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How to Make your Own Pre Workout: 3 Best Recipes

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There are hundreds of pre-packaged pre-workouts, however, learning how to make your own pre workout can become your alternative routine.

In this way, you will be able to precisely select only the ingredients with a scientific basis, add them in the needed dosages, and avoid ingredients in doses that cause uncomfortable (relevant for beta-alanine) or even dangerous (relevant for caffeine) side effects.

In this article you will see a short guide on how to design your own pre workout.

Pre workouts sold in the market have different ready-to-use formulas. However you can create your own preworkout, in which you will add only key ingredients that have scientific support, while choosing the needed dosages that will allow you to get the effect, minimizing side effects.

How to Make your Own Pre Workout: 3 Best Recipes

How To Make Your Own Pre Workout In Simple Steps? 

Before deciding to make a custom pre workout, you need to understand the process of preparation. Educating yourself on ingredients, dosages and interactions between the compounds will increase the safety and efficiency of the self-made formula.

Thus, the process of making your own pre workout supplement may be divided into 4 main steps:

1. Choose Ingredients With Scientific Support

The “core” of every pre-workout formula is very similar. The key ingredient with an immediate effect is Сaffeine (although it is absent in the stim-free version), while additional ingredients with an immediate training effect are mainly L-Citrulline (or Citrulline Malate) and Betaine.

So, we buy these things separately and mix them ourselves.

Also, most pre-workouts contain Beta-alanine and Creatine, although these components do not have immediate training effects. That is, to obtain effects, it is not necessary to take them as part of a pre-workout. However, you can of course add them to the mix, considering their dosage in the total daily amount.

In addition to that, there are a couple of optional ingredients that you may pay attention to when you build your own pre workout, as some of them may be useful for individuals in certain scenarios.

For example, adding L-Theanine to the mix may reduce anxiety and jitters associated with caffeine. However, obviously with each additional ingredient added, the cost per serving will also be higher, which is something to consider.

Pre Workout Ingredients

2. Measure the Ingredients in Needed Dosages

When I say «measure the ingredients» we definitely aren’t talking about just adding them to the mixture chaotically. What I’m saying is that every ingredient with an immediate effects (caffeine, citrulline and betaine) should be added in dosages that have been shown to be effective in trials.

As for the dosage, in order to obtain performance-enhancing effects, it is necessary to choose at least the minimum dose that demonstrated the effects in the tests, but at the same time minimize potential side effects (the latter especially applies to caffeine).

IngredientNeeded DosageSpecial Considerations
Caffeine3-6 mg / 1 kg of body weight

200 mg – optimal dosage
For those who have not previously taken caffeine supplements or caffeine-containing pre-workouts, you should start with the smallest dose that can give an effect (1.5 mg / 1 kg of body weight, or 100 mg).
L-Citrulline /
Citrulline Malate
L-Citrulline – at least 3 g

Citrulline Malate – at least 6 g
Add either L-Citrulline or Citrulline Malate to the mix.
Betaine1.25-2.5 gTo get the potential effects, it is best to take a single dose closer to the upper range (2.5 g)
Beta-alanine1 g (to reduce the risk of tingling)Consider the dosage of beta-alanine in the total daily requirement.
Creatine2-3 gConsider the dosage of creatine in the total daily requirement.

Note that key and additional ingredients are sold as capsules or powders, so it’s just the matter of your choice which form to choose. If you want to use a pre-workout by mixing it with water, the powder form is your obvious choice.

On the other hand, the capsule form is better suited for those who do not have the opportunity to weigh and mix the powder with water. Therefore, for people “on the go” capsules may be a better option.

atlete makes creatine supplement shake

3. Mix the Ingredients

There is no «rocket science» here — just put the measured ingredients together and mix with water!

Keep in mind that caffeine is mainly sold in capsule or tablet form, so if you want to include it in your pre workout, you will have to take it separately and mix the rest of the ingredients in powdered form. That is, you can take a capsule of caffeine and immediately take your diy pre workout drink, which contains the rest of the components.

Purcaf® Caffeine by Kaged

Purcaf® Caffeine by Kaged
  • Type of Supplement: Caffeine
  • Best For: Performance, Focus, Energy
  • Suitable for Vegans: YES
  • Servings per Package: 100
  • Price per Serving: 0,15$
  • Company Founded: 2015
  • Recommended by Athletes: Deidra, Alyssa Marie Perez, Savi Win, Colt Nichols

If you need high-quality caffeine, our choice is Purcaf® Caffeine from Kaged, which is certified by Informed Sport! One capsule contains 200 mg. If you need 100 mg, you can buy tablet form from another brand (for example, NoDoz), and split in 2 to get 100 mg.

Before taking your custom pre workout, you need to weigh all the needed ingredients in the right dosages. For this, you will need a quality kitchen scale that is sensitive to 1 gram.

4. Finally, Take Your Pre-Workout!

The optimal time to take pre-workout is approximately 30-40 minutes before exercise, although the range can be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes. You can also experiment within this time range to find your perfect timing. I recommend choosing water or juice for mixing your pre-workout.

5 Best Pre-Workout Ingredients To Make Your Own Pre-Workout

In order to make it easier for you to decide which ingredient you need, we briefly list their key effects and what they are needed for.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is the key ingredient in any pre workout with a stimulating effect. It stimulates the central nervous system, and its benefits can be best sensed in endurance training, like running or cycling.

It can also improve high-intensity performance, and its ability to reduce perceived exertion and pain perception is beneficial in resistance training.

ingredients for making coffee

Overall caffeine is able to improve muscular strength and endurance, reduce perception of fatigue, increase attention and vigilance. However, the athletes need to be aware of side effects of caffeine, which may include jitters, anxiety, insomnia, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

This is why it is essential to know your personal sensitivity to caffeine and align your dosage. Start with the low dose and increase it gradually. And note, that the total dose of caffeine from all sources should not exceed 400 mg per day!

If you do not tolerate this stimulant well, you can not use it at all. Thus, you will take the so-called stim-free homemade pre workout drinks.

2. L-Citrulline / Citrulline Malate

Citrulline has been shown to increase vasodilation (good for enhancing pumping effect) and potentially improve exercise performance and recovery.

Although the effectiveness of this non-essential amino acid has much less scientific support than caffeine, it is still considered as a potential ergogenic aid. If you want an increased pumping effect, you can use this supplement in your pre-workout.

L-citrulline is commonly supplemented in the form of citrulline malate. Malate may augment the rate of ATP production and reduce the production of lactic acid. So, citrulline and malate may work synergistically to improve exercise performance by increasing blood flow to skeletal muscle and enhancing the synthesis of ATP.

You can take either L-Citrulline or Citrulline Malate, but their minimum effective dosage is different. To obtain the effect of L-Citrulline, it should be at least 3 g, while the minimum dosage of Citrulline Malate should be at least 6 g.

Keep in mind that to achieve the best performance enhancing effect, you need to take citrulline for at least 7 days in a row. Therefore, on non-training days you can take citrulline separately.

L-Citrulline

3. Betaine

Betaine may be useful for very demanding high intensity training with an emphasis on strength and power, as well as for increasing training volume.

In order to obtain the potential effects of this derivative of the amino acid glycine, a single dose should be closer to 2.5 grams. However, it may be best to add 3 grams of betaine to the general mix in the context of weighing on a kitchen scale.

Do not take 4g or more betaine per day, because such a dosage may increase total and LDL-cholesterol.

4. Beta-Alanine

β-Alanine increases the amount of dipeptide carnosine in the muscles, which reduces muscle acidity during high-intensity exercises, thus allowing to counteract the onset of fatigue and improve muscular endurance.

Overall beta-alanine is great for high-intensity performance, increasing muscular endurance and training volume, as well as for attenuating neuromuscular fatigue. It works best for exercises lasting 1-4 min.

Note that the recommended dose of beta-alanine in the DIY pre workout drink is 1 g – to minimize the risk of tingling in the process of your training sessions.

During the loading period, the total daily dose of beta-alanine should be 3.2-6.4 g per day. During the maintenance period, 1.2 grams of beta-alanine per day is sufficient. Therefore, consider the dose of beta-alanine from the pre-workout in the total daily requirements.

5. Creatine

Creatine is great for improving high-intensity exercise performance, training volume and muscular endurance, reducing fatigue, increasing strength and lean muscle gains. Even though creatine is available in several forms, the most effective and most studied form is monohydrate.

Creatine can be taken daily, it does not need to be cycled.

Creatine

3 Easy Homemade Pre Workout Recipes

Remember the steps of preparing pre workout drinks we talked about above? The primary one, above everything else, is knowing your specific goals. And, after that, you can arrange the ingredients in the way that would be the most beneficial for you. Here are some examples.

1. Muscular Endurance 

  • Caffeine (200 mg, take it separately from the overall mix in a form of capsule or tablet)
  • Creatine (2g)
  • β-Alanine (1g)
  • L-Citrulline (4g) or Citrulline Malate (6-8g)
  • Beverage of choice (Water or Water + Juice)
recept of meal replacement shaker

2. Strength and Power

  • Caffeine (200-300mg, take it separately from the overall mix in a form of tablet)
  • Creatine (2g)
  • L-Citrulline (4g) or Citrulline Malate (8g)
  • Betaine (3g)
  • Beverage of choice (Water or Water + Juice)

3. All-Rounder

  • Caffeine (200mg, take it separately from the overall mix in a form of capsule or tablet)
  • Creatine (2g)
  • β-Alanine (1g)
  • L-Citrulline (4g) or Citrulline Malate (8g)
  • Betaine (3g)
  • Beverage of choice (Water or Water + Juice)

Note. If you avoid caffeine, just leave it out of the ingredients list.

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Why Prepare Pre Workout?

Some commercial pre-workouts have greatly formulated composition and dosages of key and additional ingredients that are scientifically based. On the other hand, other products contain insufficient dosage of individual ingredients that can give an immediate training effect.

For example, a low dose of L-Citrulline. Also, the pre-workout can contain too much of a single dose of beta-alanine, which can cause tingling and burning.

Pre workouts may also contain a large number of additional ingredients that do not have scientific support, but increase the cost of each serving. Therefore, making your own pre workout can solve several tasks at once:

  • You can add ingredients with only good scientific support,
  • You can be sure that the dosage of the ingredients is exactly what is needed to get the potential effects (mainly citrulline and betaine),
  • You can adjust the single dose of beta-alanine to avoid or at least reduce the risk of a tingling sensations,
  • You can save some money by not adding ingredients that have very questionable scientific support or no science behind them at all.
regular creatine dose

So while it definitely takes more effort to get to know how to prepare your own diy pre workout drink, than to buy a commercial one, there are reasonable advantages in actually putting this effort in the process.

1. Customization 

This is the main reason athletes turn to using their own homemade pre workout supplements. Making your own mix allows you to choose specific ingredients in needed dosages to maximize their effects.

2. Clearness

You are in control of the ingredients you put in and this allows you to avoid any food additives that you can often find in pre-packaged supplements. If it’s important to you to take a product that contains nothing but the needed ingredients, creating your own product is a great option.

3. Price

DIY pre workout supplements are usually cheaper than pre-packaged ones. When buying ingredients separately, you eliminate additional ingredients that have very questionable scientific support or no science behind them at all, and also cutting out marketing and packaging costs.

Thus, you may reduce the costs of one serving significantly!

For example, a well-formulated commercial pre workout may cost $1.3-2 and even more per serving, while a self-made one with the key ingredients listed above costs around $1 or a little more, especially if you buy in bulk.

By the way, BULKSUPPLEMENTS is a great place to buy individual ingredients.

In Case You Have Doubts

I have a recommendation for you! If you aren’t sure about your expertise or simply want to take an already well-formulated product, I recommend BULK from Transparent Labs. This product is great for experienced athletes with good caffeine tolerance and experience of taking pre-workouts.

It contains the needed dosages of key components: caffeine, citrulline malate, betaine, beta-alanine (but be prepared to tingle), and several additional components with potential effects (i.e. Taurine and Alpha GPC).

Pay attention to the dosage of betaine, this is exactly the single dosage (2.5 g) which I talked about above. BULK also contains L-Theanine, which is a great complement to caffeine.

Considering the overall components breakdown, dosage of ingredients and cost per serving ($1.65), BULK Advanced Pre-Training Formula is one of the best on the market!

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Transparent labs bulk pre workout
  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (21.2 g)
  • Servings per Container: 30
  • Calories Per Serving: 5
  • Betaine Anhydrous Per Serving: 2,500 mg
  • Taurine per serving: 1,300 mg
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafþór Júlíus BjörnssonPat LiPAULINA

For people with poor caffeine metabolism, I recommend the STIM-FREE product.

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

transparent labs stim free
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best for: Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue
  • Flavor: Cherry Limeade, Sour Grape, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Orange, Peach Mango, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch
  • Caffeine: 0mg
  • Special Ingredients: Beta-Alanine, Betaine Anhydrous, Citrulline Malate
  • Package Information: 1.5lbs (30 Servings)
  • Serving: 23g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.67
  • Company Founded: 2015
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafthor BjornssonPaul SklarSean Harris

FAQ

Can I Make My Own Preworkout?

Yes, you can. However, make sure to do proper research on the topic and consult a healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your regular routine.

Also, consider that beginners in strength training should not look towards pre-workouts from the very beginning of their training journey. A well-planned training program with progressive overload, a well-planned diet and quality sleep should be in the first place!

What Can I Replace My Pre-workout With?

You can have a snack that contains easily digestible protein (such as whey protein isolate) and a low-fiber fruit. For example, make a protein shake with water, add a well-ripened banana to it, and drink it about an hour before your workout.

What Is the Main Ingredient in Pre-workout?

Due to its stimulating and performance enhancing properties, caffeine is the key ingredient in the majority of pre-workout formulas.

Conclusion

Making your own pre workout formula is an easy and cost-effective way to not just enhance, but also customize your workout experience. For lower pricing, you can target your sport-specific goals as effectively, as when using a pre-formulated product.

However, it is important to understand potential side effects, do precise research and consult a medical specialist before implementing it into your routine. Have you ever tried to make your own formula? Feel free to share your experience with designing your own pre workout.

This article is for informational purposes only. Creating homemade pre workout by inexperienced individuals may be dangerous to their health!

Also read:

References:

  1. ß-Alanine // AIS: https://www.ais.gov.au/nutrition/supplements/group_a#alanine.
  2. Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans: A Review of the Current Literature // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31977835/.
  3. Effects of Betaine Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Power // Journals: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2017/08000/effects_of_betaine_supplementation_on_muscle.35.aspx.
  4. Effects of betaine supplementation on cardiovascular markers // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33764214/.
  5. International society of sports nutrition position stand // BioMedCentral: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4.
  6. Theanine // Examine: https://examine.com/supplements/theanine/research/#LQVz3Qb-nutrient-nutrient-interactions.
  7. Photos are made by Torokhtiy Media team.

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Oleksandr Maksymenko

Author: Oleksandr Maksymenko
Certified Sports Nutritionist,
MSc Sports Dietetics

Experience: 7 years
Specializing in: Weight management, Fitness / Sports nutrition

Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist certified by the Fitness Professional Association (FPA). He follows the principles of evidence-based dietetics and fosters a healthy relationship with food in his clients, ensuring there are no strict prohibitions on their favorite foods or frequent lapses. His primary goal is not only to achieve results for you but also to sustain them over the long term, all while enjoying tasty and delicious food.

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