DIY Pre-Workout Recipes For Less Than $1.00 Per Scoop

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As a supplement store manager for the past decade, I know all too well how overwhelming it can be to find a pre-workout that suits your needs and budget. You might be left wondering if some of the ingredients are even necessary, or if you can save money by making your own pre-workout. 

Yes, you can make your own pre-workout. Most of the ingredients found in pre-workout are available to purchase in bulk. You can save money on the cost per serving and tailor it to suit your needs. However, it will cost more upfront to purchase the products in bulk, and takes time to measure everything carefully. 

Below I’ve put together a guide that outlines what the most common ingredients do (backed by science), as well as safe and effective dosing strategies to help you make a homemade pre-workout. 

Key Takeaways

  • While the upfront investment of buying individual ingredients in bulk will be between $100-$200 compared to $30-60 for a traditional pre-workout, you will get anywhere from 90-300 servings versus 20-40, cutting your pre-workout cost by more than 50%.
  • Making your own pre-workout will require you to be attentive and precise to avoid unintentionally consuming unsafe amounts of some ingredients.
  • Safe dosing strategies for some ingredients (like creatine and beta-alanine) are well-established, whereas the safe and effective doses of others (like glycerol) need more research. 

5 Reasons To Make Your Own Pre-Workout

Pros vs Cons of making your own Pre-workout

1. You Will Save Money in the Long Run

While it will cost you more upfront, your products will go a lot farther, and you end up saving on the cost per serving.

For example, you can spend $60 on a pre-workout that might last you 20-30 servings, or you can spend $60 on creatine, citrulline, and caffeine and get almost 80 clinically-dosed servings.

2. Cut Out Unnecessary Ingredients

Many pre-workouts contain ingredients to help with all facets of performance, like energy, mental focus, blood flow/pump, strength, power, endurance, and body composition. By making a DIY pre-workout, you can select only the ingredients that you really want or need.

3. Tailor It to Exactly What You Need That Day

By buying the ingredients individually, you can choose ingredients based on what you need for a specific workout.

For example, if you’re working out late at night, you can choose to keep the caffeine out of your formula.

4. Reduce the Risk of Allergic Reactions

By purchasing ingredients in their raw, unflavored forms, you reduce the risk of cross-contamination in factories or accidentally ingesting ingredients that you have allergies or sensitivities to. 

5. You’re in Control of Quality and Dosing

Some pre-workouts contain proprietary blends, where companies can hide the exact quantities of ingredients in their products. With a DIY pre-workout, you are in complete control and can make sure you get clinically proven doses of high-quality ingredients. 

5 Drawbacks To Know Before Making Homemade Pre-Workout

1. It’s Time Consuming

It will take time to carefully measure each ingredient individually and combine them into single serving sizes of pre-workout. 

2. It’s Tedious

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be cautious and meticulous when measuring your ingredients.

Most of the products are white, odorless powders and could easily be mistaken for one another. While accidentally underdosing ingredients can be a waste of money, accidentally overdosing others could have serious health consequences. 

3. Individual Ingredients Might All Run Out at Different Times

It can be tricky to coordinate the bulk ingredients. They are often available in bulk in the same quantities (e.g., 5000g) but require different doses (1g vs. 5g). This means a bulk bag could be 100 servings of one product and 200 of another. 

4. It’s Expensive Upfront

The upfront cost to get 4 or 5 bulk ingredients can be upwards of $150-$200. 

5. It Will Probably Taste Awful

The raw ingredients themselves are typically incredibly bitter or sour.  A homemade pre-workout mixture will not be pleasant to drink when mixed in plain water.

Natural Ingredients To Include in Your DIY Pre-Workout

Below are the ingredients in pre-made pre-workout supplements that I recommend adding to your homemade pre-workout. 

While you may see other ingredients in store-bought pre-workouts, I’ve only listed the most effective ones below, so you don’t waste your money on unnecessary ingredients.

Note, after this list of ingredients, I give you exact DIY pre-workout recipes that combine these ingredients based on different goals. If you’re interested in getting those recipes now, click here.

For a complete guide on pre-workout ingredients, check out my other article on Pre-Workout Ingredients Explained where I discuss the research behind these ingredients and the effective dosing.

  • Lion’s Mane/Cordyceps (Peak O2): Help the body adapt to stress and can increase energy, endurance, and VO2 max (cardio capacity). You can start with 1-2g daily for 28 days or 12g for 7 days, then continue to take 1-2g daily afterward. Buy Peak O2 from Amazon.

Will You Save Money by Making Your Own Homemade Pre-Workout? 

The below table shows the top-selling and highest-rated pre-workout supplements from Amazon.com and Bodybuilding.com.

To come up with the DIY cost, I have replicated these supplements by using adding the costs of the individual ingredients available on bulksupplements.com and a few extras found through Amazon (sodium bicarbonate, Kanna, and BioPerine).

As you can see, you can replicate the products for a much lower cost per serving.

However, most of them are considerably underdosed based on what the research shows are effective servings. So, you’d likely want to add more of these ingredients to your homemade pre-workout so you can get a more effective dose of each one.

For example, C4 Original uses 1g of creatine even though we know the effective maintenance dose of creatine is 3-5g daily. 

Pre Jym was the one exception I found where the DIY cost was so close to the retail cost per serving that if you like PreJym, you’re better off just buying it. 

Also, keep in mind that some of the supplements below contain ingredients (like BCAAs and Kanna) that are not totally necessary in pre-workout.

While I considered the costs of those ingredients when calculating the DIY costs, I don’t consider them must-haves, which is why I didn’t include them in the list of homemade pre-workout ingredients above.

ProductKey IngredientsCost Per ScoopDIY Cost
Optimum Nutrition Pre $32.99 (30 servings)
  • Creatine Mono (3g)
  • Beta-Alanine (1500 mg)
  • L-citrulline (750 mg)
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (375 mg)
  • Tyrosine (250 mg)
  • Caffeine (175 mg)
$1.09$0.40
C4 Original $29.99 (30 servings)
  • Beta-Alanine (1600 mg)
  • Creatine (1g)
  • Arginine AKG (1g)
  • Tyrosine (200mg)
  • Caffeine (150 mg)
$1.00$0.27
Ryse $39.99 (30 servings)
  • Citrulline (4500mg)
  • Beta-Alanine (3500 mg)
  • Caffeine (300mg)
  • Delayed-release caffeine (120 mg)
  • Theobromine (100mg)
  • Theanine (50mg)
  • Thinkamine 10 mg
$1.33$0.51
Gorilla Mode $49.99 (40 servings)
  • Citrulline (4500 mg)
  • Creatine (2500 mg)
  • Glycerol (1500 mg)
  • Malic Acid (1500 mg)
  • Betaine (1250 mg)
  • Tyrosine (750mg)
  • Agmatine (500mg)
  • Kanna (250mg)
  • Caffeine (175mg)
$1.25$0.87
Kaged Pre $44.99 (20 servings)
  • Citrulline (6500 mg)
  • BCAA (3.5g)
  • Leucine (3g)
  • Betaine (2.5g)
  • Beta alanine (1.6g)
  • Creatine (1.5g)
  • Coconut water powder (500mg)
  • Taurine (2g)
  • Tyrosine (1.85g)
  • Caffeine (274 mg)
$2.25$1.03
Pre Jym $49.99 (30 servings)
  • Caffeine (300mg)
  • Betaine (1.5g)
  • Taurine (1 g)
  • Beta-Alanine (2 g)
  • Beet Root (500mg)
  • Creatine (2g)
  • Citrulline (6g)
  • BCAAs (5g)
  • Tyrosine (1.5g)
  • Choline (150mg)
  • NAC (600mg)
$1.66$1.54

Here is the cost breakdown of the most popular pre-workout ingredients:

ProductCost in BulkCost Per GramApprox. Cost Per Serving
Alpha GPC$21.96 for 100g (167 servings)0.22 per g$0.13 (600mg dose)
Beta-Alanine$25.96 for 1000g (333 servings)0.026 per g$0.08 (3.2g dose)
Betaine$29.96 per 1000g (167 servings)0.029 per g$0.09-$0.17 (3-6g dose)
Caffeine$23.95 for 500 caps (100mg dose)$0.048 per 100mg$0.10 (200mg dose)
Carnitine$27.96 for 250g (125 servings)$0.11 per g$0.22 (2g dose)
Citrulline39.96 for 1000g (166 servings)0.03996 per g$0.24 (6g dose)
Creatine Monohydrate$55.96 for 1000g (200 servings)0.055 per g$0.28 (5g dose)
Dextrose (carbohydrate)$28.95 per 2268g (151 servings)0.012 per g$0.19 (15g pre workout)
Glycerol$26.96 per 1000g (500 servings)0.026 per g1.2g/kg of body weight for prolonged exercise $0.05 (2g dose)
PeakO2$15.82 for 120g (60 servings)$0.13 per g$0.26 (2g dose)
Sodium bicarbonate$22.95 for 907g (45 servings)$0.025 per g$0.53 (approx 20g dose)
Taurine$19.96 for 500g (250 servings)$0.039 per g$0.04-$0.08 (1-3g dose)
Theanine$22.96 for 250g (416 servings)$0.091 per g$0.02-$0.04 (200-400mg dose)
Tyrosine$39.96 per 1000g (500-2000 servings)$0.036g per g$0.02-$0.07 (Based on 500mg-2000mg dose)

7 Homemade Pre-Workout DIY Mixes for Less Than $1.00 Per Serving

1. Stimulant-Free Performance ($0.44 per serving) 

  • Creatine – 5g ($0.28 per serving)
  • Beta-Alanine – 3.2g ($0.08 per serving)
  • Taurine – 3g or Tyrosine – 2g ($0.08 per serving)
  • Upfront investment: $107.88 for around 200 servings

2. Best for Strength/Power ($0.92) 

  • Creatine – 5g ($0.28 per serving)
  • Caffeine – 200mg ($0.10 per serving)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate – 20g ($0.53 per serving)
    • *Dose at 0.3g/kg of bodyweight
  • Carbohydrates – 15g ($0.19 per serving)
  • Upfront Investment: $154.76 for around 90 servings 

(Sodium bicarbonate is the limiting factor here. The tub I linked above offers 45 servings whereas the bulk tubs of creatine, caffeine, and carbs offer 150-200 servings.)

3. Best for Pump ($0.68 per serving)

  • Citrulline – 6g ($0.24 per serving)
  • Glycerol – 2g ($0.05 per serving)
  • Creatine – 5g ($0.28 per serving)
  • Caffeine – 200mg ($0.10 per serving)
  • Upfront Investment: $146.83 for around 166 servings

4. Best for Mental Focus ($0.36 per serving) 

  • Alpha GPC – 600 mg ($0.13 per serving)
  • Taurine – 3g ($0.08 per serving)
  • Theanine – 200mg ($0.02 per serving)
  • Caffeine – 200mg ($0.10 per serving)
  • Upfront Investment: $81.83 for around 166 servings

5. Best for Fat Burning ($0.49 per serving)

  • Caffeine – 200 mg ($0.10 per serving)
  • Betaine – 6g ($0.17 per serving)
  • Carnitine – 2g dose ($0.22 per serving)
  • Upfront Investment: $87.87 for around 150 servings

6. Best for Muscle Gain ($0.69 per serving)

  • Glycerol – 2g ($0.05 per serving)
  • Carbohydrates – 15g ($0.19 per serving)
  • Betaine – 6g ($0.17 per serving)
  • Creatine – 5g ($0.28 per serving)
  • Upfront Investment: $138.83 for around 125 servings

7. Best for Cardio/Endurance ($0.87 per serving)

  • Beta-Alanine – 3.2g ($0.08 per serving)
  • Peak 02 – 2g ($0.26 per serving)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate – 20g ($0.53 per serving)
    • *Dose at 0.3g/kg of bodyweight. 
  • Upfront Investment: $103.50 for around 90 servings

Related Article: Can You Take Pre-Workout Instead Of Coffee? (Pros & Cons)

4 Tips For Making The Best Homemade Pre-Workout

4 tips for making the best homemade pre-workout

1. Be Attentive!

I can’t stress this point enough. 

The majority of the ingredients you will be purchasing in bulk for your pre-workout are white, odorless, flavorless powders. When mixing your product, it’s important to be careful and attentive to what you are doing. 

The doses of certain products vary, with some requiring you to measure them in milligrams and others requiring you to measure them in grams. Accidentally mismeasuring ingredients can have dangerous results. 

For example, if you accidentally measure out 3.2 grams of caffeine, thinking you’re measuring out beta-alanine, it could lead to toxicity or hospitalization or be life-threatening.

If you don’t want to take the time to measure a homemade pre-workout mix and don’t want to take store-bought pre-workout, check out my favorite pre-workout alternatives.

2. Mix Several Doses in Advance

It can be tedious and time-consuming to measure out each individual ingredient before each workout. 

For convenience, I recommend measuring out several days’ worth of pre-workout servings at a time. This makes them a convenient grab-and-go option throughout the week. 

Small condiment containers like these make storing and taking your pre-workout easy.

3. Use a Quality Scale

Because you have to make measurements in both grams and milligrams, depending on which ingredients you choose, it’s important to choose a scale that is precise and sensitive enough to measure out small ingredients. 

Find a scale that can measure to the 0.001g, like the Fuzion Digital Scale found on Amazon.

4. Buy Something to Flavor It

As mentioned earlier, the majority of the raw ingredients you will buy for your pre-workout are sour or bitter tasting. 

Try something like juice, Gatorade, or Mio Flavor Enhancers to help mask the taste and make taking the product more enjoyable. 

4 Things To Avoid When Making a DIY Homemade Pre-Workout 

1. Over/Underdosing Ingredients

The dosing recommendations above are based on what the research and literature have indicated is effective. 

Many supplement companies will sprinkle small, ineffective doses of ingredients into their products just to be able to say their products contain those ingredients. 

Decide which ingredients matter most for your goals, and use the clinically proven doses in your pre-workout. 

Furthermore, it should be noted that more does not equal better. The doses recommended are the ones that have been studied and deemed safe. Going above the recommended doses can lead to stomach upset and could potentially result in more serious illness or hospitalization. 

2. Not Taking Ingredients How They’re Meant To Be Taken

Some ingredients, like caffeine and citrulline, begin working almost immediately after they’re taken. 

Others, like creatine and beta-alanine, require daily supplementation to saturate the body before you see their effects. 

Double-check which ingredients work immediately and which ones require daily supplementation, and make sure you’re not skipping the ones that need daily supplementation on your rest days. 

3. Rushing Through Measurements/Not Measuring Accurately 

Make sure that your scale is calibrated and working properly before measuring ingredients. 

Also, measure your ingredients by weight (grams/milligrams) instead of volume (teaspoon/tablespoon). Products can settle in the packaging and become more dense/compact, so measuring with teaspoons or tablespoons could result in you taking higher than recommended doses. 

Take the time to measure each ingredient individually by weight to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your DIY pre-workout. 

4. Using Untested Ingredients

For the ingredients mentioned above, there is sufficient research behind them to prescribe safe and effective doses to improve athletic performance. 

Other ingredients, like Eria Jarensis or Yohimbe/Yohimbine, are questionable at best, and you would be better off avoiding them. 

While marketed as powerful stimulants, I could not find definitive research that proves their effectiveness or safety or gives proper dosing strategies. 

While they are legal to purchase, they are currently banned for drug-tested athletes and should be avoided. They are also illegal for import into certain countries. 

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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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