I don’t like supplements. They tend to be overpriced and rarely offer tangible benefits.
However, I have a soft spot for pre-workout drinks. They simply make you feel like a BEAST in the gym…
But if you look at the nutrition label you’ll find a long list of ingredients that you can barely even pronounce. And if you google their names you’ll be perplexed why some of them are even included in a pre-workout powder.
But not all of them. A select few have been scientifically proven to have their merits. So why not skip the overpriced pre-workout products, buy the individual ingredients (that actually make a difference), and make your own? It’s cheaper and more effective, because nearly every commercial powder under-doses the scientifically proven compounds, rendering them ineffective.
Buy the ingredients listed below, mix them with water, drink up, and enter beast mode.
1. Caffeine (100-300 mg per serving)
Caffeine improves focus and blunts the pain response (1). This means you’ll feel more energetic and be able to push yourself further before feeling fatigued.
This is the main ingredient in every pre-workout powder and energy drink.
Note: The above link is to 200 mg capsules of caffeine. But you can simply open them up and empty the powder into your drink.
2. Creatine (5 g per serving)
Supplementing creatine while lifting weights has been shown to increase muscle mass and improve strength. There are a large amount of studies and research to prove this.
Creatine is an organic acid, naturally synthesized by our bodies from several amino acids, that helps to supply energy to the cells of the body, especially in skeletal muscle.
3. Beta-Alanine (4 g per serving)
If you’ve ever taken a pre-workout powder and felt tingles on your skin, it’s because of this amino acid.
It’s been shown to lead to improved endurance in numerous studies (2) (3).
4. Citrulline Malate (6 g per serving)
Citrulline malate doesn’t have the large bodies of evidence to support it like creatine and beta-alanine. It’s also not cheap. So I personally don’t use it.
But it has been shown to relieve muscle soreness and improve performance when taken before a workout (4).
5. Gatorade Powder (for taste)
Use this so you’re not drinking powdery water. It can also add some carbs in if you get the non-diet version.
Watch Me Make My Pre-Workout
In the video above, I show you exactly how to mix up this pre-workout concoction.
Note: the only 2 things that NEED to be taken pre-workout are caffeine & citrulline malate.
Creatine and beta-alanine work over time — they don’t have immediate effects. But I take them pre-workout because it’s convenient (and I like the skin tingles during my workouts).
1. Green, J. Matt, et al. “Effects of caffeine on repetitions to failure and ratings of perceived exertion during resistance training.” International journal of sports physiology and performance 2.3 (2007): 250.
2. Hoffman, Jay R., et al. “Short-duration< i> β</i>-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players.” Nutrition research 28.1 (2008): 31-35.
3. Smith, Abbie E., et al. “Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6.1 (2009): 1-9.
4. Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín, and Philip M. Jakeman. “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24.5 (2010): 1215-1222.