The 8 Best Cheap Pre-Workouts 2021

Are you into bodybuilding or weight lifting? Have you decided it’s time to use a pre-workout?

That makes sense. Why? Simple.

A pre-workout will give you more energy, endurance, strength, focus, and pumps. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use a high-end pre-workout.

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 right away!

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Best cheap pre workout

  1. MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout – Best Overall
  2. MuscleTech Vapor X5 Pre-Workout – Best For Beginners
  3. MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout – Best Creatine Dose
  4. Nutricost Pre-SF – Best Zero Stims
  5. Nutricost Pre-Workout Complex Powder – Best Creatine-Free
  6. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport – Best For Athletes
  7. Bad Athletics Pre-Workout – Best For Women
  8. Rise Pre Workout Powder – Best Jitter Free

Reviews – The Best cheap pre workout

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. There’s a Cell Volume & Performance Complex with clinically dosed ingredients. 

These include beta-alanine, betaine, and creatine. Also, there’s a 4-ingredient Pump Matrix. This matrix alone contains 2 patented ingredients. That says a lot for a cheap pre-workout. 

Finally, there’s an energy and focus blend with 5 ingredients. There’s 350mg caffeine per one scoop serving. Also, there are 20 servings per container.

PROS

  • Features 3 Well-Dosed, Transparent Complexes
  • There Are 2 Patented Ingredients 
  • 350mg Caffeine Per Serving

CONS

  • 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 proves that even a cheap pre-workout can be effectively dosed. Cheap or not, there’s no reason to settle for weak prop 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 to this product, 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. There’s also a Pump Matrix, and a Muscle Building creatine complex. Finally, MuscleTech Vapor X5 has an Explosive Energy Matrix. Plus, there’s a focus-elevating Neuro-Sensory Blend. 

PROS 

  • Effective Dosing – Open Formula
  • There Are Two Serving Sizes – One For Beginners & One For Advanced Users
  • Exclusive Neuro-Sensory Complex

CONS

  • Vapor X5 Contains Artificial Ingredients

MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout – Best Creatine Dose

Here’s a pre-workout with a simpler formula. It also has two suggested serving sizes. MuscleTech Neurocore Pre-Workout is another pre-workout with creatine. Creatine is a cell volumizer and performance enhancer. 

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. 

Finally, MuscleTech Neurocore has pump and performance ingredients for a complete formula. Finally, here’s a cheap pre-workout with 33 servings.

PROS

  • Features 3g Creatine HCI 
  • There Are One And Two Scoop Servings Sizes
  • Fully Open Label

CONS

  • Some Users Find The Powder Does Not Completely Dissolve

Nutricost Pre-SF – Best Zero Stims

Here’s our pick for the best stim-free cheap pre-workout. Nutricost Pre-SF is a complete no-stim 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. Finally, the label is transparent. There are no prop blends. Plus, there are 30 servings per container.

PROS

  • This Has A Transparent Label
  • Well-Dosed Formula
  • This Is A Pump And Focus Formula

CONS

  • 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 creatine-free pre-workout. There’s no doubt that creatine is an effective ingredient. Many of the cheap pre-workouts 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. Finally, there’s also 300mg caffeine, and 30 servings. 

PROS

  • Zero Creatine
  • Well Dosed Formula
  • Fully Open Label

CONS

  • Some Users Have Difficulty Adjusting To 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 sports. It supplies endurance, hydration, and mental clarity. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport is not meant for bodybuilders. It’s also not for anyone engaging in heavy weight 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 of caffeine established by college and sports associations. It also has 20 servings. This is an open formula, and it’s well-dosed for what it is.

PROS

  • Designed For Athletes Of All Sports
  • Lower Dose Formula
  • Fully Open Label

CONS

  • Some Users May Not Realize Who This Product Was Designed For

Bad Athletics Pre-Workout – Best For Women

Here’s our pick for the best cheap pre-workout for women. Bad Athletics Pre-Workout has dosing that caters to women only. It’s a balanced formula with an open-label. Also, it’s a lower caffeine pre-workout with 150mg caffeine per serving. Bad Athletics Pre-Workout uses PurCaf®, natural, clean caffeine.

Also, this is one of the few pre-workouts that contains Senactiv®. This exclusive ingredient promotes cell health. That means this pre-workout supports both your workouts and your well-being. Finally, there are 30 servings per container.

PROS

  • Designed For Women
  • Features An Open Label
  • Contains Senactiv® For Cell Health

CONS

  • There May Be Enough Caffeine For Some Users

Rise Pre Workout Powder – Best Jitter Free

Sometimes higher caffeine pre-workouts 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. 

Also, to balance out the caffeine, there’s theanine and theobromine. These ingredients work with caffeine and smooth its effects. The other major advantage of Rise is that it contains zero artificial ingredients. 

PROS

  • No Jitter Formula
  • All-Natural
  • Here’s A Fully Open-Label

CONS

  • Some Users Don’t Like The Taste

Buying Guide – How to choose the best 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 manufacturers divide the ingredients into complexes. Each complex provides a different effect.

The Benefits To Using A Pre-Workout

Using a pre-workout makes a big difference in the quality of your workout. A better workout brings that much closer to your goals. 

Here are a few of the benefits you can expect: 

  • Energy – Increased energy is one of the best reasons to use a pre-workout. In the case of the products in this guide, the energy comes from caffeine. There are also ingredients that help even out the effects of 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 cheap pre-workouts will have at least one ingredient for focus. In the case of our pick for best zero stims, Nutricost Stim-Free Pre-Workout, there’s no caffeine. So, that means the emphasis will be on focus with several ingredients. There’s also ingredients for concentration, endurance, and pumps.
  • Endurance – The best cheap pre-workouts will promote endurance. After all, part of a great workout is the ability to power through your hardest reps and sets. All the pre-workouts in this guide contain endurance ingredients. This is usually beta-alanine. Creatine and betaine help endurance, among other things. They also help strength and power.
  • Pumps – A great pump is what it’s all about for many bodybuilders. What could be better than huge, tight muscles, right? Every cheap pre-workout 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. In fact, better performance is also one of the benefits of caffeine. As noted, that’s the main energy ingredient in most of the pre-workouts in this guide. 

What To Consider When Looking For A Pre-Workout

This guide looks at the best cheap pre-workouts. To clarify, that’s a value-minded product. The pre-workouts in this guide are all value-conscious options. Here are some important points to keep in mind as you look for the best cheap pre-workout.

Open Labeling & Effective Dosing

Just because it’s a cheap pre-workout doesn’t mean it has to have an underdosed prop blend. There is never a good reason to buy a pre-workout with 1, 2, or 3 prop blends. This guide shows that you can find good options with 100% transparent labels. You can see exactly how much you’re getting of each ingredient.

The pre-workouts in this guide are well-dosed. Some cheap pre-workouts are lower dosed. The best example of this is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport. This is on purpose so Pre-Kaged Sport so any athlete can use it.

Another point about dosing is that some products, such as MuscleTech Vapor X5, provide two serving sizes. New users should always begin with the lower one scoop dosing. Once you’ve adjusted to the product, you can move up to full dosing.

Servings Per Container

This is where the value of a cheap pre-workout becomes obvious. Most pre-workouts have 30 one-scoop servings. Yet, if you have to take two scoops for advanced dosing, that’s only 15 total servings. Others, such as Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Sport, contain 20 servings. Many high-end pre-workouts also offer only 20 servings, such as our best overall, MuscleTech Vapor One.

Ingredients You Should Look For In A Cheap Pre-Workout

Here are the ingredients cheap pre-workouts should have:

Energy

Caffeine – Of course, this is the most popular compound for energy. The effects of caffeine are well known: more energy and alertness. Caffeine also promotes fat burning by acting as a thermogenic. It also improves training performance. (1) This is the primary stimulant in all the pre-workouts in this guide. The notable exception is Nutricost Pre-SF.

Here’s a look at the main forms of caffeine usually found in these pre-workouts:

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.

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 helps provide smoother energy. (2)

L-Theobromine – This is a mild stimulant derived from cacao beans. It’s a vasodilator. Also, it’s believed to help even out the effects of caffeine. (3)

Endurance

Beta-Alanine – This is a popular compound that blocks fatigue buildup and improves endurance. The way it does this is by increasing levels of carnosine in the body. This is what buffers lactic acid. In turn, you’re able to train harder. The one issue with beta-alanine is that it causes a tingling effect. This is temporary, and it is harmless. Even so, it bothers some users. These users prefer not to use the full clinical dose of 3.2g. For these users, several cheap pre-workouts use a lower dose. One example of this is Rise Pre-Workout. This product uses a 1.5g dose. (4)

Creatine – This is the most well-researched ingredient you’ll find in a cheap pre-workout. Several of the pre-workouts in this guide have creatine. It does several things. 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. Also similar to creatine, it improves strength and power. Betaine has become more common and now it’s in many cheap pre-workouts. (6)

Focus

Choline – You’ll find this in any B-complex supplement. It’s also very common in pre-workouts. Choline activates the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine promotes mood elevation. It also supports the mind-muscle connection. That’s your ability to concentrate on and feel the muscles you’re working. Some users have difficulty feeling the muscles they are working while they train. This mental connection helps you feel the right muscles.  (7, 8)

Alpha GPC – This is a version of choline. It’s actually 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)

Pump

L-Citrulline – This is a very popular ingredient. It stimulates the production of nitric oxide. 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. Which version you prefer depends on 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 fact-acting. It also promotes extended pumps that last up to 6 hours. (14)

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. 

Conclusion

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 stim-free 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!

References:

  1. https://examine.com/supplements/caffeine/
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine
  6. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/3/539/4690529
  7.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#h7
  8. Choline – PubMed Central (PMC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
  9. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  10. Treating senile dementia with traditional Chinese medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515/
  11. 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
  12. Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
  13. 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
  14. https://nitrosigine.com/about/
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