Fitness & Nutrition

The Best Pre-Workout Supplements

By Kyra Heenan

Many of us lead busy lives, and it isn’t always possible to put in hours upon hours at the gym. When we do make time to dedicate ourselves to our workouts, we want to make sure we are optimizing our efforts and getting maximum results. Whether you drink a protein shake or jam to your favorite band before you exercise, you might still be on the lookout for pre-workout supplements to help you improve endurance and promote muscle recovery.

Recreational, college, and professional athletes alike use performance enhancing supplements for their energy boosting and strengthening effects. If you want to perform at the highest level and get the best results from your workouts, these are the best pre-workout supplements to achieve your goals.


Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most well-known sports supplements, as well as one of the most studied. It is found naturally in muscle cells, and helps the muscles produce energy during workout routines—which is vital for optimal performance.

Multiple studies have shown that it can enhance exercise performance, strength, and muscle mass. One study reported that people who took creatine as part of their weight training routine had gains that were about 5-10% higher than those who did not.


Citrulline is also produced naturally in your body. The amino acid is found in foods like watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squashes, but many people choose to take it as a pre-workout in supplement form. Citrulline is known for increasing blood flow to body tissues, which means your muscles will get the necessary nutrients and oxygen needed to perform at their best.

One of the most promising studies of citrulline as a pre-workout supplement found that participants who took it had approximately 53% more upper-body weight repetitions than those who took a placebo.


While CBD is most commonly associated with relaxation, small doses of the cannabinoid can actually promote energy. Larger doses can aid stress relief, better sleep, and an overall sense of calm. Keeping that in mind, you do need to find the right dosage when using CBD as a pre-workout supplement in order to achieve the best results.

CBD has also been found to act as a vasorelaxant, meaning it reduces blood vessel wall tension. And since athletes have taken vasorelaxant supplements in order to increase blood flow, CBD-infused products may be a useful option. CBD also has a good safety profile and few side effects. Studies on the effectiveness of CBD as a pre-workout supplement still need to be done, but these results are promising for athletes looking to maximize their potential.


Beta-alanine is another amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It helps reduce muscle fatigue by fighting against acid build up. While taking it as a supplement has been found to improve exercise performance, it does have its limitations.

Researchers found that beta-alanine can improve performance during moments of intense exercise that last between one and four minutes. It has been studied and found to be beneficial in the context of longer physical routines, but the effects weren’t quite as dramatic as the shorter burst exercises.


Caffeine is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements. The molecule promotes energy and stimulates alertness, making it an effective tool for those looking to put as much energy as possible into their workouts.

Studies have shown it can be beneficial for longer workouts, like running and cycling. It can also improve power output in exercises like weight training. These findings show that caffeine can be a great option for those who are looking to be energized, alert, and powerful for their physical routines.

In addition to supplements, you can get meaningful amounts of caffeine from green tea or a cup of coffee.

So what’s the right pre-workout supplement for you?

Whether you’re looking for fat burners, muscle growth, or improved endurance, there are a number of pre-workout supplements available. It’s important to think about side effects and read clinical studies when available. You can also talk to a healthcare professional about how you may boost energy and build muscle in the safest possible way.

One thing to note: the FDA requires manufacturers to list all of the product’s ingredients on the label, as well as the weight and proportions of each ingredient, except when the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend. This is a collection of ingredients blended together and marketed using a special name the manufacturer has chosen. This is sometimes done to hide an ineffective mix, where there are lower portions of active ingredients.

CBD falls into a slightly different category as one of the newest (and most popular) supplements to hit the market recently. But the FDA has yet to evaluate these products, so they are currently unregulated, which makes it hard to know which product to buy. Seek out reputable companies who are transparent about the contents of their products and take proper safety precautions.

Whether you use substances like Nitric Oxide or Citrulline Malate that naturally occur in the body or a synthetic supplement before an intense workout, you should do research and pay careful attention to what’s on the label.

Incorporating a supplement into your fitness routine could be the difference between bottoming out at your current level of performance and realizing your maximum potential. If you play your cards right, your pre-workout routine may do a lot to improve your post-workout results.

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