7 Best Nootropic Pre Workouts in 2023

Have you ever wondered what is nootropic pre workout? We’ve got you covered.

Nootropics are becoming increasingly popular for boosting focus and mental clarity. Especially when taken as a pre workout, nootropics can help boost your focus in the gym, and give you an edge during your toughest workouts. In this article, we’ll be covering options for the best nootropic pre workout on the market today. 

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Transparent Labs - Nootropic


The blend of Caffeine, L-Theanine, Cognizin® Citicoline and SerinAid® is designed to provide a boost to your focus as well as aid with stress resiliency. It comes in capsule form, so it is quick and easy to take, especially for those who do not enjoy the powder form of pre workouts.

WBCM 7 Best Nootropic Pre Workouts

Top 7 Best Nootropic Pre Workouts Reviewed

ProductTotalStimulation and Nootropic EffectTaste/
Flavor
Nutrition Label TransparencyValue for Money
Transparent Labs3899.5109.5
Huge Supplements38109.59.59
Bucked Up389.59.59.59.5
Cutler Nutrition37.59.59.59.59
Genius3799.59.59
Zhou35.589.59.58.5
Onnit3489.58.58
Transparent Labs – Nootropic
  • Item Form: Capsule
  • Best For: Focus, Overall Exercise Performance, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue
  • Flavor: Unflavored
  • Caffeine: 100mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Theanine, SerinAid®, Cognizin® Citicoline
  • Package Information: 60 Capsules (30 Servings)
  • Serving: 2 Capsules
  • Company Founded (year): 2015
  • Recommended By Athletes: Hafthor Bjornsson, Paul Sklar, Sean Harris

Our number one pick for the best pre workout with nootropics is Transparent Labs Nootropic supplement, which provides an effective formula to aid with mental clarity and focus. The blend of Caffeine, L-Theanine, Cognizin® Citicoline and SerinAid® is designed to provide a boost to your focus as well as aid with stress resiliency. It comes in capsule form, so it is quick and easy to take, especially for those who do not enjoy the powder form of pre workouts. On top of this, it features no food additives, which makes this product a great option for those who don't want to use any additional ingredients.


Although it is not marketed as a pre workout, it still has an efficacious dose of caffeine at 100mg per serving, especially for those new to this type of supplement. If you don't want a strong stimulant effect, this dose is fine. With many pre workouts having caffeine contents well over 250mg, this makes it a great choice for someone looking for mild stimulation. This is the best all-around nootropic in this list as it provides the focus benefits, as well as a mild stimulation effect if you plan on using it as a pre workout.

38Expert Score

The blend of Caffeine, L-Theanine, Cognizin® Citicoline and SerinAid® is designed to provide a boost to your focus as well as aid with stress resiliency. On top of this, it features no food additives.

Stimulation
9
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
10
Value for Money
9.5

Positives:

  • Great overall composition of ingredients with nootropic effect

  • Mild stimulation

  • Easy to ingest serving size of 2 capsules

  • No food additives

Could be better:

  • Does not contain other pre-workout ingredients such as citrulline or betaine

Huge Supplements
  • Item Form: Capsules
  • Best For: Focus, Overall Exercise Performance, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue
  • Flavor: Unflavored
  • Caffeine (grams): 200 mg + 150 mg Di-Caffeine Malate
  • Special Ingredients: L-Theanine, Lion’s Mane, Alpha GPC, Rhodiola Rosea, DMAE
  • Package Information: 240 capsules (30 servings)
  • Serving: 8 capsules
  • Company Founded (year): 2019
  • Recommended By Athletes: Matt Greggo, Tren Twins, Max Taylor

Our second pick is one of the best nootropic pre workout - Huge Supplements Focus. This supplement offers a much more intense stimulating effect than Transparent Labs Nootropic, making it a better choice for someone looking for a classic pre workout. With this being said, because the serving size is so high (8 Capsules), the actual dosage of caffeine is very easy to customize for your specific needs, however, if you’re taking a much lower dose you may not get all the benefits from some nootropic ingredients.

Huge Supplements

Photo by @trel_supps

The supplement boasts high doses of ingredients, including L-Theanine, Alpha GPC and Rhodiola Rosea. With the recommended serving size, you will be getting the effects from some of the most popular nootropic ingredients out there.


HUGE Supplements promises that users will not experience a crash feeling after taking it. Most likely, the brand relies on the presence of L-Theanine, which is able to moderate the nervous excitement caused by caffeine, especially in a high dose. However, we cannot generalize this promise to every person, so it will likely come down to individual experience.


Keep in mind! If you are new to training and / or have never taken a pre-workout with a high dose of caffeine, this product is not for you! Together with Woke from the Bucked Up brand, FOCUS contains the highest dose of caffeine in this ranking and is therefore only suitable for athletes who have been consistently training for at least a few years and are familiar with pre-workouts containing at least 200 mg of caffeine. Remember that the dosage should be increased very gradually!

38Expert Score

This supplement offers a much more intense stimulating effect than Transparent Labs Nootropic, making it a better choice for someone looking for a classic pre workout.

Stimulation
10
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
9.5
Value for Money
9

Positives:

  • One of the highest caffeine content in this list (strong stimulating effect)

  • Contains many ingredients that have scientific support

  • Сapsules allows for customizable dosing

Could be better:

  • High caffeine content won’t be good for everyone

  • Many capsules for single intake (if you take the dose recommended by the manufacturer)

  • Highest price per serving

Bucked Up – Woke
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best For: Focus, Overall Athletic Performance, Training Volume, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Blue Raz, Rocket Pop, Red Raz
  • Caffeine: 333mg
  • Special Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Theobromine, Alpha GPC, B12
  • Package Information: 366g (30 Servings)
  • Serving: ~12g
  • Company Founded: 2016
  • Recommended by Athletes: Calum Von Moger, Erin Killeen, Rocker Steiner

Next up we have Bucked Up Woke, a very high stimulant pre workout. Brand states that one scoop of their pre workout contains the same amount of caffeine as 4 cups of coffee, and although this is what some people desire, this is a lot for the average person, especially for taking at one time. In addition to a very high dose of caffeine, this product contains a very high dose of beta-alanine, so be prepared for a tingling sensation.

Woke contains a dose of Citrulline Malate that has been shown to be effective in trials, so in addition to the overall performance boosting effect, you can expect increased pumping. Among the remaining ingredients, Theobromine and Alpha GPC are noteworthy, although the dosage of the latter may not be sufficient to obtain the potential effects. After all, significantly larger dosages of Alpha GPC were used in experiments to study physical performance and nootropic effects.


If you’re buying the product on Amazon, it does have a slightly different formula than the product on their website. It will not contain Bucked Up’s signature namesake ingredient, deer antler velvet extract. However, deer antler velvet appears to be ineffective at the most commonly touted claims, so this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you.


Bucked Up offers a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee if you aren’t 100% satisfied. Note that this product is only suitable for experienced athletes who are already familiar with this type of supplement and have a good caffeine tolerance.

38Expert Score

Woke contains a dose of Citrulline Malate that has been shown to be effective in trials, so in addition to the overall performance boosting effect, you can expect increased pumping.

Stimulation
9.5
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
9.5
Value for Money
9.5

Positives:

  • Strong stimulating effect (some of the highest caffeine content)

  • Great composition and dosage of key ingredients for pre-workouts (caffeine, beta-alanine, citrulline)

  • 100% money-back guarantee

Could be better:

  • Not suitable for beginners and people with poor caffeine metabolism

  • Suboptimal dosage of Alpha GPC

  • Contains many components with weak scientific support

Cutler Nutrition Prevail Pre Workout
Item Form: Powder
Best For: Focus, Overall Athletic Performance, Increasing Training Volume, Muscular Endurance
Flavor: Cotton Candy Grape, Peach Mango, Rainbow Freeze, Sour Blue Razz, Sour Lime Gummy, Sour Rainbow Candy, Watermelon
Caffeine: 125 mg + 75 mg of DiCaffeine Malate
Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Taurine, Alpha GPC, L-Theanine, Theobromine
Package Information: 280g (40 Servings)
Serving: 7g
Company Founded (year): 2013
Recommended by Athletes: Jay Cutler, Wioletta Pawluk, Brandon Henry
Cutler Nutrition Prevail Pre-Workout

Photo by @jreyes661122

Next up is Cutler Nutrition’s Prevail Pre-Workout. Among the strengths of this product: a moderate dose of caffeine, as well as the presence of ingredients which demonstrated cognitively enhancing effects in trials - mainly Alpha GPC and Theobromine. On the other hand, the dosage of individual components (Theanine, Theobromine) is lower than that used in the studies. Also, one serving contains only 2 grams of L-Citrulline, while the minimum effective dose is 3 grams.


However, due to the moderate dose of caffeine, the presence of some components with potential effects and one of the lowest prices per serving in this list, this product took its rather high fourth place. This pre-workout comes in a wide range of different flavors and promises a great taste.

37.5Expert Score

This product took its rather high fourth place in this list due to the moderate dose of caffeine, the presence of some components with potential effects and one of the lowest prices per serving.

Stimulation
9.5
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
9.5
Value for Money
9

Positives:

  • Good dosage of caffeine to get performance-enhancing effects, minimizing the side effects

  • Contains some additional ingredients with potential effects

  • Multiple flavors to choose from

  • Very affordable price

Could be better:

  • Contains a low dose of L-Citrulline 

  • Very low dose of L-Theanine

Genius Pre-Workout Powder
  • Best For: Focus, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Reducing Fatigue, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Flavor: Blue Raspberry, Grape Limeade, Sour Apple, Sour Cherry
  • Caffeine: 0 mg
  • Additional Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Alpha GPC, Taurine, Theobromine, Rhodiola Rosea
  • Package Information: 314g (20 Servings)
  • Serving: ~15.5-17 g
  • Company Founded: 2018
  • Recommended by Athletes: Nate Robinson, Chris Hyppa, Aaron Lee
Genius Pre Workout Powder

The next supplement is Genius Pre Workout Powder, which is the first stimulant-free pre workout on our list. This makes it a great choice for those with high caffeine sensitivity.


Genius shows high stimulation isn’t necessary to make a great pre workout, especially when you consider the negative side effects of high caffeine dosages like sleep disruption, jitters, and crashes. Genius instead has ingredients to give you general improvement of physical performance, muscular endurance and added focus during your workouts.


Please note that unlike many products on this list, Genius does not contain caffeine, but contains usual pre workout ingredients - Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine and Betaine. All these ingredients are present in the needed dosages. However, a dose of beta-alanine greatly increases the chances that you will experience tingling.

Unfortunately, with only 20 servings per container, it likely won’t last very long, especially with regular use.


Overall, if Genius contained caffeine, it would definitely score higher in the "Stimulation + Nootropic Effect" and "Value for Money" categories, and would occupy one of the leading positions in this rating.

37Expert Score

Genius shows high stimulation isn’t necessary to make a great pre workout, especially when you consider the negative side effects of high caffeine dosages like sleep disruption, jitters, and crashes.

Stimulation
9
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
9.5
Value for Money
9

Positives:

  • Caffeine free for a non-stimulant alternative

  • Contains the needed dosages of citrulline and betaine

  • Contains some components with nootropic properties

Could be better:

  • A lack of caffeine may not make it as effective for boosting energy

  • Contains many additional components with weak scientific support

  • Small container size at only 20 servings

  • The second most expensive price per serving in this ranking

Zhou Neuro Peak Brain Support Supplement
  • Item Form: Capsules
  • Best For: Focus, Reducing Fatigue
  • Flavor: Unflavored
  • Caffeine: 0mg
  • Special Ingredients: Bacopa Monnieri, Gingko Biloba, Rhodiola Rosea, DMAE
  • Package Information: 30 Capsules
  • Serving: 1 Capsules
  • Company Founded (year): 2015
  • Recommended by Athletes: N/A
Zhou Neuro Peak Brain Support Supplement

Zhou Neuro Peak Brain Support is not specifically-formulated pre workout, but nootropic-based supplement, which also contains no caffeine. The product is designed to support cognitive functions.


However, despite the presence of ingredients with potential nootropic effects, not all of them are present in the dosages that are needed to provide these effects. For example, the dosage of Bacopa Monnieri is 200 mg, while significantly larger dosages (300 mg and above) were used in some experiments that demonstrated cognitive performance effects. The same goes for DMAE.


It’s worth noting that this is one of the most affordable pre workout on our list, making it a good choice for those looking to try out nootropics for the first time. In general, this supplement can be considered as a preventative against fatigue, primarily due to Rhodiola Rosea.

35.5Expert Score

This is one of the most affordable supplements on our list, making it a good choice for those looking to try out nootropics for the first time. In general, this supplement can be considered as a preventative against fatigue.

Stimulation
9.5
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
9.5
Value for Money
10

Positives:

  • Designed for cognition and reducing fatigue

  • Suitable for people with high sensitivity to caffeine

  • Lowest price per serving in this rating

Could be better:

  • Not suitable for those who want to get a stimulating effect

  • Not specifically designed to be a pre workout

Onnit Alpha Brain Premium Nootropic
  • Item Form: Capsules
  • Best For: Focus, Overall Cognitive Support
  • Flavor: Unflavored
  • Caffeine: 0 mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Bacopa, B6
  • Package Information: 90 Capsules
  • Serving: 2 Capsules
  • Company Founded (year): 2010
  • Recommended by Athletes: Eric Leija, Hannah Eden, Brian Pruett
Onnit Alpha Brain Premium Nootropic

Photo by @apexfitzone

The last position in this rating is occupied by a popular Alpha Brain from ONNIT, which has been on the market since around 2010. As another caffeine-free option, Alpha Brain promises increased concentration and memory support. Note that like Transparent Labs Nootropic, this is purely designed to be a cognitive enhancer and not a pre workout, however, its nootropic ingredients will likely still help with focus during workouts.


Сompared to other products in this rating, Alpha Brain looks the least attractive. There are several reasons for this, among which - no detailed dosage information for each ingredient in “Flow Blend”, low dose of Bacopa, as well as the high cost per serving considering all of the above.

34Expert Score

Note that like Transparent Labs Nootropic, this is purely designed to be a cognitive enhancer and not a pre workout, however, its nootropic ingredients will likely still help with focus during workouts.

Stimulation
9.5
Taste/Flavor
9.5
Nutrition Label Transparency
8.5
Value for Money
8

Positives:

  • One of the longest-standing nootropics on the market

Could be better:

  • No stimulation for those looking for a caffeine boost

  • Not very detailed ingredients breakdown

  • High cost per serving

Best Nootropic Pre-Workout Ingredients

First of all, it is worth understanding that herbal supplements with nootropic effects are poorly studied. Moreover, the vast majority of nootropics have been studied in older people, especially in individuals with cognitive impairment. Therefore, it is still unknown whether they will have cognitive enhancing effects for healthy young people. Also, herbal supplements can interact with medications and may be contraindicated in some conditions. For example, Ginkgo Biloba can be unsafe for people who have a known bleeding risk.

Let's briefly look at a few components that have the most scientific support.

Caffeine

Although you may not expect it, caffeine is one of the most proven, effective, and popular nootropics available. Many people do not see it as a nootropic because of its common usage, but it enhances fundamental aspects of cognitive performance in low to moderate doses (40-300 mg). It improves alertness, attention, reaction time, and gives a real kick of energy.

However, in order for caffeine not to cause harm, you need to know your approximate safe dose, because people differ greatly in their sensitivity to caffeine. While one person feels great after 400 mg (the safe limit of caffeine per day for a healthy adult), another has problems with 100 mg.

L-Theanine

This non-protein amino acid has properties that improve cognitive functions. Moreover, it perfectly complements caffeine, since the combination of caffeine + theanine demonstrates improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks and increases alertness.

Rhodiola Rosea

Pre-clinical and some clinical data suggest that Rhodiola Rosea is a potentially effective nootropic. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the Rhodiola Rosea for temporary use in stress-related conditions and symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and exhaustion.

WBCM the man performing dumbell press

How to Find the Best Nootropic Pre Workout?

Stimulation

The stimulant content of any supplement is important to consider and ultimately comes down to your fitness goals, caffeine sensitivity and age. Caffeine is a good nootropic and can be used to improve cognitive functions and boost energy for better athletic performance. However, if you are a teenager or highly sensitive to caffeine, choosing a supplement with high doses of caffeine may be dangerous. For these categories of people, it is better to choose caffeine-free supplements or products with low doses of caffeine per serving.

This rating includes products with a wide range of caffeine doses, from completely stimulant free to caffeine equivalent to 3-4 cups of coffee. And remember that even 40 mg of caffeine can be enough to get cognitive boosting effects.

Nutrition Label Transparency

One of the most important things to consider before purchasing any supplement is what exactly the product contains and in what dosages. It’s important to do your research about the efficacy of each ingredient in a supplement before purchasing so you can be confident you’re getting genuine value from the product.

However, due to the fact that pre-workouts are a multi-ingredient supplement, it can be very difficult for the user to understand exactly which ingredient is working and what dosage is needed. That's why you can use our ratings to know which products are worth your money.

Ideally, any sports supplement you buy should be tested by independent laboratories, such as NSF Certified for Sport® or Informed Choice / Sport. Thus, you can minimize the risks of getting into a supplement that contains prohibited substances or higher than permitted level of heavy metals.

WBCM athlet performing lifting

Taste/Flavor

Compared to the other factors, this one is probably the least important when making a decision about which supplement to buy. With several of the options on our list coming in capsule form, flavor will not really be much of a factor. However, as most pre workouts come in flavored powder to be mixed with a drink, you'll have to experiment a bit to find a flavor you like. 

Value For Money

This ties in with nutrition label transparency, as many supplements that contain certain ingredients don’t contain enough of them to make a difference. Understanding individual ingredients and the doses necessary for their effect is important so you can make educated decisions on getting the proper value for your money. Again, you can use our reviews of the best supplements to understand which product is the best value for money.

FAQ

Can I Take Nootropics Before a Workout?

Yes, the purpose of nootropics is to improve cognitive functions, including focus and attention, which is beneficial during an intense workout.

Is C4 a Nootropic?

While C4 does contain caffeine, which is a nootropic, it is not specifically a nootropic-based supplement, which is why it’s not included on this list. C4 is still a good pre-workout, it just may not help with focus or mental clarity as much as the other supplements listed above.

Is Creatine Considered a Nootropic?

Since creatine supplementation is able to maintain optimal brain energy homeostasis, it can be viewed as a general nootropic that at least contributes to improved cognitive functions. Creatine can best show its nootropic effects in conditions where the bioenergetics of the brain is disturbed, for example, during periods of sleep deprivation.

Conclusion

Choosing a pre workout with nootropics benefits is a viable option for those looking to get an extra boost of focus during their workouts. Our choice is Transparent Labs Nootropic for mild stimulation, Caffeine with L-Theanine combo, the presence of Cognizin® and SerinAid® as complementary ingredients, and reasonable price per serving.

Are you a fan of nootropics? Have you tried any of the supplements on our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References:

  • The Effectiveness of Rhodiola rosea L. Preparations in Alleviating Various Aspects of Life-Stress Symptoms and Stress-Induced Conditions // NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9228580/
  • Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation: Considerations for Cognitive Performance in Athletes // Journals: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2018/04000/creatine_monohydrate_supplementation_.7.aspx
  • A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance // ScienceDirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763416300690#bib0990
  • Ginkgo // NCCIH: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginkgo
  • Velvet Antler // Examine: https://examine.com/supplements/velvet-antler/
  • Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31977835/

Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist, certified by FPA (Fitness Professional Association). Oleksandr adheres to the principles of evidence-based dietetics and instills in his clients a healthy relationship with food - without strict prohibitions on favorite foods and regular disruptions. His main task – not only get a result for you, but also maintain it for many years, enjoying tasty and delicious food.

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