worst pre workouts
What Is the Worst Pre-Workout Available?

In this article, we’re taking a trip right down to the very bottom of the barrel, the absolute worst of the worst when it comes to pre-workout supplements. 

It’s honestly very rare to find pre workouts that are genuinely well formulated these days. The vast majority of them are extremely mediocre at best, mostly because supplement companies rip you off.

They know that the average consumer is only responding to the marketing, and NOT the actual ingredient profile. So as a consequence, most pre-workouts available are just very “meh,” for lack of a better word. Some of them are a bit worse.

And then, a special select few like the ones I’ll be showing you today, are so bad and so flat out insulting that it’s genuinely painful to observe. 

So, let’s jump right into it. I’ll be putting these in order going from number 5 and steadily declining all the way down to the absolute most depressing pre-workout in existence, at least as far as I’m aware.

Without further ado, in ascending (or descending, depending on how you want to look at it) order:

Worst Pre-Workout #5:

Kicking off the list of worst pre-workouts is Sculpt Nation’s pre-workout. 

worst pre-workout sculpt nation

It seems like pretty much everything V Shred touches turns to crap, and supplements are definitely no exception. 

Sculpt Nation proudly boasts one of the most ridiculous, downright comical supplement lines on the market right now. They’ve got a wide variety of completely worthless products you can check out if you enjoy flushing money down the toilet.

These include testosterone boosters, growth hormone boosters, nighttime fat burners, BCAAs, obscenely over priced creatine, and of course, this gem of a pre-workout. In it, literally every single ingredient aside from the caffeine is criminally under-dosed to the point of having no benefits whatsoever. 

Let’s look at the label.

You get 100 milligrams of l-tyrosine as opposed to the bare minimum 500 milligrams you’d probably need to get any effect at all. It’s a solid ingredient for increasing energy and focus, but you’d need probably around 1000 milligrams as a minimum pre workout dose.

You also get 100 milligrams of betaine (itself a kind of debatable ingredient). The proper clinical dose is upwards of 2000 milligrams, so 1/20th of the proper amount. They include 1.2 grams of beta alanine, when the minimum efficacious dose is usually considered to be 3.2 grams. 2 grams would be the absolute minimum.

Also keep in mind that both betaine and beta alanine are not pre-workout ingredients in the first place. They have no immediate effects on performance and are compounds you take every single day. Thus, the timing doesn’t matter.

Then there’s 1.5 grams of l-citrulline, another solid ingredient, but roughly half of the minimum amount you’d need to see any legitimate benefits. Finally, there are 3 grams of BCAAs which will have no effect at all on your training performance, or on anything else for that matter. 

So at the end of the day, what V Shred is really offering you here is a 37 dollar bottle of flavored caffeine. This genuinely is one of the worst pre-workouts I have ever seen.

Worst Pre-Workout #4:

Next up on the list, we have Pre Workout Explosion by Six Star Nutrition.

worst pre-workout six star 

Six Star is a supplement line owned by MuscleTech. As far as I can tell, this is basically their sort of cheap Walmart brand of products that they use to target the less “savvy” fitness crowd.

Just like with Sculpt Nation, the only useful pre-workout ingredient you’re truly getting here is caffeine. There’s 1.5 grams of beta alanine versus the aforementioned proper 3.2 to 6.4 gram clinical dose.

There’s also 1.5 grams of creatine versus the proper 3-5 gram dose, and 1 gram of l-arginine. Neither are going to have any pre-workout benefits to begin with. In the case of l-arginine, most of it doesn’t even make it to the bloodstream. It’s instead used up by the intestines for energy, not to mention that the research-studied dose is usually 3 grams minimum. 

After that is the “advanced pump complex,” which is a proprietary blend of 500 milligrams in total from a combination of taurine, citrulline, citrulline malate and more l-arginine. 

So, that 500 milligrams is roughly (to be generous) around 5-10% of what you’d need in order for all of those ingredients to meet their absolute minimum doses. 

In effect, this is pure label decoration. It won’t have even the slightest benefit when it comes to improving strength, energy, or anything else. 

Lastly, you get a microdose of l-tyrosine and choline. Again, this won’t have any effect whatsoever because it’s just not enough, and to top it off, you only get the modest dose of 135 milligrams of caffeine. This is really the only ingredient in here that’s going to do anything for you at all. 

Six Star does recommend up to 2 scoops which will double all of those dosages, but even with everything doubled, it still doesn’t change anything. That’s how bad this formula is to begin with. In the end it will cost you more money as you’ll be out of the product faster. 

It would bump the beta alanine and creatine up to 3 grams each, which is a minimum proper dose for those. However, neither of these ingredients have acute effects. They’re compounds you take every single day and the benefits slowly build up over time.

Thus, they don’t have any place in a pre-workout anyway.

Worst Pre-Workout #3:

Next on the list of worst pre-workout supplements is Equate.

equate worst pre-workout

This is actually Walmart’s brand, and if you asked me to envision what a Walmart pre-workout would look like, this would be it. 

This is actually kind of similar to the previous one except at roughly half the dose because they only recommend taking one scoop. You get 1.5 grams of beta alanine, 1.5 grams of creatine, 1 gram of BCAAs, half a gram of l-citrulline, and half a gram of l-arginine.

Very, very sad indeed. 

Again, beta alanine and creatine are not pre workout ingredients to begin with, and those are half doses anyway. There’s no need for pre-workout BCAAs, and the usual dose would be, bare minimum, 5 grams anyway

L-citrulline should be dosed at about 3 grams at minimum. Arginine is useless, and at half a gram, that’s also a useless dose.

In all, there is roughly a 0% chance that any of those ingredients will noticeably benefit you.

And then of course, they just toss in some caffeine at the end, only 135 milligrams. This is a pretty modest dose, but if you’re reasonably sensitive to caffeine then it should still give you a small kick. 

Folks, Equate pre-workout is pretty close to as bad as it gets–but not quite. 

It does in fact get worse, and from one of the biggest supplement brands in the world for that matter.

Worst Pre-Workout #2:

Nearing the top of the list is Amino Energy by Optimum Nutrition.

optimum nutrition amino energy worst pre-workout

This one honestly blows my mind. 

It has been a top selling product for a good 10 years or so from one of the most popular companies in the industry. At the time of this writing, it has over 22,000 Amazon reviews and is rated at 4 and a half stars.

Yet, if you just logically dissect the label, most of what’s in here is totally useless. 

You get a 5 gram “amino blend,” which you don’t even need in the first place because there’s no necessity for isolated pre-workout amino acids. You’d be just as fine if you just ate some kind of reasonable protein source within a few hours of your session.

Even if you’re trying to train mostly fasted and you wanted some EAAs in your system before the workout, you still wouldn’t want to go with this product. 

Because of the “blend,” you  don’t even know what you’re getting here. All the specific dosages are hidden behind it. 

And in a proprietary blend, the ingredients are always listed from the highest to lowest dosage. With Amino Energy, the most prominent ingredient is (surprise surprise) l-taurine. This is an ingredient supplement companies often use as a filler–it’s a dirt cheap amino acid that’s also tasteless, so it’s really easy to flavor. 

L-taurine is also a common ingredient that companies will use to scam you through something called amino acid spiking in protein powders.

So, without seeing the specific dosages, for all you know this could be 4.9 grams of l-taurine, and then everything else could just be pixie dusted with a microscopic amount of everything else. 

That honestly wouldn’t surprise me at all. If you’re genuinely dosing your products correctly, then you would want people to see that. You wouldn’t want to hide it. 

The only real reason to use a proprietary blend is precisely because you don’t want people to see the actual doses you’re using. 

And at 5 grams total, even if you took 2 scoops of this and got 10 grams, it still wouldn’t be anywhere near usable doses of the other ingredients. Leucine, beta alanine, citrulline, iso-leucine, valine, tyrosine…there just isn’t nearly enough total ingredient volume to go around. 

What you’re really getting here is 100 milligrams of caffeine, or 200 milligrams if you take 2 scoops. That’s all this really is in terms of what will actually benefit you. Caffeine in and of itself will give you a boost in overall energy and performance, and that’s why people will still think this is a good product. 

People take it, they feel the caffeine working, and then they attribute those effects to the entire formula as a whole. However, they don’t realize that everything they’re experiencing is just from that simple caffeine buzz, 

This applies to the previous 3 pre-workouts as well. You can essentially have a formula with 8 completely worthless, ineffective, under-dosed ingredients, but still sell it and have people call it “effective” because of the caffeine. 

People will rave about it, and the placebo effect they’re getting from the caffeine will make them want to buy more.

Worst Pre-Workout #1:

All right, we’ve made it. 

I’m glad to see you’re still here with me as traumatizing as the labels on these pre-workouts are, but I promise we’ll get through this.

The last one: brace yourself. It’s time to reveal the single worst pre-workout product I have personally ever seen in my life.

Drum roll… Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer

red leaf worst pre-workout

There’s probably a decent chance you’ve never even heard of this one. However, it is listed as an “Amazon’s Choice” product and does have 1700 reviews on the site with a 4.4 star rating at the time of writing. 

So, there are a lot of people out there buying this, and apparently they are very strongly subject to the placebo effect. 

Now, why is this number 1 on the list? Well, with the previous 4 products, even though every single ingredient is either ineffective, under-dosed, or both, they at least still give you an effective dose of caffeine. In that regard, the product will still have some legitimate benefit. 

However, with Red Leaf, the entire ingredient list from top to bottom–including the caffeine–is completely and totally useless.

Let’s dive in:

1 gram of l-glutamine. This is a pointless ingredient anyway, and even a more pointless dose. 1 gram of beta alanine versus the minimum 3.2 grams we talked about earlier. Half a gram of l-arginine, no benefit whatsoever. 

Then there is 1 gram of BCAAs, which is next to nothing, and of course BCAAs aren’t useful in a pre-workout anyway.

For some reason, Red Leaf throws in a tiny dose of cranberry extract. No idea what the reason for that is. There’s also a tiny, non-usable dose of green tea; 50 milligrams of raspberry ketones (which were heavily promoted as a “weight loss miracle” several years back), also completely useless at a minimal dose anyway; and finally we get to the standard caffeine.

Like we mentioned earlier, caffeine in a pre-workout product is usually the saving grace that at least makes the product helpful to some extent. But in this case, you’re only getting 40 milligrams

If you’re hyper, hyper-sensitive to caffeine, then you might feel that to some small degree. But for the vast majority of people, this will have about the same effect as a can of diet soda. 

As far as improving training performance or giving any significant boost in energy, 40 milligrams of caffeine is just not going to be enough. 

So again, this product is a perfect testament to the power of the placebo effect. All of these people are raving about how much they love the product. But in reality, there isn’t a single efficacious ingredient in this entire formula. 

This is why you cannot trust anecdotal reports when it comes to supplements, or even most training and nutrition anecdotes for that matter. 

The placebo effect is too much of a factor. Most people don’t have the fitness knowledge or experience to really be able to detect what’s truly working and what’s not.

When it comes to supplements in particular, concrete, objective research should be the primary factor you use to guide your decisions.

In Conclusion…

…if you’re using any of these 5, aka the WORST pre-workouts out there, you’re doing it wrong:

  1. Sculpt Nation Pre Workout
  2. Six Star Pre Workout Explosion
  3. Equate Pre Workout
  4. Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy
  5. Red Leaf Energizer  

I hope this was helpful, and I want to leave you with some light at the end of the pre-workout tunnel.


If you do want to check out a legitimate, research backed pre-workout formula, then check out my formula PureForm over at RealScience Athletics.

PureForm uses only proven ingredients only in their proper clinical doses to maximize strength, energy, and focus during your training sessions. This was formulated by me from scratch to give you the best overall bang for your buck without jacking you up on a million different stimulants or an endless list of useless ingredients. 

If you want an optimal balance between effectiveness and complexity that uses solid pre-workout compounds that truly work, pick yourself up a tub and use discount code YOUTUBE15 for 15% off your first order.

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