Gold Standard Pre-Workout Review: A Good Pick For Newbies?

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Optimum Nutrition is one of the most widely recognized sports supplement brands, thanks to the brand’s longevity and worldwide distribution. As one of the least expensive cost-per-serving pre-workouts, I put their Gold Standard Pre-Workout to the test to see if it actually provides the benefits it claims. 

Key Takeaways

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  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout comes at a great value, costing only $1.10 per serving. When I analyzed more than 50 brands, I found the average cost per serving of pre-workout to be around $1.61.
  • Despite its great value, Gold Standard Pre-Workout does not contain clinical doses for most key performance ingredients like beta-alanine and citrulline. It will provide reasonable energy but likely not much otherwise tangible benefit. 
  • Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a great option for anybody on a budget and looking for a pre-workout energy boost.  With 175mg of caffeine, you’ll get more of a “kick” than drinking coffee, but the doses are likely too low to provide a significant benefit to pump, power, or strength. 

Overall Rating: 3.6/5

gold standard pre-workout
gold standard pre-workout

Overview

  • Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a cost-effective pre-workout supplement from the renowned brand Optimum Nutrition

Features

  • Inexpensive
  • Good taste
  • Informed choice certified

Best For

  • People who are on a budget and want a low cost per serving pre-workout
  • Athletes who are drug tested and need a product that is Informed Choice Certified
  • Individuals who are sensitive to taste and texture
  • Someone whose main desire out of a pre-workout is increased energy

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.

What Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a budget-friendly pre-workout offered by one of the most globally recognized supplement brands, Optimum Nutrition. 

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

These ingredients have a lot of research-backed studies that support their effectiveness, but the doses found in Gold Standard Pre fall below clinical dosing standards for nearly every single one. These low doses make you less likely to notice significant enhancements to aspects like strength and endurance. 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is Informed Choice Certified, making it a safe and suitable option for drug-tested athletes. 

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a 30-serving container and comes in 4 flavors: Fruit Punch, Blueberry Lemonade, Green Apple, and Watermelon.

Claims vs Reality:  How I Felt After Taking Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout user experienced

I was a bit disappointed when I got the bottle of Gold Standard Pre-Workout in my hands and saw the ingredients. 

Despite its popularity, Gold Standard Pre-Workout is underdosed, and for someone like me who is used to taking clinically dosed pre-workouts (like Transparent Labs Bulk), I didn’t find that it provided much benefit above the energizing effects of caffeine. 

As a personal anecdote, I had tried this pre-workout after coming off a 4-week period where I stopped taking pre-workout entirely. I did this because I spent almost a year testing a lot of pre-workout products and was noticing that I wasn’t feeling the effects anymore. 

Because of this month-long hiatus, I would have lost the saturation of beta-alanine and creatine that I built up, which could explain why I didn’t notice substantial strength or endurance benefits from this pre-workout. 

Despite its low doses of performance-enhancing ingredients, I did experience a good energy boost when taking it and saw some redeeming qualities in Gold Standard Pre. 

The fact that this pre-workout is Informed Sport Certified means it undergoes additional third-party testing and is certified safe for any drug-tested athletes. 

Because of its low cost and lower doses of ingredients, this pre-workout is well-suited for people who want to try pre-workout for the first time or experience side effects like nausea or jitteriness from higher doses of pre-workouts (like Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout). 

gold standard pre-workout

Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a great option for anybody on a budget and looking for a pre-workout energy boost.

Gold Standard Pre-Workout Ingredients 

The ingredients here are listed per 1 scoop serving. 

IngredientDoseClinical Effective DoseMeets Dosing Standards
Creatine Monohydrate3 g3-5 g
AstraGin ®25 mg50-100mgx
Beta Alanine1.5 g3-6 gx
L-Citrulline750 mg6-8gx
Acetyl L-Carnitine375 mg1.5-3gx
Acetyl L-Tyrosine250 mg700-1000 mgx
Caffeine175 mgn/an/a
Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex100 mgn/an/a
gold standard pre-workout ingredients 

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most thoroughly studied sports supplements available. It plays a key role during one of the primary energy systems used during resistance training. 

Supplementing with creatine has been shown to increase performance during short-duration, high-intensity exercise (i.e. strength and power exercises) like weight lifting or sprinting. 

To be effective, creatine needs to be taken over the long term (at least 4 weeks) at a dose of 5g daily in order to saturate the body. After this period, a maintenance dose of 3-5g daily is sufficient to maintain saturation. 

With 3g of creatine monohydrate per serving, Gold Standard Pre has enough creatine to maintain saturation levels in the body, but is insufficient for the initial saturation phase. 

AstraGin ® 

AstraGin ® is a patented combination of notoginseng root and astragalus root. It was formulated to support gut health which then provides immune support and improved nutrient absorption. 

AstraGin®’s biggest benefit in a pre-workout supplement is that it can greatly enhance the absorption of amino acids, boosting the effectiveness of your pre-workout. 

The research on AstraGin® has used a dose of 50mg. Gold Standard Pre-Workout only contains 25mg per scoop, technically falling shy of clinical dose standards, which may make it ineffective. 

gold standard preworkout

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that plays a key role in creating a molecule called carnosine. Carnosine is an important buffer in the body that helps to delay the onset of fatigue. 

Supplementing with beta-alanine can increase muscle carnosine levels by up to 85%, improving endurance and delayed fatigue. 

Like creatine, beta-alanine has the best results when taken over the long term (at least 4 weeks) daily at a dose of 3-6g. After a 4-6 week period at 3-6g daily, a maintenance dose of 1.2g daily is sufficient. 

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre contains 1.5g of beta-alanine per scoop. This is enough for a maintenance dose but falls well below the clinical standard for optimum saturation and results. 

L-Citrulline

Citrulline is an amino acid that acts as a nitric oxide enhancer, increasing nitric oxide production in the body. 

Nitric Oxide helps dilate the body’s blood vessels, improving blood flow to the muscles and boosting recovery. Taking citrulline before your workout may provide a muscle pump or enhance strength and endurance. 

The current literature on supplementing with citrulline for improved exercise performance is inconsistent, but based on what’s available now, the optimal dose appears to be 6-8g taken approximately one hour before exercise. 

Gold Standard Pre contains a very small dose of citrulline, 750mg. This dose may provide a small enhancement to nitric oxide production but may fail to provide any noticeable muscle pump effects. 

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-Carnitine is a specific form of carnitine that is more easily absorbed from the gut and better able to cross the blood-brain barrier. 

Acetyl L-carnitine has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, meaning it can help the body adapt to oxidative stress and may reduce exercise-induced muscle damage

L-carnitine also helps with fat loss by moving fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they can be burned off as energy. 

The optimal dose of l-carnitine based on current literature is approximately 2g daily over the long term (4-12 weeks).

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre contains 375mg of acetyl l-carnitine, falling below clinical dose standards for athletic performance and recovery. 

Acetyl L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine and may boost cognitive function after a single dose. 

When taken before exercise, tyrosine can increase the total time to fatigue, resulting in increased work output and overall performance. 

The caveat here is that the studies that have shown tyrosine to be effective in this way have used doses of 100-150mg per kg of body weight, translating to between 7 and 10g of tyrosine for a 150lb person. 

Acetyl L-Tyrosine is theorized to be more absorbable and work more efficiently in the body. In this form, doses as little as 700-1000mg taken 30-60 minutes before exercise may be beneficial. 

Optimum Gold Standard Pre-Workout has 250mg of acetyl l-tyrosine per scoop, which falls below clinical dose standards. There is a chance that it will still work well with caffeine and acetyl l-carnitine to boost cognitive function. 

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up the central nervous system which causes an increase in alertness and mood and can delay time to exhaustion. 

Taking caffeine prior to exercise has been shown to improve almost every aspect of athletic performance including strength, power, cardio, and HIIT

There is no one clinically effective dose of caffeine since each individual will have a personalized response, and some people may be more or less sensitive than others. 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout contains 175mg of caffeine, which is on the low end of caffeine dosing compared to other pre-workouts (which go up to 325mg per serving). The 175mg dose is still equal to nearly two cups of coffee and can boost energy and stamina. 

Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex

Citrus bioflavonoids are plant-derived pigments found naturally in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. 

These bioflavonoids have potent antioxidant and cardioprotective properties. 

A 2018 study showed that supplementing with citrus bioflavonoids can improve exercise performance, specifically power output and improved cardiovascular output. 

The research on athletic performance has used a dose of 500mg, with doses between 250mg and 750mg for improving osteoarthritis symptoms. 

With a dose of 100mg, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre fails to meet the doses used in clinical research for improving athletic performance. 

Highlights: What I Like About Gold Standard Pre-Workout

pros vs cons of taking gold standard pre-workout

Inexpensive

For individuals just looking for a product to boost energy and mental focus, Gold Standard Pre offers an inexpensive option ($1.10 per serving), costing less than a commercially available cup of coffee. 

I did an analysis of more than 50 different pre-workouts currently available on the market. The cost per serving ranged from $0.90 to $3.00, putting Gold Standard Pre among the least expensive options. 

Good taste

Gold Standard Pre mixes up completely and has a juice-like taste and texture. I specifically tested the Fruit Punch flavor, which reminds me of red Kool-Aid. 

Generally speaking, products that have lower doses of ingredients or a smaller overall scoop size tend to have a much better taste. This is because the raw ingredients found in pre-workout are very bitter or sour, so when you have higher doses of those ingredients, the taste is negatively affected. 

Informed Choice Certified

Informed Choice Certified products undergo additional third-party testing to ensure that the ingredients found within the product match what’s disclosed on the label. 

This testing isn’t a guarantee that the product will be effective or deliver the advertised results, but it is an additional guarantee that there are no impurities or undesired ingredients added to the formula. 

Drawbacks What I Did Not Like About  Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Low doses of ingredients

Despite using ingredients that have been proven effective, Gold Standard Optimum Pre Workout fails to meet clinical dose standards for nearly every single ingredient in its formula. 

With 175mg of caffeine and some amino acids and vitamins to support energy and recovery, you should notice at least a moderate boost to energy and potential increases to endurance with Gold Standard Pre. 

For some users, especially those more accustomed to pre-workout, Gold Standard may contain doses too low to elicit noticeable increases to strength, pump, and stamina. 

Lots of additives

While it is common for pre-workouts to use a variety of gums, flavors, sweeteners, and/or colors to enhance their products, Gold Standard Pre contains 12 additional ingredients that do not relate to enhanced performance. 

These additional ingredients include natural and artificial flavors, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, three different types of gums, and artificial food dyes. 

Out of the 10g scoop, approximately 6.8g are the ingredients listed in the Supplement Facts Panel. That means that 3.2g or 32% of the scoop contains additional ingredients like flavors, gums, and colors. 

For comparison, Transparent Labs Bulk has a 20.5g scoop with approximately 18g of active ingredients, meaning only 12% of the scoop size is for additional ingredients. 

How Does  Gold Standard Pre-Workout Stack Up Against Our Criteria For Pre-Workouts

ON Gold Standard Pre

Price

Our rating: 5/5

A low cost does not automatically mean that a product is a great value. While Gold Standard Pre is inexpensive, it also contains low and potentially ineffective doses of many ingredients. 

Note that I did find this product listed for as low as $0.80 (here), which makes it so inexpensive that I would buy this pre-workout and buy my own creatine and/or beta-alanine to supplement this product. Doing so would give clinical dosing and a lower overall cost per serving than most pre-workout supplements

Taste 

Our rating: 5/5

Gold Standard Pre has a juice or kool-aid-like taste when mixed with the recommended 6-8 ounces of water. When sticking to the lower end of the water recommendation, I found the taste slightly too strong. 

Taste is a matter of personal preference, of course, but I found the Fruit Punch flavor that I tried to be enjoyable when mixed with 8 ounces of water. 

Mixability 

Our rating: 4.5/5

I did not experience any residue or undissolved powder when drinking Gold Standard Pre. It has a juice-like consistency that would be good for individuals sensitive to gritty textures. 

Gold Standard Pre Workout mixibility

When I mixed this product and walked away for a while, I did notice some undissolved powder that settled in the bottom of the cup. While this didn’t affect the texture when I was drinking the pre-workout, I have taken away the 5/5 rating. 

Energy

Our rating: 3.5/5

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre provided energy similar to having coffee before exercise. I did not notice significant enhancements to mental focus with this product.

While Gold Standard Pre does contain some nootropics (acetyl l-carnitine and acetyl l-tyrosine), the doses used fall below clinical dose standards and, at least for me personally, didn’t provide a noticeable benefit. 

Pump 

Our rating: 1/5

Gold Standard Pre did not deliver noticeable enhancements to muscle pump. In defense of the product, a muscle pump is not one of the benefits it claims to provide. 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout contains 750mg of l-citrulline, a common ingredient for increasing nitric oxide production and muscle pumps. However, the dose in Gold Standard Pre is insufficient to provide that benefit. 

Strength

Our rating: 2.5/5

When taking Gold Standard Pre-Workout, I felt I had the strength and stamina to push through my prescribed sets and reps. 

With some pre-workouts I tested in the past, I felt like I could hit new volume with each workout, week after week. 

I didn’t notice those benefits from Gold Standard Pre, but the combination of caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine was enough to help get me through my workouts. 

Since both creatine and beta-alanine require weeks of loading phases to see their full benefit, it’s likely that I would have noticed more significant benefits after several more weeks of training.

who should take  gold standard pre-workout?

Who Should Take  Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

 Gold Standard Pre-Workout is for: 

  • Athletes who are drug tested and need a product that is Informed Choice Certified
  • Individuals who are sensitive to taste and texture
  • Someone whose main desire out of a pre-workout is increased energy

Who Should Not Take  Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

I would not recommend  Gold Standard Pre-Workout for:

  • Anyone who wants a noticeable boost to pump or strength
  • Individuals who are trying to avoid artificial flavors or colors

What Are Other Customers Saying About Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

The Optimum Nutrition website shows a 4.9 out of 5 star rating for Gold Standard Pre, but this is based on only 62 reviews, which I found to be an incredibly small sample size, especially for a company as popular as Optimum Nutrition. 

To get a clearer picture of what customers think about Gold Standard Pre, I relied on Amazon, which had just 43,000 reviews. 

Gold Standard Pre has a 4.4/5 star rating on Amazon, with 68% of users giving it a full 5 star rating and 15% of users giving it 3 stars or lower. 

The features customers liked most about Gold Standard Pre included its taste and clean energy. Customers mentioned all 4 flavors as being great tasting options. 

Most people didn’t report feeling side effects like jitteriness, anxiety, or nausea, with many users commenting that they think it’s a great option for people who are new to pre-workout for these reasons. 

The great value was another notable topic in the reviews. 

When digging into what people didn’t like about Gold Standard Pre, the most common complaints were that users either felt that the products didn’t do anything for them or were complaining about the skin tingling sensation and skin flushing from the niacin and beta-alanine. 

Though uncommon, some users did report nausea or bloating after taking this product, and a few people complained about the addition of the food dye Red 40.

Gold Standard Pre-Workout Alternatives

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Advanced

optimum nutrition gold standard pre advanced

For those individuals who are looking for a product that delivers higher doses of ingredients for strength, pump, and energy while still maintaining a reasonable cost per serving, Optimum Nutrition offers the aptly named, Gold Standard Pre-Workout Advanced

This pre-workout picks up where the original Gold Standard Pre falls short. The Advanced formula contains full clinical doses of citrulline (6g), creatine monohydrate (5g), and beta-alanine (3.2g). It also features 1.2g of NO3-T® and a blend of electrolytes; two key additions that will help muscle recovery. 

The Advanced formula has nearly twice as much caffeine as the original, with 300mg of caffeine per scoop. 

This advanced formula does come at a more premium price point, listed at twice the cost of $2.20 per serving. It is available in three unique flavors: Berry Blast, Raspberry Lime Mojito, and Strawberry Mango Daiquiri.

Transparent Labs Bulk

Transparent Labs Bulk

If you have read through this review and you want to find a best-of-both-worlds alternative between the price point of Gold Standard Pre and the clinical doses of the Advanced formula, consider trying Transparent Labs Bulk

Transparent Labs costs around $1.66 per serving, falling perfectly between the two Optimum Nutrition pre-workout options. 

Like Gold Standard Pre, Transparent Labs Bulk is Informed Choice certified, making it suitable for tested athletes. Like the advanced formula, it contains clinical doses of citrulline and beta-alanine and clinical doses of a half dozen other ingredients to support strength, mental focus, and endurance. 

The one drawback to Transparent Labs Bulk is that it does not contain any creatine. 

Working in favor of Transparent Labs Bulk is the fact that it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives. It is currently available in 12 different flavor varieties. 

Are There Any Promos or Discounts For Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

While researching, I discovered Gold Standard Pre-Workout at $0.80 per serving here, notably less than Optimum Nutrition’s $1.10. The reason for this price difference was unclear. 

Optimum Nutrition offers a 15% newsletter sign-up discount and current promotions like 15% off $100 and 20% off $150 with the code SAVEMORE, although the duration of these deals is unknown. 

Staying informed on such promotions is best achieved through subscribing to Optimum Nutrition’s newsletter or those of preferred supplement retailers, as the product is widely available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout The Best Pre Workout?

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is an inexpensive pre-workout that will provide a reasonable energy boost that is a great option for beginners. Advanced users or those looking for strength and pump support will likely find this product underdosed. 

Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout Third Party Tested? 

Gold Standard Pre is Informed Choice Certified meaning it undergoes additional third party testing to ensure that it is free from banned substances. 

Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout Good For Weight Loss? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout does contain caffeine and carnitine, two ingredients that can support fat loss. That being said, it’s unlikely that just taking this pre-workout will contribute to significant weight loss. 

Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout Safe For Women? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is safe for use by women but should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

How Much Caffeine Does Gold Standard Pre-Workout Have? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout contains 175mg of caffeine per serving, equal to about two small cups of coffee. 

Does Gold Standard Pre-Workout Have Creatine? 

 Gold Standard Pre-Workout contains 3g of creatine monohydrate per scoop. 

How Long Does Gold Standard Pre-Workout Last For? 

The energizing effects of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout can be felt for approximately 1-2 hours after ingestion. 

Does Gold Standard Pre-Workout Need To Be Cycled? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout does not need to be cycled as long as it’s not used every single day. Daily use might result in you building up a tolerance to the caffeine and no longer feeling it’s energizing effects. If this happens, take 2-3 weeks completely off pre-workout to help reset your tolerance. 

Will Gold Standard Pre-Workout Make Me Jittery?

Gold Standard Pre-Workout does contain caffeine and may cause jitteriness in people who are new to pre-workout or sensitive to caffeine. The relatively low dose (175mg) is unlikely to cause jitteriness and it was a rarely reported side effect. 

What Flavors Are Available For Gold Standard Pre-Workout? 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is available in four flavors: Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, and Watermelon. 

Where Is Gold Standard Pre-Workout Made? 

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre is manufactured in the USA containing domestic and imported ingredients. 

What Is Optimum Nutrition’s Shipping Policy? 

Optimum Nutrition offers next day shipping within the continental US. Typical shipping time within the US is 3-8 business days. They offer free shipping with orders over $75. You cannot order internationally from the Optimum Nutrition website. Shipping policies will vary with third party retailers. 

What Is Optimum Nutrition’s Return Policy? 

Returns must be initiated within 30 days of purchase with 75% of the product unused. Optimum Nutrition will not accept returns purchased through third party retailers. 

How to Contact Optimum Nutrition?

Customers within the United States can contact the customer support line at 1-800-705-5226. Their customer support hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm CST. 

Alternative, you can reach them at oncustsuppus@optimum nutrition.com or fill out the support ticket link on their website located here. 

Follow Optimum Nutrition online on Facebook, Instagram, X(Twitter), and Youtube.

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Blancquaert L, Everaert I, Derave W. Beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Jan;18(1):63-70. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000127. PMID: 25474013.

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Talenezhad, N., Mohammadi, M., Ramezani-Jolfaie, N., Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., & Salehi-Abargouei, A. (2020). Effects of l-carnitine supplementation on weight loss and body composition: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 37 randomized controlled clinical trials with dose-response analysis. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, 37, 9-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2020.03.008

Tumilty, L., Davison, G., Beckmann, M. et al. Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol 111, 2941–2950 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1921-4

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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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