Reviews Pre-Workout Supplements

9 Strongest Pre-Workouts in [Year]

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski (Certified Nutritionist, S&C specialist, M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology)

Are you looking for the strongest pre-workout available on the market?

Whether you’re after high caffeine content or strong doses of active ingredients, these 9 products are some of your best choices.

Keep in mind that you should not exceed 400mg of caffeine per day, as exceeding this amount could cause health problems. With many of these products containing 300mg+ of caffeine per serving, consider limiting caffeine intake alongside them.

While all the products on our list have their advantages, our top pick overall for the best high-stim pre-workout is Bulk Black from Transparent Labs.

Our expert team, consisting of certified nutritionists and professional athletes, has rigorously tested 42 products for this article, and narrowed them down to the 9 best ones that made it to this list.

We’ve spent 6 weeks testing most of the products, and evaluating them on 5 key parameters. We have also examined hundreds of online reviews. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section because our list is updated all the time!

Strongest Pre-Workouts

Top 9 Strongest Pre-Workouts Reviewed

  1. BULK BLACK by Transparent Labs – Top Pick
  2. Pre-Kaged Elite – Runner-Up
  3. Legion Pulse
  4. Altius by Jacked-Factory
  5. C4 Ultimate®
  6. PEScience Prolific
  7. Pre JYM
  8. Bucked Up – Woke – HIGH STIM Pre Workout
  9. Gold Standard Pre Advanced
ProductTotalStimulationOverall
Formula
Taste/
Flavor
Nutrition
Label Transparency
Price/
Quality
Transparent Labs49.59.510101010
Kaged48.5101010108.5
Legion4810991010
Jacked Factory47.510108.5109
Cellucor479.59.59.59.59
PEScience46.5899.51010
Pre JYM469.59.598.59.5
Bucked Up45.51098.599
Optimum Nutrition459.598.599

1. BULK BLACK by Transparent Labs – Top Pick

Bulk Black from Transparent Labs
  • Item 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 our list of the strongest pre-workouts is Bulk Black by Transparent Labs. Like all of their products, Bulk Black is made with an outstanding commitment to quality.

If you’re mainly after caffeine, Bulk Black delivers 275mg of caffeine anhydrous, as well as 30mg of dicaffeine malate. If you’re unfamiliar, dicaffeine malate is caffeine combined with malic acid for a slower release.

Although this isn’t the pre-workout with most caffeine on our list, it’s still a very high dose compared to most pre-workout supplements.

For active ingredients, you can expect high doses of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine. Citrulline malate is a vasodilator that has been shown to improve exercise capacity with acute doses of 6g. 

Beta-alanine has been shown to increase power and reduce fatigue, while betaine increases muscular endurance and improves force production; both of these ingredients appear to be most effective with consistent doses, although they may also demonstrate benefits with acute doses as well.

Bulk Black contains 8g of citrulline malate, 4g of beta-alanine, and 2.5g of betaine, which are all effective doses for their desired effects.

You can get this product in 5 different flavors which is around the average for our list. Also, like all Transparent Labs products, Bulk Black is made with no artificial ingredients whatsoever, which is fairly uncommon for a pre-workout supplement.

In terms of price, each serving of Bulk Black will cost you around ~$1.83. This makes it one of the cheaper products on our list, offering excellent value for the money list considering its exceptional quality.

49.5 EXPERT SCORE

Bulk Black by Transparent Labs is a top-quality pre-workout supplement featuring effective doses of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine, free from artificial ingredients, and reasonably priced at approximately $1.83 per serving.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Strong caffeine content
  • High doses of all its active ingredients
  • Made with all natural ingredients

Could be better:

  • Caffeine content is lower than some of the strongest option on our list
  • Could have more flavor variety

2. Pre-Kaged Elite – Runner-Up

Pre-Kaged Elite
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, High-Intensity Exercise Performance, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Fruit Punch, Caribbean Sunrise, Glacier Grape, Orange Mango, Strawberry Lemonade
  • Caffeine: 388mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, Creatine
  • Package Information: 720g
  • Serving: 36g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$3.00
  • Company Founded: 2015
  • Recommended by AthletesAndrea SomerColt NicholsKris Gethin

Next on our list is Pre-Kaged Elite, which is an excellent, albeit more expensive, alternative to Transparent Labs pre-workout.

If you’re looking for the pre-workout with highest caffeine, Pre-Kaged tops our list in this category with 388mg of caffeine per serving. This easily makes it one of the most intense pre-workouts available.

It also isn’t lacking in active ingredients, containing L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine. This is similar to Bulk Black with the addition of creatine, which has a whole host of benefits including increased high-intensity exercise performance, reduced fatigue, and improved recovery with consistent use.

It’s worth noting that L-Citrulline is the same core ingredient as citrulline malate, it is simply not mixed with malic acid. So, less L-Citrulline is needed to get the same effects as Citrulline Malate.

Kaged delivers on its doses of these ingredients with 10g of L-Citrulline, 3.2g of Beta-Alanine, 2.5g of Betaine, and 5g of Creatine (split between 3g of Monohydrate, and 2g of Nitrate).

Pre-Kaged Elite instagram
Photo by @trainermike1

It’s worth noting that while Beta-Alanine and Betaine are dosed effectively, this is likely more L-Citrulline than necessary. Also, although 5g is an effective dose of creatine, 5g of monohydrate would have been preferable to it being cut with Creatine Nitrate.

It’s also worth noting that creatine should be taken every day for optimal effects, so you may want to take a separate creatine supplement on days you’re not taking pre-workout.

You can get Pre-Kaged Elite in 5 unique flavors, similar to Transparent Labs. Unlike the product at the top of our list, Kaged also uses some artificial ingredients in its formula.

The high caffeine content and active ingredients of this product also come at a price. Although this is the strongest pre-workout on our list, it is also the most expensive by far at around $3.00 per serving. So while this is an excellent product, it loses some points on value for money.

Positives:

  • Highest caffeine content on our list
  • Has all 4 main active ingredients (L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine)
  • Contains high doses of all active ingredients

Could be better:

  • Strong stimulation may not be suitable for everybody
  • L-Citrulline is overdosed
48 EXPERT SCORE

Pre-Kaged Elite stands as a potent pre-workout option, delivering an intense energy boost with a blend of active ingredients, although it comes at a premium price point compared to other products in the category.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

3. Legion Pulse

Legion Pulse
  • Item 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, Blue Raspberry, Blood Orange, Cherry Limeade, Grape, Green Apple, Strawberry Margarita, Watermelon, Caffeine Free Sttrawberry Kiwi, Mojito, Peach
  • Caffeine: 350mg
  • Special Ingredients: Betaine, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline Malate
  • Package Information: 1.04lbs
  • Serving: 23.5g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.60-$2.00
  • Company Founded: 2014
  • Recommended by AthletesGage ClarkGrant Tinsley

Next up on our list is Legion Pulse, which is very similar to the top spot on our list for a few reasons.

First, it’s worth noting that Legion does offer slightly stronger stimulation than Transparent Labs. Each serving has 350mg of caffeine, which puts it in between Bulk Black and Pre-Kaged.

It’s most similar to Bulk Black because of its active ingredients. Legion also contains Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, and Betaine all at similar doses to Transparent Labs. You can expect 8g of Citrulline Malate, 3.6g of Beta-Alanine, and 2.5g of Betaine for a well-rounded formula.

Legion has the most unique flavors out of any product on our list so far with 13 unique choices. They also have a caffeine-free option for those only looking for active ingredients with no stimulation. Finally, similar to Bulk Black, Legion uses no artificial ingredients whatsoever in their formula.

Also, prices range on Amazon from around $1.60 per serving for the fruit punch flavor, and around $2.00 for the 12 other options. So, if you’re interested in a fruit punch pre-workout, Legion offers especially good value for your money.

48 EXPERT SCORE

Legion Pulse presents a potent pre-workout with a balanced blend of active ingredients and caffeine stimulation, offering a variety of unique flavors and a caffeine-free option, all while being free of artificial ingredients.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Made with all natural ingredients
  • Similar active ingredients breakdown to Transparent Labs with more caffeine
  • Tons of flavor variety

Could be better:

  • Doesn’t contain any creatine
  • Reviews suggest a somewhat unpleasant flavor

4. Altius by Jacked-Factory

Altius by Jacked-Factory
  • Item 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 the Altius Clinically Dosed Pre-Workout from Jacked Factory. Let’s see how this compares to the top 3 spots on our list.

At 325mg of caffeine per serving, it falls just in between Transparent Labs and Legion in terms of stimulation.

For its active ingredients, you can expect all 4 ingredients we’re highlighting for a solid pre-workout supplement. There’s 8g of Citrulline Malate, 2.5g of Betaine, 3.2g of Beta-Alanine, and 3g of Creatine Monohydrate.

While the first 3 ingredients are at solid doses, the creatine dose is on the lower end of the recommended daily amount. Similar to Kaged’s pre-workout, we recommend supplementing with additional creatine for optimal effects – especially if you’re not taking this pre-workout every day.

This supplement has the worst flavor variety out of all the products we’ve covered so far, only coming in mixed berry. Similar to Transparent Labs and Legion, this is also made with completely natural flavors.

In terms of price, this is one of the more expensive products on our list at around $2.25 per serving. While it's still cheaper than Pre-Kaged, it’s more expensive than the other 2 products we’ve already covered.

47.5 EXPERT SCORE

Altius by Jacked Factory offers a moderately caffeinated pre-workout with a well-rounded blend of active ingredients, although its creatine dose is on the lower side, featuring a limited flavor option and a higher price point.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Solid caffeine content at 325mg per serving
  • Contains all 4 main active ingredients
  • Made with all natural flavors

Could be better:

  • Contains a fairly low dose of creatine
  • Only comes in 1 flavor

5. C4 Ultimate®

C4 Ultimate®
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best for: Muscular Strength, Muscular endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Icy Blue Razz, Lemon Italian Ice, Strawberry Watermelon
  • Caffeine: 300mg
  • Special Ingredients: Beta-Alanine, L-Citrulline, Creatine (HCl & Nitrate)
  • Package Information: 316g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$2.25
  • Serving: 15.8g
  • Company Founded: 2002
  • Recommended by AthletesBrittany AnnScott MathisonDemi Bagby

Next on our list is a product from one of the most iconic pre-workout brands of all time, C4. This is their C4 Ultimate variety, which is designed to be as strong as possible.

At 300mg of caffeine per serving C4 is certainly stronger than most standard pre-workouts on the market, but isn’t especially high-stim when compared to the other products on our list.

In terms of active ingredients, this is one of the least complete supplements on our list so far. It contains Citrulline, Beta-alanine, and Creatine in the form of HCl and Nitrate. The Citrulline comes at a solid dose of 6g, as does Beta-Alanine at 3.2g.

C4 Ultimate® instagram
Photo by @cellucor

The Creatine comes in the form of 1g each of HCl and Creatine Nitrate. Monohydrate would be preferable to either of these alternatives, especially considering they come at such low doses. C4 Ultimate also doesn’t contain any Betaine.

C4 does have a decent variety of flavors with 4 different options to choose from, although this doesn’t compare to a brand like Legion that has triple the variety. This is also one of several products on our list formulated with artificial dyes and sweeteners.

For price, C4 comes in at the same cost per serving as Altius at around $2.25. This isn’t great value for money, especially considering its fairly basic overall formula.

47 EXPERT SCORE

C4 Ultimate® by Cellucor is a moderately caffeinated pre-workout with a limited range of active ingredients and flavors, formulated with artificial additives, and priced similarly to other options on our list.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Solid stimulation at 300mg of caffeine per serving
  • Good doses of Beta-Alanine, and Citrulline
  • Reviews suggest a good flavor

Could be better:

  • Creatine comes at a very low dose
  • Monohydrate would be preferable to Creatine HCl and Nitrate

6. PEScience Prolific

PEScience Prolific
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best For: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Training Volume, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Melon Berry Twist, Raspberry Lemonade
  • Caffeine: 160mg
  • Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Betaine
  • Package Information: 280g
  • Serving: 20g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$0.87
  • Company Founded: 2010
  • Recommended by AthletesMatt RosenmanElizabeth SantosFreddie Williams

Next up we have the best budget pre-workout on our list by far coming from PEScience with their Prolific supplement.

This is also the lowest-stim pre-workout on our list by far at only 160mg per serving. However, considering the low price you could easily double up on the serving for an extra hit of caffeine.

Its active ingredient profile is also fairly lackluster. Each single serving only comes with 3g of L-Citrulline and 1.25g of Betaine. While these are fairly solid doses, it's noticeably missing Beta-Alanine and Creatine.

PEScience Prolific instagram
Photo by @marieewold

PEScience doesn’t have great flavor variety either with only 2 different options to choose from. It is also formulated with several artificial ingredients, for those who prefer all-natural supplements.

Finally, many of the flaws in this product are made up for by its great price. It’s the only supplement less than a dollar per scoop on our list at ~$0.87 per serving. This means you could double the serving size to make a stronger pre-workout, and it would still be one of the cheapest options on our list.

46.5 EXPERT SCORE

PEScience Prolific is an affordable, low-stimulation pre-workout with a modest ingredient profile, limited flavor variety, and artificial additives, making it a budget-friendly choice for those seeking cost-effective options.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Cheapest supplement on our list by far
  • Solid doses of Betaine and L-Citrulline
  • Strong stimulation with a double-dose

Could be better:

  • Single serving is fairly weak in terms of stimulation
  • Only 2 flavors to choose from

7. Pre JYM

Pre JYM
  • Item 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: ~$1.40
  • Company Founded: 2013
  • Recommended by AthletesJim StoppaniBreanna CortezIsaiah Miranda

The next product on our list is Pre JYM from JYM Supplement Science. Let’s see if this product can compare to the rest of the products on our list in terms of stimulation, active ingredients content, and value.

At 300mg of caffeine per serving, Pre JYM falls around the average for our list, while still being noticeably stronger than most standard pre-workouts available.

For active ingredients, Pre Jym contains Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine. There’s 6g of Citrulline Malate, 2g of Beta-Alanine, and 1.5g of Betaine.

Pre JYM instagram
Photo by @jimstoppani

While all these doses are on the lower side, they should still be enough to deliver solid effects. The Creatine is HCl, and with only 2g there likely isn’t enough here to effectively saturate your muscles.

This is also the first supplement on our list to contain BCAAs with 6g per serving. While this won’t make a huge difference to most, it may be beneficial for vegans and endurance athletes in particular.

Pre JYM does offer some of the best flavor variety on our list with 10 different options to choose from. Keep in mind that it is formulated with several artificial flavors and dyes.

For price, Pre JYM also offers great value for money being one of the cheaper supplements we’ve covered at only around $1.40 per serving.

46 EXPERT SCORE

Pre JYM by JYM Supplement Science delivers a balanced pre-workout experience with adequate stimulation and a comprehensive blend of active ingredients, making it a versatile choice for fitness enthusiasts.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Solid caffeine content
  • Only product on our list with BCAAs
  • Great flavor variety

Could be better:

  • Made with several artificial ingredients
  • Creatine Monohydrate would be preferable to HCl, especially considering the low dose

8. Bucked Up - Woke - HIGH STIM Pre Workout

Bucked Up - Woke
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Best For: Overall Athletic Performance, Training Volume, Muscular Endurance, Reducing Fatigue, Enhanced “Pumping” Effect
  • Flavor: Rocket Pop
  • Caffeine: 333mg
  • Special Ingredients: Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine
  • Package Information: 366g
  • Serving: ~12g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.83
  • Company Founded: 2016
  • Recommended by AthletesCalum Von MogerErin KilleenRocker Steiner

Next on our list is Bucked Up Woke pre-workout. Bucked Up is notable for forming their supplements with Deer Antler Velvet Extract.

However, this ingredient is not allowed on Amazon, so just be aware that if you’re buying Bucked Up on Amazon it won’t contain any Antler Velvet.

Although this ingredient is marketed as having potential ergogenic effects, it does not appear to produce any major effects on training. So, Deer Antler Velvet not being included here is not a major problem.

While Bucked Up doesn’t have any Antler Velvet in its Amazon formula, it does still have exceptional caffeine content with 333mg per serving. This makes it the third highest-stim pre-workout on our list.

For its active ingredients, you’ll only be getting Citrulline Malate and Beta-Alanine. Both of these ingredients come at solid doses of 6g of Citrulline Malate and 3.2g of Beta-Alanine respectively. Its formula would be more well-rounded with solid doses of Betaine and Creatine.

Bucked Up has a similarly weak flavor variety to Jacked Factory with only one flavor available. Like most of the other products on our list, this is also made with several artificial ingredients.

Finally, Bucked Up offers decent value for money at around $1.83 per serving. This is about the same price as the top product on our list, although in our opinion, Transparent Labs still offers better value for money.

45.5 EXPERT SCORE

Bucked Up Woke pre-workout, while missing Deer Antler Velvet Extract on Amazon, still provides strong caffeine content and solid doses of Citrulline Malate and Beta-Alanine, making it a potent pre-workout option.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Very high stimulation
  • Solid doses of Citrulline Malate and Beta-Alanine
  • Reviews suggest excellent mixability

Could be better:

  • Deer antler based formula is not available on Amazon
  • Includes some artificial flavorings

9. Gold Standard Pre Advanced

Gold Standard Pre Advanced
  • Item 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

We’re closing off our list with Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Pre Advanced. While Optimum is better known for their iconic protein powder, let’s see how their pre-workout compares.

Like Pre JYM and C4, Optimum also has a caffeine content of 300mg per serving. Once again, while this is high for a standard pre-workout, it’s not exceptional considering some of the strongest products on our list like Pre-Kaged Elite.

It does offer a solid active ingredient list containing 6g of L-Citrulline, 3.2g of Beta-Alanine, and 5g of Creatine Monohydrate. It’s worth noting that Betaine would have elevated this supplement significantly.

However, the creatine content makes Optimum one of the only supplements on our list that contains an ideal daily dose of creatine. Just keep in mind that you should take creatine every day for the best effects.

There are 3 flavors to choose from which is better variety than some products on our list, although it’s still fairly low. Optimum is also made with multiple artificial flavors and dyes which some may prefer to avoid.

Finally, Optimum’s price is fairly average for our list at around $2.15 per serving but still offers good value for money considering the formula.

45 EXPERT SCORE

Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard Pre Advanced offers a moderate caffeine dose along with a well-rounded blend of active ingredients, including an ideal daily dose of creatine, providing solid value for money among pre-workout supplements.


Stimulation:0
Overall Formula:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Fairly high stimulation
  • Best creatine content on our list
  • Solid doses of L-Citrulline and Beta-Alanine

Could be better:

  • Betaine would have elevated this supplement
  • Made with several artificial ingredients

Experts Who Contributed To This Article

Sergii Putsov

Sergii Putsov

20 years of Oly Lifting & Training experience

Ernesto Mendez

Ernesto Mendez

Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)

Jacek Szymanowski

Jacek Szymanowski

M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology, Sports Nutritionist

Autor Dina Al Rubaye

Dina Al-Rubaye

Professional Nutritionist and Certified Coach

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What Goes Into the Strongest Pre-Workouts?

1. Caffeine

The most important ingredient for a strong pre-workout is caffeine. While most standard pre-workouts will have between 100-200mg of caffeine, we decided to highlight pre-workouts with high caffeine contents of 300mg+.

This amount of caffeine will provide a significant boost of stimulation, so it should only be taken by those used to high doses of caffeine. However, for those used to caffeine, this amount of stimulation will provide a meaningful boost of energy leading to more intense workouts and increased focus in the gym.

It should be noted that the most caffeine someone should have in a day is around 400mg. So, if you’re taking a strong pre-workout, consider limiting other caffeine intake. Taking more than this could cause side effects like anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.

2. Other Active Ingredients (L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, Creatine)

While Caffeine is the ingredient most people look for in a strong pre-workout, you should also consider the active ingredients found in a formula. The benefits and optimal doses of each of these ingredients are broken down in the table below.

IngredientIdeal DoseEffects
L-Citrulline/Citrulline Malate3g+ of L-Citrulline/6g+ of Citrulline MalateImproves Pumps
Increases Exercise Capacity
Beta-Alanine2g+ (or any dosage to reach ~3-6.4g total per day)Increases power
Reduces intra-workout fatigue
Betaine1.25-2.5gImproves force production
Increases training volume
Creatine3-5g/dayImproves high-intensity exercise performance
Reduces intra-workout fatigue
Improves recovery
Increases lean body mass

3. Additional Ingredients (Alpha-Gpc, Taurine, etc.)

There are plenty of other ingredients that may be included in a pre-workout. These include things like Alpha-GPC and Taurine. The reason we didn’t highlight them in this list is because they don’t appear to be very beneficial for training. For the best effects, we recommend prioritizing the ingredients outlined above instead.

"Make your own. Buy single ingredient formulas like caffeine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, taurine, tyrosine etc Choose the best dose and formula for yourself. Need extra stim - add extra caffeine pill 😉"

Why Do You Need a High-Stim Pre-Workout?

1. You’re in a Calorie Deficit

A high-stim pre-workout will be especially beneficial to those in a caloric deficit. This is because you naturally have less energy when you’re eating less. So, the high amounts of caffeine in pre-workout will help you be able to get more intense, and complete workouts – especially if you’re combining strength training with cardio.

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2. You Want More Intense Workouts

Regardless of whether you’re dieting or not, using a high-stim pre-workout will help you achieve more intensity in your workouts. The combination of caffeine and active ingredients is perfect for pushing your limits at the gym, which is necessary if you want to make consistent progress.

"Make your own. Buy single ingredient formulas like caffeine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, taurine, tyrosine etc Choose the best dose and formula for yourself. Need extra stim - add extra caffeine pill 😉"

3. Regular Pre-Workouts Aren’t Cutting It Anymore

You may also want a stronger pre-workout because you’ve been taking regular pre-workout for a while and aren’t noticing major effects anymore. This is likely because you’ve built up a stronger tolerance to caffeine. While stronger pre-workouts are a way to get a more significant effect, an alternative would be to lower your caffeine tolerance to limit caffeine intake.

prepearing C4 pre-workout

Benefits of Strong Pre-Workouts

✅ Greatly Improved Energy

The main benefit of strong pre-workouts is the increased energy you’ll get every time you take a serving. Most of the pre-workouts on our list contain as much caffeine as several cups of coffee, so you can imagine the level of stimulation they’ll provide. If you struggle with maintaining energy throughout your workouts, a strong pre-workout may be what you need to give it your all from start to finish.

✅ Increased Performance and Recovery From Active Ingredients

On top of the benefits of caffeine, any combination of active ingredients will likely boost your performance as well. Whether this is from the improved force production of Betaine or the increased exercise capacity from L-Citrulline. Also, Creatine and Beta-Alanine both have properties that improve recovery with consistent use, which will greatly improve performance over time as well.

How to Find the Best High-Stim Pre-Workout?

caffeine for training

1. Caffeine Content

First, you’ll need to decide how much caffeine is right for you in each serving. Because we were highlighting the highest caffeine pre-workouts, most of the pre-workouts on our list have 300mg+. But, if you’re new to pre-workout you may want a milder supplement in the 100-200mg range. However, if you’re an experienced user and want the most caffeine possible, consider a supplement like Pre-Kaged Elite which has 388mg per serving.

"Make your own. Buy single ingredient formulas like caffeine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, taurine, tyrosine etc Choose the best dose and formula for yourself. Need extra stim - add extra caffeine pill 😉"

2. Active Ingredient Content

Next, you’ll want to consider what active ingredients you want in your pre-workout and whether or not the supplement you’re looking at contains effective doses. The ideal pre-workout would contain solid doses of L-Citrulline, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine, although this is fairly rare. The only supplements on our list that meet this criteria are Pre-Kaged Elite and Jacked Factory Altius.

3. Value for Money

You’ll also want to consider the caffeine and active ingredient content alongside value for money. While Pre-Kaged Elite is the strongest option on our list, it’s also easily the most expensive choice. Something like Transparent Labs or Legion likely offers better value for money, despite having slightly weaker overall formulas.

4. Flavor

Finally, although this is the least important factor to consider, you should try to find a pre-workout supplement you’ll enjoy drinking. We recommend looking through the product reviews to see which flavors people prefer, and whether people seem to enjoy the taste of any given supplement. It may take some trial and error to find a pre-workout you enjoy drinking, but it's worth it considering if you’ll be drinking it nearly every day. 

The Impact of Pre-Workout on Hydration

Because caffeine is a diuretic, it will lead to increased urination. However, this effect is largely offset by the liquid taken in alongside caffeine. Caffeine is unlikely to cause dehydration in large doses, especially if there is adequate fluid intake.

Still, with hydration being one of the most important factors in exercise performance, this is something you’ll need to keep in mind. We recommend drinking water before, during, and after your workout, especially if you’re exercising for longer than an hour at a time.

High-Stim Pre-Workout Tips

tips for taking high-stim pre-workout

One of the main things you’ll have to keep in mind when using extreme pre-workouts is your total daily caffeine intake. The FDA recommends that you don’t exceed 400mg of caffeine per day. With some of the supplements on our list approaching this amount, you may want to limit your other caffeine intake when taking a high-stim pre-workout.

"Make your own. Buy single ingredient formulas like caffeine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, taurine, tyrosine etc Choose the best dose and formula for yourself. Need extra stim - add extra caffeine pill 😉"

If you’re a daily coffee drinker, you may want to opt for a milder pre-workout instead to not exceed 400mg a day. Also, with any pre-workout over 200mg of caffeine, you shouldn’t double the dose. Doing so could lead to side effects like anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.

In terms of timing, we recommend taking your pre-workout between 30-60 minutes before your workout to optimize effects. Caffeine takes around an hour to kick in, or less depending on how full you are, making this the ideal timeframe for ingesting pre-workout.

If you’re wondering how to take pre-workout, we recommend following the instructions on whichever product you buy. Typically, this will look something like mixing 1 scoop of pre-workout with 1-2 cups of water. If your pre-workout isn’t mixing properly, we recommend using warm water as this should increase solubility.

C4 Kaged Pre workouts

FAQ

Can You Take High-Stim Pre-Workout Everyday?

While there are some benefits to taking strong pre-workout every day, especially if it contains ingredients like creatine, betaine, and beta-alanine, you may not want to because of the high caffeine content. Especially if you enjoy drinking coffee or tea throughout the day, you may want to limit high-stim caffeine use to only when you really need it.

Is 400 mg Caffeine Too Much Pre-Workout?

400mg in one serving is a lot even for the most experienced pre-workout users. However, this is right around the recommended maximum daily intake, so it shouldn’t cause serious adverse effects as long as you’re not taking any more caffeine throughout the day.

Still anything over 200mg at once is considered a high dose of caffeine, and may cause side effects in sensitive individuals. Such a high dose is also not recommended for adolescents or pregnant individuals. Overall a supplement with 400mg of caffeine should only be used by the most hardcore pre-workout users.

Is 700mg of Caffeine Too Much?

Yes, 700mg is nearly double the recommended daily limit of caffeine intake. If this were in a single dose, it would be one of the most dangerous and craziest pre-workouts available. Ideally, you shouldn’t be exceeding 400mg of caffeine throughout the day, so 700mg is far too much.

Why Should I Choose a Strong Pre-workout Over a Regular Strength Supplement?

A pre-workout with high caffeine is only necessary if you’re used to taking regular pre-workouts and have gotten used to its effects. High-stim pre-workout can then help you get a more noticeable hit of energy before your workout. If you’re new to pre-workout, there’s no reason to choose an incredibly high-stim supplement, with 100-200mg of caffeine likely being sufficient for noticeable effects.

Conclusion

While a high-stimulant pre-workout won’t be for everybody, for those used to standard pre-workouts, these options can provide a more substantial boost in the gym. Whether you’re looking for high caffeine content or large doses of active ingredients, there should be several supplements on this list that fit your needs.

If you’re looking for the best overall strong pre-workout, we recommend checking out Bulk Black by Transparent Labs. If you’re just looking for the most powerful pre-workout and aren’t worried about price, then check out Pre-Kaged Elite.

Are you an experienced pre-workout user looking for a stronger supplement? What pre-workout do you currently use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

References:

  1. Adam M Gonzalez "Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans: A Review of the Current Literature" J Strength Cond Res. 2020 May;34(5):1480-1495.
  2. B McGonigle "EFFECTS OF BETA-ALANINE ON ANAEROBIC PERFORMANCE" International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 8: Iss. 8, Article 67.
  3. Jenna M. Apicella "The Effect of Betaine Supplementation on Performance and Muscle Mechanisms" University of Connecticut 5-7-2011
  4. J Luke Pryor "Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance" J Int Soc Sports Nutr.  2012 Apr 3.
  5. Robyn Suzanne Percival "Examining the Effects of Deer Antler Velvet Supplementation on Muscular Str Muscular Strength, P ength, Performance, and Mark formance, and Markers of Dela ers of Delayed Onset ed Onset Muscle Soreness" East Tennessee State Universit December 2001
  6. John P. Isaacs "Effects Of Alpha-GPC and Huperzine-A On Shor ects Of Alpha-GPC and Huperzine-A On Short Term Memor erm Memory,Anaerobic Power Output, P ower Output, Post Exhaustion Compar ost Exhaustion Compared To Caffeine And Placebo In Healthy College Age Students" Eastern Kentucky University July 11, 2019
  7. Jennifer A. Kurtz "Taurine in sports and exercise" DigitalCommons@Kennesaw State University May 26, 2021
  8. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health "Caffeine" https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ nutritionsource/caffeine/ (accessed September 22, 2023).
  9. "Research on Coffee Consumption Shows Adverse Effect on Fluid Balance" University of Arkansas Sep. 20, 2017
  10. Leatta Byrd "Refuel, rehydrate and rebuild after a workout" Michigan State University Extension. December 19, 2016
  11. "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?" U.S. Food and Drug Administration July 09, 2023
  12. University Health Services "Caffeine" https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/caffeine (accessed September 22, 2023).
  13. "CAFFEINE" Australian Institute of Sport March 2021

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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.

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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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Jacek Szymanowski

Reviewed by: 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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