The 7 Best Pre-Workout Supplements to Try


Many people find it difficult to get active and stay active. A lack of energy is a common reason why. To get an extra boost of energy for exercise, many people take a pre-workout supplement. However, a multitude of supplements is available, each containing many ingredients. Because of this, it can be confusing to know what to look for in a pre-workout supplement. Here are the 7 most important ingredients to look for in pre-workout supplements.





Creatine is one of the most studied sports supplements. It is safe to consume and can increase muscle strength and power, particularly when combined with weight training. A recommended dose starts with 20 grams per day, which are split into multiple servings during a short “loading” phase when you start taking the supplement. After this phase, a typical maintenance dose is 3–5 grams per day.





Caffeine is consumed by many people around the world. It is safe at moderate doses and can improve various aspects of exercise performance, including power output and performance during long-distance events or team sports. Based on many studies, the recommended dose of caffeine for exercise performance is about 1.4–2.7 mg per pound (3–6 mg per kg) of body weight. For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this would be 200–400 mg






Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps fight fatigue in your muscles. It is most effective at improving performance during short bursts of intense exercise lasting one to four minutes. The recommended dose for improving exercise performance is 4–6 grams per day.






Citrulline is an amino acid produced naturally in your body. It is also found in some foods and available as a supplement. Consuming citrulline may improve aspects of endurance and weight-training performance. One of the effects of citrulline is increasing blood flow to body tissues, citrulline also significantly reduced muscle soreness in the days after exercise. A recommended dose is 6 grams of L-citrulline or 8 grams of citrulline malate.



Sodium Bicarbonate


Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, acts as a buffer that fights acid buildup during exercise. It is most effective for exercise that’s characterized by the feeling of “muscle burn”. This burning sensation is an indicator that acid production is increasing due to the intensity of the exercise.The optimal dose for exercise performance is about 136 mg per pound (300 mg per kg) of body weight.





Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are found in high concentrations in many foods. BCAA supplements are unnecessary for muscle growth, but they may improve endurance performance and reduce fatigue and soreness. Nevertheless, due to the possibility that they enhance endurance performance and reduce fatigue, BCAAs may be a beneficial part of a pre-workout supplement for some individuals. Doses of BCAAs vary but are often 5–20 grams. The ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine also varies depending on the supplement, but a ratio of 2:1:1 is common.




Nitrate is a molecule found in many vegetables, including spinach and beetroot. It is commonly consumed as beetroot juice and may reduce the amount of oxygen used during exercise. It may also improve endurance exercise performance. Nitrate may be beneficial for exercise performance because it can be converted into a molecule called nitric oxide, which can increase blood flow. The optimal dose of nitrate is probably 2.7–5.9 mg per pound (6–13 mg per kg) of body weight. For someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this is about 400–900 mg.


Take away tip

  • For long-lasting endurance exercise, you may be able to improve your performance with caffeine, nitrate and BCAAs.
  • For shorter, intense activities, such as those that give you the “muscle burn” sensation, beta-alanine, sodium bicarbonate, caffeine and citrulline may help.
  • To perform at your best during strength and power exercise, such as weight training, you can try creatine, caffeine and citrulline.

Q&A: What is the effect of sodium bicarbonate as a preworkout supplement?

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