Top 9 strongest pre workouts in 2020

Pre-workouts do not come in a one size fits all formula.

There’s something for everybody, from heavy stims to stim-free, and everything in between. 

A good pre-workout doesn’t focus on one or two areas of workout performance.

It should be exceptionally well dosed using effective ingredients that attack all workout performance pathways.

In this article, let’s take a look at the strongest pre-workouts. Ready? 

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Quick Answer – The Strongest Pre-Workouts

  1. Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 – Best Overall
  2. Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme – Strongest Endurance Pre-Workout
  3. Phase One Nutrition Pre-Phase – Strongest Euphoria Pre-Workout
  4. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged – Strongest BCAA Pre-Workout
  5. Anabolic Warfare Maniac – Strongest Stim Blend
  6. Cutler Nutrition Prevail – Strongest Focus Pre-Workout
  7. Apollon Nutrition Assassin – Strongest Caffeine-Based Pre-Workout
  8. Rich Piana 5% Nutrition Kill It Reloaded – Strongest Pump Pre-Workout
  9. MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout Powder – Best For Beginners

Reviews – The Strongest Pre-Workouts

1. Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 – Best Overall 

Staunch Koala Freak 2.0 supplies a powerful stimulant combination of 360mg caffeine and 250mg dynamine. This blend is smoothed out by both theanine and theobromine. This creates intense energy that’s jitter-free.

There’s also focus, pump, and performance ingredients. 

Koala Freak 2.0 has a balanced combination of nitric oxide and water-based pump ingredients. The endurance enhancer beta-alanine is almost clinically dosed with 3000mg.

However, betaine also supports endurance as well as power and strength. Finally, there’s a good mix of focus ingredients, including huperzine and choline. 

Koala Freak 2.0 has a total strength of 11,250mg. Overall, this is a complete pre-workout that targets each area of workout performance. These features make it the best overall pre-workout. 

PROS

  • Well Balanced Formula
  • Strong Stim Complex 
  • Over 11,000mg Pump Ingredients

CONS

  • Koala Freak 2.0 Would Have A Stronger Pump Effect By Using Pure Citrulline

2. Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme – Strongest Endurance Pre-Workout

Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme

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Alpha Lion Superhuman Supreme is one of the hardest-hitting pre-workouts in this guide. 

It begins with a fully disclosed label, and 5 complexes, each targeting a different pre-workout pathway. First, there’s 375mg of caffeine from two sources.

There’s also tyramine, and n, n-dimethylphenethylamine, or eria jarensis for energy and focus.

Finally, the stim complex includes juniper berry to increase stimulant absorption. 

For pumps, there’s 7g citrulline malate, 1g taurine, and the patented S7.

There’s also 2.5g betaine, which helps pumps but is included here with the endurance complex. This complex also includes beta-alanine, and it’s not watered down, in fact, it’s higher than the clinical dose.

Finally, there’s AstraGin and Bioperine Black Pepper for improved absorption. 

This is a strong pre-workout overall but the combination of a higher beta-alanine dose and betaine makes this the strongest pre-workout for endurance.

PROS

  • Fully Disclosed Label
  • Balanced Formula
  • Generously Dosed

CONS

  • Contains Artificial Ingredients

3. Phase One Nutrition Pre-Phase – Strongest Euphoria Pre-Workout

Phase One Nutrition Pre-Phase

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Phase One Nutrition Pre-Phase contains high doses of energy, focus, pumps, and performance ingredients. What sets this pre-workout apart is the energy complex: 350mg of caffeine, 200 mg of eria jarensis, 150mg of DMHA, and 1.5 mg alpha yohimbine. 

Pre-Phase also features 1g of choline for focus, plus it’s well-dosed in citrulline malate and beta-alanine for pumps and endurance. 

The emphasis is a little more on energy and focus, so the downside is that Pre-Phase could use more ingredients for performance. 

Still, if you want a stim-heavy pre-workout that creates strong feelings of euphoria, Pre-Phase gets the job done.

PROS

  • Stim – Heavy Energy Complex
  • Over 1g Focus Ingredients
  • Fully Disclosed Label

CONS

  • Could Use More Pump & Performance Ingredients

4. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged – Strongest BCAA Pre-Workout

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged is one of the most balanced, well-engineered pre-workouts on the market. There’s a huge 6.5g pure citrulline for nitric oxide pumps, plus creatine and betaine for water-based pumps. 

This is one of the few pre-workouts that include BCAAs, and there’s extra leucine for protein synthesis stimulation. That’s 4750mg total leucine, which makes this the strongest BCAA pre-workout available. 

Additionally, this is one of the few pre-workouts that targets pumps, power, and strength with creatine. There are also focus ingredients, endurance ingredients, and a special ORAC antioxidant blend. 

The downsides to this product are there’s only 1.6g of beta-alanine and 274mg of caffeine. In other words, it’s not a stim heavy pre-workout, and the beta-alanine is dosed low because some users don’t want the temporary tingling effect caused by the full dose. 

Still, it’s fully disclosed and targets anabolism, power, strength, and focus as well as pumps.

PROS

  • Over 4g Leucine
  • Promotes Both Nitric Oxide & Water-Based Pumps
  • Exclusive Antioxidant Complex

CONS

  • No Energy Complex – Only 274mg Caffeine

5. Anabolic Warfare Maniac – Strongest Stim Blend

Here’s a pre-workout that features full disclosure labeling, a strong stim & focus complex, and a pump complex consisting of two types of citrulline. There’s also creatine nitrate and beta-alanine. 

This is a well-balanced formula that targets endurance and performance. Yet it has a lot of stims for those users that want a high stim/high focus training experience. 

Not every pre-workout contains creatine but it’s included here. This makes sense because it acts as a cell volumizer and supports strength. 

Maniac also includes lion’s mane mushroom extract which is combined with huperzine for focus.  

The stim complex that features two forms of caffeine as well as 3 other stim ingredients makes Maniac the strongest pre-workout for stimulants.

PROS

  • Features A Strong 5 Ingredient Stim Complex With 2 Types Of Caffeine
  • There are Two Forms Of Citrulline For Pumps
  • Contains Creatine For Strength, Cell Volume, And Endurance
  • Fully Disclosed Label

CONS

  • Contains Artificial Sweeteners

6. Cutler Nutrition Prevail – Strongest Focus Pre-Workout

Cutler Nutrition Prevail has a supplement facts label for 1 scoop or 2 scoops. This is an increasingly common trend with many pre-workouts. 

In this case, a 1-scoop serving might be good for a beginner, but not for a seasoned pre-workout user looking for the strongest possible dose. 

Prevail has two types of caffeine totaling 362mg. This formula is primarily a stim/focus pre-workout with only citrulline and taurine to support pumps.

It’s 4g pure citrulline, and while taurine does have cognitive benefits, it’s an osmolyte, it pulls water into the muscle cells. 

The downside of Prevail is the lack of performance or endurance ingredients and the limited pump enhancers.

Some companies design their pre-workouts this way, then suggest a two-product stack: the pre-workout and their pump product, in this case, it would be Amplify. 

Still, Prevail does provide a strong stim/focus experience and will do the job whether you stack it or not. The 2 scoop serving makes Prevail the strongest pre-workout for focus. 

PROS

  • Heavy Stim/Focus Ingredients
  • Fully Disclosed Label
  • 1-Scoop/2-Scoop Servings

CONS

  • Need To Stack This With A Pump Booster For Full Effect

7. Apollon Nutrition Assassin – Strongest Caffeine-Based Pre-Workout

Apollon Nutrition Assassin

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This is as hardcore as it gets. This may be the strongest stim-based pre-workout ever made.

It needs to be emphasized that this product is not for anyone that does not have extensive experience using high-stim pre-workouts. I can’t emphasize that enough. 

The label is fully disclosed and features a ½ scoop serving and 1-scoop serving. Unless you’ve used Assassin before, start with ½ serving. Even at this dosage, there’s 300mg of caffeine, plus other ingredients such as eria jarensis. 

A full 1-scoop serving supplies 600mg of caffeine. There is theacrine to help smooth out the intense effects of all that caffeine. Also, one of the two forms of caffeine is combined with malate, which provides a smoother energy experience. 

This product has a lot of focus ingredients, and while it does have pump and endurance enhancers, you need a full scoop for maximum effect.

This is another example of a pre-workout that is so loaded with energy & focus ingredients that anything else is not balanced. 

This means a compromise, such as using a ¾ scoop, or staying with a ½ scoop and using a pump/endurance enhancer to get a complete workout effect.

Surprisingly, Apollon Nutrition does not offer a stack like this, even though as noted, this is a popular marketing concept used by several companies.

Still, if you want a full bore, beast mode pre-workout with the strongest caffeine content, this is it.

PROS

  • 600mg Caffeine With Full Serving
  • High Stim/Focus Pre-Workout
  • Good Pump/Endurance Dosages With Full Serving

CONS

  • 1 Scoop May Be Too Much For Many Users
  • The ½ Scoop Size Is Too Low In Pump/Endurance Ingredients
  • There’s No Pump Formula Made By This Company – No Two Product Pre-Workout Stack Like Some Companies Offer

8. Rich Piana 5% Nutrition Kill It Reloaded – Strongest Pump Pre-Workout

Rich Piana 5% Nutrition offers several pre-workout choices. As noted above, some companies market a heavy stim/focus pre-workout then suggest users stack it with their pump enhancer.

5% Nutrition is one of those companies with 5150 and Full As F*ck. Still, most users would rather just buy one product. Kill It Reloaded is the best choice for those users. 

This pre-workout features a solid pump complex consisting of pure citrulline, norvaline, glycerpump, and taurine. There’s 2g beta-alanine for endurance, but the clinical dose is 3.2 g.

To compensate, this is one of a handful of pre-workouts with creatine, and in this case, there are 3 types. There’s also a 3 ingredient focus complex and an energy complex featuring 362 mg of 3 types of caffeine. 

The downside is that caffeine is the only stimulant, there’s nothing else to support it or smooth out the effects. Still, this is a well-balanced pre-workout, and with creatine included, it’s the strongest pump-based pre-workout.

PROS

  • Well Balanced Formula
  • Fully Disclosed Labeling
  • 3 Types Of Caffeine

CONS

  • Does Not Contain Any Stims Besides Caffeine

9. MuscleTech Vapor One Pre-Workout Powder – Best For Beginners

Vapor One is one of several pre-workouts by MuscleTech, including other Vapor One variations. However, this formula is fully disclosed and well balanced. 

This product has a good cell volume and endurance complex that includes a full dose of beta-alanine, as well as creatine, betaine, and taurine.

There’s a well-dosed 4-ingredient pump complex that centers around 4g of pure citrulline.

Finally, there’s a 5-ingredient energy and focus complex based around 350mg of caffeine. 

Could this use more caffeine? Sure, and other MuscleTech pre-workouts offer more. Still, a good pre-workout should have strong doses of everything, not just stims. 

Vapor One is the best choice for someone new to a higher stim pre-workout, but not yet ready for an exotic stim-based formula.

PROS

  • Well Balanced Formula
  • Full Disclosure Labeling
  • 5-Ingredient Stim/Focus Complex

CONS

  • May Be A Little Low In Caffeine/Stims For Some Users

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Pre-Workout?

Pre-Workout Benefits

Certainly, when most users think of the strongest pre-workouts, they think of the stimulants. A strong pre-workout should be balanced, rather than containing just high doses of various stims. A balanced pre-workout that’s effectively dosed provides the following benefits:

  • Increases Energy & Focus – This is one of the primary benefits of any good pre-workout. Depending on how much caffeine and what, if any, other stimulants are in a product, the energy can be extreme. Also, many energy ingredients enhance focus. The best pre-workouts provide several focus ingredients to create an “in the zone” type of mindset. 
  • Improves Motivation – Some pre-workouts go beyond focus and contain ingredients that improve your motivation to train, literally enhancing the fabled mind-muscle connection. 
  • Supports Endurance – There are a few ingredients that support extended endurance. If you can knock out a few more reps at the end of a set, you can stimulate a little extra growth. That alone makes a pre-workout worth it for many users.
  • Enhances Strength & Power – Some users want to set a new PR when they train. Other users use a progressive overload approach in their training by adding weight to the bar consistently. The best pre-workouts can help them do this successfully.
  • Promotes Good Pumps – For many individuals, the pump is what it’s all about. What can be better than glancing in the mirror and looking bigger than ever? Any good pre-workout pushes a great pump. It should be noted that there are two kinds of pumps, nitric oxide and water-based. 

Ingredients You Should Look For

An exceptional pre-workout will go beyond just a lot of stims. It should include such ingredients as BCAAs and creatine. BCAAs are anabolic and will help users stay in an anabolic state while they train. This is huge because the physical act of training is catabolic. 

If you’re going to include creatine, a well thought out product will understand the cell volumizing effects of creatine and add ingredients that support those effects.

These include glycerol, betaine, and taurine, and are responsible for stimulating water-based pumps. Beyond that, there are standard ingredients that all pre-workouts should have, such as the following:

Caffeine – It’s safe to say that most people understand what caffeine does. (1) When you’re talking about the strongest pre-workouts, it’s assumed that stims are a big part of it. While you can find a strong stim-free pre-workout, energy, one of the key areas of workout performance, is not being covered by a stim-free product. A strong pre-workout needs to target every workout pathway and do it effectively. 

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the types of caffeine typically found in a pre-workout:

  • Caffeine Anhydrous – This is caffeine with all the moisture removed, making the caffeine more concentrated.
  • Infinergy Dicaffeine Malate – This is a trademarked complex of 75% caffeine and 25% malic acid. The caffeine is absorbed more slowly, reducing jitters and any “crash” effect.
  • Green Tea – This is a natural form of caffeine and also the antioxidant EGCG.
  • Guarana – This form originates in Brazil and is a natural source of caffeine. 

N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate – This ingredient is commonly known as Eria Jarensis. It’s a popular stim that hits you quickly and promotes feelings of energy and euphoria. 

Higenamine – 30 mg – This stimulant has effects that are similar to caffeine. It also increases oxygen use, thereby improving performance.

Hordenine – 30 mg – This stimulant is milder than others on this list. Still, it increases energy, enhances focus, and improves concentration. (2)

Exotic stimulants like DMAA and DMHA are not always easy to find and often, any pre-workout that uses them gets pulled off the market. 

Tyrosine – This amino acid has an important role in the manufacture of dopamine and norepinephrine. These are two neurotransmitters that improve focus and mood, while also relieving anxiety. (3)

Choline – This ingredient is involved in phospholipid synthesis. This supports cell signaling functions and the structural integrity of the cell. Choline is also a precursor of acetylcholine synthesis. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s involved in mood and memory. It also is involved in promoting a mind-muscle connection. This is the mental connection you should have with your working muscles during a training session. It can be the difference between a mediocre workout or a great one. Choline is an effective cognitive enhancer that promotes cognitive function, including a dramatically improved mind-muscle connection. (4, 5)

Alpha GPC – This ingredient occurs naturally in the brain and is 40% choline by weight. Alpha GPC is a premium type of choline due to its enhanced absorption. Additionally, the choline in this compound is used in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The glycerol/phosphate content is used for phospholipid production. (6)

Huperzine A – This ingredient improves focus and indirectly increases levels of acetylcholine. It does this by blocking an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme controls acetylcholine breakdown. By inhibiting this enzyme, more acetylcholine is available for focus. (7)

L-Citrulline – This ingredient stimulates the production of nitric oxide which stimulates the pump. It is an amino acid that converts into arginine once it’s in the body. The advantage of citrulline over regular arginine is that it’s better absorbed than arginine. This means that citrulline does a better job of acting like arginine than arginine itself does. Citrulline is highly rated and is usually the main pump ingredient in most pre-workouts. Some products use citrulline malate, a complex of citrulline, and malic acid. Since malic acid is involved in ATP production, this complex supports training endurance. (8, 9, 10)

Agmatine Sulfate – This is another common pump ingredient that supports increased nitric oxide production. It also supports water based-pumps by increasing water retention. (11)

Nitrosigine™ – This is a patented blend of arginine and silicon that increases levels of nitric oxide. It’s known for its long-lasting effects and can last in the body for 6 hours. (12)

Betaine – This ingredient is an osmolyte, which means it helps pull water into the muscle cells. The ingredients creatine, glycerol, and taurine are also osmolytes. You should look for these compounds if you want a great pump. Betaine works similarly to creatine. Betaine, like creatine, is also thought to help improve strength and power. It’s thought that these two compounds work extremely well together. (13) 

Creatine – It’s well-known that this is the most researched supplement on the market. It has been tested and proven effective time after time. The best pre-workouts add creatine to promote water-based pumps. It’s also used to improve endurance, power, and strength. (14)

Beta-Alanine – This ingredient indirectly helps you get more reps and sets. It increases levels of carnosine in the body, which buffers lactic acid so you can push farther in your sets. It also causes a temporary, harmless tingling effect. While it doesn’t bother most users, there’s a lot of individuals that don’t like it. This has caused some supplement manufacturers to lower the dose, sometimes to the point of it being underdosed. If you want to use a strong pre-workout, it should include at least the clinical dosing of this compound. It’s important to remember that a glass of water and a little bit of time relieve the tingling effect. (15)

How To Use The Strongest Pre-Workout

Always read and follow the label directions.

If you’re using one of the pre-workouts in this guide, then you should be an experienced user.

If you are new to this type of product, test your tolerance by using a half serving size. Once tolerance is determined, use a full serving. 

Most pre-workouts suggest taking it with water 20-30 minutes before you train. It’s a good idea to drink a lot of water with any pre-workout you use.

You can also stack other ingredients with your pre-workout, such as creatine, BCAAs, or even extra pump ingredients.

Conclusion

The pre-workouts in this guide will take your training to new heights of intensity. Most of them are high stim, so you may want to consider cycling them with some lower stim products. By cycling among two or three products, you won’t build up a tolerance. 

With a maximum dose of 600mg caffeine, Apollon Nutrition Assassin should definitely be cycled. This is the kind of pre-workout that’s best used for your toughest training sessions. 

If you’d rather not take in quite that much caffeine, there’s Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged. It offers excellent balance and is the strongest in terms of its anabolic potential. Not only does it have BCAAs, but it also has extra leucine, the most anabolic of any amino acid. 

Still, you might be more interested in a great pump. If that’s the case, you want to attack it from both a nitric oxide pathway and a cell volume pathway. That leaves Rich Piana 5% Nutrition Kill It Reloaded.

This product contains creatine, the original cell volumizer. It also has glycerol, citrulline, norvaline, and taurine. That’s a great combination that attacks both kinds of pumps. 

What you’ve seen in this guide are the strongest pre-workouts on the market. 

Get ready for a great training session!

References:

  1. https://examine.com/supplements/caffeine/
  2. Hordenine: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1528/hordenine
  3. Deijen, J. B., & Orlebeke, J. F. (n.d.). Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8293316
  4.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#h7
  5. Choline – PubMed Central (PMC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
  6. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  7. Treating senile dementia with traditional Chinese medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515/
  8. 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
  9. Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
  10. 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
  11. Haulică I, et al. Preliminary research on possible relationship of NO with agmatine at the vascular level. Rom J Physiol. (1999). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11068606
  12. https://nitrosigine.com/about/
  13. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/3/539/4690529
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine
  15. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
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