What Are The Best Pre-Workouts For Bodybuilders?

Bodybuilding is a much more complex regime than your average workout.

The one-two punch of simply hitting the gym and being more mindful about your diet, while beneficial to a more fit body, is not the route that leads to the results we think of when we hear “bodybuilding”.

So what does one need to do in order the get the gains of such a regime?

One answer that is not found inside the gym is the pre-workout supplement drinks.

Figuring out which, out of the dozens upon dozens of options available, is right for bodybuilders can be confusing and leave one feeling defeated before even beginning their workout journey.

Within this article, the reader will gain an understanding of five specific products as we review their pros, their cons, and the key items and vocabulary one would need to make better-informed decisions for their body.

Below are the top 5... 

What should you be looking for in a quality pre-workout?

Before we get into the decision making about the WHAT of pre-workout supplements, we need to understand the WHY first.

Why should you use a pre-workout supplement to fuel your workout?

Why isn’t just simply pumping iron enough?

The answer is that pre-workout supplements for pump are specifically structured and designed to aid in an increase of focus, energy, and endurance needed to take your workout to the next level.

Natural Ingredients: For those who may be newer to the supplement aisle of your local grocery store, the ingredient list can feel like a foreign language.

Even with familiar ingredients such as caffeine can be confusing when it is found outside of the usual suspects such as soda or coffee.

The more important part of reading the ingredient listing is understanding which ingredients do what for your body and for your workout.

Some are meant to improve performance while others are meant to take your strength, endurance, and power to the next level.

The most common and arguably the most important ingredients to any pre-workout supplement are - caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, citrulline, sodium bicarbonate, BCAAs, and nitrate.

Breaking Down the Ingredients

Caffeine- we are all familiar with the wonder of the molecule found in coffee, tea, soda, and other of our favorite food and beverages.

Caffeine’s effect on us is the stimulation of specific areas of our brain responsible for alertness and aiding to reduce fatigue.

This feeling of sharpness and focus is why caffeine will be found in nearly all pre-workout supplements.

Adding caffeine into the system can amp up multiple points of focus of your workout performance.

Power output, or in layman’s terms your ability to exude force in a quick manner, is a huge area for those focusing on the exercises of cycling, sprinting, and certain weight training.

Along with these quick repetition exercises, caffeine can also aid in longer, endurance activities such as longer forms of running and cycling in addition to on-field games such as soccer and football.

The recommended dosage of caffeine for the goal of aiding a workout performance is approximately 1.4-2.7 mg for every pound of body weight.

(i.e. if you weight 150 lbs, you would take between 200-400 mg of caffeine).

It is important to note that while caffeine is safe within this range of dosage, there is a risk of toxic dosage as well as unpleasant responses depending on your body’s particular response to caffeine.

Mal effects may begin to be felt around 4 mg per pound of ingestion.

This level of intake or the metabolizing of the caffeine amount could result in dizziness, headaches, tremors, sweating, irritability, and vomiting.

caffeine

Beta-alanine- for those who may be new to reading the labels on supplemental products, beta-alanine is one of those ingredients your eyes may gloss over.

This amino acid is key in combating the fatigue a muscle will undoubtedly feel post workout.

When a muscle is broken down during excursions, lactic acid begins to build up.

It is this acid that attributes to the soreness you will feel.

Besides aiding in relieving the lactic acid build up, beta-alanine improves the performance and endurance of the body, especially during intense exercises of short bursts.

For beta-alanine, the recommended dosage for use as a pre workout is about 4-6 grams per day.

While this dosage is safe for consumption, some may experience the side effect of tingling across the skin in some higher doses.

Creatine- a molecule found naturally inside the cells of your body.

Due to its potency in amping up strength, muscle mass, and the overall performance of your workout, creatine is probably the most sought after supplement for a pre workout regime when combined with weight training.

According to various studies, when compared to people not taking creatine as part of their pre workout regime, those who did add it in supplementally were found to have their strength gains increase between 5-10%.

Creatine, as part of the structure and functionality of the cell, is a key component to the energy production inside your cells.

When a cell has sufficient creatine, the body will find enough or more energy during exercise which will then translate to improved performance and overall gains over time.

For those looking for an increase in muscular strength, adding creatine to your pre workout may be a good first step to consider on your journey.

A good dosage to begin with is around 20 grams of creatine per day.

After this phase of high intake, to maintain the creatine levels within the body, a 3-5 grams per day regime is recommended.

Citrulline- This amino acid is produced in the body naturally.

However, when consumed in additional levels, citrulline has the effect of enhancing a workout by increasing the blood flow to your body’s tissues.

This increase in blood provides the muscles worked with the levels of oxygen and proper nutrients they need to perform at their best levels. Citrulline, while aiding the muscles during the workout, also aids in lessening muscle fatigue post workout.

Depending on which type of citrulline you take, L-citrulline or citrulline malate, the dosage recommended can change from 6 grams to 8 grams, respectively.

Even in larger dosages, citrulline has not been found to have any side effects.

Sodium bicarbonate- While this ingredient may seem foreign at first glance, it is simply the scientific name for the common household product of baking soda.

A rather common ingredient in supplements, baking soda can aid in the burning sensation in the muscles felt during the workout from the buildup of lactic acid.

Just like beta-alanine, sodium bicarbonate is a buffering agent that helps combat the buildup of lactic acid.

Sodium bicarbonate has shown to aid in the repetitious activities of cycling, and intense running/sprinting.

Being a more benign ingredient, the recommended dosage for enhancing your workout is around 136 mg for every pound of your weight (i.e. for someone weighing 150 lbs, this would be 20 grams).

A common side effect can be an upset stomach which can be avoided by dividing your intake into smaller, more frequent doses.

baking soda

BCAAs- This initialism stands for “branched-chain amino acids” and are made up of three molecules: valine, leucine, and isoleucine.

These amino acids can be found in animal products and other protein-rich foods.

As protein is essential to muscle building, BCAAs help in that goal.

The BCAA found in protein-rich foods such as meat and eggs and provides all the amino acids your body requires.

A BCAA supplement though adds additional benefits in the areas of overall performance while running as well as limiting the mental and physical fatigue during and post workout.

The proper dosage of BCAAs can range between 5-20 grams.

This large discrepancy is due to the varying levels of the three molecules in various sources.

Nitrate- This molecule can be found in darker vegetables like beetroot, spinach, and turnips.

Nitrate is beneficial to a pre workout supplement due to the fact that it is converted within the body to the molecule nitric oxide which aids in increasing blood flow.

This benefit translates to the ease of oxygen being circulated throughout the body, decreasing fatigue and output - improving endurance.

Dosage levels for nitrate are around 2.7-5.9 mg per pound of your weight. (i.e. for someone weighing 150 lbs should ingest 400-900 mg)

Other Factors To Look Out For

Trusted companies- According to bodybuilding.com, several of the top brands for pre workout supplements are included in this article.

While searching for the right brand for you, it is important to make an informed decision.

This decision should be based off of two criteria: your own research and what you need from your pre workout formula.

Utilizing the experiences of other users is vital in understanding if a product lives up to its hype without having to be your own guinea pig.

Side effects: As discussed in the ingredients section, side effects can occur by taking certain ingredients with or without overdosing.

Any ingredient that increases blood flow or speeds up the heart can give the user a tingling sensation on the skin.

A second common side effect is the insomnia.

Stimulants, such as caffeine, are fairly common in pre workout supplements.

Knowing your body and what you can handle will improve and minimize this risk.

A final common side effect is bowel problems.

Common perpetrators of this unpleasant event are caffeine, sodium bicarbonate, and creatine.

Again, knowing how your body reacts to such products can greatly ease this worry.

Proprietary blends- a proprietary blend is when the ingredient list on the product, rather than listing the entirety of the ingredients in the mixture, will instead list the total amount of ingredients (in grams) and follow it with the list the individual ingredients below without their amounts.

While still informative, proprietary blends may be confusing to navigate for those used to traditional ingredient labels.

The risk of proprietary blends is that it can be used by the maker to avoid having to note that an ingredient is not present in such a dose to be effective.

Most Popular Pre-Workouts Reviewed

Here are the top options broken down into pros and cons... 

#1 Vintage Blast - Good for burning fat while maintaining muscle mass

Product features: promoting weight loss and improving focus and mood.

Type: veggie capsule

Usage: two capsules taken twice a day, with meals.

Origin: California

The quality and type of ingredients allows Vintage Blast to utilize different digestion and absorption rates to provide a continual boost to performance.

Vintage Blast sports a unique feature among pre workout formulas.

It’s two tiered system allows for a continual and effective release of energy for you to put into your workout.

Rather than the burst of energy due to loading stimulants found in other brands, Vintage Blast contains a non-dependent formula.

While not stimulant free, as the product does contain caffeine, Vintage Blast provides support for your workout through its use of micro nutrients and specific electrolytes.

Who is Vintage Blast for?

This product works well for men and is a great pre-workout for women as well - Basically, anyone wishing to take their workout to another level.

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    A two-stage pre workout formula that provides a steady deliverance of power and energy continually throughout your workout
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    Holistic formula that provides key electrolytes and micronutrients, aiding in hydration and the body’s pH levels. 
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    A non-dependent formula
  • Contains caffeine which may lead to feelings of dehydration, sleeplessness, and irritability. 

#2 Legion Pulse - Good for energy, strength and endurance

Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Anhydrous caffeine, Ornithine, and Beta-Alanine

Origin: Made in the U.S.

Legion Pulse offers a product comprised of natural ingredients fully labeled so you know what you’re getting.

Designed to amplify your body and mind’s focus to help you reach your peak workout, Legion Pulse offers a product that will fuel you from start to finish.

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    Not a proprietary blend
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    For those who find that caffeine is beneficial, fatigue and focus are improved
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    The product mixes well and comes out clear
  • Product is a little higher in price compared to its competition
  • Contains 350 mg of caffeine. This amount may affect users who find themselves sensitive to caffeine. 

#3 C4 Original - Best for those looking for muscle growth

c4 original

Ingredients: Creatine, Beta Alanine, Nitric Oxide, Nitrate, TeaCor. 

Origin: Made in the U.S.

C4 Original contains a formula that gives its users the energy, performance, and pump power they’re looking for.

The ingredient list provides what you need for performance, a sustainable release of energy, and the mental performance needed to take your workout where you want it to go. 

By combining different elements of energy components, C4 Original offers the sharp energy needed for bursts as well as the prolonged energy needed for stamina.

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    For those who find that caffeine is beneficial, fatigue and focus are improved
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    C4 Original is specially designed to aid in the specific areas of energy and focus without the crash that some stimulants cause
  • Contains 150 mg of caffeine

#4 Nitro Surge - Great for those looking for an increase in energy

Nitro Surge

Ingredients: L-Citrulline,Beta-Alanine, Betaine Anhydrous, Caffeine Anhydrous, Potassium, Sucralose, Fruit and Vegetable Juice. 

Origin: Made in the U.S.

Nitrosurge contains L-citrulline which helps to promote the body’s nitric oxide levels as well as blood flow to the muscles.

This formula aims to maximize endurance, strength, and energy all around.

Nitro Surge provides users who do not enjoy having creatine with a powerful alternative options. 

Who is Nitro Surge for?

Nitro Surge is made for people who prefer a product without the creatine ingredient in their formulas.

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    Not a proprietary blend 
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    Optimizes performance
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    Burns fat
  • Contains 180 mg of caffeine
  • Does not contain creatine

#5 Jym - Great for those looking to speed up recovery

jym preworkout

Ingredients:Citrulline Malate, BCAAs in the 2:1:1 ratio, Creatine,Beta-Alanine, Betaine, Beet Root, Caffeine. 

Origin: Made in the U.S.

Jym differs from other pre workout formulas in that it gives its users the full doses of each of its 13 ingredients.

This works to support the mental focus, muscular endurance, and strength desired.

The ingredient list provides what you need for performance, a sustainable release of energy, and the mental performance needed to take your workout where you want it to go.

Who is Jym for?

Advanced gym goers. 

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    Not a proprietary blend 
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    Caffeine is the only stimulant. For those who find that caffeine is beneficial, fatigue and focus are improved
  • Contains 300 mg of caffeine

Conclusion

When users know better, they buy better.

After looking at a few of the top items on the market, those wishing for a pre workout that will sustain them in their efforts for a better body will see this choice is Vintage Blast.

Along with being in capsule form, and therefore avoiding the mess and hassle of measuring and pouring, as well as having the two-tiered release system, Vintage Blast offers a better user experience to the average person.

To better your workout while providing your body with key ingredients found in Vintage Blast, its quality speaks for itself.