Aside from protein and thermogenics (fat burners), pre-workouts are easily the most popular category of supplements. From the early days when they came to the forefront with the emergence of BSN N.O. Xplode to the evolution of the ‘concentrated’ pre-workout when USPLabs Jack3d burst onto the scene, pre-workouts have come a long ways.
With popularity and success comes expansion, innovation and imitation. This can be both good and bad when companies start competing with each other as better and better formulas are created, but obviously when it comes to a somewhat saturated market, some products are just another small fish in a very big lake. While some pre-workouts are released and kill it with popularity, effects and ingredient profile, the majority never get anywhere, just ending up falling into the abyss of the ‘pre-workout’ section.
With that being said, some pre-workouts have answered the bell and then some, rising to the top, rocking solid formulas and resulting in more crushed workouts than ever before. In light of this, we are here to bring you the top pre-workouts of 2016!
Top Overall Pre-Workouts
Right out of the gate, we have Inspired Nutraceuticals DVST8 White Cut. The original version of DVST8 was nothing short of a major success upon its release, but after a slight reformulation, Inspired nutraceuticals took good and made it great. Featuring a fully disclosed ingredient profile and a straight forward approach, DVST8 packs a lot of hard hitting ingredients into each serving at doses that mean business.
Not for the faint of heart, the shining stars of the stimulant component of DVST8 include the DMAA cousin 2-aminoisoheptane, also known as DMHA, synephrine and alpha yohimbe. This trio has become increasingly popular in the pre-workout realm and will hit hard with a nice euphoric energy feeling. For those that were fans of DMAA, think of DMHA as a slightly toned down version. In regards to performance, you won’t be disappointed either as each serving has 4g of the arginine pre-cursor Citrulline, 2g of Betaine for recovery, 1.6g beta alanine for endurance and lactic acid buffering and 1g of taurine for cognitive performance and optimal hydration.
Last but not least, on top of a great, hard hitting profile, the feedback for the flavoring of DVST8 has been nothing short of consistently positive. This is a huge plus as you can have the best ingredient profile in the world, but if you have to choke the product down, it takes away from the experience a bit. All in all, even if the flavor wasn’t as good, it would still be tough to beat the focus and performance of DVST8 White Cut.
NutraBio has an outstanding reputation for making some of the best full-dosed, fully-disclosed and effective products in the industry, and their Pre Extreme is no different. While the trend for a fully disclosed ingredient profile has been growing over the last year or so, NutraBio has been long ahead of the game. From day 1, they have always been full-disclosure labels and prided themselves on no excipients, fillers or under-dosing.
Pre Extreme lives up to the high bar that NutraBio has set for itself and in some ways outdone itself with the ingredient profile. It tackles all areas of a complete pre-workout with 1g of agmatine and 750mg of Nitrosigine for pumps, 15g of the designer carb cyclic dextrin for glycogen and muscle endurance, an ATP/power complex of full dosed creatine, leucine, beta alanine and betaine and a hydration matrix for optimal hydration. Rounding out the ingredient profile is a solid stimulant and cognition profile that will get you amped up and focused without overstimulating.
From top to bottom, NutraBio is one of the most complete pre-workouts on the market today. Anyone looking for an all in one pre-workout formula for pumps, power, endurance and energy with no filler should give NutraBio Pre Extreme a look.
Headlined by the legendary DMAA as the driving stimulant force behind it, APS Mesomorph was created to be a hard hitting pre-workout. We all remember the days when Jack3d stormed onto the market and changed the way we craved stimulatory effects in pre-workouts, and for a while we thought those days were gone. APS Mesomorph brings the legendary DMAA back into the game and doesn’t stop with just stimulatory effects. It was designed to not only amp you up, but be a complete pre-workout, powered by full-dosed, clinically backed ingredients.
Aside from the hard hitting, legendary DMAA as the stimulant base, Mesomorph also has the pumps covered with a hefty agmatine and Citrulline dose and the performance aspect of muscle endurance and power with creatine nitrate and beta alanine. From top to bottom, all at research backed doses, if you want a hard hitting, stimulant driven pre-workout that brings nice pumps and performance, APS Mesomorph is a top choice.
Pre-Kaged is yet another one of the top performing pre-workouts on the market to feature a full-disclosure label. It boasts an impressive ingredient profile that features efficacious doses, no banned substances, no artificial colors or flavors and features multiple patented, research backed ingredients.
Designed to pack everything you need and then some in your pre-workout, Pre Kage’s massive 32g serving size contains full doses of Citrulline for pumps, clinical ratio BCAA matrix for anabolism, beta alanine for endurance, betaine for recovery and the outstanding CapsiMax branded pepper extract for metabolism support. Rounding out the ingredient profile, the stimulant complex features ingredients for cognitive focus and includes PurCaf which is a premium, organic certified, 90% pure caffeine extract derived from water extracted green coffee beans for unpolluted plant-based energy.
From top to bottom, Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged is a very solid, full dosed pre-workout for those looking to pick up a scientifically backed formula that uses high end, patented ingredients.
Last but not least, rounding out the top 5 overall pre-workouts of 2016 is Divided Labs Previde. Previde is a transparently dosed, full spectrum pre workout that packs everything you’d expect from a premium pre workout and covers all the bases from stimulants, to pumps to performance and strength. With that being said, the only real flaw we see with Divided Labs Previde is that it’s a “two-scooper” formula. In other words, you need two scoops of Previde to get the ideal amount of the ingredients, translating to the 30 serving container really only being 15. When you look at the ingredient profile, you can see this is NOT a cheap product to produce as it feature a number of patented, very effective ingredients, therefore somewhat warranting the higher cost for the product.
With that aside, the ingredient profile for Previde is very impressive and fully disclosed, warranting a high ranking for completeness in the pre-workout category. It features a great strength and power matrix highlighted by betaine and the patented AlphaSize GPLC and elevATP. For pumps it has a killer profile including HydroMax glycerol, AgmaPure agmatine, and the tried and true Citrulline. Last but not least, the stimulant and focus profile is on point featuring a good dose of caffeine paired with numerous cognitive enhancement ingredients such as hordenine, halostachine and Higenamine.
From beginning to finish, Previde is a very, very solid product. If you can get past the higher cost since you need 2 scoops to get the full, clinical dose, the quality and performance of the formula will more than blow you away.
Best for Beginners
1. NutraBio Pre
NutraBio makes some of the cleanest and research backed formulas in the industry. They have pioneered the full-disclosure, clinical dosage ingredient labels from their start in 1996 and continue to lead the pack for what all supplement companies should be doing to create a trusted, transparent industry.
With the outstanding reputation NutraBio has built, a consumer new to the pre-workout realm can rest assured that Pre is everything a pre-workout should be. Featuring a scientifically backed ingredient profile with no fillers and no nonsense, NutraBio Pre is a great foundational pre-workout. It features a strength and power complex with full dosed creatine monohydrate, betaine and l-leucine, a hydration matrix for optimal muscle performance and fluid balance and beta alanine for maximum endurance and lactic acid buffering.
NutraBio Pre is rounded out with a solid stimulant and cognition profile that will get the job done without ‘cracking out’ the consumer, yet giving them great energy and a state of well being. A fantastic beginner’s pre-workout from start to finish; this is a product that both new and experienced pre-workout users will find solid.
Another great pre-workout that is great for beginners is Purus Labs Condense. In an industry saturated with pre-workouts and a flooded market that has everyone trying to one up each other, sometimes simplicity can be a refreshing concept. Don’t let Purus Labs Condense fool you though, even if it may be somewhat simple in ingredients, it certainly is still unique.
The profile is headlined by their Nitratene, which has been shown to be a powerful aerobic and anaerobic enhancing ingredient that reduces the oxygen cost of training and also reduces blood lactate. It also covers aspects of strength and recovery with full dose beta alanine and betaine anhydrous and addresses the stimulant portion with 200mg of caffeine per serving.
Simplicity reigns supreme here with a very effective, and beginner effective formula that covers all the basics with science backed ingredients, rounded out with a caffeine amount that won’t wire you and a variety of delicious flavors. For those new to the pre-workout game, Condense is certainly a solid introduction.
BOOM! Pre-workouts are not a game! Marc Lobliner designed Clash as part of his MTS Nutrition line to address the issue of under-dosed and pixie-dusted pre-workouts. For too long, there have been pre-workouts that may look good on paper because of all the ingredients, but the reality is that they are all under-dosed. Clash hits this head on with a full disclosure profile that packs clinical doses of proven ingredients.
Featuring proven ingredients for strength including CreaPure creatine, CarnoSyn beta alanine for lactic acid buffering, and betaine for recovery, Clash doesn’t mess around and gets the job done. Marc also addressed the focus and energy aspect with a 125mg caffeine (per scoop) dose of caffeine and a hefty dose of l-tyrosine for healthy neurotransmitter function. You really can’t get more basic, yet proven when it comes to a beginner pre-workout, so if you want a solid, research backed formula without the ‘extras’ MTS Clash is the way to go.
Doug Miller created Core Fury Extreme to be one of the best on the market. With the initial success of their original Core Fury, he wanted to take good and make it great and with this version, he did just that. Featuring a full dose of every ingredient, a full-disclosure label and a profile that has strong research backing, Core Fury Extreme is a great pre-workout.
It all starts with a full, clinical dose of 5g creatine monohydrate for strength, addresses pumps with a 3g dosage of Citrulline, promotes recovery with 2.5g betaine and covers your pumps and then some with a 1g dose of agmatine. Rounding out the formula, it has a plethora of goodies for energy, focus and cognition including PurEnergy caffeine, Advantra Z bitter orange extract and hordenine, there is little left to be desired. All aspects are covered with full doses of performance ingredients and the stimulant amounts won’t put a more stimulant sensitive user on the moon.
5. Cellucor C4
Perhaps the most famous pre-workout of all time, Cellucor C4 has been around awhile. While it won’t win any awards for being innovative or novel, it is widely available, very affordable for those looking to try a pre-workout on a budget and the flavors are widely received as being good.
It’s very basic in nature when it comes to ingredients, featuring caffeine for focus, creatine nitrate for pumps and strength and tyrosine for mental focus. The latest Gen4 version also has the inclusion of Teacrine, a non-adaptive stimulant so the effects will hit consistently and prevent adaptation. While it’s nothing crazy in terms of formula or stimulants, it is a good beginner pre-workout to get your feet wet before moving onto other pre-workouts.
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workouts
Metabolic Nutrition P.S.P. was designed to be the most effective, nitric-oxide boosting, fast-acting non-stimulant pre-workout on the market. It will help deliver great pumps, increase strength and endurance and support muscle recovery and endurance.
Featuring key ingredients like beta alanine for endurance and lactic acid buffering, arginine silicate for pumps and vascularity, creatine monohydrate for strength and power, and tyrosine for mental focus, P.S.P. is an all in one solution for getting the most out of your workouts without the use of stimulants.
2. CORE Pump
Core Nutraceuticals Core Pump is one of the most loaded ingredient profiles we have come across for a non-stimulant pre-workout. It features a full-dosed ingredient profile that has carefully chosen, verified by science, backed by clinical research benefits and have been shown to increased bloodflow through a number of independent mechanisms.
The loaded ingredient profile includes 1g of agmatine for pumps, 2g of the high quality HydroMax which is the best glycerol on the market for hydration and cell volumization,1.5g of the patented arginine silicate Nitrosigine for blood flow and vascularity, 3g of l-citrulline for nitric oxide production and a dose of vitamin c for anti-oxidant benefits. The simplicity paired with full doses of patented, proven ingredients make Core Pump a winner.
Gaspari Nutrition Plasma Jet, while technically not stimulant free (contains 40mg caffeine), is a great alternative to the mainstream pre-workouts for those looking primarily for pumps rather than energy/focus. It is a unique product by nature, featuring unique pathways for increasing the pump with the main mechanism of action being arginase inhibitors to pair with more traditional pump ingredients.
The highlights of the ingredients are the unique arginase inhibitors N(omega)-hydroxy-nor-L-Arginine & Boron amino acid chelate. They work by inhibiting the enzyme arginase, which is directly responsible for breaking down the amino acid arginine. By inhibiting arginase, we preserve arginine in the body which is directly tied to nitric oxide production. With this addressed, the inclusion of traditional, proven ingredients like Citrulline and glycerol paired with newer, novel ingredients such as Citrulline silicate will increase pumps and cell volume very nicely, creating a wicked pump formula.
4. Purus Labs Noxygen (Tie With Vasky)
Purus Labs created Noxygen to compliment any preworkout or intraworkout beverages, giving you expanded strength, endurance and hydration. It features the renowned HydroMax which is a high molecular weight, water soluble glycerol inclusion. It yields the highest pure glycerol content of any other form available. It acts as an osmotic compound, much like the amino acids creatine and taurine, drawing and retaining water within muscle cells, hence volumizing them. More intramuscular water volume increases muscle size immediately, aids in mechanical advantage (lifting more weight), enhances hydration and helps prevent injury.
It also has their patented Nitratene which support your body’s ability to synthesize ATP (muscular energy) by using less oxygen during the process, thereby creating an oxygen sparing environment for your cell. The 1-2 combination of Nitratene and HydroMax are a fantastic, stimulant free combination that can be used by itself or with other pre-workouts to maximize pumps and performance.
4. MTS Nutrition Vasky (Tie With Noxygen)
Marc Lobliner created Vasky to be a pleasant-tasting, yet unflavored non-stimulant pump enhancer that makes every preworkout better. It works to very simply, yet effectively improves blood flow to the muscle and promotes saturation of the muscles.
Driven, much like Purus Labs Noxygen, it has 2g of HydroMax per serving for cell volumization and pumps. It also features the patented arginine silicate Nitrosigine which is great for long lasting pumps, vascularity and increased blood flow. This potent combination will deliver some of the best pumps you can experience, and the plus side is that since it’s stimulant free, you can use it as a standalone pre-workout or combine it with your favorite pre-workout to enhance it’s effects.