Best Pre-Workout and Recovery Drinks for CrossFit + TOP 15 Supplement Reviews 2023
Should you or shouldn’t you?
Do you really need a pre-workout to bang out your next WOD or Metcon? Is a pre-workout for CrossFit worth it?
Arguably, a pre-workout is not a necessity to achieve success at the box, and with the bad rap pre-workouts have it is understandable if you are leery of giving them a go.
I will tell you what I know:
Personally, the right pre-workout drink has been a helpful tool for me to meet fitness goals and get a little boost or pick me up right when I need it.
The best pre-workout for CrossFit can increase strength, endurance, cardio capacity, lean muscle and give you a little stimulation to finish the WOD as strong as you started it.
I will go over 5 benefits the right pre-workout can offer the CrossFit Athlete, share with you what top CrossFit Athletes use to power up, and review 15 of the best pre-workout for CrossFit formulas on the market today.
- The Super 5 – Key Elements to Look for in a Pre-Workout for CrossFit
- TOP 15 Best Pre-Workouts and Recovery Drinks for CrossFit 2023
- Ascent Pre-Workout
- Xendurance FUEL-5 Pre-Workout
- Genius BCAA Powder with Focus and Energy
- Naked Energy - All Natural Pre-Workout Powder
- NF Sports Pre-Workout
- SFH PUSH Pre-Workout
- BSN AMINO X Endurance & Recovery Powder
- PRE WOD - Cognitive Enhancing Pre-Workout Supplement
- Onnit Total Strength + Performance
- Genius Pre-Workout Powder
- Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder
- Kill Cliff Ignite - Lemon Berry
- PureWOD Pre-Workout
- PALEOETHICS Vegan High Performance Recovery
- FNX Recharge Pre-Workout
The Super 5 – Key Elements to Look for in a Pre-Workout for CrossFit
When you are reaching for a new PR on the deadlift, clean and jerk or snatch, strength and form are key.
Look for pre-workouts with strength increasing ingredients like Beta Alanine, Alpha GPC, Creatine and Citrulline Malate to give you a boost and gain a new personal best on your lift.
CrossFit is no joke, it’s tough, and you probably already know that.
If you have ever found yourself lagging and dragging near the end of the workout you can appreciate how important endurance is.
When you are AMRAPPING a round of Box jumps, kettlebell swings and ring dips, even 15 minutes can seem impossible.
Enter the endurance PreWOD drink.
Endurance supplements like Betaine, Caffeine, Tyrosine and Beta-Alanine (again) allow you to go the extra mile and finish strong.
During the 2015 CrossFit Games Annie Thorisdottir was forced to abandon a workout during the games because she overheated during a Murph routine. She could not stand up and her vision began to blur.
The episode eventually caused her to withdraw from the CrossFit games that year as her body took a few days to recover.
Too much heat and not enough hydration. CrossFit athletes are known for pushing their body to the extreme, which leads to heat and sweat, buckets of it.
Sweating leaches important electrolytes from your body such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium and so on.
It is not enough to drink just water. You need to replace these important electrolytes, and pre-workouts like SFH PUSH Pre-Workout and Ascent Pre-Workout are carefully crafted to replenish these electrolytes using natural sources like coconut water powder.
Branch chain amino acids include leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are called essential amino acids.
They are essential because our bodies do not make them, they must come from the food or drinks we consume.
Branch chain amino acids work to build lean muscle, and consequently, strength. They also help prevent catabolism, which is when your body uses muscle tissue for energy.
BCAAs preserve existing muscle.
Can’t I just eat my BCAAs?
Yes, BCAAs are found in meat, seeds and other food sources.
But if your diet is not on point, or does not include a lot of BCAA rich food, supplementing can be a good way to get these amino acids in.
Let’s be real here.
Sometimes you just don’t want to get up and go to the box. Some days you are too tired to make the effort.
Or you do have the motivation to go, but maybe you believe you won’t be able to give the workout your best effort.
Some folks find a little stimulation in the liquid form really helps. Some people drink coffee, or even green tea.
But a good pre-workout with a modest dose of stimulants may be just the thing to get you off the couch and on the way to the box.
Not all of the pre-workouts in this list contain stimulants, but I did include a few that can give you a small nudge, and there are one or two on the list that can give you a giant push, if that is your thing.
No judging here. Do what works for you.
Now I present to you, my list of the best pre-workouts for CrossFit!
TOP 15 Best Pre-Workouts and Recovery Drinks for CrossFit 2023
- Ascent Pre Workout Powder for Men & Women - Energy & Hydration Fuel optimized for clean energy with no jitter substances, so you can exercise to beat your personal best and crush your goals
- Clean Energy - Formulated with 150mg of Caffeine to prime exercise endurance and maximize performance with every rep.
- Muscle Recovery - Designed with 5g of fast metabolizing protein powder in every scoop to support lean muscle recovery and prevent post muscle degeneration.
- Boost Hydration Levels - Ascent Preworkout sets the stage for Hard Work by pre-loading 250mg of the electrolytes per scoop, helping to boost hydration levels.
- Tested & Trusted by Third Parties - Ascent pre-workout is Informed Sport Certified, meanings its been third party evaluated for banned substances.
Review: This gentle pre-workout is a real food bases supplement that stands out among pre-workouts for the electrolyte content.
It can replenish electrolytes lost during your workout, it has a modest but helpful energy boost from just 150 mg of caffeine to give you the motivation to power through your WOD without making you feel sick or jittery.
This is a favorite of Katrin Davidsdottir, 2x Fittest Woman on Earth and one of the best pre-workout for crossfitters.
- Modest 150 mg of caffeine.
- 250 mg or replenishing and hydrating electrolytes.
- No artificial colors or flavors.
- No added sugar. Sweetened with Monk Fruit.
- Taste sour, odd texture.
Clean natural energy and replenishment all in one useful pre-workout.
Xendurance FUEL-5 Pre-Workout
Review: This stimulant free pre-workout can be used before, during or after your workout to keep you hydrated and replenish essential electrolytes lost during your WOD or Metcon.
It also contains a carb complex to keep you fueled up and enhance endurance.
- Carb complex supplies 17 g of carbs and 99 calories from Sweet potato and other sources.
- B vitamin complex assists your body in restoring neurotransmitters.
- Includes Lactate, said to support mitochondrial function and regulate glucose metabolism.
- Contains sucrose, or standard white sugar.
A great drink to replenish electrolytes and fuel your cells for an intense workout without using harsh stimulants.
Genius BCAA Powder with Focus and Energy
- Fuel Your Mind and Your Muscles: Upgrade your daily amino energy consumption and nourish both your brain and your physique with Genius BCAA by The Genius Brand.* Our BCAA supplement for men and women is vegan and boosted with 100 mg of natural caffeine. Made in the USA without artificial colors, dyes, flavors, or sweeteners. Power Orange flavor. 21 servings per container.
- Enhance Performance & Recovery*: Our formula includes 5 g of fermented InstAminos with a 2:1:1 ratio, best for protecting, supporting, and ultimately building lean muscle.* Combined with L-Glutamine, these BCAAs help repair muscles faster, supercharge glycogen replenishment, halt muscle breakdown, and crush soreness.*
- Increase Mental Energy & Clarity*: Cognizin helps increase brain energy and attentional performance while supporting memory and long-term brain health.* Rhodiola Rosea helps keep you calm and reduces mental fatigue while promoting longevity.*
- Pre-, Intra-, or Post-Workout: Genius BCAA is an anytime, anywhere, one-stop energy powder. Mix 1/2 or 1 scoop in 14-20 oz of water in lieu of your morning coffee, before going to the gym, or as a replacement for your afternoon energy drink when you need an extra bump to finish the work day.*
- Supplement Smarter: Genius Brand supplements are a rejection of backwards industry dogma that misled generations of health and wellness enthusiasts. For us, scientific innovation and natural ingredients come first. Whether you’re a pro athlete, stay-at-home parent, retiree, or anything in between, our products can be of benefit to you. We’re all humans, and we are in this together.
Review: This Genius BCAA is one of my favorite BCAA supplements and a good pre-workout supplement for CrossFit because the BCAAs are fermented, which makes them easier for your body to use.
This drink contains just 100 mg of caffeine, just enough to give you a little push, without going overboard.
They add in focus enhancing citocholine so you stay present and in the moment during heavy lifts that need your full attention.
- Light energy boost from 100 mg of Caffeine.
- Fermented BCAAs build lean muscle making your next PR happen sooner.
- Cognizin Citicholine gives you focus to concentrate & perfect your form.
- Not the best tasting supplement.
Genius BCAA is a tool that will help you progress faster by encouraging focus and strength.
Naked Energy - All Natural Pre-Workout Powder
- CLEAN PRE WORKOUT SUPPLEMENT: Naked Energy is a vegan pre workout powder manufactured in the USA with 10 High-Quality ingredients using amino acids, vitamins and caffeine from unroasted coffee beans.
- VEGAN FRIENDLY: A vegan pre workout energizer, with no added sugars, fillers, artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. Pairs great with a post-workout shake using our Vegan Protein powders to build muscle.
- YOUR BEST WORKOUT PARTNER: Designed specially to enhance athletic performance.** Take as a pre workout drink mix to get clean energy in the gym. Feel the pure, healthy energy needed for a workout, not like you may have a heart attack.
- THIRD-PARTY TESTING: Like all Naked Nutrition products, our clean pre workout for men and women is independently third-party tested for purity, safety and nutritional value.
- MAXIMUM NUTRITION: Our pure preworkout contains 333mg of Vitamin C, 40mg of Vitamin B3, 667mcg of Vitamin B6, 333 mcg of Folate, 47mcg of Vitamin B12, 27mcg of Calcium, 200mg Caffeine and 1mg of Creatine.
Review: Naked energy pre-workout may be ideal for Metcons with 200 mg of caffeine to fuel the cardio.
The addition of L-arginine increases NO and blood flow, along with improving aerobic capacity and reducing fatigue and fat.
Beta Alanine Increases muscular endurance if you happen to be doing heavy lifting. It also protects from the effects of lactic acid and fights fatigue.
- 50 servings per container make this a great deal.
- 200 mg of Caffeine, a decent energy boost.
- Includes L-arginine which increases Nitric oxide, decreases blood pressure & increases blood flow.
- Unflavored and unsweetened, tastes bad. Mix with a drink you like to mask the taste.
Best pre-workout before CrossFit Metcons with cardio and aerobic capacity enhancing ingredients.
NF Sports Pre-Workout
- INCREASED ENERGY LEVELS | This pre-workout has the perfect combination of Taurine, caffeine, and L-Tyrosine that helps with increased motivation, boosts performance for high-intensity exercise, and helps boost muscular strength and power output with a great strawberry lemonade taste.
- ENHANCED FOCUS AND CLARITY | This pre-workout mix is made with Taurine which helps improve mental performance and athletic performance. It also has Alpha GPC which boosts memory, focus, and cognitive function in the brain allowing you to concentrate more on your workout and end goals. Our products are all natural and free from artificial colors, flavors & sweeteners.
- BOOSTS MUSCLE STRENGTH AND POWER | Made with CREAPURE CREATINE MONOHYDRATE this pre-workout will improve strength by elevating creatine phosphate levels and improve muscle volume.
- IMPROVES PERFORMANCE AND ENDURANCE | The CARNOSYN BETA-ALANINE increases exercise capacity allowing you to train harder and longer. It also helps increase anaerobic endurance and boosts your power and muscle output.
- SUPPORTS YOUR BODY'S ABILITY TO COPE WITH HIGH INTENSITY EXERCISE | This pre-workout has been tried and tested. With the ideal formula, this pre-workout mix contains the perfect combination of Taurine, Caffeine (200mg), Alpha GPC, L-Tyrosine, CARNOSYN BETA-ALANINE, and CREAPURE CREATINE MONOHYDRATE to keep your workout strong, meaningful, and successful.
Review: NF Sports Pre is used by Annie Thorisdottir and it is easy to see why. It has a nice kick with 200 mg of caffeine, and a host of performance supporting ingredients.
The formula contains Alpha GPC to help maintain focus, increase growth hormones and increase power output.
The addition of Betaine increases cell hydration, lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases IFG-1.
- 200 mg of energy boosting Caffeine.
- All natural, naturally sweetened with Erythritol and stevia.
- Formula includes Creapure Creatine.
- Taste is not the best.
The abundance of focus and performance supporting ingredients make this one of the best pre-workout drink for CrossFit.
SFH PUSH Pre-Workout
Review: Energy, Hydration and focus are what this pre-workout deliver. Used by CrossFit Athlete, Coach and Dietician Britt-Maughan, this science backed pre-workout will not disappoint.
SFH includes ingredients to reduce stress, increase endurance, energize your workout, replenish electrolytes and ward off dehydration and imbalance.
It is very low in calories and sugar and is made with natural ingredients. What’s not to love?
- 135 mg Caffeine.
- Coconut water powder supplies electrolytes and helps keep you hydrated.
- Contains a generous dose of Quercetin, known to counter the effects of exercise induced stress.
- High price per serving.
One of the best supplements for CrossFit training in terms of endurance.
BSN AMINO X Endurance & Recovery Powder
Review: Amino X is a popular recovery during in the CrossFit Community.
CrossFit athletes give it their all during their time at the box and this amino x can help give something back.
This recovery drink is a tool that allows your muscle to rebuild faster thanks to the inclusion of BCAAs, the muscles building blocks.
The amino acids lessen muscle soreness and sufficient levels of these critical amino acids can prevent your body from using its own muscle as fuel, and preserve your lean body mass.
- 10 grams of amino acids in each scoop.
- Amazingly, it tastes good.
- Will not clump up or harden in the tub.
- Some find the taste too sweet.
THE Recovery powder used by Rich Fronning, 4 time first place winner of the CrossFit Games.
PRE WOD - Cognitive Enhancing Pre-Workout Supplement
- SUSTAINED ENERGY LEVELS: No matter what time of day you work out, some days you get to the gym and you just don't have the energy to train. With PREWOD, you gain back control over your day. Each serving is infused with caffeine anhydrous, the easiest absorbing form of caffeine. With a boost in energy, you'll feel motivated to train.
- INCREASE POWER AND DRIVE: Loaded with citrulline malate, beta-alanine, and betaine anhydrous, PREWOD helps you lift heavier for longer. Betaine draws water into the muscle cells which improves strength, while citrulline malate improves blood flow and reduces lactic acid build-up so you train with the intensity you need to see results.
- ENHANCE MOOD AND FOCUS: Getting results in the gym requires more than heavy lifting. To truly maximize your results, you need the focus necessary to keep your muscles under tension. That's why we added a Hyper-Focus Fusion blend to each scoop of PREWOD. The mood-enhancing DMAE works to improve memory and overall brain function.
- IMPROVE ENDURANCE: We formulated PREWOD with three different matrices that include science-supported properties shown to enhance athletic performance. From the caffeine anhydrous to the beta-alanine, a single scoop of PREWOD before your workout will help reduce muscle fatigue and allow you to sustain high-intensity workouts for longer.
- FOUR DELICIOUS FLAVORS: Drinking PREWOD alone is a treat in itself. Toss one scoop into 4-6 oz of your favorite liquid, stir or shake, and drink. We offer two delicious flavors. Choose from WOD Candy, Watermelon Thrust, Cherry Lime, or Green Apple. Our calorie-free, gluten-free energy powder mixes easily without clumping and tastes amazing without being overly sweet.
Review: PreWOD has what it takes to help you focus and power through your WOD or Metcon.
Caffeine and DMAE work together to energize you while focus enhancing Huperzine A and Taurine keep your head in the game so you can perfect your form and build a solid mind-muscle connection.
- 200 mg of Caffeine paired with DMAE Bitartrate for a decent energy boost without a crash.
- Addition of Huperzine A allows you to focus.
- Beta Alanine builds muscular endurance and lean mass.
- Easily clumps and hardens from moisture and improper storage.
Heavy dose of energy providing and performance enhancing ingredients help you give it your all.
Onnit Total Strength + Performance
Review: Onnit Total strength Pre-workout is a stim free pre-workout that improves strength and power output, raises testosterone, reduces fatigue and works as a recovery supplement all without shaky, jittery stimulants.
- 5 grams of muscle building and preserving BCAAs.
- Stimulant free formula.
- Contains Testosterone boosting Longjack root.
- Gritty and does not taste great.
Get Onnit and increase your lifting by as much as 10%. One of the best pre-workout for CrossFit 2023.
Genius Pre-Workout Powder
- Mind-to-Muscle Pre-Workout: Genius Pre by The Genius Brand is a stimulant-free, nootropics-based pre- workout. Get your muscles into pump mode, support your endurance, and reduce muscle soreness after exercise with clean, scientifically-backed ingredients.* It also doubles as a productivity booster, helping you perform better both mentally and physically.* 20 scoops per container. Sour Apple flavor.
- Made for Pushing Your Limits: Made with the highest quality ingredients and manufactured in the USA with strict quality control standards. Genius Pre is packed with efficacious doses of AlphaSize, L-Citrulline Malate, and CarnoSyn Beta Alanine to boost nitric oxide, increase blood flow, and bolster the mind-muscle connection to help you train longer and harder.*
- Stimulant- and Artificial Sweetener-Free: Perform better without the crash, jitters, or disrupted sleep typical of mass-market pre-workouts.* Genius Pre is free of caffeine and other stimulants, using a synergistic matrix of nootropics and ergogenic ingredients to naturally boost energy levels.* No artificial colors, dyes, flavors, or sweeteners. 100% transparent label and vegan formula.
- How to Use: Mix 1 scoop in 14 oz of water and drink 15-30 minutes before a workout or engaging in cognitively demanding work. Since it contains no caffeine or other stimulants, it can be used for daytime or nighttime workouts.
- Supplement Smarter: Genius Brand supplements are a rejection of backwards industry dogma that misled generations of health and wellness enthusiasts. For us, innovation and science-backed ingredients come first. Whether you’re a pro athlete, stay-at-home parent, retiree, or anything in between, our products can be of benefit to you. We’re all humans, and we are in this together.
Review: All natural and stimulant free, this pre-workout will have you breaking new PRs and finishing strong thanks to innovative and scientifically proven ingredients like Beta Alanine, Alpha GPC and Ginseng.
This formula contains nothing artificial, no sugar, no calories, and it will get you results without giving you jitters.
- Stimulant free.
- Includes Alpha GPC to raise choline and put your mind in connection with your muscles.
- With Carnosyn Beta Alanine to increase muscle strength and endurance.
- Only 20 servings per container.
Get results with this clean stim free pre-workout.
Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout Powder
- BUILD MUSCLE and STRENGTH - Formulated with a super creatine compound to support strength and performance. Whether you're just starting your fitness journey or you're striving for a new goal, C4 will help unlock your full potential
- INCREASE REP COUNT - C4 pre workout for women and men is formulated with CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, a premium clinically studied beta-alanine, which has been studied to support muscular endurance and fight fatigue and may cause a harmless tingling sensation
- MORE CAFFEINE, PLEASE - Formulated with a patented and clinically studied compound that may help the body prolong its caffeine tolerance buildup. Take 1 serving of sugar free pre workout mixed with 6 fl. oz of water 20-30 minutes before training
- INCREASE REP COUNT - C4 pre workout for women and men is formulated with CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, a premium clinically studied beta-alanine, which has been studied to support muscular endurance and fight fatigue and may cause a harmless tingling sensation
- DELICIOUS FLAVORS UNLIKE ANYTHING ON THE MARKET - Cherry Limeade, Fruit Punch, Icy Blue Razz, Orange Burst, Strawberry Margarita, Juicy Candy Burst, Watermelon, and Pink Lemonade
Review: If you want a pre-workout that will pump you up and give you explosive, stimulating energy, C4 is one of the best.
It contains Beta Alanine, proven ingredients for endurance, Caffeine for energy, and arginine for muscle fullness, increased NO and aerobic capacity. The C4 formula is used by CrossFit athlete Brook Wells.
- 150 mg of Caffeine.
- Contains CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine for muscle endurance and increased cardio capacity.
- Tyrosine and L-dopa increase dopamine for extra motivation.
- Clumps up after a while.
This top rated pre-workout is one of the best pre-workout for HIIT and CrossFit.
Kill Cliff Ignite - Lemon Berry
Review: Kill Cliff Ignite energy blend pre-workout energy drink rivals anything you can buy at 7-11.
It has no added sugar and is Keto, Paleo and Vegan friendly. It contains green tea and Ginseng for added energy and pep. Sold as a 12 pack of convenient single serve cans.
- 150 mg caffeine.
- Just 25 calories.
- Contains replenishing electrolytes and B vitamins.
- A little pricy.
Delicious, natural and invigorating energy drink, much better for you than the junk you find at a convenience store.
- Powerful pre-workout formula proven by research to increase energy, maintain hydration, and prevent fatigue.
- No artificial chemicals, sweeteners, flavors, colors, dyes, fillers, or binding agents of any kind.
- Vegan and Paleo approved supplement with a clean, light, natural taste.
- No proprietary blends. Every ingredient is detailed accurately with complete transparency.
- Effective ingredient dosing. Each ingredient used is at a level that actually effects your performance, meaning you get what you pay for.
Review: PureWOD Pre-workout is a completely natural yet potent drink to power your WOD.
With a generous dose of caffeine from green tea, hydrating Coconut water powder and several muscle building, fatigue reducing and power increasing ingredients, you will be on your way to your next PR in no time.
- Powerful 200mg of Caffeine from Green tea. Wow.
- Coconut water powder provides a shot of electrolytes to replenish and hydrate.
- Includes Muscle Building BCAAs.
- Vegan, Paleo and all natural pre-workout.
- Packaged in an awkward zip lock bag that is hard to dose and seal.
Strong and natural strength increasing pre-workout.
PALEOETHICS Vegan High Performance Recovery
- RECOVER QUICKER - Naturally enhance your muscle recovery. Because your body heals while you sleep, taking Vegan Recovery Matrix can help you feel better following your workout which means you can optimize your performance in and out of the gym.
- IMPROVED SLEEP - Natural peppermint and chai flavors induces a calming affect on your body. Recovery Matrix tea blend contains zinc and magnesium which helps you transition into REM sleep easier which improves the quality of your rest.
- Official Sports Nutrition Sponsor of the CrossFit Games
- USE AT ANY TIME - Vegan Recovery Matrix blend can be used both during the day and at night.
- VEGAN - Vegan Recovery Matrix is compatible with a vegan paleo diet!
Review: This recovery protein tea is made by Paleoethics, sponsor of the 2018 CrossFit games. The tea contains Magnesium and zinc to promote restful sleep for better nighttime recover.
A dash of pea protein assists in muscle repair and with just 15 calories per serving, you can enjoy this hot beverage anytime.
- Vegan and Paleo friendly, made with real, whole foods.
- 3g of vegan friendly pea powder.
- Zinc and Magnesium support sleep.
- The pea protein may settle out.
Calming recovery tea is great as a bedtime beverage.
FNX Recharge Pre-Workout
- Increased workout duration
- Increased time to exhaustion
- Increased peak strength
- Increased exercise capacity
Review: FNX has powerful energy producing, nootropic and focus boosting compounds to make every session your best yet.
L-dopa increases dopamine and motivation. Beta Alanine increases power output and you will notice you can lift heavier with less muscle fatigue.
The three mushroom complex in FNX are unique to this pre-workout and they help your mind make new connections to strengthen the mind-muscle connection.
- Mood elevating L-Theanine and L-Dopa.
- Energy producing green tea and Yerba Mate.
- Nootropic Mushroom complex helps build mind-muscle connection.
- Contains sucralose.
Contains several good supplements for CrossFit training, especially days when lifting is involved.
As we enter into the CrossFit Games Qualifications, why don’t you pick up some of the best pre-workout for CrossFit as you get into the games.
Do you have your own favorite pre-workout? We would love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments below what you drink before your workout.
Help me out. I want to write an article about the best pre-workout meal for CrossFit. If you have any ideas, or a favorite preWOD meal write me in the comments section.
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