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For strength and endurance athletes, a good pre-workout supplement is often a must-have for training motivation, focus, and a healthy amount of get-up-and-go. (If you're in the market for a pre-workout, check out our full reviews of Bucked Up, Ghost, and Woke AF) That said, pre-workout tends to pack a lot of caffeine in its formula and it’s not guaranteed to work for all athletes, especially those that are caffeine averse or prefer to train in the evening. Not to mention, taking pre-workout for an after-work training session can affect your ability to get a decent night's sleep.
The Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout Supplements - Our Top Picks
- Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout Overall: Transparent Labs Stim-Free
- Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout with Creatine: Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free
- Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout for Pump: Transparent Labs Pump
- Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout for Focus: Kaged Mindset™
- Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout with BCAAs: Gainful Pre-Workout
- Best Natural Non-Stim Pre-Workout: KOS Love You Berry Much
- Best Budget Non-Stim Pre-Workout: Jacked Factory Pump Surge - Stim-Free
This is why non-stim or caffeine-free pre-workouts have become increasingly popular. The best non-stim pre-workouts have a lot of the same workout-boosting ingredients as their stimulant-based counterparts but without the high amount of caffeine per dose.
We narrowed down our list of the best stim-free pre-workouts to help you power through your workout without the jitters or caffeine-crash afterward. Read on and find out if one of these non-stimulant pre-workouts is the best fit for your training goals.
Why Trust Us?
The health and safety of ACTIVE’s readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming dietary supplements, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We’ve consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers.
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout - Transparent Labs Stim-Free
- Dosage: 1 scoop (22.8g)
- Ingredients: Citrulline malate 2:1, BCAA 2:1:1, BetaPure™ betaine anhydrous, taurine, L-tyrosine, choline bitartrate, elevATP® ancient peat and apple fruit extract, BioPerine®, huperzine A
- Flavors: Cherry limeade, sour grape, blue raspberry, green apple, orange, peach mango
Transparent Labs Stim-Free is our best overall non-stimulant pre-workout because they're open and honest with their labeling and use premium ingredients in their formulas. With clinically-effective dosages of common ingredients that you'll find in most pre-workouts, like 6,000 milligrams of citrulline malate, 6,000 milligrams of beta-alanine, 4,000 milligrams of BCAAs, 2,500 milligrams of betaine, and 1,300 milligrams of taurine, this supplement is a performance powerhouse even without caffeine.
To break it down even further, citrulline malate is used to enhance performance through elevated nitric oxide (NO) levels for resistance and high-intensity training as well as help post-workout recovery.(1) BCAAs can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis or the process of incorporating amino acids into the muscle.(2) Betaine and beta-alanine have been shown to help improve muscle composition and increase training capacity, respectively.(3,4) Last but not least, taurine, an amino acid you're likely to see in most energy drinks, may help increase performance, delay fatigue, and improve recovery.(5)
We like that the Transparent Labs Stim-Free comes in six fruity flavors ranging from sour grape to peach mango and is free from artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. While the price may feel slightly steep at $1.67 per serving, we still think you're getting your money's worth with each nearly 23-gram scoop.
- Those looking for a stimulant-free supplement with high amounts of citrulline, BCAAs, beta-alanine, betaine, and taurine
- Athletes who want a pre-workout supplement with transparent ingredients and doses
- Users who prefer a variety of flavors to choose from
Not Best For
- Athletes who want creatine in their pre-workout
- Users avoiding Stevia extract
BUY: Transparent Labs Stim-Free
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout with Creatine - Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free
- Dosage: 1 scoop
- Ingredients: L-citrulline, creatine HCL, beta-alanine, and BetaPower, L-tyrosine, and taurine
- Flavor: Cherry bomb
We chose Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free as the best in this category for several reasons. The first reasons are obvious: Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free contains no stimulants and has 1.5 grams of clinically-dosed patented creatine HCL per serving, along with many other tried-and-true pre-workout ingredients. We also trust Kaged as a brand thanks to their commitment to third-party testing. As an added bonus, Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free features a proprietary antioxidant blend of 29 fruits and vegetable extracts called Spectra® for metabolism support. However, if you aren't a fan of proprietary blends, this may be more of a miss than a hit.
At the time of this writing, Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free only comes in the Cherry Bomb flavor with 20 servings per container. This translates to about $1.79 per serving. It is also vegetarian and vegan-friendly. So, if the limited flavor options and higher price tag don't give you pause, Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free is an excellent option for those looking for a premium stim-free pre-workout with added creatine.
- Athletes and lifters who want creatine in their non-stim pre-workout
- Third-party tested and banned-substance free
- Those interested in a superfood blend
Not Best For
- Those who don't like cherry flavor
- Users who want more than 20 servings per container
BUY: Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout for Pump - Transparent Labs Pump
- Dosage: 1 scoop (19.8g)
- Ingredients: Citrulline malate 2:1, NO3-T® arginine nitrate, BetaPure® betaine anhydrous, Setria® L-glutathione, BioFolate®, vitamin C
- Flavors: Blue raspberry, strawberry lemonade
If you're a heavy lifter looking for a nitric-oxide pump from your caffeine-free pre, Transparent Labs Pump has got you covered—it's even in the name. This non-stimulant pre-workout formula is clinically dosed and contains familiar vasodilating ingredients like L-citrulline, along with trademarked ergogenics like NO3-T® arginine nitrate, BetaPure® betaine anhydrous, and Setria® L-glutathione. This blend is also third-party tested and doesn't contain artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives.
With Pump, you get 8,000 milligrams (8 grams) of citrulline per serving for a big nitric oxide level boost. You also get 2.5 grams of a bonded arginine nitrate that may help increase blood flow to the muscles and potentially reduce the build-up in lactic acid that causes post-exercise soreness.(8) Last but not least, Transparent Labs Pump comes in two flavors, blue raspberry, and strawberry lemonade, and has a subscribe-and-save program for 10% off and free shipping.
- Lifters or athletes looking for large doses of nitric oxide supplements without caffeine
- Those looking for clinically-dosed and third-party tested products without fillers
- Users who want a subscribe-and-save program for additional discounts
Not Best For
- Lifters or athletes who want a pump formula with creatine
- Users avoiding Stevia extract
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout for Focus - Kaged Mindset™
- Dosage: 1-2 scoops
- Ingredients: AlphaSize Alpha GPC, American ginseng root extract, SunPS® Phosphatidylserine, huperzine A, L-tyrosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin B complex,
- Flavor: Orange Mango
For another unique approach to pre-workout stimulation without using stimulants, Kaged Mindset™ is a nootropic that features a mix of brain-focus-boosting, premium ingredients meant to elevate your productivity. Mindset's™ "find your flow" mantra translates well for gym-goers and athletes alike who want to make the most out of their training time. Plus, the formula is third-party tested and Informed-Sport Certified, meaning every batch is tested before consumer release.
Kaged Mindset™ contains 600 milligrams of patented AlphaSize, or alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine, which has been shown to help improve mental and physical performance, and a patented Panax ginseng called Cereboost that may aid in fatigue reduction and enhance performance.(6,7) You won't see some of the more common pre-workout ingredients like citrulline and beta-alanine listed on the label, but that may be a plus if you aren't a fan of paresthesia—aka the beta-alanine "itch." For an energy boost that is jitter and tingle-free, Kaged comes highly recommended.
- Athletes who want higher levels of focus during their workouts without caffeine
- Those who would benefit from a pre-workout that also boosts focus and attention
- Athletes looking for a supplement that is third-party tested and Informed-Sport Certified
Not Best For
- Those who want more than 1 flavor to choose from
- Users looking for more traditional pre-workout ingredients
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout with BCAAs - Gainful Pre-Workout
- Dosage: Varies
- Ingredients: Varies; customizable
- Flavors: Sour watermelon, strawberry lemonade
A product like Gainful Pre-Workout is exciting for the ingredient-minded individuals of the world because with Gainful you have the ability to customize and tailor this pre-workout to fit your supplement needs. Just take their quiz to confer with sports nutrition experts and create a scientifically-dosed formula with the option to adjust the levels of caffeine, creatine, leucine, and L-theanine. The base of the formula already contains potent pre-workout ingredients like BCAAs, beta-alanine, and L-citrulline.
Once your blend is created, choose between the sour watermelon and strawberry lemonade flavors. The ingredient quality and attention to detail make Gainful Pre-Workout more expensive than other options. Additionally, this is a subscription-based service, so there will be a recurring cost, but Gainful allows you to cancel your subscription at any time.
- Athletes looking for a fully customizable pre-workout blend
- Those who want high-quality, individually-dosed ingredients
- Users interested in a subscription-based program
Not Best For
- Users on a budget
- Those who want more flavor variety
Best Natural Non-Stim Pre-Workout - KOS Love You Berry Much
- Dosage: 1 scoop
- Ingredients: KOS organic superfoods blend, KOS premium digestion support blend, KOS organic berry superfood blend
- Flavor: Goji berry popsicle
While not a traditional pre-workout supplement per se, KOS Love You Berry Much is an antioxidant-rich juice blend that works to elevate energy levels without the use of stimulants. This natural powder contains three different blends of "reds". The organic superfoods blend also features organic ingredients like red beetroot, apple, and pomegranate powders and the organic berry blend has cranberry, raspberry, and goji juice powders. The third blend is for premium digestion support and includes digestive enzymes, organic ginger root powder, and aloe vera extract.
What we also really like about KOS Love You Berry Much—aside from the name—is the commitment to clean, nonGMO ingredients that mix well and taste great. Reviewers enjoy the Goji berry popsicle flavor and love how easy it is to incorporate into their daily fruit smoothies for energy without the crash.
- Athletes looking for a natural source of energy without added caffeine
- Those who want a plant-based, non-GMO, erythritol and gluten-free pre-workout alternative
- Users wanting a subscribe-and-save program with a 60-day money-back guarantee
Not Best For
- Those who don't want proprietary blends
- Users avoiding Stevia extract
Best Budget Non-Stim Pre-Workout - Jacked Factory Pump Surge - Stim-Free
- Dosage: 1 scoop (12.5g)
- Ingredients: L-citrulline, betaine anhydrous, taurine, alpha-GPC, huperzine A, AstraGin®
- Flavors: Strawberry lemonade, blue raspberry, watermelon, cucumber lime, raspberry peach, cherry limeade
With a name like Jacked Factory Pump Surge, you might be surprised to find out that this pre-workout supplement is completely stimulant-free. Not only that, but it's also budget-friendly at just $1.75 per serving with a subscribe-and-save option for an additional 15% off and free shipping. Pump Surge contains all the pre-workout "A-Team" of L-citrulline, betaine anhydrous, and taurine.
It also includes AstraGin®, a patented combination of Panax notoginseng and astragalus membranaceus used to help increase the efficacy of each ingredient by enhancing their absorption in the body. This pre-workout doesn't contain extras like creatine or BCAAs, but what you are getting is a solid, research-backed product at a decent price.
- Users on a budget
- Athletes who want a pre-workout with no caffeine crash
- Those looking for a variety of flavors
Not Best For
- Those who want a non-stim pre-workout with BCAAs or creatine
- Reviews are mixed on the amount of "pump"
BUY: Jacked Factory Pump Surge Stim-Free
How We Chose the Best Non-Stim Pre-Workouts
We thoughtfully chose our list of the best non-stim pre-workouts by researching products from brands we trust—Transparent Labs and Kaged, for example—with clean, transparent ingredients, certifications, and positive word-of-mouth from athletes and reviewers. We also give extra consideration to products that have a proven track record for excellent customer service.
How Much Do Non-Stim Pre-Workouts Cost?
The cost for non-stim pre-workouts supplements varies depending on the quality, amount of ingredients, and servings per container. The non-stim supplements that we chose for our list range from about $1.75 to around $2 per serving. Keep in mind, there isn't much of a price difference between standard and non-stimulant pre-workouts.
Ingredients in Non-Stim Pre-Workouts
As with cost, ingredients for non-stim pre-workouts can also vary depending on the formula with the common denominator being a lack of caffeine. A few ingredients that you should expect to see in an effective pre-workout supplement are:
- Betaine anhydrous
You may also look for non-stimulant pre-workouts that contain BCAAs or creatine for their post-workout recovery benefits.
What to Consider When Buying a Non-Stim Pre-Workout
As we stated above, the quality of the ingredients should be an important factor in determining whether or not to purchase a non-stimulant pre-workout. Brands with clean and transparent ingredients that are clinically-dosed should be prioritized. The use of proprietary blends isn't necessarily a no-go depending on your preferences, but it does mean that the amount of each ingredient in the blend is unclear. Additionally, if you're not a fan of the itching sensation that comes from most pre-workouts, you'll want to look for a formula that doesn't contain beta-alanine.
We recommend prioritizing brands that hold certifications and are honest about their manufacturing process. Look for products that are third-party tested or Informed-Sport Certified, because these are more likely to be clinically-dosed for the most effectiveness, as well as free from banned substances.
The amount of money that you're willing to spend will always be a consideration when purchasing supplements. Products with high-quality ingredients tend to be more expensive, but offer you a wealth of benefits in return. That said, if you're on a limited budget, you can still find a decent non-stim pre-workout with clinically-studied ingredients that can be just as effective.
Consider why you're searching for a non-stim pre-workout in the first place. Active people who are sensitive to caffeine or prefer to train in the evenings have much to gain from using a pre-workout without caffeine. Caffeine may give you an initial boost in energy, but can often cause adverse effects like restlessness, headaches, and disrupted sleep. It's possible to get the same benefits for energy and focus with an even greater pump—due to caffeine's blood flow restriction—from a stimulant-free pre-workout.
FAQs About Non-Stim Pre-Workout Supplements
When is the best time to take a non-stim pre-workout?
The time of day is less important when taking a non-stim pre-workout than it is for a stimulant-based pre-workout due to the lack of caffeine. However, the average recommended time to take your pre-workout is about 30-60 minutes before you plan to exercise. This can vary depending on the product, so make sure to read the label for suggested use. For example, Kaged Pre-Kaged® Stim-Free suggests you take it 30-45 minutes before your workout while Transparent Labs Stim-Free's suggestion is 20-30 minutes.
Why should I take a non-stim pre-workout?
There are many reasons to take a non-stim pre-workout aside from personal preference. The absence of caffeine can help prevent jitters, headaches, nausea, crashes, and sleeplessness, especially for those that train later in the day. Additionally, caffeine can have an effect on blood flow restriction, so using a caffeine- or stimulant-free pre-workout may help you maintain a greater muscle pump when training.
Does non-stim pre-workouts make you tingle?
Non-stim pre-workouts can still make you tingle depending on the ingredients. Formulas that contain more than 2 grams of beta-alanine will likely have that itching or tingling effect.
Can you take a non-stim pre-workout everyday?
In short, yes, you should be able to take a non-stim pre-workout daily as long as you follow the recommended dosage on the bottle. As always, if you're concerned about how a supplement will affect you, start with a smaller dosage to assess your level of tolerance, or consult your doctor or registered dietitian.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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