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Pre-workout supplements have become increasingly popular among women looking to ramp up their fitness routines.

Depending on their ingredients, they can help build lean muscle, improve exercise performance and recovery, and even increase overall energy expenditure in healthy adults (1, 2, 3).

That said, not all products are created equal.

Here are the 10 best pre-workout supplements for women — or any healthy adult, regardless of gender.

How we chose the best pre-workout supplements for women

  • Quality of ingredients. Pre-workout supplements are made with high quality, research-backed ingredients.
  • Third-party testing. Pre-workout supplements are tested for purity and accuracy by third-party organizations.
  • User reviews. Pre-workout supplements have mostly positive customer reviews.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.

It’s also important to note that while many of these pre-workout supplements are marketed toward women, the products are not formulated to meet women’s specific nutritional needs.

Therefore, the supplements on this list are appropriate for any healthy adult, regardless of gender.

When looking for a pre-workout supplement, women should consider the specific ingredients, as some have been shown to be more effective than others. Additionally, some ingredients may cause unwanted side effects.

Caffeine

While caffeine has been shown to improve strength and athletic performance, some individuals may be more sensitive to caffeine’s stimulant effects (4, 5).

Beta-alanine

Another common ingredient is beta-alanine — an amino acid that research suggests may prevent the buildup of acid in muscle tissue, allowing your muscles to work harder (6, 7).

However, beta-alanine can cause a harmless tingling sensation that some individuals dislike.

L-citrulline

L-citrulline is another amino acid to look for, as it has been shown to boost nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow to the muscles. As a result, your muscles can receive more oxygen and more nutrients to support muscle performance and growth (8, 9).

L-arginine

L-arginine is another amino acid that’s frequently found in pre-workouts, either on its own or with L-citrulline.

While some studies suggest that it boosts nitric oxide production, L-arginine has not been found to benefit exercise performance, as it’s broken down before it reaches the bloodstream (10, 11).

Creatine

If increasing strength is your top priority, look for a pre-workout supplement that includes creatine.

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the fitness industry and has been shown to improve both muscle strength and weightlifting performance (12).

Branched-chain amino acids

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

BCAAs have been shown to increase muscle growth and decrease muscle soreness, though more research is needed (13, 14).

Pre-workout supplements may help boost your energy levels and improve your athletic performance. However, not all supplements are created equal. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Personal fitness goals. Are you looking to build muscle or hoping to improve endurance? Look for a product that’s formulated to support your exercise goals.
  • Ingredients. Read the ingredient list carefully to ensure a product contains research-backed ingredients. Some supplements also include proprietary blends, artificial sweeteners, and other additives, so check for these if you prefer to avoid them.
  • Allergens. As some pre-workout supplements contain common allergens such as dairy or gluten, be sure to double-check the ingredient label if you have a food allergy or intolerance.
  • Quality. To ensure quality and safety, look for supplements that have been third-party tested, and be cautious of those containing proprietary blends, especially if you’re sensitive to any of the ingredients.

While pre-workouts are considered safe for healthy adults, certain ingredients are not recommended for those who take certain medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Therefore, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before trying any new supplements (15).

Finally, given that stimulants affect everyone differently, we recommend starting with a smaller dose of any caffeinated pre-workout supplement to assess your tolerance.

Ingredients to look for in a pre-workout

Ingredients you may want to look for a pre-workout product include:

  • caffeine
  • creatine
  • beta-alanine
  • BCAAs

Ingredients you might want to avoid

On the other hand, it may be best to avoid some ingredients because of potential side effects or dietary preferences. For example, you may prefer to avoid:

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.

Generally, prices range from $0.66–$1.90 per serving, or $19.99–$49 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $1.00 per serving
  • $$ = $1.00–$1.50 per serving
  • $$$ = over $1.50 per serving

Note that the serving recommendations vary between 1 and 2 scoops.

Best natural pre-workout

Naked Energy

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate, L-arginine, caffeine

Naked Energy is not only certified gluten-free and vegan but also free of soy, dairy, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.

Plus, it has been third-party tested by Eurofins Scientific, so you can trust the quality of its ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, Naked Energy includes 200 mg caffeine, which is equivalent to approximately two 8-ounce (237-mL) cups of coffee.

It also contains beta-alanine and creatine, making the supplement a great choice if you’re looking for a pre-workout to boost your energy levels and help build muscle.

However, it includes L-arginine rather than L-citrulline, so you likely won’t reap any improved blood flow benefits.

If the unflavored version is too natural for your taste, this supplement also comes in a fruit punch flavor that’s sweetened with pure cane sugar and natural flavors.

Many customers agree that the taste isn’t the best, but its simple, natural ingredients and effectiveness more than make up for it.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • certified gluten-free
  • vegan-friendly
  • free from soy, dairy, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners
  • affordable

Considerations

  • not the best tasting
  • not suitable for those sensitive to caffeine

Best caffeinated

Legion Pulse Pre-Workout

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: L-citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, caffeine anhydrous, L-theanine

If you’re a seasoned caffeine drinker, this pre-workout may give you the kickstart you’re looking for. That said, if caffeine isn’t your thing, 1 of the 10 flavors (green apple) is caffeine-free.

If you do opt for a caffeinated flavor, each 2-scoop (24.2-gram) serving contains 350 mg of caffeine.

Keep in mind that an 8-ounce (237-mL) cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, so it’s not a bad idea to try a one-half serving first to assess your tolerance before going all in.

The rest of the ingredient list makes this pre-workout supplement ideal for both strength and endurance training.

In addition to beta-alanine and L-citrulline, the ingredients include L-theanine, which may help lessen the intensity felt by such a big dose of caffeine (16).

Finally, you can rest assured that you’re getting what’s on the label, as this product is third-party certified by Labdoor.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • variety of flavors
  • formulated for strength and endurance training

Considerations

  • expensive
  • not suitable for those sensitive to caffeine

Best for strength training

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: creatine monohydrate, AstraGin proprietary blend (Panax notoginseng extract and Astragalus membranaceus), beta-alanine, L-citrulline, acetyl-L-carnitine hydrochloride, L-tyrosine, caffeine, citrus bioflavonoid complex

With 3 grams of creatine per scoop (10 grams), Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout is great if you’re looking to build muscle and strength in the gym.

One serving also includes beta-alanine and a more modest 175 mg of caffeine to help your muscles work harder and fight fatigue.

Optimum Nutrition’s pre-workout is certified by Informed Choice — a third-party testing organization that specifically tests products for impurities and the presence of substances banned in sports.

It’s worth noting that the supplement includes a proprietary blend called AstraGin, which includes Panax notoginseng extract and Astragalus membranous.

AstraGin is considered safe for healthy adults, and it’s thought to support the absorption of nutrients in the body and boost energy levels. However, there are currently no studies in humans to confirm these effects (17).

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • affordable
  • formulated for strength training
  • multiple flavors

Considerations

  • exact amounts of ingredients in the proprietary blend aren’t disclosed
  • not suitable for those sensitive to caffeine

Best-tasting

Alani Nu Pre-Workout

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: L-citrulline malate 2:1, beta-alanine, L-tyrosine, caffeine, L-theanine

With 10 unique flavors to choose from, such as Rainbow Candy, Carnival Candy Grape, and Hawaiian Shaved Ice, it’s easy to see why this pre-workout is a fan favorite.

Not only does Alani Nu taste delicious, but its ingredient mix is simple and effective.

Each scoop (9.9 grams) provides 200 mg of caffeine, 200 mg of L-theanine, 6 grams of L-citrulline, and 1.6 grams of beta-alanine to boost energy, attenuate caffeine jitters, improve blood flow, and fight muscle fatigue.

Plus, this pre-workout includes L-tyrosine, which may help improve performance by increasing adrenaline and dopamine — two neurotransmitters thought to be beneficial during exercise, particularly in heat or unfavorable conditions, though the research is limited (18, 19, 20).

Alani Nu’s products are manufactured in a Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP)-compliant facility, and the pre-workout powder has more than 7,000 mostly positive online reviews, with customers noting its great taste and energy-boosting effect.

Pros

  • CGMP-compliant facility
  • great taste
  • multiple flavors
  • formulated for endurance and pump

Cons

  • not third-party tested
  • relatively expensive
  • may not be suitable for those sensitive to caffeine

Best for caffeine-sensitive

Ora Organic Renewable Energy Pre-Workout Powder

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: coconut sugar, calcium, sodium, potassium, coconut water, green coffee bean, matcha green tea, yerba mate, pomegranate juice powder, beet root juice powder, ashwagandha, rhodiola root, panax ginseng, maca root

If the tingles from beta-alanine and large doses of caffeine aren’t your thing, this pre-workout from Ora Organic is a better choice.

In addition to being free of beta-alanine, each 1-scoop (10-gram) serving includes just 90 mg caffeine — about the same amount as 1 cup (237 mL) of coffee.

Another ingredient that you’ll see in this product is beetroot juice, which may increase nitric oxide production and blood flow to your muscles, though more research is still needed (21, 22).

Lastly, this pre-workout includes adaptations, which are substances used in herbal medicine to help counteract stress. When it comes to exercise, adaptogens may help fight fatigue and improve mental performance (23).

All Ora Organic products are third-party tested by various organizations, including Eurofins and JK BioScience Analytical Laboratories, and certificates of analysis (COAs) are available to allow customers to view testing results.

Based on reviews, customers appreciate the company’s testing process and use of high quality ingredients. However, many note that the taste is not spectacular.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • lower caffeine dose
  • certified organic
  • vegan
  • multiple flavors

Considerations

  • expensive
  • some dislike the taste
  • exact amounts of ingredients in proprietary blends aren’t disclosed

Best caffeine-free

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: citrulline malate, BCAAs, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, taurine, L-tyrosine, choline bitartrate, elevATP Ancient Peat and Apple Fruit Extract, black pepper extract, huperzine A

Transparent Labs Stim-Free is geared toward those looking to avoid stimulants altogether.

This pre-workout supplement has been third-party tested and delivers effective ingredients to give your workout a boost, just without the caffeine.

On the ingredient list, you’ll find L-citrulline for improved blood flow to your muscles during exercise, as well as beta-alanine.

Just keep in mind that while this product is completely stimulant-free, beta-alanine can cause a harmless tingling sensation.

This product also contains a few unique ingredients, including black pepper extract, which may have anti-inflammatory properties (24).

You’ll also see huperzine A, an extract from a plant known as Chinese club moss (Huperzia serrata). The substance is thought to boost your mental energy, though recent research has found it to be ineffective for this purpose (25).

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • stimulant-free
  • gluten-free
  • free of artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives

Considerations

  • expensive

Best personalized pre-workout

Gainful Preworkout

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: caffeine, L-theanine, L-citrulline, creatine, beta-alanine, BCAAs

Gainful is a subscription-based company that specializes in personalized protein powders based on the results of an online quiz.

While it can get pricey, a subscription also includes access to a registered dietitian who can provide expert and personalized advice.

Gainful Preworkout is formulated to support endurance and recovery with the inclusion of caffeine, creatine, L-theanine, L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and BCAAs. Just keep in mind that the specific dose of each ingredient varies based on your information from the quiz.

Gainful products are third-party tested, and COAs are available upon request.

Pros

  • personalized formulations
  • third-party tested
  • access to registered dietitian

Considerations

  • expensive
  • subscription required

Best pre-workout for pump

Do Vitamins Pure Pump

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: beta-alanine, L-citrulline, creatine monohydrate, L-arginine, BCAAs, caffeine, alpha lipoic acid

Do Vitamins Pure Pump pre-workout includes the amino acids L-citrulline and L-arginine to increase the pump you feel during resistance exercise.

L-citrulline has been shown to improve blood flow to the muscles, which can lead to a pump. However, L-arginine is broken down before it reaches your bloodstream, so it’s unlikely to make a difference (8, 9, 10, 11).

Creatine monohydrate is also included, making this a good option for strength-based workouts (12).

Lastly, Do Vitamins Pure Pump contains alpha lipoic acid, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in improving muscle recovery, though more research on its effectiveness as a pre-workout is needed (26).

This pre-workout is also certified vegan and third-party tested by Labdoor.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • unflavored and lemon flavor available
  • designed for strength training

Considerations

  • expensive

Best gluten-free

Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Energy

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: sodium, vitamin C, vitamin K1, vitamin B12, cane sugar, baobab, coffee fruit extract, emblic fruit extract, spinach, beet root, kale

Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Energy is made from real food ingredients and is certified vegan and gluten-free. It also carries Informed Choice and NSF Certified for Sport certifications.

The organic antioxidant energy blend contains natural fruit extracts and coffee fruit extract.

However, each serving contains just 85 mg of caffeine, making this a great choice for someone who prefers a lower dose of caffeine.

The organic nitric oxide blend is comprised of spinach, beet, and kale. While beets may boost blood flow to your muscles, more research is still needed (21, 22).

Keep in mind these are proprietary blends, so the exact amount of each ingredient may not be disclosed. If you are sensitive to any of the individual ingredients, this may not be the best pre-workout choice for you.

Pros

  • certified vegan
  • certified gluten-free
  • certified organic
  • Informed Choice certified and NSF Certified for Sport
  • real food ingredients

Considerations

  • exact amounts of ingredients in proprietary blends aren’t disclosed

Best nootropic

Genius Pre

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: L-citrulline malate, beta-alanine, L-tyrosine, L-arginine, taurine, Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC), hydroxyisocaproic acid (HICA), ElevATP, rhodiola rosea, theobromine, AstraGin, Huperzia serrata

Nootropics are compounds that are thought to help improve cognitive function. This pre-workout contains a few nootropics, including Alpha-GPC, theobromine, rhodiola rosea, Huperzia serrata, and Panax notoginseng.

While these nootropics may be beneficial for mental performance, more research is needed (27, 28, 29, 30).

This supplement also contains AstraGin, which is a proprietary blend including Panax notoginseng extract and Astragalus membranaceus. While it’s thought that AstraGin may boost energy levels, there are currently no human studies to support this effect (17).

Genius Pre is third-party tested by Labdoor.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • vegan
  • certified organic

Cons

  • expensive
  • more research needed on nootropics
  • exact amounts of ingredients in proprietary blends aren’t disclosed

What is a pre-workout?

Pre-workouts are dietary supplements designed to boost energy and performance during a workout. Pre-workouts are typically found in powdered form and can be mixed with water and consumed before a workout.

Most pre-workouts are not formulated to meet male- or female-specific nutritional needs and can be enjoyed by anyone.

For most healthy adults, taking daily pre-workout supplements is likely safe. However, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements the same way as medications, so it’s best to choose a product that has undergone third-party testing (1).

Do you need a pre-workout supplement?

The short answer is no, because you can likely get all the nutrients you need to support your workout from your diet alone.

Speaking of which, it’s important to note that pre-workouts are not meant to replace a balanced diet.

However, if you want the convenience of a pre-workout supplement, it’s best to choose a product that has undergone third-party testing to ensure the quality and purity of its ingredients.

Also, while pre-workouts are considered safe for healthy adults, we recommend talking with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements (15).

Depending on the ingredients, a pre-workout supplement can provide a boost to your fitness goals by increasing your energy levels and improving muscle performance and recovery.

However, as there’s a wide variety of pre-workout supplements on the market, it’s important to do your research to find a safe and effective product that meets your fitness needs.

In general, look for a product that’s third-party tested and includes ingredients like L-citrulline, creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine, depending on your tolerance and preferences.

Most importantly, talk with a healthcare professional before adding a pre-workout supplement to your fitness routine.