Getting in the gym and building a firm and tone body is a goal sought out by millions of women across the world. Whether you're in line at the squat rack or working those abs for the perfect beach body, the right pre-workout could make a huge difference between an intense and focused workout, and a sloppy one.
Because women are lifting barbells and getting in line at the squat racks, the need for a female version of strength nutrition has become its own industry.
Surely, women shouldn’t have different nutritional needs for training, right? The answer is a resounding no. The difference between a man and woman’s body is night and day, and it applies to what their body needs when it comes to building muscle and training in general.
Because women have different nutritional needs, they also have an entire category of supplements just for them, with pre-workouts spearheading the competition.
So for this article, we’ll be reviewing what we think are the top 10 pre workouts for women. We’ll also be going in depth with the principles behind using pre workouts as well as the ingredients.
- 1 Quick List of the Top 10 Best Pre-Workouts for Women
- 2 Get Your Pre Workout Game Through Diet
- 3 The Best Pre Workout Ingredients
- 4 The 10 Best Pre-Workouts For Women
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 References:
Quick List of the Top 10 Best Pre-Workouts for Women
In case you’re in a hurry, here are the top 10 pre workouts for women. These are personally picked and offer performance as well as value for money. We managed to evaluate more than a handful of well-deserving brands, and filtered them all down to just ten, so you can be sure that any of the products listed here are bonafide winners.
Get Your Pre Workout Game Through Diet
As with anything supplement related, the true best way to get your pre workout nutrition is through actual food sources. We’re talking about meal planning, nutrient dense foods, and carefully mixed beverages. Of course, you can always consult a meal planner for when and what to eat, but it’s always good to make sure your pre workout food has the following components:
- Carbs: Carb-based foods are good for heavy lifting and it’s because of the way our muscles feed on glycogen, one of the key compounds carbs turn into when the body processes it. Glycogen is our muscles’ main source of energy which is important for those exercise sessions where you need to break PRs or just lift a ton of weight for a short amount of time. When you do some heavy lifting, our body’s glycogen stores naturally get depleted, so it would make sense to make sure you have a steady supply on the get-go, hence why it’s a good pre workout.
- Protein: You can’t go a day without seeing someone at the gym chugging down a whole bottle of protein just before their turn at the squat rack and this makes sense. Studies show that taking protein before exercise actually improves exercise performance. More than an added fuel source, taking protein before lifting can also accelerate muscle protein synthesis after exercise. More than gains and lifting prowess, you also get to optimize muscle recovery. There’s no real downside to taking protein, other than maybe throwing up because you took too much, in which case don’t do that.
- Fat: Keto fans rejoice: Fat is your body’s go to fuel for those days when you’re doing moderate intensity workouts for extended periods. You can take these fats in the form of extra virgin coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and even good ‘ol fashioned peanut butter.
- Instant energy: Carbs, fat, and protein are the body’s key macros for a lot of processes related to performance, but if you simply want to wake yourself up and get going fast, nothing really beats a good cup of coffee. Coffee lights your systems up, gets your metabolism going, makes you feel focused and ready, and has next to no calories. So if you want to get in the mood for a hard lift, just have a freshly brewed cup (or a cold brew, we don’t judge here) and you’re good to go.
- Water: This may sound like boring advice, but the last thing you want to happen is for you to collapse mid squat because you were dehydrated. More than ¾ of the body is made of water, so it’s important to try and maintain that level during intense workouts. After all, we lose a lot of water through sweat, so it’s always good to have a backup supply of water or we risk overheating and even cramping.
While getting nutrients from food is the best way to go about your pre workout, it’s not exactly the most efficient. When we eat, the body has to do all these biochemical processes before we actually get to use it, with some saying to wait at least three hours after eating before you workout.
And for a lot of people, they just can’t wait that long. Hence, the demand for pre workout supplements. Before we dive in on the best pre workouts to take, let’s first go over the key ingredients to watch out for.
The Best Pre Workout Ingredients
The following info can get a bit technical, but it's worth a read if you're interested in getting the most out of your pre-workout supplements.
Creatine is perhaps the most popular pre workout ingredient in the world, probably next to caffeine if not just as good. Creatine can be considered the Swiss Knife of pre workout ingredients because it can do A LOT of good stuff for the body.
- Help the body produce more energy.
- Increase the number of sets or reps you do.
- Improve overall muscle growth.
- Reduce protein breakdown which can lead to muscle loss.
Some argue that creatine works best as a post workout ingredient thanks largely due to its recovery benefits, but it’s actually versatile enough to be taken as both pre and post workout.
Citrulline is the best pump ingredient we have on the market. It can help the body produce more nitric oxide which leads to better blood flow. Better blood flow then leads to improved nutrient absorption as well as increased oxygen uptake - a critical component of heavy lifting. So essentially, the more you feel pumped, the better your lifts would be.
Other nitric oxide boosters you will see a lot in pre workouts are arginine, red beet, and agmatine sulfate. However, the best form will always be citrulline, specifically citrulline malate.
Hate it or love it, caffeine is simply one of the best pre workout ingredients. We all know what it can do for energy and focus which explains why it’s normally added in just about every mainstream pre workout brand.
However, we do realize that women may love their coffee, but some aren’t exactly comfy with the idea of directly injecting their bloodstream with caffeine, especially because of the side effects. This is why we added a few “stim-free” options in our supplements list.
Beta alanine is known to help delay fatigue by helping the body produce more carnosine. You see, when the body is near its limits, it secretes lactic acid to the overused muscles so as to prevent potential injury. This is all well and good, but in the context of “breaking past your plateaus,” you don’t want this to happen early.
That is where carnosine comes in. Carnosine acts as a buffer to lactic acid. The more carnosine you produce, the less of an effect lactic acid has and the longer you can train. This is why beta alanine is pretty neat for someone who plans on doing endurance training or light to moderate lifts for multiple reps per set.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are the essential amino acids leucine, lysine, and valine. These three the exact amino acids known to promote muscle protein synthesis (aka gains), help boost the fat burning process, help delay the onset of fatigue (but not as good as beta alanine), and even reduce overall muscle soreness.
Because of their utility, most fitness enthusiasts take pure BCAAs especially because they can come out expensive if they’re mixed in a blend, but they can also unlock a pre workout blend’s true potential.
Some consider whey protein as a post workout, but a lot of companies have been pumping out whey protein blends as part of a pre workout. It’s because some research suggests whey protein works regardless of when you take it, so that’s always a plus for those who like to take everything before they workout.
This is more of a nootropic than a pre workout, but it does have a place in a pre workout blend if it also contains caffeine. As you know, caffeine does have a bad rep for having side effects such as jitters, crashing, headaches, and sometimes even anxiety. Theanine is known to promote calmness, but also offset some of the side effects done by caffeine. This is why in many pre workouts, you always see caffeine and theanine almost at the same dosage.
Nootropics are specific ingredients meant to improve brain function and brain health. These are supplements often marketed towards students or people who have trouble trying to learn something new or those who get distracted easily. While nootropics are almost exclusively used for learning and memorizing, some pre workout brands have begun incorporating these brain supplements for their focus benefits and general alertness.
These are your herbals known to provide anti-stress benefits. While they do not directly influence the training per se, they do a good job at making sure your mind is free from anxiety and frustrations, allowing you to workout in a more relaxed state.
Some of the popular adaptogens are rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha.
Vitamins and Minerals
While not exactly what you would call “key” ingredients, vitamins and minerals do play a role in preparing the body for a tough workout. Not to mention we lose a lot of our vitamin and mineral stores when the body uses them for energy conversion, recovery, and when we sweat.
Vitamins such as B complex (B6, B12, etc.) are known to help with energy metabolism which can indirectly affect physical performance. Minerals such as sodium and potassium are known to help with hydration as well as prevent muscle cramps.
For women, there is also value to a supplement when they have folate and iron.
Black pepper extract
Black pepper may be known as a spice that just makes food taste better, but it actually improves a supplement’s absorption. Black pepper extract is concentrated for its piperine content. Piperine is known to boost ingredient absorption by up to 200%!
Let’s say you have 100 mg of ingredient X and the body, after digestion and other processes that “destroy” it, only gets to absorb 25 mg total. If you add piperine to it, you can possibly absorb up to 50 mg. If ingredient X was a fatigue buster, you could theoretically train twice as long.
Boosting absorption to double what you’re normally getting can go a long way for anyone who wants to make the most out of their expensive pre workouts.
The 10 Best Pre-Workouts For Women
#1 Performance Lab SPORT
About Performance Lab SPORT
Performance Lab SPORT may seem like any other pre workout for women, but look closer and you’ll realize the ingredients are all premium and branded. It contains Citrulline from Kyowa Quality, Creatine from Creapure, Beta alanine from CarnoSyn, and even Iron from NutriGenesis. Performance Lab definitely didn’t save money in creating this pre workout for women.
- Premium Ingredients
- Decent dosages for a capsule-based pre workout.
- Contains high quality iron and sodium (from Himalayan Pink Salt)
- Stim-free for those who don’t like caffeine.
- Capsules are prebiotic-friendly.
- A lot of capsules per serving.
#2 4 Gauge
About 4 Gauge
4 Gauge has been on everybody’s pre workout radar for years, and with good reason. Not only does the design look cool, but it also contains generously dosed pre workout ingredients. Citrulline Malate comes in at 6,000 mg, creatine at 1,000, and even has the fabled theanine and Caffeine combo. On top of being a bonafide workout booster, 4 Gauge also manages to squeeze in a bit of fat burning with Acetyl L Carnitine, good ‘ol fashioned pumps with Red Beet, and a stress reducer in Rhodiola.
- Good dosages
- Focused formulation
- Overall completeness and versatility
- Great theanine-caffeine ratio
- No premium ingredients
Altius is one of those long standing pre workouts that have stood the test of time. There are many pre workout users who swear by it, and when you look at the formula as well as the prestige the brand has built, you can’t blame them. Altius contains hefty (as in A LOT) amounts of critical pre workout ingredients, covering all bases related to performance and maximum output.
- Maximum output potential
- Great serving size and dose
- Complete for physical performance and focus
- Lots of energy
- Attractive price
- Potential side-effects due to caffeine dosage
#4 Blackwolf Trail
About Blackwolf Trail
Blackwolf Trail is one of the pre workouts on this list that can act as a semi-multivitamins and minerals because of what each scoop contains in terms of nutrient content. Then, it also contains whey protein isolate sourced from soya, which is always great if you have problems consuming dairy. It also has a good dose of BCAAs as well as beta alanine, creatine, and good enough caffeine for overall energy.
- Plenty of nutrition for a pre workout
- Great for muscle growth and recovery
- Decent caffeine dosage
- No iron despite claiming to be a female pre workout
- Lack of branded ingredients
#5 FitMiss Delight
About FitMiss Delight
FitMiss is a subsidiary company of the supplement giant Muscle Pharm. As the name implies, it’s a company that sells supplements for women. FitMiss Delight is one of their premier brands and positions itself as a pre workout that focuses on protein intake and “superfoods.”
If you also notice, FitMiss Delight is actually not a strict pre workout per se, as it’s a protein powder.
However, we put it here over its pre workout counterpart (FitMiss Ignite), because protein powders are essentially pre workouts to if you take them before you exercise. Not to mention protein powders and pre workouts have similar functions when it comes to promoting performance and muscle recovery.
Then of course, FitMiss Ignite’s formula isn’t exactly what we consider Top 10 material, as the label not only uses a proprietary blend, but there is also a strong possibility that many of the ingredients are under-dosed, rendering it a weaker formula than FitMiss Delight.
- Superfood blend is a healthy innovation
- Decent amount of whey protein
- High quality B12
- Digestive enzymes for better absorption
- Proprietary blend for the superfoods
- Artificially flavored
Ascent is a protein pre-workout powder with added electrolytes and caffeine for performance and hydration. It doesn’t boast much of a formula, but it makes up for it with an easy to swallow serving size and high quality whey protein isolate.
- Electrolytes and protein combine for better absorption and hydration
- 150 mg caffeine is just good enough for an energy boost without the jitters
- Only 35 calories per serving
- Pricey for a protein powder with a bit of caffeine
- Too simple for a typical pre workout
#7 White Flash
About White Flash
White Flash is another one of those supplements that manages to stay relevant despite being out for a long time. It boasts of hefty doses of citrulline, betaine, and a whole lot of caffeine. Because of the smart formulation, it’s no wonder White Flash is still one of the best in the business.
- Good dosages for key ingredients
- Lots of pumps per serving
- Caffeine dose is pretty good
- Caffeine may be too high for some
- Should use citrulline malate instead of plain citrulline
- Could use creatine or beta alanine for recovery.
#8 Transparent Labs STIM-FREE
About Transparent Labs STIM-FREE
Going stim-free was thought to be a risky move for a supplement company, but with more people going “clean” and natural, the stim-free market has grown and expanded. One of the companies to take advantage of the stim-free hype is Transparent Labs and their very own “Stim Free.” Hefty dosing, lots of pumps, BCAA infused - going stim-free didn’t make Transparent Labs’ product weak by any means.
- Well rounded formula
- Transparent label
- With nootropics and black pepper extract
- Contains energy boosters that aren’t stimulant
- Premium price
- Some may find it weak because of lack of stimulants
#9 Natural Pre
About Natural Pre
Natural Pre may not seem like a power house type of pre workout, but it’s actually made for women who like a more minimalist approach to serving size. What it lacks in overall firepower, it makes up with being a fat burner-pre workout hybrid.
- Can function as both fat burner and pre workout
- Good caffeine and theanine ratio
- Contains premium ingredients
- Has rauwolscine to boost caffeine efficacy
- Weak relative to others in this list
- Being a hybrid means it’s not as good as a pure fat burner or pre workout
- Pricey for serving size
#10 Naked Energy
About Naked Energy
Rounding up our list is Naked Energy. As the name implies, Naked Energy is a pre workout that wants to stay as natural as possible, even going as far as adding caffeine sourced from unroasted coffee beans instead of adding the cheap, synthetic version caffeine anhydrous. The dosages aren’t really impressive, but it makes up for it by having up to 50 servings per tub, equivalent to 100 scoops!
- Lots of servings
- Affordable price for servings
- Simple formula with high quality vitamins and minerals
- No fluff or artificial ingredients
- Only four key ingredients, one of which is caffeine
- Is relatively weak for a pre workout
These are the top 10 list of pre workouts for women. Regardless of what brand you pick, you are sure to get a worthwhile experience matched with praise-worthy results. If you have other picks or brands in mind, please don't hesitate to reach out to us with your favorites!
If you enjoyed this list, be sure to also check out our top 10 pre-workouts for pump. As always, we work hard in our research to provide you with some of the best supplements on the market. Thanks for stopping by!
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