One of the most crucial ingredients of pre-workout is caffeine.
Lots of people love the stuff, especially avid lifters, but the desired amount of caffeine varies from person to person.
Some people won’t touch a pre-workout supplement unless it has at least 350 mg of caffeine per serving, while others don’t like to go above 200 mg of caffeine.
Below you’ll find the best pre-workout supplements for each caffeine amount.
We’ll start at 200 mg of caffeine and work our way up. If you know which caffeine amount you’re interested in, then use the jump links below:
- Best pre-workout with 200 mg of caffeine
- Best pre-workout with 300 mg of caffeine
- Best pre-workout with 350 mg of caffeine
- Best pre-workout with 400 mg of caffeine
- Best pre-workout with 500 mg of caffeine
- Best pre-workout with 600 mg of caffeine
Best Pre Workout with 200 mg of Caffeine
200 mg of caffeine is a pretty standard amount of caffeine for pre-workout supplements.
As a point of reference, a 5 Hour Energy contains 200 mg of caffeine.
It’s enough to get most people going without experiencing some of the negative side effects of caffeine, such as anxiety or shakey hands.
Of course, for those who are sensitive to caffeine, they’ll probably want to start at lower doses, perhaps around 100 mg. It’s equivalent to about two cups of coffee and is the amount of caffeine you’ll find in many energy drinks.
Bulk Pre-Workout – Transparent Labs
With just over 200 mg of caffeine, BCAAs, Vitamin D3, and Zinc, BULK is a great choice if you're looking for a normal amount of caffeine + extra nutritional support.
LV10 = 10% off Transparent Labs
Bulk Pre-Workout contains 210 mg of caffeine per serving.
Bulk is one of Transparent Labs’ flagship pre-workout supplements. It has been available for several years and was re-formulated in 2021 to become even more effective.
Bulk Pre-Workout contains 210 mg of caffeine. 180 mg comes from caffeine anhydrous and 30 mg comes from di-caffeine malate. Di-caffeine malate is 75% caffeine and 25% malic acid, so the 40 mg of di-caffeine malate actually yields 30 mg of caffeine.
Bulk is designed to make sure your body has all of the essential nutrients it needs to produce testosterone and other muscle-building hormones, including vitamin D, zinc, and boron. It also has ingredients that help with focus: Alpha GPC and L-Tyrosine. If that wasn’t enough, it includes four grams of BCAAs at the proper 2:1:1 ratio to make sure your protein intake is topped up.
Of course, it includes the standard Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, and throws in Betaine Anhydrous to help with power output.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded pre-workout with 200 mg of caffeine that you can take as often as you’d like, Bulk from Transparent Labs is a great choice.
Best Pre Workout with 300 mg of Caffeine
300 mg of caffeine is where many of the more “advanced” pre-workout supplements start.
As a point of reference, most Monster Energy drinks contain 300 mg of caffeine.
Wrecked Pre-Workout – Huge Supplements
Wrecked v2 released April 11, 2022!
Wrecked has a stacked label of stims + pump enhancers that make it a great choice for someone looking for a strong pre-workout without negative side effects.
v2 really takes things up to the next level. Hats off to Huge Supplements!
Wrecked Pre-Workout contains 325 mg of caffeine.
Wrecked Pre-Workout burst onto the scene in 2020 and quickly gained attention for its loaded formula that delivered excellent energy, focus, and pumps.
Wrecked was recently reformulated in 2022 to become even more loaded!
The latest version of Wrecked Pre-Workout contains 325 mg of caffeine, which is the same as the previous version.
250 mg comes from caffeine anhydrous, while an additional 75 mg yield comes from di-caffeine malate.
Wrecked can serve well as someone’s introduction to stronger pre-workouts without being totally overwhelming. Its effects are strong, but it doesn’t contain any super sketchy stimulants. The most “exotic” stimulant it contains is eria jarensis, which can improve the euphoria and energizing effects of a pre-workout but are generally unlikely to cause unwanted side effects.
On the other hand, Wrecked can be a good choice for stim junkies that are looking to tone it down a bit from some of the harder stimulants found in DMAA pre-workout or DMHA pre-workout.
Best Pre Workout with 350 mg of Caffeine
350 mg of caffeine is another popular benchmark amongst pre-workout enthusiasts. We’re starting to enter the territory of more advanced pre-workout users and these absolutely are not recommended for first time users of pre-workout.
Flame Pre-Workout – Dark Labs
Restocked in August 2022!
Hard-hitting, "happy" DMHA experience. This one will make the stim junkies soar.
All stims, no pumps, but if you want energy, focus, and euphoria then Flame is the answer.
One of my personal favorites.
Flame contains 350 mg of caffeine.
Flame Pre-Workout is Dark Labs’ follow up to the immensely popular Crack Pre-Workout, which makes an appearance in the 400 mg of caffeine section.
Flame is notable for containing large doses of eria jarensis and DMHA, which give it a euphoric and uplifting feel. This is the first pre-workout on this list that includes DMHA and should only be consumed by experienced pre-workout users.
Superhuman Supreme – Alpha Lion
This is a solid daily driver for stim junkies or a great introduction to stronger pre workouts for newcomers.
LIFTVAULT = 15% off at Nutri Cartel
Superhuman Supreme contains 375 mg of caffeine per serving.
Superhuman Supreme is a great choice for anyone who wants a high-stim experience without any banned or illicit substances like DMHA. With 375 mg of caffeine, Superhuman Supreme is one of the more caffeinated options on this list without exotic stimulants. Alpha Lion is also well-known for their delicious flavors, so if you’re partial to tasty pre-workout supplements with a lot of caffeine and well-rounded labels, then Superhuman Supreme is worth your consideration.
Best Pre Workout with 400 mg of Caffeine
At 400 mg of caffeine, we’re really starting to turn up the intensity dial a few notches. Both of the recommended pre-workouts with 400 mg of caffeine are only for hardcore pre-workout users.
Pre-Kaged Elite Pre-Workout – Kaged
If you want a strong, overloaded label without any banned or sketchy ingredients, Pre Kaged Elite is what you're looking for.
Sporting a massive 35 gram scoop, Pre Kaged Elite packs more active ingredients into each serving than any other pre workout I've reviewed. Every base is truly covered in this premium supplement.
Pre-Kaged Elite contains 388 mg of caffeine per serving.
Pre-Kaged Elite is a super-premium version of Kaged’s popular Pre-Kaged pre-workout. It contains 388 mg of caffeine in each serving. It was released as a limited edition offering alongside Kaged’s 2022 re-branding, but it seems that it will be available for at least a little while.
Like Pre-Kaged, Pre-Kaged Elite brings a “kitchen sink” approach to their ingredient label. In fact, you could take half a serving of Pre-Kaged Elite and you’d still have a clinical dosage for many of the ingredients!
Some of the key changes that the Elite version brings to the table are more caffeine and no BCAAs.
El Jefe Pre-Workout – ASC Supplements
El Jefe is a powerful DMHA pre workout that delivers euphoric energy and long lasting focus.
One of my personal favorite pre workouts! Get the peach rings flavor if you can.
LIFTVAULT = 15% off at ASC Supplements and Nutri Cartel
El Jefe contains 400 mg of caffeine per serving.
El Jefe has been a popular choice among hardcore stim junkies for a few years now. In fact, it’s regularly featured on our list of the strongest pre-workout supplements.
Notable ingredients include 400 mg of caffeine, which are part of its proprietary ingredient blend.
Crack Pre-Workout – Dark Labs
4/6/23 Update: Limited Stock Available.
A stim junkie favorite with 120 mg of DMAA and a fully-loaded pump formula.
One of the most in-demand pre-workouts from 2020 to 2023.
LIFTVAULT = 15% off My Supp Plug
Crack contains 400 mg of caffeine per serving.
Crack Pre-Workout has been one of the most in-demand pre-workout supplements since its release in 2019. It is manufactured by Dark Labs, who have carved out a reputation for potent, hardcore supplements. In fact, this is the second product from Dark Labs on this list (Flame appears in the 350 mg caffeine section above).
Even though Crack contains an impressive 400 mg of caffeine, it’s the preported 120 mg of DMAA that usually gets the attention. Whereas there are usually a decent amount of DMHA pre-workouts available at any given time, it’s become significantly harder to find legit DMAA pre-workout. Crack is one of the few remaining pre-workouts that still delivers the goods.
Get it while you still can!
Best Pre Workout with 500 mg of Caffeine
Pre-workout with 500 mg of caffeine per serving are not too plentiful, but there is a good one I can recommend: ESP Extreme Pre-Workout by Metabolic Nutrition.
ESP Pre-Workout – Metabolic Nutrition
Boasting up to 750 mg in a single serving (if you go with 3 scoops), ESP Extreme is for those seeking a massive jolt of energy in the gym.
ESP contains 500 mg of caffeine per serving.
Best Pre Workout with 600 mg of Caffeine
If you want a pre-workout with 600 mg of caffeine then your best option is easy: Apollon Nutrition. Both of their flagship pre-workouts, Assassin and Hooligan, contain 600 mg of caffeine per serving. Choosing between the two basically comes down to what kind of experience you’re looking for.
Assassin tends to be preferred by the more “hardcore” pre-workout fans, as it contains DMHA, eria jarensis, and alpha yohimbine, all of which can ratchet up the intensity of the experience.
Hooligan, on the other hand, is for those who simply want something with a totally overloaded label that doesn’t contain any banned substances.
Personally, I enjoy both products. If you want better pumps and more focus then I’d recommend Hooligan. If you want more aggression, then Assassin is my go-to.
Assassin Pre-Workout – Apollon Nutrition
Assassin v7 has finally arrived!
A well-rounded, but still hardcore, pre workout experience. One of the most talked about pre workouts of 2021.
LIFTVAULT = 15% off at Nutri Cartel
Assassin contains 600 mg of caffeine per serving.
Assassin has been Apollon Nutrition’s designated stim-junkie pre-workout for several years. Now in it’s 7th version, Assassin is still known for delivering truckloads of intensity and drive to every training session.
While I personally liked version 6 a little bit more, it’s still an easy pre-workout to recommend, especially if you want something with 600 mg of caffeine.
Hooligan Pre-Workout – Apollon Nutrition
New v6 released in April 2022!
Hooligan is the strongest pre workout without banned substances, bar none. Hooligan is brimming with pump, energy, and focus ingredients to keep you going all day long.
LIFTVAULT15 = 15% off at Supp Kingz
LIFTVAULT = 15% off at Nutri Cartel
Hooligan contains 600 mg of caffeine per serving.
If you can believe it, Hooligan used to have 700 mg of caffeine in each serving, but the latest version dialed that back to 600 mg. Honestly, I’m fine with that. It still delivers insane pumps and laser focus, thanks to its stacked ingredient label.
If you want something over-the-top that doesn’t contain any banned substances, Hooligan is the answer.
Types of Caffeine in Pre-Workout
The main types of caffeine you’ll find in pre-workout supplements are:
- Caffeine anhydrous
- Di-caffeine malate
- Caffeine citrate
- VitaShure caffeine SR
Caffeine anhydrous is the standard form of caffeine that you’ll find in coffee, energy drinks, and caffeine pills. Most, if not all, caffeine in pre-workout supplements is included as caffeine anhydrous.
Di-caffeine malate is the second most common form of caffeine found in pre-workut supplements. As a compound of caffeine anhydrous and malic acid, di-caffeine malate contains 75% caffeine and 25% malic acid. This binding increases the halflife of di-caffeine malate, making it a bit slower acting but also longer acting.
Many of the higher caffeine pre-workouts will contain a combination of caffeine anhydrous and di-caffeine malate to help prolong the effects of the product and reduce the “crash” experience that can be felt from large amounts of caffeine.
Caffeine citrate is a less common form of caffeine, but it is still seen from time to time in pre-workout supplements. It is the “fast” acting form of caffeine and yields 50% caffeine. For example, if a product contains 100 mg of caffeine citrate, only 50 mg of that is caffeine.
A notable example of caffeine citrate being included in a pre-workout was Wrecked Extreme, which combined three different caffeine sources (caffeine anhydrous, di-caffeine malate, and caffeine citrate).
VitaShure Caffeine SR
VitaShure Caffeine SR is a patented form of di-caffeine malate. The “SR” stands for sustained release, indicating that the caffeine effects will last longer than with standard caffeine.
RealCaf is a patented form of caffeine that is extracted from green coffee beans. It allegedly feels “smoother” than standard caffeine anhydrous.
RealCaf is used in products like Loco Pre-Workout and Skywalk Nootropic, two products I enjoy.
PurCaf is very similar to RealCaf and is also extracted from green coffee beans. The key difference is that PurCaf is organic, while RealCaf is not. Their effects are similar.