What Pre-Workouts Are and How to Use Them

What Pre-Workouts Are and How to Use Them

Need an extra boost in the gym to squeeze out one more rep? Want to feel more motivated and mentally focused to strengthen that important mind-muscle connection? Pre-workouts can help you with that. But not all pre-workout drinks and supplements are made alike, and some may actually contain ingredients that sabotage your bodybuilding or weight loss goals. If you want to align your pre-workout supplements with your fitness and health objectives, here's what to look for in the best pre-workout — and what to avoid. 

What Are Pre-Workouts Used For?

Pre-workouts typically come in the form of a premade drink or a pre-workout powder that you mix into your beverages. Depending on the specific ingredients used, these supplements are designed to give you:

  • A boost in physical energy
  • A reduction in fatigue
  • An increased sense of stamina and endurance
  • An enhanced degree of mental focus, concentration, and motivation
  • A faster rate of post-workout recovery

Because they're so effective, pre-workouts are one of the best-selling fitness and exercise supplements in the industry. In fact, a recent study by Data Bridge Market found that sales hovered around $14.83 billion in 2021 and will double to nearly $29 billion in the next few years. But what do the science and research actually say, and who should be using pre-workouts?

Who Should Use Pre-Workouts?

Pre-workouts are popular among anyone who wants to maximize their exercise performance, whether that's muscle-building or endurance training. Put simply, it helps you get more out of your workout, leading you towards faster results and gains. 

However, it's important to talk to your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns. For instance, many pre-workouts contain caffeine, which may not be appropriate for those who are caffeine-sensitive or for those who work out late in the evening and want a good night's sleep. And because most pre-workouts contain a stimulant of some sort (even if it's not caffeine), you may way want to exercise caution if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems (some pre-workouts may cause a racing heartbeat)
  • Gastrointestinal issues

That being said, research suggests that the main ingredients in pre-workout drinks and pre-workout supplements are safe and effective for most people

Are There Different Types of Pre-workouts?

The best pre-workouts can be divided into two main categories: Stimulant-containing pre-workouts and non-stimulant pre-workouts. Both categories can enhance your pump, strength, and endurance, but the former provides a greater energy rush and potentially more endurance-enhancing benefits. 

Popular Pre-Workout Ingredients and Their Uses

If you read the labels on the best pre-workout supplements, you'll likely see a few popular vitamins, minerals, and ingredients. Each comes with varying levels of documented research outlining its efficacy and how it can improve your gym experience. 


Caffeine is the top ingredient in most stimulant-containing pre-workouts. Sometimes, it will be listed as caffeine on the ingredients label. Other times, it may be caffeine derived from herbal extracts like yerba mate or green tea (as a bonus, studies show both herbs may have additional exercise and fat-burning benefits).

In a meta-analysis of multiple studies, researchers say that caffeine may significantly improve your:

  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle endurance
  • High-intensity movements like jumping and sprinting
  • Aerobic capacity
  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Mental focus and energy

Other stimulants that you may find in a good pre-workout supplement include:

  • Guarana
  • Yohimbine
  • Theobromine
  • Theacrine


Texas A&M University reports that "creatine is the most widely used supplement to enhance strength/power performance." That should be no surprise, thanks to the decades of research demonstrating creatine's effectiveness:

Combine all the above benefits together, and researchers have found creatine to be highly effective for boosting muscle mass, muscle growth, and muscle strength


Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. While it doesn't have a direct effect on your muscles, this amino acid is essential for producing the molecule known as carnosine. Carnosine is stored in your muscle and helps your body eliminate lactic acid that builds up while you're working out, which is why beta-alanine is such a powerful addition to pre-workout drinks.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition reviewed multiple studies and found:

  • Beta-alanine increases exercise performance, especially in high-intensity workouts 
  • Beta-alanine works as a pH buffer, which may help enhance muscle endurance and reduce muscle recovery and soreness 
  • Beta-alanine improves aerobic performance, such as cycling


Also known as smart drugs or brain supplements, nootropics are a growing field of compounds and ingredients shown to support optimal brain performance. What does cognitive performance have to do with exercise and fitness? It's all about the mind-muscle connection: With more mental focus, various research suggests that the mind-muscle connection may enhance strength, enhance muscle growth and strength, and even improve your form.

Creatine and caffeine both act as nootropics. Other nootropics you might find in a high-quality pre-workout include:

Additional Popular Ingredients in the Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Caffeine and creatine might be the all-stars in most pre-workouts, but other compounds can provide added health and wellness benefits:

What to Watch Out for When Choosing a Pre-Workout

If you're trying to find the best pre-workout for your next gym session, keep in mind that not all pre-workout supplements are made alike. In fact, some may come with ingredients that you want to avoid for medical reasons, dietary reasons, or lifestyle preferences:

  • Filler: maltodextrin and other ingredients are sometimes used to "inflate" the volume of the pre-workout without adding any specific benefits
  • Artificial colors and dyes
  • Sugar and glucose
  • Proprietary blends that don't tell you the exact doses of specific ingredients in the pre-workout

Popular Pre-Workouts at TigerFitness

At Tiger Fitness, you'll find an array of best-selling pre-workout supplements to help you get the most out of your exercise regimen. Popular examples include:

For the best results, take your pre-workout 30-60 minutes before exercise, stay hydrated throughout your workout (caffeine and other stimulants can have a mild dehydrating effect), and consider pairing your pre-workout with a post-workout recovery supplement to get the best of both worlds and truly level-up your exercise. 

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