitute a good diet and consistent effort. More than supplementation, these two things can help you reach your fitness goals faster and help you achieve that coveted muscle pump.

Have you tried any of these cheap pre-workouts? What are your favorites? Leave a comment below.


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