Having a great workout isn’t always a given.
Some days your mind is elsewhere and your body is in couch potato mode rather than killer workout mode.
Fortunately, there is help…
A good pre-workout can give you that extra boost you need on the days you are not exactly up for it and take you to the next level on the days that you are ready to tear it up.
But there’s more…
Today’s pre-workout supplements can also help you burn fat, build lean muscle and increase focus along with the energy boost.
In this article, we will cover the best pre-workout supplements for women on the market today that will help you meet your goals.
First, we’ll introduce our top 10 pre-workouts. These are hand-picked supplements to get your exercise juices flowing and to help you spend longer in the gym shedding pounds or pumping muscle.
Then after that, we’ll dig deep into what pre-workouts are, how to choose the right one for you, what to look out for, and much more advice to help you make the right decision.
But first up, a little information on…
Related: Best Fat Burners For Women
The 10 Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Women
#1 PreSeries LEAN by Transparent Labs
PreSeries LEAN tops off our list and is the best choice for ladies who are looking for a pre-workout that will help them get lean and burn fat.
This one has received a ton of great reviews and they are all true. It has a potent Fat Burning and Thyroid Support complex designed to help you shed those pounds while getting a killer workout.
This pre-workout has a nice 6000 mg dose of Citrulline Malate, which is one of our favorite pre-workout ingredients. Citrulline Malate has been shown to improve strength, aerobic performance, and muscle endurance.
It also contains Beta-Alanine and Betaine Anhydrous to help you fight fatigue and workout harder for longer and also have been shown to decrease fat and cortisol.
PreSeries Lean also features Caffeine Anhydrous to take your energy level to the next level as well as Bioperine which helps the body absorb the ingredients.
It also has that Fat Burning and Thyroid Support complex we mentioned earlier. This includes Chromium Picolinate, Zinc, and Guggulsterones to help take the fat burning effects to the next level and make it the best fat burning pre-workout on the market today.
We like that this product doesn’t contain zero colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, or harmful additives and that their ingredients are as the company name suggests, transparent.
We should mention that they also make PreSeries STIM-FREE which is as the name suggests, a stimulant-free pre-workout for those who do not want any stimulants in their pre-workout. This could be a good option.
- Best fat burning pre-workout on the market
- Use code TL10 to save 10% on your order
- A nice 6-gram Citrulline Malate dosage for strength
- Features a fat burning and thyroid support complex to get you lean
- No artificial sweeteners, dyes, fillers, or unhealthy additives
- Optimal amounts of Choline, Betaine, BCAA 2:1:1, Beta-Alanine and Taurine
- Made in the USA, not China
- Features Bioperine for better absorption
- Only available online
Website – transparentlabs.com
Powher’s pre-workout is the first supplement of its kind to be uniquely developed for women.
This stimulant-free, energy booster gives you all the benefits of a male pre-workout supplement but without any of the side effects.
It does this by pairing a modest amount of Natural Caffeine with the amplifying ingredient EnXtra.
This botanical extract transforms what would have been a short-term caffeine spike into 5 hours of stable energy!
Other benefits include increased time to exhaustion whilst exercising, as well as improved strength in the lower limbs.
Powher’s female-friendly blend contains Non-GMO energizers like ‘Oxjun’, known for its ability to boost cardiac performance. There’s 500mg of Coconut water powder, included in order to help replace lost electrolytes and boost hydration levels.
While the antioxidant-rich, pure beetroot extract ‘Rednite’, has the specific benefit of reducing fatigue during resistance training.
These premium ingredients are not found in standard dietary supplements, and when blended together they ensure more efficient training and faster fat loss.
Also, in this formula is the amino acid L-Citrulline known for its potential role in opening up the arteries and improving blood flow. As well as solid doses of pre-workout favorites including Beta-Alanine and Taurine.
We like the fact that the makers have taken the time to make a product that is perfectly suited to the female body, this is highlighted by the fact that there is No Creatine in the formula.
So you won’t have to worry about looking bulky when using this pre-workout.
- Only pre-workout that is properly formulated for women
- Powerful, clean energy
- Supports fat loss and muscle toning
- Harnesses pioneering ingredient EnXtra in order to prevent caffeine crash
- Natural ingredients not used in cheaper pre-workouts
- Great taste
- Avoids creatine
- Made in the UK and USA
- Premium Price
#3 Blackwolf Trail
Next, we have a new pre-workout that is making waves with Blackwolf.
Blackwolf is a high-performance pre-workout that is made for men and women who are looking to get a great workout, get lean and build some muscle.
Looking at the ingredients and it is easy to see why Blackwolf is such an effective supplement. It has a nice 6000 mg dose of L-Citrulline for increased blood flow and easier muscle building along with 3000 mg of creatine which is the best muscle building supplement you can buy. On top of that they also include 200 mg of caffeine to help you power through your workouts, they also have a caffeine-free version available for those looking to avoid stimulants.
It also has contains Beta-Alanine which has been shown in studies to decrease fat and increase lean muscle mass.
They also use L-Valine and L-Taurine to increase energy and metabolism. This leads to better and more intense workouts as well as more fat burning through a higher metabolism.
This product is a combination of over 20 active ingredients that contribute to enhanced fat burning, lean muscle building, and increased energy levels making it the premier fat burner for women looking to have great workouts, burn fat and increase metabolism.
Blackwolf Trail offers free shipping to over 100 countries worldwide as well as a money-back guarantee.
The price of this product is above average but it is not the highest on the list and the reviews are top-notch on this product.
- Made in the USA
- Caffeine-free version available
- Uses creatine monohydrate
- Endorsed by professional athletes
- Uses Beta-Alanine to burn fat and increase lean muscle mass
- Made to increase metabolism
- Improves focus and drive
- Free shipping to over 100 countries
- Excellent flavors
- Only available on the company website
- Higher than average in price
#4 4 Gauge
Next on our list of the best pre-workout supplements for women, we have 4 Gauge. This one is more of a muscle-building pre-workout so if you want to add muscle you should consider this one. It is a unisex pre-workout that is new to the market and it is really awesome. With its shotgun shell design you know it will pack a serious punch.
Taking a look at the ingredients and 4 Gauge is on point. They start off with a 6000mg dose of Citrulline Mallette along with 1000mg of creatine monohydrate for better strength, muscle gains, and endurance in the gym. On top of that, they have added 150mg of caffeine anhydrous for energy. We like that they use 150mg which is enough to boost your energy level but not over the top like a lot of the other pre-workouts out there. They also used a 200 mg dose of L-Theanine and Rhodiola Rosea for better focus and calm. They also added Acetyl L-Carnitine to help fight fatigue as well as reduce muscle damage. Lastly, they also included Coconut Water Powder which is packed full of electrolytes to keep you hydrated even through the most demanding workout.
We are very happy that 4 Gauge is not a proprietary blend and that all the ingredients are natural and laid out as they should be. They also have free shipping worldwide and a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied and that does not suck.
Overall this one is really good for women who are looking to add muscle and get stronger. It has the right ingredients for muscle building, endurance, focus, and mood. All of which are important when looking for a good pre-workout. If you are looking to take your workouts and your body to the next level then this is the pre-workout that will help you do it.
- Good muscle builder
- Strong dose of Citrulline Malate
- 1000 mg of creatine
- Uses L-Theanine for focus
- Not too much caffeine like many others
- Free shipping worldwide
- No proprietary blend
- All natural ingredients
- Not available in stores, only available on the manufacturer website
#5 Uplift By NLA
Next, on our list of the pre-workout supplements for women that are available is Uplift by NLA. This one is geared specifically to women. This one is another hot product that has been getting some good reviews.
This product also works on a few different levels, it has what it calls a lean muscle matrix to help build muscle and reduce fat, an energy matrix to give you a boost before your workout and a Nootropic Brain and Body Matrix to give you a mental edge. These ingredients are specially formulated for a woman’s needs, you will find that it supports your goal to increase both strength and intensity.
The negative with this product is that all of the matrixes they use are proprietary blends so we really have no way of knowing how much of the listed ingredients are actually in the product. While it does have good reviews and effective ingredients listed it is hard to tell exactly what you are getting with this one.
- Uses matrixes for lean muscle, energy, and mental sharpness
- Formulated for women only
- Great taste
- Uses a proprietary blend for the matrixes
- Uses artificial flavors
Avaialable on Amazon
#6 Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout
Optimum Nutrition is a popular supplement manufacturer with a couple of pre-workout products available on Amazon.
The Gold Standard Pre-Workout comes in eight flavors, all of which contain 175 caffeine, 3g creatine monohydrate, and 1.5g beta-alanine per daily serving. You’ll find 30 servings in each tub.
With Optimum Nutrition’s products, you can work out with the confidence that everything going into your body is safe, natural, and not on the banned substances list. So if your training has a competitive aspect, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The Gold Standard formula riffs on a lot of the themes we’ve seen already in this list. Inside you’ll find caffeine for energy, motivation, focus, and concentration.
No more fighting with yourself to keep working out: Just a clearer mind, fuelled up and ready to keep going.
Back this up with creatine to support overall performance, beta-alanine to ramp up endurance, citrulline malate as a precursor to nitric oxide – and more – and you’re on track for a powerful workout.
- Solid formula with lots of good ingredients to power-up your workout
- Emphasis on natural, clean ingredients
- Over five thousand reviews on Amazon, with a 4.5-star rating
- No proprietary blends: Even the matrices have a full ingredient breakdown
- From a recognized and popular supplement manufacturer
- A selection of flavors to suit any palette
- Inconsistent packaging depending which batch you get: Might put some people off
- Not all flavors are always in stock
#7 ProSupps® Mr. Hyde® NitroX Pre-Workout
The first thing that stands out with Mr Hyde is the bold and vibrant packaging, but when it comes to assessing a good pre-workout, that doesn’t count for much. So don’t get distracted.
Drill down into the ingredients and formulation, however, and Mr Hyde performs well. The formula is built around three matrices: The strength matrix, the caffeine matrix, and the intensity matrix.
Each contains a few ingredients touted to contribute toward these outcomes (‘caffeine’ means energy).
It’s a nice way to categorize the ingredients, especially for newer pre-workout users who aren’t familiar with the specific effects of things like “caffeine anhydrous,” “beta-alanine” or “theacrine” do. And while the label doesn’t provide full details, it does offer insight into the overall outcome.
Break it down though, and we have a pre-workout that enhances strength, energizes you with caffeine, and increases the intensity of your workout. These factors define a good pre-workout, and with Mr. Hyde, you’re in good hands.
- Ingredients categorized into three matrices depending on what they do
- Hits all the right areas: strength, energy, and workout intensity
- Very caffeine-heavy: Great if you’re looking for a big energy boost
- Ten flavors to choose from
- Part of a wider supplement range
- Over two thousand Amazon reviews
- Very caffeine-heavy, depending on your preferences. Tread carefully
#8 BSN N.O.-XPLODE Pre-Workout
This supplement is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and empowering ingredient blends. The brand boasts ‘industry heritage,’ with this product sporting sixteen years of history – quite a long time for a supplement in this category.
Inside you’ll find the usual suspects: Folate, B vitamins, creatine, taurine, and more. Like a few supplements, we’ve covered already, N.O. – XPLODE contains proprietary blends, but sadly the constituent ingredient quantities aren’t given.
That means you’re guessing at the exact amount of each ingredient you’ll be ingesting – a turn-off for some potential customers.
But three thousand positive reviews on Amazon suggest that these guys are doing something right.
If you’re looking for a fairly broad pre-workout, look no further (there are five blends – Myogenic, Endura, Thermic, N.O. Alpha, and Shock – alongside ten vitamins and minerals). You’ll find 275mg of caffeine per serving as well: Quite a large amount, so be careful if your tolerance is low, otherwise, you may experience jitters!
- Sixteen years in the marketplace
- Huge ingredients list, covering you from lots of angles
- Powerful stimulant hit to turbo-charge any workout
- Sits in a range of pre-workout and exercise products
- Some people aren’t happy with the new 2019 formula
- Very high caffeine level, might not be good for people with low tolerance
See BSN N.O. Explode on Amazon
#9 MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout
MuscleTech’s contribution to the pre-workout space looks a bit like it’s been sent back to us from the future. No other supplement we’ve seen comes in an all-chrome tub.
But as usual, it’s what’s inside that we’re interested in. And each scoop of Neurocore pre-workout boasts “clinically studied” amounts of potent key ingredients.
The formula is fairly bare compared to many other supplements, with just four ingredients: Beta-alanine, L-citrulline, creatine hydrochloride, and Rhodiola extract. Each has an important pre-workout effect.
Beta-alanine enhances muscle and strength building. L-citrulline fuels your muscles further.
Creatine facilitates gains in muscle size. And Rhodiola is an adaptogen proven to increase mental and physical fitness in times of stress (like during exercise).
All in, this product has a solid ingredients list and we like that they’ve gone at things from a slightly different angle.
Four hand-picked ingredients with clinical backing contrast fairly significantly from the “chuck everything in” approach that BSN went for. It’s up to you to decide which supplement best ticks your boxes.
- Just four handpicked, clinically studied ingredients
- Strong focus on muscle strength and size, great for strength workouts
- No reliance on powerful doses of stimulant
- Emphasis on clinical studies, with citations available
- Part of a range of workout supplements
- The flavor isn’t very popular
- Some customers expressed concerns with the efficacy of ingredients
#10 Arms Race Nutrition Daily Pump
The manufacturers of this rustic-looking pre-workout claim to combine “old school dedication” with “modern science.” When it comes to supplement formulation, we can’t really think of a better combination.
Each tub promises a “stim-free pre-workout,” that will deliver “pump, volume, endurance, and strength” – again, just what you want from a pre-workout.
But does Arms Race Nutrition Daily Pump deliver?
There are just five ingredients in this supplement, and twenty servings per container. The manufacturers claim that the ingredients are “patented and trademarked”, but this is a bit of a stretch. On the label, you’ll find things we’ve seen elsewhere in this list: L-citrulline, vitamin C, and so on.
This supplement focusses on maximizing blood flow and increasing key performance metrics to help you work out harder and longer. They advise new users to assess their threshold by starting with one scoop, or even half, rather than two.
- “Old school dedication” meets “modern science” to deliver clinically-studied pre-workout
- Emphasis on maximized blood flow and improved workout metrics
- Stacks with other supplements in their range
- Stim-free: No massive caffeine doses
- Scaleable dosage depending on your tolerance
- More expensive per serving than some other supplements when taken as directed
How we chose the best pre-workout
“The best” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot nowadays.
We think it’s vitally important that anyone buying a pre-workout knows what they’re getting, and has realistic expectations on what the supplement will help them to achieve.
We don’t want to say “best,” then just sling together ten random pre-workouts.
So here are the criteria we used to determine the best pre-workouts in 2020 –
Ingredients: A pre-workout needs to be formulated with ingredients that work, in doses that work.
Depending on your exercise goals, you’ll be on the lookout for different ingredients: Some prioritize muscle growth, others focus on energy and endurance.
This list contains a mix of both, so make sure you go for a product that aligns with your overall goals.
Suitability for women: Most pre-workouts are formulated for men, or to be generic. To be included in this list, however, a pre-workout needs to be demonstrably effective for women and to be tailored to female physiology.
Value: Some supplements cost more than others, but the cheap ones aren’t necessarily better value.
We took this into account and included information on how many servings you get per container.
Because prices are prone to change we haven’t given any numbers, so always ensure you’re happy with the price you’ll be paying for the container, and per serving.
Reputation: The best pre-workouts have backing from fans and happy customers.
Sometimes this is in the form of Amazon reviews, other times its positive feedback and testimonials in forums, online communities, and on the product websites themselves.
We prioritized supplements that have a proven track record and a happy customer base, so you can be sure you’re in good company.
Communication: Different people have different workout goals, and the right pre-workout formula will vary accordingly.
Good pre-workout supplements effectively communicate what their customers can expect, rather than leaving them to guess for themselves.
The products in the list have communication covered, and set realistic expectations for customers who have done their research.
What does a pre-workout do?
There are a number of benefits to consider when taking a pre-workout. They are formulated to improve your workout experience on a few different levels. Here is the breakdown of things you can expect from a good pre-workout supplement.
Increased focus: Pre-workouts contain ingredients that will increase your focus while at the gym so you don’t daydream and focus only on your workout.
Increased energy: If a pre-workout can’t increase your energy, nothing will.
Increased muscle pumps: Pre-workout have ingredients that will increase your muscle pump and make them feel like they are going to rip through your skin.
Increased strength: There are several ingredients common in pre-workouts that will increase strength and power. We will break those down next.
What to look for with a good pre-workout?
Every supplement company seems to have a pre-workout, some have two or three, all claiming to do the same thing – get you working out like an animal and slamming the weights like never before.
You must look past the overhyped claims and drill straight down to the ingredients – that’s what’s going to do the job for you.
We’ve looked at a mountain of studies and found the most effective and safest ingredients available:
Citrulline Malate – This one of the top pre-workout ingredients, it was shown to increase strength and endurance while decreasing muscle soreness. It can also be effective at raising nitric oxide levels and enhancing the use of branch chain amino acids during your workout.
Beta-Alanine – This is another one that is very common. This ingredient has been shown to delay muscle fatigue. This is the ingredient that provides the tingly feeling so if you don’t like the tingle look for this in lower doses.
Taurine – Taurine is mandatory for all pre-workouts that contain Beta-Alanine. Taurine is needed to react with the Beta-Alanine and without Taurine in the supplement, you can get a Taurine deficiency.
Creatine – Creatine is the most studied sports supplement there is and has been proven to increase strength, speed, and power.
Betaine Anhydrous – Betaine Anhydrous is another important ingredient that has been shown to create muscle growth in studies. It also has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue while training and it has even shown it can increase HGH and decrease cortisol. This ingredient is a must.
Caffeine Anhydrous – This is one most all of them have unless it is a non-stimulant pre-workout. Caffeine gives you an energy boost and also has been shown to increase strength performance as well as lower perceived exertion and the perception of muscle discomfort during weight training.
L-Theanine – This ingredient has been shown to enhance mood and increase attention and also reduce stress.
What to Avoid
Not everything you’ll find in a pre-workout supplement does what it says on the tin. Some ingredients are ineffective. Others are effective, but not in the small quantities found in the formula.
Here’s what to keep an eye out for:
Proprietary blends: Supplement companies are doing this way too often. This is where they mix all the ingredients together in a “blend” and add it to the supplement.
The problem is you have no way of knowing how much of each ingredient in the blend. This makes it harder for customers to know exactly what they are getting in a pre-workout.
These have become such a problem that it can sometimes be tough to find supplements that aren’t proprietary blends, there is even one on this list.
Although not all proprietary blends are necessarily bad, it is a way for manufacturers to hide the fact that they’re using quantities of ingredients that won’t be effective.
One trick you can use is to look at the quantity of the blend. Say it’s 5mg of blend total – that’s proof that none of the ingredients in the blend is present in more than that quantity. This is a good way to evaluate whether ingredients in blends are present in a quantity that will work.
Hopefully, the industry will police itself into eliminating these in the future, they are very popular though so that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Do pre-workout supplements for women work?
A lot of pre-workouts are geared heavily toward men. You’ll see topless men with rippling muscles on the bottles, along with tons of masculine imagery on the website.
This is great if you’re a guy looking to pump weights and build muscle.
But what if you’re a woman looking to tone up and shed some pounds, without getting Hulk-like muscles?
In this niche, it can be harder for ladies to find products tailored to their needs.
(And just a disclaimer: We know not all men just want to pump muscle, and not all women just want to tone up. There are female body-builders, and some guys don’t want to get ripped. We’re speaking in loose generalizations based on consumer trends.)
The answer to this question is: Yes, pre-workout supplements for women work if they align with the workout goals of the woman in question. Pre-workouts in this category tend to do a few things to appeal to women:
- Lower stimulant levels: Lots of women have lower stimulant and caffeine thresholds than men, and want lower doses as a result (or sometimes, none at all).
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Because of female physiology, women are more prone to certain deficiencies than men.
- Less muscle-building ingredients. Some of the ingredients we’ve seen in this list are included in supplements with the sole purpose of encouraging muscle growth. Obviously, this probably doesn’t work for most women.
As we’ve said: It comes down to having a firm grasp of what your workout goals, and pairing this with an understanding of what different ingredients will help you to achieve.
Good alignment between these two factors puts you in the best stead to choose a supplement to fit your needs.
Natural vs Organic Pre-workouts
While doing your research you’ll probably come across the phrases “natural pre-workout” and “organic pre-workout.” But what are they? And what’s the difference?
With natural ingredients, the clue is in the name. These ingredients occur naturally, in the format that’s used in the pre-workout formula. Vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, etc – all of these are natural.
Natural ingredients can also be the result of man-made processes, including certain chemical reactions. In this case, they’re still considered natural because the same form can occur in nature.
There are different definitions of natural, whereas organic is quite a lot stricter. Organic ingredients are free from synthetic herbicides and pesticides, meaning they’re part of a fully natural process.
Many people are wary of putting non-organic substances in their body, as there’s no guarantee that what you’re taking is clean. Some of the man-made fertilizers and chemicals used to create ‘natural’ ingredients aren’t desirable, after all.
Whilst many pre-workout supplements boast “natural” ingredients on their label, very few are ever fully organic or all-natural. If this distinction is important to you, make sure to choose a supplement that reflects this requirement.
You’ve probably got more questions. In this section, we’ll do our best to answer some of the most burning questions people have about pre-workouts.
What do pre-workouts do?
Pre-workout supplements help you to work out harder and for longer. They aim to boost your endurance, stamina, motivation, and focus.
The idea is that you take a pre-workout before hitting the gym, and achieve more than you would have without it.
How long does pre-workout last?
The duration of effects varies between products, and comes down to the ingredients used. The more caffeine a pre-workout contains, for example, the longer you’ll feel its effects.
For this reason, it’s advised to not take caffeine-heavy pre-workouts close to bedtime, or you’ll be buzzing all night.
When should I take a pre-workout?
The best time to take a pre-workout is, as the name suggests, before your workout.
Most supplement manufacturers specify precisely when to take their product for optimal effects, and a ballpark figure is about thirty minutes before you start.
This gives the ingredients a chance to enter your bloodstream.
How much caffeine is in a pre-workout?
The level of caffeine varies massively between different products. Often pre-workouts for men have a higher caffeine level than those for women, but this is only a rule of thumb.
We recommend understanding your caffeine threshold before choosing a pre-workout with a high level, as too much caffeine can cause undesirable side effects.
Can I take a pre-workout while pregnant?
No, it’s not advised to take pre-workouts while pregnant. This is because they contain vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that may have unknown effects on your growing baby.
If you’re unsure about the suitability of a specific product, speak with a doctor or registered health professionals.
So, there you have it. Ten of the best pre-workout supplements available to buy in 2020.
Powher is the best all-around and PreSeries Lean is the best if your goal is to slim down and get lean which is what most women are looking for. 4 Gauge is also a good one to consider if you want to build muscle.
As we always say, the supplements won’t work like magic while you sit on your butt watching TV and eating pizza, you need to put your time in at the gym and eat right, then the supplements will take you to the next level.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.