When looking for the best pre workout solutions most people will head straight for the supplements and with good reason, they are quick, convenient and are packed with essential ingredients that can help you to train to your maximum. Of course, there are pre-workout meals or snacks that can also provide a boost and we will cover those along with our pre-workout buying guide at the bottom of this post – but to start, we tested a range of supplements designed to give you the best pre-workout boost and have compiled our results here to help you make the biggest gains during your workout.
Best Pre-Workout Supplements
There are hundreds of pre-workout supplements on the market and choosing the right one for you can be tricky. In truth, compiling a list like this is difficult as everyone has different needs, varying levels of training intensity and volume and different nutritional plans. That being said, this list should provide enough detail to allow you to make an educated decision on which supplement would be best for you and all of these options will benefit those looking to increase strength, focus, potential hypertrophy and reduce levels of fatigue whilst undertaking a weight training workout.
Iron Labs AC8
Iron Labs is a well known and reputable supplement brand and the AC8 Xtreme pre-workout supplement is one of its leading products. It is manufactured in the UK and is one of the more budget pre-workouts available that does a decent job.
Each container contains 40 7.5g servings which should be mixed with cold water and consumed 30 minutes before your workout. Within each 7.5g serving you will find 200mg of caffeine, 1.5g of creatine monohydrate, 1.25g of dextrose monohydrate (giving a further energy boost and no doubt sweetening the flavour), 1g of Beta-Alanine, 1g of L-Glutamine, 1g of L-Taurine, 0.75g of Citrulline Malate and Vitamin B12 which can help reduce fatigue.
Beginners are advised to stick to the 7.5g daily dosage whilst more advanced users might opt for a double dosage.
There are 4 flavours to choose from and we tested the Tropical Blast flavour which was pleasant to drink and not too sweet as found in similar products from other manufacturers. It was certainly evident in our workout that we had used a pre-workout supplement and the caffeine levels from a single scoop felt about right – leaving you feeling alert but not with too many tingles or hot sweats.
The inclusion of Glutamine is a welcome addition thanks to its muscle recovery properties and we had no issues with focus, energy or fatigue during our workout. Iron Labs do offer a range of other supplements that you can stack with AC8 and they include BCAA’s, Creatine and extreme blend that gives a zinc-magnesium boost. We would suggest the BCAA’s and the creatine along with a single 7.5g measure of AC8 would be the perfect combination.
Overall, if you are looking for a pre-workout supplement that you can use consistently and have a modest budget then the AC8 mix is a top option.
- AC8 Xtreme is the pre workout supplement from Iron Labs Nutrition.
- AC8 Xtreme's formula includes 1,500mg of Creatine, 1,000mg of Beta Alanine and 1,000mg L-Glutamine per regular serving.
- AC8 Xtreme also provides 200mg Caffeine and 1,000mg L-Taurine per serving. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and helps to increase alertness.
- Tropical Blast flavour makes for a great pre workout drink - simply mix the recommended dosage of AC8 Xtreme powder with water in your shaker, it blends easily - and then drink approximately 30 minutes before your workout.
- AC8 Xtreme is manufactured at a facility in the UK which is BRC Food Certificated and GMP-Certified.
Cellucor C4 original is marketed as America’s best selling pre-workout supplement and it is of course available in the UK. There are 8 flavours to choose from and we love the two size options with 195g and 390g packs providing either 30 or 60 servings in total. We tested the Orange Burst flavour but with the 8 flavours in total there should be something to everyone’s taste.
Enough of the flavourings, let’s take a look at the good stuff and give you the breakdown of ingredients. Each serving size is 6.5g and is packed full of multi-vitamins as well as ingredients you would find in your usual pre-workout supplement. You will find a healthy dose of Vitamin C (37.5mg), Vitamin B6 (0.5mg) Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 all of which will not only help you in the gym but also boost your overall health when taken with a well balanced nutritional plan (yes we hate the word diet).
In addition to the vitamins listed above you also get 150mg of caffeine (equivalent to two cups of coffee), 1.5g of creatine, 1g of Arginine (which helps with your pump thanks to it promoting the production of nitric oxide in the body), 1.6g of Carnosyn Beta-Alanine (which is a patented ingredient that aids endurance for strength based activities) and 200mg of L-Tyrosine.
We found C4 to be a tasty and easy to drink pre-workout drink and could happily use this on a daily basis before a workout. We’d prefer there to be a slightly higher level of caffeine and creatine but you can supplement the latter further if you wish. For anyone hitting the gym first thing in a morning, C4 will give you a great boost, but you will need some post-workout recovery in addition to just C4 if you want to give your muscles the best chance of recovery and repair.
- Manufactured in EU at Certified GMP Facility
- 150mg of Caffeine Per Serving
- 1.6g CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine
- 1.5g Creatine Monohydrate
- 1g Arginine AKG
JYM Supplement Science
Supplement Science are a big brand in the fitness industry and their JYM pre-workout product offers equally big portions and some heavy hitting numbers that are designed to give you the best chance of a big training session when you hit the gym. Although it achieves all of these aims, it is unfortunately pretty big on price too and is easily the most expensive of all options we reviewed – that being said, this is a fully stacked supplement so there will be no need to add more to the mix and with so many benefits it will be worth the extra investment for some users.
Each portion is a staggering 26g and resembles more of a protein scoop than a pre workout scoop but for that you get some extras that none of the other supplements we reviewed offer. Each container will provide around 30 servings and each serving contains 2g of creatine, 2g of CarnoSyn Beta Alanine, 1.5g of Betaine, 600mg of L-Cysteine, 1g of Taurine, 150mg of AlphaSize, 500mg Beetroot extract, 3g of Leucine, 1.5g of Isoleucine, 1.5g of Valine, 1.5g of Tyrosine, 300mg of Caffeine, 6g of Citrulline Malate and 50mcg of Huperzine. This really does contain the biggest range of strength, focus and energy boosting properties of all these supplements and also offers the best for recovery too. There have been studies performed that suggest the Amino Acid Citrulline Malate should be served as a 6g dose to get the maximum benefits from it – JYM is the only product that gets close to providing you with 6g per serving.
It has been touted that JYM is probably the best pre workout available in the UK today, and that may well be true. But there are some advisories from us if you are considering buying it. It is quite a potent and powerful mix so beginners or those taking it for the first time might want to start off with half servings. The caffeine content alone could leave you in a pool of sweat by the time you finish your first exercise if you go all in on a full serving. The flavours are not the best and we found them a little sweet for our liking, but if you can stomach the 26g serving and tolerate the sweet taste then this is probably the best all-in-one supplement to take prior to your workout.
- Enhance your workout
- Hyper focus
- Supreme energy
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout
Optimum Nutrition is perhaps one of the largest supplement brands known globally and the Gold Standard Pre-Workout piggy backs off the name of the ever popular Gold Standard Whey Protein. That being said, this pre-workout is manufactured in the UK and is subject to very stringent FDA laws.
Coming from Optimum Nutrition we already knew the standard of this supplement was going to be pretty decent and if reputation and the credibility of the company you are buying your supplements from is important to you then this will most likely be a great option. They also 100% guarantee there will be no banned substances in their products so if you are competing professionally then it is also a great option.
Each pack contains around 30 servings and each portion size is 11g in total so there is a fair amount to consume compared to some others on our list, but nowhere near as much as JYM from Supplement Science. Each 11g scoop contains your RDA or above of Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, Niacin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6. This means you will not need to stack this pre-workout with multi-vitamins as you get that benefit from this blend. Each scoop is packed with Amino Acids and you get 1.5g of Citrulline, 1.5g of Beta Alanine, 3.4g of Creatine, 175mg of Caffeine and 375mg of L-Carnitine. You can stack this with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA’s if you wish.
There are 5 flavours in total to choose from and we opted for the Fruit Punch flavour which was pretty pleasant taste and consistency wise. The caffeine dose in this is not too big for beginners but you will feel the tingle from it along with the Beta-Alanine. We love the larger dosage of creatine in this blend and the vitamin mix is also a welcome addition.
We could certainly feel the benefit of this supplement and there was no come down after the workout, although we’d recommend consuming a good post workout protein shake packed with BCAA’s after you workout and consume plenty of water as normal throughout the day.
Overall, we loved the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard supplement and if you can get it whilst it is on offer then it is well worth the investment.
- An ‘Informed Choice – Banned Substance Tested’ ready-to-mix pre-workout powder catering to strength athletes, team sports athletes, endurance athletes, gym goers, and multi-faceted athletes
- Naturally-sourced caffeine plus L-Carnitine and N-Acetyl-Tyrosine helps sharpen your alertness and focus while helping your body train at the highest level
- Creatine Monohydrate (CreaPure) helps to support overall power and performance
- Citrulline Malate, a precursor to nitric oxide production
- Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B12 help your metabolism operate at its peak
Freak Athletics Venom
Another UK made Pre-Workout is Venom by Freak Athletics and it is another that is relatively well priced and contains 8 ingredients designed to maximise your strength, focus and energy levels during your workout. With each tub containing 25 – 50 servings (depending on whether you double up the 5g servings), each 5g scoop contains plenty to help you when lifting heavy weights.
The key ingredients found in Venom are 1.2g of Citrulline Malate, 1.25g of Beta Alanine, 0.9g of Arginine, 250mg of Taurine, 100mg of Betaine, 175mg of Caffeine and 100mg of L Tyrosine.
It is recommended to to mix 1 to 2 scoops with 200-400ml of cold water and shake well. We tested the Cherry Cola flavour and we very impressed with the flavour – in fact, we would go as far to say it is the best cherry cola flavoured supplement we have tasted – it also mixed really well with the water leaving no nasty residue.
We found the that the energy levels started to kick in to action very quickly, perhaps more so than any of the other products we tested – with us feeling ready to go after just 15 minutes. It is suggested to take this supplement 20-30 minutes prior to your workout but if you are pushed for time then Venom might actually be the best option.
Although this pre-workout is well packed with the ingredients you need you will likely need to stack a few other supplements to get good post recovery nutrition inside you. You will also need to supplement your Creatine separately – although we quite like that you can do this.
Overall, Venom is a really good budget option that tastes great and gives you a much needed energy and strength boost almost as quickly as you can drink it.
- ★ ENERGY & PERFORMANCE - Experience a boost in energy and performance in daily activities and during physical workouts with Pre Workout Venom. Designed to be taken before your workout, packed with Muscle pump enhancing & mental alertness boosting ingredients.
- ★ OPTIMAL FORMULA - Using only the highest quality of Ingredients Venom combines Beta Alanine, Citrulline Malate, Arginine AKG, Betaine, Taurine, Caffeine, L Tyrosine, Grape Seed Extract. These Key Ingredients make a powerful and potent pre workout to support and enhance your physical performance.
- ★ PREMIUM QUALITY - At Freak Athletics we are highly driven in providing you with the highest quality supplements available on the market. Using only the finest & high quality ingredients to create an advanced Pre Workout supplement with an optimal formula of ingredients.
- ★ FREE WORKOUT PROGRAM BY EMAIL - Not only do you receive our Pre Workout Supplement Venom, but also our Free Muscle Building Workout program packed with muscle and strength gaining exercises, to help you reach your physique goals faster.
- ★ UK MADE - Venom has been Manufactured to the highest standards in the UK. safeguarded by the highest manufacturing and hygiene standards in the world. Our local manufacturing means you receive only the BEST!
Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode
Our final pick when it comes to pre workout supplements is the Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode Nitric Oxide Booster. This is somewhat different to the other products we tested as it is more focused on boosting your performance during the workout and it does this by aiming to improve vascularity and blood flow to the muscles.
In addition to Vitamin C and Vitamin D (both very welcome additions to the mix), the prime ingredients come in the form of HydroMax (1.5g) and Betaine Nitrate (1g). The latter is responsible for boosting Nitric Oxide in the body which helps to improve blood flow whilst HydroMax is a highly concentrated from of Glycerol which helps the muscles absorb fluids which in turn helps you to look super ‘pumped’.
We didn’t feel any immediate impact from this product but we only tested it once. Reviews on the whole of the Evlution supplement are very positive and it may well be the case that with a couple of week’s usage you will start to see results. In terms of taste there were no issues although nothing to shout home about either.
You can take this in addition to a pre-workout which seems like it would be a good option – but always check the instructions yourself before stacking multiple products.
- PUMP MODE contains a handful of popular ingredients to support vascularity and blood flow
- A powder you can take by itself or make it an addition to your pre-workout stack for maximum results
- PUMP MODE is highly rated and recommended with proven results providing unmatched PUMPs and performances
- ZERO STIMULANT PUMP ACCELERATOR
Pre-Workout – A Buyers Guide
Choosing the right product for you is never easy and you should take in to account your goals, your experience and consider how you have reacted to supplements in the past. For example, if you consume very little caffeine in your daily life then taking on huge caffeine hits prior to your workout could leave you feeling not so great – you may also experience come-downs or a ‘crash’ when the effects start to wear off.
Pre-Workout supplements can be an excellent addition to your workout but they are certainly not required. If you are a casual gym goer who works out a few times per week and are happy to maintain current levels then there is little benefit in taking a pre-workout. Likewise, if you are beginner you will probably see little to no extra gains by taking a supplement than you would by just going to the gym and working out. However, if you are a year in and have hit a plateau and have exhausted other options, or if you feel that your body needs some extra support then a pre-workout can be a great option.
How Much Is Too Much?
We would say you should never exceed the manufacturer guidelines and that goes for all forms of supplementation. Sometimes the guidelines are a little vague though or it isn’t clear for what duration you should take a supplement. With pre-workout powders we would suggest to use them 1-3 times per week so long as that is in line with manufacturer suggestions – but like all supplements it might prove worthwhile having a rest from them for a week every 6-8 weeks. This will also prevent your body from becoming over-reliant on them.
We will be bringing you some snack ideas very soon so please watch this space.