Pre-workouts don’t have to be used solely for an energy boost. Some pre-workouts have been designed as a hybrid brain supplement to enhance focus during your grueling workouts.
While caffeine and L-theanine and the main ingredients in a pre-workout focus stack, other non-stimulant ingredients make their way into formulas for an extra boost.
Want to know which is the best pre-workout for focus? I've listed them below so you can decide for yourself!
Best Pre-Workout For Focus
Best Pre-Workout For Focus & Pump
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout For Focus
Best Pre-Workout For Focus
Pre Lab Pro
Pre Lab Pro Rating
Pre Lab Pro was designed specifically as a focus pre-workout. It's one of the original nootropic pre-workout formulas to hit the market. Nootropic is the fancy term for brain supplements. What makes it so great for focus?
L-Citrulline & L-Gluthathione
Red Beet Powder
Himalayan Pink Salt
It takes advantage of the caffeine L-theanine nootropic stack and layers on L-tyrosine. Caffeine is well-known as a performance-enhancing supplement that improves focus and alertness. But L-theanine has the opposite effect reducing stress and anxiety, resulting in a relaxation effect .
This doesn’t sound like an ingredient that would make a good pre-workout. However, when combined with caffeine, there’s a synergistic effect where caffeine improves alertness and focus without the jitteriness and anxiety caffeine may bring .
For example, research has shown improvements in the speed of visual processing, working memory, and computer-based reaction time when taking the caffeine L-theanine stack . Interestingly, L-theanine alone impaired reaction time.
Increases in alertness and reductions in tiredness and mental fatigue were also observed. Even doses as small as 100 mg of L-theanine and 50 mg of caffeine have shown faster reaction times and improved accuracy .
This improvement was greater than in the caffeine-only group. Lastly, even smaller doses of 97 mg of L-Theanine and 40 mg of caffeine have shown improvements in task-switching accuracy, alertness, and decreased tiredness .
This dose falls right in line with Pre Lab Pro, which uses 160 mg of L-Theanine with 80 mg of caffeine. This 2:1 ratio seems to be the sweet spot for focus. L-Tyrosine is the other active focus ingredient.
It has been shown to reduce headaches, distress, fatigue, muscular discomfort, and sleepiness and improve mood under cold stressful conditions . Further, L-Tyrosine improves accuracy during multitasking and working memory under mild stress .
However, it seems you need mega doses to see these benefits with 100-150 mg/kg of bodyweight. There isn’t a pre-workout on the planet with L-Tyrosine doses this high, with Pre Lab Pro having 400 mg per serving. Whether you see a benefit from it in pre-workout is yet to be determined.
The L-Citrulline and L-Glutathione doses are too small to have any real-world effect. But the unique addition of red beet powder of 1500 mg may enhance recovery after strength training. Research shows improved heart rate recovery after taking 600 mg of red beet powder .
Further, you’ll see improved endurance due to the nitric oxide content of red beets reducing the cost of oxygen during exercise . Finally, you have 500 mg of Himalayan pink salt as an electrolyte to improve pumps in the gym.
Pre Lab Pro mixes easily but has a distinctive taste, likely because it is naturally sweetened with Stevia and monk fruit extract. Natural flavors are a big bonus if you take pre-workout multiple times per week to reduce your artificial sweetener intake.
Each purchase comes with a free shaker bottle to mix your Pre Lab Pro, which is a proper drink bottle, not a plastic shaker. Regarding price, buying one tub will set you back $59, which is a one-month supply.
However, Pre Lab Pro offers bundles where the 4-tub bundle brings the price down to $44 per tub as it buys 3, get 1 free, saving you 25%. Overall, the biggest advantage of Pre Lab Pro for focus is the smaller dose of caffeine stacked with L-theanine, so you get the benefits without caffeine anxiety and heart palpitations.
Best Pre-Workout For Focus And Pump
Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout
Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout
Shifted is a newer brand in the pre-workout market but has created the most insane formula I've come across. If you're after focus and pump, this is the pre-workout for you.
Red Spinach Leaf Extract
Shifted has added efficacious doses of as many ingredients as possible into a single serving. The serving size is the same as a typical protein scoop! Firstly, Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout has 8 g of L-Citrulline.
L-Citrulline increases nitric oxide improving fatigue resistance, muscular endurance, and recovery by improving blood flow . It bypasses the gut and converts to L-Arginine in the kidneys converting again to nitric oxide.
When L-Arginine is ingested, it has poor absorption in the gut, so you don't get the same nitric oxide boost.
8 g is the upper efficacious dose for L-Citrulline to work its magic which Shifted nailed in this formula. Next to help with focus and pump is taurine. Taurine reduces the need for high caffeine, and increasing taurine doses increase performance regardless of caffeine dose .
Beta-alanine is another ingredient that can help with the pump. Beta-alanine increases carnosine levels by buffering acidic hydrogen ions and extending high-intensity exercise duration . Extended periods of high-intensity exercise (like high rep sets) will give you a bigger pump.
Like Pre Lab Pro, Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout has Beet Root Extract in a smaller dose and L-Tyrosine in a higher dose for focus and pumps. Again, L-tyrosine is never dosed adequately in pre-workout, as adding the amount of powder would be near impossible.
However, the beetroot extract is dosed well enough to add another layer of nitric oxide in addition to the L-citrulline for crazy pumps .
Alpha-GPC may have similar effects to caffeine for cognitive improvements without being a stimulant and is dosed adequately at 300 mg . Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout also has 300 mg of caffeine with 150 mg of L-theanine.
While not a 2:1 ratio in favor of L-theanine, you will see improvements in alertness and focus, especially if you have a higher caffeine tolerance. Finally, this pre-workout includes Rhodiola Rosea, which has been shown to reduce fatigue under stress and decrease tiredness .
You have a host of active ingredients to enhance focus and pump within a single serving of pre-workout. The berry flavor tastes great and isn't overpowering even with the large serving size.
Amazingly, it comes to $49.95 per tub of 20 servings. If you're lifting 4 times per week, that's a month's supply.
Best Pre-Workout For Focus And Energy
Testo Prime Instant Energy
Testo Prime Instant Energy
Testo Prime was originally a testosterone-boosting product. We know that testosterone boosters don't work. But this is a new product from the same brand that created their own pre-workout/energy drink called Instant Energy.
EmulGold Acacia Fiber
For energy, Testo Prime has 200 mg of caffeine, 250 mg of L-theanine, and 1 g of taurine. Added to these ingredients are L-tyrosine, ashwagandha, and choline bitartrate. We've covered L-tyrosine previously, but ashwagandha is a unique ingredient to this pre-workout.
It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality . Reducing stress and anxiety is one way to improve your ability to focus on a task.
What I like about Testo Prime Instant Energy is it comes in sachets. So you can take it with you on the go or in your gym bag without taking an entire tub or pre-mixing it at home. One tub of 30 sachets is $44.99 with free shipping, but on subscription, it is only $35.99, making it $1.20 per serving.
It's an excellent price for the convenience of having easy-to-travel with sachets. Unfortunately, it only comes in one flavor: orange & mango.
Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout For Focus
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro
While this technically isn’t a pre-workout drink, it is a nootropic specifically designed for cognitive enhancement without stimulants. Here’s the ingredients list:
Organic Lion's Mane Mushroom
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Citicoline is the neurotransmitter improving memory and attention. Bacopa Monnieri enhances memory recall . Lion’s Mane is part of the mushroom supplement group and may improve cognitive function in those with cognitive impairments and reduce anxiety and depression .
Phosphatidylserine improves the speed of calculation and accuracy of answers by 20% . Finally, there’s L-tyrosine, L-theanine, and Rhodiola Rosea for reducing fatigue and tiredness.
It’s a neat nootropic supplement you can substitute your stimulant pre-workout with. If you train late in the evening, taking these pills may be a better option so you can sleep at night without being wide awake from caffeine.
What Ingredients Help You Focus In Pre-Workout?
While L-tyrosine is a proven cognitive enhancer, it takes large doses to work effectively. For a 150 lb person, you'd need 7 – 10 g, which exceeds what a pre-workout can offer. However, having lower doses of L-tyrosine doesn't hurt, and it may work well with other ingredients in the formulation.
Alpha-GPC is a neurotransmitter that improves memory and attention . Doses anywhere from 300 – 1200 mg per day are used within the research and shown to be effective.
Caffeine & L-Theanine
This is the nootropic stack responsible for 99% of the positive focus effects in pre-workout. If the pre-workout doesn’t have these two ingredients, it likely isn’t going to provide the focus you’re after. The underlying mechanism seems to be that L-theanine stimulates Alpha Wave brain activity .
These brain waves put you in a relaxed state, feeling calm and less stressed without drowsiness. Combine that with the alert and energy-driving caffeine, and you have the ultimate nootropic combination.
How To Find The Best Pre-Workout For Focus
Uses Proven Ingredients
The brain supplement and focus ingredients space is a little murky. Most ingredients have little research backing them and are used in the hope of having a positive effect. In my opinion, that is fine on the off-chance. They may positively affect you as long as there are no adverse side effects.
There should either be a positive effect or no effect with no harm. As long as your pre-workout has caffeine and L-theanine, you have the perfect focus blend. Anything else is icing on the cake.
Pre-workouts can have all the best ingredients on the label but not dose them properly, making them useless. A 2:1 dose of L-theanine and caffeine, like in Pre Lab Pro, has been shown to be effective in the research.
The amount of caffeine you take will depend on your tolerance. To cover all your bases, Shifted Maximum Formula Pre-Workout has you covered with adequately dosed ingredients for focus and pumps.
Frequently Asked Focus Pre-Workout Questions
Does Pre-Workout Help You Focus?
Pre-workout can help you focus because of caffeine and the addition of L-theanine. However, if you take too much pre-workout with high caffeine doses, you may find the opposite effect as your heart rate, breathing, and anxiety increase.
Pre Lab Pro is designed as a pre-workout for focus and is an excellent choice for this purpose. If you need something stronger with added pumps, Shifted has done an amazing job fitting almost every pre-workout ingredient imaginable in one serving.
If you're looking at the local store, find something with caffeine and L-theanine, which will provide most focus benefits.
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