Whether you're a hardcore athlete or someone that enjoys working out, there's no doubt that maximizing your workout is important.

While pre-workout has been known to provide you with the energy you need for exercise, what about caffeine pills?

If you've always wondered 'are caffeine pills better than pre-workout?' and which one provides you with more energy, we're here to help.

Below are the key differences between taking a caffeine pill versus a pre-workout supplement.

1. Ingredients

As the name suggests, caffeine pills are formulated with a simple caffeine formula that does not contain additional flavors or colors. Most of the time, these caffeine tablets have ingredients such as green tea extracts or l-theanine. [1]

Pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, usually come with a plethora of other ingredients, from beta-alanine to creatine, amino acids, and more. They not only have performance-enhancing benefits but also muscle growth and recovery. [2]

2. Caffeine Content

Both caffeine pills and pre-workout supplements have caffeine as the predominant ingredient. When comparing the two, however, there's more caffeine content in pre-workout than in caffeine tablets.

So, how much caffeine is in pre-workout? Depending on which brand you choose, it can have as much as 500mg of caffeine per serving, while a caffeine pill can have caffeine content as low as 100mg per serving. To put things into perspective, a cup of coffee has about 95mg of caffeine.

So, while these supplements do have a higher amount of caffeine than if you were to drink coffee, they are specially formulated to help with exercise performance.

Caffeine Pills Vs Pre-Workout – Which Gives You More Energy?

3. Amount Needed Per Session

The amount you need is highly dependent on what you’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or bodybuilder. Just as long as you’re trying to burn fat and strengthen muscles, the typical dose is about 200 mg of caffeine.

If you're unsure of your caffeine tolerance or are worried about consuming too much caffeine, start with a smaller dose and see how your body responds to these caffeine supplements.

With pre-workout, they typically have a label that indicates how much you should be consuming so you don't take too much pre-workout. It's typically a scoop that can come with anywhere between 200 - 500mg of caffeine.

4. Time To Kick In & How Long It Stays In Your System

Whether you're taking caffeine pills or pre-workout, it's best to take them about 20 to 60 minutes before a workout.

This will give the caffeine time to kick in - helping to conquer your fitness goals as it improves focus, endurance, and alertness.

How long does pre-workout last? The effects of pre-workout can last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. It's important to follow the recommended dosage instructions and not exceed the recommended serving size to avoid potential side effects and ensure safety.

are caffeine pills better than pre-workout

5. Best For Bodybuilding

When it comes to consuming caffeine pills and pre-workout, there isn't a clear indication of which is better for bodybuilding and which is better for aerobic fitness.

Unlike consuming a caffeine pill, the pre-workout supplements do come with ingredients that contribute to muscle growth and recovery - something you wouldn't get in pills.

The pills, however, will help to boost focus and enhance both alertness and endurance, allowing you to get the most out of your workout.

If you want to build strength and have a tendency to feel tired, it’s worth incorporating caffeine in your training to provide you with a boost of energy.

6. Best For Cardio

When it comes to exercises like running, caffeine supplements might be the better option. They help improve nitric oxide blood flow, which can assist with the fat-burning process.

It's also a central nervous system stimulant that will increase both power and endurance during your workout.

If you'd like that boost of energy and aren't as concerned about your caffeine intake, then supplements would be a better option than a caffeine tablet. They also can help with reducing muscle soreness and will allow you to push through those last reps.

While both come with different benefits, they will both help you with your training and ensure that you're at optimal performance.

man running on treadmill after taking pre-workout

Can You Take Caffeine Pills & Pre-Workouts Together?

While you might be tempted to take both together to get your caffeine fix, you should avoid doing so as both already come with a good amount of caffeine.

Not only do you run the risk of consuming too much caffeine, which could cause numerous problems such as high blood pressure, but you would also be at risk of developing a tolerance. [3]

Overconsuming caffeine means you'll lower your body's ability to feel that energy high. If you need to take both, do it only for special occasions and make sure you're taking the amount of caffeine into consideration.

Choosing Caffeine Pills For Fitness Energy

Similar to having a cup of coffee, caffeine pills are a great option if you’re looking to have a temporary mental and physical boost.

Most caffeine pills either contain caffeine that has been naturally extracted or synthetic caffeine. In terms of the amount they have, most average between 100 to 200mg per serving which is similar to your morning cup of coffee.


  • As caffeine pills don’t come with extra artificial flavors or preservatives, you avoid consuming extra calories.
  • It’s fluid-free, making it a good option for athletes doing sports such as running to prevent bathroom breaks.
  • These pills are simple for you to make sure you’re getting the right amount of caffeine.
  • Consumption is extremely easy. Simply pop the tablet, and you're good to go.
  • Caffeine pills are generally not expensive, and you'll still be getting sufficient benefits to help your overall exercise, making it a great cost-effective option.


  • You'll need to take your body weight into consideration as It's easy for you to overdo the pills since it's much easier to consume than drinking coffee.

Getting Revved Up With Pre-Workouts

When it comes to a pre-workout supplement, while it does have caffeine, the main ingredient could be different depending on the formula.

Generally, these supplements do come with a mix of vitamins, amino acids, and in some instances, even sugar.


  • There’s a wide variety out there, so you’re able to research and try different types to see which ones would work the best for you and what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Pre-workouts are relatively cost-effective as you'd typically supplement this with something else to maximize your overall performance.
  • Since you’ll have to scoop it out, you’re able to measure out the amount of caffeine and will know how much you’re getting.


  • Some supplements don't list out the whole ingredient list, so you might be consuming certain ingredients that you're not aware of, which wouldn't be good for your body in the long run.
  • You'll need to be careful with consumption, as a pre-workout supplement could have more calories as well since sweeteners, colors, and other ingredients are typically added.

How Is Coffee Different From Caffeine Pills & Pre-Workout?

Here are some ways that coffee is different from caffeine pills and pre-workout:

  • Coffee comes with a standard amount of caffeine in it (95mg), but it can vary depending on what you’re drinking.
  • Most people consume coffee with no problems at all.
  • Coffee isn’t typically used by athletes as it’s not made for the sole purpose of exercise or performance.
  • As coffee does come with acidic compounds, it could cause some individuals to have acid reflux.
  • Coffee comes with plenty of antioxidants like polyphenols and other compounds that provide health benefits such as reducing the chance of cardiovascular disease.
are caffeine pills good for pre-workout

Frequently Asked Caffeine Pills & Pre-Workout Questions

Is caffeine important for working out?

Studies have shown that caffeine can benefit exercise. Most athletes do use caffeine in some form or another to provide them with energy for their workouts.

Do all pre-workouts have caffeine?

Yes, almost all pre-workout comes with caffeine or some other stimulant as their main goal is to provide the energy required for exercise. You can try switching to a non-stimulant pre-workout if you don't want the caffeine.

Is it OK to take caffeine pills on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take it with or without food. If it ends up upsetting your stomach, make sure you’re taking it with food.

Where do you buy caffeine pills?

You can buy them through Amazon, at health stores, or online.

How much caffeine is in C4 pre-workout?

One serving of C4 pre-workout has about 150mg of caffeine - which is a good amount and will provide that extra boost during exercise. 


As seen above, both caffeine pills and pre-workout come with their own pros and cons. It really depends on what you're trying to achieve and what type of workout you're doing.

No matter which supplement you choose to take, make sure that you’re taking the right dosage. The wrong dosage will not only cause trouble with sleep, but it could also cause more harm than good in the long run.

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Cellucor C4 Ultimate Pre Workout Benefits







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1. https://www.health.com/mind-body/are-caffeine-pills-safe
2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pre-workout-supplements
3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285194

Last Updated on August 21, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.