What You Should Look For in a Pre-Workout Supplement

Pre-workout supplements can help you power through an early morning workout and keep your exercise goals on track. However, not all pre-workout supplements are created the same. Before you take a pre-workout supplement, you need to know what to consider.

Generally speaking, you want quality ingredients that aren’t hidden by strange names or phrases like “proprietary blend.” Plus, you want good value for your money. Some pre-workout supplements are known to carry high prices without results. Let’s examine what to look for.

High-Quality Ingredients

You don’t want a pre-workout supplement with low-quality ingredients and fillers that don’t really do anything. Things like glutamine, added sugars, and maltodextrin aren’t the type of ingredients you want to see. You also don’t want to see dangerous ingredients.

Those are things like ephedrine, which is banned. Bitter orange, however, is a non-banned ingredient that produces some of the same harmful effects as ephedrine. Elevated heart rates, chest pains, and full-blown heart attacks are associated with dangerous ingredients.

However, you do want to see things like caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, and vitamin D. It also helps to have magnesium and beetroot in a pre-workout supplement. These ingredients tend to boost energy and help with muscle growth and performance.

Other high-quality ingredients include vitamin B12 and essential amino acids. Vitamin B12 helps your cells convert food and other fuel into energy. Essentially, it ensures your metabolism does its job and can preserve nerve health. Amino acids are the building blocks of cells and muscles.

If you want our advice, do your research and purchase your pre workout from a supplement store that knows what they’re doing. Look for positive reviews, good ingredient panels, and high dosages.

Optimal Doses

Even if a pre-workout supplement has high-quality ingredients, they can be too much or too little. You want just the right dose of these ingredients to get the most out of your pre-workout supplement. When you don’t have a high enough dose, you lose effectiveness.

And when there’s too much, you could experience the negative effects of that ingredient. For instance, too much caffeine can give you the jitters. You might also feel irritable until the effects wear off or have trouble getting to sleep if you work out in the evenings.

Then there’s the fact that some of the ingredients in pre-workout supplements may increase your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Adults typically have a recommended daily allowance for these things and exceeding those guidelines can become toxic.


The problem with proprietary blends is this isn’t transparent. You don’t really know what’s in that “proprietary blend” and it’s kind of a lazy way to market a product. People think there’s some sort of secret sauce in the supplement that’s going to produce miracles.

However, a “proprietary blend” could be anything. And in some cases, it might contain controversial or unsafe ingredients. Some of those blends might also contain substances that haven’t been clinically tested or regulated yet.

Instead, you want to know exactly what’s in a pre-workout supplement that your body is going to use and absorb. You wouldn’t eat something that you weren’t sure of, so why not hold the same standards when it comes to supplements? Your health is literally at risk!

So, if you see the words “proprietary blend” on a pre-workout supplement, it’s best to walk away. Get a supplement that’s made by a company willing to honestly disclose what’s in the powder or capsule. Remember your parting with your hard-earned money for this.


A more expensive pre-workout supplement doesn’t mean it’s more effective or better for you. In fact, sometimes a supplement with a higher price tag is the price you pay for a brand name. Other times, it’s because supply is low and demand is high.

While high demand can indicate a good supplement, you always get more bang for your buck with a high-quality blend regardless of the brand name. Look for sales online and at nutrition stores. You can also look for value packs that give you more volume for less money.

Nonetheless, going with the cheapest pre-workout supplement isn’t a sound strategy either. You need to weigh quality against price and volume or size. It’s also helpful to weigh the pros and cons of supplement types. For example, powders and shakes versus capsules or gummies.

With powders, shakes, and gummies, you’re going to almost always add to your calorie count for the day. If you’re aiming for weight loss, are diabetic, or are on a low-carb diet, you may want to stick with regular capsules or seek out sugar-free powders.

A Note About Value

Value typically means various things to different people. For example, you might be willing to pay more for a supplement you’ve had success with or a brand name you trust. Others will perceive more value in a supplement that’s simple, transparent, and middle of the road.

Value is defined as a trade-off between quality and price point. You’re buying a pre-workout supplement to do a specific job. And that job is to improve your performance during your workout and see better results from your exercise routine.

Nonetheless, some of the value you get from a pre-workout supplement can also be obtained through diet. Caffeine, for instance, can be found in coffee. B12 is a supplement that’s in whole grains and can be added to specialty coffee drinks.

Final Thoughts

Pre-workout supplements can give you a boost during your run on the treadmill and while you’re pumping iron. However, you should examine the ingredients and quality of any pre-workout supplement. Whether that formula comes in a pill or a shake, you need to know what’s in it.

High-quality ingredients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and caffeine are legitimate boosts to your exercise routine. But banned ingredients and words like “proprietary blend” can be problematic. They can cause health problems and decrease the value of what you’re getting.

Huynh Nguyen

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