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We Tested The Best Pump Pre-Workouts So You Don't Have To (2024)

For many bodybuilders, fitness maniacs, and regular gym goers, the pump is the most satisfying feeling from a solid workout....

For many bodybuilders, fitness maniacs, and regular gym goers, the pump is the most satisfying feeling from a solid workout. There is nothing quite like seeing your muscles swollen and veins bulging after hitting the iron.

While you don't need supplements to get the effect, the proper substances can enhance blood flow and increase the pump. Not to mention, all of them also improve performance in one way or another.

The category of supplements you need for the purpose is called pump pre-workouts. They contain nitric oxide boosters, which open up the blood vessels and allow the muscles to receive all the blood they can for that full and satisfying feeling.

Below are four excellent pump pre-workouts, each delivering something a little different, so I am sure you will find the most suitable one for your needs.

Best Pump Pre-Workout

Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train (Caffeine Free)

Crazy Nutrition Caffeine Free Pre Workout

Pros

  • High doses of the most important pump ingredients.
  • Great value when bought with a subscription.
  • A 60-day money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Delivery can take a while.

Price Per Serving

  • $1.99 per serving single purchase.
  • $1.39 per serving with sub.

===>Check Current Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train Deals<===

If you’ve seen my other pre-workout roundup reviews, you will notice that the Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train is always at the top or near it. It's simply this good.

While initially, the product was only available in a stimulant version, the 2.0 version can be ordered without stims, so you can enjoy the mightiest pump with no energy crashes.

The main reason I recommend this product is the adequately dosed ingredients.

The most essential ingredient for a better pump is L-citrulline or citrulline malate. Why is it so important?

Because it is the most potent vasodilator, also known as a nitric oxide booster. The increased blood flow to the muscles makes them appear fuller, and the veins pop out more.

But Citrulline malate has much more than aesthetic effects.

The most effective dose of citrulline malate 2:1 is 6-8 g, with the higher end being better for acute performance enhancement and the lower for chronic supplementation [1][2]. Crazy Nutrition hits the mark with 8g. 

A study found that consuming 8 g of citrulline malate 60 minutes before exercise increases reps to failure, reduces muscle soreness for 24 to 48 hours, and increases maximal grip strength [1].

When 6 g is taken daily for 7 days, the time to exhaustion increases during moderate-intensity cycling [2]. Furthermore, muscle tiredness was reduced following exercise compared to placebo [3].

The next important pump and performance ingredient is beta-alanine. The recommended doses range from 2.4 to 6.4 g, and Cazy Nutrition has 3.5 g, which is much more than what's found in other preworkouts.

Beta-alanine is the substance responsible for the specific tingling and itching sensations many associate with a pre-workout “working” or kicking in.  

This is a harmless side effect when taking 800 mg or more, as it increases carnosine production [4].

This increased carnosine concentration enhances the muscle's ability to remove acidic waste products generated during energy regeneration, improving short-term, high-intensity endurance.

For example, a meta-analysis discovered that 179 g of beta-alanine enhanced endurance performance by 2.85%. [5]. However, it does not refer to a single dose size. It is the accumulation over time.

Endurance increases are most prominent in the 1-4-minute range, which, in practical terms, is represented by high-rep sets in the gym, long sprints on the track, or a boxing or kickboxing round [6].

Keep in mind you will have to supplement with beta-alanine daily for optimal effect, so the best idea is to buy it separately to take on your non-training days.

Betaine anhydrous is used in pre-workouts because it improves anabolic environment after exercise [7]. Betaine is found in beetroot and is a popular pump ingredient. Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train is within the 1 to 6 g recommended dose with 1.8 g.

The product also contains 300 mg ashwagandha, which, in higher doses, may enhance strength, power, and VO2 max. [8][9]

On the other hand, 10 mg of piperine helps to improve the absorption of all ingredients.

The Crazy Nutrition Pre-Train without caffeine is available only in green apple flavor. It costs $59.99 for a single purchase, and each pack contains 30 doses.

A subscription saves you a lot of money and brings the price down to $41.99, which is a fantastic deal for a pre-workout with such high doses.

If you are looking for a no-stim all pump pre-workout, you can’t go wrong with Crazy Nutrition.

===>Check Current Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train Deals<===

    Best Pre-Workout For Pump & Vascularity

    Transparent Labs Pump Pre-Workout

    Transparent Labs Pump Pre Workout

    Pros

    • High L-citrulline and betaine doses.
    • In the short term, the combination of citrulline and glutathione may improve muscle growth.
    • Informed choice mark guarantees the purity of every tub.

    Cons

    • Some ingredients like NO3-T are speculative and may not provide benefits.

    Price Per Serving

    • $1.66 per serving single purchase
    • $1.49 per serving with sub

    ===>Check Current Transparent Labs Pump Pre-Workout Deals<===

    Transparent Labs Pump Pre-Workout is primarily a nitric oxide booster that will get your veins popping like crazy.

    This pre-workout's major performance-enhancing pump advantage is the combination of L-citrulline, L-glutathione, and betaine anhydrous.

    L-citrulline is optimally dosed at 8 grams per serving. It functions as a nitric oxide booster in the kidneys, converting to arginine, which then converts to nitric oxide.

    L-arginine has difficulties converting to nitric oxide because it is broken down in the intestine.

    This is why L-citrulline is such a popular pump ingredient: it bypasses the gut and is processed in the kidneys.

    I mentioned in the previous product how betaine anhydrous can create an anabolic environment. The substance is found in the TL Pump in an efficacious dose of 2500 mg.

    NO3-T is put in the formula to further increase NO, but given that it's made from L-arginine, it's most likely ineffective.

    L-tyrosine is a potent nootropic boosting cognitive function, but the dose here is likely insufficient to produce palpable results.

    Transparent Labs Pump Pre-Workout contains L-glutathione due to its synergistic effect with L-citrulline.

    In one study [10], taking L-citrulline and L-glutathione for seven days enhanced blood flow after high-intensity exercise compared to a placebo.

    It has to be seen whether this will result in improved long-term performance.

    Finally, an 8-week resistance training trial employing L-citrulline and L-glutathione daily found that the intervention group gained more lean mass than the placebo group after four weeks [11].

    However, there was no significant difference between groups after eight weeks, indicating that it may not provide long-term benefits.

    Pump tastes fantastic, just like all Transparent Labs supplements.

    It mixes without clumps, so you may shake it in any bottle. All Transparent Labs goods bear the informed choice checkmark, which is very important if you're a competitive drug-tested athlete or a first responder since the IC mark ensures that each batch is tested for illegal drugs.

    The $49.99 per tub is more expensive than the cheap products many people use, but for a product with adequate doses, it actually provides great value. A subscription can save you $5 and includes free shipping.

    The TL Pump doesn't include beta-alanine, so if you hate the tingling sensations it causes, this supplement is an even better choice than Crazy Nutrition.

    ===>Check Current Transparent Labs Pump Pre-Workout Deals<===

    Best Pre-Workout For Pump & Focus

    Pre Lab Pro

    Best Pre-Workout For Pump & Focus

    Pros

    • All-natural ingredients list.
    • 80 mg of caffeine combined with L-theanine is just enough to improve focus and drive without any negative effects.
    • Informed Sports mark is the ultimate purity seal.

    Cons

    • The most expensive product on the list.
    • Tastes like red beets.

    ===>Check Current Pre Lab Pro Deals<===

    Pump pre-workouts differ from regular pre-workouts mainly because they lack caffeine. However, I want to include a product with a low dose of caffeine, which can help you gain the extra focus needed to smash your next training sessions.

    Pre Lab Pro is a nootropic pre-workout that combines pump and performance ingredients with cognitive enhancers. It is similar to Transparent Labs Stim-Free in this regard, but it adds a pinch of caffeine for a better effect.

    The 80 mg of caffeine is combined with 160 mg of L-theanine in the ideal 1:2 ratio. When caffeine is combined with L-theanine, it forms the ideal nootropic stack, enhancing reaction time, visual processing speed, working memory, and alertness and reducing tiredness and mental fatigue [12][13].

    For the pump effect, Pre Lab Pro uses the L-citrulline/L-glutathione combination at 2000 mg/200 mg dose, which has been demonstrated to improve performance and increase blood flow.

    The supplement also has 1500 mg of beetroot powder.

    Red beet powder may aid recovery following a strength workout. Research shows 600 mg of red beet powder can help with heart rate recovery [14].

    Furthermore, red beets' nitric oxide content reduces the oxygen cost during exercise, resulting in greater endurance [15][16].

    In addition, the product also contains L-tyrosine for improved focus, but I believe the dose is too low to deliver an effect.

    You should be aware this is perhaps the worst-tasting pre-workout (at least in my experience).

    Despite being naturally sweetened, it is not sweet and tastes just like red beets.

    Pre-Lab Pro is also the most expensive pre-workout on our list. One tub costs $59.99 and contains 20 servings at $2.95 each.

    You can save money when you buy in bulk- four tubs cost $177, or $2.21 per serving.

    However, this is the only all-natural product boasting the cleanest ingredients list and has the Informed Sports mark, so it may be the perfect choice for health nuts who want a better pump and focus for their workouts.

    ===>Check Current Pre Lab Pro Deals<===

    Best Pre-Workout For Pump & Muscle Gain

    Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

    Transparent Labs Stim Free

    Pros

    • Efficacious doses of L-citrulline, betaine and beta-alanine.
    • Third-party testing guaranteed by the Informed Choice mark.
    • A decent nootropic stack inside.

    Cons

    • Beta-alanine might be too high for a lot of people.

    Price Per Serving

    • $1.66 per serving single purchase
    • $1.49 per serving with sub

    ===>Check Current Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout Deals<===

    Another excellent pre-workout pump supplement from Transparent Labs is their Stim-Free Pre-Workout.

    Like Crazy Nutrition Pre-Train, the Stim-Free pre-workout contains the optimal doses of L-citrulline, beta-alanine, and betaine anhydrous. The trio is certain to deliver skin-shattering pumps and a solid performance enhancement.

    Keep in mind that the 4000 mg beta-alanine is among the highest I've seen in a pre-workout, and while it's surely going to be effective, it will also lead to serious itching and tingling.

    What distinguishes the Stim-Free from the Pump and CN Pre-Train is the addition of multiple potent nootropics. The list includes L-tyrosine, Senactiv (Panax ginseng), and Huperzine A.

    They can enhance focus, alertness, and reaction, but the doses here are not optimal.

    The price is the same as the TL Pump- $49.99 for a single purchase and $44.99 with a subscription.

    The choice between the two is based on a slight ingredient difference. The Stim Free has beta-alanine and a couple more nootropics, so it aims to improve mental focus and performance, while the Pump is all about the pump, thanks to the inclusion of NO3-T and L-glutathione.

    ===>Check Current Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout Deals<===

    Pump vs. Pre-Workout: What’s The Difference?

    The primary distinction between a pre-workout and a pump pre-workout is the use of stimulants. Pump products do not contain stimulants like caffeine, but standard pre-workouts do.

    While this is not always the case, it's a common factor by which you can distinguish the two. Keep in mind that you may still come across people, trainers, or websites that disagree with this description and identify pump pre-workouts only by the presence of pump-inducing agents inside, regardless of caffeine.

    But what is a "pump"?

    Simply put, the pump is when the muscles have increased blood flow, making them look fuller, and the veins pop out more than usual. This effect is most intense right after a workout.

    A pump supplement must include ingredients that promote this effect, called vasodilators (substances that open the blood vessels).

    The main one present in every pump pre-workout is citrulline, either in the form of L-citrulline or citrulline malate.

    The other popular ingredient in pump supplements is betaine anhydrous. Beets contain this amino acid, which is why some products include beetroot extract instead.

    Betaine anhydrous has solid performance benefits. It also helps maintain fluid balance in the cells and pulls water into muscles, making them appear fuller. So, while it's not strictly a vasodilator, it can still be considered a pump ingredient.

    These are the nitric oxide boosters you should look for in a quality pump pre-workout. Also, terms like "Vasodilation," "nitrates," "increases blood flow," and "pump" on the labels clearly indicate the supplement is intended to boost pump.

    How To Pick The Best Pump Pre-Workout

    Best Pre Workout For Pump

    Ingredients

    The previous section and the individual product reviews explain in detail the main ingredients you should look for in a pump pre-workout. They are Citrulline Malate/L-citrulline and betaine anhydrous or beetroot in some form.

    Beta-alanine is another popular pre-workout ingredient because of its beneficial effect on endurance, although it does little to improve blood flow.

    Many pre-workouts contain cognitive enhancers like L-tyrosine, Ashwagandha, Alpha GPC, and others to improve focus, alertness, and reaction without the use of caffeine.

    While caffeine is one of the best ergogenic substances you can take, it has negative effects and is not suitable for all circumstances.

    As I mentioned, pump pre-workouts generally don't contain caffeine, but we've included Pre Lab Pro, which has a small dose, just enough to boost focus and drive.

    Doses

    As much as the ingredients are important, their inclusion in formulations is often pointless because of low dosages. Here are the recommended dosages you should be looking for in a good-quality pump pre-workout:

    • L-citrulline/Citrulline Malate: 6-8 g
    • Beta-Alanine: 2-3 grams
    • Betaine anhydrous: 2.5 g

    Third-Party Testing

    Unfortunately, far too many supplements on the market contain heavy metals or other pollutants that might have a negative impact on your health.

    The problem can be considerably worse for athletes or individuals who are exposed to random drug testing, as they may fail the test due to a contaminated supplement.

    This is why independent third-party purity testing is vital. This list includes products from trustworthy manufacturers with established track records, and most have undergone credible third-party testing, such as Informed Choice and Sport marks.

    Value For Money

    Value for money always is an important factor in every purchase. Always compare the doses of the important ingredients and the price per serving when you choose between products. Some contain many more ingredients with little to no effect, but you will be charged for them.

    Too cheap supplements often may have the right ingredients, but the doses are too low to have any meaningful effect. So, always check the dosages of the important ingredients and decide which price is worth it.

    Frequently Asked Pump Pre-Workout Questions

    Are Pump Pre-Workouts Worth It?

    Pump pre-workouts are well proven to increase performance in the gym, not only aesthetics. L-citrulline is a powerful vasodilator that increases nitric oxide in the blood and can significantly enhance power and reduce fatigue. 

    How Long Do Pumps Last?

    On average, a pump lasts 2 to 3 hours. A pump is a condition in which your muscles feel and look fuller because they contain more blood, and the veins pop out more than usual. Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that increase the effect but not the duration of the pump. 

    How To Get A Huge Pump?

    The best pump effect is achieved through high-volume weightlifting. This means you need to do more reps with a lighter load to increase the time under tension and, thus, the blood flow to the muscles. Methods like supersets and drop sets are excellent for getting a better pump.

    Other factors, such as hydration and eating enough carbohydrates, also influence the quality of the pump. Pump supplements contain nitric oxide boosters, which help dilate the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the muscles.

    Summary

    The stim-free version of Crazy Nutrition's excellent Pre-Train supplement is my first choice for a pump-pre workout. It contains the perfect dosages of the most powerful nitric oxide booster to help you squeeze a few extra reps and have the best pump as a reward at the end of the workout.

    ===>Check Current Crazy Nutrition Intensive Pre-Train Deals<===

    References

    1. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance in humans: A review of the current literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(5), 1480-1495.
    1. Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J. R., Lord, T., Vanhatalo, A., Winyard, P. G., & Jones, A. M. (2015). l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
    1. Suzuki, T., Morita, M., Kobayashi, Y., & Kamimura, A. (2016). Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), 1-8.
    1. Trexler, E.T., Smith-Ryan, A.E., Stout, J.R. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, 30 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
    1. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    1. Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G. G., Swinton, P. A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., ... & Gualano, B. (2017). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(8), 658-669.
    1. Apicella, J. M., Lee, E. C., Bailey, B. L., Saenz, C., Anderson, J. M., Craig, S. A., ... & Maresh, C. M. (2013). Betaine supplementation enhances anabolic endocrine and Akt signaling in response to acute bouts of exercise. European journal of applied physiology, 113(3), 793-802.
    1. Bonilla, D.A.; Moreno, Y.; Gho, C.; Petro, J.L.; Odriozola-Martínez, A.; Kreider, R.B. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. J. Funct. Morphol. Kinesiol. 2021, 6, 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk6010020
    1. Pérez-Gómez, J.; Villafaina, S.; Adsuar, J.C.; Merellano-Navarro, E.; Collado-Mateo, D. Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on VO2max: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1119. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041119
    1. Cabre, H. E., Greenwalt, C. E., Gould, L. M., & Smith-Ryan, A. E. (2023). The effects of L-Citrulline and Glutathione on Endurance performance in young adult trained males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1), 2206386.
    1. Hwang, P., Morales Marroquín, F. E., Gann, J., Andre, T., McKinley-Barnard, S., Kim, C., … & Willoughby, D. S. (2018). Eight weeks of resistance training in conjunction with glutathione and L-Citrulline supplementation increases lean mass and has no adverse effects on blood clinical safety markers in resistance-trained males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 30.
    2. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological psychology, 77(2), 113-122.
    1. Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutritional neuroscience, 11(4), 193-198
    2. Benjamim, C. J. R., S. Júnior, F. W., de Figueirêdo, M. Í. L., Benjamim, C. J. R., Cavalcante, T. C. F., da Silva, A. A. M., ... & Valenti, V. E. (2021). Beetroot (Beta Vulgaris L.) extract acutely improves heart rate variability recovery following strength exercise: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial-pilot study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 40(4), 307-316.
    1. Bailey, S. J., Winyard, P., Vanhatalo, A., Blackwell, J. R., DiMenna, F. J., Wilkerson, D. P., ... & Jones, A. M. (2009). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
    1. Babarykin, D., Smirnova, G., Pundinsh, I., Vasiljeva, S., Krumina, G., & Agejchenko, V. (2019). Red beet (Beta vulgaris) impact on human health. Journal of biosciences and medicines, 7(3), 61-79

     

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