The Best Pre Workout Supplement in 2014- Our Top 3 Recommendations

Pre workout supplement products are blends of various other supplements (creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, etc) that are designed to aid in power, strength, and energy while training. They are typically taken 20- 30 minutes before training. There are many different pre workout products, but most contain the same basic (and scientifically supported) blend of supplements. It is important to follow the dosage instructions on the product label, as these supplements can act as powerful stimulants.

Your workout time is precious, and you need to get the most results out of the little time that you get to train. After all, it’s all about the quality and intensity of your training, not how many hours you spend in the gym.

A pre workout supplement can help you overcome your plateaus and give you the extra power, energy, and mental focus you need to push your strength and size to the next level. They help you feel like you have a little extra left in the tank,to hit that new 1-rep max or that last extra few reps.

Best Pre Workout Supplement Comparison Chart

PictureSupplementUseFeatureReviewsCost / 10 Serving
Cellucor C4 Extreme
Strength, Endurance, Energy, FocusBeta-alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG, L-Tyrosine, Caffeine18245.67
BSN N.O.-XPLODE 2.0
BSN N.O.-XPLODE 2.0
Strength, Endurance, Energy, FocusBeta-alanine, Creatine, L-Tyrosine, Taurine7937.2
BPI Pump-HDStrength, Endurance, Energy, FocusCreatine, Beta-alanine, Taurine, L-Tyrosine, Aminos2257.67
RocT PRO Extreme Workout IgnitorStrength, Endurance, Energy, FocusCreatine, Beta-alanine, Caffeine, L-Argine4936.44
Betancourt Nutrition BullnoxStrength, Endurance, Energy, Focus, Muscle BuildingL-Taurine, Beta-alanine, Creatine, Tyrosine, Caffeine, Aminos + BCAA2498.86
Evlution Nutrition, ENGN Strength, Endurance, Energy, FocusCreatine, Beta-alanine, Caffeine1819.67
BPI Sports 1.M.R. VortexEnergy, FocusGlycerol, Caffeine1744.6

What is a Pre-Workout Supplement?

On today’s market you will find hundreds of different supplements that are designed to be taken before training in order to boost your performance in the gym.

While each product typically adds it’s own unique plant extract or fancy-named chemical, they  mostly contain the same basic blend of various well-studied supplements that are scientifically-proven to benefit your training.

Here are some of the most scientifically supported supplements that you will find inside a pre-workout supplement, by category.

Strength

Creatine (Monohydrate)

Creatine is perhaps one of the most well studied sports supplements. It has been proven to be both safe and effective for improving strength and power. Creatine is a natural chemical found in our body and supports ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in energy cellular functions in the body.

Science Rating: A+

There have been many studies on creatine. The most compelling scientific results in creatine use include:

        • Creatine is the reference compound for power improvement, with numbers from one meta-analysis to assess potency being “Able to increase a 12% improvement in strength to
          20% and able to increase a 12% increase in power to 26% following a training regiment using creatine monohydrate”.

You can find creatine monohydrate in almost every pre-workout supplement, because it works. It is also often added in protein powders products and mass gainer supplements.

Taurine

Perhaps best know as an ingredient in countless energy drinks, taurine is an amino acid found in the body and is involved in various physiological processes.  These include control of muscle contractions, control of fluid balance within the body, cell membrane structure, as well as antioxidant actions.

Science Rating: B

The current research on taurine and it’s effect on muscular power and strength is still unclear.

Endurance

Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a modified version of alanine, an amino acid.

Beta-alanine increases muscular endurance, which allows you to perform more reps before failure. It works b

Studies have shown that beta-alanine

Large doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia. It is a harmless side effect.

Energy and Focus

Caffeine

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and is often used to improve power and endurance during resistance training.

Caffeine’s main mechanism concerns antagonizing adenosine receptors. Adenosine causes sedation and relaxation when it acts upon its receptors, located in the brain. Caffeine prevents this action and causes alertness and wakefulness.

Tyrosine

Muscle Building (Hypertrophy)

BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are three types of amino acids: Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine.

Leucine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis, while isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells. Further research is needed to determine valine’s role in a BCAA supplement. Supplementing BCAAs prevents a serum decline in BCAAs, which occurs during exercise. A serum decline would normally cause a tryptophan influx into the brain, followed by serotonin production, which causes fatigue.

Arginine

Arginine is an alpha amino acid that helps aid in NO (nitrous oxide) production and speeds up muscle and bone repair.

One recent study found a significant increase in the bench press 1 RM in men who supplemented with L-arginine versus who did not.

Campbell, Bill, et al. “Pharmacokinetics, safety, and effects on exercise performance of L-arginine α-ketoglutarate in trained adult men.” Nutrition 22.9 (2006): 872-881.

Dosing, Using, and Cycling Supplements

First and foremost, remember to always follow the dose instructions found on the label of any supplement you choose.

Repeated usage of any of the individual supplements found inside your pre-workout product can lead to a built up tolerance. Therefore it is necessary to cycle your pre-workout supplements every 5 weeks, taking a break of 2 weeks every cycle.

If you are doing Wendler’s 5/3/1 program then you can conveniently cycle off of your supplements during the deloading week.

Getting an Increased Pump

Many pre-workout supplements contain substances that will increase blood flow to your muscles. This results in a temporary increase in muscle size, during, and immediately after a work out. Getting a pump is essential to muscle hypertrophy and not only looks good, but can have positive psychological reinforcement effects. This can cause you to work even harder, push out more reps, as the results are more immediately noticeable, even though temporary.

It is not known whether this increased pump leads to increases in muscle gain.

Top  3 Supplement Review

Stick with the basic formulations of supplements that contain the main scientifically proven substances: creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine. While some ingredients such as”crazy-mushroom-root extract”, or “super enhanced methyl-fancy chemical” sound impressive, these substances typically do not have any scientific studies to support their use.

Here are my top 3 choices for preworkout supplements:

1. Cellucor C4 Extreme: Basic, Effective, and the Best Value

Here are the main stats:

Main Active Ingredients:

  • Beta-alanine (1500 mg)
  • Creatine Nitrate (1000 mg)
  • Arginine AKG (1000 mg)
  • Caffeine
  • L-Tyrosine

Cellucor C4 Extreme sticks to the scientifically proven basic blend of supplements for strength, endurance, and energy. It also contains some basic essential vitamins and minerals as anti-oxidants and electrolytes. Not only does it have a great taste, but the Cellucor C4 is one of the cheapest pre-workout supplements based on cost per serving. A 60 serving jar will set you back only $34 on Amazon.com. This should last about 3 months, taking into account off-cycling.

This supplement is wildly popular, and with good reason! Using a combination of solid scientifically backed supplements, the Cellucor C4 will certainly help the vast majority to perform better in the gym.

Cellucor C4 one is a no brainer. Try it out, it is inexpensive but can have a significant positive effect on your training and muscle building.

2. BSN N.O-Xplode 2.0

 

BSN N.O-Xplode is another great supplement that can increase your power, energy, and endurance in the gym. Like the Cellucor C4 Extreme, it contains all the basic scientifically proven ingredients:

  • Beta-alanine
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Arginine
  • Caffeine
  • Taurine

Let’s start with the cons. I don’t like that the BSN- N.O. Xplode does not list the individual breakdown of each ingredient