When it comes to fitness supplements, pre-workouts geared toward men can have less-than-appealing side effects when taken by women looking to get amped up before exercising.
We’ve all seen the men’s pre-workout commercials. Greasy abs under spotlights with boulders being tossed in a Herculean fashion just to illustrate the sheer magnitude and power packed in every scoop of pre-workout powder. Don’t forget the lightning bolts hitting the black pavement for no apparent reason.
Sure, it’s energetic and exciting for the gym bros out there, but it’s a complete turn-off for women.
Most men’s pre-workout mixes pack high doses of caffeine, producing side effects such as jitters, itching, and interrupted sleep. While not beneficial for anyone, these caffeine highs — and subsequent crashes — can be extremely harmful and have detrimental effects in women, leading to poor workouts. That’s the exact opposite of what you want in a pre-workout supplement designed for women.
Enter Powher — a pre-workout supplement made just for women looking to slim their curves and improve muscle tone, and why we rank it the best pre-workout for women. We’ve got everything you need to know about Powher and nine more of our favorite pre-workout products geared towards fitness-focused women.
Some supplements work to amplify muscle tone, while others focus on slimming stubborn body areas, like the hips/love handles. No matter your fitness goals, these powerful powders (listed below) work magic for women’s health.
The Pre-Workouts for Women We RAVE About
If you have ever lived with a fitness fiend kind of guy — be it a boyfriend, brother, fiancé, husband, or father — you are probably used to seeing the infamous pre-workout pantry shelf.
You can’t miss it, with its containers that have neon lettering reading, “COMBAT” or “Bucked Up.” Next to the pre-workout powder mixes, you’ll see a giant tub of protein, meal replacement bars, and one too many BlenderBottles. This image is commonly associated with the term “pre-workout.”
Despite what we may have grown up associating with pre-workout powders and supplements, most gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts are not all about becoming the next great bodybuilding champion. In fact, pre-workout mixes are extremely versatile since they work by giving you an added energy boost before and throughout your workout. They can even help with body slimming and burning body fat.
For even more options, from sugar-free pre-workouts to organic and keto-friendly pre-workouts, check out our full ranking of the 50 best pre-workout supplements.
The Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Pre-Workouts
Caffeine is the key ingredient in all pre-workout products. It gives you that accelerated kick, the energy drive that doubles the experience and benefit of your workout. But the higher the levels of caffeine, the greater the risk of side effects.
Using more intense pre-workout brands can cause jitters, energy crashes, high blood pressure, chest pain, and even itching.
This is why there are women’s and men’s pre-workout brands. Men’s pre-workout brands tend to include larger doses of caffeine in each serving, which can be dangerous to women’s bodies, especially those who are not used to intense physical training or are not aiming to bulk up fast.
Even if caffeine levels aren’t a problem, it can be dangerous for women to use workout supplements designed specifically for men.
Chances are, a woman wouldn’t go shopping for Aveda shampoo and buy men’s Old Spice two-in-one. Products made for men might not work the same or provide the same beneficial results for women. Same goes for pre-workout supplements.
Pre-Workouts Without Side Effects
Luckily, there are many women-only pre-workout products, such as Powher, Gym Angel, FitMiss, and Athena as well as gender-neutral supplements. While Powher is our RAVE Review pick for best overall pre-workout product for women, PreSeries LEAN and 4 Gauge are also among our top picks for slimming and bodybuilding.
Both of these powdered brands are men- and women-friendly and offer a decent caffeine kick, without the dangerous crash.
Of course, that does not mean the energy boost is watered down. There’s still plenty of pep in every serving. A pre-workout overdose however, even with all-natural ingredients, can lead to harmful side effects. Always abide by the serving directions on the label to ensure safe use of dietary supplements, especially pre-workout powders.
Choosing the Right Pre-Workout for You
This list of the top 10 best pre-workout products for women contains supplements for every fitness goal and health endeavor. When it comes to choosing the right pre-workout product for you, first decide what you’re looking to achieve through your workouts. Do you want to slim down, build muscle, or maintain your body where it is now?
While some pre-workout products have many general performance benefits, others cater to a specific purpose. Even choosing from this quality list at random won’t do you any favors. Check out the active energy-boosting ingredients, the quantity of caffeine, and the total carbohydrates per serving.
The way a pre-workout mix is concocted directly translates to its purpose and benefits for you. More carbs and amino acids mean more muscle mass, while caffeine and other thermogenics are better for slimming down.
So ladies, all that said, it’s time to treat yourself and improve your workout strategy. Going through this list is the first step to a better workout with more benefits and timely results.
Because there are so many risks with choosing the wrong pre-workout product, it’s essential to have the right criteria when filtering through the “bad apple” brands. Though every brand advertises the benefits of their particular pre-workout mix for the sake of PR, looking at the ingredients, quantity of caffeine, and total carb count per serving will give you a clear picture of whether it is right for you.
Still, paying attention to the PR jargon is beneficial in discovering the focal point of the product. Is it for cutting fat, growing muscle, or all of the above? It’s also vital to know the side effects of each product, if there are any.
While side effects might not be listed on the website or label itself, they will certainly be noted in individual reviews from customers. With that in mind, here’s our criteria for choosing the best pre-workout products for women:
- Adequate energy-boosting effect: The whole purpose of pre-workout products is to motivate you and help you reach your optimal performance level for fitness workouts. Using energy-efficient and brain-boosting ingredients like caffeine, carbs, vitamins, and more, pre-workout mixes gets your muscles and mind stimulated for exercise.
- Caffeine quantity: While the right levels of caffeine can get your brain and body revving in all the right ways, too much caffeine can cause jitters, intense energy crashes, and heart problems. The level of caffeine you need depends on your unique health condition and fitness regimen.
- Zero-calorie sweeteners used: It’s best to find a pre-workout mix free of any artificial sweeteners. Stevia and monk fruit are the better alternatives.
- Added sugars: The last thing you want to experience during exercise is a sugar rush, let alone a sugar crash post workout. Sugar is great for sporadic energy boosts, and your body needs it to stay in balance, but natural sugars such as those from fruits are the way to go.
- Total carbs per serving: Carbohydrates also play an important role in getting your body stimulated for running, lifting, squatting, or whatever your exercise goals may entail. Pre-workout can help you either bulk up muscles or slim down fat depending on the amount of carbs and protein.
- Dyes or coloring used: Some of these protein powders come in a variety of colors, such as our top choice Powher’s pink hue. Colored protein powder is nothing unusual but can be harmful if the color is artificial. Make sure the colors in your pre-workout mix are natural, since artificial dyes have been tied to health risks.
- Specific purpose (slimming or bulking): This criteria depends entirely on your wants and needs. Most pre-workout products specify whether they are designed for bodybuilding or slimming right on the package or the website.
- Taste: This factor might seem superficial compared to the criteria listed above, but if the pre-workout product doesn’t taste good, it’s unlikely you’ll use it much. Taste and smell play a big role in whether we like or dislike products, and the better a pre-workout mixes taste, the more likely you are to use them and get your money’s worth.
The Best Pre Workout for Women
Powher is dedicated to providing a quality pre-workout product for women that stands out above the men’s power-buff powder, using the very best all-natural ingredients to help women speed up stubborn fat loss.
Avoiding all the horrid jittery side effects caused by cheap stimulants, Powher utilizes a caffeine booster called EnXtra, which blends together three natural ingredients — C. Flexuous, A. Galanga and G. Glabra — that work with caffeine to amplify its performance-enhancing effect.
Powher’s all-natural ingredients include Oxyjun for improved cardiac output, RedNite for enhancing performance, coconut water powder, amino acids (L-tyrosine and L-citrulline malate), vitamins, and of course, all-natural caffeine.
The result of these plant-based ingredients is a well-rounded workout, cutting fat, toning muscles, and boosting energy.
Powher doesn’t specify exactly how much caffeine is in the mix, but with 12 other components, it focuses on balancing all the essentials with ZUM XR caffeine to benefit working women consumers. And, despite its pink color, there are no artificial dyes. Powher recommends a 5-gram (½ scoop) serving to start, working up to a fullscoop (10 g) as a serving prior to working out.
- All-natural ingredients
- Great for slimming and toning
- Fresh taste
- More expensive
- Limited carb and caffeine info
Being one of the most affordable pre-workout products on this list is definitely a plus, but it’s far from FitMiss Ignite’s golden ticket to the top 10. This women’s fitness supplement contains 100 mg of caffeine, beta-alanine, and natural amino acids like glycine and taurine. This mixture is backed up by the fat-burning power of L-carnitine, a natural molecule that helps the body break down and metabolize fat for energy.
This pre-workout mix is also gluten-free and takes pride in its safe and superior ingredients: It is tested for banned substances, cleared and certified by Informed-Choice, a quality-assurance program for sports nutrition products. The fruit punch flavor is also an added bonus.
Additional ingredients include citric acid, rice concentrate, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. A word to the wise, both natural and artificial flavors are included in this blend, which could be a deal breaker.
Users reported experiencing zero side effects — no jitters or anxiety to speak of — and had a palpable increase in energy levels. However, taking too much does result in tingles and possible itching, a common (and innocuous) side effect of beta-alanine. Thankfully, the tingling sensation goes away after your body adapts, usually within 20 to 30 minutes. In any case, only take the recommended one scoop of FitMiss Ignite in 14 to 16 fluid ounces of water, 20 to 30 minutes before your workout.
- Contains L-carnitine for supporting fat metabolism
- Well-balanced caffeine and electrolyte doses
- For all fitness needs
- Uses artificial sweeteners
- Beta-alanine tingles can be a nuisance
Like Powher, NLA Uplift is a tasty pre-workout mix that aims to cover all the bases from losing fat to defining muscle in the right places. Uplift’s Cherry Limeade, Guava Passion, and Raspberry Lemonade flavors are the cherry on top of the effective performance-boosting concoction and strong enough to ramp up your energy without excessive amounts of caffeine.
Like the rest of us, Uplift finds jitters and a bad energy crash during a workout highly undesirable. NLA’s NOOTropic Brain and Body Potentiators Complex is a proprietary blend of ingredients that works to nourish your mind as well as your body with cognitive enhancers that help improve focus during workouts.
The supplement’s muscle-building compounds are purported to reduce catabolism and increase anabolism during workouts. This means you can more effectively tone and condition your body while hanging onto the muscle you’ve worked hard to build.
Uplift’s ingredients also include L-carnitine as well as amino acids such as beta-alanine, lysine, glycine, arginine, isoleucine, valine, and others which can be found on NLA’s website. The company recommends taking one to three scoops of Uplift for an effective “mentality makeover.”
- Versatile muscle-activating formula
- Great fruity taste
- Cognitive enhancers
- Contains proprietary blends
- Limited info on sweeteners
As part of its new Huntress Pack, Blackwolf created a pre-workout stack designed just for women. Combining three of its all-in-one “Power Blends,” Blackwolf developed the healthy and female-friendly pre-workout blend Trail, advertised alongside the brand’s intra-workout supplement, Hunt, and its recovery shake, Eliminate.
Trail is designed for women who are undergoing more intense workouts or high-level training. Of course, this pre-workout supplement is also beneficial for women conducting low-to-moderate intensity workouts who want to see results as quickly as possible.
Amino acids such as L-leucine, L-valine, isoleucine, citrulline, and taurine help get your body ready for action. Trail also features 13 grams of whey protein isolate along with beta-alanine to fuel your muscles before getting your sweat on. This pre-workout mix for women is rounded off with key micronutrients, such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin C.
Blackwolf’s combination of non-stimulant performance-enhancing ingredients along with a modest 250-milligram dose of caffeine ensures no crazy jitters or crashes. Blackwolf recommends mixing one serving of Trail (30 grams) with water, skim milk, or fruit juice about 30 minutes before your workouts. Regarding dyes and sweeteners, nothing is artificial in this blend. However, there’s limited information regarding carbohydrates and calories per serving.
- Fast results
- Great for high-intensity workouts
- All-natural ingredients
- More expensive
- Limited carb/calorie info
- Contains dairy/lactose
PreSeries LEAN by Transparent Labs
While this pre-workout product is male and female friendly, there’s no denying the fact that it’s the best mix for women looking to slim down and get lean. One of the best things about PreSeries LEAN is that it lists the amounts of both the active ingredients and inactive ingredients (e.g. sweeteners and flavoring) on their product labels..\
Every serving of PreSeries LEAN packs 6,000 milligrams of citrulline malate, 3,200 milligrams of beta-alanine, 360 milligrams L-theanine, 180 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous, 150 milligrams of elevATP, and many other all-natural ingredients.
This pre-workout mix also offers thyroid support thanks to its guggulsterone and selenium content. Proper thyroid function is key for burning stubborn body fat and keeping your energy high while you workout.
No artificial coloring, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners are included in this versatile pre-workout supplement. LEAN is also gluten free, vegan friendly, and contains no GMOs.
The fact that each serving exceeds 15 grams and includes 21 active ingredients means you’re getting one of the most comprehensive pre-workout mixes on the market. Transparent Labs recommends mixing one full scoop of LEAN with 12 to 16 fluid ounces of water and drinking about 20-30 minutes before exercise.
- Vegan friendly and gluten free
- Full-label transparency
- Best for slimming
- Not specific to women
- Not ideal for building muscle
Gym Vixen Sexy BCAA
With more than 5,000 milligrams of a carefully formulated amino complex, Sexy BCAA is designed to help you “build lean muscle and keep lean muscle.” It’s made with the clinically studied 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which mimics the ratio of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) found naturally in skeletal muscle tissue.
This supplement is unique on our list in that it’s not strictly for pre-workout: You can drink it before, during, or after your gym session. Sexy BCAA includes coconut water with added electrolytes to help you power through your training and recover quickly afterwards.
Other ingredients include PeptoPro (casein hydrolysate), which delivers amino acids in the form of extremely small dipeptides and tripeptides. Because these molecules are so small, they are easily digested and absorbed, leading to a rapid increase in amino acid availability to your muscles.
- 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs
- Includes PeptoPro
- Money-back guarantee
- Not technically a pre-workout supplement
- Flavor is too sweet for some
This one’s for the power pushers. If you’re looking to bulk up and get your swole on, 4 Gauge is the way to go. It’s no surprise that this pre-workout product is made for both men and women, but this is one of those rare circumstances where the road to the goal is nearly the same: a good amount of caffeine, nitric oxide boosters, electrolytes, and creatine monohydrate.
Shaped like a black and red bullet, 4 Gauge emanates intensity before you even take your first sip. The company describes their product’s effects as “explosive,” explaining the shotgun-shell containers.
Despite the intense packaging, it might surprise you to know that there are only 150 milligrams of caffeine in this blend. However, that’s plenty for most women, regardless how intense you plan on training.
4 Gauge also packs 6,000 milligrams of L-citrulline malate and 300 millirgram of red beet to increase plasma nitrate and subsequent nitric oxide (NO) levels, resulting in an improved anaerobic performance.
4 Gauge also helps you focus on the mind-muscle connection thanks to nootropic ingredients like acetyl-L-carnitine, L-theanine, and Rhodiola rosea. Best of all, there are absolutely no artificial flavors, food dyes, or sweeteners found in this formula.
- All-natural ingredients
- Great for building muscle
- Badass packaging
- More expensive
- Not exclusive to women
Catalyst by Strength.com
With ingredients like 2 grams of Creapure creatine and 3.2 grams of CarnoSyn beta-alanine to promote gains in power, strength, endurance, and muscle growth, Catalyst is the pre-workout supplement of choice for hard-core trainers.
Each serving contains 25 calories (from 6 grams of natural sugar) and 175 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous. In addition Catalyst also contains antioxidant-rich grape seed extract, Nitrosigine, L-citrulline, taurine, B vitamins, and key electrolytes.
Catalyst, like any good sport-focused pre-workout mix, is certified by NSF Sport, making it safe for use by athletes and those who want to perform their best in the gym. However, reviewers say Catalyst is also a great pre-workout for beginners.
- Certified by NSF Sport
- Great for athletes and high-intensity workouts
- Promotes strength and endurance
- Might be too much for beginners
- Not ideal for slimming down
- 6 grams of sugar per serving
This is another gluten-free and keto-friendly pre-workout supplement. ATHENA Intense is one of the best-selling workout blends and, understandably, is currently the brand’s most powerful version of ATHENA pre-workout.
ATHENA Intense features a 150 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous and 25 micromilligrams of huperzine-A for plenty of focus and mental energy, plus BCAAs, CarnoSyn beta-alanine, beet extract, and citrulline for building lean muscle. ATHENA Intense also contains patented BioPerine for enhancing the absorption of active ingredients.
Consumers love ATHENA Intense for its perfect energy jolt and fruity flavor.
- Great flavor
- Multipurpose formula
- For all levels of trainees
- Contains artificial sweeteners and flavors
- No specific training focus
- Contains soy and other common allergens
Gym Angel: Energy Angel
With 225 milligrams of caffeine in each serving, Gym Angel’s Energy Angel is another high-octane pre-workout supplement for women. There are no fillers, creatine, or artificial colors in this formula. Just natural ingredients like vitamin C, amino acids, and electrolytes.
Energy Angel is fast acting and focused on giving fitness-oriented women an intense, high-energy workout, minus the crash. Better yet, this product promotes and stimulates “muscle pumps” with its nitric oxide boosting ingredients that keep you going strong for hours on end. That is, until it’s time to konk out on your pillow.
While other blends are low in carbohydrates, Energy Angel is free of carbs and artificial food dyes. Some reviewers aren’t over the moon about its taste though, and those with a gluten or peanut allergy should steer clear.
- Great for high-intensity training
- Kicks in quickly
- No artificial colors or carbs
- Contains wheat and peanuts
- Unpleasant taste
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When Should I Take My Pre-Workout?
You should take your pre-workout supplements 20 to 30 minutes before your workout. However, it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to be fully absorbed (on an empty stomach) into the body and up to12 hours for most of it to be eliminated. That said, if you plan on a heavy workout before bed, you might want to look for a stimulant-free pre-workout powder.
Also, it’s important to note that a pre-workout supplement is not a replacement for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Always be sure to eat something (preferably lean proteins and complex carbs) an hour or two before your workout.
High doses of caffeinated pre-workout supplements can cause stomach aches, but so can not eating before a workout.
How Often Should I Use Pre-Workout Supplements?
Feel free to take pre-workout every day before your exercise routine. It’s not advised to take pre-workout supplements more than twice a day, and you should make sure that the doses are many hours apart (e.g., early morning and late afternoon). You don’t want to load your body up with too much caffeine in one day or in a short period of time.
Also, be mindful of caffeine you consume from other foods and drinks, especially coffee and energy drinks. All of that counts in addition to the caffeine in your pre-workout supplement. Most adult women should consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.
The best scenario, for those who like to get two workouts in a day (not many of us), would be to take a morning run and do a more intense workout in the evening, or vice versa. This way, the workouts are spread out enough so your body can be nourished with a couple meals before taking a second dose of pre-workout supplements.
Do All Pre-Workouts Use Natural Ingredients?
If you find a pre-workout mix that uses tons of artificial ingredients and sweeteners/added sugars, it’s best to steer clear. Your body is already hyped up on caffeine and other energizing ingredients before and during your workout; the last thing you want is a sugar crash.
Artificial colors and sweeteners may not be a deal breaker for everyone. After all, we eat foods with artificial colors all the time. But artificial colors in high volumes can be dangerous to your health, so it’s best to be educated about what you’re consuming. If you are concerned about the levels of artificial ingredients in a product, contact the company through their website.
Are There Any Dangerous Side Effects to Using Pre-Workouts?
There are a number of dangerous side effects regarding the use of cheap pre-workout products as well as the abuse of quality varieties. While all the products listed above are reportedly free of side effects, some users of products that contain beta-alanine and caffeine experience slight tingles and jitters when taken in large doses — though these side effects are generally harmless.
It’s important to pay attention to the directions when it comes to how many scoops are a safe serving. It might be tempting to take extra pre-workout supplements in the hopes of seeing faster or more dramatic results, but like all supplements and drugs, it doesn’t work that way. You have to do the work to see the results you want, and it takes patience.
Abusing and overusing pre-workout supplements might seem like no big deal, but it can undoubtedly have negative effects on your body, just like any drug overdose.
What Is the Best Overall Pre-Workout Mix?
Our choice for the best overall pre-workout for women is Powher, for its focus on total body improvement using all-natural ingredients. Despite having no dyes and minimal sweetener, Powher still tastes great!
The delicate balance of energizing ingredients and mind-clearing components make Powher a great pre-workout mix for both serious trainers and beginner fitness pre-gamers. It has a mellow and modern vibe, very similar to the company’s approach to health and fitness.
Pre-workouts for women are just one of the many products that can make your workout more fulfilling. For more products to help you obtain optimal benefits in your daily workouts, check out these RAVE recommended options below:
- Hydra Cup’s Dual Shaker Bottle: This dual-action and one-of-a-kind protein shaker bottle allows exercise enthusiasts to pre-game and post-game without having to change bottles. With two separate sides for pre-workout mixes, recovery shakes, or just hydration fluid, Hydra Cup’s shaker bottle is also dishwasher-safe and travel friendly with a built-in hiking clasp.
- ONE Protein Bars: Birthday cake, almond bliss, Maple Glazed Doughnut, and Peanut Butter Pie are just a few of the many flavors of these gluten-free, healthy protein bars.
- Orgain Organic Protein Powder: Being plant-based, vegan, and gluten free, it doesn’t get much healthier than Orgain. This best-selling protein powder is extremely affordable, and lactose- and dairy-free without sacrificing anything on taste.
- KT Tape: This therapeutic sports tape is latex free, water resistant, and guaranteed to stay in place during workouts. The woven fabric and strong adhesive make it the perfect injury protectant for serious trainers and athletes.