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How to Formulate a Pre-Workout – 2020

how to formulate a pre-workout
July 21, 2020

There is always space for a great pre-workout. Innovation in this category is one of the most dynamic in all of dietary supplements. Is the consumer hardcore and a “stim junkie,” or more active lifestyle? Read on for insider tips on how to formulate a pre-workout and how to differentiate with new ingredients at effective doses for your target audience.


Questions when formulating a pre-workout:

1. Who is my target market?
2. Does this market want a stim-pre, non-stim pump pre, or fully-dosed pre?
3. Why do muscles fail? Which of the four verticals listed below do I want to attack?
4. Does my target market want a beta-alanine tingle, no tingle, or effective beta-alanine dosing?
5. What new trends, ingredients* or research exists?

Why do muscles fail?

It’s best explained by these 4 verticals:

1. Depletion of ATP and/or glycogen
2. Accumulation of hydrogen ions from lactate
3. Muscle contraction failure due to ATP-dependent calcium release/uptake
4. Oxidative stress (excess free radicals) causing muscle damage

Trends to Consider

  1. Full-dosed: Fully-dosed, 20-serving PWOs continue to sell well
  2. Nootropics: Functionalizing caffeine with nootropics/cognitive/focus continues to be a driver as we consider the mind’s role in physical performance.
  3. Channel (Internet): Amazon is responsible for ~80% of all online supplement sales, and online supplement sales growth far exceeds offline growth; however, you don’t “own” the consumer relationship via Amazon
  4. Channel (overview): COVID-19 exposed those moving too slowly toward a Direct-To-Consumer model. FDM continues to be a bright spot as international slows.
  5. New Markets: It’s no secret many are moving toward an “active lifestyle” clientele
    1. Natural: Targeting this new clientele often leads to conversations about natural sweeteners, less “stim,” and peripheral benefits like hydration.

All of the above begs the question, what makes a great pre-workout? Below are some criteria to start with:

  • Of the major components of a pre-workout, which do I want to target? Strength, endurance, pump, energy, focus, hydration, etc.
  • Is the sensory experience balanced? You want your mind and body to feel in sync without a crash or jitters.
  • Do you feel stronger?
  • Can you lift weights longer, or exercise for a longer period of time?

How to formulate a pre-workout

Ideally, you’d have an “owned” audience via an influencer or collection of them, an email list, Facebook group, or anything tying you to a large audience. If you’re solely relying on retail or Amazon, then you’d include a sticker or something inside the bottle that enticed buyers to visit your website, text you or somehow provide you with emails and phone numbers. You’d use that data to build your audience and retargeting campaign.

You’d use your target market information to start building your formula. Below are some keys to each of the major pre-workout categories:

Fully Dosed

You’d hit the six major components of a pre-workout: strength, endurance, pump, energy, focus, and hydration. Limitless doses of Beta-Alanine and Citrulline are no longer exciting. Instead, you’d review various polyphenols, PeakO2®, EAAs like Amino9®, betaine, or consider bringing back “old school” creatine. You could use unique electrolytes like trace minerals, or even use beta-hydroxybutyrate for the non-carb ketone energy source as well as the mineral.  Bring back the mineral glycerophosphates for the mineral and glycerol component.


You could also talk about the magnesium portion and mind-muscle, and use TeaCrine® and Dynamine™ as not only the caffeine complement, but also the dopamine activator for mind-over-matter motivation. You might consider larger doses of Taurine, experiment with citrus bioflavonoids or theobromine, antioxidant complexes including selenium or vitamin C to extend pumps and limit oxidative stress. You might consider reviewing botanical literature for adaptogens.


The main idea here is to get the mind-body sensory experience dialed in. But don’t forget about the marketing messaging! Many go with alpha-GPC for reasons not discussed here, or they’ll use acetyl carnitine or theanine, but going beyond the ingredient and explaining the role of neurotransmitters, like dopamine, is cool!

Advanced Molecular Labs did this years ago with Dopa Rush, and it’s not any less relevant today. TeaCrine® is critical to this nootropic conversation and the mind’s role in physical performance.

Active Lifestyle/Natural

From matcha and functional coffee to an adaptogenic foundation, this category has a LOT of pre-workout options. There are too many ingredient options to cover here, but sweetening is key determinant of the end formula. If sucralose is an option, nearly all ingredient options are on the table. If you choose natural sweeteners, consider Reb M stevia and allulose. And remember that Leucine’s bitterness isn’t easy to cover without a touch of sucralose.

how to formulate a pre-workout

If you’re on Amazon, you might need to include keywords to get ranking. If you’re selling DTC and have an “owned” audience, you can likely afford a higher COG. If you’re an MLM, you might need to dial things back and ensure there is at least one unique ingredient to tell the story. We can help find the pre-workout formula that best fits your market.

Below is a brief guide to a few of the ingredients in our arsenal:

  1. TeaCrine®: Activates dopamine receptors and provides a longer-lasting sensory experience with caffeine, all without unwanted jitters or crash. It’s ideal in pre-workouts, or those targeting the nootropic crowd or gaming/eSports.
  2. Dynamine™: Dynamine™ provides faster-acting energy and focus in combination with caffeine. It’s ideal for the quick-onset, higher-stim portion of a pre-workout. Or, together with TeaCrine®, they are a great combination in a coffee-based pre-workout.
  3. PeakO2®: An organic, adaptogenic mushroom blend that improves oxygen utilization for better power and endurance. It’s ideal in pre-workouts, or active lifestyle greens, coffee, keto-friendly, or organic/natural versions.
  4. Amino9®: EAAs stimulate as much Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) as the whole protein. So it’s ideal for those who don’t want a big protein shake, but do want to maximize anabolism (muscle growth) and minimize catabolism (muscle breakdown).

*Call us regarding new ingredients and research on TeaCrine®, PeakO2®, Dynamine™, and more.

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