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Best Pre Workout UK Reviews

Pre-workout formulas are available in a vast array of different concoctions, ranging from ones based on carbs to ones containing ‘grey-area’ or banned ingredients like DMAA and ephedrine. Some people don’t get on with them and are happy simply with a pre-workout coffee, others rely on them can’t train hard without one. They have their use for early morning wake-up workouts and for training after a hard day’s work.

We’ll look at some of the main ingredients and a few popular formulas out of the hundreds that are available on the market. Avoid ones that are based on high sugar as these are high calorie and will only give you a short boost during the early part of the workout and may have a rebound effect causing sluggishness later on during your training session. After all, what we all want is to increase our energy boost with those levels lasting longer.

Editor's Choice
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout



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Applied Nutrition ABE Ultimate Pre Workout

Applied Nutrition ABE Ultimate Pre Workout

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PhD Authentic Charge All-in-One Pre Workout with Creatine

PhD Authentic Charge All-in-One Pre Workout with Creatine

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BSN Nutrition No Xplode

BSN Nutrition No Xplode

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Cellucor C4 Original

Cellucor C4 Original

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Grenade 50 Calibre

Grenade 50 Calibre

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Applied Nutrition Pump 3G Pre Workout

Applied Nutrition Pump 3G Pre Workout

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MUTANT Madness

MUTANT Madness

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Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon or Best Gym Equipment.

So, What are the Best Pre Workouts? The Reviews

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout is a potent and effective energy supplement for individuals seeking enhanced focus, power, and performance during their workouts. With 3.4g of creatine monohydrate and 175mg of caffeine from natural sources per serving, it provides a significant boost to muscle function and overall stamina. The inclusion of B complex vitamins contributes to normal energy metabolism and reduces tiredness and fatigue. The product comes in five appealing flavours, including Fruit Punch and Watermelon, ensuring a tasty experience.


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout offers a powerful blend of creatine, caffeine, and B vitamins, providing a significant boost to workout performance. With multiple flavours to choose from, it caters to diverse preferences. While some users report taste issues and potential side effects, it remains a cost-effective alternative to pricier competitors, delivering noticeable improvements in focus, resistance, and overall gym experience.




Things We Like
  • Powerful effects for boosting muscle function and endurance.
  • Contains a blend of creatine, caffeine, and B complex vitamins for comprehensive pre-workout support.
  • Multiple flavour options to suit personal preferences.
  • Suitable for a wide range of users, from beginners to seasoned athletes.
  • Informed Choice Certified, ensuring it is free from banned substances.


Things we don’t like
  • Some users may experience discomfort when combining with other supplements.
  • A potential for side effects such as itchiness in some individuals.
  • Comparatively less favourable taste when compared to other premium brands.

Applied Nutrition ABE Ultimate Pre Workout stands out with its potent blend of performance-boosting ingredients, making it a valuable addition to any training regimen. The inclusion of Citrulline Malate, Creatine Monohydrate, and Beta-Alanine enhances physical performance, delays fatigue, and improves focus during workouts. With a high B12 content, it supports red blood cell formation for overall health. The diverse range of delicious flavours, including Bubblegum and Tropical, adds a delightful element to the pre-workout experience. The product undergoes rigorous testing, ensuring it meets the standards of professional athletes.


Applied Nutrition ABE Ultimate Pre Workout offers a potent combination of key ingredients designed to enhance physical performance, delay fatigue, and improve focus during workouts. With a variety of delicious flavours, rigorous testing, and ease of preparation, it caters to diverse preferences. However, individual reactions may vary, as seen in mixed reviews on its effectiveness and side effects in certain cases.

Things We Like
  • Powerful blend of performance-enhancing ingredients, including Citrulline Malate and Creatine Monohydrate.
  • High B12 content for red blood cell formulation and overall health.
  • Diverse and tasty flavour options, catering to different preferences.
  • Rigorous testing for high nutritional value, making it suitable for professional athletes.
Things we don’t like
  • Stomach cramps have been reported with some users
  • Some users may experience itching

PhD Authentic Charge All-in-One Pre Workout with Creatine stands out as a fully dosed and effective pre-workout supplement. Its carefully crafted formula includes creatine monohydrate, BCAAs, Beta-Alanine, and Alpha GPC, providing explosive power, sustained energy, and enhanced mental focus. The unique taste, subject to personal preference, has garnered positive feedback, and the product is praised for its effectiveness without causing discomfort. Tailored for athletes, weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts, this UK-formulated pre workout offers versatility for various training styles.


PhD Authentic Charge All-in-One Pre Workout with Creatine impresses with its fully dosed formula, delivering explosive power, sustained energy, and enhanced focus. While taste preferences may vary, the product is well-received for its effectiveness and versatility across different training styles. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts find it to be a reliable and carefully formulated pre-workout option.


Things We Like
  • Fully dosed formula with essential ingredients for performance enhancement.
  • Powerful blend for explosive power, sustained energy, and mental focus.
  • Unique taste, appreciated by many users.
  • Suitable for a diverse range of athletes, including weightlifters and bodybuilders.
  • Formulated in a UK performance lab with safe substances.
Things we don’t like
  • Taste can be subjective, described as a hit or miss by some users.
  • One review notes potential discomfort with the initial taste, recommending a quick consumption approach.
  • Short-lived effects reported by a few users, experiencing a crash after approximately 30 minutes.

BSN Nutrition N.O.-XPLODE Pre Workout delivers a powerful boost with its well-balanced blend of caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and plant extracts. The 200 mg of caffeine per serving provides heightened alertness and focus during workouts, complemented by amino acids L-citrulline and beta-alanine for sustained energy and reduced fatigue. Users appreciate the tingling sensation from beta-alanine, signalling its effectiveness. The three available flavours offer variety, and the mix of ingredients aims to enhance overall workout performance. Some note potential jitteriness and tingling intensity, urging caution with dosage. Overall, BSN N.O.-XPLODE stands as a reliable choice for those seeking an energy-boosting pre-workout supplement.


BSN Nutrition N.O.-XPLODE Pre Workout offers a well-rounded formula for enhanced workout performance. With caffeine, amino acids, and other key ingredients, it provides sustained energy, reduced fatigue, and heightened focus. The tingling sensation indicates its potency, although users should be mindful of potential intensity. While taste preferences differ, this pre-workout supplement stands out for its effectiveness, making it a reliable choice for those seeking a performance-boosting supplement.

Things We Like
  • Comprehensive blend with caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and plant extracts.
  • 200 mg of caffeine enhances alertness and focus during workouts.
  • Amino acids L-citrulline and beta-alanine contribute to sustained energy and reduced fatigue.
  • Three appealing flavours provide variety.
  • Recognized for its effectiveness in boosting workout performance.


Things we don’t like
  • Some users may experience jitteriness and intense tingling, requiring dosage caution.
  • Taste opinions vary, with a mild bitterness noted in one review.
  • Effects may start fading after around an hour, according to user experience.

Cellucor C4 Original is a potent pre-workout supplement that stands out for its explosive energy-boosting formula. With 150mg of caffeine, 1600mg of CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, and other key ingredients like micronized creatine monohydrate, it provides a powerful kick to enhance workouts. The sugar-free formulation with zero calories ensures a clean energy surge. Users rave about its dangerously tasty flavour, making it an enjoyable supplement. However, some users experience intense itching/tingling, particularly if consumed rapidly. This sensation is temporary but may vary among individuals. Overall, C4 Original is recommended for its effectiveness in providing energy, focus, and flavour, making it a reliable choice for those aiming to maximize their workout potential.


Cellucor C4 Original is a powerful pre-workout supplement delivering explosive energy, focus, and flavour. With key ingredients like caffeine and CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, it enhances workout performance. The sugar-free formula ensures a clean energy boost. While the intense tingling/itching sensation is temporary and varies among users, the supplement is widely praised for its effectiveness and delicious taste. C4 Original stands as a recommended choice for those seeking a reliable and enjoyable pre-workout supplement.

Things We Like
  • Explosive energy with 150mg of caffeine and clinically-studied CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine.
  • Sugar-free formulation with zero calories.
  • Clinically-researched ingredients, including micronized creatine monohydrate and arginine alpha-ketoglutarate.
  • Manufactured in Europe in a GMP certified facility.
Things we don’t like
  • Some users experience intense itching/tingling, especially when consumed rapidly.
  • Temporary itching sensation lasts around 20 minutes for some users.

Grenade .50 Calibre is a pre-workout supplement designed to turn every workout into an explosive, energy-fuelled session. Packed with over 20 university-tested ingredients, it aims to enhance energy levels, pumps, strength, muscle building, anabolic hormone levels, and blood flow. The formula includes beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate, and L-citrulline DL-malate. While some users appreciate its effectiveness, others find issues with taste and texture. The supplement is recommended for experienced pre-workout users who can handle its potency.


Grenade .50 Calibre is a potent pre-workout supplement designed for experienced users seeking explosive energy and enhanced workout performance. With over 20 university-tested ingredients, it aims to boost energy levels, strength, and muscle building. While some users appreciate its effectiveness, taste issues, and potential difficulty sleeping after evening use are reported. Overall, it's recommended for those who can handle its potency and are looking for a high-impact pre-workout supplement.

Things We Like
  • Contains a blend of over 20 university-tested ingredients.
  • Enhances energy levels, strength, and muscle building.
  • Variety of flavours available.
  • Aids in reducing tiredness during workouts.
  • High-potency dosages for increased effectiveness.
Things we don’t like
  • May have a chalky or powdery texture if not mixed well.
  • Intense kick may lead to difficulty sleeping if taken late in the day.

Applied Nutrition Pump 3G Pre Workout offers a choice between Pump 3G with caffeine for daytime use and Pump Zero, caffeine-free for evening workouts. Packed with essential ingredients like Citrulline Malate, Creatine Monohydrate, and AAKG, it's designed to maximize gains and boost endurance. The addition of Vitamin B12 reduces tiredness and fatigue. The supplement is easy to prepare—just mix with water 30 minutes before exercising. Users appreciate the tasty flavours and the fact that it's halal-certified. While some experience enhanced stamina, others mention occasional skin tingling. Pump 3G is athlete-tested, ensuring the highest standards in professional athletics.


Applied Nutrition Pump 3G Pre Workout offers versatility with caffeine options for different workout times. Packed with essential amino acids and vitamins, it's designed for maximum gains and reduced fatigue. Athlete-tested for professional standards, it provides a tasty and easy-to-prepare solution. While some users note enhanced stamina, occasional skin tingling and taste preferences are subjective. Overall, it's a recommended choice for those seeking a quality pre-workout supplement with caffeine flexibility.

Things We Like
  • Caffeine options cater to different workout timings.
  • Rich in essential amino acids and vitamins for performance.
  • Vitamin B12 reduces tiredness, aiding longer training.
  • Easy preparation and halal-certified.
  • Athlete-tested for professional standards.
Things we don’t like
  • Some users experience occasional skin tingling.
  • Taste preferences vary (sweetness level).
  • Creatine dosage might be a concern for some users.

MUTANT Madness is a potent, ultra-concentrated pre-workout supplement designed for the hardcore fitness enthusiast. With a combination of arginine, citrulline, beta-alanine, and a 500mg 5-caffeine source blend, it delivers a powerful boost before intense workouts. The 20 researched ingredients, including B-vitamins and a bioavailability enhancer, contribute to steady energy delivery without the jittery effects. The supplement aims to fight fatigue and enhance focus, ensuring optimal performance during demanding training sessions. MUTANT Madness offers value for money, a good taste, and an energy boost suitable for weight training.


MUTANT Madness stands out as a cost-effective and efficient pre-workout supplement for intense training sessions. With a blend of key ingredients, it delivers a powerful energy boost without the common jittery effects. While taste and performance receive positive feedback, a peppery aftertaste is noted by some users. Overall, it's recommended for those seeking a hardcore, value-driven pre-workout supplement to fuel their demanding fitness routines.

Things We Like
  • Value for money compared to other brands.
  • Provides a good energy boost for weight training.
  • Variety of flavours to choose from.
  • Effective in enhancing focus and combating fatigue.
Things we don’t like
  • Some users find it not great on the stomach.
  • A few users report a peppery aftertaste.

Popular Pre-Workout Ingredients

Look out for the following common ingredients on labels. Look for formulas that contain ingredients that you get on with or ones that appeal to you to try. You may wish to formulate your own homemade pre-workout stack. Most of the ingredients are available on their own from bulk suppliers.


A good pre-workout formula will contain a little carbs in the form of dextrose (glucose) or maltodextrin or even waxy maize starch, Vitargo or cyclic dextrin. Carbs are required, not just as they provide energy in the form of calories, but because they help facilitate a rapid rate of gastric emptying; i.e. how quickly the formula leaves the stomach. You want the ingredients being absorbed rapidly and also not having a heavy drink sitting in your tummy during a hard workout. However, the level of carbs should not be too high.


A formula should contain some sodium and potassium to help hydration as well as the rate of gastric emptying. A good isotonic formula will leave the stomach quickly which, in turn, will help hydration as well as the absorption of the ingredients.


Caffeine is popular but not loved by all. It’s a simulant and it’s found in many, but not all, pre-workout supplements. A large caffeine dose will be anything over around 80mg per serving. These dosages can cause some unpleasant side effects and aren’t popular with those that can’t drink too much coffee without feeling nervous. If you see guarana or kola nut on the labels, these are simply herbal ingredients that provide caffeine. It’s probably the most common pre workout ingredient.


Creatine is a well-researched supplement and its benefits on athletic performance are proven. However, its action is longer term and it gives no short term benefit. It is popular as an ingredient as it’s cheap but if it’s to provide any benefit, you’ll need to consume creatine daily.


Like creatine, beta-alanine’s performance benefits are cumulative and you need to consume it for several days before it will provide optimal benefit. Beta-alanine acts as a buffer for lactic acid and helps recovery. Beta-alanine does also give a slight tingly flushing sensation a few minutes after ingestion called paresthesia which can help you feel ‘fired-up’ for a workout. Beta-alanine is popular in pre-workout formulas because of the paresthesia as it help the formula give a short-term sensation and users like to ‘feel’ something working.

Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate

The amino acid arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO) which is a vasodilator; i.e. something that relaxes blood vessels allowing increased blood flow. NO is responsible for the muscle ‘pump’ which, although temporary, also helps a positive mind-set during a workout. Physiologically, NO helps more blood flow bringing with it more nutrients and oxygen to the muscle as well waste-products like lactic acid being removed.

Arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) is a form of arginine which bypasses an enzyme system, thus allowing more arginine to be used for conversion to NO rather than for the numerous other roles arginine plays in the body.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate (CM) increased the level of arginine in the body which then increases the level of NO. It also helps remove the waste products of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism delaying the onset of fatigue. The effects of CM are built up from using it over a number days; ideally use around 6g per day.


Taurine is the second most abundant amino acid in muscle. Like creatine, it acts as a cell-volumiser in muscles helping hydration and to increase protein synthesis.

However, it’s more interesting use as an ingredient in a pre-workout formula is that it’s a nootropic helping mental focus and concentration. It’s for this reason that stimulant energy drinks like Red Bull contain it.


Glucuronolactone is another popular ingredient of energy drinks and is present in Red Bull. It is produced from the metabolism of glucose in the liver and has been shown to increase endurance and improve reaction times at supplemental doses making it an effective ergogenic stimulant and nootropic.


Tyrosine is an amino acid involved in protein synthesis. Its use in pre-workouts involves the fact that it’s a precursor in the manufacture of various hormones and neurotransmitters including dopamine, DOPA, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Tyrosine is a nootropic that improves mental alertness and enhances cognitive performance helping concentration during training.


Ephedrine is a drug, it’s used both as a stimulant and as a nasal decongestant. However, any legitimate pre-workout formula should not contain ephedrine.


1,3 Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) is a potent stimulant used in pre-workout formulas. It helps workout aggression, mental focus and delays fatigue. It is, however, dangerous and banned in many countries.


Dimethylethanolamine (DMAE) is a central nervous system stimulant and a neurotransmitter precursor. Its effects are short term, but it is certainly one ingredient you ‘feel’ from consuming pre-workout formulas. DMAE is both a stimulant and a nootropic.

What are the Benefits of a Good Pre-Workout?

Caffeine and creatine can both help you feel like your strength has increased. There’s some research that suggests caffeine might help with beta-endorphin generation, since it’s a neurotransmitter, but research is still new. Suffice it to say that a pre-workout is going to definitely help you feel like you can lift more, and when your mind is sure, your body follows.

Enhanced mental focus is a huge benefit if you’re workout out in a super packed gym at the peak time. It can be hard during those instances to get into the zone and a pre-workout can help you quiet out all other distractions. It’s also great if you’re a first thing in the morning gym goer. Try taking a pre-workout in place of coffee and watch your generally drowsy lifts become PR sessions.

Perhaps the most important thing a pre-workout does is that it boosts your endurance. That long leg day lift that used to leave you feeling destroyed might not be so brutal if you’ve taken a pre-workout before starting it. That’s because pre-workouts contain beta-alanine that helps fight fatigue.

How do you know that Pre-Workout is Working?

You can use three criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of your pre-workout. If you’re start feeling way more energized than you were an hour ago, chances are it works. There’s generally a sudden spike in your energy levels that sort of just hits you.

  • If you’re sure you can push, pull, or squat more than any other human ever, the pre-workout is kicking in.
  • Stimulant based pre workout supplements often contain ingredients that help increase clarity and focus. If everything else in your gym has melted away and you’re totally zoned in on your lift, your pre-workout is doing its job.
  • The histamine response of beta-alanine and the niacin flush are also easy to spot signs that your pre-workout is fully integrated and ready to help you outperform what you did at your last lift.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Taking too much caffeine can have negative effects on your resting heart rate and your heart’s ability to function properly. Because most pre workout supplements contain incredibly large amounts of caffeine, they can be harmful to your overall heath.

Ingesting caffeine within six hours of a proposed bedtime can also have negative effects on your sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. So, be careful with the caffeine content of a pre-workout if you have an evening workout.

Some pre workout supplements have as much caffeine as four cups of coffee. On its own, four cups of coffee might not be a significant health detriment, but combined with whatever else you might be drinking during the day that has caffeine could put undue stress on your heart and exacerbate underlying heart conditions.

The amount of caffeine in pre-workouts can also cause gastric upset and severe diarrhoea. This is because there are some binding agents in pre-workouts that act as laxatives.

Dangerous unregulated substances can be found in pre-workouts if the manufacturer has included them in the proprietary blend. Recent litigation filed against two pre-workout supplement companies assert that their products, for which they’ve not disclosed all ingredients, has causes liver damage and multiple deaths. Doping agents that are all part of the methamphetamine class of drugs can pose significant health risks. If you’re a competitive athlete, make sure you’re super careful about your pre-workout to avoid being inadvertently disqualified from meets.

Pre-Workout FAQs

Do Pre-Workouts Work?

A good pre-workout formula with some of the above ingredients will help you improve your workout intensity. However, they should not be relied upon and you still need a good nutrition intake.

Are Pre-Workouts Safe?

This depends on the ingredient. Be cautious with some of the above ingredients. With any pre-workout formula, only consume as per the product’s directions and no more.

Which Pre-Workout Supplements are for Women?

Women can use exactly the same pre-workout supplements as men; just at the appropriate dose for their bodyweight.

Are Pre-Workout Ingredients Natural?

Some ingredients are natural, some synthetic; some will be synthetic forms of substrates that may also be found naturally.

Do Pre-Workouts Help with Muscle Gain?

If you have a good workout, helping with muscle growth / muscle mass; so, yes!

What Pre-Workouts will Help Cardio?

If you’re using a pre-workout formula to assist with cardiovascular exercise of interval training, I would avoid formulas that contain ingredients that give you a pump, like AAKG. All other ingredients should help improve your cardiovascular performance.

Best Pre-Workout for Vascularity?

Look for formulas that contain beta-alanine, citrulline malate and AAKG.

Will Pre-Workouts Help Burn Fat?

Some ingredients may help increase the metabolism very, very slightly and these may help burn body fat as part of an appropriate diet and exercise regimen. However, any pre-workout formula that helps you exercise more intensely, will help the results of that workout.

How Much Pre-Workout is too Much?

This depends on the individual and, of course, the amounts of active ingredients in the product. My advice is, when starting a new formula, consume an amount slightly less than the serving suggestion and see how you get on. There’s nothing worse than the effects of too much stimulants and beta-alanine.

Can Pre-Workouts Cause Anxiety?

Whilst it’s not actual anxiety you may experience with some pre-workouts, the effects of some ingredients certainly mimics the symptoms of anxiety. Indeed, if you’re anxiety-prone this effect could actually compound anxiety, so pre-workouts may be best avoided.

Can Pre-Workouts Cause Headaches?

Some people may experience mild headaches. This may be due to you not being adequately hydrated as some formulas may raise body temperature and make you sweat – especially if you’re having an intense workout. Make sure you drink plenty of water and be careful you’re not consuming too much.

Will Pre-Workouts Keep me Awake?

Many pre-workouts contain stimulants and, if consumed too late in the day, they may keep you up at night. If you’re prone to this, don’t consume pre-workouts within three hours of bedtime.

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Jason Barnham

Jason started lifting weights back in 1990 which sparked his interest in Nutrition. He went back to college in 1993 then started at the University of Surrey in 1994, graduating in Nutrition and Dietetics in 1998.

Having worked in both the NHS and running his own dietetic clinic, he has now settled into the web publishing world.

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