Top 7 Best Natural Pre-Workout Supplements in 2020

You already know how important a good pre-workout can be to your training success. When it comes to increased energy, elevated focus, great pumps, and improved endurance, the right pre-workout can make a huge difference in your performance.

For some of us, the right pre-workout may be one that’s natural.

After all, who wants artificial ingredients in their supplements?

Especially when you can use a natural product that gives you everything you’re looking for. There’s not a lot of quality choices out there, but I dug deep to give you the details on the best natural pre-workout supplements on the market.

Let’s get started!

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Quick Answer – Top 7 Best Natural Pre-Workout Supplements in 2020

  1. NutraBio PRE Natural Pre-Workout – Best Overall
  2. The Genius Brand Genius Pre – Best For Focus
  3. NutriChem Labs Nature’s Pump Plant-Based Pre-Workout – Best Plant-Based Natural Pre-Workout
  4. Legion Athletics Legion Pulse Pre-Workout – Best For Users Wanting A Simple, No-Frills Formula
  5. Nutrex Research Outlift Natural Pre-Workout – The Best For Protein Synthesis Stimulation
  6. Transparent Labs PreSeries Stim-Free – Best Stimulant-Free Natural Pre-Workout
  7. Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout – Best For Muscle Growth

Reviews – The Best Natural Pre-Workout Supplements

1. NutraBio PRE Natural Pre-Workout – Best Overall

It should be no surprise that NutraBio PRE Natural is what a real pre-workout is all about. PRE Natural features extreme label transparency and effective dosing. We’re looking at a well-dosed 4-complex formula that is nothing short of exceptional. There’s creatine and betaine, which promote water-based pumps. Beta-alanine is also included for endurance. 

Natural PRE features a great pump complex that includes citrulline, agmatine, and nitrosigine. For energy and focus, there’s 350mg of caffeine combined with theanine. This helps smooth the effects of all that caffeine. There’s also tyrosine, choline, and huperzine. Finally, for hydration there’s calcium and sodium plus 2g taurine.

The downside? Creatine is dosed at the low end of the effective range. No matter, the exceptional formula and clear label make NutraBio PRE Natural the best overall natural pre-workout.

PROS

  • Full Label Transparency
  • Effectively Dosed
  • Complete Formula

CONS

  • Creatine Is Dosed At The Bottom Of The Effective Range
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2. The Genius Brand Genius Pre – Best For Focus

The Genius Brand Genius Pre is a complete, balanced stim-free natural pre-workout. It’s a good formula with ingredients that target pumps, focus, endurance, and strength. An emphasis on focus ingredients is one of the things that sets The Genius Brand apart, and Genius Pre is no exception.

There are several effectively dosed focus-enhancing ingredients, such as tyrosine (1g), alpha gpc (600mg), rhodiola (100mg), and huperzine (10mg). 

There’s also beta-alanine for endurance. For pumps, there’s betaine, taurine, arginine, and citrulline malate. This combination promotes pumps in two ways: by pulling water into the muscles and by increasing nitric oxide levels.Overall, Genius Pre is a good natural pre-workout but not enough to topple our best overall pick. Still, if you’re looking for a balanced formula with a heavy emphasis on focus, this is the natural pre-workout for you.

PROS

  • Complete Formula
  • Caffeine Free
  • Good Focus Complex
  • Fully Disclosed Label

CONS

  • Only 20 Servings
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3. NutriChem Labs Nature’s Pump Plant-Based Pre-Workout – Best Plant-Based Natural Pre-Workout

NutriChem Labs Nature’s Pump Plant-Based Pre-Workout is a vegan-friendly natural pre-workout. It mainly uses patented plant-based ingredients that provide clean, sustainable, and effective results. This is a 4-complex formula that’s exactly what you’d expect: pumps, performance, energy and hydration.

While some of the ingredients may seem to be low in dosage, they are clinically dosed based on the research that supports each of the patented ingredients. For example, S7 is a plant-based pump complex that has been shown to produce an impressive 230% in circulating nitric oxide. That’s from a mere 50mg!

This type of innovative approach is carried throughout the formula with such ingredients as beet juice, instaminos bcaa’s, vegisurge natural caffeine, neurofactor coffee fruit extract, and aquamin minerals. This kind of thinking makes NutriChem Labs Nature’s Pump Plant-Based Pre-Workout the best natural pre-workout using only plant-sourced ingredients.

PROS

  • Vegan Friendly, All Natural Formula
  • Features 6 Patented Ingredients
  • More Bioavailable Than Other Pre-Workouts

CONS

  • Only 20 Servings
  • Caffeine May Be Too Low For Some Users
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4. Legion Athletics Legion Pulse Pre-Workout – Best For Users Wanting A Simple, No-Frills Formula

Legion Athletics Legion Pulse is a simple pre-workout that contains just 6 ingredients plus calcium, potassium, and sodium. It’s well dosed and includes beta-alanine, betaine, and citrulline malate. For energy there’s 350mg caffeine. Legion Pulse also includes theanine to help smooth out  any potential harshness from the caffeine. To support focus, there’s also 300mg alpha choline gpc. 

If this pre-workout has a potential downside, it’s a lack of ingredients. Most ingredients work best when part of a complex. Think about it. Is a lot of caffeine enough for energy? Or is it better to feature 3-4 properly dosed stimulants with the caffeine? It depends on the function of the ingredient and what the user is looking for.

For many users, it’s better to have several compounds working together toward one goal than to have just one compound doing all the work. The other potential downside is that this product contains several sweeteners. In fact, it may be too sweet, natural sweeteners or not. Still, the simple nutrient profile makes Legion Athletics Legion Pulse the best natural pre-workout for users seeking a simple, no-frills formula.

PROS

  • Only 9 Total Ingredients
  • Several Overdosed Ingredients
  • Fully Disclosed Label

CONS

  • Only 21 Servings
  • Will Cause Beta Alanine Tingles
  • May Be Too Sweet For Some Users
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5. Nutrex Research Outlift Natural Pre-Workout – The Best For Protein Synthesis Stimulation

Nutrex Research Outlift Natural Pre-Workout may seem like a fairly simple, no-frills product. Yet, it’s one of the few natural pre-workouts that contain a well-dosed bcaa complex, which supports protein synthesis. Also, it’s a well-rounded formula that contains a total of 10 ingredients fully disclosed and effectively dosed.

The formula includes citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and creatine. It does contain 350mg caffeine but there’s nothing to help smooth out its effects. That means that the downside to Outlift Natural is that it falls short in the stimulant and focus areas.

Still, the 5g bcaa complex makes Nutrex Research Outlift Natural Pre-Workout the best natural pre-workout that contains bcaa’s to support protein synthesis.

PROS

  • Clinically Dosed
  • Fully Disclosed
  • Features a 5g BCAA Complex For Protein Synthesis Support

CONS

  • May Not Contain Enough Stimulants For Some Users
  • May Be Too High In Caffeine – Nothing To Smooth Its Effects
  • May Not Be Enough Focus Ingredients For Some Users
  • Only 20 Servings
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

6. Transparent Labs PreSeries Stim-Free – Best Stimulant-Free Natural Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout is a complete pump, focus, and endurance pre-workout that features extreme label transparency. For endurance and performance, there’s beta-alanine, creatine, and betaine. For pumps, there’s citrulline malate.

There’s also 4g BCAAs to help the body maintain an anabolic state during your training sessions. The downside is a light (3g) dose of creatine.

Still, this formula contains enough well chosen, well dosed ingredients in a fully transparent label to make it the best stim-free natural pre-workout.

PROS

  • Fully Disclosed Label
  • Effectively Dosed
  • Complete Formula

CONS

  • Focus Complex Could Be Stronger
  • Creatine Could Be Dosed A Little Higher
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7. Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout – Best For Muscle Growth

Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout is an interesting deviation from their Stim-Free version. The primary difference is that this version contains a testosterone complex that consists of 3000iu vitamin D3, 30mg zinc, and 5m boron. This complex is designed to support muscle growth.

There’s also a mild 180mg caffeine that’s supported by 50mg synephrine, 360mg theanine, and 25mg hordenine. The dosing of this complex ensures that there’s no harsh effects from an excessive amount of caffeine. This approach adds an effective stimulant complex to an already exceptional natural pre-workout. 

However, there is a significant downside to PreSeries Bulk. They removed creatine altogether from the formula to make room for the testosterone complex. That’s a shame because creatine works well with betaine and that combo would have worked effectively with the testosterone ingredients. Still, Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk is the best natural pre-workout for muscle growth.

PROS

  • Fully Disclosed Label
  • Effectively Dosed
  • Good Stim Complex
  • Features Testosterone Boosting Ingredients

CONS

  • Creatine Taken Out Of This Version
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Natural Pre-workout?

What You Should Look For In A Natural Pre-Workout

First of all, to qualify as “natural”, there should be no artificial anything. The product should be 100% naturally sweetened and flavored. 

A natural pre-workout should provide a cleaner, healthier option for anyone who wants an improved training experience but does not want to use anything with artificial ingredients.

Next, there’s no sense in buying a product that’s dramatically underdosed, under formulated, and uses prop blends. Think about it: a pre-workout needs to provide energy, focus, pumps, and performance. Exceptional products also support hydration. For a product to work well, it should contain effectively dosed ingredients that support each of these areas. 

Ingredients To Look For In A Natural Pre-Workout

L-Citrulline/Nitric Oxide Boosters

Virtually every pre-workout contains at least one nitric oxide boosting ingredient. These ingredients help produce the pump. For many trainers, a great pump is what it’s all about.

There are several good pump ingredients, such as agmatine sulfate, norvaline, vaso-6, and various forms of arginine. The better products contain at least two of them. 

Citrulline is an amino acid that converts into arginine in the body. When nitric oxide products first came out, they contained one ingredient, which was arginine. So why not just feature arginine as the main pump ingredient? The reason is because citrulline absorbs better than arginine and does a better job of increasing levels of nitric oxide. Some pre-workouts contain citrulline malate. This ingredient is a blend of citrulline and malic acid, which is an ingredient that plays a role in the production of ATP. This form supports endurance as well as pumps, but the amount of pure citrulline you’ll get in your pre-workout will be cut in half. (1, 2)

Beta-Alanine

This ingredient is famous for causing a short-term, harmless tingling and itching effect. Some users complain about this effect, which has caused many companies to under-dose it. The real answer is that those users simply need to man up. Drinking a glass of water helps relieve these effects faster, and they go away fairly quickly. Beta-Alanine works indirectly to help buffer acid buildup in the body. It does this by increasing carnosine levels in the body. It’s important to use the full clinical dose because it can help you perform more reps and sets for better results. (3)

Caffeine and Other Stimulants

Caffeine is the most popular energy ingredient in the world. If you want energy, alertness, and focus, caffeine is your answer. It also improves in-the-gym performance. (4) 

The best pre-workouts offer an energy complex that should contain other stimulants. These usually include different forms of caffeine as well as theobromine, which helps smooth the effects of caffeine. (5) They may also include synephrine, another mild stimulant. These are just a few examples as some pre-workouts offer extreme stimulant combinations.

Focus Enhancers

Hand in hand with stimulants is the focus complex. You will find this in virtually every pre-workout, whether it’s stimulant-based or stim-free. Typically, a complex like this includes choline and tyrosine. Some products may include additional focus ingredients. (6, 7, 8, 9)

Betaine

This ingredient occurs naturally in beets. It helps pull water into the muscles, creating water-based pumps. While many people think of pumps in terms of nitric oxide levels, the best pre-workouts combine osmolyte ingredients like betaine with nitric oxide boosters such as citrulline. This ingredient also supports strength and power. It’s thought to work much like creatine and in fact, the two work very well together. (10)

Glycerol

This compound has osmotic properties like creatine and betaine. This means that it helps pull water into the muscle cells. It also promotes a state of extreme hydration in the body. (11) There are several forms available, such as glycerol monostearate, hydromax, and glycerpump (recently renamed to “glycersize”).  

Taurine

Common in most energy drinks, taurine is an osmolyte like betaine, glycerol and creatine. It also supports cognitive function. Taurine has proven itself and become a common ingredient in many pre-workouts. 

Natural Sweeteners

One of the most important aspects of a natural pre-workout is that it does not contain artificial sweeteners. Also, no pre-workout of any type should contain sugar, period. Look for these natural sweeteners instead:

  • Stevia – A zero-calorie sweetener that comes from the stevia plant. It does not increase blood sugar. 
  • Monk Fruit – Like stevia, monk fruit contains zero calories and does not raise blood sugar.
  • Erythritol – A sugar alcohol that does not cause a rise in blood sugar, but may cause gastric discomfort at high doses.
  • Coconut Sugar – This is a sugar that will impact blood sugar levels to a point yet has a lower glycemic index rating than other sugars. This ingredient sits on the edge of acceptable natural sweeteners.

Ingredients To Avoid

  • Sugar – Most health-conscious individuals avoid high amounts of sugar. The average pre-workout should not include any meaningful sugar content. 
  • Artificial Sweeteners – For many users, sweeteners such as sucralose are avoided at all costs. An all-natural product should never contain this ingredient.
  • Artificial Flavors – While some pre-workouts combine natural and artificial flavoring, if it claims to be natural, then everything in it must be natural, flavoring included.

When Is The Best Time To Take A Natural Pre-Workout

If you’re using a stim-based natural pre-workout, make sure you don’t take it late in the day. Otherwise, your sleep quality will be impacted. Some users use their stim-based product earlier in the day, and when life forces them to train later than they would prefer, they switch to a non-stim product. You’ll want to follow the label directions regarding dosing.

Most natural pre-workouts suggest taking one serving 15-30 minutes before you plan to train. If you’re using a high-stim pre-workout and have experienced gastric discomfort, drink more water with your serving. The extra water can help ease any potential gastric effects. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are not a lot of good choices available in a natural pre-workout.

If you’re looking for the best overall, look no further than NutraBio PRE Natural. It’s a complete, balanced formula that’s clinically dosed and fully disclosed. Every training need is covered by Natural Pre, including energy, focus, pumps, performance and hydration.

If you’re looking for a stim-free option, Transparent Labs PreSeries is a well rounded formula with superior label transparency, making it our best stim-free natural pre-workout.

From here, for users that want a vegan friendly, plant-sourced option, there’s NutriChem Labs Nature’s Pump. This is a fully disclosed, effectively dosed formula that covers all of your needs and does it using only plant-based ingredients.

These are the best natural pre-workouts on the market. Now it’s up to you to choose the one that fits your needs the most. 

Happy Training!

References

  1. 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
  2. Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-and-exercise#section4
  5. Baggott, M, et. al; “Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers”; Psychopharmacology; February 2013; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/
  6. Poly C, Massaro JM, Seshadri S, et al; “The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2011; 94(6):1584-1591; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252552/
  7. Deijen JB, Orlebeke JF; “Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress”; Brain Res Bull. (1994); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8293316
  8. Ved, H; “Huperzine A, a potential therapeutic agent for dementia, reduces neuronal cell death caused by glutamate”; Division of Biochemistry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; 1997; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9141073
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23236741
  10. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/3/539/4690529
  11. van Rosendal SP, Osborne MA, Fassett RG, Coombes JS. Guidelines for glycerol use in hyperhydration and rehydration associated with exercise. Sports Med. 2010;40(2):113-129. doi:10.2165/11530760-000000000-00000. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20092365
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