Considering what the best pre workout supplements are would be like considering what type of fuel to put into a car before embarking on a long, grueling road trip. But really, consider the question: ‘What are the best pre workout supplements?’ Not quite simple to answer, at this point. Of course, one needs to consider the body’s needs during a workout, so an analogous question would be: ‘What would my body (and mind) need during a workout?’ Answering this question will naturally point towards the best pre workout supplements.

The first thing that comes into mind when assessing what the body needs pre workout is energy. Any moving body needs energy to exert an effort; to fulfill its work. It’s simple as that: no energy, no work; which equates to a poor workout. There are a number of supplements that either give energy or release a person’s supply of stored energy. The most basic would be caffeine. And while it is not of good advice to guzzle down a cappuccino before running a 20k, the advancements in sports science research and development affords the current crop of athletes a readily-ingestible form of caffeine, in optimal doses, packaged in pill form. Caffeine provides an energy boost by blocking the neurotransmitter Adenosine, a natural calming substance. Blocking this soothing matter puts the athlete on the edge, so it is also prudent to never exceed the recommended dosage.

One cannot go on talking about the best pre workout supplements without mentioning the amino acid arginine. Arginine is known to promote vasodilatation, otherwise known as the expanding of veins. This, of course, promotes better blood flow, which in turn means oxygen is better transported through the body. Better oxygen flow stimulates not only better function during workouts, but also better recovery after workouts, which places arginine at the top of the pre workout supplement choices. And it’s been more than a favorite—arginine is a mainstay on athletes’ and bodybuilders’ supplement stacks.

But perhaps there is no single best pre workout supplement to use; maybe they work best used in combinations. A study done by Tipton, Miller, Rasmussen, and associates (2001) published in the American Journal of Physiology and Endocrinology Metabolism found that athletes who took a pre workout shake made up of protein and carbohydrates consumed immediately before the workout had a higher rate of anabolism and a lower rate of catabolism compared to those given a placebo. These findings are interesting, since the aforementioned arginine can be derived from protein. If anything, the study proves that the best pre workout supplements are those whose ingredients work synergistically, where the whole is more than the sum of its ingredients.