Five Pre Workout Ingredients That Actually Work

Human Window Staff
By Human Window Staff
Updated on February 18, 2019

If you’re looking to boost your workouts and make the most out of your time in the gym, then using a quality pre workout supplement is definitely a good idea.

The problem these days is that there are so many different products on the market that it can become difficult to choose the best supplement for you.

Many pre workouts use ineffective ingredients at the wrong doses, and some can cause an array of unwanted side effects.

Luckily for you, we’ve done all of the hard work for you by picking out five of the most important and effective ingredients that you should look for in your pre workout supplement.

We’re also going to talk you through the doses you should look for of each ingredient on the label of your supplement of choice.

Here’s what we’re going to focus on in this article:

• Pre Workout Benefits
• Best Pre Workout Ingredients
• Pre Workout Ingredient to Avoid
• Anything Else to Consider?
• Conclusion

So, let’s kick things off by taking a look at just why you’d want to use a pre workout supplement in the first place.

Pre Workout Benefits

You’re looking to get the very most out of your time in the gym.

We all know that the amount of time we get to spend training is limited, so it’s important to make sure that you’re feeling and performing at your best.

We’ve all had those training sessions where, for whatever reason, we don’t feel at our best. You’re physically present at the gym, but it feels as if you’re just going through the motions.

Pre Workout man

A pre workout will get you performing at your best in the gym (Photo: Adobe Stock)

On the other hand, we can all remember those amazing training sessions where we just felt completely on point throughout. You felt that you could lift heavier and go harder.

Well, the whole point of a quality pre workout supplement is to make sure that you’re feeling at your absolute best every time you hit the gym.

Here are the main benefits of taking a quality pre workout supplement:

• Support Your Training – With the right ingredients
• Vitamins and Minerals – To help you on your journey
• Achieve Your Goals – Train harder, get better results
• Increased Motivation – You’ll feel more inclined to hit the gym and train hard

Simply put, a good pre workout will work in multiple ways to get you ready for a session so that you can perform at your best and make your time in the gym count.

But how do you pick the top pre workout supplement when there are so many different products on sale these days all claiming to be the best?

By looking out for these five ingredients, of course!

Best Pre Workout Ingredients

Now it’s time to take a look at some of the best pre workout ingredients you should look for.

We’ve narrowed the list down to the five most important ones. These are nutrients and substances which have substantial scientific evidence behind. In short, they actually do what they’re supposed to.

1) Caffeine

A world famous stimulant used by millions of people every day, a small dose of Caffeine is a great starting point for any pre workout supplement.

Caffeine Pre Workout

Caffeine is a great pre workout ingredient (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Of course, Caffeine is know for its boosting effects and the way it helps millions of people on a daily basis.

But aside from its energy boosting effects, Caffeine has a number of other benefits when taken as a pre workout, including boosted performance during exercise, decreased reaction time, and more.

Our recommended dose of Caffeine is between 150mg and 200mg per serving. That should be enough to give you the boost you need without causing any of the familiar but unwanted side effects such as the jitters or energy crashes.

2) L-Theanine

You may well have heard of L-Theanine lately as it’s been gaining more notoriety as a good pre workout ingredient and more general health supplement.

It’s an amino acid which comes from tea leaves and is known for producing a calming sensation. Scientific studies have shown that L-Theanine can help to relax the mind without producing any drowsiness.

It can help to keep you feeling calm and focused at the same time, which is crucial to getting the most out of your workouts.

As well as inducing a sense of calmness and relaxation, L-Theanine has also been shown in some cases to potentially be able to reduce overall anxiety in humans.

Because of its ability to help keep you feeling completely calm and focused, but energized at the same time, we always recommend choosing a pre workout supplement that contains come L-Theanine.

A good pre workout dose of L-Theanine is around 100mg to 200mg per serving.

The Caffeine and L-Theanine Combo

A quick word on the Caffeine and L-Theanine Combination, which has been becoming a popular supplement stack recently.

It’s sometimes referred to as ‘smart’ Caffeine, because the L-Theanine can help to bring out the best effects of the stimulant while also promoting a feeling of calmness and relaxation at the same time.

A 2008 study showed that people who combined Caffeine and L-Theanine together showed significant improvement in performing cognitively demanding tasks.

Simply put, this combination could help to make sure that you’re performing at your very best mentally while in the gym.

For this reason, we always recommend that you pick a pre workout supplement that combines L-Theanine with Caffeine.

3) Creatine Monohydrate

You probably already know all about Creatine as a post workout supplement, but it’s often overlooked as a pre workout ingredient.

A small dose of Creatine in a pre workout supplement could help to increase your muscle power and endurance.

So it has a number of pre workout benefits, but as we already know, Creatine can also help to improve muscle growth, so supplementing with it before training could also help with that, which is a nice side-benefit.

Our recommended dose of Creatine as a pre workout is around 1000mg, but you could take up to 5000mg, and higher doses are going to be more beneficial for building more muscle.

4) Citrulline Malate

Citrulline Malate is the next pre workout ingredient on our list that we think you should always look for in your supplement of choice.

It’s an amino acid which is extracted from watermelons and it has been shown to have a number of benefits when it comes to boosting your training sessions.


L-Citrulline is an amino acid extracted from watermelons (Photo: Flickr)

Firstly, it’s been shown to potentially help fight fatigue and increase endurance, which are two things you’ll definitely benefit from while training.

Citrulline Malate has also been shown to potentially increase Nitric Oxide levels, which means that your blood vessels can hold more volume. Why is that good? It means that you may experience better muscle pumps, which can lead to a much more satisfying workout.

Look for a dose of at least 5000mg in your pre workout supplement. Many supplements tend to under-do it when it comes to Citrulline.

5) Beetroot Extract

The final ingredient on our list is Beetroot – or Red Beet – extract.

This is one of the least popular ingredients in pre workout supplements, but it’s been linked to improved physical performance.

Beet Extract is a great natural addition to any pre workout supplement.

Our recommended dose of Beetroot Extract in a pre workout is around 250mg to 500mg.

Pre Workout Ingredient to Avoid

Now we’ve talked you through the best ingredients to look for in a pre workout, here are some substances to avoid.

• L-Arginine – L-Arginine an amino acid that is found in meat and seeds, and you can usually get it from your diet.

It’s a common ingredient in lots of pre workout supplements because of its supposed ability to boost Nitric Oxide levels. However, the scientific evidence for this is limited, which is why we recommend Citrulline Malate instead.

Supplementing with L-Arginine could also increase your chances of developing cold sores.

Caffeine Crash

Too much Caffeine can cause energy crashes later in the day (Photo: Adobe Stock)

• Beta Alanine – Another popular pre workout ingredient that is really better avoided.

It’s included in various pre workout supplements because it’s believed to raise muscle carnosine levels, which can help you to perform at your best.

It’s also well known for the ‘tingling’ sensation it brings about when it kicks in. However, this sensation – known as Parasthesia – can be very uncomfortable for some people.

Consuming too much Beta Alanine in a short period of time could also temporarily cause a Taurine deficiency.

Anything Else to Consider?

We do always recommend that you do your own thorough research into your pre workout supplement before taking it for the first time.

You should take a look at the ingredients and doses, as well as the company behind the product, to decide whether it’s the best supplement for you or not.

You should always also pick a supplement without a proprietary blend.

Proprietary blends are one of the biggest scams in the health and fitness industry, as it means that the manufacturers of supplements are able to get away without disclosing the doses of the individual ingredients.

There is really no excuse for a supplement manufacturer not to be completely transparent with their customers when it comes to the formula used.


That brings us to the end of our guide to the best pre workout ingredients that work.

We’ve talked you through the best ingredients that you should be looking for in your pre workout and explained how they work.

And we’ve also pointed out some of the things to avoid when selecting the best supplement for you.