5 Proven Pre-Workout Ingredients

By Jacob Ladon Generation Iron

5 Proven Pre-Workout Ingredients

Finding a pre workout is easy. Finding a pre workout that works for you? A whole other ballgame. But, despite what companies and the whole fitness industry has you believe, there are only a handful of focused pre workout ingredients that are actually proven to work.

And even then, lots of companies choose to stray from the basics of these ingredients, by giving them absurd names or adding them into proprietary mixes with other not so good ingredients.

But again, you can throw as many fancy words at a brand and a name as you want. At the end of the day, they’re just the same old ingredients.

Here’s the 5 proven pre workout ingredients you should look out for.


Caffeine has been the go-to stimulant of choice for pre-workouts for a long time now. It is effective, relatively cheap, and comes with more studies and research than any other ingredient.

Caffeine is the naturally occurring molecule that is found in Coffee. It gives quick clean energy at the right doses and allows for harder workouts with more endurance.

One study done on caffeine shows caffeine’s effectiveness on endurance-based exercises such as marathon running or cycling. In this study, they found that “Caffeine is extremely effective for enhancing sports performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages”(1)

It isn’t just the endurance sports either. In another study designed to test the effect of caffeine on strength, “Caffeine ingestion improved both strength and power” across 10 separate studies! (2)

You should be careful consuming any stimulant, but it seems that as long as you keep the doses to a reasonable level (3–6 mg per kg), there will be no adverse side effects to your health. (3)

Another thing to avoid is too high a dose in a single sitting, as it can leave you zapped for hours afterward. This is especially important for those that work out before they go to work.


One of the many amino-acids essential for your bodily functions is Citrulline. The amazing thing about citrulline is that by increasing your body’s levels, you increase your body’s ability to send oxygenated blood to your muscles and tissue. (4)

This means that your body will repair faster and perform better. One of the most notable effects of Citrulline is the effect it has on DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Those of you who have been training for a long enough period of time will have no doubt felt the wrath of DOMS. The struggle to sit down on the toilet after leg day being the most common!

The effect of Citrulline is so strong that in one study, weightlifters were able to perform 53% more reps than the placebo group. (5)

Citrulline has also been found to be a very safe compound, with studies showing no negative side effects even when the test subject consumed 15G of Citrulline, nearly triple the recommended dose. (6)


Creatine is a molecule found inside your body’s muscles. It is used as an energy source during workouts and usually stays at a set level. By loading up on Creatine, you can essentially boost your body’s natural stores of the compound. This means you have more energy and strength during workouts.

Studies have found that loading up on creatine can lead to a safe increase in lean body mass and performance. (7)

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements on the market and is the go-to choice for a number of athletes looking to increase their ability.

To load up on creatine, you should be consuming 3-5g a day for 8 weeks, followed by a 4-week off-period. (8)


Beta-Alanine is king when it comes to reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. During exercise, your muscles begin to build up lactic acid. This causes soreness in the muscles. Beta-Alanine combats this lactic acid buildup. (9)

By taking Beta-Alanine in your pre-workout, you will begin to boost the levels naturally found in the body. This will enable you to reap the benefits.


Theacrine is a pure alkaloid found in a special fruit called the Cupuacu and the Kucha Plant. The Kucha Plant is a special tea plant that only grows in one location on earth, China’s wild Yunnan woods. During a special process, the Kucha Plant converts Caffeine into Theacrine.

Theacrine works in a similar way to Caffeine by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain. This blocks the signals that cause tiredness and fatigue, allowing you to stay alert.

In high enough doses, Theacrine can also activate Dopamine receptors in the brain, leading to motivation and a feeling of wakefulness. (9)

In another study, Theacrine also reduced the level of inflammation in the subjects and boosted anti-oxidants’ production. (10)

Perhaps the best thing about Theacrine is the way that it is different from caffeine. Theacrine has been shown to have less of an effect on sleep compared to caffeine and has a lower chance of creating a tolerance. It also has no effect on blood pressure. (11)(12)(13)

Our Recommendation?

Finding a product with the right dosages and the right ingredients can be a real challenge. The supplement market has been flooded with so many products in recent years that do not live up to the hype.

If you are looking for an incredible Pre-Workout, one that has won BEST BREAKOUT PRODUCT + BEST PRE-WORKOUT WINNER at the GENERATION IRON SUPPLEMENT AWARDS 2020Then look no further.

Stage Ready, by National Bodybuilding Co, contains the highest quality ingredients at scientifically researched dosages. The result is an insane amount of mental clarity and energy, paired with laser focus and motivation without a dreaded crash.

If you train hard, you want a pre-workout that is going to help you push your limits. National Bodybuilding Co has you covered.


  1. Goldstein, E.R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 5 (2010).
  2. Grgic, J., Trexler, E. T., Lazinica, B., & Pedisic, Z. (2018). Effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition15, 11.
  3. Goldstein, E.R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 5 (2010).
  4. Chopra S, Baby C, Jacob JJ. Neuro-endocrine regulation of blood pressure. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct;15 Suppl 4(Suppl4):S281-8. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.86860. PMID: 22145130; PMCID: PMC3230096.
  5. Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Lord T, Vanhatalo A, Winyard PG, Jones AM. l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Aug 15;119(4):385-95. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00192.2014. Epub 2015 May 28. PMID: 26023227.
  6. Moinard C, Nicolis I, Neveux N, Darquy S, Bénazeth S, Cynober L. Dose-ranging effects of citrulline administration on plasma amino acids and hormonal patterns in healthy subjects: the Citrudose pharmacokinetic study. Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr;99(4):855-62. doi: 10.1017/S0007114507841110. Epub 2007 Oct 22. PMID: 17953788.
  7. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017).
  8. Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition4, 6.
  9. Feduccia AA, Wang Y, Simms JA, Yi HY, Li R, Bjeldanes L, Ye C, Bartlett SE. Locomotor activation by theacrine, a purine alkaloid structurally similar to caffeine: involvement of adenosine and dopamine receptors. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Aug;102(2):241-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.04.014. Epub 2012 May 9. PMID: 22579816.
  10. Li WX, Li YF, Zhai YJ, Chen WM, Kurihara H, He RR. Theacrine, a purine alkaloid obtained from Camellia assamica var. kucha, attenuates restraint stress-provoked liver damage in mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jul 3;61(26):6328-35. doi: 10.1021/jf400982c. Epub 2013 Jun 18. PMID: 23678853.
  11. Qiao H, Ye X, Bai X, He J, Li T, Zhang J, Zhang W, Xu J. Theacrine: A purine alkaloid from Camellia assamica var. kucha with a hypnotic property via the adenosine system. Neurosci Lett. 2017 Oct 17;659:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.08.063. Epub 2017 Aug 31. PMID: 28864241.
  12. Taylor L, Mumford P, Roberts M, Hayward S, Mullins J, Urbina S, Wilborn C. Safety of TeaCrine®, a non-habituating, naturally-occurring purine alkaloid over eight weeks of continuous use. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 Jan 13;13:2. doi: 10.1186/s12970-016-0113-3. PMID: 26766930; PMCID: PMC4711067.
  13. Li SB, Li YF, Mao ZF, Hu HH, Ouyang SH, Wu YP, Tsoi B, Gong P, Kurihara H, He RR. Differing chemical compositions of three teas may explain their different effects on acute blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Apr;95(6):1236-42. doi: