It seems like now-a-days everyone is taking some type of pre-workout. Whether it’s a powder, coffee, or even just pills, pre-workout can be a huge asset in your workout. I have used pre-workout for the past 5 years and I love it. So, in this post I’m going to point out and explain some of the must have ingredients in pre-workout, and why they are beneficial to you. At the end I will include some of my favorite pre-workouts, and some of the major ingredients in them.

1. Caffeine/ Caffeine AnhydrousWhat is it?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring central nervous system stimulant found in plants. Humans have been consuming caffeine since the early days of recorded history.

What are the benefits of taking caffeine?

Until 2004 caffeine was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, so many people were and are using it that they released the ban. It has been proven to increase physical performance and to decrease mental fatigue.

What is the difference between the two?

Caffeine and Caffeine Anhydrous are essentially the same thing. Their molecular structures are the same, and their effects on the body are the same. Anhydrous literally means “without water”. So, the only difference between the two is that caffeine anhydrous comes in powder and tablet form.

Suggested Use:

In my pre-workouts I prefer anywhere from 200mg to 300mg of caffeine. The reason this varies just depends on the amount of caffeine intake I receive from other sources throughout the day.

2. Beta-Alanine – What is it?

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, which means the body can create it. The function of Beta-Alanine is to create a molecule, named carnosine. It is formed by Beta-alanine forming with the essential amino acid L-histidine.

What are the benefits of taking Beta-Alanine?

The main reason we want to take Beta-Alanine is the fact that it is crucial in the formation of carnosine, that is stored in the muscle and the brain. Carnosine reduces the acidity level in the muscles. When a muscle contracts over and over again its acidity levels rises, which in turn impairs the contraction of the muscles. When we have a build up of carnosine in the muscles they are less acidic and will be able to endure longer.

Suggested use:

On a daily basis 2-4g of beta-alanine is sufficient enough. Since the body stores carnosine in muscles a “loading phase” is required to see the most results. This will allow carnosine to accumulate in the muscles faster.

3. Citrulline Malate – What is it? 

Consider Citrulline Malate the new guy on the block. It is formed by combining the the non-essential amino acid citrulline with malic acid.

What are the benefits of taking Citrulline Malate?

First off, Citrulline Malate is converted into l-arganine which and  that is converted in to Nitric Oxide. This widens blood vessels allowing more oxygen to flow into the muscles. When our muscles receive more oxygen they are stronger and can endure longer. Secondly, with the increase blood flow the build-up of lactic acid and ammonia is swept away. These cause the “burning” sensation we get after a hard work out. This will decrease the time we must take between workouts. Thirdly, Citrulline Malate increases the production of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is a major source of energy throughout the body. This will help your muscles work more efficiently. Lastly, Citrulline Malate improves your bodies consumption of amino acids. These amino acids help muscles regrow stronger.

Suggested Use:

Research show that anywhere from 3g to 9g have been used to combat fatigue. The ratio you want to shoot for is a 2:1 of citrulline to malic acid.

4.  Base Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – What are they? 

The three BCAAs are composed of three essential amino acids (essential, meaning the body can not produce them) leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

What are the benefits of taking BCAAs?

BCAAs simplify the process of converting amino acids into energy, so having more amino acids in the muscles means the amino acids will be used for energy instead of converting your muscles to energy.

Suggested Use:

When taking BCAAs you want to make sure it is a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine (respectively). BCAA powder makes for a good mid-workout drink, or you can supplements you BCAAs instead of drinking a coke during the day.


It is going to be near impossible to find a pre-workout with all of these ingredients. Luckily, most are sold as powders or pills that can be added to your preferred pre-workout. For the sake of your time I only included a brief over view of each supplement, so make sure to do more research before making your decision. Like always, I will end with this: supplements are just that. They are meant to supplement a healthy diet and workout regimen. With out a healthy diet and workout regimen you will not see all the benefits of these supplements. There are also no “magic” supplements that will transform your body immediately. It takes hard work, consistency , and an intentionality to reach your fitness goals, but keep working keep striving and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

SideWalk Kraka Pre-Workout




Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout





Total War Pre-Workout

XS Intense Pre-Workout