There’s no denying that a good pre-workout improves your performance in the gym.
How can you go wrong with more energy and focus? Or better pumps and endurance?
There are different types of pre-workouts. Some have a lot of stimulants, others none at all. Some also have creatine.
As good of an ingredient creatine can be for a lot of users, everybody may not want it in their pre-workout.
That’s OK because we have the best pre-workouts without creatine right here. Let’s check it out!
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
Best Pre-Workouts Without Creatine
- Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme – Best Overall
- The Genius Brand Genius Pre – Best Stim-Free
- Legion Pulse – Best No-Frills Formula
- Dymatize PreW.O. – Best For Beginners
- Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 Pre-Workout – Best High Stim
- Sparta Nutrition Pre-Workout – Best Flavor
- Mutant Madness Pre-Workout – Best Value
- Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk – Best Testosterone Boosting
Reviews – Best Pre-Workouts Without Creatine
Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme – Best Overall
Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme is our best overall pre-workout without creatine. It has a fully disclosed label featuring a 5-complex formula.
First off, there’s an Energy & Focus Complex with 375mg total caffeine from two sources. There are additional ingredients such as tyramine and eria jarensis that elevate focus and increase energy.
Finally, there’s juniper berry to increase absorption of the stimulants. The Pump Matrix contains patented S7, citrulline malate, and taurine.
For the Endurance Matrix, there’s beta-alanine and betaine. What sets Superhuman Supreme apart is that beta-alanine is overdosed. This ingredient causes a tingling effect that some users dislike.
The clinical dose is 3.2g, and many companies under-dose it around 1.6g. Alpha Lion doses it at 3.5g.
There’s also an Anti-Crash Matrix with theanine to offset the effects of the stimulants and an Absorption Matrix with astragin and black pepper extract for improved absorption.
- Fully Disclosed Label
- Balanced Formula
- High Endurance Formula With Extra Beta-Alanine
- Contains Artificial Flavors & Sweeteners
The Genius Brand Genius Pre – Best Stim-Free
The Genius Brand Genius Pre is a pre-workout that’s not only creatine-free, it’s also stimulant-free.
In fact, it’s the best stimulant-free pre-workout without creatine. It’s well balanced and targets focus, pumps, strength, plus endurance.
Focus and overall cognitive enhancement is a big thing with The Genius Brand and Genius Pre offers focus ingredients that include alpha gpc, tyrosine, rhodiola, and huperzine.
Additionally, there’s citrulline and arginine for nitric oxide pumps. For water-based pumps, there’s taurine and betaine.
If you prefer to take your creatine separately, it will work well with these water-based pump ingredients. This is because one of the functions of creatine is to pull water into the muscles.
If you do not use creatine, these two compounds provide a good pump alternative.
Finally, there’s beta-alanine for endurance.
- Well- Balanced Formula
- Effectively Dosed
- Fully Disclosed Label
- There Are Only 20 Servings Per Container
Legion Pulse – Best No-Frills Formula
Legion Athletics Legion Pulse is a simple pre-workout compared to many other products available.
Simple, but effective. So much so it’s our best no-frills pre-workout with creatine.
Pulse contains 6 well-dosed ingredients plus the electrolyte minerals potassium, sodium, and calcium.
It includes citrulline malate for pumps and patented carnosyn beta-alanine for endurance.
There’s also betaine anhydrous for power and strength, and a well-dosed 350mg caffeine anhydrous. There’s theanine to help smooth out any harshness caused by caffeine.
Finally, there’s alpha choline gpc for focus. It’s a natural formula with two types of natural sweeteners.
- Only 6 Primary Ingredients
- Effectively Dosed No Frills Formula
- Full Disclosure Labeling
- May Be Too Sweet For Some Users
Dymatize PreW.O. – Best For Beginners
Most pre-workouts use similar formulas, and the best choices use full disclosure labeling as well as effectively dosed ingredients.
Dymatize PreW.O. is no different.
It features an open-label but displays the dosing for both 1 scoop and 2 scoops.
The half-serving 1 scoop version is great for beginners. It gives first-time pre-workout users a chance to try out a good product using reasonable dosing.
Once users begin to get used to using a pre-workout, they can go up to a full serving (2 scoops).
At full strength, there’s 300mg caffeine anhydrous, and effective doses of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and taurine. PreW.O. covers everything you need for a good training session, including pumps, focus, endurance, and energy.
If there’s a downside to this product, betaine is underdosed even at full strength.
Still, this is a good pre-workout and the best pre-workout without creatine for beginners.
- Personalized Full Or Half Strength Dosing, A Great Option For Beginners
- Fully Open Label
- Effectively Dosed
- Expensive When Used At Full Strength
Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 Pre-Workout – Best High Stim
Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 is a high-stim pre-workout that features dynamine and 360mg caffeine anhydrous.
Koala Freak 2.0 contains both theanine and theobromine to smooth out the effects of the stim combination. This means good energy that’s free of side effects.
For focus, there’s a good combination of choline and huperzine.
There’s also a combination of nitric oxide and water-based pump ingredients. These include citrulline malate, agmatine sulfate, and arginine for nitric oxide.
There’s betaine which promotes water-based pumps as well as strength and power.
Finally, there’s beta-alanine for endurance.
Koala Freak 2.0 is a complete pre-workout that targets each area of workout performance without creatine.
- Complete Fully Disclosed Formula
- Good Pump Complex
- Uses Artificial Sweeteners
Sparta Nutrition Pre-Workout – Best Flavor
Sparta Nutrition Pre-Workout is an effectively dosed, fully transparent formula.
It features a good stim/focus complex that includes 300 total mg of 3 types of caffeine.
There’s 4g pure citrulline for pumps, with tyrosine and choline for focus, plus beta-alanine for endurance.
Like most pre-workouts there’s black pepper extract for absorption.
The serving size is two scoops which gives you 20 servings. You can use one scoop if it’s too strong, giving you 40 servings.
Flavor is not always important for everybody, but why should your pre-workout taste bad?
Sparta Nutrition has teamed with ICEE, a popular frozen drink, to create several ICEE-based flavors, all with zero sugar.
This makes Sparta Nutrition Pre-Workout the best choice for flavor.
- 300mg Caffeine
- Well-Balanced Formula
- Features An Exclusive Partnership With ICEE Frozen Drinks
- Some Users Don’t Like The Tingling Effect Of Beta-Alanine
Mutant Madness Pre-Workout – Best Value
Mutant Madness contains 20 ingredients, including vitamins and minerals.
There’s a Performance Intensity Matrix that consists of beta-alanine, plus pump ingredients such as citrulline and arginine hci.
There’s a 5-Caffeine Matrix with a total caffeine content of 375mg. This Matrix includes caffeine anhydrous, theobromine for smooth energy, and green tea.
Finally, there’s an Amplification Matrix that includes theanine and black pepper extract.
Beta-alanine is underdosed, but many users don’t like the short term, harmless tingling/itching effect caused by using a full dose.
Overall, Mutant Madness is a solid formula.
With 30 servings, and a well-dosed, open label, Madness is the best pre-workout value.
- Features 20 Total Ingredients
- Complete Formula
- 375mg Total Caffeine
- Beta-Alanine Is Under-Dosed
Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk – Best Testosterone Boosting
Transparent Labs PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout is different from most pre-workouts because it contains a testosterone complex that consists of boron, vitamin D3, and zinc.
This pre-workout is our best for stimulating testosterone production.
For energy, there’s 180mg caffeine, which is low by most pre-workout standards.
However, there’s also the stimulants synephrine and hordenine, as well as theanine.
There are focus ingredients, BCAAs, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine.
The label is open and there are no artificial ingredients.
- Fully Disclosed Label
- Contains BCAAs
- Features A Testosterone Complex
- There May Not Be Enough Caffeine For Some Users
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Pre-Workouts Without Creatine?
Pre-Workouts are without a doubt one of the most popular supplements, and for good reason. A good pre-workout can dramatically improve your training performance. A good pre-workout should have a balanced formula with effective doses that are clearly labeled. It will provide the following benefits:
- More Energy – The amount of energy depends on how much caffeine is in the product. It also depends on the other stimulants being used. Most high caffeine products also contain ingredients that smooth the sometimes harsh effects of caffeine.
- Promotes The Pump – A good pump is cosmetic but it’s also functional. The increased blood flow improves nutrient delivery and the removal of waste products. Water-based pumps pull water into the muscle cells. This is also known as cell volume, and one theory of muscle growth is based on this concept.
- Enhanced Focus – More focus means you have the right mindset for your training session. These ingredients also support motivation, and enhance the mind-muscle connection.
- Improved Training Endurance – Some ingredients, primarily beta-alanine, extend your endurance. More reps means more growth stimulation.
- More Strength – Progressive overload is a key to progress. The best pre-workouts support strength.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is involved in the ATP energy system. (1)
It also pulls water into the muscles (water-based pumps), and supports strength. Creatine has been studied and proven effective more than any other supplement. (2)
Why Take A Pre-Workout Without Creatine?
Creatine is a popular pre-workout ingredient.
However, not everybody wants it in their pre-workout. This is because some users take it separately, and cycle it.
That means if you’re not using it right now, you won’t want it in any of your supplements. Other users may find it does not fit with their goals.
Finally, some users may experience excess water retention. This may not be ideal if you’re trying to get lean.
What Ingredients Should I Look For In A Pre-Workout Without Creatine?
Many pre-workouts offer an energy complex that often contains caffeine as the main ingredient. Here’s a rundown of the types of caffeine you’ll usually see in a pre-workout:
- Caffeine Anhydrous – This type of caffeine has all the moisture removed. This makes the caffeine more concentrated.
- Infinergy Dicaffeine Malate – This trademarked version is a combination of 75% caffeine and 25% malic acid. The caffeine is absorbed slowly. This limits jitters and a “crash”.
- Green Tea – This is a natural form of caffeine that contains EGCG, a potent antioxidant. (3,4)
The best pre-workouts contain additional stimulants, such as dynamine, or synephrine. Additionally, there will be ingredients such as theanine and theobromine to help smooth out any harsh effects.
Every pre-workout contains pump enhancing ingredients. For clarity, there are two kinds of pumps, nitric oxide-induced pumps that happen as a result of increased blood flow, and water-based pumps that happen as a result of water being pulled into the muscles.
One of the best nitric oxide pump ingredients is l-citrulline. This is an amino acid that converts into the amino acid l-arginine in the body. Citrulline is used over arginine because it absorbs better. (5) Other common nitric oxide pump ingredients include agmatine sulfate and nitrosigine. We will review common water-based pump ingredients below.
This is known as an osmolyte. This means it helps pull water into the muscle cells. Ingredients such as glycerol and taurine are also osmolytes. If you want the best pump, you should look for these ingredients in your pre-workout. Finally, betaine is believed to improve strength and power output. (6)
Every pre-workout has at least a couple of ingredients designed to increase focus. These include choline, tyrosine, huperzine, and rhodiola. Additionally, stimulants often support elevated focus. (7)
This compound is known for its short-term, harmless tingling and itching effect. Some users don’t like this effect, and in response some companies under-dose it. Drinking a glass of water will help ease the effects. What does beta-alanine do? It indirectly buffers acid buildup by increasing the body’s levels of carnosine. You should try to use the full clinical dose if you want the best benefits from this ingredient. (8)
What Should I Consider Before Buying A Pre-Workout?
Full Disclosure Labeling
If you’re shopping for a pre-workout without creatine, the first thing you need to do is be sure the label clearly states what is in the product. Avoid prop blends. There is no good reason any quality product should use prop blends. All they do is hide the dosing of the ingredients. This means you are paying for a product that you have no idea if it’s well-dosed or not.
Along with a clear label, an effective pre-workout comes down to clinical dosing. A product with dramatically underdosed ingredients, no matter how good those ingredients are, will not help you achieve your goals.
How To Use A Pre-Workout Without Creatine
As always, read the label and follow all directions. If you are new to pre-workouts, test your tolerance by first using one half of the suggested serving size. Once you have determined your tolerance, you can use a full serving. Most pre-workouts will suggest taking it with 6-8oz of cold water 20-30 minutes before you train. If you have any gastric discomfort, mix more water in when you drink it, and drink a lot of water while using it.
A pre-workout without creatine can be just as effective as one that has it.
Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme proves that. It’s our best overall and features a well-dosed 5-complex formula that covers all aspects of training performance.
If you want the best stim-free option, The Genius Brand Genius Pre is the one for you. It’s heavy on focus ingredients, and has the pump as well as endurance covered.
Finally, Dymatize PreW.O. is the best choice for beginners because it gives users the choice of first time dosing.
No creatine? That’s OK.
There’s a pre-workout that will exceed your needs right here in our guide. Happy Training!
- Exercise and the Phosphagen System | HowStuffWorks
- Kreider, R. B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C. J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E. C., Milnor, P., & Almada, A. L. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 244(1-2), 95–104.
- Baggott, M, et. al; “Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers”; Psychopharmacology; February 2013; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/
- 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
- 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/