8 Cheapest Pre-Workouts (That Are Still High Quality)

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While it is generally true that you get what you pay for, some pre-workouts do an excellent job of combining quality with a reasonable price point.  Below, I’ll share the best budget pre-workouts after personally testing 28+ brands

In a Hurry? Here’s The Best Cheap Pre-Workout

  • Transparent Labs Bulk is the cheapest pre-workout that is still high quality, costing $1.66 per serving.  It has clinically dosed ingredients for pump, energy, and strength, with comparable products (like Kaged, CBUM, and Gorilla Mode) priced between $2.50-$3.00 per serving.
Check out our video review of the Cheapest Pre-Workouts.

Why Trust My Recommendation? 

I’ve been a supplement store manager for the past 10 years, giving me insight into industry trends, products, and consumer behaviors.  I’m also a Certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer and have personally tested and reviewed every pre-workout on this list.  

Best Overall

Transparent Labs Bulk

Transparent Labs Bulk

  • A bit more expensive, but still falling right around the average cost per serving ($1.66 per serving)
  • Is the highest quality, clinically dosed option at the lowest price point
  • Third Party Tested
  • No Artificial Flavors, Colors, or Preservatives

Runner-Up

make your own pre-workouts

Make Your Own

  • Buy bulk ingredients of key performance-enhancing ingredients
  • Can be tailored to suit your exact needs
  • Provides the absolute lowest cost per serving (as low as $0.27 per serving)
  • Requires more effort and a bigger upfront investment

Medical Disclaimer: The material presented in this article aims to offer informational insights. It should not be perceived as medical guidance. The views and writings are not designed for diagnosing, preventing, or treating health issues. Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new dietary or supplement routine.

Key Criteria: How I Ranked The Pre-Workouts

When shopping on a budget, you risk ending up with a product that uses cheap ingredients, fillers, and low doses (i.e., doses that aren’t clinically effective).  As such, I’ve thoroughly vetted the pre-workouts on this list based on the following criteria:

  • Cost Per Serving: To qualify as an inexpensive product, it had to be around or below the average cost per serving ($1.61).
  • High-Quality Ingredients: Higher quality ingredients and clinical doses of those ingredients make you more likely to experience a performance boost from the product. Cheap pre-workouts can produce cheap results, so I cherry-picked products with high-quality, proven ingredients
  • Third-Party Testing: When a product is third-party tested, it helps guarantee any number of a few things: the purity of the ingredients, that what is written on the label is actually found within the product, and/or that there are no harsh chemicals, allergens, or additives. 
  • Minimal Additional Ingredients: When you’re already shopping on a budget, the products tend to have fewer ingredients and/or lower doses. If a company spends a lot of money on unnecessary added ingredients, your performance-enhancing ingredients will be dosed even lower. 
  • Taste And Mixability: Even though you’re shopping on a budget, you deserve a good-tasting product. If a product is so unpalatable that you can’t drink it, then you’re not getting your money’s worth

Best Budget Friendly Pre-Workouts

Transparent Labs Bulk

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Transparent Labs Bulk has absolutely knocked it out of the park with its pre-workout.  I put together a full review of Transparent Labs Bulk, but here’s a summary:

Bulk does cost a bit more money than some of the other pre-workouts on this list, coming in at $1.66 per serving. 

However, Bulk is at the top of the list because I’ve yet to find another pre-workout that offers the same high-quality ingredients in clinically effective doses, third-party testing, and doesn’t use artificial sweeteners or colors for anywhere close to this cost. 

Most other products with ingredient lists similar to Bulk range from $2.50 to $3.00 per serving, making Bulk an absolute bargain. 

The well-rounded formula in Bulk contains full, clinical doses of citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine, taurine, alpha-GPC, and Theanine. This combo enhances pump, endurance, strength, power, and mental focus. 

It contains 200mg of caffeine, making it suitable for a wide range of users. Adding theanine and theobromine will help prolong the caffeine’s effects and reduce the likelihood of jitteriness or a crash. 

If you choose the Subscribe and Save feature, you get 10% off your purchase and free shipping, which lowers the total cost per serving to only $1.50, making this product an incredible value for those who value performance and quality. 

Bulk is available in 12 different juice-like flavors, including Black Cherry, Pina Colada, Watermelon Peach, and Sour Grape.  I’ve actually tested every single flavor, which you can read about here if you want to know my top pick.  

Read my full review of Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Clinically dosed pre-workout making it one of the most effective options
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Third-party tested with publicly disclosed results
  • Informed Choice Certified

Drawbacks

  • More expensive ($1.66 per serving, right around the industry average)

DIY Pre-Workout

DIY pre workout

Overall rating: 4.5/5

If your priority is minimizing your cost per serving, buying individual ingredients to make your own Do It Yourself (DIY) pre-workout is your best option. 

Buying each ingredient individually also allows you to tailor your pre-workout to suit your needs perfectly. It allows you to pick and choose which ingredients you want and forgo the ingredients you don’t want, which you don’t have the option to do with ready-made pre-workouts. 

This also lets you easily control variables like stimulants and caffeine. Making your own pre-workout allows you to manipulate the caffeine level daily depending on your needs or the time of day you’re training. 

For example, you can simply keep the caffeine out of the pre-workout if you are training later in the evening to avoid negatively impacting your sleep. 

There are two key downsides to creating your own pre-workout, though. 

First of all, on their own, these ingredients taste terrible. The raw ingredients are naturally quite bitter or sour, and it can be difficult to mask that flavor (which is why many companies appear to overuse artificial sweeteners). To overcome this, I recommend flavoring your pre-workout ingredients with juice or a non-nutritive sweetener like Mio or Jordan’s Skinny Syrups

Secondly, going this route requires a larger upfront investment. You will be buying large quantities of the ingredients in advance, in bulk, which may require an investment of anywhere from $50 to $200 (or more, depending on how many ingredients you want at once). Because of this high initial investment, this option might not be feasible for everyone. 

Here is a common pre-workout formula to increase energy, strength, endurance, pump, and mental focus using some of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements. 

I buy all the raw ingredients from HERE, which is the cheapest place on the internet.  

  • Caffeine –  200mg ($0.10 per serving)
  • Creatine – 5g ($0.28 per serving)
  • Beta-Alanine – 3.2g ($0.08 per serving)
  • Citrulline – 6g ($0.24 per serving)
  • Alpha GPC – 600 mg ($0.13 per serving)

Cost per serving: $0.83

Total upfront investment: Approx $125

For other DIY pre-workout stacks, head to my article on DIY Pre-Workout Recipes, where I cover 7 formulas you can create yourself for less than $1.00 per scoop. 

Highlights

  • The absolute cheapest cost per serving
  • Can be tailored to suit your needs perfectly
  • Allows you to take ingredients that need to be saturated and maintained, like creatine and beta-alanine, on non-training days

Drawbacks

  • Time time-consuming to measure out individual ingredients
  • Requires a bigger upfront investment
  • Does not taste good on its own

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

optimum nutrition gold standard pre-workout

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Gold Standard Pre-Workout costs $1.10 per serving, coming in well below the industry average, which falls closer to $1.60 per serving. 

It contains ingredients to increase athletic performance (creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, l-citrulline) and mental focus (acetyl l-carnitine, acetyl l-tyrosine, caffeine). 

While these ingredients are thoroughly researched and proven effective, the doses for most of the ingredients fall below those used in research. Overall, this product is great for increasing energy and alertness but may fall short for those looking for significant increases in pump and strength. 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is great for beginners or for individuals who are looking for an energy boost and don’t care about any other benefits aside from a low cost. 

As an Informed Choice-certified product, Gold Standard Pre undergoes extra third-party testing for purity and label accuracy. 

It is available in four flavors: Fruit Punch, Blueberry Lemonade, Green Apple, and Watermelon.

Read my full review of ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Very low cost ($1.10 per serving)
  • Informed Choice Certified
  • Good Taste and Mixability

Drawbacks

  • Low doses of ingredients mean this product won’t provide much benefit above increasing energy and alertness
  • Uses artificial coloring

4 Gauge

Overall rating: 4/5

When I first tested 4 Gauge, I wasn’t necessarily blown away by the product or formula. As I tested more pre-workouts within a similar price range, I began to appreciate 4 Gauge’s simplicity and quality. 

The product looks like a shotgun shell and advertises itself as a hardcore “explosive” pre-workout, I actually found the formula to be quite mild and one that would be a great option for people who haven’t taken pre-workout before. 

The ingredients found in 4 Gauge include caffeine, theanine, citrulline, and acetyl l-carnitine, which will support energy, mood, hydration, muscle pump, and recovery. 

4Gauge does not use any artificial flavors or colors in its formula. Instead, it uses ingredients like beetroot powder and coconut water to provide additional performance and recovery benefits. 

If you are new to pre-workout, want to boost endurance and energy, or commonly experience negative side effects like jitteriness from taking pre-workout, then 4 Gauge is a great option. 

Read my full review of 4 Gauge Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Cost per serving: $1.12 – $1.50
  • Uses natural ingredients like beet root powder and coconut water 
  • Good formula for increasing energy, endurance, and hydration

Drawbacks

  • Can taste the beets
  • Not a ton of ingredients for strength and power

Redcon1 Total War

Overall rating: 3.9/5

Total War by Redcon1 is a product requested almost daily in my supplement store. It’s incredibly popular for its good taste and quick-hitting energy. 

When I tested the product for myself, I found it enjoyable overall but noticed a significant post-workout crash on this one. Although, it appears their newer formula has added theobromine and green tea extract, which may help negate the crash I experienced personally. 

Total War contains clinical doses of key ingredients like citrulline, beta-alanine, and taurine. Many other ingredients, like juniper extract, don’t have clinical doses established, so their benefits can’t be properly verified. 

This well-rounded pre-workout formula costs $1.43 per serving, but the Redcon1 Subscribe and Save feature offers an aggressive 30% discount, lowering the cost per serving to $1.00. 

Military and First Responders receive a 25% discount, around $1.07 per serving.

Read my full review of Redcon1 Total War Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Tastes Great
  • Quick-hitting energy and mental focus
  • Third-Party Tested

Drawbacks

  • Potential for post-workout crash
  • High caffeine content (325mg) may be too much for some users

C4 Original

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Cellucor C4 is one of the most recognizable pre-workouts and has dominated the pre-workout category internationally for years. I say this as a supplement store manager who has sold C4 Pre-Workout for over a decade. 

C4 Makes it onto this list because one of the key criteria I used to assess products was whether the ingredients were high quality. 

Cellucor uses many patented and trademarked ingredients, which adds a layer of quality assurance to the products and shows that they have clinical research proving their effectiveness. 

There is no doubt that Cellucor has hit many key criteria with their C4 Original formula including the lowest cost per serving, high-quality ingredients, third-party testing, and good taste and mixability. 

C4 Original loses points in its use of artificial colors (which don’t add any performance benefit to the product) and the fact that it does not contain high enough doses for some of its key ingredients. 

The lower caffeine content (150mg) makes this a suitable option for beginners or individuals sensitive to caffeine. 

C4 Original is available in 7 flavors, including Fruit Punch, Blue Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, and Frozen Bombsicle. 

To buy C4 Original outright, you can get it for $0.83 to $1.00 per serving, depending on whether you get the 30 or 60-serving container. If you go with the Subscribe and Save feature on Cellucor’s website, you save 30% off your order and get free shipping, which drops the cost per serving to $0.58 – $0.70.

Read my full review of C4 Original Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Absolute lowest cost per serving (as low as $0.58)
  • Good taste and mixability
  • Provides a good energy boost and moderate endurance boost

Drawbacks

  • Low doses of most ingredients mean this product fails to deliver significant benefits to strength or pump
  • Use of artificial colors and extra additives

Naked Energy

naked energy

Overall rating: 3/5

Naked Energy has one of the lowest costs per serving of any pre-workout supplement, costing only $0.90 per serving. This is paired with a company that has third-party testing and prioritizes high-quality ingredients.

Naked Energy would be considered the most natural product on this list, as it uses zero flavors, colors, or sweeteners. 

The formula is incredibly simple, featuring only 4 ingredients: Caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine monohydrate, and l-arginine. 

Unfortunately, all of the ingredients aside from caffeine are terribly underdosed and unlikely to contribute any significant benefit like strength or pump. 

With 200mg of caffeine, however, there is no doubt that this product could increase energy in a fashion similar to a medium cup of coffee. 

Despite its low doses, Naked Energy is a fantastic option for anybody who is sensitive to traditional pre-workouts and wants to avoid any artificial ingredients or additives in their product. 

This would suit anybody looking solely for an energy boost at a cost cheaper than a cup of coffee.

Read my full review of Naked Energy Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Less than a dollar per serving ($0.90)
  • Zero artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, additives
  • Will provide a moderate energy boost
  • A small scoop allows it to mix easily into very small amounts of water

Drawbacks

  • Doses of performance ingredients like creatine and beta-alanine are too low to see a benefit
  • An unflavored option may have a bitter/undesirable taste that requires something to flavor it

Transparent Labs Stim-Free

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Transparent Labs Stim Free has all the benefits of Transparent Labs mentioned above, including transparent third-party testing, no artificial sweeteners or colors, and clinical doses of high-quality ingredients. 

Despite it being last on the list here, I don’t actually rank this product at the bottom. I just wanted to differentiate it from the pack as a stimulant-free option. 

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout contains clinical doses of citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine, and Taurine to support muscle pump, endurance, strength, and power. The addition of a patented ingredient called ElevATP ® provides a significant boost to physical energy and stamina. 

This pre-workout contains l-tyrosine and huperzine, two ingredients that can support mental focus without having the same stimulant effects as caffeine. 

This pre-workout is the best option for individuals who work out late in the evening or are sensitive to caffeine but still want a formula that optimizes athletic performance. 

As mentioned above with Transparent Labs Bulk, most other pre-workouts that offer clinical doses of ingredients range from $2.00 to $3.00 per serving, making Transparent Labs’ Stim-Free Pre-Workout a fantastic value for the quality and quantity it provides. 

The subscribe and save feature lowers the cost per serving to $1.50 and provides free shipping. You can cancel or pause at any time and choose your shipping frequency to be every 30, 45, or 60 days. 

Note: If you have a variable training schedule and sometimes work out in the mornings and other times later in the evening, you could order Transparent Labs Bulk and Transparent Labs Stim-Free with the subscribe and save feature and have two affordable options on hand for whatever your schedule throws at you.

Read my full review of Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout.

Highlights

  • Stimulant Free
  • Informed Choice Certified
  • No artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives

Drawbacks

  • Higher cost per serving than others on this list ($1.66)

Factors That Influence The Cost of Pre-Workouts

There are a variety of factors that can influence the cost of your pre-workout

Number of Ingredients

First, pre-workouts can typically have anywhere from 5 to 20 different ingredients. A product that has more ingredients in its formula will be more expensive. 

Dose of Ingredients

Related to the number of ingredients used is the dosage of ingredients used. A company that uses a full clinical dose of 6g of citrulline in their product will spend more on citrulline than a company that only uses 1g of citrulline. Higher doses = higher cost, but it also helps guarantee effectiveness.

Quality of Ingredients

The quality of the ingredients used can be another factor influencing the cost of a pre-workout. For example, patented or trademarked ingredients (that can be identified by a ® or ™ symbol) may cost more for supplement manufacturers than others. 

Other Factors

Some factors unrelated to the ingredients can also increase the cost of pre-workout. Third-party testing costs money, and it can cost even more for a company to get special certifications like Gluten Free, Vegan, Informed Choice, Kosher, and Organic. 

There are some behind-the-scenes factors within the industry that can increase the overall cost of a product, including a complex and competitive supply chain and money invested into research, development, and marketing. 

Are There Drawbacks of Buying A Cheap Pre-Workout?

Inexpensive does not necessarily mean ineffective, but there are some potential drawbacks to buying a cheap pre-workout. 

Lacking Clinical Doses

A common theme among many cheap pre-workouts is that they use low doses of ingredients. This doesn’t inherently mean that you won’t benefit from a product dosed lower. The reality, however, is that more inexpensive pre-workouts are traditionally geared towards increasing energy since those ingredients are less expensive and are required in lower doses. 

Fewer Benefits

You might also find cheaper pre-workouts are more specialized or offer fewer benefits. For instance, the 4Gauge formula is great for endurance but doesn’t offer additional benefits like strength or pump. 

No 3rd Party Testing

Since third-party testing and quality certifications cost money, it’s more likely that inexpensive pre-workouts are not third-party tested. This poses the risk of companies adding inexpensive fillers or being deceptive in their labeling with ingredients or doses. 

Is Pre-Workout Worth The Cost?

As a supplement store manager, I will be the first to tell you that pre-workout is not essential to your exercise or supplement regime. 

That being said, there’s no denying that a high-quality pre-workout supplement can take your training and results to the next level by increasing energy, strength, endurance, and recovery. 

For individuals who want to step up their training and athletic performance, pre-workout costs are justifiable. 

There may be different levels to this, though. 

An individual just looking for an energy boost before their workout may not be able to justify a pre-workout that costs $2.50 per serving. 

On the other hand, someone who prioritizes clinical doses of ingredients for pump and strength and the highest quality products may be able to justify a product that costs $3.00 per serving. 

With this article, I hope I have found you the best of both worlds between achieving a desirable cost per serving and a high-quality product.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Cheapest Pre-Workout? 

The cheapest pre-workout available is Cellucor C4 Original. 

You can buy C4 Original for as low as $0.58 per serving, well below the industry average of $1.61 per serving.  However, it lacks clinical doses of key ingredients.  

How Much Should I Pay For Pre-Workout?

The investment you put into pre-workout is dependent on how many benefits you want out of it. 

Products for increasing energy can be available for as low as $0.60-$1.00 per serving. 

More comprehensive formulas that increase strength, pump, endurance, and recovery can run you as much as $3.00 per serving. 

Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own Pre-Workout?

You can save a significant amount of money per serving by creating your own pre-workout. 

The tradeoff is that making your own pre-workout will require a bigger upfront investment and requires more work and diligence to measure out the individual ingredients. 

How Can I Verify The Safety and Authenticity of Cheaper Pre-Workouts?

Some of the most popular brands like MuscleTech and Optimum Nutrition, have a seal of authenticity built into their labels that you can scan with your smartphone. 

The easiest way to verify safety and label accuracy is to look for NSF and Informed-Sport or Informed-Choice certification logos on the product. 

Are There Seasonal or Periodic Sales That Allow Consumers To Purchase Premium Pre-Workouts At A Discount?

You can save money throughout the year on pre-workouts by joining email lists where companies will inform you about sales or offer exclusive discounts. 

Third-party retailers and brands often run promotions around national holidays and shopping seasons like Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Black Friday.

About The Author

Jennifer Vibert

Jennifer Vibert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nutrition Coach, and supplement store manager. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a major in Fitness and Lifestyle and a minor in Psychology from the University of Regina. She is a Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition, with a passion for helping clients learn the fundamentals of nutrition and supplementation in order to build healthy, sustainable habits.

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