Nothing supercharges your performance like a high-quality pre workout drink. When you find the right one to align with your goals, you’ll feel superhuman. But with so many on the market, it can be hard to know exactly what type to include in your stack.
Don’t worry bro, we’ve got your back on this one. We’ve hit the science hard to find out all the essential facts surrounding pre workout drinks. What follows is an essential guide on how to use them, what to look for, what to avoid, and which products our experts think is the best choice.
When we’re done here you’ll have all the facts to amplify your workouts up to 11. So scoop-up, shake-up, and down some serious supplement knowledge.
Here’s everything you need to know…
The Bro-down: Article Preview
- What is a Pre Workout Drink
- The Inside Scoop – Why take a pre workout drink
- Ingredients – What to look for and which to avoid
- SpotMeBro’s recommendation
What is a Pre Workout Drink
These supplement drinks are a liquid specifically designed to enhance performance. There’s no set time of when to drink pre workout, but as the name suggests, they’re typically taken before exercise.
Many gym goers go for products created by supplement companies for convenience. However, it’s possible to make a pre workout drink at home, providing you have all the ingredients. For us though, we always go for a trusted brand with testimonials and proven results.
Ingredients are the key to a pre workout drink’s effectiveness. If the ingredient profile sucks, it’s a guarantee for shoddy results. But, if the manufacturer has found the holy grail of great combinations and optimal dosage, a single serving can increase everything from concentration to total power under the bar.
Once upon a time pre workout drinks were closely guarded secrets by bodybuilding pros and world class athletes. Today though, they’re one of the most commonly used supplements out there. Many fitness fanatics wouldn’t even consider lacing up their gym shoes without first downing their favorite mixture – us included.[infobox]
Key point: Pre workout drinks are used to improve different areas of physical and mental performance.[/infobox]
The Inside Scoop – Why take a pre workout drink
So far we’ve only touched the tip of the supplement iceberg. If you thought the only thing these drinks had to offer was exercise energy, you’re in for a real surprise. Pre workout drinks offer more than just a buzz, especially if they have a well-crafted ingredient profile.
Many pre workout drinks provide benefits like:
- Improved focus
- Increased endurance
- Enhanced total overall power
- Increased blood flow
- Less lactic acid build-up
- Reduced DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
In order to make the best possible pre workout drink choice, it’s important to assess our aspirations. After all, we train for a reason, so what’s included in our supplement stack should always be hand-picked to help us smash our goals sooner.
Say a bodybuilder is looking for a good pre workout energy drink to help them power through an early AM workout. Naturally, they’d gravitate towards something promising to increase blood flow, alertness and power.
Similarly, an MMA fighter on a weight cut may be looking for a few strong pre workout drinks to keep him on form in the training room. Because his food intake will be low, he’ll need a supplement that provides energy, endurance and focus. Similarly, the fighter might look towards a pre workout drink for weight loss.
Once you’ve got those aspirations on lock-down you can seek out a specific drink for smashing them. Luckily, we’ve got your back here, bro. Now we’re going to look at the top ingredients to look for and what they do.[infobox]
Key point: Pre workout drinks help people get the most from their exercise. What type of pre workout drink someone uses often depends on their specific goals.[/infobox]
Ingredients – What to look for and which to avoid
When it comes to pre workout drinks, not all ingredients are created equal. Some are scientifically proven to enhance performance, others are either useless, dangerous or even both.
Knowing the difference between the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, can save you both time and money. And whilst nobody is expecting you to set your sights on a Chemistry Ph.D., you should get to know the most common ingredients used.
Warning: Avoid Proprietary Blends!
Before we get started though, we’ve got to talk about proprietary blends. Why? Because they’re the supplement’s shadiest secret. Just think about it for a minute bro, if a company doesn’t want to tell you what’s in their product, why would you want to risk taking it?
If you spot the words ‘Proprietary Blend‘ on an ingredients list, throw that sh*t like a grenade with a lost pin. What you’ve got right there is a bunch of who-knows-what that could mess up your body, bro.
Basically, manufacturers can throw whatever they like into a mixture and call it a proprietary blend. They almost never label things separately to avoid detection of bad ingredients or minuscule amounts.
A sign of a trusted pre workout drink will always be transparency. If a company is proud to display every single ingredient and the relative amount, it says they’re confident in their creation. SpotMeBro would only ever recommend taking a supplement free from mysterious blends.[infobox]
Key point: Avoid proprietary blends at all costs. If a manufacturer won’t declare something it’s most likely garbage.[/infobox]
Top 5 Pre Workout Drink Ingredients
Okay, bro, now we’ve got the nasties out of the way, here’s the good stuff. These are the top five pre workout ingredients proven to bring about results:
Yet, it’s not just that ‘bringing you back from the dead’ energy caffeine provides. That’s because studies have shown that caffeine can even increase total power output in exercises like weightlifting , and long-duration endurance sports too. 
A common pre workout caffeine drink is simply a hot cup of coffee 30 minutes before training. However, almost all pre workout supplements contain caffeine as a key compound.
Studies into creatine have shown that the compound can improve strength, lean mass, and overall sports performance.  And whilst we do create creatine naturally inside our body, supplementation can help optimize stores for when they’re needed most.
Love being all about that lifting life? According to scientists, strength gains achieved during a weight training regime can increase by 5-10% with creatine supplementation. 
L-Theanine is an amino acid typically found in green tea. Not only does it promote fat loss, but the amino can heighten attention, reduce anxiety, and even boost energy.
However, it’s not until L-Theanine is combined with caffeine that the real magic happens. Known as ‘smart-caffeine’, when these two nutrients are synergized, the benefits of caffeine are enhanced significantly, whilst any unwanted side effects are smoothed out.
According to studies this awesome combination increases both cognitive performance and increases subjective awareness. So, if you’re looking for a pre workout drink to keep you sharp out on the playing field and alert under the iron, look for L-Theanine. 
A high-quality pre workout drink will commonly include citrulline as it helps increase blood flow to muscle tissue. So, not only will you achieve a great ‘pump’, your muscles will be able to access oxygen at a much higher rate due to better blood flow. 
One study has even shown that citrulline can significantly upper-body weight training performance. When test subjects consumed the naturally occurring amino acid, they were able to carry out 53% more repetitions than when they took the placebo. 
If you’re in search of a pre workout drink to take your weight training to the next level look for this ingredient.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid naturally produced by the human body essential for brain health, muscle function and movement. Ultimately, the compound helps us produce energy.
Acetyl-L Carnitine, the most effective form of L-Carnitine, helps to fight tiredness and fatigue, promote fat loss, decrease muscle damage, and increase focus.  For somebody who likes to train hard, these benefits can go a long way in optimizing performance.[infobox]
Key point: When scouting out a new pre workout drink look for these 5 scientifically supported ingredients.[/infobox]
Here at SpotMeBro we’ve tried and tested so many supplements we’ve lost count. Wonders have been worked for sure, but we’ve also experienced all the side effects that come with a poor product.
So if there’s one thing we know, it’s how to spot a good pre workout drink. Shoddy imposters don’t go unnoticed amongst our team, we always sniff them out eventually.
Our number one pre workout drink of choice has to be 4Gauge from Roar Ambition. It’s not a new product, but it’s the one we always go back to. A top drawer ingredient profile coupled with a smooth yet energizing ride suits our training well – especially the bodybuilders amongst us.
Plus, because 4Gauge is proprietary blend free, we know exactly what’s going into our body. Being FDA approved is one thing, but it doesn’t always mean a drink is free from crappy chemicals. Transparency is a sign of trust for the SpotMeBro team, which is why we respect 4Gauge’s choice to clearly label all their ingredients and dosages.
The ‘Fruit Blast’ flavor is fresh and zesty when mixed with water. Out of all the pre workout drinks we’ve tasted, it’s up there with the best of them. Forget about chemical aftertastes and chalky textures from cheaply made powders – 4Gauge is a premium product you’ll actually enjoy.
Wait, one more thing bro!
Make sure to down your drink 30 minutes before exercise. Our experience has shown this is the best time to drink pre workout, as you’ll start to feel the buzz the moment your hands grab the bar.
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- Pérez-Guisado, J. and Jakeman, P. (2010). Citrulline Malate Enhances Athletic Anaerobic Performance and Relieves Muscle Soreness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(5), pp.1215-1222.
- Malaguarnera, M., Vacante, M., Giordano, M., Pennisi, G., Bella, R., Rampello, L., Malaguarnera, M., Li Volti, G. and Galvano, F. (2011). Oral acetyl-l-carnitine therapy reduces fatigue in overt hepatic encephalopathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(4), pp.799-808.