Homemade Pre-Workout

5 Easy DIY Pre-Workout Recipes That Save Money

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTUpdated: October 19, 2023

Are you tired of spending $45 or more on pre-workout supplements from popular brands? Or maybe you’re not comfortable consuming stimulants and additives. Either way, I have a better solution!

Since 2012, I have been creating homemade pre-workout powders and drinks that I use myself and share with my clients. I have researched the best ingredients and optimal dosages for maximum workout results.

In this article, I will show you how to make affordable DIY pre-workout drinks that are better than the leading brands.

DIY Homemade Pre-Workout

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.

Homemade Pre-Workout Cost Savings

When you make your own pre-workout, you can purchase ingredients in bulk, which may require a larger upfront investment but will save you money in the long run.

For instance, buying a few base ingredients will cost $50 to $70 but will last for around 6 months. By comparison, a one-month supply of commercial pre-workout can cost as much as $50.

To put it another way, brand-name pre-workout can cost up to $2 per serving, while the total cost per serving of homemade pre-workout is about 60 cents. That means making your own pre-workout is like a discount of up to 70%.

Homemade Pre-Workout Cost Savings

Homemade Pre-Workout Formulation

Supplement companies have to make a profit, often leading them to use lower doses of critical ingredients to keep their costs down. Also, they face minimal regulatory oversight, meaning the product might not match the information on the label. 

When supplement companies do include a key ingredient, it’s often hidden behind a proprietary blend, making it difficult to determine the actual amount of the ingredient. Even if we assume the blends mostly contain the key ingredient, top brands fall far short of the optimal dosages.

Additionally, pre-workout supplements usually contain a lot of extra ingredients. Some additives are included to make the product look more impressive, while others are added for flavor and color. 

However, a homemade pre-workout allows you to avoid unwanted additives while getting the optimal doses of the effective ingredients.

Table 1. Comparison of Homemade Pre-Workout With Top Brands

Brand L-Citrulline Beta-Alanine Caffeine
ON Gold Standard 0.75 g 1.5 g 175 mg
Cellucor C4 Orignal 1 g 1.6 g 150 mg
ProSupps Mr Hyde 1 g 2 g 200 mg
KAGED Sport 3.5 g 1.6 g 188 mg
Homemade 5 g 3 g 200 mg
Homemade Pre-Workout Formulation

Best Homemade Pre-Workout Ingredients

When choosing ingredients for your homemade pre-workout, there are a few proven supplements that should definitely be on your list. However, your exact pre-workout formulation depends on your training goals and preferences.

Here’s a list of the most effective pre-workout ingredients:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Beta-Alanine
  3. L-Citrulline (or L-Arginine)
  4. Creatine

Click Here to See My Complete Homemade Pre-Workout Ingredient List on Amazon

Homemade Pre-Workout Ingredients

My buddy Bruce helping me formulate homemade pre-workout recipes

Caffeine For Energy

When people think of caffeine, they usually associate its stimulating effects with coffee, soda, or energy drinks. However, caffeine is also one of the most extensively studied supplements available.

It works by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain, which blocks signals of fatigue, making you feel more energized and focused.

You can find synthetic caffeine anhydrous in the form of a powder, or you can purchase caffeine pills at most pharmacies or truck stops. However, if you prefer a natural source, I recommend Guarana tablets.

A strong dosage is 200 mg, equivalent to a large cup of coffee. But keep in mind that your caffeine tolerance may require more or less. Be careful not to consume too much, especially if you’re sensitive to stimulants.

Related: Coffee vs Pre-Workout Before the Gym

Beta Alanine for Endurance

Beta-alanine is a supplement that can help improve muscular performance during weight training sessions. When lactic acid builds up, pH levels drop, resulting in decreased performance.

However, beta-alanine works by buffering the pH levels in the presence of lactic acid, which helps to delay fatigue. This allows for longer and more intense training sessions.

Studies have shown that individuals who supplement with beta-alanine, combined with creatine, outperform other groups in terms of strength gains1.

A recommended effective dose of beta-alanine is 3 grams, which is slightly over half a teaspoon. While some people may experience a tingling sensation after taking beta-alanine, it is not a cause for alarm.

Related: Why Does Beta Alanine Make You Tingle

L-Citrulline for Blood Flow

Another essential ingredient to look for is l-arginine or l-citrulline. These amino acids relax blood vessels, allowing more blood to pass through and creating the muscle pump effect.

An effective dose of arginine or citrulline is 5-6 grams, but many pre-workouts skimp on this ingredient with just 1-3 grams per serving. So, a homemade pre-workout should easily deliver better pumps.

Also, it’s important to note that arginine has a very bitter taste, while citrulline is more sweet. Therefore, I recommend using citrulline for better-tasting DIY pre-workout recipes.

Creatine for Strength

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively studied supplements of the last 30 years. It is known to enhance the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a form of energy that is used in the body. 

Therefore, creatine is often added to pre-workouts in an effort to improve workouts by providing ATP energy. However, the timing of creatine administration is less important than muscle saturation levels, so you could take it any time of day.

A standard dosage of creatine is 5 grams per serving, but this may vary depending on body size.

Related: Creatine Dose Calculator Based on Body Weight

Homemade Pre-Workout With Creatine

5 Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes

Next, I will take you through 5 homemade pre-workout recipes that I have created and used at various stages of my bodybuilding career.

There are recipes for specific goals like fat loss and muscle gain. As well as homemade pre-workout using coffee and other natural ingredients.

Let’s take a look at the recipes!

Fat Burning Homemade Pre-Workout

If your goal is to lose weight, I recommend that your pre-workout shake includes low-carb ingredients, allowing your body to burn more fat during the workout.

This homemade pre-workout recipe contains performance-boosting amino acids such as beta-alanine and l-citrulline. The energizing effect is provided by a guarana tablet, which can work synergistically with CLA to help you burn more fat.

Finally, this recipe also includes MCT oil as an immediate energy source for your workout that can also help your body enter fat-burning mode.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablet guarana
  • 1 tsp l-citrulline
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine
  • 1 tbsp MCT oil
  • 2 soft gels CLA

How to Mix

Combine in a shaker cup with a flavored protein powder or sugar-free drink mix (I use Mio). Take tablets and soft gels with the shake.

Related: Best Tasting Protein Powders

Muscle Building Homemade Pre-Workout

Consuming carbs prior to training is crucial for building muscle. It provides a long-lasting fuel source and prevents excessive catabolism. Fortunately, adding carbs to your pre-workout shake is easier than having a sit-down meal.

This homemade pre-workout recipe combines maltodextrin with citrulline and beta-alanine to provide energy and pumps. It also includes creatine to aid in long-term strength gains in the gym.

Finally, you can mix all the ingredients together with your favorite protein powder to add flavor.

Ingredients

  • 150-200 mg caffeine powder
  • 1 tsp l-citrulline
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine
  • 1 tsp creatine monohydrate
  • 25-75 grams maltodextrin
  • 25 grams protein powder

How to Mix

Combine all powders in a shaker cup with flavored protein powder.

Homemade Pre-Workout With Coffee

For some people, coffee is a more enjoyable way to get their caffeine boost than taking pills or powders that have no taste. If you’re one of those people, you might be interested in this homemade pre-workout option.

It’s a simple process – just add your amino acid powders to your coffee and stir thoroughly.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz black coffee
  • 1 tsp l-citrulline
  • 1/2 tsp beta-alanine

How to Mix

Stir powders into a coffee mug until dissolved. I like to use a milk frother to ensure the powders mix well. Instead of adding sugary coffee creamers, I suggest trying a high-protein coffee creamer alternative.

Related: Best Protein Coffee Creamer Comparison & Protein Coffee Recipes

Homemade Pre-Workout With Coffee

Natural Homemade Pre-Workout Recipe

If you’re averse to using too many powders and pills, I also have a more natural homemade pre-workout recipe that might work better for you. Again, this recipe uses black coffee in place of synthetic caffeine.

Additionally, you can use pea protein, which is naturally high in l-arginine, to boost blood flow during your workout. And coconut oil melts nicely into the hot coffee, providing a natural source of MCTs.

Finally, adding a small amount of liquid egg whites helps improve the amino acid profile of the pea protein for optimal lean muscle gains.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz black coffee
  • 1 scoop pea protein powder*
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites

How to Mix

Combine all ingredients in a small blender until mixed well. Be careful when opening the blender containing hot coffee!

Related: My Review of Nutribullet vs Ninja Blenders for Shakes & Smoothies

Stim-Free Homemade Pre-Workout

More and more information is coming out about how overstimulating pre-workout supplements could cause anxiety in some individuals. Worse yet, some compounds in commercial pre-workouts may even lead to addictive behaviors.

Therefore, I think it’s a good idea to reduce your caffeine intake or periodically cycle off stimulants altogether. The nice part about making your own pre-workout at home is that you can modify your formula based on your current needs.

For example, if you’re cutting back on stimulants, you can remove the guarana, caffeine, or coffee from any of the above recipes.

Related: Signs You’re Addicted to Pre-Workout Supplements

Stim Free Homemade Pre-Workout

More Pre-Workout Guides

With homemade pre-workout, you’ll save money, improve your workouts, and avoid unhealthy substances. However, there are still many factors to consider when making and taking pre-workout supplements.

So here are some additional resources around pre-workouts that I know you’ll find helpful.

7 Benefits of Salt In Pre-Workout & How Much To Add

Are Pre-Workout Gummies Worth The Money?

Does Pre-Workout Cause Acne? How to Avoid Workout Breakouts

Taking Pre-Workout on Empty Stomach, Read This First

Can Pre-Workout Cause Anxiety? How to Reduce Side Effects

How Long Does Pre-Workout Take To Kick In? & Timing For Best Results

7 Best Cheap Pre-Workout Supplements By Category

If you’re looking to switch up your routine, I have plenty of other fitness content. Check out my articles on workouts, nutrition, and bodybuilding.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

By |October 19, 2023|Supplements|0 Comments
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