There are so many pre-workouts available that it can make it impossible to decide which is best. And many pre-workout ingredients are underdosed and have ingredients that may not align with your health goals.

Fortunately, if you can’t decide which pre-workout supplements are right for you, you can make your own pre-workout supplement.

We’ll go over the best ingredients, like beta-alanine, and why making your own pre-exercise is the most effective way to work on your exhibition.

Making your own pre-workout supplement gives you full control of the portions, so you don't have to worry about proprietary blends, and you can tailor it to match your fitness goals, like muscle growth or fat loss.

Before you get started creating your homemade pre-workout and what to look for in a pre-workout, there are a few things you need to know.

1. Figure Out Your Workout Goal

The most important thing you need to do before you make your own pre-workout is to figure out your health and fitness goals.

The best part of making your own pre-workout is to include the best ingredients. You're missing out on serious gains if you’re not tailoring a custom pre-workout to your workout style and fitness goals.

Your training is specific to your goals, and your own pre-workout supplement should be too.

Woman working out next to kettlebell and supplements

2. Use Unflavored Ingredients

The next thing you need to know is that you should use unflavored ingredients when you make your own pre-workout and make your pre-workout taste better.

Using unflavored ingredients ensures you can mix them together without having multiple flavors dancing in your mouth.

Once your ingredients are picked out, you can add flavor to your homemade pre-workout drink.

3. Use Clinically Proven Ingredients

The term “clinically proven ingredients” has turned into marketing hype over the years.

The term used to mean something, though, and you want to use actual clinically proven ingredients in your pre-workouts. This means they have been scientifically tested and proven effective to increase your performance.

You also want the clinically proven ingredient to be in the clinically validated dose.

4. Use Clinically Proven Doses

Many pre-workout supplements you'll find on store shelves add extra stimulants to make up for their lackluster formulas. These stimulants, though, will make you feel jittery and set you up for energy crashes when the effects of the stimulants start to fade.

This is what causes the infamous pre-workout crashes. However, when you make your own pre-workout supp, you can use clinically proven doses of each ingredient to ensure you don’t have to deal with the pre-workout crash and ensure optimal results when you exercise.

man scooping pre-workout ready to drink

8 Most Important Pre-Workout Ingredients

The most important part of designing a pre-workout is to use the right ingredients. Using the right dosages of those ingredients is just as important. Using too much of one ingredient or ingredients that shouldn’t be mixed can be harmful to your health.

Here are the most important pre-workout ingredients to include in your homemade pre-workout:

1. Creatine

Creatine is one of the most thoroughly researched supplements in the fitness industry. Creatine has established itself as a must-have performance enhancer regardless of your health or fitness goals.

Creatine is stored in our muscle cells and assists in the transportation of phosphate that creates muscle contraction. This non-essential amino acid increases strength, helps to build muscle, and supports faster recovery.

If you want to lift heavier loads, creatine is a supplement you should take daily. You should add 5 g of creatine monohydrate to your own pre-workout formula.

2. Beta-Alanine

Pre-workouts should also have beta-alanine. Beta-Alanine is an amino acid absorbed through the bloodstream and transported into our muscle cells and is popular in the fitness world.

When lactic acid builds up in your muscles, it makes it harder to push through your workouts. Beta-Alanine Beta-alanine buffers lactic acid build-up in the working muscles so you can push harder for longer.[1]

Adding beta-alanine to your own pre-workout drinks will reduce neuromuscular fatigue and lessen muscle soreness during and after your workout.

A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a resistance training group who supplemented with beta-alanine showed significantly greater strength gains in the squat than those in a placebo group.[2]

Some research suggests that adding beta-alanine to your homemade pre-workout supplement could increase strength gains in a resistance training program. You should take 3 to 5 g of beta-alanine as part of your homemade pre-workout supplements.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine is a base ingredient in virtually all pre-workouts and should be included when you make your own pre-workout. Smart caffeine intake improves energy levels, endurance, aerobic capacity, and power.[3]

However, getting the right dose is essential. Most studies suggest that you should have around 3 mg per kg of body weight for the best results.

So, if you weigh around 190 pounds, you’ll need about 258 mg of caffeine in your pre-workout supplements. Just keep in mind that some people won’t react well to caffeine doses in this range.

Taking too much pre-workout and caffeine can cause the jitters or a natural wired feeling and a post-workout energy slump. Experiment to see how your body reacts.

Cutting back by as much as 50 mg on your ideal dose for bodyweight to avoid negative side effects of pre-workout.

The cognitive and alertness benefits from caffeine supplementation will still be there, but the performance-enhancing effects will be slightly less.

4. Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is another essential ingredient for your pre-workout. Citrulline is an amino acid that helps increase the levels of arginine in the body, which is the key amino acid in the production of nitric oxide.

This boosts the level of nitric oxide, enhancing blood flow around the body. Along with resistance training, citrulline gives you a much greater pump effect from your workout.

Increased blood flow also brings vital nutrients to the muscle cells faster so you can train harder for longer. Not all citrullines are the same, though. There are essentially two types on the market; L-Citrulline and Citrulline-Malate.

You want to use citrulline-malate in your pre-workout formula. The citrulline has been combined with a compound called malate to improve the absorption and utilization of the citrulline.

Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. Use a product with a 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malate for best results. You should include 6 to 8 g of citrulline malate in your pre-workout drink.

5. Betaine

Betaine is a compound commonly found in beetroot juice. Betaine has been shown to have strength and performance-enhancing benefits, and it can help increase lean mass and decrease fat mass.

If you add this to your pre-workout supplements, you will definitely notice its effects if your diet doesn't include many beets. You should add 2.5 g of betaine when you make your own pre-workout.

6. BCAAs

Branched-chain amino acids in a pre-workout usually include isoleucine, leucine, and valine.

Adding a branched-chain amino acid when you make your own pre-workout will lessen muscle soreness after exercise, reduce fatigue, enhance liver function, and help improve your overall athletic performance.

Leucine is an essential acid that will really stimulate muscle growth. You can add 6 g to 10 g of BCAA’s when you make your own pre-workout.

Related Article - BCAA Vs Pre-Workout

7. L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is the most abundant and naturally occurring essential amino acid in the human body. It makes up approximately 60% of the essential amino acids in your muscle tissue.

Glutamine helps direct the body where and when to place nitrogen atoms to rebuild and repair muscle tissue.

When you add this to make your pre-workout, you're helping to reduce muscle soreness and protect yourself from workout-induced muscle mass breakdown. You'll want to add 1000 mg to your pre-workout.

8. Salt

Many people are taken aback when they find out most pre-workout supplements contain salt (or at least they should). However, salt in pre-workout can definitely improve your exercise performance. Salt is made of sodium and chloride, which are two electrolytes.

Sodium helps with muscle contraction and facilitates the movement of amino acids into the muscle cell. This promotes protein synthesis.

It also helps you better absorb all the other ingredients in your pre-workout. You don't have to worry about any type of salt to add to your pre-workout.

One type won't enhance your workout performance more than another. Ordinary table salt will do the job; you'll only need a small amount – about 50 mg.

Salt ready for making DIY pre-workout

Mixing Your Own Pre-Workout Based On Your Training

The above ingredients can be combined to enhance your athletic performance and achieve your fitness goals. You can create your proprietary blend with these building blocks.

Below are a few simple pre-workout DIY recipes with science-backed ingredients that are easy to source and straightforward to make.

All you need to do is add 8 ounces of water to the listed ingredients and mix with a shaker or a spoon. For some flavor, you can add kool-aid powder, Gatorade powder, or any water flavoring.

1. Recipe For Strength And Size

If you want to maximize size, strength, and recovery, this simple recipe is for you.

This pre-workout mix of ingredients aims to provide you with the best long-term boosts to workout performance, pushing your athleticism and progress to the next level.




3g per serving to reach supplementary doses, improve strength-endurance, and boost muscle gain potential


3-5g to improve recovery between sets, boost the size of pumps, and keep your muscles fuelled up.


5-10g of maltodextrin or cyclic dextrin for performance and fatigue-busting


Roughly 400mg per serving based on your personal preference and tolerance

2. Recipe For Endurance And Stamina

Endurance and stamina are just as important as strength and size. Nutrition is equally important for both areas of fitness, and they'll require different products and a different focus.




2-5g per serving to support endurance, improve lactic acid clearance and boost time-to-exhaustion.


3-5g to support repeated bout performances and recovery during rests.


5-20g of carbs per serving will be great to support your endurance goals and fuel your muscles


200-300mg per serving based on personal preference and caffeine-tolerance

3. Mixed Recipe: Strength, Size, And Work Capacity

This is the pre-workout mix we’d recommend for most people. Most pre-workout supplements are for the general gym enthusiast.

And while it isn’t quite as specific, it provides the most important ingredients for overall health, well-being, and sports performance.

This is also an effective pre-workout for CrossFit athletes since they need a well-round supplement.




2-5g for boosted fatigue resistance, endurance, and resilience to muscle damage.


2-5g of creatine for improved strength, power, and health


Roughly 200mg for general workout benefits such as wakefulness and reduction of fatigue


200-300mg per serving based on personal preference and caffeine-tolerance

3 Reasons To Make Your Own Pre-Workout Supplements

1. Improved Dosage Sizes

Along with controlling what you put into a custom pre-workout, you can also control how much. You have no control over dosages when you buy premade pre-workout powders or energy drinks.

Many pre-workouts hide behind proprietary blends so that they can go heavy on the cheap fillers and provide less of the expensive active ingredients.

That’s not ideal when you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle mass, and get the most out of your workout sessions.

When you build your custom pre-workout, you select the dosage based on your goals. You can ramp up specific compounds if you like lifting weights or cut down on others if you’re just going for endurance.

Having this control is great since the supplement industry has a bad reputation for selling ineffective products.

When you make your own pre-workout, you can be certain that you're not getting short-changed or drinking poor-quality ingredients. Many people choose not to use pre-workout and take caffeine pills or drink coffee instead because they don't want to ingest poor ingredients.

2. Lowers Costs

Even though you might pay more money upfront, you stand to save a lot of money in the long term when you make your own pre-workout.

This is because most pre-made pre-workout ingredients are inexpensive. However, you can never be sure of the quality of the ingredients in them.

And, most of your money is being spent on the cost of marketing, not the actual product. When you’re making your own pre-workout supplement, you’ll be able to save money without missing out on the things you want.

3. More Accurate For Users

One of the best parts of having your own pre-workout recipe is that it gives you the ability to adjust the serving size of each ingredient.

For example, the recommended dose of an ingredient might not work for your fitness goals. Or, maybe you need more caffeine intake than the usual person.

If you’re looking for muscle gains, you can increase your dosage of creatine monohydrate. You can specifically tailor your pre-workout to what works best for you. This ability to tweak the inputs results in better control of the output.  

Common DIY Pre-Workout Questions

How much does it cost to create your own pre-workout?

A brand-name pre-workout can cost as much as $2 per serving. The total cost per serving of your homemade pre-workout is about 60 cents. That's a 70% discount.

Should men and women take the same pre-workout ingredients?

Men and women can generally use the same pre-workout ingredients. You should choose your ingredients based on your fitness goals. If you're using pre-workout supplements to support your efforts with strength training or running a marathon, your gender doesn’t matter.

What are some challenges in making your own pre-workout?

The main challenge of creating your own pre-workout drink is that you need to know what you'll be using. You need to understand what your fitness goals are and what you need to achieve them. You don’t want to put in creatine monohydrate without knowing exactly what it does. This takes a bit of research. Do you know what protein synthesis is or what ingredients can help with mental focus or muscle strength? Or what about the importance of beta-alanine supplementation? There’s a lot more effort and nutrition research involved.

What's a natural pre-workout food?

Many people drink coffee to go the natural route for pre-workout supplementation. As far as foods go, you can have yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit, bananas, or oats before your workout for a little boost. For a DIY keto pre-workout, try a packet of Superfat Nut Butter with a side of plain Greek yogurt.

What time of day should you take homemade pre-workouts?

You need to take your pre-workout before your workout. The time of day doesn't matter… however, be careful with caffeine. Most active ingredients in your pre will take 30-60 minutes to kick in. Don’t wait until you get to the gym to take it, or you'll be well into your second or third exercise before the full effects kick in.

Should you cycle these types of supplements?

Many sports scientists recommend caffeine cycling to renew your tolerance. Cycling caffeine is simply a brief period where you’ll stop consuming caffeine, usually for around two weeks. Research has shown cycling will reduce your tolerance so you can feel the effects of caffeine again.


There are several key benefits when you make your own pre-workout supplement. The money you save by making your own can be put toward more whey protein and new gym memberships.

You can also choose your own ingredients and dosages. For example, creatine can be added to help you gain muscle mass and support your training volume.

And you won’t have to worry about putting any junk in your body. After reading this article, you might not be able to start your own supplement company, but you’ll be able to make a pretty good pre-workout supplement.


Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.