Top 10 Rated Pre Workout Supplements of 2012

Written by | Posted under Nutrition | 3 years ago

There has been a lot of attention on pre workout supplements in the past few years. I have tried a few of them myself and I have been using one regularly for 4 months now so I can vouch for their effectiveness at allowing me to workout longer and lift heavier.

One disclaimer:

A lot of these supplements contain the same main ingredients (stimulants, nitric oxide promoting agents, creatine, amino acids) though in different quantity. Different people react differently to these ingredients, so if you’ve found a pre workout supplement that works for you with little/no side effects then stick to it. This post is based on my personal experience using some of these, my knowledge of ingredients on the nutrition labels, and the experience of others (through bodybuilding.com ratings).

Without further ado, let’s get to the roundup!

Top 10 Pre Workout Supplements

#1 USPLABS JACK3D

Jack3dBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.8/10

Notable Ingredients:

Arginine, Creatine Monohydrate, Beta Alanine, Caffeine, 1,3-Dimethylamylamine

Notes about ingredients:

  • Arginine is often used to increase the blood vessel circumference by promoting Nitric Oxide (NO) synthesis (gets you pumped – helping with muscle growth).
  • Creatine monohydrate is the most effective and most proven performance enhancing supplement legally available.
  • Beta Alanine help enhance muscular endurance by buffering lactic acid.
  • Caffeine helps increase focus, alertness, and energy.
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) is a highly stimulatory neurological stimulant that helps give a quick spike of energy like caffeine. Note that DMAA is a relatively new supplement that hasn’t been as extensively studied and though it is tolerated pretty well in pre workout supplement form, it has been linked to cerebral hemorrhage in the party pill form.

Have I taken this?

Yes. I have been taking this regularly for 4 months now. This is my top rated pre workout supplement in this list because it gives me clean energy (not an insane psychotic rush energy) and I can noticeably lift a lot more than when I try to swap in any other supplements. Also, each workout costs $0.62-$1.86 ($0.62 per scoop). After a week, I built up tolerance and I had to use two scoops (never had to go up to the recommended 3 scoops per workout). I recommend cycling this and any other pre workout supplement 4 weeks on and 4 weeks off to lower the risk of any side effects that come with any supplements (especially highly stimulatory supplements).

#2 MusclePharm Assault

MusclePharm AssaultBodybuilding.com Rating: 9/10

Notable Ingredients:

BCAA (3:1:2), Creatine Monohydrate, Beta Alanine, Citrulline, Tyrosine, Choline Caffeine

Notes about ingredients:

  • BCAA (3:1:2) are branched chained amino acids at 3/1/2 ratio of Leucine/Valine/Isoleucine respectively. Most cell benefits come from Leucine so the 3:1:2 ratio seems quite promising. Having BCAAs in your system is like having fuel ready for your muscles to use while you’re lifting.
  • Citrulline is better at promoting Nitric Oxide (NO) synthesis than arginine as it has better intestinal uptake.
  • Tyrosine helps increase adrenaline levels.
  • Choline helps increase focus/clarify and has been linked to improved endurance performance.

Have I taken this?

Yes. What makes me interested is that in addition to 5g of creatine and 4g of beta-alanine, it also contains 6g of BCAAs per serving. I usually add 10-15g of BCAA to my pre workout shake to allow myself to lift more. It’s nice to see that Assault already includes some BCAA. Also I would choose to cycle between Assault and Jack3d because the main active ingredients that helps you get the “RUSH” are different (Tyrosine/Choline vs 1,3-Dimethylamylamine). I also prefer the Citrulline over Arginine for Nitric Oxide synthesis.

#3 BSN N.O.-Xplode 2.0

N.O.-XplodeBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.1

Notable Ingredients:

Arginine, Citrulline, Creatine blend, Beta Alanine, Caffeine, Tyrosine

Have I taken this?

Yes. I have tried N.O.-Xplode a few times and loved it for its clean energy feel also. The only issue I have with it is that I feel pumped up but still wasn’t able to lift as much as when I take Jack3d.

#4 Cellucor C4 Extreme

Cellucore C4 ExtremeBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.8/10

Notable Ingredients:

Beta Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine, Tyrosine, Caffeine, 1,3-Dimethylamlymine

Have I taken this?

No. This one also seems promising. They tout the benefits of Creatine Nitrate but again it could just be marketing.

#5 Optimum Essential AmiN.O. Energy

Essential Amino EnergyBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.7

Notable Ingredients:

Arginine, Leucine, Beta Alanine, Citrulline, Tyrosine, Caffeine, Green Tea Extract

Have I taken this?

Yes. This supplement gave me a lot of energy rush. So much that it sometimes made me feel queasy. AmiN.O. Energy also doesn’t contain creatine, so it didn’t help me lift as heavy. I’d say if you are doing some sort of circuit training style weight training and you don’t want the bulk you get from creatine, then this would be the right pre workout supplement for you.

#6 BPI Sports 1.M.R.

BPI Sports 1.M.R.Bodybuilding.com Rating: 8.1/10

Notable Ingredients:

Arginine, Beta Alanine, Creatine Monohydrate, Tyrosine, Caffeine, 1,3-Dimethylamylamine

Have I taken this?

Yes. The supplement gave me an insane psycho energy rush. I really felt like I was a crazy. All I wanted to do was bang out reps so I wasn’t able to focus enough to lift extremely heavy. The rush lasted way beyond my workout so if you are into that kind of energy rush then this is the pre workout supplement for you.

#7 MuscleTech NeuroCore

MuscleTech NeuroCoreBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.6/10

Notable Ingredients:

Beta Alanine, Citrulline, Creatine HCL, Geranium Robertianium, Caffeine, DMAE

Notes about ingredients:

  • Geranium Robertianium is naturally sourced 1,3-Dimethylamylamine.
  • DMAE is a cholinergic that promotes the synthesis of choline (for focus and clarify).

Have I taken this?

No. This supplement also sounds promising since they claim that they use better ingredients than their competitors and their ingredients are fully disclosed. I’d like to see how this compares to Jack3d.

#8 Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump

Gaspari SuperPump MaxBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.2/10

Notable Ingredients:

Citrulline, BCAA (2:1:1), Creatine Monohydrate, L-Tyrosine, Caffeine

Have I taken this?

No. it seems like a good pre workout supplement, but at $1-$3 per workout, it’s definitely not worth it in my book especially when there are other ones out there with a better blend IMHO.

#9 Nutrex HEMO-RAGE Black Ultra Concentrate

Nutrex HEMO-RAGE Black Ultra ConcentrateBodybuilding.com Rating: 8.8/10

Notable Ingredients:

Creatine monohydrate, Arginine, Beta Alanine, Caffeine, 1,3-Dimethylamylamine

Have I taken this?

No. But at $0.31-$0.93 per workout, it’s worth trying! I also like that it contains the good stuff: creatine monohydrate, 1,3-Dimethylamylamine at such a cheap price (basically a cheaper Jack3d clone)!

#10 Infinite Labs Juggernaut

Infinite Labs JuggernautBodybuilding.com Rating: 9.2/10

Notable Ingredients:

Whey protein blend, Arginine blend, Citrulline blend, Beta Alanine, Creatine blend, caffeine

Have I taken this?

No. This pre workout supplement has a lot of stuff in it and also has some interesting uses. Because of the whey in it, you can use this pre workout to train on an empty stomach (first thing in the morning) and you will still have enough energy to train. It also claims to help prevent dehydration (unlike other pre workout supplements). Keep in mind that I haven’t tried this, so the dehydration benefit could just be marketing.

Some things you should know about pre workout supplements

  • Consult your doctor before taking these supplements or any other supplements out there.
  • Some of these supplements contain 1,3-Dimethylamylamine/DMAA/Geranamine (e.g. Jack3d, 1MR, Cellucor C4 Extreme, Hemo Rage, Neurocore) and are banned by World Anti-Doping Agency since these ingredients show up as amphetamines in their tests. Be sure to read the labels if you are going to need to be drug-tested for anything (e.g. competitive sports).
  • These supplements are used to help you workout longer and lift harder so that you can get more out of your workouts.
  • These supplements are highly stimulatory so do not take the full dosage if you are sensitive to stimulants.
  • Because of its stimulatory nature, do not take these in conjunction with fat burners or any other stimulatory supplements.
  • Like any other stimulants, try cycling (3 weeks on, 1 week off) to not build up tolerance and reduce any risk of major side effects.
  • Some of these pre workout supplements have creatine in them, so it can add bulk whether you like it or not.
  • Make sure to pay attention to your body’s hydration level while under the effects of these pre workout supplements. For example, I wouldn’t take any of these top rated pre workout supplements and go out for a 10 mile run without access to plenty of water.
  • Do not treat these supplements as fat burners. If you want to burn fat, go take some fat burners instead.

18 Comments

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  1. Lauren said,

    I’ve always had trouble deciding whether protein powders and supplements are a good idea…what kinds of workouts are these most effective for? If I’m doing cardio or weight training for 45 minutes to an hour, will taking these cancel out the calories I’m burning during my workout?

    3 years ago
  2. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Lauren
    Usually these PRE workout supplements have almost no calories since they are just a bunch of stimulants, nitric oxide, creatine, and amino acids. So it wouldn’t cancel out the calories you’re burning during your workout.

    Protein powders and other POST workout supplements (not mentioned on this article), do contain calories so they do kind of cancel out the calories your burn during your workout (ignoring the after burn from your exercises). That being said, here’s some general advice.

    It sounds like your goal is to lose weight. The rule of thumb for getting fit for you is:

    • Eat less to lose weight
    • Exercise to improve strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health

    So you should not look into trying to burn calories with exercise but rather you should exercise to improve strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. Protein powders or any other post workout supplements are there to help you recover faster from your intense exercise so that you can exercise again in a day or two.

    Thanks for visiting and great question!

    3 years ago
  3. Sal said,

    You should try out the Gamma Labs pre-training formula. It is by far my favorite pre-workout, and gives such a natural pump. My two favorite things about it are that it DOES NOT contain geranium stem in it like Jack3d does. Which is a great thing because geranium stem actually inhibits blood flow, and with a pre-workout supplement, that pretty much defeats the whole purpose. With a pre-workout you want to INCREASE your blood flow, vassal constrictors are no good! Second favorite thing about it is that it taste absolutely amazing and mixes so easily. By far the best tasting supplement on the market in my opinion. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

    3 years ago
  4. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Sal
    Thanks for the tip! I checked it out on bodybuilding.com and it looks pretty good. I guess at $2.13 per serving it has to be good. Maybe I’ll try it one of these days whenever I feel like Jack3d is no longer doing it’s job and whenever I feel like ponying up the money.

    3 years ago
  5. K Keriakis said,

    Keep at it. Love to read your posts. I’m an avid triathlete and supplement fan.

    Cheers,
    K Michaels, M.D.

    3 years ago
  6. riki said,

    great article, sppulement very necessery to build muscle fast

    3 years ago
  7. Steven Heri said,

    Great article though really informative thank you!

    3 years ago
  8. Michal said,

    I’ve been a big fan of NO Shotgun, a very shotgun approach to pre workout nutrition.

    3 years ago
  9. John Shelman said,

    I heard a rumor that jack 3d can flag dirty in urine tests. I live near a marine base and they say its banned there due to this. Have you ever heard that?

    2 years ago
  10. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @John Shelman
    This is true, but it is also true for any other products containing 1,3-dimethylamylamine (e.g. 1MR,
    Hemo Rage, Cellucor C4 Extreme). Here’s more information on this reddit thread.

    2 years ago
  11. Shuan Stamps said,

    I use to take Jack 3 -D weekly, until I ask a close friend who is a professional body builder; He informed me that Jack 3 – D is a HEART ATTACK WAITING TO HAPPEN, STOP TAKING IT ASAP !!!!!!!!!!!! IT SPEEDS YO HEART RATE UP VERY FAST, A LIL TOO FAST; BUT THAT BOOST DOES’NT LAST THAT LONG, THAT’S WHY YOU GET THAT QUICK XPLOSIVE BURST OF ENERGY TO LIFT OR WORKOUT HARD FOR LIKE 30MIN.

    2 years ago
  12. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Shaun
    Just curious, what does your friend take as a pre-workout supplement?

    Sounds like your friend is overreacting to bro-science. All stimulants (including caffeine) are heart attacks waiting to happen IF you take too high of a dose, your body will freak out and yeah… get a heart attack. Everybody reacts differently to certain stim. If he’s sensitive to a particular stim, take less of it (more bang for your $$ anyway) or don’t take any, but don’t tell others to not take the stims.

    I’m personally am not a big fan of long term use of DMAA (main active ingredient in Jack3d and many other pre-workout supplements), mainly because you build up tolerance quick and there hasn’t been enough scientific studies on long term use. But for short term use where you implement a cycle ON and a cycle OFF, I see little harm. The way I cycle stims are: 2 weeks on non-DMAA (Choline based), 1 week on DMAA, 3 weeks no stims.

    And also, pre-workout supplements are designed to get into your system, help you lift some heavy stuff, and leave your system fast. It shouldn’t linger. If you want endurance during your lifts, supplement with some BCAAs at 30-60 minute intervals peri-workout (depending on your work load). And you can look into beta-alanine too (even though beta-alanine only helps a little at the high rep range).

    2 years ago
  13. Greg said,

    Thanks for the great review. I currently have Assault and I am having a hard time feeling any effects from it. Could it be that I am taking it wrong? I usually take it and wait 30 min’s before I workout, yet I don’t get any sort of response. I took a product sample somewhat similar to Jack3d, GNC Ravage, and that thing had me wired within 8-10 mins of taking it. Therefore I cant understand why Assault hasn’t been effective. Do you take it on an empty stomach? With food? Any feedback would be great. Oh yea…Lauren (above) is a complete hottie. LOL. Thanks for the review again.

    2 years ago
  14. Matt said,

    No white flood included in this review? One of THE top pre workout supplements out there and has been for years.

    Please add if possible.

    2 years ago
  15. Sal said,

    @Greg – I never got great results from Assault neither. I work for Gamma Labs and we have a very good product called PTF that you should try out. I haven’t came across any complaints so far, and I personally get great results from it. No sugar, and a lot of antioxidants to prevent crash. Try it out!

    2 years ago
  16. angela said,

    i have taken assault a few times and it does nothing for me. Jacked and c4 are the only things i have taken with what i consider good results. I used to take way too much and had no idea. I stopped on my own because i noticed that i was naturaly having enough energy. Later i found out that i was taking 4 scoops instead of my previously.estimated two… Ooops

    2 years ago
  17. Brian said,

    FYI, 1MR does not have DMAA in it anymore. They took it out and now call it “The Original” in the packaging. Sounds kind of backwards, i know.

    1 year ago
  18. Andy Herman said,

    I have been taking Assault for a little less than a year and I like it. I have built a bit of a tollerance but I still get results so I wouldn’t say I have any complaints.

    I found a good deal on some Con-Cret and jumped on it for no other reason than how cheap it was (Buy one 48 serving and get a second 48 servings free) but now I am noticing that Creatine is really the only active ingredient in Con-Cret. Assault appears to be more of a “cocktail” and contains numerous ingredients in addition to Creatine with different effects. In the past I have taken Assault along with Creatine Kre-Alkalyn capsules 30 minutes prior to my workout. I usually do about an hour of cardio followed by an hour of lifting and this was always enough to get me through and then some. I rarely take anything during my workout but have flirted with it a few times in the past. For protein, I take Combat powder immediately afterward. I add Muscle Farm Glutamine to the Assault and the Combat powder.

    With this stack, workout regiment and improved diet I lost a little over 50 lbs between March and October 2012. I play a lot of basketball this time of year so I backed my workouts off quite a bit over the past couple months but have had no problem maintaining my current weight and build. When my basketball leagues end in February I plan to get back on the horse and hit the gym hard again until next winter. This time around I don’t have any weight to lose so I am going to focus more on building lean muscle. Should I be concerned about the ingredients I am giving up switching from Assault to Con-Cret? Is there anything I can add to my stack if the Con-Cret isn’t cutting it? Keep in mind, I don’t like to take a lot of supplements in the first place, just the basics. I just didn’t realize there were so many other things in Assault before making the switch and now I have a lot of Con-Cret to go through.

    Sorry for the novel. You seem to have an interest in the subject and give advice willingly. I literally just bought the Con-Cret this afternoon and stumbled upon your site about 15 minutes later.

    Thanks in advance,
    Andy

    1 year ago

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