If you are unsatisfied with pre workout supplements, then it’s possible you are considering trying to make your own pre workout. I understand.
There are certainly some supplement companies out there that don’t live up to their marketing hype.
Let’s take a look into how to make your own pre-workout supplement.
Read on to learn all about it.
Key Ingredients to Put in a Pre Workout
1. Citrulline Malate
Citrulline Malate is a combination of an amino acid (citrulline) and organic salt (malate).
It results in a biochemical reaction that helps your ability to gain muscle in your own pre-workout supplements. What it does it boost your energy which consequently helps you perform better in the gym.
You can’t get citrulline in your diet since it’s primarily found in watermelon. A pre-workout supplement is helpful in obtaining this specific ingredient.
For example, some studies revealed that this might be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post-exercise muscle soreness (1).
It doesn’t have a lot of supporting evidence like creatine and beta-alanine.
However, there’s enough evidence to show that it can possibly relieve sore muscles and improve athletic performance.
It’s one of the more expensive ingredients to put in a pre-workout, but it may be worth the overall health benefits.
Citrulline Malate also has the following health benefits:
- Reducing lactic acid
- Decreases ammonia buildup
- Increases nitric oxide production (helps with blood flow)
- Supports the ATP System (A molecular process that produces energy)
Beta-alanine is one of the most popular pre-workout ingredients for homemade pre-workout supplements. It’s responsible for giving you the common side effect of a tingling sensation on your skin.
One of the primary purposes is to support endurance, improve athletic performance, and help build lean muscle mass.
According to some pre-workout studies, Beta-Alanine supplementation was effective at increasing power output when lifting loads equivalent to the individual’s maximal strength or when working at maximum power output (2).
Beta alanine accomplishes this by reducing the onset of fatigue and muscle soreness. It helps muscles recover between sets as well as boosts your focus on the fitness routine.
The whole process of reducing fatigue and clearing lactic acid from your body means two things will happen:
- Reduces muscle soreness and tiredness during an exercise which extends the time you can perform athletically. It gives you the ability to run, cycle, or lift weights longer without needing to stop.
- Reduces muscle damage by removing waste products like lactic acid which can slow down the body
Those two benefits are critical for athletes looking to boost their cardio performance, and this is why it's a popular ingredient for Crossfit pre-workout.
A pre-workout supplement could easily replace your morning coffee with the amount of caffeine it has in it.
Caffeine in homemade pre-workout helps with awareness, focus, and gives you an energy boost. Other benefits include supporting metabolism and improving physical endurance.
How much caffeine to put in your pre-workout supplement varies from person to person. It depends on how sensitive or tolerant your body is towards caffeine.
Most of the time the range is between 150 milligrams to 500 milligrams. Anything more could potentially be unhealthy and lead to undesirable side effects like diarrhea and stomach discomfort, causing muscle soreness and hindering muscle growth.
It could also affect your sleep schedule and cause you to not fall asleep. If you take less than 150 milligrams, then you risk not getting the full benefits of caffeine.
Don’t forget that this range also needs to include other caffeine drinks you might have throughout a day like energy drinks or coffee. Or you could skip caffeine altogether, I know top brands that have pre-workouts free of stimulants.
Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body but is also found in seafood and red meat. Creatine isn’t exactly vegan-friendly which is why synthetic pre-workout supplements are popular.
According to some studies, creatine supplementation increases lean tissue mass and upper and lower body muscular strength during resistance training of older adults (3).
Its primary purpose is to support the muscles by producing energy for heavy lifting or a high-intensity exercise. It’s easy to see why this substance has become popular with athletes and bodybuilders.
Creatine is the number one supplement for improving performance in the gym
- Rudy MawerMSc, CISSN
The benefits of creatine include:
There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of creatine for the body.
I wouldn’t hesitate to have creatine in my homemade pre-workout since it can help increase muscle mass.
There are also basically no side effects if you take creatine in normal doses. The range normally falls within 4-5 grams per day although 10 grams per day is possibly safe too.
Betaine, or trimethylglycine, is found in plants.
If consumed, it becomes nitric oxide which helps open up pathways that let people train with more endurance.
It also improved body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity as cited by some studies (4).
Here’s a breakdown on what research says about betaine:
Betaine gives people more power during their physical exercises. Consequently, this leads to increased muscle mass since people are able to put in more into their workouts.
If you are someone who participates in cycling, high-intensity training or lifting weights, then betaine is a substance that you want to look into including in your pre-workout.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own. They specifically refer to leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Their purpose is to support muscles.
You may be familiar with the preferred ratio of BCAAs. It’s 2:1:1 with leucine being the one that you need twice the amount compared to the others.
Why is leucine so important? It’s shown that leucine is what stimulates muscle protein synthesis and is what helps build muscle.
When choosing a BCAA, look for a supplement that has about 3 grams of leucine per serving. It ensures that you will get the maximum benefits of BCAAs. Athletes may want to consume a higher amount of BCAAs likely in the 10-20 per day range.
Some studies also conclude that the claim that consumption of dietary BCAAs stimulates muscle protein synthesis or produces an anabolic response in human subjects is unwarranted (4).
Here are the other benefits of BCAAs:
Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes
There are different ratios of pre-workouts ingredients depending on what your overall physical goals are for yourself. It can vary greatly, and it helps to closely research ingredients to ensure that you are getting the correct dosage in your pre-workout.
Here are some recommended ratios to consider.
Recipe 1. Strength and Size
The “Strength and size” formula is for athletes looking for the ultimate boost in workout performance and an increase in their muscle strength and size.
It uses four ingredients in pre-workouts; creatine for improving strength, caffeine for an energy boost, carbs to reduce fatigue, and citrulline malate for muscle pumps and recovery.
The pre-workouts recipe for this is:
Recipe 2. Endurance and Stamina
This formula is meant for people focused on their endurance and stamina. Even though it won’t have as much as an energy spike like those who are looking to build muscle, it still will give you sustained energy.
There are also 4 ingredients in this pre-workouts recipe; Beta-alanine for endurance, caffeine for energy, carbs to fuel your muscles, and citrulline malate for recovery
You will need:
Recipe 3. Strength, Size, & Work Capacity
Maybe you don’t have any specific physical goals other than “stay fit”. This formula might be what you are looking for in a pre-workout. It has important ingredients for overall athletic performance.
It contains creatine for improved strength, beta-alanine for endurance, caffeine to reduce tiredness, and carbs for fuel.
The dosage for each ingredient in this pre-workouts recipe are:
Recipe 4. More Energy and Power
This is a recipe that has a little kick with the added ingredient of betaine. It helps you work out harder if you are looking to lift with more power.
The ingredients include caffeine for energy, citrulline malate for boosting weight training performance, beta-alanine for endurance, and finally, betaine for an energy spike.
The dosage for this pre-workouts recipe is:
Other Ingredients to Consider
There are several formulas for making your own pre-workout.
There are even other ingredients that you might want to consider. It’s imperative to carefully research an ingredient and it’s specific benefits to see if it’s what you are looking for in a supplement.
You may want to start by consulting with a good doctor, nutritionist, or dietician about your dietary preferences. They are more qualified to assist you.
Benefits of Making Your Own Pre-Workout
The benefits of making your own pre workout include quality assurance, cheaper per serving costs, and getting the exact dosage that you want.
1. Assurance of Quality Ingredients
There are numerous pre workouts from the supplement industry that don’t fully disclose their ingredients or hide behind a “proprietary blends” to cover up what their products contain.
There’s also uncertainty about the quality of ingredients. It might not be tested by an independent third-party for purity.
When you make your own pre-workout, you can have total control of what ingredients are going into your homemade pre-workout. Not only that, but you can also assure that you are getting premium ingredients.
2. Cheaper Servings
You might get ripped-off by some “exclusive” brand and pay for products that didn’t cost that much to make.
Most of the ingredients that go into a pre-workout are pretty affordable. If you do the math, then you could pay pennies per serving size.
3. Exact Dosage
One of the most difficult issues with choosing a pre-workout is that the dosage isn’t quite what you are looking for in a supplement.
Maybe it has too much caffeine. Maybe it has enough caffeine, but you were looking to add more beta-alanine to your diet. The worst case scenario is it has a proprietary blend that lumps ingredients together, and you can’t tell what the exact dosage is for each ingredient.
Making your own pre-workout lets you control the exact amount of ingredients that go into your pre-workout.
Risks of Making Your Own Pre-Workout Supplements
The risks of making your own pre-workout range from making a poor supplement to too much effort into ensuring it’s good enough for you. There are always risks with pre-workout supplements, but I find a DIY pre workout supplement a huge risk. Here are three reasons why.
1. You might not know what you’re doing.
First and foremost, you are not a chemist (probably).
It sounds a little dangerous to mix together some ingredients and call it healthy for you.
You could risk creating something that is harmful to you instead of beneficial.
There’s a lot of research involved in determining exactly what should go in your custom pre-workout shake and if the ingredients complement each other.
2. It takes a lot of effort.
After you’ve researched what ingredients to use, then you need to find products that sell a pure version of it. It can get overwhelming fast especially since you need to go through the whole process of ensuring it’s quality.
Once you find the right ingredients, then you need to take the time to mix it properly. Grams and milligrams are pretty small units of measurement, and even being a little bit off can mess with your system. You have to be careful and detailed.
Does DIY Pre Workout Taste Good?
Some people recommend mixing your homemade pre-workout with a powdered flavored drink, but that seems to defeat the purpose when you make your own pre-workout using only high-quality ingredients.
I’m suspicious of the taste, and I would rather find something that is either unflavored or a pre-made workout that has been tested by other people for great tasting flavor.
The Time It Takes to Make a Pre-workout
It takes a few minutes to make a pre-workout drink including carefully measuring ingredients and mixing them together.
The longest part of the whole process is researching ingredients, and then finding and buying the right products.
Once you figure that out though, it gets simpler.
You may also have to consider the time to tweak the formula along the way.
For example, your body might get used to caffeine and you will have to use more in your pre-workout supplement to get the same effect.
However, if you're in a hurry, you can check out our pre-workout recommendations:
Check this video below to learn more how to create your own pre workout
Where to Buy Pre Workout Ingredients
You can buy the ingredients to make a pre-workout at the same places that you would buy a pre-made pre-workout. Any health store, in-person or online, will have most ingredients stocked.
Saving Money with DIY Pre-Workout
Making your own pre-workout has the potential to save you money on a per-serving basis. Most powders are probably $10-20 each depending on the brand and quality.
When you make your own pre-workout supplements, it will probably lead to having more servings compared to a pre-made one. This will also help lower the cost of your homemade pre workout.
Is This All Worth the Effort?
Even though making your own pre-workout is a bit cheaper, I think it’s worth the extra money and time to buy a pre-made pre-workout supplement.
Some companies actually do have high-quality ingredients that provide top-performing results. It prevents you from making something that is actually bad for you. It’s a good option as long as you choose the right product.
You can read the following article on some of my recommended pre-workout supplements for maximum pump.
- Retrieved Sep. 28, 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132
- Retrieved Sep. 28, 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918575/
- Retrieved Sep. 28, 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679696/
- Retrieved Sep. 28, 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/
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Wow!!! This is so great! Such an amazing resource for beginners like me. I like this particular product I tried a sample of, but the tub is so expensive I don’t think i can maintain it! So I looked for ways on how to do it yourself and this is probably the best one I have found! So detailed and so much useful stuff! I will definitely try making one for myself this weekend — so excited to try it out! If this goes well, then I don’t need to buy that expensive product ha ha so wish me well!
By the way, I’ve been reading your blog the whole day today. I love it. Definitely makes me think about my lifestyle choices! Not in a judgmental way though, but more on an educational way, he he! Will bookmark your page and read more of it, im sure there’s a lot more value in here that I haven’t touched
Hi Fern, I hope you read my comment (the one after this lol) i know you want to save some money but trust me, the effort isn’t worth it haha there are cheaper products out there that you can buy and will last for a month or two, those should be good!
Hi Yosef, thank you! I actually realized that as I was researching for the ingredients. Haha those ingredients are difficult! They are difficult to spelll and difficult to find lol thank you for your insight. There’s this product that I enjoyed but I guess I will have to substitute something cheaper. It ‘s sooooo expensive, like a hundred bucks for a month’s supply like ?????? that’s just too much for me. i am a student and do not have much in the bank, i work part time so I save what I can. yeah, need to research more for a cheaper product
I also don’t recommend making your own, just buy the stuff on the grocery or online and you’re good. It takes too much time. Also, I don’t have all the ingredients on my local grocery so I would have to research still on where and how to get those especially the ones that sound so foreign to me. If you have the time and resources, sure go ahead and do it, but I think it will still end up being costly considering that you can’t buy those things on a per serving basis! You have to buy them in pouches that maybe has 1kg of it, and you won’t be needing that much. So personally, it’s not worth my time and money. I’ll just shell out $40 and there, I have my product. It’s that easy!
100% agree with you, brother. I tried doing this on my own and straight up failed, it was chunky and tasted like an expired chalk, imagine that, it’s not that an unexpired chalk tastes good. And regarding the ingredients, they are not readily available anywhere, so I looked online and found some but most of them were expiring in a few months’ time 🙁 I was only able to make a few servings that lasted me almost a month, after that, my ingredients have all gone bad. That’s one of the downsides of buying online, most of them are almost expired, more so if they’re being sold at a low price! such a sad experience. i ended up spending over 60$ instead of just getting a tub for half the price. that’s a lesson learned, and i hope everyone reading this listens to me lol i don’t want to you to go through the hassle i went through
Hi, i have a question, where do i get these ingredients? Do i get them from the drugstore? or my local grocery? not sure about them, tried searching online and can’t seem to find any info on where to buy cutruline malate or whatever that is.
Hi Madison, most drugstores have those, GNC or anywhere that sells the same products. However, as most people here have commented, making your own isn’t going to a walk in the park. It’s time consuming and i find that a tiny mistake in measurement can mess up the entire thing (not that I experienced it, oh yes i actually did and mine tasted like crap). So you are going to have to be careful with that if you want something good. You also have to use the same exact tools and measurements all the time. There’s no estimating in here everything has to be to a T. I don’t know, i don’t have the patience for that, but may be you have.
Thannk you for your insight, Oakley! I appreciate it. I actually just called my local GNC and sadly they don’t have these things so I might have to look somewhere else. I have a favorite one that i take all the time but i thought this would be a good way to switch things up, like an experiment! Ha ha, i will definitely take your advice into consideration. As soon as I have everything I need, i’ll make one and will let you know of the outcome! If it turns out great, then good, but if not, then i’ll just remember it as a funny experience lol. Thanks!
Sounds exciting, do let us know what happens! Excited to hear about it. If anything, I’ve tried it once before and it went well, the second try did not. THat’s why I mentioned consistency in measurement and everything else. I agree with you though, it’s a fun experience, albeit messy and tasted awful lol. I have a feeling you’ll go back to your favorite brand but whatever happens, we won’t judge, hehe all the best to you!