Pre-Workout vs. Pump: What’s The Difference?

March 2, 2023

Pump pre-workouts are a relatively new class of supplements. Companies saw the need to create a non-stim pre-workout for individuals who work out late or don’t want the extra caffeine. Is this the primary difference?

The main difference between a pre-workout and a pump pre-workout is the inclusion of stimulants. Pump products have no stimulants like caffeine, while traditional pre-workouts do.

But are these the only differences between a pre-workout and a pump product?

Pre-Workout vs. Pump: What’s The Difference?

Pre-workouts include stimulants like caffeine, while pump products don’t have stimulants and are dosed higher with ingredients to improve blood flow and the feeling of the pump when lifting weights.

Pump pre-workouts focus on ingredients to improve blood flow and endurance, like L-citrulline, betaine anhydrous, and beta-alanine. While pre-workouts may also include these ingredients, they also have added stimulants.

Why Choose A Stimulant Pre-Workout?

Acutely Improve Performance

Caffeine is a potent performance enhancer. Many of the benefits of pre-workout come from this one ingredient. For example, research has shown caffeine can improve power and sprint performance by 6.5% and the number of reps lifted at a given weight by 9.4% [2].

Further, caffeine enhances endurance performance by reducing time trial times by 2.22% and increasing power output by 2.9% [3]. It’s one of the proven sports supplements that have a real effect you’ve likely noticed yourself.

Get A Pick Me Up

Busy lifestyles can drain us, taking away from our favorite hobbies like lifting and training. Sometimes, you need a pick-me-up to get going in the morning. Pre-workout is used for this purpose.

Why Choose A Non-Stim Pump Pre-Workout?

Pump vs Pre Workout

You Train At Night

This is the main reason lifters opt for a pump pre-workout. If you train in the evening after work, taking a caffeine-loaded pre-workout may give you the energy to smash your workout. Still, you’ll be up to the wee hours of the morning as the caffeine and adrenaline wear off.

By taking a pump pre-workout, your brain often associates the routine and flavors with a pre-workout with stimulants giving you a placebo effect of heightened energy and improved blood flow.

You’re Caffeine Sensitive

Unfortunately, you could be one of the few negatively affected by caffeine. A study compared subjects with the AA and CC genotype of the CYP1A2 gene, which is the gene that metabolizes caffeine with a 10 km cycling time trial [1].

CC genotypes took longer to complete the time trial the more caffeine they ingested beforehand. In contrast, AA genotypes improved their time with the more caffeine they took. CC genotypes are known as slow caffeine metabolizers. You’ll know if you have this genetic trait if you feel worse or tired after having caffeine.

Can You Take Pump And Pre-Workout Together?

You can take pump and pre-workout together to stack ingredients and reach an effective dose. Ideally, you’d stack pump and pre-workout from the same company that markets their supplements as a pair.

This way, you know you’re not doubling up on ingredients and getting overly dosed on some and underdosed on others.


Pre-workouts and pump products can be used together but is not necessary. If you respond well to stimulants, go for a traditional pre-workout like the ones in my best beginner pre-workout list. If you train in the evening, a pump pre-workout is a better option, so you’re not lying awake in the early morning.


1. Southward, K., Rutherfurd-Markwick, K., Badenhorst, C., & Ali, A. (2018). The role of genetics in moderating the inter-individual differences in the ergogenicity of caffeine. Nutrients10(10), 1352.

2. Astorino, T. A., & Roberson, D. W. (2010). Efficacy of acute caffeine ingestion for short-term high-intensity exercise performance: a systematic review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(1), 257-265.

3. Southward, K., Rutherfurd-Markwick, K. J., & Ali, A. (2018). The effect of acute caffeine ingestion on endurance performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine48(8), 1913-1928.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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