Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout Review (2024)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 20, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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.

Optimum Nutrition is one of the leading sports and dietary supplement companies, and our team at Total Shape regularly uses many of its products. But when it comes to pre-workout supplements, our gym experience taught us to be lot more careful with what we recommend.

We had heard a few clients mention mixed results with the Gold Standard pre-workout, so we decided to test it out with our team of experts and 11 clients.

I also pulled in my certified dietitian to review the nutritional label and provide some feedback on the ingredient choices.

Here’s what we found for this Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout review.

What Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout?

Close up image of a supplement product

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a fitness supplement aimed at bodybuilders and athletes who want to get more out of every training session.

The company has combined amino acids, vitamins, herbs, and caffeine and claims that the dosage is scientifically proven.

More on this shortly.

Like most other popular pre-workouts, this one comes in a powder form that you mix with cold water. It’s available in a few different flavors, including Blueberry Lemonade, Watermelon Candy, and Green Apple.

Optimum Nutrition first launched this product in 2017, and the formula hasn't changed significantly since then.

Tailored for Men and Women

ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout CTa

Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System


Gold Standard Benefits

We went through our usual trial process to assess how much of a benefit you get from taking Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout. That meant training for one week with no pre-workout to set a baseline.

Then we did the same training for another three weeks, but this time taking one scoop before each trip to the gym.

Boosted Strength

Our training data with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout did show that we had better performance levels.

Studies from the Centre for Sports Science and Human Performance have shown that creatine monohydrate can boost muscle strength in resistance training, and the dose per serving looks good as well [1].

Reduced Fatigue

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout also seemed to work well for reduced fatigue. This pre-workout supplement contains 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, which has been linked to reduced fatigue during endurance training [2].

I just think there could be a bit more of this amino acid to make a bigger difference.


Muscle Pumps

A buff male pumping muscle

Unlike other excellent pre-workouts for pump & vascularity, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard falls a bit short.

Even the partial proprietary blend doesn’t seem to contain any ingredients that significantly boost nitric oxide levels and blood flow to gain better pumps and vascularity.


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout comes as a powder, and it mixes easily with cold water in a shaker.

However, the flavors leave a lot to wish for. The one we thought didn’t taste as artificial as the rest was the fruit punch flavor.

Check out our article on the different flavors of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard here.

Does It Have Downsides?

Yes, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout has a few downsides, and the first one to mention is the flavor. The Green Apple is very artificial tasting, and we had a few clients say that they had to mix one scoop of another supplement to make it taste a bit better.

The other issue we found is that it under delivers for muscle pumps. The Muscle Matrix has a good dose of creatine, and the Performance Composite provides some beta-alanine to reduce fatigue [3].

But there’s just nothing proven for pumps and vascularity, which is a bit of a shame for a product in this price range.

“The primary benefit of creatine is an improvement in strength and power output during resistance exercise. Creatine is well researched for this purpose, and the effects are quite notable for a supplement.“

- Antonis Damianou, Personal Trainer & Fitness Writer at Examine.com

Presence of Artificial Ingredients

The Gold Standard Pre-Workout includes artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, a notable aspect for health-conscious consumers.

While these additives enhance taste and appearance, they may raise concerns among those who prioritize natural ingredients in their dietary supplements. Research has shown that they can negatively influence gut health [4].

This inclusion could be a deciding factor for users seeking cleaner, more organic product profiles, highlighting the importance of understanding ingredient lists and making informed choices based on individual health preferences and dietary restrictions.

Limited Caffeine for High Tolerance Users

For individuals accustomed to high caffeine intake, the Gold Standard Pre-Workout's modest caffeine content, equivalent to less than two cups of coffee, may fall short in delivering the expected energy surge [5].

This limited caffeine dosage, while beneficial for avoiding overstimulation in most users, might not meet the needs of those with a higher tolerance.

Consequently, it underscores the importance of aligning pre-workout supplements with personal caffeine sensitivity and desired intensity levels to achieve optimal workout performance and energy enhancement.

How Does It Compare To Other Products?

Gorilla Mode vs Pre Workout comparison

Here at Total Shape, we have tested some of the best pre-workout supplements for men, so here is how Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard stacks up.

Gorilla Mode

Gorilla Mode, crafted by the makers of the popular nootropic Gorilla Mind Rush, is a highly effective pre-workout with a jam-packed formula of essential ingredients.

The blend of high doses of L-citrulline, creatine monohydrate, and betaine in Gorilla Mode has been tested and recorded to give users a 5% strength boost, which our dietitians attribute to the creatine. This matches what studies have shown and has been experienced by many in our test group [6].

The consensus in our group is that Gorilla Mode is one of the best pre-workouts for its mixing ability and fast-acting formula. The flavors are also a plus; many prefer them over Optimum Nutrition’s offerings.

4 Gauge

For those seeking an effective pre-workout supplement that delivers results without crashes and jitters, look no further than 4 Gauge. This collaborative effort between top athletes, nutrition experts, and the manufacturer has created a standout product.

Our test users rave about the boosted focus and energy experienced during intense workout sessions, which is likely due to 4 Gauge's blend of caffeine and L-theanine.

During testing, I personally experienced a noticeable improvement in exercise capacity, and our dietitians attribute this to the 6000 mg of L-citrulline in 4 Gauge [7].

Transparent Labs

Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk offers a pre-workout formula that promises to enhance muscle growth, energy levels, and endurance. The supplement is packed with L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and a good dose of BCAAs, proven to relieve muscle soreness based on extensive research studies on athletes [8].

Additionally, Transparent Labs Preseries pre-workout supplements contain more than twice as much beta-alanine, an ingredient highly sought after in sports nutrition due to its proven ability to improve endurance.

During the testing phase, our team noticed a considerable improvement in muscle recovery and soreness, especially after intense workout sessions while using PreSeries Bulk.

Who Should Take Gold Standard Pre-Workout?

Amateur athletes who are only looking for a small improvement in endurance could consider taking Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout.

It does provide a decent strength boost and some extra endurance, but not enough for high-performance athletes. 

It might also be a good option for anyone who is sensitive to caffeine, as the dose in this Gold Standard product is moderate to avoid making you jittery. That also means you need not worry about taking this pre-workout later on during the day. You'll likely get sleep at night because of the mild stimulant dose.

Who Shouldn't Take Gold Standard Pre-Workout?

A person having chest pains

Anyone with an underlying heart or other medical condition shouldn’t take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout.

Some of the ingredients could impact your blood pressure and heart rate, and that’s something you’d first need to discuss with your doctor.

I would also say that any athlete looking for maximum pumps and performance should take this Gold Standard pre-workout.

Other Pre-workouts Reviewed:

Where Can You Buy It?

You can buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout directly on the official website. And this is generally the only place I would recommend that people buy any kind of supplement.

Even the products from trusted brands can end up on dodgy online stores where you end up getting a counterfeit product that could make you sick.

When we ordered directly, the delivery time was about three days, which is a decent turnaround time.

  • The muscle matrix’s creatine dose is pretty good and delivers boosted strength
  • Reasonably good results for reducing fatigue during training
  • It doesn’t contain too much caffeine to make you jittery
  • Contains artificial flavors and sweeteners that could upset your gut flora
  • It doesn't boost blood flow enough to make a difference in muscle pumps

Tailored for Men and Women

ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout CTa

Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System


Other User Reviews

We also looked at Gold Standard pre-workout review comments on the company’s website to see how other people rated it.

“My husband and I have been using this for a couple of years. Just recently discovered that I could order this directly from ON. We love the fruit punch, and it does add a kick to our workout.”

- Braden Whaley, The Official Website

“I got the blue flavor, and it tasted terrible I couldn’t finish the bottle without gagging just been dry scooping it but it works well just the worst flavor I’ve ever had”

- Ethan Mead, The Official Website


Can You Take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-workout Every Day?

Yes, you can take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard pre-workout every day.

It contains only natural ingredients that should cause issues, but I would recommend you save some money by not unnecessarily taking it on rest days.

Does Gold Standard Pre-workout Contain Stimulants?

Yes, Gold Standard pre-workout contains stimulants in the form of caffeine. However, the dosage per serving isn’t too strong to mess up your sleep and recovery phase.

Our Verdict on Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Based on our research, feedback from a dietitian, and test results with clients, we’re not advising clients and readers to take this supplement.

A lot of the ingredients aren’t in a strong enough dose, and the flavors leave a lot to wish for.

Most healthy adults will get a lot more benefits from taking Gorilla Mode, which combines better ingredients with reliable scientific evidence and supplies them with a stronger dose to make a real difference in their training performance.

Between boosted energy, less fatigue, and better pumps, it’s a better product for most athletes.

We Recommend This Instead

Gorilla Mode

Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout CTA

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

  • Contains nitric oxide for insane pumps
  • Many positive comments about good endurance and energy boost
  • High dose of caffeine may help with mental focus and fat burning
  • Tastes good
  • Get 10% off using code: TOTALSHAPE
  • Does not list calorie count
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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