If you’ve been in gyms or around fitness enthusiasts, you’ve most likely heard of pre-workout supplements. If you’ve been wondering if they are truly beneficial and improve performance, this is definitely something you need to read from beginning to end.
According to the experts, a pre-workout supplement- or pre-workout- can give users a bigger boost because they typically include amino acids, caffeine, and b-vitamins, which help you undergo a longer, more intense workout. Typically, they are sold as powders, which can be combined with water or your favorite shake or smoothie to give you the boost you need prior to a workout session.
There has been a lot of research on these supplements and the results agree that pre-workouts are effective for improving athletic performance in women. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all are created equal. There are some that contain ingredients that are not helpful. This is why it’s critical to pay close attention to the product label and to make sure that you do your own research before you choose a product to use on a regular basis.
The market for pre-workouts is flooded with a variety of products. The manufacturers all claim that their product is the best and some of them make exaggerated claims about what you can do when you use their formula. Since there are so many options and they all claim to be the best, it can be quite difficult to choose one.
That is why we are here. We want to show you how you can tell the difference between a quality supplement versus one that isn’t. We have included nine pre-workout supplements on our list below and they are all top-notch. You can’t go wrong by choosing one of these.
How Do You Choose the Best One?
As we mentioned, the market is flooded with options when it comes to pre-workout supplements- so how do you choose the best one? There are several things that you should consider when choosing your pre-workout supplement. First of all, any supplement you choose needs to be verified by a third party organization such as NSF International or Informed Choice. Both of these are in the business of validating and confirming ingredients in dietary supplements, as well as some of the claims made by the manufacturers.
When you see the seal of approval from either of these organizations on a product, you can be sure that you can trust it to have exactly the ingredients that are stated on the label. If the seal is not on the label of a product you are interested in, try to verify if it was manufactured in a cGMP facility. If so, then the manufacturer has met some pretty strict standards from the FDA.
Something else you’ll want to investigate when you are considering a supplement is the ingredients on the label. Some of the best ingredients you’ll find in a pre-workout include:
If you are considering a pre-workout that does not have any of these as primary ingredients, it’s best if you just keep looking. A supplement without most, if not all, of these is not going to be effective.
Another great thing about the above ingredients is that they are free from sugars and only contain small amounts of carbs. Therefore, they are ideal for anyone who is on a keto or other type of low carb diet.
Of course, you’ll also want to verify that the manufacturer has not gone through any lawsuits or had trouble with the FDA. As long as the product meets these criteria, it will basically come down to whether or not it tastes good.
9 Best Pre-Workouts for Women
As we’ve mentioned, there are lots of options, it can be hard to narrow it down. That is what we are here for. Below, we’ll be taking a closer look at the top 9 best pre-workouts for women:
- XWERKS Ignite
- Onnit Total Strength Performance
- Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout
- Pre Lab Pro
- Alani Nu Pre-Workout
- Powher Pre-Workout
- Cellucor Pre-Workout Powder
- IdealFit IdealLean Pre-Workout
- Ladder Pre-Workout
XWERKS Ignite is one of the top pre-workout supplements on the market. The primary goal of this pre-workout is to optimize performance. This formula is made with ingredients that are believed to increase energy and stamina, as well as improve focus. This means your workouts can be longer and more intense.
XWERKS is not like many of the other manufacturers. This company does not like the idea of using “proprietary blends” in their products. They believe in making sure that you know exactly what is in their products and how much.
Each ingredient in this pre-workout has been chosen for its effectiveness in making sure that you get the most from your routine and it’s intended to provide you with long lasting energy instead of flooding your body with stimulants for a surge of energy followed by a crash. This is what makes it such an ideal pre-workout for women. Additionally, there are some ingredients that contribute to the nootropic effects. The most important ingredients in XWERKS Ignite include:
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Vitamin B6 & B12
- CarnoSyn beta-alanine
With XWERKS Ignite, you can be sure that your energy will last throughout your entire workout and the brain-boosting ingredients will keep you focused. This supplement also promises to increase endurance, which means you can workout longer and your recovery will be faster than ever before.
Onnit Total Strength + Performance
Onnit is becoming more popular and has recently become a household name among workout enthusiasts. Onnit is now becoming known for bringing high-quality products to the market that support health/wellness from various aspects. Onnit Total Strength + Performance is one of the best options on the market today when it comes to pre-workouts.
This product is only available in strawberry lemonade flavor- so if that’s not something that you like, you may wish to find a different option (which, as we mentioned, there are plenty). On the other hand, if you do like strawberry lemonade, you can be sure that this product will effectively improve your workout performance.
Onnit Total Strength + Performance contains no caffeine- but it does contain strong doses of:
- Plant extracts
- Herbal extracts
In addition, there are other ingredients that are included for their proven ability to enhance your workout. This product has achieved a top spot time and time again in the world of pre-workouts and is perfect for those who enjoy a large serving size with powerful benefits and certified ingredients.
Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout
Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout not only boosts your workout by increasing energy, strength, and endurance, it also targets your concentration and mood. This pre-workout is made from certified natural ingredients and promises to reduce fatigue during and following your workout. This means that you can workout harder and longer.
Each serving provides users with the following:
- 8 grams citrulline malate
- 6 grams beta-alanine
Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout comes in a blueberry lemonade flavor and is available in both caffeinated and caffeine free formulas. If you want a natural pre-workout, this is definitely one of your best options.
The caffeinated formula offers up to 350 milligrams of caffeine in a 15 gram scoop. The caffeine free version has a natural stimulant instead.
Pre Lab Pro
Pre Lab Pro offers support for your workouts in several ways. Plus, the flavor is natural berry, so it’s very appealing. The manufacturer has formulated this product to improve stamina and strength for everyone- especially women. Additionally, it promises to improve endurance and increase speed. Plus, users will find this supplement to be helpful for maintaining energy and strength during recovery.
Some of the ingredients in Pre Lab Pro are nootropics, as well as ingredients that support homeostasis. Due to the desirable ingredients and dosages and the fact that they are certified by industry professionals, this pre-workout is popular with athletes and workout enthusiasts.
A few of the ingredients in Pre Lab Pro are:
- Beetroot powder
- Setria-performance blend
- Natural caffeine
Since all of these ingredients are certified, you can be sure that they are pure and will have a positive effect on your body.
Alani Nu Pre-Workout
Alani Nu is a highly rated pre-workout that offers a wide range of flavors compared to the others on the list. This supplement contains a high level of L-theanine, along with a few other ingredients that help to manage the typical post-workout crash and controls jitters that many athletes feel after using a pre-workout. There are fewer ingredients in this formula- but there are high amounts of each.
Each serving provides the following:
- 6 grams beta-alanine
- 500 milligrams L-tyrosine
- 200 milligrams caffeine
- 200 milligrams L-theanine
- 6 grams citrulline
Alani Nu contains no fillers. Users who tried this and voiced their opinion gave 5 stars most of the time. This is definitely a pre-workout that you should consider.
While it’s true that women can benefit from most of the pre-workouts on the market, Powher Pre-Workout is specifically formulated for females. The primary advantage of this one is that it contains unique ingredients such as EnXtra, which is a caffeine booster sourced from a plant that is part of the ginger family. This additive improves upon the effects of caffeine. Therefore, if you like the energy boost you get from caffeine, EnXtra makes it that much better. This pre-workout also contains Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.
Finally, the other thing that makes this unique is that the dosages/scoops are smaller than other pre-workouts. If you prefer to use smaller doses, this may be a great option for you.
Cellucor Pre-Workout Powder
Cellucor is one of the first fitness supplement manufacturers on the market more than a decade ago and the fact that they are still around should prove their popularity and their effectiveness. It’s been mass-produced for several years and is typically one of the first to come to mind when thinking about pre-workouts.
This pre-workout supplement contains the following:
- 6 grams CarnoSyn beta-alanine
- 1 gram creatine
- 150 milligrams caffeine
- 1 gram arginine
Therefore, you get at least 4 clinically proven ingredients in ideal doses. This means that you can maximize your workout session from a variety of angles.
This is one of the most well-known and reputable supplements on the market today. The real selling point is that it’s proven and effective- and not expensive.
IdealFit IdealLean Pre-Workout
IdealFit IdealLean Pre-Workout is another pre-workout that is specifically formulated for women and their needs. This comes in a blue raspberry flavor. Each serving contains the following:
- 3000 milligrams citrulline
- 1500 milligrams betaine
- 1500 milligrams beta-alanine
- 310 milligrams weight loss blend
- 150 milligrams of caffeine
In addition, IdealFit IdealLean Pre-Workout contains a blend of ingredients that will supercharge your workouts. Since this product has higher doses, it appeals to elite female athletes that want to level up their workouts.
One of the reasons that Ladder is so attractive is because it was founded by sports legends, LeBron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger. These two were disappointed with the products that were on the market, so they got together and created their own pre-workout, which they claim is the ultimate workout supplement on the market.
Ladder Pre-Workout comes in unique flavors such as tropical fruit and strawberry lemonade. This formula includes high quality ingredients that have proven to boost workout sessions. These ingredients include:
- 250 milligrams theanine
- 3 grams beta-alanine
- 100 milligrams caffeine
- 500 milligrams citicoline
If certifications are important for you, it’s important to note that this supplement is certified by NSF. This is a big deal for professional athletes that only want to use the best quality supplements. Each batch goes through thorough testing to ensure quality, potency, and purity. Therefore, you can be confident that you can trust this supplement.
Who Should Use Pre-Workouts?
Pre-workouts are ideal for anyone that wants to get more out of their workouts- whether that means doing more within the typical time or making them last longer. Many people assume that you need to be a bodybuilder or elite athlete to use a pre-workout, but that’s not the case. Anyone can benefit from these supplements.
These supplements are proven to boost endurance, enhance muscle development, reduce fatigue, give you energy, and even facilitate a quicker recovery following an intense workout. Since it’s so effective in a variety of areas, it works just as well for those who are considered “weekend warriors” as it does for those who work out on a daily basis.
People who participate in sports that require a lot of energy and endurance such as running, jogging, bicycling, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, and others appreciate the benefits of a pre-workout. Basically, absolutely anyone that wants to workout longer, harder, and increase the effectiveness of their workout should be using a pre-workout.
Are Pre-Workouts Backed by Science?
Yes, there is lots of research that has proven pre-workouts have a significant impact on your athletic performance in all types of workouts. Many studies have shown that pre-workouts not only improve physical performance, but they also improve mental performance as well. The purported benefits have been proven many times over in both placebo-controlled clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies.
One study in particular in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that pre-workouts are an effective ergogenic aid for anyone that regularly participates in a workout. The researchers who performed this study came to the conclusion that pre-workouts are ideal for improving performance in the gym, on the field, or even at home.
Many other studies have validated the purported cognitive benefits of pre-workouts. Many of the products on the market today include caffeine that has been proven to be a cognitive booster. In fact, one recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease proved that caffeine could enhance concentration, arousal, and mood- which seem to help athletes focus better on their workouts.
Yet another study indicated that caffeine also has some physical benefits, including enhancing performance of a workout and allowing users to extend their workout much longer before fatigue starts to set in. This results in workouts being more challenging, which means conditioning is much better for the athlete.
It’s also important to note that caffeine has also been proven to facilitate weight loss. One study that looked at this particular aspect showed that caffeine boosts energy levels by 11%, which means that cardio workouts are improved. In almost all cases, those who used supplements containing caffeine were able to improve their weight loss results, and easily burn fat.
Another ingredient commonly found in pre-workouts is l-citrulline, which has been shown to improve bench preps by 53%. Another study indicated that cyclists were able to pedal up to 12% longer before becoming fatigued after using a supplement that contained this ingredient.
As mentioned, creatine is also commonly found in pre-workouts and since it’s proven to improve athletic performance, all athletes- whether professional or amateur- seek this ingredient. Creatine encourages the body to produce more muscle cells when the user is doing strength training or HIIT workouts in general.
There are several other common ingredients that are backed by science as being effective in pre-workouts. These include:
- CDP Choline
Additionally, experts in the industry believe that the best ingredients for a pre-workout are natural ones, which is why beetroot extract is often included. Beetroot extract is known to increase nitric oxide, which is responsible for dilating blood vessels. When blood vessels are dilated, blood is able to circulate through your veins easier, which lowers blood pressure. While it’s true that nitric oxide is naturally in your body, beetroot extract can dramatically increase production.
There have been many studies that have shown that consuming beetroot extract leads to lowered blood pressure. Other studies have indicated that beetroot extract significantly improves performance and endurance. Another popular natural ingredient is yohimbine, which has been used for a long time to boost energy levels and increase circulation.
One study indicated that yohimbine contributes to fat loss, which is the primary reason that many fat-burning supplements, dietary aids, and pre-workouts include this as a primary ingredient. As a general rule, many top-rated pre-workouts include natural ingredients, which facilitate weight loss while increasing endurance and building muscle.
No matter why you decide that you want to use a pre-workout supplement, its easy to see that the most common ingredients are known for boosting performance and facilitating weight loss.
Side Effects Associated with Pre-Workouts
As with anything else, along with the benefits come some undesirable side effects, especially for those who have a low tolerance for stimulants, including caffeine. That being said, most adults experience few, if any, side effects when they take the supplement as directed by the manufacturer.
However, if you take more than recommended, your risk of experiencing side effects is increased. Of course, the same is true when you choose products that are from non-reputable companies or products that have no certification. Some of the side effects, though rare, include:
- Digestive issues
- Increased tolerance to the supplement
In very rare cases, pre-workouts have been known to cause kidney failure and/or liver damage- especially when excessive amounts are used. Again, keep in mind that these side effects are very rare, and chances are that you will not experience any side effects when using pre-workouts.
Some of the ingredients in pre-workouts are much more likely to induce side effects, including caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, magnesium, and sodium bicarbonate. If you are allergic to any of these, you can expect to have some reaction- though, if you are aware of the allergy, you probably will not be using products with these ingredients to begin with.
L-arginine, when consumed in large quantities, has been shown to result in gastrointestinal issues. Most of the supplements on our list contain no more than 6 grams, which is safe for most people. When you take a larger dose, you may experience bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
It all comes down to this: most people won’t experience side effects- unless they consume more than the recommended dose.
General Recommendations for Dosages
Most of the manufacturers recommend that a single serving of their supplement be consumed 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to working out. However, if you are just getting started, you may wish to start with a half-serving and work your way up to a full serving. You should take this approach if you are not used to caffeine. Then, pay close attention to the effect that the caffeine has on you before making adjustments to your dosage. You must be aware of what it will do to your body before you consume more.
One report published by Food and Chemical Toxicology recommends that adults limit caffeine consumption to approximately 400 milligrams per day. Most of the supplements have this much already, so it’s critical that you avoid using caffeine during any other part of the day.
Ingredients to Avoid
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients, it’s important to pay attention to the label on your pre-workout supplement. Generally, it’s not critical to avoid these ingredients, but pay attention to the dosages that are included.
One of the major ingredients in this category is caffeine because there are lots of people who have reactions to it- they may experience jitteriness or anxiousness throughout the day. Therefore, it’s critical to pay attention to the amount of caffeine in your pre-workout. As a general rule, you should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, including your morning coffee. When you do consume more, you’re more likely to experience side effects.
Another ingredient you want to pay attention to is sugar alcohols, which are commonly included to make your pre-workout taste better. These are known for causing bloating and diarrhea in some users and it’s best if you can avoid supplements containing high amounts. That being said, if the supplement you like has them, pay attention to the dosage and make sure it’s not too much.
The primary thing you need to be on the alert for is proprietary blends. Generally, manufacturers will use these so they can group ingredients together without having to list the amounts that are included. This allows the manufacturer to use fillers and other additives that have no benefits at all. If you can, avoid all supplements that contain proprietary blends because you don’t know what you’re getting.
Since everyone is different, there are really no set rules regarding which ingredients to avoid. For example, with caffeine- some people can drink caffeinated beverages all day and then go right to sleep when it’s time for bed, while others can drink just a little bit of caffeine and fight insomnia all night long. The same goes for sugar alcohols. Some people can consume them and have no issues, while others consume a small amount and end up with gastrointestinal distress.
If you are unsure of your tolerance level for certain ingredients, the only way to tell is to expose yourself to them. Choose a pre workout and try it for a while. If you don’t experience negative side effects, you can be sure that there are no issues with the ingredients. On the other hand, if you do have some negative side effects, you’ll want to try to determine which ingredients triggered the reaction so that you know what to avoid in the future.
Watch for Low Quality Supplements
We hope that we’ve given you enough information to understand the risks of choosing a low quality supplement, as well as given you enough recommendations to choose from on top-rated pre-workouts. If you do end up choosing the wrong one, you may end up with no benefits- or you may end up harming your health. There are some supplements on the market that are not beneficial at all. You want to do whatever you can to avoid these.
Also, some of the supplements on the market are known to increase heart rate and blood pressure, with zero benefits to balance out the negative. This makes it critical that you take the time to find the best formula and stick with it instead of continually experimenting and possibly coming across a bad one.
It’s important to note that manufacturers that use proprietary blends have a greater risk of side effects because many times, there are ingredients that are not included on the label that may be harmful- or at the very least not beneficial. You should avoid proprietary blends as much as possible because you don’t know what’s in them and you are not protected at all from the potential side effects.
In general, proprietary blends list the overall dose, instead of the individual dosages for each one. This is usually to hide the amount used in the formula. Sometimes, the beneficial ingredients have very little, and the not so beneficial ingredients have a higher dosage. Additionally, sometimes manufacturers include prohormones, amphetamines, and other undesirable ingredients in them.
The FDA does watch out for these and when they find a company that is doing it, they do demand that the product be removed from the market. This way, consumers don’t have to worry about choosing a low-quality supplement. Of course, there will always be substandard supplements on the market, so it’s important to stay vigilant and make sure that you are educated on what to look for and how to choose the best one.
“B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-complex.
“Beta-Alanine: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” Webmd.com, 2019, www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1222/beta-alanine.
Brown, Regina, and Thuy Nguyen. Regulatory Education for Industry (REdI): Focus on CGMPs & FDA Inspections Facilities & Equipment: CGMP Requirements. www.fda.gov/media/92841/download.
“Certified Dietary Supplements | Informed Choice.” Choice.wetestyoutrust.com, choice.wetestyoutrust.com/.
FDA. “U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page.” Fda.gov, 2019, www.fda.gov.
“L-Arginine.” Mayo Clinic, 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-l-arginine/art-20364681.
“L-Carnitine: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” Webmd.com, 2012, www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1026/l-carnitine.
“L-Tyrosine Uses, Side Effects & Warnings.” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/mtm/l-tyrosine.html.
Mayo Clinic. “Creatine.” Mayo Clinic, 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591.
Medline Plus. “Caffeine.” Medlineplus.gov, 31 Dec. 2017, medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html.
MedlinePlus. “Amino Acids: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov, 2017, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm.
Staff, Editorial. What Is Pre-Workout? Is It Safe? A Detailed Guide • Supplement Lexicon. www.supplementlexicon.com/learn/pre-workout/.
“Taurine: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” Webmd.com, 2019, www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1024/taurine.
“The Public Health and Safety Organization.” NSF International, www.nsf.org/.
The links contained in this product review may result in a small commission if you opt to purchase the product recommended at no additional cost to you. This goes towards supporting our research and editorial team. Please know we only recommend high-quality products.
Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely substitutes for sound medical or financial advice from a licensed healthcare provider or certified financial advisor. Make sure to consult with a professional physician or financial consultant before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA, or Health Canada approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or provide any kind of get-rich money scheme.