12 min read

Stimulant Free Pre Workouts Summary:

  • As the name implies; stim free pre workouts DO NOT include stimulant ingredients like caffeine, green tea extract, yohimbe, DMAA, and DMHA.
  • The main benefits of stim free pre workouts are increased focus, delayed fatigue, greater strength, enhanced endurance, and THE PUMP!
  • They work best for those who workout at night, individuals sensitive to caffeine and other stimulants, and those who want increased performance without over the top energy.
  • The best stim free pre workout will include ingredients like creatine, beta-alanine, choline, betaine, glycerol, taurine, peak O2, beet root powder, BCAAs, theobromine, huperzine, citrulline, and a variety of nootropics.
  • They generally have fewer negative side effects than stimulant based pre workouts.
  • They should be taken 30-60 minutes before exercise so all ingredients can reach peak levels in the blood.
  • The best stim free pre workout for endurance is Caffeine Free PerformElite
  • The best stim free pre workouts for bodybuilding/gym/strength are NutraBio Pre Stim Free, Inspired Nutraceuticals FSU, Core Nutritional’s Pump Platinum, and InnovaPharm Nova Pump.

Stim free pre workouts just don’t get the love and attention as the caffeine infused stimulant based pre workouts.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a stimulant fiend. I mean, who doesn’t love going to the gym or out for a run jacked up on stims and feeling like you could tear someone’s arms off?

While stimulant based pre workouts are all fun and games until you totally rage on someone, stim free pre workouts do have their place when trying to improve strength, endurance, focus, and the almighty PUMP.

Additionally, they are pretty darn beneficial when you workout at night and you want to do things like SLEEP…which I hear is pretty important for your GAINZS!

Plus, and this may come as a shocker, sometimes you may want to cycle off stimulant based pre workouts to help you reset your tolerance to some of the ingredients found in them.

In this article we will discuss:

  • What stim free pre workouts are
  • How they are different from stim pre workouts
  • Benefits
  • Which are the best for strength and endurance
  • Side effects/safety
  • The best way to take stimulant free pre pre workouts.

What is a stim free pre workout?

 

best caffeine free stim free pre workout

 

What may be an obvious answer might not be so obvious at all. Most people think stim free pre workouts only exclude caffeine. While this is sometimes the case it’s not always true.

Without a doubt when it comes to stimulants in pre-workouts…caffeine is the numero uno ingredient that comes to mind.

However, there are other ingredients that are classified as stimulants that you want to watch out for. These include:

  • Yohimbe
  • Green Tea Extract
  • DMAA
  • DMHA
  • Ephedra
  • Rauwolscine
  • Bitter Orange
  • Beta-Phenylethylsynephrine
  • Hordenine
  • Halostachine
  • Synephrine

That list right there is enough to wake a zombie from the dead! Especially when some supplement companies go overboard with them. By themselves and in the right amounts, these stimulants can provide some serious benefits without giving you the jitters or anxiousness of a cat around water.

But back on point and to answer the question. The difference between stim free and stim workouts is the former contains ZERO stimulants.

What’s the difference between a stim and stim free pre workout?

best stim free pre workout for strength

I bet you thought we already answered this question above. NO SIREEBOB!

Again, this is a no brainer until you dig a little deeper into the question. Obviously stimulant free pre's won’t have stimulants. Outside of that the two types of pre workouts usually are different by the benefits they offer.

Benefits of a stim free pre workout

  • Increased focus
  • Enhanced PUMPS
  • Better endurance
  • Energy production via pathways different from caffeine
  • Buffers muscle acidity
  • May include electrolytes and other trace minerals for hydration
  • Optimizes VO2 max
  • Delays fatigue

Benefits of a stimulant pre workout

Stimulant based pre workouts can offer the same benefits as a stim free one but they also can:

Is a stim free pre workout as good as a stim pre workout?

That’s like asking if bananas are better than apples (bananas are better of course). That’s because each is formulated for a specific purpose. So, depending on your goals you may choose a stim free over a stim based pre workout.

Also, sometimes you want some zip without the zing. Stimulant free pre workouts come in handy there.

They are also the pre workout of choice for those who workout at night so they can do things like sleep…which is probably more important than anything else when it comes to recovery and improving athletic performance.

There are also some individuals who are super sensitive to caffeine and either makes then over the top bonkers or super sleepy. Let’s take a moment to feel sorry for those people because I don’t know how one could live without caffeine……………If you’re thinking in your head right now, “That’s Me!,” than a stim free pre workout is right up your alley.

In sum, both stimulant free and stimulant pre workouts both have a place in a training regimen depending on individual goals and personal characteristics.

Can you take a stimulant free pre workout when cycling off caffeine?

how to cycle off caffeine

As curly in the 3 stooges use to say “certainly.” In fact, I think it’s a brilliant idea to cycle off stims from time to time. Especially when you develop a tolerance to them.

What’s more, stim free pre workouts will often contain ingredients that need to be loaded/taken everyday to keep them saturated in the body and to continue to provide benefits. Classic examples are creatine and beta-alanine.

If you want to cycle off a stim based pre workout try going 5-10 days without it while taking the stim free pre workout. After that time period gradually reintroduce the stimulant based pre by taking ½ scoop for 3-4 days before moving onto a full scoop (or two).

What ingredients should be included in a stim free pre?

best stim free pre workout for endurance

For the Gym/Strength, a stim free pre workout should include at least some of the following ingredients

  • Beta-Alanine – Product should have at least 3.2 grams. Beta-alanine works by saturating muscle carnosine stores. Carnosine helps buffer muscle acidity as exercise become more intense.
  • Creatine – Officially know as creatine phosphate, creatine donates a phosphate group to help reform ATP (energy). Hands down creatine is one of the most studied and beneficial supplements that improves strength and power, endurance, muscle mass, hydration while also offering some pretty sweet benefits fur yer brain. Take 5 grams daily to become a total beast.

I often struggle with these first two as the provide not acute benefit. So should they really be in a pre workout? I say yes as it is a lot easier and cheaper than buying each ingredient separately.

  • Citrulline – Another ingredient you’ve probably heard of. Citrulline enhances nitric oxide production in the body to give you a greater PUMP. It works better than arginine as it is more bioavailable. The dose you are looking for here is 6 grams.
  • Glycerol – Yet another pump inducing ingredient. This one works by causing an influx of water into the cells so you become super SWOLE! Go big of the dose here….2-5 grams.
  • Nootropics – These nifty class of supplements help increase focus which can really determine how hard you can push through a workout. Ingredients to look for are choline, alpha-GPC, and lion’s mane. Want to know the correct dosage? Head on over to examine.com.
  • BCAAs – Leucine, Iso-Leucine, and Valine. These bad boys of the amino acid world help promote muscle protein synthesis. Can anyone say ANABOLIC BRUH! MPS is non geek speak is how muscle repair, recover, and grow. Correct dose here is at least 3 grams leucine and 1.5 grams each of iso-leucine and valine.
  • Tyrosine – An amino acid that is converted in the body to dopamine and adrenaline. It’ll help make you feel good and possibly give you bursts of energy. 500-2000mg daily.
  • Betaine – Also known as trimethylglycine, is an ingredient derived from beets that helps regulate water balance in the cells and maintains homocysteine. Standard dose here is 2500-6000mg daily.

While this list isn’t all inclusive it does cover the most common and effective ingredients included in stim free pre workouts meant for the gym/strength.

For endurance, a stim free pre workout should include at least some of the following ingredients

  • Beet Root Powder – Beets help lower the oxygen cost of exercise. Meaning harder exercise requires less energy. The correct dose of beets is really dependent on nitrate content (you want 500mg). For example, Caffeine Free PerformElite contains 1670mg of beet root powder which yields the correct amount of nitrates.
  • Taurine – The impressive amino acid reduces oxidative stress, improves blood flow, and insulin sensitivity which ultimately improves endurance performance. 1500-3000mg daily.
  • Peak O2 – This trademarked ingredient is composed of multiple mushroom strains. Several studies have demonstrated increased VO2 max and power when supplementing with 1-4 grams of Peak O2 daily.
  • Beta-Alanine
  • AlphaSize Alpha-GPC – Considered the “premier” choline donor, Alpha GPC improves the mind to muscle connection, enhances muscular output, and delays mental fatigue. 300-600mg daily.
  • ActiGin – Another specialty ingredient, ActiGin works by maintaining the integrity of cellular membranes, which are damaged during intense exercise. Research with ActiGin has found a decreased inflammatory response to exercise which led to fatigue resistance. 50mg daily.
  • Huperzia Serrata – Huperzine reduces the breakdown of choline. The result of which can enhance muscular contractions, cognition, and focus. 0.5mg daily.
  • ElevATP – As the name implies, this ingredient can help regenerate ATP more quickly. More ATP = more energy top keep of running! 200mg daily.
  • Cluster Dextrin – A super carb that is high density with low osmolality. This mean it digests and absorbs rapidly without any GI distress or blood sugar spikes. 10-20 grams is the dose here.
  • Ornithine HCL – Works by reducing ammonia build-up in the body during exercise which can cause premature fatigue. 2000mg daily.
  • Theobromine – This ingredient derived from dark chocolate is a vasodilator and bronchodilator. It helps get more blood to working muscles and makes breathing easier. At least 100mg daily.

As with the stim pre workout ingredient list, this one isn’t all inclusive either but it should help make it easier for you to identify a good stim free endurance based pre workout.

Best stim free pre workout for the gym/strength

In no particular order here are the best stim free pre workouts for the gym. After extensive research and testing by myself, these are the ones I recommend:

  1. NutraBio Pre Stim Free
  2. Inspired Nutraceuticals FSU
  3. Core Nutritional’s Pump Platinum
  4. InnovaPharm Nova Pump

The reason these are the best are due to them including research backed EFFECTIVE ingredients and in clinical doses that have been demonstrated to increase performance, enhances strength, and build muscle mass

Best stim free pre workout for endurance

stim free preworkout for running

Time to get a little biased here but at least hear me out. The best stim free pre workout for endurance is:

Nothing else really comes close and hence why this is a short list. This product has many of the ingredients listed above, in effective dosages, and tastes absolutely amazing. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself here.

Just to show a little love to other supp companies, you could also try a stand alone beet root powder or try to make your own stim free pre workout but both of them will probably taste terrible and be bloody expensive to make.

What’s the best way to take a stim free pre workout?

Timing is really the same as stimulant based pre workouts. Consume 30-60 minutes before exercise so all ingredients reach peak levels in the blood before you go and crush it in the gym or on the track.

How long does it take to work?

Outside of creatine and beta-alanine which need to be loaded, not long at all. Most stim free pre workouts provide some nice acute benefits the minute you start your workout.

Are they safe?

Generally speaking, yes! If nothing else I can say with confidence they are usually more safe than stim based pre workouts that could have some nasty side effects like:

  • Anxiousness
  • Jitters
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • GI distress

For full transparency though, these side effects usually only happen when too much of a stimulant is added to a product or when they are combined together.

Are there any stim free ingredients that provide the same energy as caffeine?

teacrine supplement

I’m sure there are many but the one that pops in my head is a specialty ingredient known as TeaCrine, made by Compound Solutions.

This ingredient delivers energy, mental clarity, and improved motivation and mood by working in a similar fashion to caffeine without being a stimulant. That means no jitters or crash!

Impressively, this ingredient has substantial research behind it demonstrating improved performance when consumed at 200mg daily.

The bottom line

Wrapping things up. Both stim free and stimulant based pre workouts have their advantages and disadvantages. My recommendation is to cycle both of them.

For example, I’ll take a stim workout for 4 weeks straight followed by a stim free pre workout for 2 weeks.

Try the ones I recommend in the article and see what works best for you!

About the author:

Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California.  Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.

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Matt Mosman, MS, CISSN, CSCS
Matt Mosman, MS, CISSN, CSCS



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