Not all artificial ingredients are the spawn of Satan but a lot of the harsh compound cocktails you’ll find (or you may not know about) in many products may just be.
Sure, some of those very chemically altered substances can really enhance your workout performance, get you results, and improve your overall experience. However, they’re not for everyone and we understand that which is why we’ve scoured through the internet for the best all-natural pre-workouts on the market.
Check out our top picks and make sure to read through our guide that’ll help you choose the best one for you.
We also recommend consulting with a medical professional prior to use if you’ve had or have any health concerns or are taking any medications. Do not use if you are pregnant or nursing.
Best Natural Pre-Workouts Ranked
- Transparent Labs Bulk – Buy here Editor’s Choice
- Transparent Labs Lean – Buy here
- 4 Gauge – Buy here
- Powher – Buy here
- Naked Energy – Buy here
- Legion Pulse – Buy here
- Genius Pre-Workout – Buy here
- Old-School Labs Vintage Blast – Buy here
- Honey Badger Pre-Workout – Buy here
- Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout – Buy here
Editor’s Choice – Transparent Labs Bulk
Transparent Labs Bulk pre-workout was formulated to help you do what the name implies, build muscle mass, and “bulk” up.
It’s a perfectly legal and natural product that includes a few key ingredients that are supposed to support muscle gains. Not to mention, they recently upgraded to a V2 formula that came with a few changes.
Unlike many pre-workouts, Bulk doesn’t contain a massive amount of caffeine at 180mg per serving which is still nothing to turn a nose up at.
Loading up a product with tons of caffeine is not always the best solution anyhow as not everyone can handle so much nervous system stimulation.
But there is an ingredient included called Infinergy (dicaffeine malate) that prolongs the performance-aiding effects of caffeine and helps to prevent jitters and crash.
Bulk also has a testosterone-support complex that consists of Vitamin D3, boron, and zinc. Low testosterone is linked to a deficiency in these nutrients.
However, keep in mind if you have healthy testosterone levels, you probably won’t get much from these ingredients. And if you are deficient, Bulk would only help to bring your levels up and not beyond what they would be naturally.
There are also several other ingredients for both physical and mental performance.
Check out our full updated review of Transparent Labs Bulk here.
Need a no-stim option? We also reviewed Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout formula.
Transparent Labs Lean
In contrast to the Bulk formula, Lean was designed to help people lose fat while still having the energy to crush their training sessions.
Like the Bulk formula, Lean contains 180mg of caffeine per serving which is plenty to maintain a high intensity and train for longer durations.
L-theanine is added to help prolong the effects of caffeine, and it is, on its own, a cognitive-enhancing ingredient.
Lean also has pump-enhancing ingredients that have performance and muscle-building effects and norvaline prolongs these effects.
Other ingredients include guggulsterones that have been shown to help with reduced food intake and subsequently, fat loss. Then you have synephrine HCI found in bitter orange that may increase fat oxidation thereby further contributing to the potential fat loss effects of this pre-workout formula.
With a name like 4 Gauge, you’d have to expect something explosive from this pre-workout. It’s named after the massive 4 Gauge shotgun shell and the bottle actually looks just like one, which is pretty cool!
Each dose contains 150mg of caffeine per serving. While you may be thinking it’s not much, it’ll still give you an energy boost but there are other notable ingredients that contribute to the overall effects.
200mg of L-theanine enhances the effects of caffeine and a hefty 6g of citrulline provides big pumps and an increase in performance. Beet root has also been shown to increase nitric oxide that enhances blood flow, and consequently, performance.
Unlike the previous two products, 4 Gauge has 1g of creatine monohydrate, one of the most studied and proven effective ergogenic ingredients in existence.
Creatine can increase muscle growth via various pathways, according to research, and it also helps strength, endurance, and can also be beneficial for brain health and function.
1g may be a tad bit low however, it’s still an effective dose. If you want the most out of creatine, consider using a creatine-only supplement.
The other key ingredient is Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogen, or mood-enhancing herb. This ingredient could have a range of benefits from improving depression, fatigue, diabetes, cancer, and physical performance.
Powher is a pre-workout formula that was created for women.
What does that mean? Men and women are biologically unique which means we have different needs.
Women need more of certain nutrients and Powher does contain several vitamins and minerals to help support women’s health.
Additionally, it’s a low-stim formula (100mg natural caffeine), which is ideal for many women who cannot handle high amounts of caffeine and stimulants.
Plus, the ingredient EnXtra® is included in Powher, which is a caffeine amplifier that’ll keep you charged up during your workout sessions.
The ingredients that make up EnXtra® have been shown in studies to increase mental awareness, impede common caffeine crash, and sustain energy and focus for several hours longer than if you took caffeine alone.
Powher also contains common pre-workout ingredients such as beta-alanine, taurine, etc, and 500mg of coconut water to help keep you hydrated.
Read our full Powher review here.
Naked is known for making simple products with just a few, natural ingredients. This one is no different.
With Naked Energy, you get a hefty dose of vitamins C, B3, B6, and B12. B vitamins are essential for general health, bodily processes, and energy.
There are a few main ingredients so nothing too complex, but effective nonetheless. Sometimes simple is best.
2g CarnoSyn beta-alanine 1g of creatine monohydrate, 1g Aljipure® l-arginine, and 200mg of natural caffeine from unroasted coffee beans.
CarnoSyn is an enhanced version of beta-alanine, a buffer against lactic acid. Lactic acid causes that burning sensation in your muscles during physical activity that eventually becomes so unbearable that you have to stop and gasp in pain until it subsides.
Beta-alanine helps to reduce the severity so you can train longer than you’d normally be able to due to lactic acid build-up.
We already discussed the benefits of creatine, although, like 4 Gauge, is a little low at 1 gram per serving.
L-arginine is an amino acid that is important for nitric oxide production and blood flow. This can increase your muscle pumps and help to improve the delivery of nutrients to the muscles.
Then, of course, caffeine gives you energy and mental focus.
- Natural, clean, and basic formula
- Includes a nice dose of vitamins
- Soy and gluten-free
- Third-party tested
- Many don’t care for the taste
- A little low in creatine
About the brand
Naked Nutrition is a US-based brand that was founded in 2014 by cross country athlete Stephen Zieminski. He noticed that many supplements offered ingredients with little value and wanted to change that.
It started with 5 simple ingredients and their flagship Naked whey before introducing over 40 products, most of which contain 3 ingredients or less.
Legion Pulse is always a good choice if you’re looking for a solid pre-workout.
Out of the ones we’ve reviewed so far, this one has the most caffeine per serving at 350mg, which makes it ideal for those who need a little more of a nervous system kick!
And impressively, it also contains 350mg of l-theanine to mediate the potentially undesirable effects of high caffeine. But at this dose, you may expect some overall stress-relieving and calming effects too.
After all, l-theanine has been shown in studies to be beneficial for factors of mental health such as anxiety and stress.
Pulse contains 150mg of an ingredient called Alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) that, according to the product label, was included to increase power output, growth hormone levels, and have a positive effect against cognitive decline.
Alpha-GPC increases the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is depleted during exercise. Therefore, it can have a great effect on mental and physical performance.
In a 2015 study involving 13 college-aged male volunteers, researchers found that a lower-body isometric strength test combined with 600mg A-GPC, significantly increased lower body force production compared to a placebo group after just 6 days of supplementation (5).
The study concluded that sport performance coaches can add A-GPC to their athletes’ diets to improve muscle performance.
There’s also research that shows another ingredient in Pulse, betaine, enhances strength and muscle endurance.
Then, there’s 8g of citrulline malate which is higher than what’s in a lot of products.
Here’s our full Legion Pulse review.
You don’t have to be a genius to see why this pre-workout is a helpful performance aid. It doesn’t contain any caffeine unlike the other products so relies on other ingredients to enhance your exercise performance.
We’ve already discussed two of the ingredients that you’ll find in these products: Alpha-GPC (600mg), and CarnoSyn (2g).
But the other key ingredients include AstraGin (25mg) and elevATP (150mg).
AstraGin is an ingredient used to enhance the absorption of nutrients.
elevATP (ancient peat and apple) supports ATP production which can enhance physical performance. ATP is the energy source in our muscles and this combo of ingredients has been shown to increase total body strength and lower body power output in one study (6).
Another study from 2015 involving 25 male subjects, found that supplementing with 150mg of ancient peat and apple combined with resistance training may enhance resistance training-induced muscle growth (7).
Well, there’s 150mg of elevATP in Genius pre-workout so the dosing is spot on.
- Great brain performance formula
- Good for those who don’t want caffeine
- Labdoor tested for sport
- Third-party tested
- Few complaints about potency
- Many don’t care for the taste
About the brand
The Genius Brand was born from seeing the need to offer the highest quality supplements that actually work. They don’t market to anyone in particular because they believe that “when products are made according to science, with quality as first priority, the benefits will always be consistent.”
Old-School Labs Vintage Blast
Old-School Labs Vintage Blast is a two-stage pre-workout.
The first stage is the “start strong” group of ingredients and the second stage is the Finish Strong group of ingredients.
Stage one ingredients:
These are common pre-workout ingredients that help with energy and performance.
Stage two ingredients:
- D-aspartic acid
- Microencapsulated caffeine
D-aspartic acid, an amino acid, is claimed to boost testosterone levels and we know that it does play a role in testosterone release and increased production in the body (8).
But people may get their hopes up thinking it can increase testosterone levels beyond what your body naturally produces and this does not seem to be the case. In fact, it’s hardly ever the case with natural supplements because they aren’t drugs.
If you have low testosterone, D-aspartic acid could increase your levels if there’s a deficiency.
The next ingredient in the stage two group is N-acetyl-l-tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid naturally produced by the body that helps to make various chemicals such as dopamine, adrenaline, thyroids, and melanin.
Supplementing with it is believed to increase brain neurotransmitter chemicals like epinephrine, dopamine, and adrenaline. The result; improved cognitive functioning and therefore, better performance (12).
It may also help to prevent cognitive decline in times of stress. Training and physical activity can be stressful activities and tyrosine may help in maintaining focus, alertness, and other factors of physical and mental performance.
Read our full review of Vintage Blast.
Honey Badger Pre-Workout
It’s a quirky name for a brand but there’s a reason for that. The Honey badger is a fearless beast and the founders like to think of themselves that way too.
Anyway, the pre-workout is a pretty simple blend of ingredients that includes 2500mg l-citrulline, 1600mg beta-alanine, 350mg N-acetyl l-tyrosine, 150mg caffeine, and 10mg pterostilbene.
Pterostilbene is a cognitive enhancer and has antioxidant properties which contributes to the overall effectiveness of the product.
You also get 100% daily value of vitamin C, an immune booster and vitamin that’s important for overall good health.
- Natural formula
- Keto and paleo-friendly
- No artificial sweeteners
- No sugar
- Soy and gluten-free
- Great for men and women
- Not very potent (good for non-hardcore exercisers)
- Some don’t like the taste
About the brand
Honey Badger is a US brand founded by three brothers and special forces veterans that all share the same passion for fitness and health.
They thought of no better name for the company than “the most fearless animal on the planet” which fits their fierce, determined, and resilient personalities.
They craft unique and clean formulas designed to maximize performance for all.
Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout
Lastly, we included the Organic Muscle organic pre-workout formula on our list of best all-natural pre-workouts.
It’s a USDA organic supplement with several blends that each focus on something different.
This includes vascularity and pump, energy, focus, and stamina, and metabolic boost blends.
Organic Muscle Organic Pre-workout contains ingredients like beet root, pomegranate, maca root, coconut water, green coffee bean extract, rhodiola rosea, matcha green tea, acai, and other herbs and fruits.
There’s a total of 125mg caffeine per serving.
- USDA organic
- No added sugars
- Soy and gluten-free
- Many complaints about the taste
- Low in caffeine for some
About the brand
Organic Muscle was founded by James B after landing in the ER from taking a dangerous, “stimulant-ridden” supplement. This led him to want to create safe, organic, and natural ingredients that work.
How We Chose The Best All-Natural Pre-Workout Supplements
The product selections on our list were based on certain criteria to ensure we recommend only the best quality options currently available on the market.
Here are the main factors we took into consideration…
Ingredients – All pre-workouts don’t necessarily need to contain the same exact ingredients but they should have a healthy and effective dose of ingredients that have been scientifically proven to provide some sort of benefit.
Effectiveness – This will depend entirely on the ingredients contained in the product and sometimes, how your body reacts to specific substances.
Manufacturing Standards – Ideally, products are produced and stored in a cGMP facility which ensures quality.
Side Effects – Side effects are sometimes inevitable when it comes to supplementation which doesn’t always mean there’s something wrong with the product as one person may experience side effects and someone else may not.
However, products should only contain ingredients that are considered safe to use. User feedback is also sometimes a good way to determine the overall quality of a product.
If we could single out one ingredient it would be the nervous system stimulant caffeine. If you’ve not built up a solid tolerance relative to the dose, you may experience serious side effects such as jitters, anxiety, heart palpitations, etc.
Always read the product label and start off with a small dose if you’re new to taking similar products.
What Is An All-Natural Pre-Workout and How Is It Different Than Other Pre-Workouts?
In short, an all-natural pre-workout is one that contains only natural ingredients.
Many pre-workouts contain a lot of highly processed and synthetic ingredients and additives, and as a result, are not always healthy or safe for everyone. In fact, manytimes, these formulas can cause people to feel sick and miss workouts (so what’s the point?).
The best natural pre-workouts still contain effective ingredients such as caffeine, l-theanine, beta-alanine, citrulline, creatine, taurine, and beet root that are all well-studied and contribute to the physical and mental benefits of a multi-ingredient pre-workout formula.
You don’t really need much else to get energized and focused to have amazing workouts. However, we understand that there are hardcore folks out there who don’t mind pre-workouts with a little bit of extra stuff in them.
But we’re confident that any of the products on this list will deliver, although, the potency or effectiveness may vary depending on the pre-workout and the individual.
Taste is manytimes based on personal preference. Some people like artificial sweeteners while others like natural sweeteners.
All-natural pre-workouts use stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, and other natural sweeteners. Other pre-workouts usually include artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc. But they may sometimes use natural sweeteners too.
As for health concerns, most natural and artificial (especially if they’re included in pre-workouts sold on the market) are deemed safe for use by the FDA.
There are mixed opinions on the potential for long-term effects, and especially regarding artificial sweeteners. But, to say you shouldn’t have this artificial sweetener or that natural sweetener isn’t necessarily reflective of every person’s tolerance and nutritional habits.
Moderation is a good thing, however.
Common Pre-Workout Ingredients
Pre-workout supplements include many performance-specific ingredients. We included a brief description of the most common ones below.
- Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant included to boost energy levels and increase both physical and mental performance. No ingredient can compare hence why the potency of a product is typically determined by the caffeine content. You must be cautious though, however, as not building up a tolerance or taking too much can have extremely unpleasant consequences. Green tea and coffee beans are common caffeine sources.
- Beta-alanine causes the common tingles after a dose of pre-workout. No worries though, this is normal. This ingredient acts as a buffer against lactic acid; the stuff that causes an agonizing burning sensation in the muscles and makes you want to quit during most forms of exercise. It’s shown to also have other performance-supporting benefits.
- L-theanine is an amino acid found in green teas that have been shown to reduce the sometimes undesirable effects of caffeine. There’s also sufficient research for its calming and stress-reducing properties.
- Taurine speeds up your body’s recovery during a workout, thus reducing fatigue. This amino acid also prevents muscle cramps.
- Citrulline, a vasodilator substance, facilitates enhanced blood flow to give you big pumps, but it can also help to build muscle, increase performance, and it has health benefits.
- Creatine positively influences your ability to generate power during a workout. It’s also been shown through studies to increase muscle mass through various pathways and can have brain-enhancing effects, to name a few of its many benefits.
- Tyrosine may be beneficial for helping to manage stress during physical activity.
- Betaine increases the body’s power output and can have strength and muscle-building effects, although subtle.
- Beet root acts as a vasodilator, similar to l-citrulline, as it naturally increases nitric oxide levels in the body. Therefore, it helps to improve blood flow, enhance pumps, and may also help with nutrient delivery. But beet root also has antioxidant properties and this can be beneficial to overall health.
Ingredients may and often do vary between the different products, however, most do contain most of the above-mentioned ingredients.
If you prefer the natural route, look no further than this list of best all-natural pre-workouts. We chose quality options at an affordable price and you’ll likely get all you need to smash records and continue to make gains whatever your goal.
As you probably noticed, there are many different formulas that all offer something unique and we hope this guide helps you to find a good option that best suits your needs.