The Best Pre-Workout Supplements: Who Makes the List?
Pre-workout supplements are a very important part of my workout when it comes to building muscle, getting lean, and lifting some serious weight! As someone who works 8-9 hours a day, I need that extra boost in the gym when 5 PM rolls around. Coffee, Red Bull, and 5-hour Energy just don’t cut it for me. I don’t really wake up and feel motivated. All it does is hurt my stomach and deflate my muscle fullness. Certain caffeinated products, especially coffee, are very catabolic in nature, meaning muscle wasting. However, the synergistic compounded formula in specific nutritional supplements provide the anabolic hormonal environment necessary to not only wake you up but to give you a full muscular pump for vascularity and fullness. Hence you will get the most results from your workout in the gym meaning increased muscle mass and strength.
The perfect pre-workout supplement contains four essential ingredients: Caffeine, Beta-alanine, L-Arginine, and Creatine. Caffeine keeps you alert and extends your endurance. Beta-alanine increases your PH level when it drops during exercise so that your body doesn’t become acidic. An acidic environment prevents muscle gain and from keeping your body lean. L-Arginine, which produces Nitric Oxide, is a vasodilator, which pumps more blood and nutrients in your muscle. Creatine allows for more ATP energy, which is going to make you stronger during those power reps.
As someone who used just about every pre-workout supplement around, here is my review for the top 5 most popular pre-workout supplements and how they rank amongst each other:
#1- C4 Extreme (Cellucor)
Price: 30 servings for $24.99 or 60 servings for $39.99. Best value on the market for both overall price and effectiveness. Quantity size can last you over a month even with the smaller size.
Preparation: I take only one scoop 20-30 minutes before my workout. With most of these other supplements, you would need 2-3 scoops. A lot of scoops = shorter supply = more money. Not to mention, 3 scoops at once may be too much for your body to handle. With C4 Extreme, I need such a miniscule amount. Even when mixing more than just a scoop, the powder is perfectly dissolved in water and goes down smoothly. Delicious taste.
During Workout: I find that when I take this product a half hour before the gym, I truly have cleaner energy. I feel no crash or jitters and I am entirely focused throughout my entire workout. I get such a pump in my muscles that I can literally feel the blood rushing throughout my body while my muscles are expanding to unprecedented sizes! Not to mention, I can lift 10-20% more weight with even more reps than normal!
Lasting Effect: After taking this product for 2 weeks, I noticed significant gains in strength with nearly all my exercises, not to mention look way more muscular. I felt little to no tolerance to the product, meaning I can take the same amount each and every day.
Overall Grade: A+
Cellucor C4 Extreme is the perfect pre-workout supplement when it comes to price and effectiveness. The combination of cleaner energy, minimal side effects, and true strength and muscular gains for a fraction of the price make this my premiere choice.
#2- Jack3d (USP Labs)
Price: 45 servings for $26.99. On the package directions, it recommends to stir 3 scoops, or 3 servings, before your workout. Doing the math, this will take you 15 days before you have to buy more. In terms of actual consumption cost, this is one of the more expensive products considering you are taking 2-3 scoops at once. This brings it down a few points. I feel that one scoop doesn’t do it for me so I do need to take the recommended servings.
Preparation: Like Cellucor C4, I find that the powder dissolves perfectly in water. It goes down smoothly with a great taste!
During Workout: I do some killer sets! I don’t really notice any crash but very rarely do I get this aggressive stimulation, where my skin itches. This may be due to the fact that I am taking 2-3 scoops at once. Besides this small side effect, I have incredible workouts and feel as strong as ever!
Lasting Effect: 2 weeks later and I’m freakishly strong! I see the most strength gains using this product but not as ripped up as I would be using Cellucor C4. I felt little to no tolerance using Jack3d, but 3 scoops per workout may seem a little much at times.
Overall Grade: B+
Jack3d gives me the best strength gains to date but the high cost and scoop level may prove too much for some to bear.
#3- NO-Xplode (BSN)
Price: 10 servings for $10.99, 20 servings for $18.99, 50 servings for $35.99. Unless buying larger quantities, the smaller quantities are overpriced and most expensive per scoop.
Preparation: I have problems dissolving this in water at times. There will be small lumps when drinking unless stirred for a while. This product has a very bitter taste.
During Workout: I feel the best muscle pumps with this product and really helps my muscles swell out both during and after my workout. I feel solid strength gains throughout. However, I get noticeable skin itching and occasional brief headaches throughout my workout, which hurts this product’s effectiveness. This may be due to the increased blood flow throughout my muscles and my body.
Lasting Effect: After 2 weeks, I look pretty shredded with continual blood flow to my muscles. In terms of looking ripped, this is tied with C4 Extreme as the best one for this. The skin itching and headaches are only during the first hour of taking the product. I don’t feel it at any other times.
Overall Grade: B
With NO-Xplode, I look noticeably leaner and can see my physique really changing before my eyes. However, the side effects at times can be quite annoying and overwhelming for some.
#4- White Flood (Controlled Labs)
Price: 20 servings for $16.99, 50 servings for $27.99, 100 servings for $40.99. This is the cheapest of all the products but in terms of actual value, it falls just outside the top 3.
Preparation: All I need is 1 scoop before my workout and I feel it, which is great when it comes to saving money and getting a cheap product. The powder dissolves great but has a “medicine-like” after taste. Tastes the least sugary out of the bunch. Not a true fan of the taste.
During Workout: Although it gives me increased energy and focus throughout my workout, White Flood does not contain any creatine. Although this is good for people who are cycling off creatine or do not use it, I find that I am not much stronger with my lifts.
Lasting Effect: 2 weeks later, I notice some lean muscle gains but lack in the strength department. I experience little to no tolerance increase, which is a plus in my book.
Overall Grade: C+
White Flood is a solid product and very cost-effective. This is the perfect supplement for those who have no interest in using creatine. However, the lack of creatine hinders this product’s true effectiveness as a pre-workout supplement. If you don’t care about the creatine or getting noticeably stronger then this is the second best supplement behind C4 Extreme.
#5- SuperPump MAX (Gaspari Nutrition)
Price: 10 servings for $15.00, 64 servings for $39.99. The directions recommend 2-3 scoops, which make it one of the most expensive products on the list.
Preparation: Mixes very smoothly but has a strong Energy drink taste. It takes a toll on my stomach for a few minutes after drinking 2-3 scoops at once. I go to the gym with a bloated feeling.
During Workout: Felt occasional bursts of energy but at other times felt rather unmotivated and jittery.
Lasting Effect: After 2 weeks with SuperPump, I did not notice any physical changes in both strength and muscular development.
Overall Grade: D
Although at-times I have great sets and muscle pumps with SuperPump, I did not feel it throughout the course of my workout like the other products. In addition, any noticeable changes were lacking. The high price and ineffectiveness make it the least effective of the group.
Remember, you should always consult with a doctor before beginning any supplement routines. These products should ONLY be consumed by healthy males 18 years of age and older. When taking any supplement, especially supplements with these pre-workout ingredients, start out with a lower dose and access your tolerance over a few days. If you experience continual discomfort, stop taking these supplements immediately and consult your doctor.
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