Fuel Up For Your Workouts with the Best Formulations on the Market
Are you stuck in a workout rut? Do you find it hard to drag yourself to the gym on a regular basis? It doesn’t have to be this way.
This Best Pre-Workout Supplements 2020 guide will help you break down the best products in the pre-workout category. We will size up the formulations which give you the best value in terms of efficiency, cleanliness, and science-backed ingredients. When you rely on a top-notch pre-workout supplement to fire up your engine, your workouts will never be the same.
Quick List: Best Pre-Workout Supplements 2020 Edition
The best pre-workouts feature superior stacking and ingredients which help customers reap the most benefits.
More on these later, but for now here is a quick list of the best pre-workout supplements for 2020:
|#1. Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout – This is one of the most advanced, cleanest, and stim-free pre-workouts on the market whose synergistic design goes a long way. Performance Lab website|
|#2. 4 Gauge – Meet the world’s only shotgun-shell-shaped pre-workout whose smart caffeine formulation will fire up your engine without the unwanted jitters. 4 Gauge website|
|#3. ALTIUS – This is, simply put, a versatile pre-workout which combines great dosing, a smart formulation, and a clean label. ALTIUS website|
|#4. LEGION PULSE – Another well-rounded pre-workout which boasts of an all-natural formula without the dreaded crash LEGION PULSE website|
|#5. Vintage Blast – A Golden-Era-of-Bodybuilding-inspired pre-workout with a powerful two-stage formula which will help you train longer and harder Old School Labs website|
Or, read on to learn about the trends, ingredients, and other features behind the Pre-Workout Supplements.
Pre-Workout Supplement Developments in 2020
As the name implies, pre-workout supplements aim to increase your energy levels, performance, endurance, and focus before a hard training session at the gym. Whether you’re a professional or recreational bodybuilder, pre-workouts help you go the extra mile.
As we usher in another year, expect the pre-workout category in the bodybuilding supplement industry to expand even more. If you thought past years’ pre-workouts were exhaustive and confusing, 2020 promises more challenges for pre-workout junkies the world over. For instance, will you take a pre-workout in capsule, pill, powder, or softgel form?
Whatever the case, we expect clean, stim-free, and smartly-formulated pre-workouts to dominate headlines.
With that in mind, we’re certain you will reap many of the benefits today’s first-rate pre-workout supplements have to offer.
What Pre-Workout Benefits are Customers Looking for in 2020?
If there’s one primary benefit consumers want in a pre-workout supplement, it’s muscle pumps – the feeling when your muscles are engorged with blood while you’re pumping iron. In other words, you’re experiencing vasodilation (the widening of the blood vessels). When that happens, you’ll see your muscles’ veins pop out in the mirror. Simply put, it’s an adrenaline rush like no other.
When you’re looking for a pre-workout supplement, try one with nitric oxide boosters such as l-citrulline (l-arginine is also okay, although it only kicks in for a short while and has poor absorption properties). Increased nitric oxide (which bodybuilding enthusiasts simply call “N.O.”) levels in the body has several crucial fitness benefits:
- Healthier circulation
- Better blood pressure levels, and consequently, cardiovascular function
- Improved nutrient uptake and exercise performance
- Decreased muscle soreness
- Facilitate the elimination of waste products such as lactic acid
The trend of including nitric oxide boosters in pre-workout supplements continues in 2020. Whether you’re a regular joe who wants to become vascular or a bodybuilder who wants to step up his game at the gym, there are plenty of pre-workouts which will help increase your muscle pumps.
Lethargy is one of the main impediments to your progress. Even if you eat right, supplement smart, and get enough sleep, a consistent lack of energy can get in the way of your fitness and bodybuilding goals. Surely, you can stop that trend in 2020 and beyond.
Long story short, increased energy levels translate to better performance at the gym. Caffeine reigns supreme as the most popular stimulant. While it does have benefits (increased exercise performance, protection against free radicals, etc.), overconsumption may result in some side effects. Unfortunately, these don’t sit well with everybody.
The good news: some of our top-rated pre-workout supplements are stimulant-free.
The demand for stim-free pre-workouts continues to rise. This comes as no surprise: people want efficient workouts with the dreaded spike-crash effect, jitters, nervousness, palpitations, and sleeplessness. Long story short, the fewer stimulants your pre-workout has, the better. If you want a stimulant or two in your pre-workout formula, proceed with caution.
If you want to build muscle mass, it’s imperative you increase your strength levels. When that happens, you not only build muscle mass, but you also strengthen your bones. More strength also means you can conquer the toughest workouts imaginable. Pre-workout supplements can help you achieve those goals.
In 2020, pre-workout supplement manufacturers aim to increase consumers’ strength via pathways such as muscle hydration and cellular energy, among other things.
Pre-workout supplements continue to evolve every year. It comes as no surprise more pre-workouts include nootropic components which fire your mind up. These ingredients help sharpen your focus and increase your motivation on days when your mind is not up to it.
In other words, the best pre-workout supplements cover all of the bases – they jack you up physically and mentally. You can conquer your workouts day in and day out.
When pre-workouts improve your mental prowess and increase your strength levels and stamina, they can also help you ramp up muscle growth. In fact, some of today’s pre-workouts include creatine, a sure-fire way of increasing your muscle mass in conjunction with regular strength training, sound nutrition, and enough sleep.
As we usher in 2020 you can find a heap of pre-workout supplements which can help you grow muscle and achieve your fitness goals. Try stacking a quality pre-workout with a protein powder to help you keep catabolism (muscle breakdown) at bay.
If you want to get the most of your workouts, you need to go the full distance. The best pre-workout supplements help keep you going. No matter how tough your training sessions are, they can help you crank out more reps at the gym.
Today’s fitness programs such as CrossFit, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), spinning classes, and BODYPUMP require maximum stamina. The pre-workouts help you increase aerobic capacity and endurance.
Case in point: our Best 5 Pre-Workout Supplements for Runners. They contain key ingredients such as caffeine, beta-alanine, l-theanine, BCAAs, vitamin C, and coconut water which should help you go the extra mile.
Today’s first-rate pre-workout supplement contain some of these components to help ramp up your stamina for more efficient workouts.
One cannot underestimate the importance of hydration during a tough workout. In fact, the March-April 2010 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training (via NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov) says, “In laboratory settings, when athletes perform intense aerobic exercise in the heat and become hypohydrated to a level of two percent body mass or greater, or when they start to exercise at this level, physiologic strain increases predictably and performance decreases.”
With this in mind, the best pre-workout supplements include hydration factors such as coconut water and vitamin E. When your go-to pre-workout has these, you’re sure to get the most out of your training sessions.
Pre-Workout Ingredients to Look for in 2020
Rhodiola rosea is a popular herbal nootropic ingredient and adaptogen. Customers swear by its ability to keep mental and physical stress in check. In addition, it helps increase testosterone and energy levels.
Russian Olympic athletes previously used Rhodiola rosea as an ergogenic aid. They set the tone for its inclusion in contemporary pre-workout supplements.
Animal studies suggest Rhodiola rosea helps resynthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the mitochondria for increased energy levels and exercise endurance. When you take it as a pre-workout ingredient (especially with Ginkgo biloba), it helps ward off mental and physical fatigue.
Beetroot comes from the root of the plant Beta vulgaris. While it contains an impressive amount of fiber, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A, beetroot is an excellent source of nitrate. Experts have linked nitrate consumption with improved exercise performance.
The key here is nitrate’s conversion to nitric oxide (N.O.) which helps keep low oxygen levels during aerobic exercise at bay. It bears repeating: N.O. helps increase blood flow, regulate blood pressure levels, ward off muscle soreness, facilitate the elimination of waste products, and increase muscle pumps. Beetroot can do these for you, and then some.
Pine Bark Extract
Pine bark extract comes from the French pine tree Pinus pinaster. It is a powerful antioxidant teeming with proanthocyanidin compounds (OPCs). In fact, experts consider pine bark extract more powerful than vitamins C and E in this regard. On that note, the former helps protect muscle tissues and blood vessels.
Moreover, pine bark extract helps ramp up nitric oxide (N.O.) levels for increased muscle pumps and blood flow. Pine bark extract also helps enhance cognitive function and keep inflammation at bay. These are impressive benefits, to say the least. Supplementing with a pre-workout which features pine bark extract should go a long way.
Himalayan Pink Salt
If you want a pre-workout ingredient which helps take hydration to the next level, it’s Himalayan pink salt. To start things off, it has an incredible 84 trace minerals (the same ones you find in many sports drinks) without the fillers and other shady ingredients. Long story short, it’s clean hydration at its best.
Himalayan pink salt also has other important health benefits:
- Detoxifies the body
- Wards off muscle cramps
- Regulates blood sugar and blood pressure levels
- Supports hormone balance
- Improves sleep quality
- Keeps allergies at bay
- Supports thyroid function and weight loss
Carnosine is a dipeptide molecule present in the brain and muscles. It’s a combination of beta-alanine and histidine. Carnosine helps reduce the acidity which your body accumulates during intense exercise. In short, it acts as an intracellular pH buffer. When that happens, your exercise capacity increases.
Bodybuilders also love carnosine because it helps energize their muscles. Its ability to strengthen fast-twitch muscle fibers helps them power through intense workouts.
Carnosine’s other health benefits include improved cognitive function, delayed aging, and stronger bones.
If you want to maximize your workouts, beta-alanine is the answer. This is a naturally-occurring beta amino acid which helps increase muscle carnosine levels. This, in turn, helps keep muscular fatigue at bay and increase work capacity. You will work out longer and harder when you supplement with beta-alanine.
Experts believe beta-alanine’s exercise benefits stem from its ability to keep lactic acid buildup in check. If you’re into resistance or anaerobic training, you will benefit greatly from this amino acid.
- CarnoSyn® is the most popular and efficient branded form of beta-alanine on the market today. No other patented form comes close. If you’re keen on buying a pre-workout with beta-alanine, make sure to get one with the CarnoSyn® brand.
Cordyceps pertains to a type of parasitic fungi. Despite many contemporary studies on its benefits involve animal subjects, the results remain promising.
Cordyceps can increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels – the molecule which plays a key role in energy production. This bodes well for individuals who exercise vigorously. Using rats as animal subjects, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology’s June 2011 issue (via ResearchGate.net) concluded, “CS (Cordyceps sinensis) supplementation with or without exercise improves exercise endurance capacity by activating the skeletal muscle metabolic regulators and a coordinated antioxidant response.”
Cordyceps also has other health benefits:
- Improves heart health
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Wards off free radicals
- Slows down the aging process
L-glutamine is the body’s most abundant amino acid. Roughly 90 percent is present in muscle tissue. For some, it’s a bit surprising to see l-glutamine as a pre-workout supplement. Many bodybuilding enthusiasts consider it better for post-workout purposes because of its ability to preserve muscle. Plus, l-glutamine can also increase human growth hormone (HGH) levels.
It doesn’t stop there. L-glutamine also has other vital benefits:
- Boosts gastrointestinal health
- Enhances cognitive function
- Improves athletic performance
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Increases fat burning
With these in mind, l-glutamine’s benefits fit well with this year’s trend of healthy anabolism. It’s not in every pre-workout supplement, but you if it’s in yours, consider it a huge bonus.
L-citrulline is arguably the biggest pre-workout superstar of recent memory. The reason: this amino acid and l-arginine precursor is the best vasodilator on the market today.
Simply put, l-citrulline is an excellent vasodilator – it helps dilate and widen blood vessels for increased blood flow to your muscles during your workouts. This results in the incredible muscle pumps we discussed earlier. There’s no feeling like it.
Aside from improving nutrient uptake and regulating blood pressure levels, l-citrulline also assists in terms of muscular power, exercise endurance, and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). It also helps keep muscular discomfort at bay after a hard workout.
L-citrulline gets the nod over l-arginine because of the latter’s poor absorption prowess. When you’re on the market for a top-notch pre-workout, make sure it has l-citrulline.
Many fitness enthusiasts take creatine before a workout to increase muscular power, stamina, and energy (creatine plays a key role in forming ATP). Let’s not forget creatine is also a proven lean muscle builder. It’s a time-tested bodybuilding supplement ingredient which helps take your training sessions to the next level and beyond.
In 2020, you’ll find many pre-workout supplements which feature various forms of creatine. Try steering clear of plain creatine because it may result in bloating and other harsh side effects.
- Creatine monohydrate (a combination of one creatine molecule and water molecule) is the cheapest and best form of creatine on the market. Most scientific studies on this component involve this form. Ergo, most of creatine’s fitness benefits pertain to creatine monohydrate. While some naysayers say creatine monohydrate has sub-par bioavailability (with creatine hydrochloride getting the nod), other forms don’t have a stellar track record involving human subjects.
We said it before, we’ll say it again: caffeine is arguably the most popular stimulant around. According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s official website, “Recent, well-controlled studies have established that moderate doses of caffeine ingested one hour prior to exercise enhance the performance of certain types of endurance exercise in the laboratory.”
Caffeine isn’t just about exercise performance. It can do many things for your health:
- Boosts memory
- Improves liver function
- Keeps free radicals, inflammation, and cataracts at bay
- Wards off post-workout muscular discomfort
- Increases fat loss
How Best 5 Supplements Rates and Ranks the Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2020
For general information on purchasing high-quality supplements, please check out the Best 5 How to Buy a Good Supplement guide. In terms of the Best 5 Supplements in particular, here are the criteria we used in our ratings:
- Combinations: Pre-workouts which rely on smart stacking strategies usually produce the best possible results.
- Healthy: Clean pre-workout supplements don’t compromise the long-term health of consumers.
- Quality: The best pre-workouts on the market use premium (even branded or patented) ingredients to deliver superior quality.
- Research: Products which rely heavily on science-backed ingredients and dosages get the nod from us.
- Service: Great manufacturers go the extra mile in terms of customer service (returns policy, money-back guarantee, fast shipping, etc.).
- Value: The best pre-workout formulations give customers a fast return on their long-term investment.
- Cleanliness: We give precedence to pre-workouts which have no fillers, artificial food colorings, and harsh “other ingredients.”
In this Best Pre-Workout Supplements guide, we also take into account which companies have a strong online presence and good reputation. These companies are more likely to stand behind their products.
Best Pre-Workout Supplements 2020 Guide
#1: Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout
Our top-ranked pre-workout features a clean, stim-free formulation which produces a plethora of benefits. Expect to grow muscle mass, increase endurance, hydration, and muscle pumps; and ramp up endurance.
Not only that, but Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout has several patented ingredients (Creapure® pH10, Cordyceps Super™, Ajinomoto®, and Plantcaps®) which should exceed your expectations. While many pre-workouts are in powder form, this one comes in Plantcaps® pullulan capsules for maximum bioavailability and better long-term results. We’re certain you will get the most out of your workouts.
Performance Lab SPORT Summary
|Ingredients: Creatine (Creapure® pH10) 1000 mg, Cordyceps Super™ (50% Polysaccharides, 15% 1,3-1,6 Beta Glucan, 5% alpha glucan) 750 mg, L-Citrulline 500 mg, L-Glutamine (Ajinomoto®) 250 mg, L-Carnosine 300 mg, Himalayan Pink Salt 350 mg, Maritime Pine Bark (95% proanthocyanidins) 100 mg|
|Clean Label: Yes. We daresay Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout is clean as a whistle.|
|Advanced Delivery: Yes. This is a rare pre-workout which uses Plantcaps® pullulan capsules for excellent bioavailability. These capsules also have prebiotics for improved gastrointestinal function.|
|Stimulant-Free: Yes. Instead of stimulants, Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout relies on non-stimulatory pathways to get you going.|
|Price: $45 for one box (120 capsules; 30 servings)|
|Any Deals? Yes. You can buy two boxes for $85.50 (five percent savings) and $121.50 for three boxes (10 percent savings)|
|Service: The company offers 24/7 customer service and a 30-day money-back guarantee. They normally reply within 30 minutes.|
|Official Website: www.performancelab.com|
|Read our in-depth Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout review|
#2: 4 Gauge
4 Gauge is the world’s only shotgun-shell-shaped pre-workout which harnesses the powers of Rhodiola rosea, creatine, l-citrulline, acetyl l-carnitine, coconut water powder, and beetroot. It’s a comprehensive and clean pre-workout formula. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Don’t worry about the dreaded jitters and spike-crash effect: 4 Gauge features a smart caffeine formulation (caffeine and l-theanine). This ensures you make it through your workouts without any side effects.
Wonder no more why 4 Gauge takes on the shape of shotgun shell. This is one pre-workout which will blow you away.
4 Gauge Summary
|Ingredients: L-citrulline DL malate 6000 mg, Creatine Monohydrate 1000 mg, Acetyl l-Carnitine 500 mg, Red Beet Root Extract 300 mg, Coconut Water Powder 300 mg, L-Theanine 200 mg, Caffeine Anhydrous 150 mg, Rhodiola rosea Powder 100 mg|
|Clean Label: Yes. 4 Gauge boasts of a clean ingredient profile.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. The manufacturer uses regular pre-workout powder.|
|Stimulant-Free: No. 4 Gauge has 150 mg of caffeine anhydrous.|
|Price: $45 for a 280-gram shell (20 servings)|
|Any Deals? Yes. You can buy two shells for $90 and three shells for $135 with free shipping to the U.S. and U.K.|
|Service: Online customer service inquiry form and returns policy|
|Official Website: www.4gauge.com|
|Read our in-depth 4 Gauge review|
We dubbed Jack Factory’s ALTIUS “The No-B.S. Pre-Workout” – and with good reason. Eight grams of citrulline malate is just the tip of the iceberg. ALTIUS also includes powerhouse pre-workout components beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous, and alpha-GPC.
If those weren’t enough, the manufacturer uses stevia (a natural sweetener which helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels) and beetroot powder. Finally, it also relies on BioPerine® black pepper fruit extract for improved nutrient absorption.
Long story short, ALTIUS is a comprehensive and clean pre-workout which is worthy of a spot in your bodybuilding supplement stack.
|Ingredients: Vitamin B12 500 mcg, L-Citrulline Malate 2:1 8000 mg, Beta-Alanine 3200 mg, Creatine Monohydrate 3000 mg, Betaine Anhydrous 2500 mg, Caffeine Anhydrous 325 mg, Alpha-GPC (Alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine) 150 mg, BioPerine 5 mg|
|Clean Label: Yes. ALTIUS gives you clinically-dosed and clean ingredients.|
|Advanced Delivery: Yes. The inclusion of 5 mg of BioPerine® per serving ensures you absorb the nutrients fully,|
|Stimulant-Free: No. ALTIUS contains 325 mg of caffeine anhydrous per serving.|
|Price: $35.99 for a 406.6-gram container (20 servings)|
|Any Deals? Yes. When you subscribe to the company’s messenger list, you get a 10 percent discount on your next order.|
|Service: Online customer service inquiry form|
|Official Website: https://shop.jackedfactory.com/products/altius|
|Read our in-depth ALTIUS review|
#4: LEGION PULSE
LEGION PULSE displaces the likes of Ghost Legend and Beyond Raw LIT from our Best Pre-Workout Supplements for several reasons. First off, it’s one of the best pre-workouts for bodybuilders and for vascularity – it has l-citrulline dl malate, beta-alanine, and betaine anhydrous.
Second, it boasts of a clean ingredient profile (something many pre-workouts don’t have). You won’t find any shady artificial food colorings, dyes, and fillers here. Instead, you’ll find natural components such as beetroot and stevia. What’s not to love?
Lastly, a 24.88-gram serving is one of the biggest among pre-workouts. While it takes two scoops to consume this much, it’s still huge.
Even though LEGION PULSE has been on the market for several years now, we expect it to make waves in and beyond.
LEGION PULSE Summary
|Ingredients: L-Citrulline DL Malate 8 g, Beta-Alanine 4.8 g, Betaine Anhydrous 2.5 g, L-Ornithine HCL 2.2 g, Caffeine Anhydrous 350 mg, L-Theanine 350 mg|
|Clean Label: Yes. LEGION PULSE contains no fillers and other shady ingredients.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. The manufacturer utilizes regular pre-workout powder.|
|Stimulant-Free: No. Contains 350 mg caffeine anhydrous (also available in stim-free version)|
|Price: $40 for a 21-serving container|
|Any Deals? Yes. Buy five products for a 10 percent bundle discount.|
|Service: 100 percent money-back guarantee, free worldwide shipping, and customer service hotline|
|Official Website: https://legionathletics.com/products/supplements/pulse|
|Read our in-depth LEGION PULSE review|
#5: Vintage Blast
Take a hint from Old School Labs’ name: the company employs an old-school approach. It believes the lifestyle of the Golden Era of Bodybuilding legends is something today’s fitness enthusiasts should emulate.
OSL’s signature pre-workout is Vintage Blast – the so-called “World’s First Two-Stage Pre-Workout.” According to the company’s official website, this “ensures a steadier delivery rate, which works against dependency, and helps you power through your workouts and competitive events – from start to finish.”
In a nutshell, Vintage Blast is a clean and stim-free formulation which allows you to work out longer and harder the way Arnold & Co. did it back in the day. It’s worth every penny, to say the least.
Vintage Blast Summary
|Ingredients: L-Citrulline Malate 5000 mg, Beta-Alanine 1000 mg, L-Arginine AKG 1000 mg, L-Carnitine Tartrate 250 mg, Caffeine Anhydrous 150 mg, D-Aspartic Acid 2000 mg, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine 250 mg, Micro Encapsulated Caffeine 100 mg|
|Clean Label: Yes. Vintage Blast boasts of a clean ingredient profile.|
|Advanced Delivery: No. The manufacturer relies on regular pre-workout powder.|
|Stimulant-Free: No. Contains 150 mg caffeine anhydrous|
|Price: $39.99 for a 306-gram (20-serving) container|
|Any Deals? Yes. OSL offers bundle discounts of 15 percent for any three products and 20 percent for any five products you purchase. The company also offers student and military discounts.|
|Service: Online customer service inquiry form, 100 percent money-back guarantee, hassle-free returns policy|
|Official Website: www.OldSchoolLabs.com|
|Read our in-depth Vintage Blast review|
Conclusion on the Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2020
Like we said, pre-workout supplements continue to evolve. You can choose from many clean, stim-free, and science-backed pre-workouts on the market. Sadly, there are many competitors who resort to shady practices (proprietary blends, dirty ingredients, etc.). Nonetheless, our Best Pre-Workout Supplements of 2020 feature the cream of the crop in this bodybuilding supplement category.
Any of these five first-rate pre-workouts can help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your quality of life. Make sure to check out our full reviews so you can size up other supplements worthy of your consideration.