These days, pre-workout can seem as ubiquitous in gyms as protein powder, creatine, and other popular exercise supplements.

As the name suggests, “pre-workout” - often sold as a powder to mix with water - aims to prepare your body for strenuous physical activity with an ample supply of stimulating and muscle-boosting ingredients. 

But what are these ingredients? How do they contribute to longer, more productive exercise? And what is the best pre-workout for you?

Let’s answer these questions and more as we explore the essentials of pre-workout, helping you find the safest and most effective ways to fuel your time in the gym:

Basic Ingredients

The exact makeup of a pre-workout formula depends on the specific supplement in question. High-quality products, like Ultimate Nutrition’s Pre Gold, offer a greater mix of ingredients to take your workouts to the next level than weaker alternatives.

Still, there are a few types of common ingredients found in most options on the market:

what is pre-workout | ultimate nutrition


Stimulants are found in nearly all pre-workout supplements.

The most prevalent stimulant in pre-workout is caffeine, which can improve physical endurance, increase fat-burning, and boost energy levels.

Though less common, there are also pre-workout supplements without the typical 150-300 mg of caffeine per serving. These alternative pre-workout formulas, while less energizing, are suitable for those who avoid the stimulant for any reason.


Taurine is a sulfonic acid found in certain meats, fish, dairy products, and energy drinks/workout supplements.

This organic compound is potentially beneficial before exercise because it can inhibit muscle fatigue, enhance muscle contraction, improve oxygen intake, and boost strength over short periods. 


Creatine is an organic compound used to supplement exercise.

While many people take high-quality versions of this supplement - like Ultimate Nutrition’s Creatine Monohydrate -  individually, others seek pre-workout formulas infused with creatine.

The potential benefits of creatine to exercise are numerous: increased energy in muscle cells, faster muscle growth, faster muscle recovery, reduced fatigue, enhanced performance in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and more.

Branch Chain Amino Acids

The Branch Chain Amino Acids (leucine, valine, isoleucine) are essential nutrients that can be very beneficial before, during, and after exercise.

When taken as part of a workout or dietary supplement, these amino acids often aid athletic performance by stimulating muscle growth, mitigating delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and reducing exercise-related fatigue.


Beta-Alanine is a staple of many effective pre-workout powders.

This amino acid can aid your training regimen by reducing fatigue, increasing endurance during high-intensity interval training, and speeding up recovery time after a long workout.


There is a range of vitamins found in popular pre-workout supplements, including:

  • Vitamin B1: can reduce fatigue and lessen recovery time
  • Vitamin B2: can reduce muscle pain/soreness and support recovery
  • Vitamin B5: can support natural energy levels
  • Vitamin B6: can improve metabolism and boost energy levels
  • Vitamin C: can promote energy and support muscle/tissue growth and repair
  • How Pre-Work Out Works

    Many people know what pre-workout is, but far fewer understand how it works:

    Provides Energy

    At its core, a pre-workout supplement energizes you for a workout, enhances your focus and concentration, and helps ease the toll of vigorous exercise on your mental/physical capacities.

    Each time you consume an effective pre-workout supplement, your body receives a jolt of powerful energy due to its stimulants. These stimulants perk up your mind and muscles, offering mental and physical fuel to sustain you for an efficient, effective workout. 

    This energy manifests not only in your ability to physically complete exercises but also in your capacity to focus on proper form and efficient use of your targeted muscle group(s). 

    Furthermore, it reduces your susceptibility to fatigue, making it easier to complete lengthy, intense training.

    Promotes Muscle Strengthening and Recovery

    In addition to energizing you, a well-developed pre-workout supplement enhances your ability to build strong, healthy muscles that recover quickly and fully after a workout.

    When taken alongside a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle, the ingredients in effective pre-workouts can support weight loss and the development of lean muscle, aid the ability of muscles to withstand intense training, and delay/reduce muscle fatigue after exercise.   

    When taken together,, these benefits can increase your raw power levels for the entirety of your workout, helping you improve your performance in the gym.

    While even the best pre-workout supplement (see below) won’t take you from average gym-goer to Olympic athlete on its own, it can help you safely grow and protect your muscles with minimal side effects.

    man completes rope exercise using pre-workout

    The BEST Pre-Workout: Ultimate Nutrition’s Pre Gold

    Ultimate Nutrition’s team of scientists has pioneered the next generation of pre-workout: Pre Gold.

    This innovative supplement covers far more than just the energy boost of the average “stim-bomb,” equipping you with the necessary PUMP, ENERGY, and POWER for an explosive workout:

    Nitric oxide support and blood flow optimization are essential components of modern training. Clinical studies show the efficacy of L-Citrulline, a precursor to arginine, in increasing plasma nitrate levels and nitric oxide availability to optimize pumps during workouts. Research has also shown that supplementation with Potassium Nitrate resulted in a ~846% increase in maximum power output in athletes compared to placebo. Together, these Pre Gold ingredients form a powerful duo to improve vascular conductance, delivering more oxygen to muscles when they need it most. 

    Obviously, no pre-workout formula is complete without an energy source. Ultimate Nutrition’s pre-workout utilizes a unique blend of ergogenic aids to provide lasting energy.

    Synephrine, the active ingredient in Citrus Aurantium, supports the increased energy expenditure associated with intense exercise while promoting lean muscle development. Concurrently, a time-released blend of Caffeine and DiCaffeine Malate delivers a potent mix of explosiveness and intensity. 

    This two-stage energy matrix increases energy expenditure by 21.5% in the first hour of training. The second energy phase propels athletes to power through the final stages of intense training. Research shows a sustained energy potential with an additional 10% increase in energy for the second hour of exercise

    To enhance the energy matrix’s intensity, our supplement also features a clinically-effective dose of beta-alanine for ultimate power output. To amplify these effects, the addition of Dicaffeine Malate increases the total weight lifted and elevates peak power in a workout. 

    For an extra layer of focus, we add the synergistic pairing of caffeine and taurine to our mixture. Last but not least, doses of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C support maximum performance and ensure adequate vitamin replenishment. 

    Pre Gold comes in two delicious flavors, Blue Raspberry and Cherry Limeade, with 30 servings per 250g container at $29.99.

    Ben Tuschman