Pre workout supplements are very popular with gym goers due to the huge increase in energy that they offer.

This is mostly due to the caffeine content, but many pre workouts contain multiple ingredients that provide a number of benefits.

In this article we are going to be looking at six of the best pre workout ingredients, ones that you should look for in your next pre workout supplement.

Top Six Pre Workout Ingredients

You don’t necessarily require every single one of these ingredients to have a successful pre workout, but the more that are present, the better it could be.

In this section we will look at the benefits of each ingredient in turn and identify the correct dosage.


An amino acid that is converted into arginine in the body, L-Citrulline is added to pre workout supplements because it has been shown to massively reduce fatigue, reduce muscle soreness, and increase nitric oxide. It can therefore increase training volume significantly [1].

  • The correct dosage should be around 6-8,000mg if you want to improve exercise performance.


Basically a slightly altered version of Alanine (an amino acid), Beta-Alanine can increase muscular endurance, and reduce fatigue.

  • It’s recommended dosage would be 2,000 – 5,000mg.


Found in beetroot, Betaine works in a similar way to creatine and has been linked to improved physical performance. It can also marginally reduce cortisol, and may help prevent liver damage. Taking Betaine should help increase training volume [2].

  • Standard dosage seems to be around 2,500mg.


One of the best supplements you could ask for, creatine has continually been shown to increase fat free mass (muscle) [3], increase power output, increase hydration, and reduce fatigue.

Taking a dosage of 2,500mg per day works best, though some people believe in creatine loading. In this case you would take much larger doses (25,000mg) for 5-7 days before dropping down to the 2,500mg per day dosage.

  • Standard dosages can be from 2,500mg up to 5,000mg


Caffeine has so many benefits that it is difficult to put them all down in one short review. A full review of Caffeine will outline all the benefits.

It can increase your metabolism, and increase fat burning [4], improve performance, improve mood, improve cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and reduce the perception of pain. Making it the perfect pre workout supplement ingredient.

  • Dosages vary depending on the size of the person taking it, but 200-500mg is usually effective. Aim for the higher end if you are a bigger person, and the lower end if you are smaller.

Alpha GPC

Often used for its effect on concentration, Alpha GPC can increase fat oxidation (burning), increase growth hormone, increase power, and reduce the effects of mental fatigue. A really underrated pre workout ingredient.

  • Dosage should be around 300-600mg.

The Bottom Line

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, caffeine is probably the most effective ingredient – but many people take so much that their tolerance level goes through the roof.

If this becomes the case then finding a pre workout supplement that contains the other five ingredients at the recommended dosages (while you avoid caffeine for 6-12 weeks) can be really beneficial.



[1] Perez-Guisado, J., Jakeman, P. 2010. Citrulline malate enhances anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24(5): 1215-22


[2] Trepanowski, J., Farney, T., McCarthy, C., Schilling, B., Craig, S., Bloomer, R. 2011. The effects of chronic Betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25(12): 3461-71


[3] Kerksick, CM., Rasmussen, C., Lancaster, S., Starks, M., Smith, P., Melton, C., Greenwood, M., Almada, A., Krieder, R. 2007. Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training. Nutrition23(9): 647-56


[4] Dulloo, A., Duret, C., Rohrer, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., Chantre, P., Vandermander, J. (1999) Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. American Society for Clinical Nutrition70(6): 1040-1045



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