Onlinestrength analyzed 43 best-selling pre-workout supplements in the United States. Our researched quantified levels of 8 key ingredients proven by research to enhance workout performance.
The tested products contained a majority of the 8 key ingredients which consist of Caffeine, Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline/L-Arginine, Betaine (Trimethylglycine), Rhodiola Extract, Yohimbine/Rauwolscin, Creatine and a few key Amino Acids.
These ingredients were chosen based on a considerate amount of research pertaining to the most effective ingredients required to make a good pre-workout.
The supplements in the top 10 are based off of their ingredient profiles, effectiveness, and overall quality. Brand credibility, user popularity, taste, mix-ability, and digestibility also played a role in the overall rankings.
Pre-workout supplements are represented solely on their ingredient formulas. Onlinestrength determined that there were 8 key ingredients that deemed a product effective or ineffective. More than 95% of products on the market do not meet the required dosage amount in a single serving to be considered highly effective.
Caffeine – Effective dosage is between 100-300mg occasionally 300mg+ for acute strength increases.
Amino Acids – Organic compounds said to be the building blocks of life, used as an energy source for the body. Having a range of varying effects depending on which amino acid is supplemented. Specifically we looked for BCAAs, carnitine, theanine, and cysteine.
Beta-Alanine – Effective dosage is between 2,000mg – 5,000mg. 80% of all pre-workouts fall under the 2,000mg mark and usually containing 500-1600mg per single serving.
L-Citrulline/L-Arginine – Effective dosage range 6,000 – 8,000 mg of citrulline and/or 3,000mg – 6, 000mg of arginine. Enhances recovery time during and after workouts, Improves blood circulation and nitric oxide production.
Betaine (Trimethylglycine) – Effective dosage for performance enhancing benefits is between 1,000mg – 3,000mg.
Rhodiola Extract – Reduces fatigue, and promotes physical and cognitive endurance. Minimum effective dosage 50mg.
Yohimbine/Rauwolscine – Boosts focus and elevates mood. Minimum dosage is 14mg – 22mg.
Creatine – Dosage 3,000mg – 5,000 mg of creatine monohydrate. Improves muscular strength, power output and increases capacity for intense exercise. Creatine is only effective at the correct dosages, 86% of all pre-workouts that contain creatine do meet the required dosage.
The average product will be effective at boosting focus, energy, endurance, muscle pump, blood flow, alertness, and power output to some degree. Effectiveness differs depending on the quality of ingredients and total dosage.
Onlinestrength based its effectiveness calculations on the concentration of the 8 key ingredients. When other ingredients were present, factors based on scientific research studies were utilized into the effectiveness equation.
Average key ingredients found within products ranged from a minimum of 4 to all 8 ingredients, with the average product recording below average dosages.
Standard supplementation regimen includes 1 serving 30-40 minutes prior to training. During the course of supplementation pre-workouts that contain a majority of the 8 key ingredients have shown to enhance athlete performance.
Caffeine is the most popular ingredient in pre-workout products, present in 90% of tested products. Caffeine takes on average 40 minutes to fully activate and is often why pre-workout supplements are to be taken 30-40minutes prior to working out.
Pre-workout’s efficacy in increasing focus, endurance, energy, power output, muscle pump, blood flow, and overall exercise performance depends on a variety of different factors and ingredient dosage. Many research studies conducted with a blend of several of the ingredient listed above showed evidence in prolonging time til fatigue, increasing capacity for higher intensity workouts, and boosting power in short term duration exercise. Dosing regimens and serving sizes may need to be adjusted depending on your tolerance to achieve peak effects.
All pre-workout supplements rely heavily on their ingredient profiles. The quality and the type of ingredient in the product will determine its overall effectiveness.
Beta-Alanine (as CarnoSyn®) is considered the highest quality beta-alanine on the market.
Creatine Monohydrate (as Creapure®) is known as the highest quality creatine. Branded creatine forms are known to be of higher quality.
Avoid magnesium or zinc especially in large doses. 100mg+ of magnesium can cause stomach issues.
Bioperine® (black pepper extract) is known for being the highest quality precursor ingredient. Standard black pepper extract works just as well.
Basic ingredient forms are often cheaper, less tested, and on occasion less effective. Formulas with the branded ingredients have higher overall quality.
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