Reviews Pre-Workout Supplements

8 Best Pre-Workouts for Muscle Gain in 2024

Looking for a pre-workout supplement that will help you gain muscle? Then you’re in the right place, because we’ll be covering the best pre-workout for muscle gain available.

While pre-workout isn’t a magic muscle building solution, it can provide a solid boost of energy, as well as containing ingredients that will help boost power, and improve recovery among other things. If you’re looking to put on muscle, these pre-workouts are some of the best supplements you can add to your stack.

Over 20 different branded pre-workouts were strictly tested by our team of professional athletes and nutritionists on a number of essential categories (ingredients breakdown, stimulation, taste/flavor, nutrition label transparency, value for money). This was done to provide you with the 8 best pre-workouts for muscle gain. Hundreds of hours were invested into the testing over a span of 4 months to get the most accurate data. It is our mission to update this list as new products appear on the market.

Best Pre-Workouts for Muscle Gain

Top 8 Pre-Workouts for Muscle Gain Reviewed

  1. BULK Black by Transparent Labs – Best Overall
  2. Pre-Kaged® – Runner-Up – with BCAA
  3. Pulse Natural – Best High-Stim
  4. Jacked Factory Altius – Balanced High-Stim
  5. Optimum Nutrition Pre Advanced – High Creatine
  6. Pre JYM
  7. ProSupps Hyde – A Dollar a Serving
  8. Myprotein the Pre-Workout – Best With Moderate Stimulation
ProductTotalIngredients BreakdownStimulationTaste/
Nutrition Label TransparencyPrice/
Transparent Labs49109.510109.5
Jacked Factory4710108109
Plant Fusion46.599.59.59.59
Pre JYM4699.59.599

1. BULK Black by Transparent Labs – Best Overall

transparent labs bulk
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect, High-Intensity Exercise Performance
  • Flavor: Cherry Kiwi, Blue Raspberry, Peach Mango, Sour Gummy, Black Cherry
  • Caffeine: 275mg Caffeine Anhydrous, 30mg Dicaffeine Malate
  • Special Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Betaine
  • Package Information: 1.38lbs
  • Serving: 21g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.83
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by AthletesHafthor BjornssonPaul SklarSean Harris

Starting off our list of great muscle-building pre-workouts we have Bulk Black by Transparent Labs. If you’re familiar with the different supplement companies, you’re probably already aware of how high quality Transparent Labs’ products are. If you aren’t, let’s take a look at why Bulk Black is the best pre-workout for building muscle on our list.

When looking to use a pre-workout for building muscle, there are 2 main qualities we’ll be looking at. These are stimulation, and additional active ingredients which can help fuel your workouts, and reduce fatigue. These will help you have more energy in the gym, as well as improving your performance, ideally leading to more effective muscle growth. Some more minor elements you’ll want to consider also include flavors, full ingredients list, and price.

Starting off with stimulation, Bulk falls around the average of our list. It has 275mg of pure caffeine per serving, with 30mg of dicaffeine malate as well. Dicaffeine malate is caffeine bonded with malic acid. This is done to potentially give a slower release, and to prevent potential side effects like an upset stomach. This dose of total caffeine falls around the optimal range for solid stimulation, without being too intense.

In terms of additional active ingredients, there are 4 you’ll specifically want to look for. These are L-Citrulline, Betaine, Beta-Alanine, and Creatine. It’s worth noting that beta-alanine, betaine and creatine have a cumulative effect, so they should be taken everyday over a longer timespan to maximize their effects, but are still a useful addition to pre-workout formulas. To maximize the effects of creatine specifically, we recommend taking it on its own everyday, and using pre-workouts as additional supplementation. Just understand that taking a pre-workout with creatine in it every once in a while won’t give you nearly as many effects as taking it on its own everyday. L-Citrulline, on the other hand, has more acute effects instead, so it is most useful as a pre-workout ingredient. Most benefits from Beta-alanine are also related to its consistent intake – to raise the carnosine baseline levels, but it also has some acute effects as well, probably less present in more experienced athletes.

While Bulk Black doesn’t contain any creatine, it does contain the other 3. It contains solid doses of all these ingredients with 8g of Citrulline Malate (this is L-Citrulline bonded with malic acid at a 2:1 ratio), 4g of Beta-Alanine, and 2.5g of betaine. These ingredients all have different, yet potent ergogenic effects. Beta-alanine can increase power output and reduce fatigue. Betaine can increase muscular endurance and force production. Finally, L-Citrulline also increases performance, and reduces soreness because of its properties as a vasodilator.

Finally, for the more minor elements – flavor, ingredient breakdown, and price – Bulk Black is solid as well. It has a good variety of 5 flavors to choose from. Also, like all of Transparent Labs’ products, it’s made without any artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes. It’s price is also on the lower end of our list, at under $2 per serving.


Transparent Labs’ BULK Black pre-workout is designed for muscle growth, featuring potent ingredients like Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, and Betaine, and it stands out with natural flavors, transparency, and affordability.

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  • Very good doses of all active ingredients
  • Good dose of caffeine
  • Made with all-natural ingredients

Could be better:

  • Doesn’t contain any creatine
  • Doesn’t have the super high caffeine content of some other products on our list

2. Pre-Kaged® – Runner-Up - with BCAA

pre kaged
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Pink Lemonade, Grape, Fruit Punch, Krisp Apple, Orange Krush, Berry Blast, Cherry Bomb
  • Caffeine: 274mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, Creatine
  • Package Information: 560g
  • Serving: 28g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$2.25
  • Company Founded: 2015
  • Recommended by AthletesAndrea SomerColt NicholsKris Gethin

Next on our list is Pre-Kaged from Kaged. Let’s see how this pre-workout for pump and muscle gain compares to the top spot on our list, and whether it’s able to compete.

In terms of stimulation, this product has the lowest amount of caffeine out of all the prodcuts we’ve covered so far. However, it still has a very solid dose of stimulation at 274mg of caffeine per serving. Which may be a good idea if you already had coffee (or 2, or 4… ;-)) during the day! Too much caffeine can have some detrimental effects on your performance!

For additional ingredients, this is also the first product on our list to feature all 4 key ingredients we’re looking at. It has 6.5g of L-Citrulline, 2.5g of Betaine, 1.6 of beta-alanine, and 1.5g of creatine. While a small dose of creatine is still better than none, it's worth noting that this is less than half of the recommended daily dose of 3-5g. Creatine is one of the most highly studied and effective supplements for boosting high-intensity exercise performance. But like we said, 1.5g is still something.

Pre-Kaged® instagram
Photo by @wittigworks

This is also the first product on our list to contain some BCAAs, as well as an antioxidant blend. While BCAAs likely won’t make a huge difference for most athletes, they can be beneficial for those who are protein deficient – especially a small fraction of vegans that may have an insufficient protein intake. Next thing is BCAA won’t make a significant difference if you have enough protein in your diet, but definitely won’t harm you either - in pre workout it can play a small anti catabolic role and this is a list of pre-workouts for muscle gain - so extra BCAA and bit of Creatine can only help. For that and few other reasons, it took 2nd place on our list. Kaged’s ORAC blend includes 100mg of antioxidants from coffee, green tea, as well as numerous fruits and veggies. This makes Kaged a great choice for those seeking out the health benefits of antioxidants with their pre-workout.

Kaged has a solid variety of flavors, with 7 unique options to choose from. It’s worth noting that this is the first product on our list to be flavored with artificial ingredients. While this isn’t a major con, some people prefer to avoid artificial ingredients in favor of natural ones. Finally, Kaged also has a similarly high price point to Legion at around $2.25 per serving.


Pre-Kaged by Kaged is a contender among muscle gain pre-workouts, offering moderate stimulation, key muscle-building ingredients, BCAAs and antioxidants, multiple flavors (with artificial ingredients), and a higher price point.

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  • Contains solid doses of all our 4 main active ingredients (creatine, beta-alanine, l-citrulline, betaine)
  • Decent stimulation
  • Contains BCAAs and antioxidant blend as well

Could be better:

  • Relatively high price point
  • Could benefit from a higher dose of creatine

3. Pulse Natural – Best High-Stim

Pulse Natural
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect, High-Intensity Exercise Performance
  • Flavor: Pina Colada, Rainbow Sherbet, Fruit Punch, Strawberry Kiwi, Blue Raspberry, Apple Cider, Arctic Blast, Blood Orange, Blueberry Lemonade, Cherry Limeade, Frosted Cranberry, Grape, Green Apple, Mojito, Pink Lemonade, Sour Candy, Strawberry Margarita, Tropical Punch, Watermelon, Peach Ring
  • Caffeine: 350mg
  • Special Ingredients: Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline Malate
  • Package Information: 1.04lbs
  • Serving: 23.5g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$2.25
  • Company Founded: 2014
  • Recommended by AthletesGage ClarkGrant TinsleyMachaela Brabham

Next on our list, we have Pulse Natural from Legion. Although this brand doesn’t quite have the same reputation as Transparent Labs, Legion still delivers some very high-quality products. Let’s see how this pre-workout for bulking compares to Transparent Labs on the criteria we’re looking at for muscle growth.

For stimulation, this is the strongest pre-workout on our list. It has a very high caffeine content at 350mg per serving. While this will be great for some, more caffeine sensitive people may want a milder pre-workout.

For active ingredients, Legion has a very similar formula compared to Transparent Labs. It also contains 8g of Citrulline Malate, and 2.5g of betaine, although it has a slightly lower beta-alanine content at 3.6g per serving. SImilar to Transparent Labs, these doses might lead to noticeable differences in the gym, especially when paired with the high dose of caffeine.

Finally, for the more minor elements, Legion is also very solid. With 20 flavors to choose from, Legion easily has the most variety of any supplement on our list. Like Transparent Labs, it’s also made with all-natural ingredients. It’s worth noting that this is one of the most expensive products on our list at around $2.25 per serving.


Pulse Natural by Legion enters the scene as a formidable option, featuring potent caffeine stimulation, a formula including Citrulline Malate, betaine, and beta-alanine, a diverse array of flavors, and a somewhat higher price point.

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  • High doses of all its active ingredients
  • Great variety of flavors
  • Very high stimulation

Could be better:

  • High stimulation may not be suitable for everyone
  • Doesn’t contain any creatine

4. Jacked Factory Altius – Balanced High-Stim

Jacked Factory Altius
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Mixed Berry
  • Caffeine: 325mg
  • Special Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Betaine, Creatine, Beta-Alanine
  • Package Information: 408g
  • Serving: 20.4g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$2.25
  • Company Founded: 2006
  • Recommended by AthletesMorgan MacMike OliverBhuwan Chauhan

Next on our list is Jacked Factory’s Altius pre-workout. Mainly considering stimulation and active ingredients, let’s see how Altius earned this spot on our list.

For stimulation, Jacked Factory is right up there with Legion for the highest stimulation pre-workout on our list. Although it has slightly less caffeine, the dose of 325mg per serving is still very high. While beginners may want to pick a milder supplement, experienced pre-workout users will love this high dose.

Similar to Kaged, this supplement also contains all 4 active ingredients we’re looking at, all at solid doses. It has 8g of Citrulline Malate, 2.5g of betaine, 3.2g of beta-alanine, and 3g of creatine. As mentioned in our section on Kaged, the recommended dose of creatine is 3-5g daily, making this serving a more effective dose of the ingredient.

While Altius has great stimulation and ingredient doses, it has easily the worst flavor variety on our list, with only one option to choose from. Similar to Transparent Labs and Legion, however, it is made with all natural ingredients. Like the previous 2 entries on our list, it also has the same high price point of $2.25 per serving.


Jacked Factory's Altius pre-workout stands out with strong stimulation and a blend of effective active ingredients, while offering limited flavor options, maintaining an all-natural profile, and sharing a higher price point.

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  • Great doses of all its active ingredients
  • Solid dose of caffeine
  • Made with all-natural ingredients

Could be better:

  • Only one flavor to choose from
  • High caffeine content may not be suitable for everyone

5. Optimum Nutrition Pre Advanced – High Creatine

Optimum Nutrition Pre Advanced
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect, High-Intensity Exercise Performance
  • Flavor: Berry Blast, Raspberry Lime Mojito, Strawberry Mango Daiquiri
  • Caffeine: 300mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Creatine
  • Package Information: 400g
  • Serving: 20g
  • Price per Serving: ~$2.15
  • Company Founded: 1986
  • Recommended by AthletesTaylor FritzJustin “Jets” JeffersonMorgan Willett

Next on our list, we have a pre-workout supplement for muscle gain from perhaps the most iconic supplement brand of all time, Optimum Nutrition. While they’re certainly more well-known for their Gold Standard whey protein, let’s see how their pre-workout is able to compare to the rest of our list.

For caffeine content, Optimum falls on the higher end of our list’s average, containing 300mg of caffeine. While this won’t have the same intensity as Legion’s 350mg, it is still pretty close, and will likely give most people plenty of stimulation.

For active ingredients, this has very solid doses of the 3 key ingredients it contains. Optimum contains 6g of L-Citrulline, and 3.2g of Beta-Alanine per serving, as well as 5g of creatine monohydrate. This dose of creatine is the highest on our list so far, and is on the higher end of the recommended daily dose. It also contains 1.2g of creatine nitrate, pushing the total creatine content even higher, although this different form of creatine likely does not have significantly different effects when compared to monohydrate. It’s worth noting that Optimum does lose some points for not containing any betaine.

Optimum Nutrition has somewhat decent variety when it comes to flavors with 3 different choices. It does also contain several artificial dyes and sweeteners which is worth noting if you prefer to avoid these ingredients. And finally, at around $2.15 per serving, its price point is near the top of our list, while not being quite as expensive as Legion, Kaged, or Jacked Factory.


Optimum Nutrition's muscle gain pre-workout showcases considerable caffeine stimulation, a robust formula with L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, and creatine variations, available in multiple flavors containing artificial additives.

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  • Solid dose of caffeine
  • High doses of l-citrulline and beta-alanine
  • Highest creatine content on our list

Could be better:

  • Relatively high price point
  • No betaine

6. Pre JYM

  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Raspberry Lemonade, Rainbow Sherbet, Grape Candy, Cherry Limeade, Orange Mango, Tangerine, Pink Lemonade, Pineapple Strawberry, Black Cherry, Strawberry Kiwi
  • Caffeine: 300mg
  • Special Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Betaine
  • Package Information: 1.65lbs
  • Serving: 25g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$2.10
  • Company Founded: 2013
  • Recommended by AthletesJim StoppaniBreanna CortezIsaiah Miranda

Up next on our list is Pre Jym from Jym Supplement Science. Let’s see how this pre-workout for lean muscle growth stacks up to the rest of our list, specifically considering its stimulation and active ingredient doses.

For stimulation, Pre Jym falls around the higher end of average for our list. Similar to Optimum, Pre Jym also contains 300mg of caffeine per serving. This makes it great for more experienced pre-workout users, as well as those just looking for a strong dose of caffeine.

Pre JYM instagram
Photo by @aaronflores7

For active ingredients, this is one of the few supplements on our list that contains all 4 active ingredients we’re considering at good enough doses. It has 6g of citrulline malate, 2g of beta-alanine, 1.5g of betaine, and 2g of creatine. It’s worth noting that while its citrulline malate and betaine content are ok, this product's doses of creatine and beta-alanine are relatively low. This is also the second product on our list to contain BCAAs, which may be useful for muscle building especially for those who are missing a few proteins in their daily intake. It’s worth noting they would likely still be better off incorporating more protein in their diet instead of BCAAs.

This has some of the best variety for flavors on our list with 10 different options to choose from. Keep in mind this is one of several products on our list with artificial ingredients in its formula. Finally, similar to Optimum, its price is towards the higher end of our list at around $2.10 per serving.


Pre Jym is tailored for lean muscle growth, offering substantial caffeine stimulation, a combination of four essential active ingredients, a broad flavor range despite artificial components, and a relatively higher price point.

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  • Contains all 4 main active ingredients we are looking at
  • Solid dose of caffeine
  • Contains BCAAs which may be beneficial to some

Could be better:

  • Relatively high price point
  • Could benefit from more creatine and l-citrulline

7. ProSupps Hyde – A Dollar a Serving

ProSupps Hyde
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect, High-Intensity Exercise Performance
  • Flavor: Blue Raspberry, Watermelon
  • Caffeine: 250mg
  • Special Ingredients: Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline, Creatine
  • Package Information: 292.5g
  • Serving: 9.75g
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.00
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by AthletesKamaru UsmanTilly KingDerick Ansah

Next on our list we have Hyde pre-workout from ProSupps. Let’s see if this product will deliver the same muscle-building results as some of the previous entries on our list.

This is the lowest stim pre-workout we’ve covered so far, although it still has a solid moderate dose. At 250mg per serving, ProSupps will likely deliver plenty of stimulation for most, especially those new to pre-workout supplements. More experienced users may want to opt for a higher-dose pre-workout like Legion.

ProSupps Hyde instagram
Photo by @prosupps

For its active ingredients, ProSupps does contain some of the lowest doses out of any supplements we’ve covered so far. While it does have a good beta-alanine dose at 2.5mg per serving, its 3g of l-citrulline and 1.25g of creatine could certainly be higher. This product also contains no betaine, which probably would improve its effectiveness if included.

ProSupps also has some of the least flavor variety on our list with only 2 flavors to choose from. It also contains several artificial ingredients which some will prefer to avoid. However, this easily has the best value for money on our list, being the cheapest product by far at only ~$1 per serving.


ProSupps' Hyde pre-workout offers moderate stimulation, relatively lower active ingredient doses, limited flavor choices, and excellent affordability, making it a cost-effective option for workout enthusiasts.

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  • Solid amount of beta-alanine and caffeine
  • Caffeine dose is suitable for both beginners and advanced users
  • Best value for money on our list

Could be better:

  • Doesn’t have any betaine
  • Could benefit from higher doses of creatine and l-citrulline

8. Myprotein The Pre-Workout – Best With Moderate Stimulation

Myprotein The Pre-Workout
  • Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Lemonade, Peach Ring, Rocket Pop
  • Caffeine: 150mg
  • Special Ingredients: Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline, Betaine, Creatine
  • Package Information: 1.03lb
  • Serving: 15.6g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.50
  • Company Founded: 2004
  • Recommended by AthletesRob KearneyTom TrotterIsrael Adesanya

Finally, closing off our list we have MyProtein’s signature Pre-Workout. Similar to Optimum, MyProtein is much better known for their protein powders, so let’s see how their pre-workout supplement is able to compare to the rest of our list.

First off, this product easily has the lowest caffeine content of any product on our list at only 150mg per serving. While this may seem low, this will be the perfect amount for pre-workout beginners, or somewhat caffeine-sensitive people.

Myprotein The Pre-Workout instagram
Photo by @elimatherss

Its active ingredients are also solid. It contains all 4 key ingredients we’re looking for, all at decent doses. It has 4g of l-citrulline, 2.5g of betaine, 2g of creatine, and 2g of beta-alanine. While it could benefit from slightly more creatine, all its other ingredients are at effective doses.

MyProtein falls on the lower end of flavor variety for our list with only 3 different options to choose from. It also is one of the many products on our list to contain several artificial ingredients. Finally, while it has one of the lower price points on our list at around $1.50 per serving, you may still consider this to be expensive considering its caffeine content.


MyProtein's signature Pre-Workout, while renowned for their protein powders, features lower caffeine content at 150mg per serving, balanced active ingredient doses, limited flavor options with artificial ingredients, and a relatively affordable cost.

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  • Great choice for those looking for moderate caffeine
  • Effective doses of 4 key ingredients
  • Solid price point

Could be better:

  • Moderate caffeine dose won’t appeal to everybody
  • Could use more creatine per serving


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How Do Pre-Workouts Help You Gain Muscle Mass?

Before we fully get into why pre-workouts are a good investment for building muscle, it’s worth noting that they won’t magically help you gain muscle overnight. If you want to put on muscle there’s no substitute for working hard in the gym, eating properly, and getting proper rest. However, there are several reasons pre-workout may help you with your goal of gaining muscle.

First is caffeine. While caffeine isn’t directly correlated with increases in muscle, it can provide a major boost of energy that will improve your performance in the gym. It will ideally enable you to train longer and harder, thus leading to a better workout, and eventually more muscle growth over time.

Next is all the other additional ingredients found in pre-workout. These include beta-alanine, betaine, l-citrulline, and creatine. As we established throughout the article, these ingredients all have their own unique benefits for building muscle. These include increasing force production, endurance, and high-intensity exercise performance. By taking a pre-workout supplement that contains any combination of these ingredients at effective doses, you will ideally improve your performance in the gym, which will lead to more muscle growth over time. It’s worth noting that creatine, beta alanine and betaine are more beneficial when taken daily over the course of several weeks. Because you likely won’t be taking pre-workout every day, to maximize the effectiveness of these ingredients – specifically creatine – we recommend taking an additional creatine supplement at a total dose 3-5g a day.

So, while pre-workouts won’t help you gain muscle mass without proper training, they will help you attack your workouts with more energy and intensity, which should translate to more muscle mass over time.

workout outside

How to Find the Best Pre-Workout for Muscle Gain?

Now, there are several factors you’ll want to consider before buying a pre-workout if your goal is muscle gain. These mainly include stimulation and the additional active ingredients a supplement contains. However, you will also want to consider the value for your money, as well as the taste/flavor. These factors are all covered in more depth below.

1. Stimulation

When looking for a pre-workout to help with muscle growth, you might want a solid amount of stimulation that allows you to reach a higher level of intensity in your workouts. While this amount will vary from person to person, you’ll want a level of caffeine that gives you energy without making you jittery or anxious. While the stimulation levels on our list reach up to 350mg per serving (Legion), you may prefer a milder dose of around 150mg (MyProtein). It’s worth understanding how much caffeine you consume on an average day to determine which level of stimulation will provide the best results for you.

trx in gym

2. Additional Active Ingredients

On top of caffeine content, you’ll want to consider the additional active ingredients found in pre-workout. The 4 key ingredients we focus on in this article are creatine, l-citrulline, betaine, and beta-alanine. They all have their own advantages for improving performance in the gym, and will likely benefit anybody trying to put on muscle. To maximize effects, we recommend looking for a product that contains several of these ingredients all at effective doses.

Beta-Alanine can help to increase power and reduce fatigue, and any dosage above should produce noticeable effects. Betaine can help to improve endurance and force, and should be anywhere from 1.25-2.5g per serving. L-Citrulline helps to increase performance, and reduce soreness, and any dose over 3g (4g of Citrulline Malate) should be effective. Finally, creatine helps with high-intensity exercise performance, and while any dose should produce results, for optimal results, we recommend taking 3-5g daily. By understanding the effects of these ingredients, and their effective doses, you can make a more informed decision on which pre-workout formula will provide the best results.

3. Value for Money

While this doesn’t directly correlate to muscle-building effects, we always recommend considering value for money when buying supplements. This not only includes price per serving, but the stimulation and doses of additional ingredients you’re getting in each scoop. By comparing products with these metrics in mind, you can ensure you’re getting a high quality pre-workout for your money.

4. Taste/Flavor

Finally, while this also doesn’t necessarily relate to muscle growth, you should absolutely enjoy the taste of your pre-workout. While it can be difficult to know how a pre-workout will taste before trying it, looking at user reviews can be a good way to gauge whether or not a pre-workout has an enjoyable taste.

deadlift training

In What Cases Will the Pre-Workout Not Really Contribute to Gaining Muscle Mass?

There are several factors that are necessary to gaining muscle mass, regardless of whether or not you’re taking pre-workout. If you’re not meeting these requirements, your gains will likely be minimal at best.

1. Caloric Surplus & Protein

If you’re looking to use pre-workout for weight gain, you won’t get the results you want without eating a high enough-calorie diet. While it is possible to gain muscle while in a caloric deficit, if your goal is to put on high amounts of muscle mass, we recommend eating in a consistent small caloric surplus. We recommend using an online calorie calculator to determine your maintenance calories (keep in mind it’s based on average and might be off even up to 30%) and eating in a small surplus of extra 5-10% calories a day. This will allow you to put on solid amounts of muscle without putting on too much excess fat. It’s also important to consistently measure your body weight to make sure your weight gain is in line with your goals. We recommend weighing yourself several times a week, calculating a weekly average and then comparing averages week by week, to keep track of how much weight you’re gaining.

In terms of protein content, eating anywhere from 0.7-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight will be ideal for muscle growth. Overall, no pre-workout for mass gain will be effective unless you’re pairing it with proper nutrition.

squats in smith machine

2. Progressive Overload and Intensity

Aside from eating enough calories, one of the most important factors in muscle growth is how you’re training. Your routines should be centered around progressive overload in order to properly stimulate muscle growth. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it essentially means that you need to gradually increase the stress placed upon your musculoskeletal and nervous systems - when the body regularly experiences the same exercises and physical stressors the training effect will be reduced. This is what is known as the law of accommodation. Progressive overload can be done through various things like increasing weight, total reps and/or sets, and reducing rest times and more. By implementing progressive overload, you can ensure your muscles are always getting the proper stimulation they need to grow.

It’s also worth noting that you should almost always be training in close proximity to failure with sufficient volume to ensure your workouts have a high level of intensity. If you’re not consistently pushing your limits, it is unlikely you will make significant progress. Similar to nutrition, no pre-workout for muscle-growth will produce results unless you’re training hard.

3. Consistency

Of course, eating in a caloric surplus, and training properly won’t matter if you’re not doing both consistently. Putting on muscle is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s necessary that you eat properly and train hard consistently for years on end if you want to maximize muscle growth. If you’re doing everything right and not seeing the results you want right away, remember that consistency is key in putting on muscle. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen overnight! It’s important to have realistic expectations when trying to put on muscle - you can estimate how much muscle mass you can build in a specific timeframe - and to accept that it will take plenty of time and lots of hard work.

weighted vest


Does Pre-Workout Help Build Muscle?

While pre-workout won’t help you put on muscle on its own, it should help you have more energy and intensity in the gym, which can lead to more muscle growth over time. Considering the stimulation and additional active ingredients, pre-workouts are supplements you can take for muscle growth.

What Is The Best Pre-Workout Food For Muscle Gain?

To fuel your workouts properly, we recommend eating a properly balanced meal 2-4 hours before your workout, or if missing one, a small carb snack around 1 hour out, and maybe some more simple carbs right before your workout in case you have an intensive or long workout ahead of you. In case you need one - for right before your workout, we recommend something quick and easy like a juice, ripe banana or a spoonful of honey. It’s worth noting that timing your food intake isn’t nearly as important as just getting enough protein and calories throughout the day, so be sure to prioritize this over when you’re eating your meals.

Should I Eat Before The Gym?

Yes, to properly fuel your workouts you should absolutely eat before the gym. Even if it's something as simple as a banana or piece of toast, a small amount of carbs before a workout can greatly improve energy levels and performance. This is especially true if your pre-workout snack is paired with a solid pre-workout supplement. Overall, consuming carbs right before the gym might be beneficial if you train first thing in the morning, or after fasting. If you’ve eaten enough throughout the day before your workout, you shouldn’t worry much about eating before training.


While pre-workouts aren’t a miracle solution for muscle growth, they are a good way to give yourself extra energy and help you maintain proper intensity in the gym, which will lead to more gains over time. Our choice for the best pre-workout to build muscle is BULK BLACK by Transparent Labs. With this being said, all the products on our list have their own advantages as well.

Let us know if you decide to try out any of the products on our list. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:


  1. Eric T Trexler "International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine" J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jul 15;12:30
  2. Jenna M. Apicella "The Effect of Betaine Supplementation on Performance and Muscle Mechanisms" B.S., University of Connecticut, 2009
  3. J Luke Pryor "Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance" J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Apr 3
  4. Joaquín Pérez-Guisado "Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness" J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22
  6. Richard B Kreider "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine" J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18
  7. "Antioxidants" Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health /nutritionsource/antioxidants/ (accessed August 22, 2023)
  8. Brad J Schoenfeld "Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases" J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1073-1082

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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