How To Make Your Own Pre-Workout: 4 Free DIY Recipes

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 8, 2023
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If you are unsatisfied with pre workout supplements, then it’s possible you are considering trying to make your own pre workout. I understand.

There are certainly some supplement companies out there that don’t live up to their marketing hype.

Let’s take a look into how to make your own pre-workout supplement.

Read on to learn all about it.

Quick Summary

  • Making your own pre-workout supplement involves combining key ingredients like Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, and Creatine for enhanced gym performance.
  • Including caffeine in a homemade pre-workout can replace morning coffee and boost focus and energy levels during workouts.
  • A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that Beta-Alanine supplementation increases power output in exercises involving maximal strength lifting.
  • In my personal opinion creating your own pre-workout blend is rewarding and allows for tailored nutrition to match individual fitness goals and preferences.

Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes

men doing preworkout

There are different ratios of pre-workouts ingredients depending on what your overall physical goals are for yourself. It can vary greatly, and it helps to closely research ingredients to ensure that you are getting the correct dosage in your pre-workout.

Here are some recommended ratios to consider.

Recipe 1. Strength and Size

muscle strength

The “Strength and size” formula is for athletes looking for the ultimate boost in workout performance and an increase in their muscle strength and size.

It uses four ingredients in pre-workouts; creatine for improving strength, caffeine for an energy boost, carbs to reduce fatigue, and citrulline malate for muscle pumps and recovery.

The pre-workouts recipe for this is:

  • 5-10 grams of maltodextrin or cyclic dextrin for carbs
  • 3-5 grams of citrulline malate
  • 3 grams of creatine
  • 400 milligrams of caffeine

Recipe 2. Endurance and Stamina

man running

This formula is meant for people focused on their endurance and stamina. Even though it won’t have as much as an energy spike like those who are looking to build muscle, it still will give you sustained energy.

There are also 4 ingredients in this pre-workouts recipe; Beta-alanine for endurance, caffeine for energy, carbs to fuel your muscles, and citrulline malate for recovery. You will need:

  • 200-300 milligrams of caffeine
  • 5-20 grams of carbs like maltodextrin or cyclic dextrin
  • 2-5 grams of beta-alanine
  • 3-5 grams of citrulline malate

Recipe 3. Strength, Size, & Work Capacity

man doing dumbells

Maybe you don’t have any specific physical goals other than “stay fit”. This formula might be what you are looking for in a pre-workout. It has important ingredients for overall athletic performance.

It contains creatine for improved strength, beta-alanine for endurance, caffeine to reduce tiredness, and carbs for fuel. The dosage for each ingredient in this pre-workouts recipe are:

  • 5-20 grams of carbs (maltodextrin or cyclic dextrin)
  • 2-5 grams of creatine
  • 2-5 grams of beta-alanine
  • 200 milligrams of caffeine

Recipe 4. More Energy and Power

lifting weights

This is a recipe that has a little kick with the added ingredient of betaine. It helps you work out harder if you are looking to lift with more power.

The ingredients include caffeine for energy, citrulline malate for boosting weight training performance, beta-alanine for endurance, and finally, betaine for an energy spike.

The dosage for this pre-workouts recipe is:

  • 2.5 grams of betaine
  • 6 grams of citrulline malate
  • 3 grams of beta-alanine
  • 200-400 grams of caffeine

Key Ingredients to Put in a Pre Workout

1. Citrulline Malate

Citrulline Malate

I've personally found that adding Citrulline Malate, a blend of an amino acid and organic salt, to my pre-workout mix makes a notable difference.

It results in a biochemical reaction that helps your ability to gain muscle in your own pre-workout supplements. What it does it boost your energy which consequently helps you perform better in the gym.

You can’t get citrulline in your diet since it’s primarily found in watermelon. A pre-workout supplement is helpful in obtaining this specific ingredient.

For example, study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) revealed that this might be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post-exercise muscle soreness [1].

It’s one of the more expensive ingredients to put in a pre-workout, but it may be worth the overall health benefits.

Citrulline Malate also has the following health benefits:

  • Reducing lactic acid
  • Decreases ammonia buildup
  • Increases nitric oxide production (helps with blood flow)
  • Supports the ATP System (A molecular process that produces energy)

2. Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is a star in DIY pre-workout mixes, known for causing that skin-tingling buzz. Its main gig? Boosting endurance, upping athletic game, and helping you build lean muscle.

A study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found it ramps up power during heavy lifting or max-effort tasks [2]. How? By delaying tiredness and easing muscle ache. It keeps muscles peppy between sets and sharpens your workout focus.

The whole process of reducing fatigue and clearing lactic acid from your body means two things will happen:

  1. Eases muscle soreness and fatigue during workouts, letting you run, bike, or lift longer without breaks.
  2. Cuts muscle damage by clearing out stuff like lactic acid that can slow you down.

These benefits are gold for athletes aiming to level up their cardio, especially in high-intensity stuff like Crossfit.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine

A pre-workout supplement could easily replace your morning coffee with the amount of caffeine it has in it.

Caffeine in homemade pre-workout helps with awareness, focus, and gives you an energy boost. Other benefits include supporting metabolism and improving physical endurance.

How much caffeine to put in your pre-workout supplement varies from person to person. It depends on how sensitive or tolerant your body is towards caffeine.

Most of the time the range is between 150 milligrams to 500 milligrams. Anything more could potentially be unhealthy and lead to undesirable side effects like diarrhea and stomach discomfort, causing muscle soreness and hindering muscle growth.

It could also affect your sleep schedule and cause you to not fall asleep. If you take less than 150 milligrams, then you risk not getting the full benefits of caffeine.

Don’t forget that this range also needs to include other caffeine drinks you might have throughout a day like energy drinks or coffee. Or you could skip caffeine altogether, I know top brands that have pre-workouts free of stimulants.

4. Creatine

Creatine

I've been using creatine in my pre-workout for years, and it's been a staple in my muscle-building journey.

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body but is also found in seafood and red meat. Creatine isn’t exactly vegan-friendly which is why synthetic pre-workout supplements are popular.

A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that creatine supplementation increases lean tissue mass and upper and lower body muscular strength during resistance training in older adults [3].

Its primary purpose is to support the muscles by producing energy for heavy lifting or a high-intensity exercise. It’s easy to see why this substance has become popular with athletes and bodybuilders.

Creatine is the number one supplement for improving performance in the gym
- Rudy MawerMSc, CISSN  

The benefits of creatine include:

  • Reduces cancer risk
  • Increases hydration and volume of cells
  • Improves endurance performance
  • Supports heart health
  • Boosts energy for stronger lifts and longer sets

5. Betaine

Betaine

Betaine, or trimethylglycine, is found in plants.

If consumed, it becomes nitric oxide which helps open up pathways that let people train with more endurance.

Per a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it also improved body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity as cited by some studies [4].

Here’s a breakdown on what research says about betaine:

  • Improves cycling sprint power
  • Increased arm size
  • Improve muscle endurance and increase the quality of reps
  • Improved body composition
  • Increases power and force of physical movements

Betaine gives people more power during their physical exercises. Consequently, this leads to increased muscle mass since people are able to put in more into their workouts.

If you are someone who participates in cycling, high-intensity training or lifting weights, then betaine is a substance that you want to look into including in your pre-workout.

6. BCAAs

BCAAs

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), including leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are essential for muscle support, but your body can't make them.

You've probably heard about the 2:1:1 BCAA ratio, with leucine being the double dose. That's because leucine is a muscle-building hero, kickstarting muscle protein synthesis.

When picking a BCAA supplement, aim for 3 grams of leucine per serving for max benefits. Athletes might need more, around 10-20 grams daily. But, here's a twist: some research argues that BCAAs don't necessarily boost muscle protein synthesis or have a muscle-building effect in humans [4].

Remember, amino acids are protein's building blocks and they're crucial for many bodily functions. Besides BCAAs, other essential and non-essential amino acids are key for overall health too.

Here are the other benefits of BCAAs:

  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • Could help with weight loss
  • Supports muscle protein
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • Could help with weight loss
  • Supports muscle protein

Other Ingredients to Consider

There are even other ingredients that you might want to consider. It’s imperative to carefully research an ingredient and it’s specific benefits to see if it’s what you are looking for in a supplement.

You may want to start by consulting with a good doctor, nutritionist, or dietician about your dietary preferences. They are more qualified to assist you.

Benefits of Making Your Own Pre-Workout

Making my own pre-workout mix has been a game-changer. It's not just about saving cash or quality control, but also about nailing the perfect dose for my needs.

  1. Quality assurance. With store-bought pre-workouts, you're often in the dark about what's really in them. "Proprietary blends" can be sketchy, and there's no telling about ingredient quality. But when you DIY, you call the shots. You know exactly what's in your mix and can pick top-notch ingredients.
  2. Cost-effective. Don't get fooled by fancy brands charging a fortune. Most pre-workout ingredients are wallet-friendly. Doing it yourself can cut costs to just pennies per serving.
  3. Customized Dosage. Pre-made mixes often miss the mark on dosage. Too much caffeine? Not enough beta-alanine? And those mysterious proprietary blends don't help.

Going homemade means you control every scoop. You get the exact amounts you want, with none of the guesswork.

Risks of Making Your Own Pre-Workout Supplements

Making your own pre-workout isn't just risky, it's a real challenge. Here's why:

  1. Lack of expertise Let's face it, most of us aren't chemists. Mixing up ingredients and hoping for the best could backfire. You might end up with something harmful instead of helpful. Plus, figuring out the right mix and how ingredients interact requires deep research.
  2. The effort involved Once you know what you want, finding pure, high-quality versions of those ingredients is no walk in the park. It's a daunting task, ensuring each component is up to par.

Then comes the mixing. Getting the measurements just right is crucial - a little too much or too little of something can throw off the whole balance. Precision is key, and it takes a careful, meticulous approach.

Does DIY Pre Workout Taste Good?

Some people recommend mixing your homemade pre-workout with a powdered flavored drink, but that seems to defeat the purpose when you make your own pre-workout using only high-quality ingredients.

I’m suspicious of the taste, and I would rather find something that is either unflavored or a pre-made workout that has been tested by other people for great tasting flavor.

The Time It Takes to Make a Pre-workout

writing on a note

Whipping up a pre-workout drink takes just a few minutes, including precise ingredient measurement and mixing. The real time eater? Researching and buying the right stuff. But once you've got that down, it's pretty straightforward.

Be ready to adjust the mix over time, though. Your body might adapt to ingredients like caffeine, needing a tweak in the recipe.

Customizing your pre-workout means it's tailored to your fitness goals, offering that perfect energy, focus, and stamina boost for your workouts. So, those few minutes of prep? Totally worth it.

Short on time? We've got some ready-to-go pre-workout suggestions for you.

Check this video below to learn more how to create your own pre workout

youtube

Where to Buy Pre Workout Ingredients

You can buy the ingredients to make a pre-workout at the same places that you would buy a pre-made pre-workout. Any health store, in-person or online, will have most ingredients stocked.

Saving Money with DIY Pre-Workout

DIY pre-workout can be a wallet-friendly choice. Store-bought powders range from $10-20, but making your own usually means more servings at a lower cost per serving.

Despite the savings, I lean towards buying pre-made supplements. Some brands offer high-quality ingredients that deliver great results, saving you the hassle of potentially mixing something harmful. It's all about picking the right product – paying a bit more for peace of mind and convenience can be worth it.

You can read the following article on some of my recommended pre-workout supplements for maximum pump.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918575/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679696/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/
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9 thoughts on “How to Make Your Own Pre Workout
Everything You Need To DIY

  1. Wow!!! This is so great! Such an amazing resource for beginners like me. I like this particular product I tried a sample of, but the tub is so expensive I don’t think i can maintain it! So I looked for ways on how to do it yourself and this is probably the best one I have found! So detailed and so much useful stuff! I will definitely try making one for myself this weekend — so excited to try it out! If this goes well, then I don’t need to buy that expensive product ha ha so wish me well!

    By the way, I’ve been reading your blog the whole day today. I love it. Definitely makes me think about my lifestyle choices! Not in a judgmental way though, but more on an educational way, he he! Will bookmark your page and read more of it, im sure there’s a lot more value in here that I haven’t touched

    1. Hi Fern, I hope you read my comment (the one after this lol) i know you want to save some money but trust me, the effort isn’t worth it haha there are cheaper products out there that you can buy and will last for a month or two, those should be good!

      1. Hi Yosef, thank you! I actually realized that as I was researching for the ingredients. Haha those ingredients are difficult! They are difficult to spelll and difficult to find lol thank you for your insight. There’s this product that I enjoyed but I guess I will have to substitute something cheaper. It ‘s sooooo expensive, like a hundred bucks for a month’s supply like ?????? that’s just too much for me. i am a student and do not have much in the bank, i work part time so I save what I can. yeah, need to research more for a cheaper product

  2. I also don’t recommend making your own, just buy the stuff on the grocery or online and you’re good. It takes too much time. Also, I don’t have all the ingredients on my local grocery so I would have to research still on where and how to get those especially the ones that sound so foreign to me. If you have the time and resources, sure go ahead and do it, but I think it will still end up being costly considering that you can’t buy those things on a per serving basis! You have to buy them in pouches that maybe has 1kg of it, and you won’t be needing that much. So personally, it’s not worth my time and money. I’ll just shell out $40 and there, I have my product. It’s that easy!

    1. 100% agree with you, brother. I tried doing this on my own and straight up failed, it was chunky and tasted like an expired chalk, imagine that, it’s not that an unexpired chalk tastes good. And regarding the ingredients, they are not readily available anywhere, so I looked online and found some but most of them were expiring in a few months’ time 🙁 I was only able to make a few servings that lasted me almost a month, after that, my ingredients have all gone bad. That’s one of the downsides of buying online, most of them are almost expired, more so if they’re being sold at a low price! such a sad experience. i ended up spending over 60$ instead of just getting a tub for half the price. that’s a lesson learned, and i hope everyone reading this listens to me lol i don’t want to you to go through the hassle i went through

  3. Hi, i have a question, where do i get these ingredients? Do i get them from the drugstore? or my local grocery? not sure about them, tried searching online and can’t seem to find any info on where to buy cutruline malate or whatever that is.

    1. Hi Madison, most drugstores have those, GNC or anywhere that sells the same products. However, as most people here have commented, making your own isn’t going to a walk in the park. It’s time consuming and i find that a tiny mistake in measurement can mess up the entire thing (not that I experienced it, oh yes i actually did and mine tasted like crap). So you are going to have to be careful with that if you want something good. You also have to use the same exact tools and measurements all the time. There’s no estimating in here everything has to be to a T. I don’t know, i don’t have the patience for that, but may be you have.

      1. Thannk you for your insight, Oakley! I appreciate it. I actually just called my local GNC and sadly they don’t have these things so I might have to look somewhere else. I have a favorite one that i take all the time but i thought this would be a good way to switch things up, like an experiment! Ha ha, i will definitely take your advice into consideration. As soon as I have everything I need, i’ll make one and will let you know of the outcome! If it turns out great, then good, but if not, then i’ll just remember it as a funny experience lol. Thanks!

        1. Sounds exciting, do let us know what happens! Excited to hear about it. If anything, I’ve tried it once before and it went well, the second try did not. THat’s why I mentioned consistency in measurement and everything else. I agree with you though, it’s a fun experience, albeit messy and tasted awful lol. I have a feeling you’ll go back to your favorite brand but whatever happens, we won’t judge, hehe all the best to you!

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