What Are the Best Pre-Workout Supplements?
Getting the most out of your training sessions is important. Heading to the gym day after day, giving it your 100% best effort, all in an effort to get to that next level.
For most of you, it's not about breaking records, except the ones you hold for yourself. If all goes your way, you walk out of the iron-clad weight room with a sense of victory.
As you know all too well, life can get in the way. The stress from work, home, and social life can quickly zap away energy levels and motivation, so when you finally make it to the gym, you’re left with a half-full tank. For those of you who are looking to get the best possible results from your workout, you should leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting an edge in the gym. This is where a pre-workout supplement like ALTIUS
Sometimes a big boost is needed for you to train like a machine. With the fitness market flooded with advertising claims of “mass pump acceleration” and “N.O. boosting maximization,” it can be difficult to pick through the garbage. Let’s cut through the hype and review the top pre-workout supplement ingredients that can help increase your energy, size, strength, and overall performance based on real science.
Best Pre-Workout Supplements
1. Citrulline Malate
Citrulline is considered a non-essential amino acid. The term non-essential means that your body produces this amino acid from other nutrients. Like several of the natural compounds on this list, your body may already make a small amount of it, but when levels are increased via supplementation, you can reap the amazing benefits.
Several studies have proven that Citrulline Malate can boost energy, performance, and recovery
. It does so by powering ATP, energy stores that your body relies on during training. It also helps to remove lactic acid, a major contributor to soreness, from your system. Citrulline Malate has also been shown to elevate L-Arginine levels
better than actually using L-Arginine. This is the main reasons users often report an insane pump when using a nice dose of Citrulline Malate.
contains 8 grams of Citrulline Malate because that's the dose used in the promising research. Most pre-workouts don't include Citrulline Malate and the few that do use a low dose.
During one such study
, a randomized, double-blind, 2-period crossover design was implemented, and the results were very positive.
“The number of repetitions showed a significant increase from placebo treatment to CM treatment. A significant decrease of 40% in muscle soreness at 24 hours and 48 hours after the pectoral training session. We conclude that the use of CM might be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post-exercise muscle soreness.” (“Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.” May 24, 2010. Para. 1)
2. Creatine Monohydrate
Like Citrulline, Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body. Creatine has over 200 clinical studies backing up its effectiveness as a powerhouse sports nutrition ingredient. It has been heavily promoted in the supplement industry for a long time.
Its main function is to supply energy to the muscle by boosting ATP
. Creatine Monohydrate has been proven to increase performance, build muscle, increase strength, boost endurance, and much more. Creatine is a staple ingredient for any athlete serious about training.
Just a Few of Many Published Studies on Creatine:
In a review of 22 studies
, it was concluded that creatine monohydrate clearly plays a role in improving training performance and strength.
“Of the 22 studies reviewed, the average increase in muscle strength following creatine supplementation plus resistance training was 8% greater than the average increase in muscle strength following placebo ingestion. Similarly, the average increase in weightlifting performance was 14% greater than the average increase in weightlifting performance following placebo ingestion. Thus, there is substantial evidence to indicate that creatine supplementation during resistance training is more effective at increasing muscle strength and weightlifting performance than resistance training alone.” (“Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance.” November 17, 2003. Para. 1.)
Beta-alanine is technically a non-essential amino acid. Beta-Alanine reduces fatigue during training by being converted into Carnosine. As Beta-Alanine levels rise, Carnosine levels also rise, which leads to a ton of performance benefits
Beta-Alanine has been shown in studies to increase strength, power, endurance, improve recovery, and even help with muscle gain and fat loss. Carnosine also plays an important role in the job of blood pH levels. By controlling blood pH levels, Beta Alanine increases performance and reduces or eliminates post-workout fatigue.
One particular study reviewed 15 published manuscripts
. The manuscripts included the results of “57 measures within 23 exercise tests, using 18 supplementation regimes and a total of 360 participants. From the data available to date, it can be concluded that β-alanine supplementation elicits a significant ergogenic effect on high-intensity exercise.” (“Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis” July 2012 Para. 1)
Beta-Alanine Reference Studies:
4. Betaine Anhydrous
Betaine is a powerhouse ingredient with a ton of proven benefits. These benefits include increased muscle gains, strength, and power, while also helping with fat loss. Best of all, it's actually backed up by science!
In one study
, weight trained subjects consumed 1.25g of Betaine twice per day (2.5g) and the result was an increase in muscle strength by 25% and muscle power by 20%! A commonality between all of the studies is that it appears optimal to consume 2.5 grams.
The most promising recent study
from the College of Springfield had weight-trained males follow a periodization weight-training program for six weeks while consuming 1.25g of Betaine twice per day. The result was a 10% increase in arm size, and muscle mass increased by 4 pounds.
Alpha-GPC is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It has been used to treat Alzheimer's disease and dementia
, and it has shown a lot of potential in improving memory, cognitive function, and learning.
So why is a cognitive enhancer gaining attention in the fitness world? Performance enhancement, focus, clarity. “By increasing acetylcholine concentrations, Alpha-GPC increases the number of cross-bridges formed by actin and myosin – more cross bridges equals more peak force. It also directly increases the recruitment of high-threshold motor units.” (“Alpha GPC” 2014. Para. 7.).
Alpha-GPC has also been shown to increase HGH and increase peak bench press force by 14% in a human clinical study
If any of these powerful ingredients are worthy of the designation of “veteran,” it would be Caffeine. Caffeine has likely helped get you through college. Who hasn't slammed two cups of coffee post-morning hangover to get to class on time?
Study after study
has been published on Caffeine, documenting its effectiveness for boosting athletic performance
. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Caffeine is included on this ingredient list. Altius
contains 325mg of Caffeine to give you a solid pre-training kick, and if you're sensitive to Caffeine you can stick with a half scoop.
A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness
in December 2010 showed Caffeine supplementation before sprinting improved sprint time in all participants.
In a January 2011 study
in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Caffeine consumption pre-workout improved muscular endurance and also improved the ability to complete repetitions on the bench press.
In summary: Caffeine works very well!
7. Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is used for many different functions. On the sports nutrition front, Vitamin B12 has been shown to elevate energy and stamina levels while reducing fatigue and enhancing cognitive function.
Methylcobalamin is the form used in ALTIUS because it works very well. However, that's not the case with most supplements. Most supplements use a cheaper form of B12 called cyanocobalamin, which contains a cyanide molecule. Vitamin B12 helps with overall circulatory system function and helps enhance the immune system
in the body.
Bioperine® is a patented extract of black pepper that has significant ingredient absorption benefits. Known to enhance the absorption of other nutrients, Bioperine® is often used in conjunction with other pre-workout ingredients to help them absorb better. This is to ensure that your body can efficiently absorb the pre-workout ingredients to improve your workout. Bioperine® has also been shown to help stimulate the breakdown of fat during your workouts.
In one study
, Bioperine® was evaluated for its “ability to improve serum response of beta-carotene during oral supplementation using a double-blind, crossover study design. The results indicate that significantly greater in serum beta-carotene occurred during supplementation with beta carotene plus piperine compared to beta-carotene plus placebo.” (“Piperine, an alkaloid derived from black pepper, increases the response of beta-carotene during 14-days of oral beta-carotene supplementation.” 1999. Para. 1)
Your Search for the Best Pre-Workout Supplement is Over
Whether you are preparing for a competition or just aiming to kick your training intensity up a few levels, a quality pre-workout supplement with proven active ingredients will help. Clinically effective ingredient doses are key for strength and muscle gains, so pay close attention to the label before you buy a product.
99% of supplements on the market are not dosed remotely close to what the research indicates as beneficial; the Jacked Factory line is in the 1% that is.
Don’t pay attention to marketing ploys and catchphrases. If you see a "proprietary blend," move on to another product. Proprietary blends serve one purpose: to hide the minuscule amounts of beneficial ingredients in the product.
We encourage you to look for any research to back up label claims. If you are willing to take a chance on a new supplement that will be going into your body, you should also be willing to spend a couple of hours on Google. A great place to start your search is by googling: "ingredient name" pubmed
Be sure to check out our pre-workout supplement, ALTIUS
. ALTIUS contains all of the ingredients listed above in full clinically effective doses. ALTIUS is also free of artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes. It's 100% naturally sweetened and flavored, contains no proprietary blends, and no fillers. Just 100% active ingredients to take your training to new levels. Check out Jacked Factory's full line of sports supplements here
2. “Methylcobalamin: Stimulant.” rawmusclegain.com. N.D. Web.
3. Badmaev, V., Majeed, M., Norkus, E. “Piperine, an alkaloid derived from black pepper, increases the response of beta-carotene during 14-days of oral beta-carotene supplementation.” bodybuilding-help.com 1999. Web.
4. Ball, G., Hobson, R.M., Saunders, B., Harris, R.C., Sale, C. “Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. July 2012. Web.
5. Beckmann, M., Davison, G., Thatcher, R., Tumilty, L. “Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat.” researchgate.net. N.D. Web.
6. Evans, Grey. “Is Caffeine Pre-Workout Bad?” Livestrong.com. Aug 16, 2013. Web.
7. Jakeman, PM., Pérez-Guisado, J. “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. May 24, 2010. Web.
8. Lockwood, Chris. “Your Expert Guide to Beta-Alanine” Bodybuilding.com. Oct 23, 2012. Web.
10. Rawson, ES., Volek, JS. “Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. November 17, 2003. Web.
11. Cholewa, J. M., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition 10:39, 2013.
12. Apicella, J. M., et al. Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology 113:793-802, 2013.
13. Trepanowski, J. F, et al. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 25(12):3461-71, 2011.
14. Lee, E. C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7:27, 2010.
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