Make Your Own Pre-Workout

Make Your Own Pre-Workout

Pre-workout. The superhuman energy concoction of the supplement world. While I’m not personally a fan of purchasing 32 different types of supplements in the forms of powders and pills in order to achieve a perfect workout, perfect diet, and perfect recovery, some supplements have their uses.

A pre-workout supplement is one that is, as the name implies, taken before going to the gym. Its purpose is to pump you up before your workout; to get your blood pumping and excite your entire body from head to toe, especially when you feel too tired or not amped enough to deadlift 3x your bodyweight. A little pre-workout goes a long way. All of a sudden you’ll be doing extra sets, extra reps, and more weight – which translates to increase productivity overall.

The downside however, besides the awful crash at the end of your routine, is that pre-workouts come with a heavy hit on the old wallet.  They’re packed with so many ingredients, their cost is unnecessarily driven up. Pre-workout supplements should be easy and simply to make. If you research enough pre-workout powders, you’ll learn that they all have some primary ingredients in common – these are the only ingredients that matter. Here’s how to make your own pre-workout supplement.


Here the primary ingredients all or most pre-workouts have in common. These are the important movers without any fluff.

Caffeine  (100-200 mg)

The primary ingredient that wakes us up in the morning when we have a cup of coffee.  Caffeine improves mental alertness, focus, and general body coordination. It wakes our bodies up and keeps them going.  The trick is to start with a lower dose and keep increasing as your tolerance builds up, but don’t end up taking so much that your whole body shakes and you can’t sleep for four days.

Creatine (5 g)

Creatine monohydrate has been extensively researched and proven to improve strength by aiding cellular function.  It helps not only the body’s muscles, but also the brain, bones, and liver and may have a slight effect on alertness. This is such a staple supplement, it’s been introduced into many protein powders as well.

Beta-Alanine (2400 mg)

A third common ingredient in pre-workouts, beta-alanine, has been shown to improve muscle mass. Improvements in workout endurance has also been found to be an effect of this supplement. Large doses need to be avoided because a common side effect will be a big “tingling” feeling throughout the body.

L-Arginine or L-Citrulline (6 g)

Both of these supplements increase nitric oxide production in the body, which improves blood flow to the muscles. This translates into a higher level of endurance during workouts and a reduction of fatigue.  They have also been shown to reduce muscles soreness and help recovery after a workout. Great for helping battle the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after a tough workout. Studies have compared the two similar supplements and found that L-Citrulline is more effective at getting L-Arginine into the blood than the L-Arginine supplement itself.  Go figure.


This is main reason behind creating your own pre-workout. There’s no reason to waste money on pre-workout packed with all kinds of useless fluff and junk when we can cut the price of mixing our own with the ingredients we actually need. Buying in bulk is key. Let’s put it all together and see how much we’re actually spending. All the prices here are based off of pricing from early May 2015. Prices are subject to change.


I’m not going to recommend powdered caffeine by any means. That stuff is too dangerous to overdose on, so the precautions and buy either the 100 mg or 200 mg pill versions. Caffeine is really cheap. I’m talking, 200-300 coffees packed into a small bottle for the price of a venti mocha frappuccino from Starbucks. I found that the cheapest 200 mg options are from Natrol at $5.99 for 100 pills (6 cents per pill), Jet-Alert at $5.54 for 90 pills (6 cents per pill), and ProLab at $7.89 for 100 pills (8 cents per pill)


The best value I’ve found for creatine online is from BulkSupplements at $18.96 for 1 kg (2 cents per gram). Optimum Nutrition, the more popular brand, is also pretty close at $15.39 for 600 g (3 cents per gram).


Beta-alanine I’d rather buy in powder form than capsule form so I can vary how much I use as. Some of the best products for the cheapest price come from Muscle Feast at $13.99 for 250 g (6 cents per gram), BulkSupplements at $15.96 for 250 g (6 cents per gram), and PrimaForce at $17.58 for 200 g (9 cents per gram).


While I prefer to buy L-citrulline over L-arginine, I’ve found that the best price is from BulkSupplements at $14.96 for 250 g (6 cents per gram). Because L-arginine has a less absorption rate than L-citrulline, it’s recommended to be paired with the salt Alpha-ketoglutarate, commonly known as AAKG, which helps with absorption. Luckily, AAKG is in the same price range.


I’ve found again that BulkSupplements continuously has the best value L-citrulline on the market, which right now for pure L-citrulline is $17.96 for 250 g (8 cents per gram). They also offer L-citrulline DL-malate at a 2:1 ratio for $19.96 for 250 g (8 cents per gram). Citrulline malate is touted to have an even faster absorption rate than plain citrulline.

Put that all together, and you’re down to around $0.82 cents per one serving of pre-workout. And since you bought in bulk, it’s going to last you months longer than any other pre-workout that only offers 25 or 50 servings.


One step: mix it all together with your favorite Kool-Aid or Gatorade powder or whatever other flavoring you’re into. Keep it sugar free though. Drink it all up 30-45 minutes before you start working out so all the ingredients have time to be absorbed by your body.

The only downsides to making your own pre-workout is that it’s not pre-made and they may not taste as great as the pre-workout powders you buy. However, the upside is that you’re putting into your pre-workout only the safest ingredients that you want inside your body and it all comes at a third of the price. All you have to do is search or some of the various online supplement marketplaces that sell the ingredients.

And that’s how you make your own pre-workout.  I’d love to hear some of your own pre-workout recipes and any other ingredients you included in your recipes.  Here are some others:




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John Sweatman
John Sweatman
4 years ago

HOLY SHIT! Just came across this article. I started making my own pre-workout after countless hours of research… This is EXACTLY what I mix up. I do use a bit more Citrulline Malate and instead of a caffeine pill I have coffee, purely because I love coffee. I mix my stuff in water first thing in the morning so I start my day with water while I make coffee and then I’m off to the gym. This pre-workout mix is amazing and I’ll never go back to any others. GREAT ARTICLE!!!!

4 years ago

“mix it all together with your favorite Kool-Aid or Gatorade powder or whatever other flavoring you’re into. Keep it sugar free though.” Ummm, I got some bad news for you…

Henrik Backer-Meurke
Henrik Backer-Meurke
7 years ago

Just published an article about transparency in the fitness community. Check it out