Ingredients found in the most popular pre workout supplements

If you look at the ingredient panel on any pre workout supplement of sports supplements, you’ll see a variety of items listed.  Some ingredients are fairly common across different products.  Others a very unique to a particular manufacturer or product.  Each manufacturer chooses their ingredients based on their own research, beliefs, and proprietary blends of supplements.  This article will explain some of the ingredients found in the most popular pre-workout supplements:


Arginine or L-Arginine
Arginine is the most common ingredient found in a pre-workout supplement.  It is a naturally occurring amino acid which converts readily and easily inside your body into the all-important nitric oxide (NO).  Nitric oxide causes your blood vessels to dilate (expand), which allows them to deliver more blood and oxygen to your working muscles.  The more blood, nutrients, and oxygen which is delivered to your muscles, the more the fibers stretch and grow.  This helps to deliver the pump you want when lifting.  Additionally, best L-Arginine also boosts your natural growth hormone levels.  Boosting these levels increases muscle growth and strength, and helps burn fat.  Argenine is one of the most useful ingredients in a pre-workout supplement, and is used very frequently for these specific benefits.

The second most commonly found ingredient in the popular pre-workout supplements we examined is creatine.  Creatine is generally found in one of two forms in a pre workout supplement: creatine monohydrate or creatine HCL (hydrochloride).  Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine found.  If you take a best creatine monohydrate supplement, it is most likely monohydrate.  Creatine monohydrate is one of the most researched supplements in history, with hundreds of independent studies proving its ability to boost muscle size, strength, and endurance.  Creatine HCL is a newer form of creatine to recently come to market.  While not yet as heavily researched as creatine monohydrate, creatine HCL may prove to be the more effective version due to its ability to raise creatine levels within the blood even higher.

Caffeine is also found in many pre-workout supplements.  Affectionately known as the most common drug in the world, caffeine works time and time again.  Simply, caffeine acts as a stimulant in the body.  Including caffeine as an ingredient works perfectly for a variety of reasons.  First, there is a chemical within our bodies called adenosine which when it reaches your brain, signals fatigue, makes you feel tired, and slows down your brain.  Caffeine bonds to the same receptors in your brain which bond to adenosine, therefore blocking the tiresome feelings caused by adenosine!  Caffeine keeps you alert, no matter what time of the day you train.  Additionally, caffeine has been shown to boost nitric oxide levels and improve blood flow.

Beta-Alanine is another common ingredient found in many of the products we examined.  It is nearly as popular as caffeine as an ingredient.  Beta-Alanine has been heavily researched and is known to increase muscle strength through a variety or chemical reactions it is involved in within your body.  It is a naturally occurring amino acid.  Basically, Beta-Alanine bonds with histidine to create a protein called carnosine.  Carnosine is a protein responsible for buffering hydrogen ions which build up in your muscles as you work out.  Hydrogen ions are bad for your muscles; they create acid which reduces the ability of your muscles to do work.  When carnosine buffers these ions, your muscles do not build up acid as quickly which allows you to work out longer and harder.  This reaction would not be possible if Beta-Alanine were not included in your supplement.

Taruine equals muscle pump.  It is a common in gradient in many formulas.  Going by the research supporting taurine, it increases muscle endurance, plays a critical role in your strength and power, and draws water into muscle cells.  Again, as with the pump that comes from argenine, when a muscle fiber is stretched it grows.  The water that is pulled into the muscle cell further stretches the individual muscle fibers, giving them more and more room to grow.  The muscle fibers stretch, you do the work, and taurine helps make sure you grow.

Citrulline is the twin sister to argenine.  Both work to boost NO (nitric oxide) levels within your body, which mean both work to deliver larger muscle pumps.  While argenine is used and absorbed in a specific manner in the body, citulline takes a different path.  Citrulline stays in your blood stream, meaning the conversion path and timing of its conversion to NO is different.  It’s like getting a second dose of NO booster without having to take any additional supplements.  Finally, citrulline helps to blulnt fatigue by blocking ammonia build up.  This acid is detrimental to your muscles, so blocking its development allows you to work out longer and harder.  The reasons for the addition of citrulline as a pre workout supplement ingredient are obvious!

There are a number of additional ingredients found in the different pre-workout supplement options.  An all-inclusive list would be nearly impossible to compose, but here are some other ingredients we noticed:

  • Vinpocetine – From the plant Lesser Periwinkle, it boosts energy and reduces fatigue.
  • 1-3 Dimethylamylamine – The active ingredient in geranium oil, it is a stimulant which works differently than caffeine.
  • Glycerol – Fughts dehydration and enhances muscle pumps.
  • Geranium Extract – Enhances mood, decreases hunger, and increases fat burning.
  • Rhodiola Extract – Helps release endorphins from your brain.
  •  Histidine – Boosts NO levels and works with Beta-Alanine (see above)