When we first started this list of the absolute best non-stimulant pre-workouts, it was pretty scarce. At that time, not many supplement companies were putting out non-stimulant formulas. In fact, the term “pre-workout” had practically become synonymous with “stimulant overload”. We’re talking about the days of Jack3d, 1MR, and all those other ultra-concentrated heavy-stim pre-workouts.
Originally, this list featured only 5 supplements because, quite frankly, we couldn’t find 10 non-stimulant pre-workout supplements that:
- Contained research-backed ingredient
- Contained clinical doses of those ingredients
- Did more than just provide “pumps”
In recent years, however, we’ve seen an explosion of non-stimulant, non-stimulant pre-workouts. More and more people are realizing that they don’t need to get all jacked up on Caffeine and/or other stimulants to have a great workout.
Don’t get us wrong…A nice Caffeine rush is great for things like:
- Increasing energy and focus
- Encouraging fat-loss
- Finding motivation to train hard
But there are plenty of reasons why someone would opt out of using it. The most common reasons you might consider a non-stimulant pre-workout supplement are:
- You work late and train at night (and like to sleep)
- Caffeine (and other stimulants) make you jittery/anxious
- You already drink a lot of Caffeine. It’s just too much.
Of course, there’s an endless list of reasons why you might not use a stimulant-powered pre-workout supplement but we don’t have time to list them all.
The point is this…
If you’re in the market for a non-stimulant pre-workout supplement, you’re in luck! There are actually quite a few that have what it takes. Like every category of supplements, the stim-free pre-workout category is still full of pseudo-scientific nonsense that doesn’t actually work. That’s why we created this list.
We analyzed hundreds of supplements to finally arrive at this list of the absolute best caffeine/stimulant-free pre-workouts using. What criteria did we use? We thoguht you’d never ask…
OUR CRITERIA IS SIMPLE…
When it comes to evaluating any supplement–whether it be a fat-burner, pre-workout, or protein supplement–There are only a few things that actually matter. As it turns out, shiny packaging isn’t one them! Although which non-stimulant pre-workout you prefer is ultimately a matter of opinion, there are some objective qualities that can be used to determine whether it’s worth taking.
We use the following criteria to weed out the bad supplements and focus on the ones that actually work. If it doesn’t adhere to ALL of these criteria, it doesn’t deserve a spot on this list…
The stated ingredients have all been studied extensively (preferably in humans) and have been PROVEN effective for the stated purpose. There are thousands of ingredients used in dietary supplements that have never shown the slightest bit of efficacy in any study, or worse, have been proven INEFFECTIVE in studies but are still sold with false claims attached to them.
Unfortunately, the use of these ingredients remains rampant due to the unwillingness of supplement companies to stay current with the research and admit they were wrong. If you pumped out a million bottles of Garcinia Cambogia and then read three studies that prove it doesn’t work, you’d probably just ignore them too…
But the fact is scientific research is constantly evolving. It’s time we ditched ingredients like Arginine, which science has revealed to be ineffective, and swap it for Citrulline, which science has revealed VERY effective.
Of course, these two ingredients are only examples. There are hundreds more out there which have proven ineffective but are still in use because people just don’t know the difference…But then again that’s the point of this site: education. We love good challenge.
CLINICAL DOSES OF THOSE INGREDIENTS
The supplement contains ingredients at the same doses used in the studies in which were proven effective. It’s not enough to just use research-backed ingredients. Those ingredients must also be dosed at a level we know is effective (based on the studies).
Many companies try to get away with listing “research-backed” ingredients on the label, but under-dose them and bank on the fact that the average consumer won’t know the difference.
Dosing is everything. It’s more important than the ingredients themselves if you think about it. At 5g/day, Creating is a highly effective, reliable muscle-builder. At 1g/day, it does nothing.
The more extensively a supplement has been studied, the more we know about its optimal dose. Often times we refer to this dose as the “clinical dose” but more often it’s a “clinical range”. The only way to know for sure if a particular ingredient is as effective as it was in studied is if the dose falls within the clinical range.
Be careful about companies throwing around the word “clinically dose” too. Many supplement companies put the term “clinically dosed” on their packaging or advertising, but if you read the fine print, it’s really “per two servings”, meaning it’s only half clinically dosed. If that’s not unethical, what is?
100% TRANSPARENT LABELS
The manufacturer doesn’t hide behind proprietary blends and instead discloses the dose of each individual ingredient. In the early days of the supplement industry, supplement companies used to group all the ingredients together into one “proprietary blend” so that they didn’t have to list the doses of each ingredient.
The reason they said they did it is was so that competitors wouldn’t know the exact formula…To be absolutely clear, that’s a load of BS!
The reason it’s not a valid excuse is simply because the studies in which any ingredient was proven effective are publicly accessible, meaning which ingredients and at which doses they work the best is common knowledge. There’s nothing proprietary about any company’s proprietary blend. Don’t fall for it.
The only reason to use a Proprietary Blend is if you have something to hide and your customers are too stupid to ask questions. Any reputable brand has adopted a transparent labeling approach at this point, but there are still plenty that hide behind Proprietary Blends. As a consumer you should NEVER buy any product with a proprietary blend. If enough people do that, they’ll cease to exist.
Needless to say, we disregard any pre-workout supplement with a proprietary blend. How could we evaluate it if the brand won’t even tell us whats in it? You’ll notice each product below features a full Supplement Facts panel, so you can see for yourself that each ingredient is dosed appropriately.
FOLLOW THE SCIENCE AND YOU CAN’T GO WRONG
Our approach is purely scientific because science, after all, is the only way to really determine what works and what doesn’t. A lot of people get wrapped up in marketing and forget the simple fact that:
How effective a supplement is depends on how effective each ingredient in it is.
There’s not magic going on…
Once you understand the science behind the ingredients in a given supplement–in this case we’re talking pre-workouts–it’s easy to tell which ones are worth using and which ones belong in the trash. If the ingredient(s) in a supplement haven’t been proven to work. they probably don’t. That’s why we disregarded all products that don’t abide by the criteria listed above to come up with this list.
It’s time you stop being manipulated into buying that under-dosed nonsense from the sales rep at GNC. Below are the best non-stimulant pre-workout supplements based on the objective criteria above. Welcome to the world of truly effective non-stimulant pre-workout supplements…
The Absolute Best Non-Stimulant Pre-Workouts
We used to rank the products on this list from worst to best, but we stopped because the truth is those numbers were pretty arbitrary. If it’s on this list, it’s worth considering if you’re in the market for non-stimulant pre-workouts.
Finding the perfect pre-workout supplement requires a bit of experimentation, but this list will make sure you headed in the right direction…
Nutrex Research Outlift Stim-Free
Outlift Stim-Free is hands down the most comprehensive, well-formulated non-stimulant pre-workouts we’ve come across…And we’ve seen A LOT! With clinical doses of ingredients like Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and Creatine, OutLift Stim-Free has everything you need to:
- Build Muscle
- Boost Strength/Power
- Enhance Muscular Endurance
- Recover Faster
Just about everything you could possibly want from a non-stimulant pre-workout, you’ll find in OutLift Stim-Free.
Transparent Labs PreSeries STIM-FREE
When it comes to non-stimulant pre-workouts, Transparent Labs PreSeries Stim-Free is a top-notch contender. The ingredient profile is somewhat similar to Outlift Stim-Free, but a bit more comprehensive in terms of number of ingredients.
While Outlift Stim-Free contains higher doses of some key ingredients like Citrulline and Leucine, PreSeries Stim-Free prevails in terms of creatine and beta-alanine content. Not to mention, it also contains a handful of ingredients such as
- Mucune Pruriens
Which may aid cognitive function and focus without the stimulation. This aspect ultimately makes it one of the more unique non-stimulant pre-workouts available and DEFINITELY worth considering if you don’t do well with stimulants.
OLYMPUS LABS CONQU3R UNLEASHED
Conqu3r Unleashed is by far the most comprehensive non-stimulant pre-workouts we’ve come across because the formula is the same as the stimulant version, just without Caffeine. This makes it ideal for anyone who values all physical performance aspects equally, not just the pump, but prefers to avoid stimulants like Caffeine.
PES HIGH VOLUME
The High Volume formula is pretty impressive, though not overly complex. Rather than being an exact replica of a caffeine-containing pre-workout without the caffeine, High Volume is actually optimized for pumps.
PES has made use of some fully-backed, clinically effective ingredients (at effective doses), as well as some more speculative, but potentially powerful ingredients like Amentoflavone and Rutaecarpine. The result: One seriously effective pump-based non-stimulant pre-workout!
Layne Norton Carbon Prep
Carbon contains many of the same ingredients as some of the other non-stimulant pre-workouts discussed above. It contains the big 3:
But the formula starts to get particularly interesting towards the bottom of the Supplement Facts panel. Like PreSeries Stim-Free, Carbon features several ingredients that may aid mental focus and cognitive function, but not in the same way that stimulants do. These include:
- Alpha GPC
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Huperzine A
Each of these ingredients has been studied in a clinical setting (more than once) and proven to improve aspects of cognitive function and mental abilities through non-stimulant mechanisms. This unique blend of ingredients is ultimately what separates Carbon form the majority of non-stimulant non-stimulant pre-workout supplements out there.
It’s tough to even refer to Ergonine as a non-stimulant pre-workout because it is equally effective as a recovery agent, and that versatility is exactly why it deserves a spot on this list.
Ergonine is a well-formulated combination of some of the most extensively researched (and reliable) performance and recovery enhancing ingredients. Everything is effectively dosed, in-line with the current literature.
360 Cut 360NitroDrive
360NitroDrive isn’t necessarily as well-dosed as some of the other non-stimulant pre-workout supplements on this list, but it does contain near clinical doses of just about every non-stimulant performance and cognitive enhancing ingredient you can think of.
Thanks to solid doses of:
You can expect some pretty powerful pumps with 360NitroDrive as well as enhanced performance, courtesy of Creatine, Beta-Alanine, and Betaine.
ANS PERFORMANCE DILATE
Dilate contains a simple but well-rounded formula with some well-established pump-enhancers (Citrulline, Glycerol, etc.) and features the somewhat speculative, but potentially quite effective, Amentoflavone. Overall, Dilate definitely has what it takes to induce some noticeable pumps. It makes a fine stim-free pre-workout on its own but can also be combined with stimulant-containing pre-workouts to enhance the pump-dimension of pre-workouts that lack it
MAN Sports NOOPump
NOOPump is arguably of the most unique non-stimulant pre-workouts there is, and should appeal to anyone who’s into Nootropics but not so much stimulants.
MAN has sort of created a mini-category of their own here. From a pump-perspective, NOOPump is one of the most comprehensive, and at one-two servings the pump may be quite noticeable.
But what makes NOOPump one of the more unique non-stimulant pre-workouts is the fact that it contains several non-stimulant ingredients such as:
- Sceletium Tortuosum
- Cocoa Plant
- Coleus Forskohlii
that may enhance cognitive function and ability to focus.
MTS Nutrition Vasky
Vasky is unlike the other non-stimulant pre-workouts on this list in that it is unflavored, contains just a few ingredients, and is really more of a pump-augmentor than a stand-alone pre-workout supplement. It can be stacked with virtually any other pre-workout supplement, stimulant or not, and is one of the more cost-effective pump-enhancing supplements out there.