Usually, it’s hard to find pre-workout supplements that are both cheap and effective at improving athletic performance. This happens because most of the manufacturers that produce cheap pre-workouts try to keep a certain profit margin by filling them with small and ineffective doses of effective ingredients or with a bunch of ineffective ingredients.
However, after full market research, we could find some pretty affordable options that have good doses of the most important pre-workout ingredients. After reviewing all these options, we could finally pick the best cheap pre-workout in 2022. We considered “cheap” the pre-workouts that cost around $1 per serving or less.
I analyzed a bunch of studies and research papers about the effectiveness of the ingredients usually found in pre-workout supplements so I could recommend you only the most effective supplements. Later in this article, you can find a list of the most effective ingredients, with an explanation of how they improve your performance and their recommended doses.
Our pick for the best cheap pre-workout is NitroSurge by Jacked Factory. After reviewing many other affordable options, there wasn’t any that had the same number of ingredients and doses that could improve your workout performance as NitroSurge.
However, we will also show you the best alternatives for different needs and likes so you can pick the one that suits you the best.
Best Cheap Pre-Workout Supplements
- NitroSurge By Jacked Factory (Best Overall)
- C4 Extreme By Cellucor (Best Popular)
- AminoLean By RSP Nutrition (Best Low-Caffeinated)
- SuperPump Max By Gaspari Nutrition (Best High-Caffeinated)
If you are low on money and just want to get the most value for your money, then NitroSurge by Jacked Factory is undoubtedly the pre-workout we recommend. If you don’t have any specific needs, this is the best option for you. NitroSurge is cheap, well-reviewed, and has a pretty good ingredient profile for the money.
It comes with a great caffeine dose of 180 mg per serving. This helps you complete more repetitions of an exercise until exhaustion and reduces your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), helping you exercise more. Caffeine also boosts many mental factors such as focus, alertness, and motivation. [1, 2]
The benefits above help you work out harder and for longer, greatly improving your gains.
This product also contains an L-theanine dose of 90 mg per serving. When combined with caffeine, this ingredient gives you extra focus and alertness. This way, you’re less likely to get distracted during your workout, avoiding doing the exercises with bad posture and potential injuries. L-theanine also helps you lower your levels of stress and anxiety, which is always a good thing. [3, 4, 5, 6]
NitroSurge also comes with a nice L-citrulline dose of 3 grams per serving. L-citrulline also increases the number of repetitions you can do. This increases how much exercise you do and, consequently, your results. 
Additionally, it reduces your post-exercise RPE and muscle soreness. This helps you feel better and less fatigued after your workout and may help you feel well enough to exercise again sooner. Also, L-citrulline makes you exercise faster. This can be useful if you’re in some type of time trial or other situation where the completion time is important. [7, 8, 9]
This pre-workout also includes beta-alanine and betaine anhydrous, two of the most effective pre-workout ingredients. However, they come in low doses that haven’t been tested yet for their effectiveness. For this reason, we can’t say that they will help you in any way.
This supplement is completely free of any artificial dyes or fillers. This way you don’t have to worry about having unnecessary harmful additives in your pre-workout drink.
Another thing worth mentioning is that NitroSurge doesn’t have any proprietary blends. Jacked Factory is always fully transparent about the labels of its products. This is especially important in cheaper supplements so we can be sure that the manufacturers didn’t put really low, ineffective doses in their products. It also lets us evaluate the real effectiveness of the product.
Most people who bought this supplement reported it tastes good. However, there were still some people who didn’t like it, so we can’t give you a definitive answer as to whether it tastes good or not.
Yet, everyone has different opinions, and the taste of this pre-workout is definitely more loved than hated. Therefore, if you don’t care extremely about the taste of supplements, we don’t think this one will be a problem.
- Contains great doses of two of the most effective pre-workout ingredients (caffeine and citrulline)
- It’s free of any artificial dyes or fillers
- Doesn’t have any proprietary blends
- Most people report it tastes good
- No supplement is perfect. This one could benefit from higher doses of betaine and beta-alanine. However, compared to the other pre-workout supplements on this list, this product is already the one with the best ingredients and doses, so this isn’t really a con.
There are people who are really careful about the things they consume, and we agree with that. We think we all need to have some level of skepticism for our own safety. Therefore, even though we fully trust Jacked Factory (brand of the product above) because they have all the necessary certifications, we also fully respect if you want to order from a more known company.
Cellucor is one of the most popular pre-workout brands out there. C4 Extreme is one of the best pre-workouts of the famous C4 line and is also pretty affordable.
Therefore, if you are looking for a good pre-workout supplement that is both cheap, effective, and comes from a popular brand, then this one is the best option for you. However, it’s important to note that C4 Extreme is an inferior product compared to NitroSurge (product above).
C4 Extreme comes with an effective caffeine dose of 200 mg per serving. This gives you many benefits such as a reduced rate of perceived exertion (RPE), increased number of repetitions you can perform until failure, and more readiness to exercise. These benefits help you raise the amount of exercise you do, increasing your gains. 
Caffeine also increases your motivation, focus, and alertness. This gives you a mental boost that helps you work out with more determination and attention, avoiding distractions and injuries. Caffeine will also give you an increased metabolism, which can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. [2, 10]
This pre-workout supplement also contains other ingredients such as beta-alanine, citrulline nitrate, and creatine nitrate. However, we won’t talk about them in detail because some come in low, ineffective doses, and some haven’t been well tested yet.
C4 Extreme doesn’t contain any artificial dyes or flavors. This is especially nice if you like your supplements as natural as possible. However, it’s important to note that some flavors of this product are artificially sweetened.
Also, a nice thing about this supplement is that it contains no proprietary blends. This shows a good effort from the brand to be completely transparent about their products, something that didn’t happen with older pre-workouts of this brand. We like it because it shows they have nothing to hide and we can fully evaluate the ingredients that the product contains.
Almost everyone who took this pre-workout said it was tasty. If you are a person who really cares about the taste of your supplements, then this one is a good option.
The cheapest way to buy this product is to purchase the 60 servings version. This version, unlike the 30 servings one, comes at under $1 per serving, costing $49.99 ($0.83 per serving) which is a great price.
- Contains a great caffeine dose
- Doesn’t contain any artificial dyes or flavors
- Doesn’t contain proprietary blends
- Tastes good
- Contains artificial sweeteners in some flavors
If you are looking for the best cheap pre-workout that doesn’t contain a lot of caffeine, we have an alternative for you. AminoLean, created by the popular sports nutrition brand RSP Nutrition, comes with a low caffeine content, being suitable for people who have a low caffeine tolerance or just don’t like its energetic effects.
AminoLean comes with a low caffeine dose of 125 mg per serving. It’s important to note that this low dose hasn’t been scientifically proven to give you the most important benefits to your workout performance as bigger doses do. However, if you have a low tolerance for caffeine, you may (or may not) still get its benefits. We only recommend this supplement to this group of people.
Caffeine helps you increase the maximum number of repetitions you can do. It also lowers your rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and makes you feel more ready to exercise. These benefits help you work out with more intensity and for longer periods of time. 
This pre-workout supplement also comes with many other ingredients such as beta-alanine (an essential pre-workout ingredient) and a good number of other amino acids. However, it’s impossible for us to evaluate their effectiveness because the brand has hidden their doses in proprietary blends. This is definitely a con and red flag.
AminoLean contains zero sugar and zero calories, which can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. However, it contains artificial sweeteners, which is a common complaint of the customers of this pre-workout.
The vast majority of people who took this product say it tastes good. However, many people also said that it was very sweet, so keep that in mind. Some people also complained that this pre-workout upsets their stomachs. Therefore, if you know that you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to avoid this product.
The customers also said that they don’t feel any jitters or crashes after taking this pre-workout. This is most likely because of the low caffeine amount in AminoLean.
However, many customers also complained that they didn’t feel any added energy after taking this supplement. Again, this is most likely caused by the low caffeine amount. That’s why we only recommend this product to people who have a low caffeine tolerance.
- Suitable for people who have a low caffeine tolerance
- Contains zero sugar and zero calories
- Tastes good
- Doesn’t give jitters or crashes
- Contains proprietary blends
- Contains artificial sweeteners
- Some people say it upsets their stomach
People who have a high caffeine tolerance may find that the supplements above don’t give them the energy boost they want from a pre-workout. If you are one of these people, we have an option for you. SuperPump Max by Gaspari Nutrition is the best cheap pre-workout with high caffeine content.
However, it’s important to note that, for several reasons, we only recommend this product to people who have a high caffeine tolerance. People without this high tolerance wouldn’t get any added benefits from using such a high dose. Instead, they would only feel the negative effects of caffeine (jitters and crashes) with more intensity.
SuperPump Max comes with a high caffeine dose of 250 mg per serving. This helps you improve your gains in many ways. It makes you do more repetitions until failure and reduces your rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Also, it improves your readiness to invest physical effort. These effects improve your results by helping you perform higher amounts of exercise. 
Caffeine also helps you by boosting some mental factors. It increases motivation, focus, and alertness. This makes you feel more determined to exercise and helps you feel more aware while doing so, preventing bad form and injuries. Also, this ingredient gives your metabolism a boost, which may help you if you’re trying to lose weight. [2, 10]
SuperPump Max also contains other ingredients like L-citrulline and creatine. However, either the doses are low and ineffective, or are hidden behind proprietary blends making it impossible for us to evaluate their effectiveness. For these reasons, we won’t talk about them in detail.
Most of the people who bought this pre-workout said it tastes great, yet, some people also mentioned that it is too sweet. Also, some customers reported they felt a crash after taking this pre-workout. This is most likely caused by the high caffeine content in this product.
- Suitable for people who have a high caffeine tolerance
- Most customers say it has a great taste
- The brand has hidden the ingredients’ doses behind proprietary blends
- Contains artificial sweeteners
Which Ingredients Should You Look For In A Cheap Pre-Workout Supplement?
Since you are looking for a cheap pre-workout, you’re most likely going to come across supplements that have fewer ingredients and smaller doses of each ingredient. With that said, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t spend your money on useless products that don’t have any effective ingredients.
In the next few points, we’re going to show you the most essential ingredients that are scientifically proven to improve your exercise performance and their ideal doses. All the doses we recommend are based on the doses that were used in the studies to prove the benefits of each ingredient.
If you want an effective cheap pre-workout, these are the ingredients you should look for.
Caffeine is arguably the most important pre-workout ingredient. It increases the number of repetitions you can do of a certain exercise until failure. It also reduces your rating of perceived exertion (RPE). This means it’s easier for you to complete the same exercise after consuming caffeine. Additionally, caffeine makes you feel more ready to exercise. 
The benefits above greatly improve your results by making you work out harder and for longer.
Caffeine also gives you many mental benefits that can help you improve your exercise performance. It gives you extra focus and alertness, which can help you avoid distractions and potential injuries. It also increases your motivation, making you feel more determined to work out. 
Lastly, caffeine increases your metabolism, which can help you lose weight. However, this increase alone won’t produce any significant changes. If you want to lose weight, you also need a proper combination of diet and exercise. 
The caffeine dose we recommend you to look for in a pre-workout to get all the benefits above is, ideally, around 180 mg per serving. 
Note: Some people don’t like the energetic effects of caffeine. If you prefer to take stimulant-free pre-workout supplements, below on the F.A.Q. section we talk more about how you can create your own cheap pre-workout without caffeine.
Citrulline is an amino acid that greatly improves your exercise performance. You can find it in pre-workout supplements in 2 different forms: L-citrulline and citrulline malate. L-citrulline is just pure citrulline while citrulline malate is citrulline mixed with DL-malate.
Like caffeine, citrulline also increases the number of repetitions you can do until failure. Additionally, citrulline reduces your post-exercise rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and the muscle soreness you feel in the next 2 days after the exercise. Also, research shows that citrulline reduces the time you need to complete a certain exercise. [7, 8, 9]
The benefits above improve your results by making you do higher amounts of exercise, exercise faster, and also by making you feel better after exercising and ready to work out sooner.
The doses we recommend you to look for in pre-workout supplements are around 3-4 grams of L-citrulline per serving or around 8 grams of citrulline malate per serving. 
Beta-alanine is another amino acid that has the ability to improve your athletic performance. It is most known for inducing that tingling sensation you feel on your body after consuming a supplement containing it. This sensation is called paresthesia and there is no indication that it is harmful in any way. 
Beta-alanine increases your exercise capacity. This helps you do higher amounts of exercise and, consequently, improves your gains. There is also some evidence that suggests that consuming it makes you gain more lean mass from your workouts. [12, 13]
Research shows that you need to supplement with beta-alanine daily for 2-4 weeks to receive its benefits. It also shows this ingredient is most effective in exercises that last 1-4 minutes. 
The beta-alanine dose we recommend you to look for in a supplement is around 4-6 grams per serving. 
Tip: If you really don’t like the tingling sensation caused by Beta-Alanine and prefer a pre-workout that doesn’t contain it, you can check our list of the best pre-workout supplements without beta-alanine.
The last essential ingredient is Betaine, also known as Betaine Anhydrous. Betaine increases your work capacity. This leads to a higher amount of exercise done and, consequently, greater results. It also stimulates muscle growth, so if you consume Betaine, you may build more muscle mass with the same amount of exercise. 
The dose of Betaine we recommend you to look for in a pre-workout is 2.5 grams per serving. 
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between Cheap And Expensive Pre-Workout Supplements?
Usually, the difference is that the manufacturers of cheap pre-workouts use fewer effective ingredients or use small and ineffective doses of each ingredient. They do this to maintain a certain profit margin. However, there are still some cheap pre-workouts that have pretty good doses and ingredients, and those are the ones we put on our list.
What Causes That Tingling Sensation On The Body After Taking A Pre-Workout?
This sensation is caused by beta-alanine. It’s called paresthesia and there is no indication that it is unsafe. 
Can I Make My Own Cheap Pre-Workout?
Definitely! You can buy the individual ingredients in bulk and then mix them to make your own cheap pre-workout powder. Bulk Supplements is a great place to buy those ingredients in bulk. Also, refer to the list above of the most important ingredients to help you create a pre-workout formula that will improve your workout performance the most.
A great thing about making your own pre-workout is the high level of customization you get. For example, all the products on our list contain caffeine. If you don’t want it, you can just make a caffeine-free pre-workout.
There are many cheap pre-workouts available in the market. However, many of them don’t have the ingredients or doses that will help boost your workout performance. Because of this, it’s important that you pick one that has, at least, a good dose of an effective ingredient.
We chose NitroSurge by Jacked Factory, the first pre-workout supplement on our list, as the overall best cheap pre-workout supplement. The reason for this is that NitroSurge contains good doses of 2 of the most effective pre-workout ingredients: caffeine and L-citrulline.
Remember to always talk to your nutritionist before adding any supplements to your diet. He/she will be the most qualified person to give you advice on how to better achieve your fitness goals.