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Top pre workout supplements for strength and stamina

Updated on August 14, 2012

2011 Year in Review for the Best Pre Workout Supplement

I get several requests from friends whether at the gym, work or in forums to list the top pre-workout supplements out there. The market is constantly filled with new products and it is becoming much harder for people to figure out which option to go with.

I am a drug free bodybuilder and have been a personal trainer for over 12 years helping people reach their goals through rigorous workout routines, enhanced diet plans and select use of supplementations.

This section will focus on Pre-Workout dietary supplements, as they have become a prominent figure in the supplement industry and it is hard to not see a shelf dedicated to pre-workouts in any supplement stores.


Which products are we ranking for 2011

The products that will be reviewed in this article are:

No-Xplode 2.0, Cellucor C4, Jack3d, Hemo Rage Black, Bulldozer XL5000 and 1MR

These products have created some great buzz in 2011 and have been extremely popular in local stores and many online retailors.

I will rank the supplements overall with a breakdown that consists of 6 categories:

1. Taste/Mix

2. Formula

3. Short term effectiveness

4. Long term effectiveness

5. Quality

6. Price

#1. Bulldozer Xl5000

This is probably one of the newest kids on the block. I found about this from a local supplement store in Southern California and was recommended by the owner as a great alternative and more superior formula in comparison to what is in the market.

My first impression was to give this new product a shot, and all I can say I was impressed. My workouts have never been the same in terms of strength and stamina. For some time I thought I hit a plateau in terms of strength and size, but with Bulldozer Xl5000 and proper diet, I was able to exceed these sticking points in a short period of time. What was the most impressive thing about the product is that my recovery rate sky rocketed. I felt that I can keep going and going and my strength was at a high peak still even at the end of my workout session. My post workout diet remained the same, but for some reason I was able to recapture quicker form the toughest workout sessions and yet be able on the next day to add more poundage on my lifts.

What I like about the formula is that it contains BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and Glutamine, eliminating the need to purchase additional BCAAs and Glutmaine to add to my pre-workout like I used to do with previous products. What struck as well with this product is the lack of proprietary blends which is a rarity in this category of supplements.

The product is very clean without much fillers or crazy chemicals in the OTHER INGREDIENTS section. It was the smallest in terms of additives if any at all, making the product a great option for those who worry about what fillers and additives can do in terms of long terms side effects. It is a healthier choice compared to the rest in the same category.

Overall, Great product that really delivers great results. I never had to cycle the product and it kept working on every scoop, day after day. Bulldozer Xl5000 is not heavy on stimulants, so if you are looking for something stronger in terms of mental kick then add some caffeine or coffee.


Overall Ranking: 9.3/10

Taste/Mix: 8/10

The taste is pretty good overall. It has a bitter taste (a little kick) but overall you get used to it and I have been enjoying it

Formula: 10/10

The best and most complete formula that I have seen thus far. It has everything I ever wanted from Creatine, Beta Alanine, BCAA, Glutamine, Carnitine, Glycine, Citrulline Malate, Arginine AKG

Short term effectiveness: 9/10

The product is not heavy on stimulants so it will not feel like Jack3d in terms of mental kick, but you will notice an immediate improvement in strength, stamina, endurance, muscle pump and recovery.

Long term effectiveness: 10/10

The product keeps working every time without a need to cycle it off. I haven't built any tolerance since it is not heavy on stimulants. This is probably the most impressive part about this product. I was able to add few pounds on this product (lean muscle weight) in short period of time.

Quality: 10/10

No Proprietary blends and no fillers, what else to say. They also use CreaPure Ultra Pure Creatine which is a German grade pharmaceutical quality Creatine.


It's probably on the higher end of the spectrum. But given the fact it also has BCAA and Glutamine it is priced pretty decently.


#2 Jack3d

Jack3d is a very interesting product. When I first read the supplement fact I was not impressed and felt the product was extremely under dosed, I remember I chuckled at the fact that even though with the small ingredient list and small serving size the formula was wrapped in a proprietary blend.

The key ingredient in Jack3d is 1,3 dimethylamylamine, a stimulant that has been causing many controversies. As of latest, There are rumors that Jack3d will be removed from the shelves early 2012 and will be replaced with a new formula that lacks 1,3 dimethylamylamine. Regardless, though 1,3 dimethylamylamine might not be for everyone many people are hooked on this heavy stimulants.

Jack3d relies on stimulants, which works amazingly in giving you the strongest mental boost you can feel. The sensation is so enormous you feel energy at a high peak. What sucked is that there was nothing to help improve stamina, strength or recovery in the product. Nothing to add size or help in muscle gain. I didn't recall having pumps at all as well. I think the main purpose to using Jack3d is the mental boost of energy for those who need something to help them keep motivated to workout.

Jack3d tastes great, probably one of the best ones. Mixes easily. And the effect hits you quickly. The only issue is that after a week you hit a plateau due to tolerance build up. The product, or more specifically the stimulants, become less effective day after day. It's like building up tolerance on coffee. I started with 1 scoop, all the way to 4 scoops without much luck.


Overall Ranking: 7.5/10

Taste/Mix: 10/10

Tastes pretty good (both Lemon and Grape flavors) and mixes easily.

Formula: 5/10

Lacks many essential ingredients to be a complete pre-workout. I hate the fact that for a 5 gram serving, with 6 ingredients in supplement fact and 7 ingredients in the OTHER INGREDIENTS section it is still a proprietary blend, which makes it extremely under dosed. How can you fit a total of 13 ingredients in 5 gram scoop and expect to have enough to improve workout.

Short term effectiveness: 10/10

(1,3 dimethylamylamine) works like a charm the first time. Amazing focus and energy burst.

Long term effectiveness: 4/10

You will build tolerance on this fairly quickly which means you need to take a break for few days or weeks in order for the product to work again. So, remind me why did I buy it in the first place if I had to take breaks every few days of use???

Quality: 8/10

Simple and clean formula. I just didn't like the long list of OTHER INGREDIENTS section. It should be the other way around.

Price: 8/10

It is not an expensive product at all. But if you factor in the fact that it lacks many essential ingredients and being under dosed, it probably not the most cost effective approach.

#3 No-Xplode 2.0

Back in the days when No-Xplode first hit the market it was one of my favorites. My first try was in late 2003 and I was hooked. Years later, and maintaining my loyalty to BSN (and their amazing product Nitrix) I was constantly disappointed with the results from No-Xplode.

It was obvious that the product kept changing, as the taste/mix started to change, more foam starting to appear when mixed and it became less palatable than before. The purity diminished as well as the results.

I picked up No-Xplode 2.0 early this year; to find the same disappointment I had years before. It is a great product for overall energy, but still nothing in terms of strength, stamina, recovery or size. I also felt the need to increase my dosage from 1 scoop to 3 scoops to get the desired results.

Not sure what is in the product, but constant bathroom runs was an issue only with No-xplode. I am not sure if it from the additives or fillers they use but something about it when taken on an empty stomach that I couldn't tolerate.


Overall Ranking: 6.5/10

Taste/Mix: 4/10

I thought it was the worst tasting. Though it mixes well, it is hard to figure out the foam that generates with this product, and when shaken in a bottle feels like the bottle is going to explode. I guess that is where the name came from.

Formula: 7/10

No-xplode contains a plethora of ingredients that amazingly fit into one scoop. The proprietary blend makes it impossible to guess what is the actual dosage of each but from the quick scan of the long list one can be assured that everything is there (except for BCAAs) and probably even more (possibly stuff you don't even need).

Short term effectiveness: 8/10

The first 2 days were impressive. The energy was there, with a solid pump throughout the workout but not much on the stamina and strength side or even recovery.

Long term effectiveness : 4/10

On the fourth day I had to put 3 scoops already to get a better feel .3 scoops was a huge hassle because of the foam and mixing it was pretty challenging as I felt something was going to explode.

Quality: 9/10

BSN is a great company so I don't doubt their quality. I just feel that the huge list of ingredients makes it feel like the formula is not stable and subject to change. This was a great product early in the days but they keep changing it to the point that it is becoming less effective product.

Price: 7.5/10

No-xplode have lowered their prices and hitting the price challenge pretty competitively. I just don't think it is worth the money any more unless it is a buy one get one free.

Best price for No-xplode

Purchase your next Pre-Workout Dietary Supplement from

#4 Cellucor C4 Extreme

Cellucor C4 Extreme is an interesting product. First of all, the packaging was very impressive and very appealing. The product mixes easily and the orange flavor is pretty refreshing compared to other products.

What I like about the product is that they don't fully use proprietary blends, which is a great change to help determine the actual dose one is consuming. The product delivers, but for the specific dosages I needed I had to take 3 scoops making the product not cost effective overall. I think the product misses other important ingredients but probably one of my favorites mainly because it is clean and simple. I didn't like the Creatine Nitrate in the formula because I didn't feel it much in comparison to other creatine forms.


Overall Ranking: 6.3/10

Taste/Mix: 6.5/10

Taste is pretty acceptable (Orange)

Formula: 7/10

The formula is pretty clean and simple. Not much on the OTHER INGREDIENTS section like the other products with the exception of Bulldozer XL5000. I don't like the Creatine Nitrate use in the formula. The main ingredients are THREE: Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG and Beta Alanine and not much more.

Short term effectiveness: 7/10

Overall the pumps are great.

Long term effectiveness: 7/10

On second week and pumps are still going and energy is pretty good. Not too heavy on stimulants making it easy to consume 3 scoops to get the desired dosage without negative crashing effects.

Quality: 7/10

Great quality from the inside out.

Price: 4/10

Pretty expensive given the main ingredients are Creatine, Arginine and Beta Alanine at (3.5 grams total). I had to take 3 scoops to get my desired dose of Arginine and Creatine which makes it pretty pricey for that dosage and ingredient list. It also lack many other ingredients like Citrulline Malate

Best price fpr Cellucor C4

Purchase your next Pre-Workout Dietary Supplement from

#5 Hemo-Rage Black Ultra Concentrate

Hemo-Rage is very similar to Jack3d. Though it looks under dosed in the beginning this product is not for the faint of heart. It is much stronger than Jack3d, though it has similar ingredients, I had stronger jitters and my hands were shaking a little in the beginning. After workout I did crash heavily from this product which is unusual for me.

The second day, on leg work out, I tried the product again and couldn't continue my workout due to shakiness and the headaches I had. I didn't continue testing the product as I realized it is very heavy on stimulants and I couldn't tolerate it.


Overall Ranking: 6/10

Taste/Mix: 6/10

Taste is pretty acceptable (Fruit Punch)

Formula: 8/10

The formula is pretty clean and simple. Not much on the OTHER INGREDIENTS section like the other products with the exception of Bulldozer XL5000. Since it is a proprietary blend it is hard to tell how much caffeine or 1,3 Dimethylamylamine but I would assume there is a lot which explains the very small serving. There is not much in there for muscle building, but it is a great product for energy (if you can tolerate the strong stimulants).

Short term effectiveness: 7/10

This stuff work as a mental booster. It is extremely under dosed in Creatine, Beta Alanine and Arginine AKG but you can't risk and take more doses because it is high on stimulants

Long term effectiveness: 2/10

I don't think anyone can continue long term on this product and they shouldn't. It puts a lot of pressure on the nervous system and I would suggest taking breaks from this product.

Quality: 6/10

Due to strong use of stims and proprietary blends

Price: 7/10

For the number of servings and ingredients it is pretty priced

Best price for Hemo Rage

Purchase your next Pre-Workout Dietary Supplement from

#6 BPI 1.M.R.

1MR in their previous formula was very much similar to Jack3d. They both had a small dosage size, similar ingredient list with heavy emphasis on stimulants like 1,3 dimethylamylamine. So, I never bothered to try 1MR due to the similarity.

The updated 1MR looked very interesting. They no longer use 1,3 dimethylamylamine in their formula, and have placed other types of energy boosting ingredients (aminos and herbal extract). So, it was worth the shot.

My first impression is the taste was actually worse than I expected (Orange flavor) but still acceptable (I have had much worse). It mixes like Jack3d. I didn't get that buzz that I got used to from 1,3 dimethylamylamine, which was a good sign that this is cleaner product. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for any type of buzz without much luck at all and energy level was not even there. Muscle pump was pretty normal and nothing exceptional in comparison to Bulldozer XL5000 or Cellucor C4.

I think the new formula of 1MR will not succeed if people got used to the old feeling from the old formula.


Overall Ranking: 5.5/10

Taste/Mix: 4/10

The Orange flavor was very bad compared to other orange flavored drinks. It mixes easy. The taste you can get used to by varying amount of fluid mixed with the powder.

Formula: 4/10

I would have expected more improvements in the new formula. But if you look closely, an 8 gram serving has 15 ingredients in the proprietary blend and 8 listed in the OTHER INGREDIENTS section. So, for an 8 gram serving with 16 ingredients this is extremely under dosed (less 1.5 grams of sugar you really don't get much). Not much toward muscle building or strength.

Short term effectiveness: 6/10

The first time I used 1MR, I actually took 2 scoops. I didn't feel any rush in energy, I felt more focused though while lifting. It was more like feeling more determined. Muscle pump was not exceptional, strength and stamina were as usual.

Long term effectiveness: 6/10

Will not much have changed on the second week from the first week. Nothing exceptional.

Quality: 7/10

Price: 6/10

The price is pretty high in comparison to the ingredients listed and used in the product. If it was in the $15-19 range then I would consider it again.

Best price for 1MR

Purchase your next Pre-Workout Dietary Supplement from

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