You probably know that a good pre-workout supplement can help you get a better workout.
The thing is…
There are pre-workout supplements out there that can also help you build muscle as well.
Not all pre-workout supplements build muscle though, some of them are made to help you burn fat and lose weight instead.
There are also some pre-workout supplements that claim they will help you build muscle but they turn out to be junk.
In this article, we will give you the 5 best pre-workout supplements for muscle gains
What Does A Pre-Workout Supplement Do?
Pre-workout supplements, by definition, are nutritional ingredients you can take in before you hit the gym and pump iron.
Everyone wants to maximize their time spent in the gym building the perfect physique. Whether you’re aiming for a target weight, bigger and leaner muscles, more explosive power or more physical gains, you’ll definitely want faster results.
A pre-workout supplement is designed to increase physical performance, thereby bringing you closer to your goals. More than that, pre-workouts tend to have ingredients that help you build muscles or burn fat while minimizing the cellular damage you sustain after a particularly strenuous session.
You can get the following benefits when you add a pre-workout formula to your exercise routine:
- Increased energy levels
- Faster recovery
- Greater strength
- More endurance and stamina
These supplements are meant to be taken half an hour before you begin your exercise or training session. What’s amazing is that the ingredients will be absorbed even on an empty stomach. Pre-workouts usually provide you with the calories and the energy you’ll need to put on an explosive performance!
Best Muscle Building Pre-Workouts: Quick List
- Best Overall – Preseries BULK
- Best With Creatine – Blackwolf
- Best on a Budget – Altius
- Best Stim-Free Pre Workout – STIM FREE
- Best Naturally Flavored Pre-Workout – Pre Kaged
- Best Pre-Workout For Runners – C4
See below for details on each.
The Best Pre-Workout Supplements For Muscle Gain
These are the top pre-workout supplements for building muscle on the market today.
PreSeries BULK by Transparent Labs
Best Muscle Building Pre-Workout Overall
There shouldn’t be any doubt that PreSeries BULK is at the top of the best pre-workout supplements to build muscle list because it’s that good! The truth is, there hasn’t been any workout supplement that could match PreSeries Bulk and its potent formula. The boost you get from PreSeries Bulk is amazing- explosive strength, long-lasting endurance and one of the fastest recoveries you’ll ever experience are just some of the things you can look forward to when you start with this pre-workout supplement.
The potency and efficacy of PreSeries Bulk are due to the fact that it contains all the right ingredients in the right dosage. Not to mention the fact that it has a mind-blowing 19 active ingredients and 21 grams per serving.
They use muscle-building ingredients like a generous 6000mg dose of citrulline malate along with generous doses of betaine anhydrous, beta-alanine, branched-chain amino acids and N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine for faster mass building along with less recovery time and better endurance.
Moreover, you’ll gain razor-sharp senses, mental focus and alertness to complete reps and smash personal bests. There’s a reason why this pre-workout supplement is Number 1. Try it now and see what you’ve been missing!
- Coupon code TL10 saves you 10% at checkout
- All-natural ingredients
- Proven ingredients in ample doses
- 19 active ingredients
- Great reviews
- Excellent value for money
- Reduced price when buying in bulk
- Tastes good but there’s a sour note due to Citrulline and BCAAs
Why it’s the Best Overall
BULK delivers in every department. It’s loaded with 19 effective muscle-building ingredients in generous doses. It’s made by a very reputable manufacturer, and the price is above average but it isn’t ridiculously high especially considering how good it is. They also offer savings when buying in multiple containers and they have a coupon code (TL10) that saves you 10% on top of that so the price isn’t really all that bad. Overall, there just isn’t much not to like.
Best Pre-Workout With Creatine
Looking for a good pre-workout with creatine? Blackwolf is the answer!
This bad boy is loaded with 3000mg of creatine monohydrate which we love for building muscle and strength.
It also comes with a solid dose of L-Citrulline that delivers great muscle pumps and serious vascularity. On top of that, they use betaine anhydrous and beta-alanine for reduced fatigue.
Blackwolf comes in a caffeinated version as well as a stim-free version so you can have whichever you prefer. The caffeinated version contains 2oomg of caffeine.
Blackwolf is made in America and will ship free when you order 2 tubs or more.
- Uses 3000mg of muscle-building creatine monohydrate
- Available with or without caffeine
- Comes in 3 excellent flavors
- Made in the USA
- Uses artificial flavoring
- Not in stores or on Amazon
Altius by Jacked Factory
Best Muscle Buiding Pre-Workout on a Budget
If you want a solid pre-workout that goes easy on your wallet then Altuis is the top pick.
It’s one of the best pre-workout supplements that has all the right ingredients and dosage. The formulation is kept simple and filler-free, with top compounds L-Citrulline Malate, Creatine and Beta-Alanine topping the list.
You also get the benefits of caffeine and natural B12 for infusing your muscles with nigh-infinite energy.
The high-potency supplement will make you want to work out as hard as you can, bringing quality pumps and lean muscles while burning unneeded fat. Best of all, the post-recovery phase is shortened so you can head back to the gym and build more muscles!
- Less Expensive
- Peak performance dosage without the side effects
- One of the most powerful pre-workouts on the market
- Good reviews online
- Great taste
- Only available on the manufacturer’s website
- No savings when buying in bulk
STIM-FREE by Transparent Labs
Best Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout
Are you looking for a good muscle-building pre-workout without the stimulants? I can’t blame you, some manufacturers really get carried away on the stimulant end things when it comes to pre-workouts.
Luckily Transparent labs is on the list with the stim-free version of their pre-workout supplement.
While it may be lacking stimulants it isn’t lacking solid ingredients, this bad boy is loaded with effective muscle ingredients like Citrulline Malate, branched-chain amino acids, beta-alanine and taurine. This pre-workout delivers on everything you want except for the stimulants.
- Contains 100% natural ingredients
- No energy crashes or jitters
- Buying multiple tubs lowers the price per tub
- Coupon code TL10 Saves you 10% at checkout
- Uses solid muscle-building ingredients in generous doses
- Loaded with amino acids
- 30 servings per tub
- Only available straight from the manufacturer
- Above average in price
Pre-Kaged by Kaged Muscle
Best Naturally Flavored Pre-Workout
Pre-Kaged is touted as a revolutionary pre-workout formula created by manufacturer Kaged Muscle. The two direct benefits of taking this supplement is both body and mind will be energized, which can lead to a more productive time in the gym and therefore, greater muscle gain.
There are “matrix ingredients” that combine together to improve a certain aspect of a workout, i.e., the Pro Pump leads to more nitric oxide in the blood, which equals greater pump and performance, the Strength & Power infuses your cells with energy for greater physical exertions and the Neuro-Focus gives you the focus and mental cognition to fight off stress.
On top of all that they didn’t use any artificial flavoring which is somewhat rare these days.
- Well-rounded, quality ingredients without any banned compounds
- Uses natural flavoring
- Has an acceptable taste
- Gives you energy without the caffeine crash
- Quite difficult to mix with water
- Users complain of bloating issues
#6 C4 By Cellucor
Best Pre-Workout for Runners
C4 is one of the more popular pre-workout supplements available, created by Texas-based manufacturer Cellucor. When you want to have extra strength and explosive power in your gym sessions, then C4 can prove to be quite reliable. Most of the ingredients in this supplement are protected under the “proprietary blend” formula, but the promise stays the same- users get increased energy levels during workouts, enhanced stamina as they build muscle and faster recovery so they can do it all over again.
C4 comes in many variants, and each one has a different flavor. All you need is two scoops of C4 in about 4 to 6 ounces of water. You can take it with you en route to the gym or drink the solution as you warm up. When you want a no-nonsense pre-workout supplement that can deliver, then C4 is for you.
- Easy to take in
- Contains the appropriate dosage of Beta-Alanine, Creatine, and Caffeine
- Scientifically proven to increase energy levels and stamina for runs
- Has vitamin C
- The proprietary blend is not fully disclosed
- Contains artificial sweeteners
- Has only a few of the best pre-workout ingredients
#7 Beast Mode Black
Another good muscle-building pre-workout to consider would be Beast Mode Black by Beast Sports Nutrition.
This pre-workout was developed to deliver massive muscle pumps along with a serious energy boost.
Beast Mode Black contains key ingredients in doses up to 380% greater than the regular Beast Mode formula. That’s pretty serious stuff.
Beast Mode Black uses ingredients like Agmatine and Beta-Alanine in generous doses to deliver massive, skin-splitting muscle pumps.
This bad boy also has a mighty 400-gram dose of caffeine to give you a serious energy boost so you can smash your workouts.
On the negative side, the caffeine dose may be a bit too much for some people. They also use artificial flavoring, which some people might not like.
- Provides a serious energy boost
- Delivers massive muscle pumps
- Tastes great
- Caffeine dose may be too high for some people
- Above average in price
Available at: BeastSports.com
#8 Naked Energy
Naked Energy by Naked Nutrition is another excellent choice.
This pre-workout is made from all-natural ingredients and is designed to boost your energy, strength and power.
Looking at the ingredients and they use Creatine Monohydrate, Beta-Alanine, L-Arginine and Caffeine. It is also loaded with B Vitamins and Vitamin C.
This product is gluten-free, non-GMO, and doesn’t use any preservatives or contain anything artificial.
The only negatives on this one are that it is above average in price and could have used a larger dose of creatine.
- All Natural
- Above average in price
Available on Amazon
#9 Legion Pulse
Legion Pulse is a great choice if you need that little extra boost of energy before your workout. It’s got 350mg caffeine per serving, which will give the nervous system enough to get going and be ready for anything.
It’s a nice supplement with 350mg of l-theanine to mediate the potentially negative effects caffeine might have on you. It also contains stress and relaxation factors so it will help reduce stress for you as well.
Alpha-GPC, an ingredient found in Pulse that was included to increase power output and grow hormone levels, has had mixed results. Some studies have shown it can help with cognitive decline.
This study from 2015 done with 13 college-age males found that “A-GPC is effective at increasing lower body force production after six days of supplementation”. For this study, they used a 600 mg dose of Alpha-GPC; Legion Pulse uses half that much at 300 mg; needless to say, we wish they used more.
This pre-workout powder also uses a nice dose of Betain and a massive 8-gram dose of citrulline malate, along with a 3.6 gram dose of beta-alanine to bolster its muscle-building abilities even further.
On the negative side, this pre-workout does not use creatine, and the dose of caffeine may be a bit too high for some people.
- Free shipping on all orders
- Large dose of Citrulline Malate
- Very large dose of caffeine
- No creatine
Available on Amazon
The Best Pre-Workout Ingredients
Take a look at a few pre-workout supplements and you’ll quickly discover that they’re not all the same. Some of these supplements are actually more effective than others!
The main difference is in the ingredients. These are the ones you should be looking for when you’re getting the best pre-workout on the market:
Citrulline Malate is an important amino acid that’s beneficial in any pre-workout routine. The compound boosts your training via two mechanisms- by increasing nitric oxide and by giving your body more malic acid to work with.
Increased nitric oxide means more blood flow to the muscles, which equals more oxygen and nutrients. The more oxygen you have, the longer you can keep up with your training. This gives you more pump and as a result, you get bigger muscles. Malate, or otherwise known as malic acid, is a type of salt that recycles lactic acid efficiently. You get easily burnable energy to last longer. Moreover, less fatigue means you can recover faster and hit the gym sooner.
Other benefits of Citrulline Malate include increased exercise capacity, improved heart function, increased production of HGH and less muscle soreness and physical fatigue. It’s a must-have in any pre-workout.
Experienced supplement users will associate Beta-Alanine with a case of the tingles, but it soon goes away. What’s left, though is a potent compound that helps build lean muscle while increasing physical endurance many, many times. Beta-Alanine is so good that it’s considered as one of the best pre-workout ingredients, right alongside Citrulline Malate and Creatine.
The ingredient increases the production of carnosine, an enzyme regulator, a free radical fighter and a lactic acid buffer. This translates to the user gaining greater strength and endurance while minimizing downsides such as excessive muscle fatigue during your sessions. The compound actually fits in with the pre-workout routine so that it can protect your body’s pH levels and control lactic buildup more effectively.
Creatine is an absolute must-have when you’re looking to get pumped before working out. You see, this ingredient makes up one of the most vital parts of a muscle-building stack and is considered by many athletes and experienced bodybuilders as the MVP.
Creatine works in many beneficial ways. First, it supports the muscle-building process, which is accelerated while you’re working out. Then, the compound burns stubborn fat and quickly converts it into usable energy that you can use to last longer. Energy is distributed to the cells and muscles, giving you more stamina and endurance to overcome any plateaus. But it doesn’t stop there. Leftover creatine reduces fatigue levels and makes it so that you can recover much faster after a particularly strenuous session.
Creatine is safe and relatively easy to use even for extended periods of time.
Betaine Anhydrous in a pre-workout supplement means blood homocysteine levels are regulated, plus there’s a noticeable boost in athletic performance. This amino acid is present in nutrient-rich foods like quinoa, spinach, beets, and others. When you start dosing with Betaine Anhydrous you can look forward to torching fat, accelerating muscle growth, an increase in muscle power and heightened endurance during gym training sessions.
Better yet, this remarkable compound provides other health and wellness benefits to make it an all-rounder ingredient. Aside from giving you more physical power, Betaine Anhydrous is good for the liver, for the digestion process and lowers your risk of having heart disease. Moreover, it has been approved by the FDA in the U.S. so you know that you won’t get any side effects when taking the compound.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, or otherwise known as NALT, is a remarkable compound that gives users a variety of workout benefits, including improved mood, protection against stress and more.
NALT is the modified cousin of the naturally occurring amino acid L-Tyrosine, which has an extra active compound called acetic acid. This combination has proved time and again to be better than the original amino acid because the compound exhibits a higher rate of bioavailability and is more easily absorbed by the body. What this means is that you get the nutrients much faster as it goes straight to your bloodstream.
The potent amino acid then works its way into your system, whether it be your cognitive function, in lowering stress levels or helping your thyroid gland. The mood is lifted via increased dopamine hormone production, and because NALT is considered as a nootropic, brain function, including attention, concentration and focus are greatly improved.
Last but certainly not least, we have the red beet. Red beets are packed with life-giving nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals. The remarkable thing about this superfood is that it only contains a few calories while infusing your body with iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, fiber, and protein.
Supplements with red beet as a dietary ingredient enhance athletic and workout performance. The abundance of nitrates works in improving the mitochondria’s efficiency, which in turn equals more explosive energy that you can use. Oxygen in the body increases by about 20% and prolongs muscle exhaustion. More than that, red beet eliminates stubborn fat and reveals the lean muscle underneath.
If you want to get straight to the best pre-workout supplements available today, then I’d recommend the top 3 formulas (PreSeries BULK, 4 Gauge and Altius Pre-Workout). These workout supplements are very popular with athletes and bodybuilders because they work very well and are excellent value for your money.
But if you’re pressed for time and need to build muscle ASAP, get PreSeries BULK. The results you get from this pre-workout supplement will be 100% worth it!
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.