Easy Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes

Get 85% more of key ingredients and save $28 every month.

Are you tired of shelling out $20 to $40 for pre-workout supplements? Or maybe you’re just not comfortable pumping your body full of stimulants and other junk.

For the last 8 years, I’ve been making my own homemade pre-workout shakes. And my research led me to the best ingredients and the optimal dosages.

In this article, I’ll share how to make pre-workout drinks better than the top brands.

Homemade Pre-Workout

What is Pre-Workout & What Does It Do?

Pre-workout is a supplement consumed prior to exercise – usually a powder mixed in a shake. But it can include natural foods or drinks.

Athletes take pre-workout in order to have more intense workouts. With the end goal of increasing fat loss and/or muscle gain.

What Ingredients Make a Good Pre-Workout

  • Caffeine for energy
  • L-arginine for blood flow
  • Beta-alanine for performance
homemade pre-workout

My buddy Bruce helping me formulate homemade pre-workout recipes

Caffeine For Energy

Most people associate caffeine with coffee, soda, or energy drinks. And everyone is aware of its energizing effects.

But caffeine is also one of the most extensively studied supplements available. It binds to adenosine receptors in the brain to block signals of fatigue. As a result, you feel more energized and focused.

Synthetic caffeine is available in the form of a powder. However, I recommend Guarana tablets as a natural source.

A strong dosage is 200 mg which is equivalent to an 8 oz cup of coffee. But you may need more or less depending on your tolerance for caffeine.

Just be careful not to overdo it.

L-Arginine For Blood Flow

L-arginine is an amino acid that forms nitric oxide when combined with oxygen. Thereby relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through.

Sometimes this temporarily increases muscle volume and vascularity. Also called “the pump” in bodybuilding. But it’s more than just pumping up.

With increased blood flow, more nutrients get into the muscles. And that can enhance recovery and growth.

The recommended dosage of arginine to improve blood flow is 2-3 grams. However, 5 grams is better for bodybuilding purposes. Or about 1 heaping teaspoon.

Beta-Alanine For Performance

During weight training, pH levels drop as lactic acid builds up. Resulting in decreased muscular performance.

Beta-alanine delays fatigue by buffering the pH levels in the presence of lactic acid. This allows longer, more intense training sessions.

In fact, studies show that individuals supplementing with beta-alanine combined with creatine outperformed other groups in terms of strength gains1.

Also, anyone who’s taken pre-workout knows the tingling feeling. An effect of beta-alanine binding with nerve receptors, but it’s no cause for alarm.

An effective dose of beta-alanine is 3 grams. Or a little over half a teaspoon.

Other Good Ingredients:


One of the most studied supplements of the last 30 years is creatine monohydrate. It enhances the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a form of energy used in the body.

7 Things You Should Know Before Taking Creatine

Before a workout, creatine provides an immediate fuel to be used in ATP production. Or you can take it after training to refill creatine that was depleted during the workout.

A standard dosage of creatine is 5 grams per serving. However, this could differ depending on body size.


L-citrulline helps remove waste products from muscles during exercise, such as lactic acid and ammonia.

In addition, it works with arginine to extend the pump. Allowing harder training sessions and faster recovery which can lead to greater muscle gain.

The recommended dosage of citrulline is 2-6 grams.

Why Should You Make Homemade Pre-Workout?

Obviously, making a homemade pre-workout isn’t as convenient as buying a tub and taking a scoop. And, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to compete with flavors like cotton candy and cherry cola.

But the extra effort comes with rewards.

Save $28 Per Month

When you make your own pre-workout, you buy ingredients in “bulk”. So you spend more upfront, but save money in the long run.

For example, a 500-gram container of beta-alanine lasts about 6 months if you workout 5 days per week. Compared to about 1 month from a container of the best selling pre-workout.

In addition, brand name pre-workout costs as much as $2 per serving. Whereas the total cost per serving of homemade pre-workout is about 60 cents.

That’s like getting a 70% discount!

homemade pre workout cost per serving

Get 85% More of Key Ingredients

Supplement companies have to make a profit. Which compels them to use less of key ingredients in order to keep their costs down.

When big brands do contain a key ingredient, it’s often hidden behind a proprietary blend. So it’s hard to know how much, or how little, it actually contains.

But I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and assumed the “blends” contain mostly the key ingredient. At best, the top brands fall far short of the optimal dosages.

homemade pre workout ingredients vs top brands 2

On average, you get nearly double the key ingredients with a DIY pre-workout.

Also, it’s important to realize that there are very few regulations on supplement companies. So what’s on the label could be a far cry from what’s in the container.

Eliminate What You Don’t Need

Speaking of labels, you’ll notice a lot of extra ingredients and additives in most pre-workouts. Some of them simply make it look more impressive. While others just add color and flavor.

At any rate, you don’t need half of that crap. And you should avoid those chemical additives.

With a homemade pre-workout, you ditch the fillers and use only a few of the best ingredients.

Comparison of Homemade Pre-Workout With Top Brands

Brand Cost per Serving L-Arginine /Citrulline Beta Alanine Caffeine Creatine
BSN NO-Xplode $1.03 1 g 2.9 g 275 mg 5.1 g
Vintage Blast $2.00 6 g 1 g 150 mg 0 g
Cellucor C4 Original $1.00 1 g 1.6 g 150 mg 1 g
Homemade $0.60 5 g 3 g 200 mg 5 g

5 Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes

Fat Burning Pre-Workout


  • 1 tablet guarana
  • 1 tsp L-arginine
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine
  • 1 tbsp MCT oil
  • 2 softgels CLA

How to Mix

Combine in a shaker cup with a flavored protein powder or sugar free drink mix like Mio. Take tablets/softgels with shake.

Best Tasting Protein Powders

Muscle Building Pre-Workout


  • 1 tablet guarana
  • 1 tsp L-citrulline
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine
  • 1 tsp creatine monohydrate
  • Maltodextrin*

How to Mix

Combine in a shaker cup with flavored protein powder.

*The amount of maltodextrin you add depends on your daily calorie and macro intake.

Pre-Workout With Coffee


  • 8 oz black coffee
  • 1 tsp L-arginine
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine

How to Mix

Stir powders into coffee mug.

Natural Pre-Workout Without Supplements


How to Mix

Combine ingredients in a blender or NutriBullet.

*Pea protein is naturally higher in l-arginine than whey protien, with about 2.5 grams per serving.

Caffeine Free Pre-Workout

Simply remove the guarana or coffee from any of the above recipes.


With homemade pre-workout, you’ll save money, improve your workouts, and avoid unhealthy substances.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that pre-workout drinks are a small part of the nutrition puzzle.

You also need to have healthy habits after your workouts and throughout the rest of the day.

In fact, you could use that $28/month you’re saving to sign up for a Custom Meal Plan. And have money left over!

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