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Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Women

Find out how pre-workout supplements for women enhance focus, recovery, and stamina.

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2022
Best Pre Workout Supplements for Women

Sometimes it can be challenging to get motivated to work out, especially if you feel low energy and aren’t looking forward to muscle soreness and fatigue. Pre-workout supplements exist to boost energy so you can work out longer and harder with faster muscle recovery.

But is pre-workout necessary? Are there alternatives to large jolts of caffeine before a workout? Can a pre-workout supplement help you lose weight? Find the answers to these questions and more in our guide to the best pre-workout supplements for women.

If you don’t have time to read the whole guide, take a look at our top six recommendations below.

Summary of recommendations

Our Top Choice

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition’s Pre-Workout brings quality ingredients and years of experience together for the perfect energy boost.

Optimum Nutrition’s blend is designed to increase energy, focus, endurance, and performance with core ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine. Shipping is free on orders over $40, and you’re covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pre-workout for women: top considerations

We considered several criteria when evaluating our top choices: ingredients, cost, effectiveness, safety, and convenience.

Ingredients

Winners: Powher and Alani Nu

For pre-workout to be effective, it needs to have components that will boost energy, enhance muscle recovery, and improve focus. Whether or not a supplement delivers on its promises depends on its ingredients. It needs to include components that will motivate you to work out and not leave you feeling jittery afterward. The company should also consider the unique challenges women face when exercising.

Our winners for best ingredients are Powher and Alani Nu. We chose these two supplements because they are designed specifically with women in mind, and they include the necessary ingredients to keep you moving through an intense workout. Powher is a low-caffeine option that won’t keep you up all night and includes restorative ingredients like vitamins B6 and B12, coconut water, and beetroot powder. Alani Nu does contain caffeine (200mg/serving) but also has many ingredients you’ll see in other high-quality supplements like L-citrulline and L-tyrosine. It also comes in 13 delicious and unique flavors.

Cost

Winner: Cellucor

The cost of a pre-workout for women includes not only the price but also the quality of the supplement. Some companies charge more, but the ingredients look no different than any other pre-workout. We look for a supplement that balances price with quality.

Our winner in this category is Cellucor. Not only is it the most inexpensive pre-workout on our list (only $29.99 for a one-month supply), but it also offers a lot of options for deeper discounts while not compromising quality and effectiveness. If you decide to subscribe and save, you can get a one-month supply for only $20.99. Other supplements in this guide typically cost $40-$50 for the same amount. Cellucor also includes healthy ingredients like vitamins C, B6, and B12 in addition to Cellucor’s proprietary Explosive Energy Blend.

Effectiveness

Winner: Optimum Nutrition

When it comes to pre-workout, you want to ensure that the supplement you choose will give you the results you desire. Often, this can be difficult to determine without trying it out first, but some supplement companies deliver exactly what they say they will through their ingredients, dosing, and reputation.

Our effectiveness winner is Optimum Nutrition. Their pre-workout supplement contains potent ingredients, and it comes from a well-known and well-established nutrition company dedicated to manufacturing and quality standards. The supplement contains caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine — three ingredients known to work together to boost energy. Even though it does contain caffeine, it only includes 175mg/serving, which is less than some other supplements and won’t leave you feeling anxious.

Safety

Winners: Optimum Nutrition and Transparent Labs

The FDA doesn’t yet regulate supplements, so gauging their safety can be challenging. But many companies take measures to ensure that their products are manufactured in high-quality facilities and use third-party testing to ensure safety and viability.

Our winners for safety are Optimum Nutrition and Transparent Labs. Optimum Nutrition has been creating and selling supplements for over 30 years, and the company performs rigorous in-house testing of all products to ensure quality and safety. The reason we picked Transparent Labs is in the name — the company is invested in being transparent when it comes to safety, testing, and quality. They provide Certificates of Analysis conducted by third parties for their products to ensure that what you see on the label is what you get.

Convenience

Winner: Legion Pulse

It’s essential that a pre-workout supplement meets your needs and is easy to take. You want to be sure that the supplement includes ingredients and produces results that are ideal for you, and having a formula that you can customize to your own needs can be an incredible asset.

Legion Pulse is our winner for convenience because it offers some customizable options you don’t see anywhere else. Unlike most pre-workouts that limit your caffeine choices, Legion Pulse offers two products with mostly identical ingredients, except that one includes caffeine and the other is caffeine-free. You can also decide how many servings you want to purchase at a time (between 10-21 servings) instead of being restricted to buying a one-month, three-month, or six-month supply, like with most other companies.

How our top recommendations compare

  Optimum Nutrition Alani Nu Powher Legion Pulse Transparent Labs Cellucor
Designed for women?  
Yes
Yes
     
30-day supply cost $29.99 $39.99 $45 $24.99 (10 servings) $39.99 (21 servings) $49.99 $29.99
Caffeine per serving 175mg 200mg 100mg 350mg or 0mg 180mg 150mg
Money-back guarantee length (days 30 30 90 365 60 60
Subscribe & save?  
Yes
 
Yes
 
Yes

What are pre-workout supplements?

A pre-workout supplement (also called “pre-workout”) is a dietary supplement you take before a workout. It can be a capsule, drinkable powder, gummy, or snack bar designed to enhance workout performance and speed recovery times. In general, taking pre-workout 30-60 minutes before working out can help with:

  • Exercise performance
  • Energy level
  • Muscle building and recovery
  • Blood flow
  • Oxygen delivery
  • Endurance
  • Metabolism

You can take pre-workout before almost any type of exercise to reap the benefits, including:

  • Weightlifting
  • Resistance training
  • Cardio
  • Running
  • HIIT
  • Cycling

Generally, pre-workout supplements come in two categories: those with caffeine and those without. Those without caffeine usually include other stimulants like citrulline malate, theacrine, alpha-GPC, or betaine, to give you energy while avoiding jittery feelings.

How pre-workout works

A pre-workout supplement’s ingredients enhance blood flow, energy production, and muscle recovery. This energy boost can help you work out harder and longer without feeling quickly fatigued or sore. While every pre-workout supplement has its unique formula, there are some common ingredients that you’ll see in many ingredient lists. We’ve outlined some of them below, including their benefits to your exercise routine.

Caffeine

Caffeine is used by athletes to enhance endurance, especially during long, intense workouts. It can improve focus, stamina, and motivation and reduce fatigue.

Beta-alanine

A review of multiple studies showed that beta-alanine improves workout performance, especially with high-intensity workouts. However, one side effect of beta-alanine is paraesthesia, which is a skin itch or tingling. Reducing the dose can mitigate this issue.

Beetroot

Beets are a superfood that have many healthy qualities. Pre-workout includes beetroot to extend workout stamina.

L-citrulline

L-citrulline is an amino acid included in pre-workout to help extend exercise duration and speed recovery.

Vitamin B

Studies show that if you are low in B vitamins, you may not be able to perform high-intensity exercise without fatigue.

Creatine

Creatine has been shown to speed recovery time and help repair muscles after intense workouts.

BCAA

BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids, including leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are essential amino acids, meaning your body does not produce them, and you must obtain them through your diet or supplements. BCAAs have been shown to extend workout duration by reducing muscle fatigue.

Designed for women

Most pre-workout supplements are beneficial regardless of your gender. You’ll notice in our recommendations that some of our top picks are explicitly marketed to women while others aren’t. The ingredients for those designed for women don’t tend to differ from those intended for everyone. Preferring a pre-workout marketed for women or a generic product is a matter of personal choice. Either way, you should choose the supplement that makes the most sense in your exercise regimen.

Is pre-workout a good choice for you?

A pre-workout supplement might be a good choice if you want to improve your workout stamina and reach higher fitness goals. You might also consider using pre-workout if you:

  • Are training for an event
  • Want to enhance workout performance
  • Get fatigued quickly while exercising

Only use pre-workout as a supplement to a healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet is best to prepare your body for exercise. You should use pre-workout to supplement (but not replace) healthy nutrition.

Who should avoid them

If you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants, you may want to avoid most pre-workouts. Many formulas use caffeine to give you that extra boost of energy. But if you know that caffeine leaves you feeling jittery or impacts your sleep, you may want to steer clear of supplements that use it.

If you don’t already eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet, you shouldn’t take pre-workout supplements. Even though they provide some vitamins and minerals, pre-workout supplements are meant to complement a healthy diet, not replace it.

Most pre-workout supplements are designed for generally healthy individuals. If you live with a chronic illness or have recent health issues or surgery, consult with your doctor. You should also avoid these supplements if you are pregnant or nursing.

Are pre-workout supplements safe?

Pre-workout supplements are generally safe for most people when taken as directed. Because the FDA does not yet regulate supplements, it’s important to pay attention to the information provided about the pre-workout to make sure it is safe for you. This can include certifications, third-party testing, and ingredient lists.

Many supplement companies manufacture their products in GMP-certified facilities, meaning that they are produced using high-quality standards. Many companies also use third-party testing to ensure product safety and publish those findings on their websites. If a supplement company doesn’t take any steps to demonstrate product safety, you may want to think twice about your purchase.

It’s also important to look at the full list of ingredients. Some companies highlight important components, but make sure you can identify every ingredient. This can help you avoid taking a supplement that includes allergens or may interact with your medications. Plus, it’s always good to consult with your doctor or nutritionist before taking any new supplement.

Because pre-workouts usually contain stimulants, it’s a good idea to try out the supplement before a single workout to see how it impacts your body. If you notice any adverse effects, you can always stop taking it. Some common side effects of pre-workout include:

  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Jitters
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tingling sensation

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Best for most women

Pros

  • High-quality manufacturing
  • Reputable company
  • Contains caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine
  • Four flavor options
  • 30-day return policy
  • Free shipping on orders over $40

Cons

  • No subscribe and save option
  • Orders only ship to the U.S.

Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Pre-Workout is our choice for best for most women because it contains straightforward ingredients and comes from a trusted and reputable brand in sports supplements. Optimum Nutrition has been making supplements for over 30 years and uses independent testing and high-quality manufacturing practices to ensure the safety of their products. In each serving of powder, Gold Standard includes:

  • Caffeine (175mg)
  • Creatine monohydrate (3g)
  • Beta-alanine (1.5g)

This supplement comes in blueberry lemonade, fruit punch, green apple, and watermelon candy flavors. It is designed to boost:

  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Endurance
  • Performance

Take Gold Standard 15-30 minutes before a workout by mixing one scoop into 6-8fl oz of water. For best results, use the supplement consistently and in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Price

One canister of Gold Standard costs $29.99, which is 30 servings or a one-month supply. Optimum Nutrition offers free delivery on orders over $40. If you sign up for the company’s newsletter, you can receive 15% off your first order. However, they do not provide subscribe and save options.

Customers can take advantage of a 30-day return policy, but at least 75% of the product must be unused for a full refund. Optimum Nutrition only ships orders placed in the U.S.

Alani Nu Pre-Workout

Best tasting

Pros

  • Choose from 13 unique flavors
  • Contains caffeine, L-citrulline, L-tyrosine, L-theanine, and beta-alanine
  • 30-day return policy for store credit
  • Subscribe and save for 5% off

Cons

  • High caffeine content (200mg/serving)
  • Contains beta-alanine, which may cause skin tingling

Alani Nu Pre-Workout earned its place as our best tasting pre-workout because this supplement comes in 13 delicious and unique flavors. Not only does Alani Nu prioritize the health benefits of pre-workout, but they also allow you to customize your own experience by selecting flavors that most appeal to you. Those flavors include:

  • Cosmic Stardust
  • Hawaiian Shaved Ice
  • Island Crush
  • Breezeberry
  • Rainbow Candy
  • Mimosa
  • Galaxy Lemonade
  • Carnival Candy Grape
  • Arctic White
  • Sour Kiwiberry
  • Sherbet Swirl
  • Don’t Be a Beach
  • Rocket Pop

In addition to flavor variety, Alani Nu Pre-Workout also includes a wide array of ingredients. Per serving, this pre-workout contains:

  • L-citrulline malate (6g)
  • Beta-alanine (1.6g)
  • L-tyrosine (500mg)
  • Caffeine (200mg)
  • L-theanine (200mg)

The caffeine in this supplement comes from Coffea arabica (standard coffee) extract.

The first time you use it, mix a one-half scoop into 6-8oz of water about 20-30 minutes before a workout. Determine how your body tolerates the supplement — particularly the high level of caffeine — before increasing your dose to a full scoop.

Price

Each container of Alani Nu Pre-workout costs $39.99 for 30 servings, which is a one-month supply. You can subscribe and save 5% ($37.99) to get a new container delivered every four weeks.

Alani Nu provides a 30-day return policy for store credit. They ship across the U.S. and internationally.

Powher Pre-Workout for Women

Best low-caffeine option

Pros

  • Low caffeine content
  • Contains vitamins B6 and B12, beetroot powder, L-tyrosine, and others
  • Can boost mental alertness and decrease fatigue
  • Manufactured in FDA-registered facility
  • Bulk savings also offer free shipping

Cons

  • Long ingredient list
  • High price tag

Powher Pre-Workout for Women is the best low-caffeine option because it contains only 100mg of caffeine per serving from a natural source (green coffee beans). The supplement uses what Powher calls a “low stimulant system” — a small amount of caffeine alongside a caffeine amplifier (called EnXtra) that enhances the caffeine’s effects without causing jitters.

Powher also contains several other potent ingredients:

  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Coconut water
  • Oxyjun
  • Rednite (beetroot powder)
  • L-tyrosine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Folic acid
  • Leucine

These ingredients help to:

  • Increase workout intensity
  • Boost focus and mental alertness
  • Enhance motivation
  • Decrease muscle fatigue

The supplement is manufactured in FDA-registered facilities to ensure high quality and safety, and it comes in pink lemonade flavor. To take, mix one scoop (10g) of powder with water and drink 30 minutes before working out.

Price

One bottle of Powher costs $45 for 30 servings, which is a one-month supply. You can also make bulk purchases to save a little bit of money.

  • Two bottles: $90 with free U.S. and U.K. shipping
  • Four bottles: $135 with free worldwide delivery and a 90-day money-back guarantee

Legion Pulse Natural Pre-Workout

Most customizable

Pros

  • Order pre-workout with or without caffeine
  • Includes potent ingredients
  • Provides four delicious flavor options
  • Subscribe and save 10%
  • Free shipping on all U.S. orders
  • 365-day money-back guarantee on first-time orders

Cons

  • Complicated ordering system — you can only order 10 or 21 servings
  • Highest level of caffeine (350mg/serving) in this guide

Legion Pulse Natural Pre-Workout is our most customizable formula because you have the option to order it with or without caffeine. If you order it with caffeine, it contains 350mg per serving, which is a hefty dose compared to other supplements in this guide. If you order it without caffeine, it is 100% stimulant-free while still containing all of the other ingredients in the stimulant version. Those ingredients include (per serving):

  • L-theanine (350mg)
  • Citrulline malate (8g)
  • Beta-alanine (3.6g)
  • Alpha-GPC (300mg)
  • Betaine (2.5g)

Legion Pulse uses all-natural ingredients and does not contain artificial food dyes or colors. They lab test all of their supplements for effectiveness and safety, and you can view these lab results on their website. You can order this supplement in four flavors: blue raspberry, strawberry margarita, arctic blast, or apple cider.

This pre-workout can help:

  • Increase energy without crashing
  • Improve mood and focus
  • Boost endurance
  • Reduce fatigue

The first time you use Legion Pulse, drink one scoop mixed with 10-12oz of water 15-30 minutes before working out. Assess how well your body tolerates this amount of the supplement and discontinue use if you notice any adverse side effects. If you handle the supplement well, you can increase your dose up to two scoops in 10-12oz of water.

Price

A one-time purchase of both the caffeinated and stimulant-free supplements costs $39.99 for 21 servings. This allows you one “trial serving” to see how your body reacts to the supplement, and then a ten-day supply (at two servings per day) after that. You can also order ten extra servings for $24.99 and join their subscription program to save 10%. We’ve mapped out those savings below.

  Standard cost Subscribe & Save cost
10-serving supply $24.99 $22.49
21-serving supply $39.99 $35.99

With the subscription program, you can select to have the supplement delivered every 30, 60, or 90 days. Legion Pulse provides a 365-day money-back guarantee on first-time purchases of a product. The company offers free shipping to the U.S. and on international orders over $199.

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre Workout

Best for weight loss

Pros

  • Ingredients help burn fat
  • Nine flavor options
  • Larger-than-average serving size (16.5g)
  • No artificial colors, additives, or sweeteners
  • 60-day refund policy

Cons

  • Long list of active ingredients
  • No subscribe and save option

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre Workout is our best choice for weight loss because the formula is specifically designed to help burn fat and prevent the loss of lean muscle. The supplement uses some familiar ingredients — like caffeine (180mg), L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and BCAA — but also includes a few unique ingredients that support weight loss and metabolic function:

All in all, this supplement contains 21 active ingredients. LEAN pre-workout does not contain dye, fillers, preservatives, additives, or artificial sweeteners. The product comes in nine flavors:

  • Cherry limeade
  • Blue raspberry
  • Green apple
  • Orange
  • Sour grape
  • Strawberry lemonade
  • Tropical punch
  • Watermelon
  • Sour peach

Take LEAN pre-workout 20-30 minutes before working out. To make sure the supplement works for you, mix a one-half scoop with 8-12fl oz of water on first use. After that, you can mix a full scoop with 16-24fl oz of water.

Price

A one-time purchase of a 30-day supply costs $49.99. There is no option to subscribe and save, but some product bundles are available.

Transparent Labs ships worldwide and offers free shipping in the U.S. for orders over $99. They have a 60-day refund policy for dietary supplements.

Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder

Best budget pick

Pros

  • Inexpensive one-time purchase and subscription rate
  • Free U.S. shipping over $55
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Comes in four flavors
  • Includes 150mg of caffeine/serving

Cons

  • Contains beta-alanine, which can cause skin tingling
  • Some customers complain about aftertaste

Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder is our best budget pick because you can order a 30-day supply for only $29.99 (one-time purchase) or $20.99 (subscribe and save option). Most of the supplements in our top picks cost between $40-$50 for 30 servings, making Cellucor the least expensive choice by far. Cellucor also has a generous 60-day money-back guarantee and offers free shipping on U.S. orders over $55.

Just because it is an inexpensive option does not mean that it lacks in quality and ingredients. Cellucor contains 150mg of caffeine per serving and is designed to:

  • Boost energy
  • Enhance endurance and pumps
  • Combat muscle fatigue

In addition to caffeine, the supplement includes Cellucor’s proprietary Explosive Energy Blend (425mg) that includes L-tyrosine, mucuna pruriens, and theacrine. The supplement also includes:

  • Vitamin C (250mg)
  • Vitamin B6 (500mcg)
  • Vitamin B12 (35mcg)
  • Beta-alanine (1.6g)
  • Creatine nitrate (1g)
  • L-arginine (1g)

Cellucor comes in four flavors: icy blue razz, fruit punch, pink lemonade, and strawberry margarita. Take one scoop mixed with 6fl oz of water 20-30 minutes before working out.

Price

A one-time purchase of 30 servings costs $29.99, and 60 servings cost $49.99. You can subscribe and save 30% off your first order, which sends you new pre-workout every 2-8 weeks. After your first order, the savings drop to 20%. We’ve put together a chart below so you can see exactly how much you’d save.

  Standard cost Subscribe & Save cost (first order) Subscribe & Save cost (second order and beyond)
30 servings $29.99 $20.99 $23.99
60 servings $49.99 $34.99 $39.99

Cellucor offers free shipping on subscriptions and orders over $55. They also provide a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Additional pre-workout supplements for women

With so many pre-workouts on the market, not all of them could make our top six. Below you’ll find a few other top brands that didn’t quite make our cut, but that could still be the best option for you.

FAQ: Pre-workout supplements for women

Does pre-workout make you gain weight?

The ingredients in most pre-workout supplements don’t make you gain weight. However, the effects of pre-workout on your body may cause weight gain. For example, if you can work out longer and harder because you take pre-workout, you may gain muscle, increasing the number on the scale. You may also require more calories if you’re exercising more. There are also some common pre-workout ingredients (like creatine) that increase water retention, which might artificially inflate your weight.

Should I use pre-workout if I want to lose weight?

Most pre-workout supplements do not burn fat, but they can help you manage your weight. If you work out longer and harder, you are burning more calories, which can lead to weight loss. One clinical study of the effects of pre-workout showed that resulting exercise endurance helped increase lean muscle mass, which means less fat overall. Some pre-workout supplements are designed for weight loss and include ingredients that can help burn fat.

Do I really need pre-workout?

Pre-workout is not necessary for overall health or exercise performance. Most experts agree that a well-balanced, nutritious diet gives you the same (or better) results as pre-workout. The main benefit of pre-workout is its convenience. Instead of sitting down to a full meal before exercising or ordering another coffee, you can drink one pre-workout beverage to feel energized enough for a longer, more intense workout.

How long before a workout should you take pre-workout?

In general, you should take pre-workout 30-60 minutes before exercising. Each supplement is different, so make sure to read and follow the label instructions for the supplement you purchase.

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service or product we review. Our content provides you, our readers, with an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality and the latest medical evidence and health standards. We ask ourselves two simple questions: Would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job? Would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

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