Best Thermogenic Pre Workout
Thermogenic pre-workout supplements have two jobs.
Firstly, they are designed to give you a pre-workout boost, as are all pre-workout supplements. You take them 15-30 minutes before you train and they give you increased energy, usually through a caffeine shot or something similar, as well as improved focus, through something like taurine. They can also improve performance in other ways, such as fueling the muscles with creatine or improving vascularity, and thus the flow of oxygen and nutrients around the body, with something like l-carnitine.
This is what all pre-workouts should do.
Then there are thermogenic pre-supplements’ second job.
They are designed to raise your body temperature and increase fat deposits used for energy during a workout, thus boosting your metabolism.
I’ve gathered together some of the best thermogenic pre-workouts below. Everything on the list is a high-quality, highly effective, very useful tool for boosting your metabolism and giving you the energy and focus you need for a perfect workout.
What Is Thermogenesis?
Thermogenesis literally means the creation of heat, from the Greek ‘Therma’ and ‘Genesis’, meaning heat and beginning respectively.
It is essential for life. You wouldn’t last five minutes without it!
The human body can cope with a raise in temperature of up to 5 degrees, and a drop of up to 10 degrees. Outside of these limits, the hypothalamus kicks in to stabilize your body temperature. This means shivering when it is cold, which creates heat through the muscles, and sweating when it’s too hot, which cools you down.
This is thermoregulation, and it is vital for all of us. The human body will typically use between 800-1000 calories daily to maintain a safe and comfortable body temperature in this way.
Slightly raising your body temperature can boost this amount, burning through more calories and, as a result, boosting weight loss. Thermogenic supplements are designed to elicit this thermogenic effect within the human body. They cause you to burn additional calories, on top of the 800-1000 standard calories above.
It should be noted early on that thermogenic supplements alone will not help you to lose weight. However, when combined with a moderate caloric deficit (500 or so below your maintenance calories every day will lead to a 1 lb. / 0.5 kg loss per week) and an active lifestyle, they can serve as the icing on the cake, making everything else a little bit more efficient.
Nor should you take thermogenic pre-workout supplements daily, or even before every workout. They should be reserved for the big ones – your heavy lift of the week, a particularly tough sprint session, that kind of thing.
However, within the bounds of these caveats, thermogenic pre-workout supplements can be a very potent tool in your weight loss arsenal.
What To Look For In Thermogenic Pre-Workout Supplements
The main things to look out for in thermogenic pre-workout supplements are their ingredients lists, their ingredients quality, and the doses of each ingredient in each serving.
There are a few usual suspects that you will see in a lot of pre-workout supplements. If they have decent servings of the following, then there will be some merit to them.
Firstly, creatine is often a given. This is common to many pre-workout formulas. Even when I don’t take pre-workouts, I include a 5g scoop of creatine in my pre-or-intra-workout whey protein shake. It has been proven to improve athletic performance and lead to increased gains in muscle mass and strength.
L-carnitine often goes hand in hand with creatine. It’s an amino acid that aids muscular endurance and brings about an improved pump during training. It helps to transport fat that increases fat oxidation, creating muscle fuel and mental focus.
Caffeine also generally makes an appearance, for obvious reasons. It can increase your performance and decrease fatigue. For this reason, green tea extract will often be used: it contains caffeine. It also contains polyphenol antioxidants, which will allow the body to fight against antioxidant stress, whilst simultaneously promoting thermogenesis, weight loss, recovery, and brain, heart and skin health.
Capsaicin, or cayenne, is also quite common in thermogenic supplements. It’s found in most all hot chili peppers and has been shown to reduce appetite, increase body temperature, and improve fat oxidation.
These are just some of the more common ingredients. There are plenty of other worthy contenders. However, most thermogenic pre-workout supplements should include one or some of them in useable doses.
Thermogenic Pre-Workouts Vs Standard Pre-Workouts
The difference between thermogenic and standard pre-workouts is in the second job mentioned above – standard pre-workouts are there to give you a boost during training, with no thermogenic effect elicited.
In a nutshell, thermogenic supplements are designed to boost your metabolic rate and increase calories burned. They will generally rely less on, and contain lower quantities of, the active ingredients we will usually see in pre-workouts. They will have less caffeine, for example. They will have fewer ingredients like BCAAs that are geared towards muscle gains. Rather, they will focus on increasing energy burn.
Thermogenic supplements will also generally decrease your appetite.
This all makes them great for training for weight loss. However, it makes them pretty poor for gaining muscle or strength. Hypertrophy and strength gains generally take an increase in caloric intake, which means you need to have a healthy appetite, and you won’t want to waste calories in extra thermogenesis. You will also benefit from lifting more, with greater energy (hence caffeine) and better fueling your muscles (hence BCAAs).
Training for hypertrophy and strength, therefore, is best done with regular pre-workouts. You will have more fuel, more energy, and will recover faster from hard training with them.
Are Thermogenic Pre-Workouts Safe?
Thermogenic pre-workout supplements are largely safe, especially when bought from trusted vendors and used in recommended doses.
I would personally recommend using any pre-workout supplement once a week or less. Using them more often will build up your tolerance to their active ingredients, thus diminishing their efficacy.
There are, however, some common side effects and potential safety concerns surrounding thermogenic pre-workouts.
Most people will be fine with thermogenic supplements. However, some people may experience side effects. Common effects include nausea, digestive issues, abdominal pains, and headaches. Thermogenic supplements can also lead to an increase in blood pressure.
Furthermore, supplements that contain more than 400mg of caffeine may cause heart palpitations, anxiety, headache, restlessness, and dizziness. I personally never use supplements that go above 200mg, which I find to be perfectly safe and productive.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, any heart problems, or experience any of these side effects, it may be worth stopping taking thermogenic supplements. It is always also a good idea to consult your medical provider before beginning on them.
There are also some more serious complications that have been linked to thermogenic supplements. These include severe inflammation of the intestinal tract, which may need surgery to rectify. Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), liver damage and even liver failure in otherwise healthy individuals has also been reported.
This is very, very rare. However, as above, it’s always worth discussing any changes to your supplement regime with your healthcare provider.
Other than these issues, my main concern with any supplements is the lack of good-quality regulation. They are nowhere near as stringently regulated as food and medicine. They are not widely tested before hitting the market.
Always check ingredients lists, always read customer reviews, and go with trusted brands, like those in our list below, wherever possible.
Our Favorite Thermogenic Pre-Workouts
Let’s take a look at our top 5 thermogenic pre-workouts.
USN 3XT Pump 3-in-1 Pre-Workout Thermogenic Fat Burning Energy Powder
USN’s 3XT Pump is one of my favorite pre-workouts going, thermogenic or not. It gives you an incredible energy boost, an incredible pump, and is a first-class thermogenic enhancer. Handle with care!
Aside from the effects themselves, I really like USN and their way of doing business. They are completely transparent, giving you rubbish about patented formulas to hide what they’re putting in their products. You see the lot.
– 400mg of Caffeine
– 60mg Teacrine
– Tri-Yohimbe complex
– 1400mg Betaine Anhydrous
– 2.5g L-Citrulline
The Tri-Yohimbe (consisting of Yohimbine HCl, 11-Hydroxy Yohimbine & Alpha Yohimbine) complex is responsible for a lot of the 3XT’s fat burning potential. It blocks the alpha-2 adrenergic receptors located in fat cells, which can help lead to increased weight loss from fat.
It’s creatine free, which can be a good thing. Many people, myself included, take creatine already. I don’t need extra dosing from my pre-workouts. Many people want to leave it alone entirely, but still want the buzz and focus you get with something like the 3XT. I’m personally happy either way, but it is something to bear in mind when working out your own regimen.
3XT also feels fantastic. Lots of pre-workout supplements can make you feel a little sketchy, a little shaky. There is quite a mellow energy boost, here. It’s consistent and smooth. You get the intense focus, energy, strength, and power you need to make the most of your workouts, but without any of the jittery side effects.
This is surprising, given how much caffeine you get in one go. 400mg isn’t unusually high for a pre-workout, but it’s still quite a hefty dose.
There is no sugar in 3XT. I personally like a little extra glucose when I train, so I would mix a teaspoon of sugar in with it. However, plenty of people don’t like the sugar hit, especially when they’re trying to lose weight, so this flexibility is great. It also helps to curb any post-workout crash by keeping insulin levels more stable.
You can get 3XT in a range of lovely, fruity flavors. They are all refreshing and crisp, which is exactly what you want before you hit the gym.back to menu ↑
Gat Sport NITRAFLEX Burn, Pre-Workout Thermogenic Powder
Gat Sport’s NITRAFLEX Burn is another potent thermogenic pre-workout. It’s got quite a unique formulation, or so the manufacturer’s boast.
In actuality, it’s a pretty standard thermogenic pre-workout, with everything that entails. It’s just done really, really well.
The ingredients are fantastic. First up, you have a slew of cognitive enhancers. These include unique ratios of scientifically validated ingredients and compounds such as L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, and Rauwolfia Vomitoria Root Extract. These are all designed to bring about pure focus and to help elicit an unrivalled mind-muscle connection as you train.
I felt this; it worked. I was completely in the moment after taking NITRAFLEX, every movement purposeful and incredibly controlled.
Then there is their patented CaloriBURN, which is what they call their thermogenic formula. It has been clinically proven this ingredient helps to increase energy expenditure and activate brown adipose tissue, thus helping to improve body composition.
Though they keep ratios close to their chest, Gat Sport are open about what goes into NITRAFLEX. There are no artificial colors anymore – they heard their customers’ pleas to get rid of them and acted upon them. Good for them, truly. They also include nitrosigine, a patented ingredient shown to aid in increasing blood, to enhance muscle volume and pump, boost energy levels, improve mental focus, and reduce muscle damage caused by intense workouts.
It all comes together incredibly well, giving you an incredibly focused, disciplined workout with less fatigue and far more concentration.
Their full ingredients list is available on every packet, and is as follows:
NitraBurn Thermogenic, Acute Energy, Focus, Intensity, Neuromodulating, and Endurance Matrix Beta-Alanine, L-Tyrosine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Cocoa Extract (std. min. 20% Theobromine) (sees), L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Green Tea Leaf Extract (std. min 50% EGCG), L-Theanine, Grains of Paradise Extract Powder (std. min 12.5% 6-Paradol_ (seed) (as CaloriBurn GP), Rauwolfia vomitoria extract (whole herb) Arginine Silicate Inositol (as Nitrosigine), Resveratrol, Pterostilbene, Boron Citrate, Malic Acid, Silica, Calcium Silicate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Natural Flavor, Sucralose, Xanthan Gum, Acesulfame Potassium. Natural Sweetener Blend (Erythritol, Oligosaccharides, Natural Flavors).
NITRAFLEX comes in a range of crisp, refreshing, fruity flavors, as do most of the items on this list.back to menu ↑
NitroSurge Shred Pre-Workout Supplement
Nitrosurge Shred is a fantastic pre-workout for improving energy and strength, even during a calorie deficit. Its advanced thermogenic formula is designed to bring the best out of every athlete even as they work on cutting down their physiques.
The energy boost I felt on this was pretty clean, much like NITRAFLEX’s. Again, there was no jitteriness, no janky high or crippling comedown. It was a simple boost, an elevation, with enhanced nitric oxide (NO) and blood flow, and a commensurate increase in stamina and focus. It led to one of the best pumps I’ve ever got (not an amazing priority for me, though I’m in the minority and can fully appreciate the importance to training of a good one) and an incredibly directed mindset during a full hour’s training.
It achieves this with a relatively mild caffeine hit (180mg of Caffeine Anhydrous), alongside L-Citrulline (2g), Beta Alanine (1.6g), Acetyl-L-Carnitine (as Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCl) (1g), L-Theanine (90mg), Theobromine (50mg), and BioPerine Black Pepper Fruit Extract (2.5mg).
It’s a laundry list of thermogenic pre-workout excellence.
Again, you get a nice array of fruity flavors for this, which add their own peppy feeling to your pre-workout ritual.back to menu ↑
Evlution Nutrition ENGN Shred Pre-Workout Thermogenic Fat Burner Powder
Evlution Nutrition’s offering to this list is amongst the best for fat burning potential. ENGN Shred includes a wide array of ingredients known for their thermogenic and fat burning properties, many of which are lab tested and approved.
These include ingredients from CLA and L-Carnitine, to Capisimax, Green Coffee, and Coleus, all transparently labelled so that the user knows exactly what they’re getting. If anything can elicit thermogenesis and give you that last 10% push you need to shed fat, it’s ENGN Shred.
It will keep your metabolism lifted during and after your workout, again without any of the crash and burn that simple caffeine products and lesser pre-workouts generally offer. The high will be steady and even, and there will be no cliff edge afterwards.
The mental focus you get from this is quite phenomenal. It’s less focused than some pre-workouts – though this is, of course, highly subjective, and individualistic – but is still strong. It also seems to offer greater clarity even as the intensity dials down.
I would recommend it for regular straight-and super-sets, as opposed to intense work like HIIT or going for any kind of PR. It will keep you in the zone without becoming a crutch, and without making you flog yourself to bits!
ENGN Shred makes use of 18 active ingredients, including the ones mentioned above. In full, these are the ENGN Shred Matrix of CLA, L-Carnitine, Coleus Extract, Yohimbe Bark Extract and Capsimax; a Mind-to-Muscle Matrix made from Toothed Clubmoss (Huperzine A), Alpha GPC, Choline Bitartrate, and L-Tyrosine; and finally, strength and endurance support in the form of Beta Alanine, Agmatine Sulfate, Betaine and Caffeine from Green Tea. There is also a B Vitamin Complex of Niacin, B6, Folic Acid and B12 to support healthy energy supply and recovery.
The obligatory fruity flavors are also tasty and refreshing, which is always nice.back to menu ↑
APESH#T Cutz Thermogenic Pre-Workout Powder
Ape Sh*t Cutz is a fairly standard thermogenic pre-workout: scientifically formulated to support increased athletic performance, endurance, and calorie burning, it does exactly what you want it to do. No more, no less.
However, it does set itself apart by sheer quality (and efficacy – it’s potent as hell!).
To make it, they took their base high energy pre-workout formula, the original Ape Sh*t, and added in a few good weight loss support agents. In doing so, they have made a fantastic fat-burning pre-workout supplement.
The main difference between the original and the thermogenic is in the substitution of nitric oxide support ingredients for weight loss support agents. They have swapped out things like L-Citrulline, Agmatine, and Taurine, which are all great for raw energy and focus, and gone instead with compounds that help support fat metabolism and increased thermogenesis.
This doesn’t detract too much from its efficacy as a pre-workout. As above, there is always a trade off, and thermogenic and regular pre-workouts both have their individual roles to play. If you need to prioritize fat loss over performance, this is all to the good. If not, go with Ape Sh*t original. However, their Cutz formula still supports high energy levels and fantastic focus and mental clarity – you will still get one hell of a workout using it.
Their labelling is transparent, with nothing hidden and no proprietary blends. Everything is 3rd party tested for purity and so forth. Despite their wild branding, Ape Sh*t are a diligent, stand up company who you can truly trust.
Active ingredients include Choline, Gamma-butyrobetaine (GBB), Beta alanine, Choline Bitartrate, natural caffeine from green tea, garcinia extract, and dandelion extract.
The flavors are all… what do you think? They’re fruity and refreshing. Win.
Our Top Choice Overall
For my money, I would go with USN.
These are all strong options – they will all give you great workouts that will chew through fat when combined with a good-quality diet, incorporating an appropriate calorie deficit. You should see results very quickly using any of them.
However, 3XT gives a powerful kick. I know I said I like to go lower on the caffeine – and this is generally true. However, once in a while, it’s nice to open the taps. 3XT allows you to do this. It supercharges you like a true pre-workout. The Tri-Yohimbe complex is also one of the most potent fat burners I’ve come across. It’s hard to assess this too clearly, as realistically you need to live with a fat burner in isolation for a long time, rather than cycling through half a dozen over a couple of months (the reviewer’s conundrum), but it’s a feeling that seems to chime with plenty of customer experience.
Basically, every item on this list is a great thermogenic and a good pre-workout. USN’s 3XT is a great thermogenic and a great pre-workout.
And the fruity flavors are nice, too.