Ok, the title is a bit misleading, since the "best" is different for everyone. Some really benefit from a product with more caffeine, others want their beta-alanine, and some just go for the basic creatine/glucose combo.
There are a lot of products out there, and it can be difficult to determine which product is best for you.
Let have a look at some of the most common ingredients:
The king of supplements in our opinion, creatine can be taken both pre- and post-workout.
A lot has already been written about it, but in short, creatine supports the body to store more ATP in the muscle, thus enabling you to train longer, make more reps or be more explosive.
For more nuts and bolts about creatine, go here.
Dosage: usally is 5 grams. Example product.
A non-essential amino acid, it creates the dipeptide carnosine with the help of histidine. Great, you say, but what the hell is carnosine and what does it do??
It's a strong anti-oxidant, as well as it helps to breakdown the build up of hydrogen ion. Hydrogen ion basically causes your muscle to fatigue, something you don't want during a work-out.
A side-effect of the use of beta alanine, is a tingling sensation of the skin. More on that here.
Dosage: up to 2 grams. Example product.
We all know caffeine gives a boost in energy, increases metabloic rate, increased alertness and decreased fatigue. Some people are more sensitive to it than others, so decided for yourself whether you want your pre-workout to contain caffeine.
Dosage: depends per person. Example product.
Agmatine is a byproduct of arginine, a very popular supplement in the bodybuilding industry. However, agmatine is involved in more metabolic processes than arginine, for example:
- aid post-workout recovery
- aids better insulin response
Dosage: 1 gram. Example product.
This is a non-essential amino acid, and supports in reducing lactic acid, increased ATP recovery and regulating nitric oxide.
For a study on citrulline malate, go here.
Dosage: 3-6 grams. Example product.
BCAA's (combo supplements)
The branched chain amino acids, helping you with recovery post-workout, but also helpful taking them while you train. Usually the list contains (some or all): L-Leucine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine, L-Alanine, Taurine, L-Citrulline. The type of amino acids can vary per product.
Dosage: 10 grams (all combined) Example product.
The easy way to get your pre-workout mix is to simply buy one, but as said before, the market is huge and there are a lot of variations and price-ranges.
So often people choose to make their own, for mainly 2 reasons:
1) cost reduction
2) control over the ingredients.
There are a lot of sources to buy bulk supplements, and with a bit of creativity, you can easily create your own custom made pre-workout for a lot less $$ than the ready-made product.
Some helpful videos:
We wanted to create a pre-workout mainly for reason 2, without caffeine and in our case, we also chose to leave out the beta alanine. Mainly because of the tingly feeling it causes. Some people like it, but it can also be very distracting.
Amino-X - 1 scoop (15 grams) watermelon flavor.
Creatine - 5 grams
Citrulline Malate - 3 grams
Agmatine - 1 gram
We will test this mix for a few weeks, taking it about 30 mins. before the work-out.
Experience learns us that mixing the powders the day before, helps with dissolving properly.
(We didn't get bribed or paid to write this article. If we think a product is shit, we'll write that too. However, if you order through any of the links provided, we'll earn a small commission. With that money, we can keep this blog going. Or buy bacon)