If you are into bodybuilding or other forms of high intensity exercise, it makes sense to use a pre-workout.
Pre-workouts give you more energy, endurance, strength, focus, and pumps. A good pre-workout doesn’t have to be expensive, either. There’s no reason not to go with the best value-conscious choice you can.
This guide will review the best cheap pre-workouts. You’ll feel the difference in your training sessions right away!
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
Best Cheap Pre-Workouts
- MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout – Best Overall
- MuscleTech Vapor X5 Pre-Workout – Best For Beginners
- MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout – Best Creatine Dose
- Nutricost Pre-SF – Best Zero Stims
- Nutricost Pre-Workout Complex Powder – Best Creatine-Free
- Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport – Best For Athletes
- Bad Athletics Pre-Workout – Best For Women
- Rise Pre Workout Powder – Best Jitter Free
Reviews – The Best Cheap Pre-Workouts
MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout – Best Overall
Here’s our pick for best overall. MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout is fully disclosed and well-dosed.
Vapor One has 3 ingredient blends. None of these is a proprietary blend, they are fully disclosed. There’s a Cell Volume & Performance Complex with clinically dosed, proven ingredients.
These include beta-alanine, betaine, and creatine. This combination supports muscle growth.
Also, there’s a 4-ingredient Pump Matrix. This matrix alone contains 2 patented ingredients. That says a lot for a cheap pre-workout. Plus, there’s an energy and focus blend with 5 ingredients. One scoop serving provides 350mg caffeine.
Finally, you have several tasty flavors to choose from, such as JuJube Gummy and Gummy Worm.
- Features 3 Well-Dosed, Transparent Complexes
- There Are 2 Patented Ingredients
- 350mg Caffeine Per Serving
- There Are Only 20 Servings Per Container
MuscleTech Vapor X5 Pre-Workout – Best For Beginners
This is our pick as the best cheap pre-workout for beginners. MuscleTech Vapor X5 is a great first pre-workout supplement. It proves that even a cheap pre-workout powder can be effectively dosed. Cheap or not, there’s no reason to settle for weak proprietary blends. Vapor X5 is fully disclosed and has a 5-complex formula.
In this case, there are two suggested serving sizes. There’s one scoop for beginners, and two scoops for experienced users.
A two-scoop serving supplies 380mg caffeine. Beginners should start with one scoop. That’s still 190mg. Once beginners adjust, they can move up to the full dose. If there’s a downside, this is a 30 serving container. Using two scoops, it becomes a 15 serving container.
Still, Vapor X5 has an effective Performance complex that includes beta-alanine. It also offers a Pump Matrix, an Explosive Energy Matrix, a focus-elevating Neuro-Sensory Blend, and a Muscle Building creatine complex.
- Effective Dosing – Open Formula
- Two Serving Sizes – One For Beginners & One For Advanced Users
- Exclusive Neuro-Sensory Complex
- Contains Artificial Ingredients
MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout – Best Creatine Dose
Here’s an effective pre-workout supplement with a simple formula. It also has two suggested serving sizes.
MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout is another pre-workout formula with creatine. In this case, it’s creatine HCI. At the advanced two-scoop dose, you’ll get 3g. That’s the best dose of any form of creatine in this guide.
Neurocore has 160mg caffeine in one scoop. There’s 320mg for advanced users taking two scoops.
Also, MuscleTech Neurocore has pump and performance ingredients for a complete formula. These include citrulline and beta-alanine.
- Features 3g Creatine HCI
- 33 Servings Per Container
- Fully Open Label
- Some Users Find The Powder Does Not Completely Dissolve
Nutricost Pre-SF – Best Zero Stims
Nutricost Pre-SF is a complete zero-stims formula. This is a pump and focus pre-workout. It also contains beta-alanine for endurance, but it’s dosed low.
This is because some users don’t like the harmless tingling effects of this compound. Still, a lower dose will provide some benefits.
Nutricost Pre-SF features a transparent label. There are no proprietary blends. Plus, there are 30 servings per container.
- Transparent Label
- Well-Dosed Formula
- Pump And Focus Formula
- Some Users Feel It Foams Up Too Much
Nutricost Pre-Workout Complex Powder – Best Creatine-Free
Nutricost Pre-Workout Complex Powder is our pick for the best zero creatine pre-workout. There’s no doubt that creatine is an effective ingredient. Many of the products in this guide include it.
Yet, not everyone wants creatine in their pre-workout. This is because some users want to control their dosing. They take it by itself at a separate time of the day. Others may prefer to cycle it.
Nutricost Pre-Workout Complex Powder is a complete, open formula. It’s well dosed and contains pump, performance, and focus ingredients. These include citrulline malate and beta-alanine. There’s also 300mg caffeine per serving.
Finally, there’s 30 servings per container.
- Zero Creatine
- Well Dosed Formula
- Fully Open Label
- Some Users Don’t Like The Tingling Effect Of Beta-Alanine
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport – Best For Athletes
This is a clean, lower dose pre-workout meant for athletes of any sport. It supplies endurance, hydration, and mental clarity.
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport is not meant for bodybuilders. It’s also not for anyone using heavy weights in their training. These athletes will want a stronger product. In fact, Kaged Muscle has a specific pre-workout for those users.
Pre-Kaged Sport has only 188 mg of natural caffeine. This amount is right below the amount established by college and sports associations. There’s also a low dose of beta-alanine.
Finally, it has 20 servings. This is an open formula, and it’s well-dosed for what it is.
- Designed For Athletes Of All Sports
- Lower Dose Formula
- Fully Open Label
- Users May Not Understand Who This Product Is For
Bad Athletics Pre-Workout – Best For Women
Here’s our pick for the best for women. Bad Athletics Pre-Workout caters to women only. It’s a natural pre-workout with a balanced, open-label formula. Also, it’s a lower caffeine pre-workout with 150mg caffeine per serving. Bad Athletics Pre-Workout uses PurCaf®, a natural, clean caffeine.
This is one of the few pre-workout formulas that contain Senactiv®. This exclusive ingredient promotes cell health, including muscle cells. That means this pre-workout supports both your workouts and your well-being. Finally, there are 30 servings per container.
- Designed For Women
- Features An Open Label
- Natural Flavors – Sweetened With Stevia
- There May Be Enough Caffeine For Some Users
Rise Pre Workout Powder – Best Jitter Free
Higher caffeine pre-workouts can sometimes cause jitters. Rise Pre Workout Powder is jitter-free.
Rise is a complete formula with an open label. It contains pump, performance, and focus ingredients. It also contains 150mg of caffeine per serving. The lower dose helps control jitters.
To balance out the caffeine, there’s theanine and theobromine. These ingredients work with caffeine and smooth its effects. Plus, there’s citrulline malate and a lower dose of beta-alanine.
The other major advantage of Rise is that it’s a natural pre-workout. Rise gives you 25 servings per container.
- No Jitter Formula
- Here’s A Fully Open-Label
- Some Users Don’t Like The Taste
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Cheap Pre Workout?
What Is A Pre-Workout
A pre-workout supplement will improve your training experience. They increase energy and elevate focus. Also, they will extend endurance, power, and strength. Finally, they promote good pumps. Most sports nutrition manufacturers divide the ingredients into complexes. Each complex provides a different effect.
The Benefits To Using A Pre-Workout Supplement
Using a pre-workout makes a big difference in workout quality. A better workout brings you closer to your goals.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Energy – Increased energy is a great reason to use a pre-workout. Other pre-workout supplements may use a variety of stimulants. The products here use caffeine. Our best overall, MuscleTech Vapor One, has 350mg per serving. Plus, MuscleTech Vapor X5, when used at full dosage, contains 380mg.
- Focus – The best pre-workout supplements, cheap or otherwise, will have ingredients for focus. Our pick for best zero stims, Nutricost Stim-Free Pre-Workout, has no caffeine. That means the emphasis will be on focus ingredients.
- Endurance – A pre-workout powder will promote endurance. After all, part of a great workout is the ability to power through your hardest reps and sets. The main endurance ingredient is beta-alanine. Creatine and betaine also help, but beta-alanine specifically targets endurance.
- Pumps – A great pump is what it’s all about for many bodybuilders. What could be better than huge, tight muscles, right? Every product in this guide has at least one well-dosed ingredient for great pumps.
- Performance – As mentioned, ingredients like creatine and betaine improve strength and power. This means better overall performance. Also, as noted, caffeine improves performance.
What To Consider When Looking For A Pre-Workout
Here are some important points to keep in mind when looking for an affordable pre-workout powder.
Open Labeling & Effective Dosing
Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it should have underdosed proprietary blends. There is never a good reason to buy a pre-workout with one proprietary blend, let alone several. This guide shows that you can find a solid pre-workout with a 100% transparent label.
The pre-workouts in this guide are well-dosed. Some are lower dosed. The best example of this is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport. This is on purpose so any athlete can use it.
Some products, such as MuscleTech Vapor X5, provide two serving sizes. New users should begin with one scoop. Once you’ve adjusted to the product, you can use full dosing.
Servings Per Container
This is where the value of a budget-minded yet effective pre-workout becomes obvious. Most pre-workouts have 30 one-scoop servings. Yet, if you have to take two scoops, that only gives you 15 servings. That means you should look for a good pre-workout supplement that’s well dosed.
Others, such as Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport, and MuscleTech Vapor One, contain 20 servings.
Ingredients You Should Look For In Cheap Pre-Workout Supplements
Here are the ingredients cheap pre-workouts should have:
Caffeine – This is the most popular compound for an extra boost of energy. The energy effects of caffeine are well known. Caffeine also promotes fat burning and improves training performance. (1)
Here’s a look at the main forms of caffeine used:
Caffeine Anhydrous – This has all the moisture removed, leaving a dry powder. This means the caffeine is highly concentrated.
PurCaf® Caffeine – A clean, natural caffeine sourced from green coffee beans. Natural ingredients are always a plus from a budget pre-workout brand.
L-Theanine – This ingredient originates from tea. It helps decrease stress and anxiety. When combined with caffeine, it helps increase focus. It also helps offset some of the effects of caffeine. This provides smoother energy. (2)
L-Theobromine – This is a mild stimulant derived from cacao beans. Also, it’s believed to help even out the effects of caffeine. (3)
Beta-Alanine – This is a popular compound that blocks muscle fatigue, improving muscular endurance. Beta-alanine does this is by increasing levels of carnosine in the body. That’s what buffers lactic acid.
The one issue with beta-alanine is that it causes a tingling effect. This is temporary and harmless. Even so, it bothers some users. These users prefer not to use the full 3.2g clinical dose. Several cheap pre-workouts use a lower dose. One example is Rise Pre-Workout, with a 1.5g dose of beta-alanine. (4)
Creatine – This is the most well-researched ingredient you’ll find in the budget pre-workouts in this guide. What does creatine do? It increases muscle fullness or water-based pumps. Also, it increases endurance, power, and strength. (5)
Betaine – This ingredient is similar to creatine. Betaine, like creatine, pulls water into the muscles. This means water-based pumps. It also improves strength and power. Betaine has become more common and now it’s in the average pre-workout. (6)
Choline – This is one of the most common pre-workout ingredients. Choline activates the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine promotes mood elevation. It also supports the mind-muscle connection. Some users have difficulty feeling the muscles they are working. This mental connection helps you feel the right muscles. (7, 8)
Alpha GPC – This is a version of choline. It’s 40% choline by weight and is naturally occurring in the brain. It also has better absorption. Otherwise, it’s the same as standard choline. (9)
Huperzine A – This ingredient is in some pre-workouts. In this guide, you’ll find it in Nutricost Pre-SF. It works together with choline to improve focus. It blocks an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme controls acetylcholine breakdown. By blocking this enzyme, Huperzine helps increase acetylcholine. (10)
L-Citrulline – This is a very popular ingredient. It stimulates the production of nitric oxide by relaxing blood vessels. This increases blood flow, which results in good pumps. Citrulline is in most pre-workouts, cheap or high-end.
Some pre-workouts use a form called citrulline malate. This is a 50-50 mix of citrulline and malic acid. Since malic acid is involved in ATP production, this version increases endurance and athletic performance. Which version you prefer depends on your goals. If you need more endurance, look for Citrulline Malate. If you want big pumps, go for pure citrulline. (11,12,13)
Nitrosigine (™) – This is a patented complex consisting of arginine and silicon. In this guide, it’s in MuscleTech Vapor X5. Nitrosigine is fast-acting. It also promotes pumps that last up to 6 hours. (14)
It should be noted that many pre-workouts contain other ingredients, such as an amino acid complex. This is usually the BCAAs. The reason is that the amino acid l-leucine is highly anabolic.
When Should You Take Your Pre-Workout?
Of course, always be sure to read the directions on the label. It’s a good idea to take your pre-workout with at least 8-10oz of water.
If you experience any gastric discomfort, try using 4-6oz more water next time. So, if you used 10oz the first time, you would go up to 16oz the second time. You should take it 20-30 minutes before you plan to work out.
You don’t need to use it on your off-days. Some products may suggest it, but there’s no reason to. Off-days are more about rest and recovery. The supplement to use for recovery is a protein powder, not a pre-workout.
The effects of a pre-workout will last a few hours. Usually, it’s partly dependent on the amount of caffeine.
MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout is a well-dosed cheap pre-workout. It has three ingredient complexes. The caffeine content is 350mg per serving. There are also performance, pump, and focus ingredients.
Would you rather use a pre-workout designed for athletes? Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport is not made for bodybuilders. It’s made for team-sport athletes and runners. Also, it’s for anyone that wants a pre-workout with a lower dose of caffeine. Pre-Kaged Sport has 188mg, the dose suggested by collegiate and sports associations.
Would you rather use a zero stim pre-workout? Nutricost Pre-SF is the best cheap stimulant-free pre-workout. It has zero caffeine yet still promotes focus. It also contains several pump ingredients.
The best cheap pre-workout is the one that helps you reach your training goals. You owe it to yourself to add a pre-workout to your program. You’ll be happy you did!
- Giesbrecht, T., Rycroft, J. A., Rowson, M. J., & De Bruin, E. A. (2010). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutritional neuroscience, 13(6), 283–290. https://doi.org/10.1179/147683010X12611460764840
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 5429, Theobromine. Retrieved August 24, 2021 from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Theobromine.
- Choline – PubMed Central (PMC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
- Treating senile dementia with traditional Chinese medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515/
- Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J., & Gonzales, J. U. (2017, January). Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749691
- Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
- Bahri, S., Zerrouk, N., Aussel, C., Moinard, C., Crenn, P., Curis, E., … Sfar, S. (2013, March). Citrulline: from metabolism to therapeutic use. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23022123