If you are going to invest your time and sweat working out, then it is important your body is primed to get the full benefit of your workout. For this reason, the best preworkout supplement can offer you a huge push towards achieving your desired results. There are however so many products on the market making it sometimes very difficult to differentiate what can help us, what can harm us, and what is simply a waste of money. We will be examining closely the top pre-workout formulas available for general health and performance, as well as for bodybuilding purposes.
I’m personally a huge believer in keeping it simple, and being very precise on what goes into my body. That being said, sometimes you need to try different things before finding what really works for you. In my list you’ll find certain supplements there because I believe them to be staples that can have tremendous impact on the way you train and feel. Others are simply there because I’ve found they have worked for me, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you.
THE TOP 5 BEST PRE WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS FOR PERFORMANCE
1-BioSteel High Performance Sports Drink
BioSteel High Performance sports drink offers a complex blend of highly bioavailable and scientifically researched ingredients, perfect for any level of activity. Don’t expect the same boost with this drink as you would with some other stimulant based pre-workout formulas; BioSteel doesn’t contain any stimulants whatsoever. Instead, its formula makes sure that the body maintains an anabolic state while you’re exercising or playing your favourite sport, and ensuring the best possible recovery afterwards. You may choose to drink it before or during exercise.
The branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) play an anti-catabolic role, meaning that they will help prevent the breakdown of lean muscle tissue during exercise. BCAA’s are also one of the only ingredients that have been shown to reduce the effects of post-exercise delayed onset muscle soreness. BioSteel also contains a quality electrolyte blend, which plays a huge role in the prevention of muscle cramps and making sure the body stays properly hydrated.
If you’re involved in an activity where you’re sweating profusely, whether it is hot yoga or a midday sun game of football, you will be losing water and electrolytes through your sweat. These need to be replaced to maintain the body’s proper function. This is in fact the reason why a lot of people turn to sports drinks such as Gatorade (or Lucozade for our U.K. readers). The electrolytes in BioSteel are however from an organic source, and as opposed to drinks like Gatorade, they contain no sugar, which is an added plus unless you are doing some serious long-distance running or cycling.
BioSteel HPSD is currently used with many professional N.H.L. hockey players and has been cleared for any traces of banned substances, making it a popular choice among athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all levels. A container of 60 servings or so is offered at a price of approximately $60 US, and can be purchased online or in stores in North America, but currently only through the website for the U.K. It also tastes great, which is a rarity for any BCAA based drink.
2- Black Coffee (Espresso / Americano)
Ok, I know what you’re thinking; they don’t sell coffee at my local GNC (although they do sell caffeine pills). Granted, it’s not seen as a conventional pre-workout and you’re probably surprised to see it on this list, but it is simply too good to avoid talking about in this article. So why is coffee such an effective pre-workout tool? First of all, it’s one of the most potent natural lipolytic agents we have, meaning it’s very effective at breaking down stored body fat to be used as an energy substrate during physical effort. It has a catch though; the enhanced fat-burning effect caffeine provides is almost completely annulled if the body’s production of insulin is raised.
This means that if you are to have coffee before a workout and you want to benefit from its fat burning potency, you must not put sugar in it, you must not put milk in it, you must not have it with a donut or a piece of fruit, you must have it black. It is however acceptable to add a little bit of cream, and in this case, the heavier the better. Caffeine also has the benefits of stimulating your sympathetic nervous system and blocking your pain receptors, meaning you can push harder and increase endurance during exercise.
Although pre-workout coffee is an excellent choice for most healthy individuals, do not make the common mistake of making it your favourite post-workout drink. Stimulants can increase a hormone called cortisol, known also as the stress hormone, and, to make a long story short, increased post-exercise cortisol will impair your body’s ability to recover from the workout. If anything, after a workout is a time where you ideally want to bring down the amount of cortisol you are producing, not increase it. I’ll assume we all know where one can purchase coffee and not go into great detail over this.
3- Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer
Vega has become an incredibly popular line of supplements for health and wellness enthusiasts everywhere; largely due to the fact that they favour natural ingredients over anything produced in a laboratory. People seem to like “natural”, and I’ll admit it, Vega produces some quality supplements. They’re however somewhat comparable to the “Buckley’s” of sports nutrition: it doesn’t always taste so good, but then again it’s not meant to.
Vega’s Pre-Workout energizer also contains its own electrolyte blend where the sodium to potassium ratio is nearly 1:1, while the comparable products have electrolyte blends averaging a 4:1 sodium to potassium ratio. The drink also contains several other quality natural ingredients including but not limited to ginseng, rhodiola, turmeric, and ginger.
A very interesting addition to their product is the fact that the drink contains yerba maté, a very popular drink in South American countries. The beverage is a stimulant made from a plant, but differentiates itself from other caffeine-based beverages because of the presence of three xanthines: caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. The cumulative effect makes it so that its effects are less stimulatory on the central nervous itself, resulting in an excitatory effect of the heart, but a relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, making it less likely to make you jittery than coffee would. A 30 serving container is advertised on the Vega website for $50.
4- BCAA’s Optimum Nutrition
The importance of BCAA’s was mentioned in the BioSteel description, but I’ve included another product where the BCAA’s are the single ingredient. In fact, I think most people who exercise should be taking some form of BCAA’s. A wide variety of BCAA products exists, I chose Optimum Nutrition here because they happen to be a manufacturer that consistently puts out good products, wasting no money at all on flashy packaging. Once again, this is a great choice as a pre-workout supplement, but don’t expect a boost or a kick, it works by helping prevent fatigue and maintaining an anabolic state. The amino acids in question here are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and the content is at a 2:1:1 ratio. Many studies have been done on which ratio is the most beneficial and so far the results aren’t so clear. Some lines of BCAA’s have a 6:1:1 ratio, but are offered to you at double the price.
Ultimately, the main reason you want to be taking BCAA’s is to help you prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue by maintaining that anabolic state. This is especially true for all the cardio enthusiasts out there who like to spend hours at a time on a treadmill or a stationary bike. Long bouts of cardio can lead to loss of lean muscle, amongst other catabolic consequences.
Catabolism, the degradation of lean muscle tissue, leads to decreased lean muscle mass, which in turn negatively affects your overall metabolism. You want to be increasing or at least conserving your lean mass, not losing it. Secondly, as I mentioned briefly before, BCAA supplementation is one of the few things we know we can do to effectively decrease the soreness felt in the few days following a gruelling training session. They’ve also shown potential at increasing the output of growth hormone, which usually scares off the ladies, but definitely shouldn’t. Contrarily to what the name will have you imagining, GH is a hormone that helps increase lipolysis, helping your body burn fat more effectively. Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA’s can be found in stores and online, in powder and capsule form.
5- Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Cyanotech / Nutrex
Spirulina is a natural dietary supplement derived from a blue-green algae vegetable. It is a powerful antioxidant and rich in many nutrients such as amino acids, vitamin C, Vitamin B12, vitamin E, Iron, Beta-Carotene, and more. Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica is among the most reputable types available and is certified organic. It is a great supplement for anyone looking to increase their immune system support or to boost energy levels. The research on spirulina in relation to exercise has shown significant increase in exercise performance and fat oxidation, making it a terrific pre-workout choice.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine noticed a 10.9% increase in fat oxidation and 10.3% decrease in carbohydrate oxidation with spirulina when compared to a placebo group. Spirulina can be found in most health food stores, moderately priced, generally under $30 for 50 servings.
THE TOP 5 BEST PRE WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS FOR BODYBUILDING
1-Beta-Alanine Supreme Poliquin
Poliquin provides a multitude of high quality supplements used by many top-level athletes around the world. Beta-alanine is a simple but incredibly effective and proven supplement to help you increase your work capacity. Beta-Alanine Supreme contains only two ingredients per capsule: 400 mg of beta-alanine and 350 mg of creatine.
The way that beta-alanine works is that it helps increase intramuscular carnosine levels, which help act as a buffer against positive hydrogen ion build up, associated with decreased muscle performance. Ever have those localized muscular burning sensations when doing a prolonged set? Maybe someone even told you that “lactic acid” was to blame. Actually, the term is incorrect; the build-up of lactate and acidosis happen almost simultaneously, but remain two separate concepts. Acidosis is due to an accumulation of H+ ions that in turn decrease the potential for muscular contraction. This is why raised intramuscular carnosine helps delay this accumulation by acting as an H+ buffer, allowing you to consistently increase your work capacity before muscular fatigue sets in.
Creatine is the second ingredient in Beta-Alanine Supreme, and frankly unless you are completely new to the world of training, you’ve heard about its benefits before. The body relies on its creatine storage for immediate high-intensity energy. It’s found naturally in red meat and fish but can be depleted very easily with intense training. Therefore a little extra creatine can go a long way in giving you that little extra something, especially in combination with beta-alanine. In fact, some research has shown that the two ingredients have displayed more potent results in increase of maximal strength when used together. Ideal dosage of Beta-Alanine Supreme ranges from 5 to 8 capsules, and a 500 capsule container runs for about $50, making it a great buy, and an excellent way to achieve your strength and mass building gains.
2-Alpha GPC Poliquin
I’m going once again with the Poliquin brand in this case, though several brands of quality Alpha GPC exist on the market. In reality, it’s still a relatively unknown supplement and the average gym rat may never have even heard of it; very few bodybuilder-targeting manufacturers in fact even make it.
Despite it being still relatively unknown, Alpha GPC remains a pre-workout nutrient with the ability to change the way you train. It’s actually currently used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease because of its positive effect on cognitive function and memory. Therefore, expect improved mental focus right from the start. Alpha GPC delivers choline to the brain effectively by crossing the blood-brain barrier and serves as a precursor to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine in turn has an excitatory effect of the neuromuscular junctions, allowing for an increased output of maximal strength by activating muscles through the peripheral nervous system.
Research on well-trained individuals has so far shown interesting results in the increase of mental focus and maximal strength with Alpha-GPC supplementation. Other research has shown that Alpha-GPC significantly raised the output of growth hormone in older subjects. Dosages vary from 300mg to 1200mg and should be taken 30 to 60 minutes prior to a training session for maximum effect. A bottle of 60 capsules is available on the Poliquin website for $60.
3-Surge Workout Fuel Biotest
I have a love and hate relationship with a lot of pre-workout stacks on the market for the simple reason that they contain a lot of ingredients, sometimes some that you don’t necessarily want. I personally like to keep it simple and to have complete control on what I’m putting into my body, even it means paying a little more.
I’ve also had a love and hate relationship with T-Nation, a website that needs no introduction to most serious lifters out there. They are extremely competent at promoting their (sometimes overpriced) supplements. That being said, I’ve found most Biotest supplements I’ve had the chance to try to be of excellent quality.
Surge Workout Fuel is a prime example and might be my favourite of all the pre-workout stacks available. Its main active ingredients are beta-alanine, leucine, and citruline-malate, optimizing anaerobic capacity, reducing muscle fatigue, and maintaining an anabolic state. Something I particularly like about this stack is that it doesn’t rely heavily on stimulants. This means that for people like me, I can get the energy boost I need without the jitters or any feelings of impending doom. It comes in a variety of flavours, some being better than others. You can purchase Surge Workout Fuel on the T-Nation website for just under $50 for a 24 serving container.
4-Gaspari SuperPump 250
Like I’ve said before, I have a love and hate relationship with a lot of pre-workout stacks. The reason I still included SuperPump 250 in this list is that it works so darn well. I’ve had days where I’d hit the gym tired and hungry and still get fantastic workouts thanks to this potent stack. The results you’ll notice will be visible as well. Like N.O.-Xplode, it’s a supplement based on Nitric Oxide, which helps increase blood flow in the active muscles.
However, Superpump 250 relies heavily on stimulants, including caffeine (a reported 300mg for the three full scoops, although they don’t share this information on their package or site) and taurine. I’m a huge fan of caffeine, don’t get me wrong, but I do believe it should be used with caution and moderation, especially when used with taurine. The two ingredients are two of the main ingredients in Red Bull, and some research has shown that prolonged use of the two combined ingredients may play a part in altering electric heart activity and even causing certain heart arrhythmias.
The main point to take home here is to use with caution; start with a low dose to see how your body responds. We also must remember that some of us respond differently to different substances, so this stack may or may not be for you. I should also mention that although you may still find this product in stores and online, it’s in the process of being discontinued and replaced by SuperPump Max, which I haven’t yet had a chance to try.
N.O.-Xplode by BSN is an incredibly popular pre-workout stack. Its main ingredient, Nitric Oxide, is a very potent vasodilator and therefore allows an increase in localized blood flow during exercise. Increase localized circulation in the active muscles (a.k.a. the “pump” feeling) is much more than just an aesthetic advantage. Remembering that blood is a transporter, the increase in blood flow also increases the muscle’s ability to perform. It also contains numerous other ingredients such as beta-alanine, creatine, electrolytes and more.
It also contains caffeine, taurine, and glucuronolatone (three of the main ingredients in Red Bull), so I recommend its use with caution and moderation, like in the case of Gaspari’s SuperPump. That aside, N.O.-Xplode remains a powerful pre-workout boost to help you go that extra distance. A 50 serving container ranges in between $50-$60 and can be found in most supplement stores.
There are many other efficient pre-workout supplements available on the market, especially for bodybuilding purposes. To name a few, 1MR, Jack’d 3D, and Animal Pak all come to mind. They share quite a few similarities with the two stacks I mentioned in this article. For this reason, I always suggest you evaluate on a case-by-case basis, and if trying these particular stacks, start with low dosages to assess tolerance, before gradually increasing the dosage.
Be smart about what you put in your body, be smart about your supplementation, and realize that the word “supplement” in its very essence and meaning describes an addition of some sort to something already fundamentally there. The bottom line is that if you’re not eating well, training smartly, and sleeping adequately, don’t look for a miracle supplement to give you the gym results you’ve always dreamed of, until you’ve taken care of those fundamental building blocks.
Pre Workout supplements have never been as popular as they are today. As the work schedules for most people have become more hectic, those who love to exercise are finding it difficult to find the extra energy necessary to achieve a great workout after exhausting all of their energy at their respective job. Instead, people are lagging in the gym, going through the motions, or simply going home and hoping they will have more energy tomorrow. Many people try to combat this issue by waking up earlier in the morning to get their exercise completed. However, many of us who have tried an earlier wake-up call know how hard it is to get out of bed, especially if you have the option to hit the snooze button and continue sleeping. Fortunately, as it pertains to the male population, there exists pre workout drinks for men that can provide the boost you need to workout at any time, whether it be in the morning, during the day, or at night.
The Best pre workout Supplement for Men
The best pre-workout supplement on the market today, or at least the one that seems most popular, is 5-hour Energy. The small 5-hour energy bottles are incredibly popular, and seem to be quite efficient. Boasting zero sugar, only four calories, and an energy buzz that will last several hours, many people are downing these tiny drinks that are really not much more than the size of a shot glass. Those who attest to its benefits often state that the pros to the 5-hour energy are its size, meaning they do not feel bloated or full after consumption, like one often does after an Amp, Monster, or even a Red Bull energy drink.
Experts and scientists attribute the energy boost in 5-hour Energy drinks to the extremely high Vitamin B-3, B-6, and B-12 contents. What you are getting is an oversaturated blast of the Vitamin, which includes a several thousand percentage over the recommended daily allowance. The energy blend the bottle contains includes Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Malic Acid, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Phenylalanine, caffeine, and Citicolineall of which are considered energy boosters.
Scientists question whether or not the product is safe for consumption, or even if the company that produces the energy bottle is truthful with its contents description, since the product is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Whatever the case, this has not prevented its millions of dollars of revenue sales, or even professional athletes endorsing the product. The best pre workout supplement for young men can be found on other posts within this site.
Other Supplements and pre workout Drinks for Men
Countless other pre-workout drinks and supplements are available on the market. The drinks usually include similar contents to that of 5-hour Energy, or are high in Creatine, Amino Acids and Whey Protein. The more popular or successful drinks include Red Bull and N.O.-Xplode; while supplements include Hydroxycut. The latter, which was originally advertised as a dietary supplement and issued in pill form, was used for an energy boost due the Ephedrine ingredient.
Hydroxycut soon became one of the most popular products on the market. However, deaths were directly associated to the use of Ephedra, and scientists lobbied to the Food and Drug Administration that the ingredient be banned from all U.S. products. The FDA subsequently outlawed the Sympathomimetic Amine, forcing Hydroxycut and other products carrying the ingredient to halt processing and redistribute their products without it. Today, Hydroxycut still remains a popular pre-workout supplement.
These are merely ideas and examples for you to try to find that competitive advantage when achieving an incredible workout. The best advice would be trial and error, meaning that after you study the more highly rated available products, you should test each one for yourself. Most preworkout supplements come in liquid or drink form, while others are powders that need to be mixed, or even pills to ingest. Once you find the product that works best, you should be able to overcome the fatigue obstacle before exercising.