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Best Nootropic Pre-Workout Supplements: Crash-Free Energy & Focus

By Mind Lab Pro

Looking for a new way to improve your performance in the gym? Pre-workout nootropics may be your answer.

Nootropic supplements (brain boosters) are used by athletes to enhance focus, energy and intensity that drive peak physicality. While they can be taken as standalone brain supplements, nootropics are also incorporated into sports nutrition formulas designed for mentally strong performance in the gym.

In this buying guide, we discuss the best nootropic pre workout supplements.

We'll cover the most effective ingredients and products, including a pre-workout powder enhanced with nootropics, a whole-brain nootropic supplement for 100% brainpower in the gym, the best caffeine pill to take pre-workout and more. Let's get to it!

Quick Summary: Best Nootropic Pre-Workouts

Best Nootropic Pre-Workout Supplements

Top Nootropic Pre-Workout Ingredients to Look For

  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT): Bioavailable tyrosine boosts brain chemicals for drive, focus, intensity
  • L-Theanine: Amino acid in green tea for relaxed alertness and clean mental clarity in the gym
  • Caffeine: Top sports nutrient energizer for strength, endurance, mood; stacks with L-theanine
  • Beetroot: Dietary nitrate source for energizing pumps, cardio performance and cognitive sharpness
  • Setria Performance Blend: Combines two nutrients for a big blood flow boost to mind & muscle
  • Phosphatidylserine: Research-backed anti-stress nootropic for sports performance
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Russian herb used as a legal performance enhancer by world-class athletes
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract: Natural nitric oxide booster with a potent antioxidant complex
  • Citicoline: Most dynamic and versatile nootropic, also an effective stim-free cell energizer
  • CoQ10: The most important nutrient you can take to optimize energy production in your cells
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT): Fast-acting mind-body fuel, great for keto and fasted training

We will go into greater detail on the top nootropic pre-workout supplements right now. Then we will cover some top ingredients, the evidence behind them, and how they work.

Best Nootropic Pre-Workout Supplements

#1 Best Nootropic Pre Workout Supplement Overall: Pre Lab Pro®

#1 Best Nootropic Pre Workout Supplement Overall: Pre Lab Pro®

Pre Lab Pro® is the top pre-workout powder supplement enhanced with nootropics. The "world's smartest pre-workout nutrition", it is designed for sharp cognitive function as well as improved physical strength, power, endurance, energy and more. The Pre Lab Pro® formula:

  • Red Beetroot Powder, 1500 mg
  • Setria® Performance Blend, 2200 mg
  • Natural Caffeine, 80 mg
  • L-Theanine, 160 mg
  • L-Tyrosine, 400 mg
  • NutriGenesis® vitamins & minerals
    • Vitamin D3, 500 iu
    • Potassium, 49.5 mg
    • Iron, 2.5 mg
    • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 500 mcg
    • Vitamin B6, 750 MCG
    • Folate (Vitamin B9), 167 mcg DFE
    • Vitamin B12, 2 MCG
  • Himalayan Pink Salt, 500 mg

Pre Lab Pro® works via a nitric oxide rush from beetroot and Setria that boosts blood flow to brain and muscles for workout intensity, endurance and strength. It also supplies a moderate (80 mg) dose of caffeine plus sport nutrients, nootropics and hydration enhancers for an overall gym boost.

Pre Lab Pro® benefits:

  • Enhances endurance, strength, power, stamina and speed
  • Promotes focus, clarity, intensity and calmness during workouts
  • Clean energy: 80 mg caffeine + 100 mg theanine = no jitters or crashes
  • Supplies natural electrolytes to help with hydration, energy and mental clarity
  • Stress support to help you stay balanced before, during and after your workout

Best for: Pre Lab Pro® is perfect for anyone seeking a clean-label nootropic pre-workout that puts sports nutrition first. If you want a mind-body boost in the gym, balanced stimulation, and the convenience of a powder that mixes into a pre-workout drink, this supplement is for you.

How to take: Add a single scoop to ¾ of a pint (300 ml) of water. Mix in a shaker bottle into a delicious berry flavored drink (no artificial flavors). No blender necessary. Drink 15-30 minutes before workout.

Pricing & Shipping

  • 1 Tub (one month supply): $59 ($2.95/serving)
  • 2 Tubs (two month supply): $118 ($2.95/serving)
  • Best deal: 3 Tubs + 1 free, with free shipping: $177 ($2.21/serving)
  • All covered by 30-day money back guarantee

Buy Pre Lab Pro® Now

Best Nootropic Supplement to take Pre-Workout: Mind Lab Pro®

Best Nootropic Supplement to take Pre-Workout: Mind Lab Pro®

If you're looking for a the best straight-up brain booster for working out and more, Mind Lab Pro® (MLP®) is for you. It supplies seven of our top nootropic pre-workouts, including two amino acids:

  • Citicoline (CDP Choline) dosage 250mg per serving
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS) 100mg (from sunflower lecithin)
  • Bacopa monnieri 150mg (24% bacosides, 9 bioactives)
  • Organic Lion's Mane Mushroom 500mg (fruit and mycelium)
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract 75mg: (Standardized to 95% proanthocyanidins)
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine 175mg
  • L-Theanine 100mg per serving
  • Rhodiola rosea 50mg (Standardized to 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides)
  • NutriGenesis® Vitamin B6 (2.5 mg), Vitamin B9 (100 mcg), Vitamin B12 (7.5 mcg)

MLP® is designed as a universal nootropic that can flex to meet any and all cognitive needs, no matter who you are or what you do -- including benefits for athletes.

You can feel MLP help boost whatever cognitive functions you need throughout your day. And when you step in the gym, you'll really notice how your high-performing MLP brain impacts your athletic performance.

Mind Lab Pro® benefits for the gym:

  • Sharp mental focus for lifts, endurance, in-game competition
  • Mental and physical energy and intensity for strong workouts
  • Calm, clear-minded alertness that is ideal for the gym and all athletics
  • Supports motivation, drive and mood to help you stay dialed in
  • Promotes stress resistance; boosts performance during exertion and distraction
  • Human research-backed: Shown to improve information processing and memory.(1,2)

In other words, because it is designed as a whole-brain booster, MLP® can support a little bit of everything you need for athletic performance in one formula.

Pre Lab Pro® gets the edge as the top nootropic pre workout because it is designed specifically for the gym. MLP® is not a sport-focused stack, but its universal design means it can perform as your all-in-one nootropic for the gym, your workday and your whole life.

How to take: Take 2-4 vegan NutriCaps® per day. For best results, take 2 in the morning; you can further add 2 after lunch.

Best for: If you want a pure nootropic stack that goes beyond workouts and does more, Mind Lab Pro® is for you. It helps charge-up workout-related brain functions (focus, energy, intensity) without caffeine, but also does far more for overall cognition --working, socializing, relaxing, studying, etc.

Pricing & Shipping

  • 1 Bottle (one month supply): $69 ($2.30/serving)
  • 2 bottles (two month supply): $138 ($2.30/serving)
  • Best deal: 3 bottles + 1 free, with free shipping: $207 ($1.73/serving)
  • All covered by 30-day money back guarantee

Buy Performance Lab® MLP® Now

Top Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout for Energy: Performance Lab® Energy

Top Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout for Energy: Performance Lab® Energy

If you want to enhance brainpower (and physical performance!) with a clean, stim-free energy pill, then this formula is for you.

Performance Lab® Energy works by boosting the power-generating mitochondria that are most concentrated in the brain and muscle tissues. It includes:

  • MicroActive® Q10 (CoQ10), 100 mg
  • BioPQQ® (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone), 10 mg
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), 750 mg
  • BioPerine® Black Pepper Extract, 2.5 mg
  • Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, 150 mg

Since it is designed with the top mitochondria boosters, Performance Lab® Energy raises energy in practically all of your cells -- including brain cells and muscle cells -- when working out at the gym.

For those who avoid caffeine, Energy is a great alternative to our caffeinated picks (Pre Lab Pro® and Caffeine 2). Performance Lab® Energy also can be combined with caffeine (as coffee or caffeinated supplements) for a 2X energy boost, too.

Performance Lab® Energy benefits

  • Clean energy: Works without stimulation, so no stim-related jitters or crashes
  • 4X mitochondria support; boosts energy in brain and muscles at the cellular level
  • Effective solo; combines with MCT Energy Oil and MLP® into a stim-free pre workout energy stack
  • Combines with stim pre-workouts Pre Lab Pro® and Caffeine 2 for extra-strength energy

Best for: If you'd rather avoid caffeine while fighting mental fatigue and brain fog, Performance Lab® Energy is a great solution. Its unique support of clean energy in cells promotes a mental and physical vitality surge that makes it the perfect stimulant-free pre-workout supplement for athletes.

How to take: Take 2 vegan NutriCaps® in the morning before eating. For a stim-free boost during exercise, take 2 capsules 30-45 minutes before your workout.

Pricing & Shipping

  • 1 Bottle (one month supply): $69 ($2.30/serving)
  • 2 bottles (two month supply): $138 ($2.30/serving)
  • Best deal: 3 bottles + 1 free, with free shipping: $207 ($1.73/serving)
  • All covered by 30-day money back guarantee

Buy Performance Lab® Energy Now

Top Caffeine Pill with Nootropics: Caffeine 2

Top Caffeine Pill with Nootropics: Caffeine 2

If you're looking to improve on caffeine as a pre-workout supplement, Performance Lab Caffeine 2 is for you. It's the best caffeine pill overall, with especially impressive benefits for working out.

This next-gen formula tunes caffeine for athletic performance. It produces cleaner, calmer and more effective energy for both the mind and body -- with greatly reduced side effects like jitters, overactive central nervous system and crashing after your session.

Caffeine 2 supplies Caffeine 50 mg + L-Theanine 100 mg per capsule -- the correct research-backed ratio for maximizing energy while minimizing side effects.

The full Caffeine 2 ingredients list:

  • NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex: 500mcg Riboflavin, 50mcg Vitamin B6, 167mcg Folate, 2mcg Vitamin B12
  • 50 mg of Natural Caffeine from coffee beans
  • 100mg L-Theanine
  • 250mg L-Tyrosine

Caffeine 2 also helps to restore brain chemicals that you burn through during training by supplying L-Tyrosine and NutriGenesis® B-Complex vitamins for brain chemical synthesis and conversion.

Caffeine 2 benefits:

  • Designed to maximize caffeine performance benefits while minimizing side effects and crashes
  • Special amino acid support for powering through workouts under stress and fatigue
  • Balances caffeine energy with relaxation, creativity and clarity
  • Can be used to add controlled stim to MLP®, Performance Lab® Energy and other supplements
  • Clean, high-quality formula. No artificial ingredients. Vegan capsules.

How to take: For best results take 1-2 capsule(s) on an empty stomach. Each capsule contains 50 mg of natural caffeine. Take more as required - up to a recommended maximum of 5 capsules (250 mg) per day. Gives you greater control than high stimulant pre workout supplements.

Best for: If you like caffeine's performance-enhancing benefits but want something calmer and cleaner, Caffeine 2 is for you. It also is also good to stack with any other stim-free nootropic pre workout supplement, adding stim in a more precise and balanced way than high-stim pre-workouts.

  • Pricing & Shipping

  • 1 Bottle (one month supply): $44 ($1.47/serving)
  • 2 bottles (two month supply): $138 ($1.47/serving)
  • Best deal: 3 bottles + 1 free, with free shipping: $207 ($1.10/serving)
  • All covered by 30-day money back guarantee

Buy Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 Now

Top Pre-Workout Fuel for Brain and Muscles: Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil

Top Pre-Workout Fuel for Brain and Muscles: Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil

If you are interested in a new way to power your workouts, then Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil is the pre workout fuel you need.

It supplies C8/C10 medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easily digested, rapidly absorbed and broken down into ketones that fuel cell energy production.

  • MCT Energy Oil is a high-quality brand: super clean, made from 100% organic coconuts and sport-tuned with high-performance C8/C10 MCTs, only.

Other MCT and coconut oil products supply lower-quality MCTs (C6 and C12) which are associated with indigestion and other gastric problems that can interrupt your workout.

Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil brain benefits:

  • Clean-burning alternative fuel for powering cognitive and metabolic function
  • Optimizes brain cells' energy-generating mitochondria
  • Promotes mind-body vitality during intense exertion
  • Improves fat burning and energy expenditure for fitness and weight loss

How to take: As a neutral-tasting liquid, this supplement can be added to protein powder, pre workout powder (such as Pre Lab Pro®), coffee, smoothies and other drinks that are commonly consumed before training. Or simply take it straight. One tablespoon per day. It may be taken pre-workout.

Best for: If you seek fast fuel to power-up your brain and body pre-workout, Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil is your answer. It comes with added advantages for enhancing athletic training, supporting fat burning, and aiding in weight management. It's also an especially good pre workout if you are following intermittent fasting or keto-oriented routines.

Pricing & Shipping

  • 1 Bottle (one month supply): $39 ($1.26/serving)
  • 2 bottles (two month supply): $78 ($1.26/serving)
  • Best deal: 3 bottles + 1 free, with free shipping: $117 ($0.94/serving)
  • All covered by 30-day money back guarantee

Buy Performance Lab® MCT Energy Oil Now

Now that we've discussed the top picks overall, let's explore in-depth what pre-workout nootropics are and what they do.

What is a Nootropic Pre Workout?

What is a Nootropic Pre Workout?

A nootropic pre workout supplement combines cognitive enhancers ("smart drugs"), energy nutrients, sports nutrients, caffeine (sometimes), herbs, amino acids and other compounds to boost athletic performance, accelerate progress and otherwise maximize fitness results.

Nootropic Pre-Workout vs. Pre-Workout: What's the Difference?

Nootropic pre-workout supplements emphasize the cognitive aspects of training. Regular pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, emphasize the strictly physical aspects of training.

Due to the mind's ability to enhance exercise, there is some overlap with nootropic and ergogenic (sport) compounds found in supplements.

In regular pre workouts, for example, you may see some nootropic ingredients that are great for boosting cognitive function, but also helpful for exercise performance (such as strength and endurance) as a secondary benefit.

When it comes to nootropic vs. pre-workout, however, the supplement that is advertised as a "pre-workout" will target physical performance enhancers that don't affect the brain much. Some examples include beta-alanine, branched-chain amino acids and protein powders.

How Do Pre-Workout Nootropics Work?

Some nootropic ingredients may improve performance in the gym by boosting cognitive functions. They help you stay focused, intense and motivated. Others are energizers that amp up strength and muscular endurance.

The best pre workout ingredients overall may be nootropic-ergogenic hybrids that boost both cognitive performance and physical training.

Let's take a look at some of the bioactivities that deliver pre-workout nootropic benefits.

Enhancing blood flow

Enhancing blood flow

Circulation enhancers boost blood flow to muscles and the brain. This surge in blood flow delivers energizing oxygen and performance-enhancing nutrients where you need them most during intense exercise, enabling:

  • Enhanced Cognitive Function: Increased blood flow to the brain improves mental clarity, focus, and overall cognitive performance; also removes waste products from brain tissues.
  • Improved Athletic Performance: More blood flow to muscles helps power and endurance, reduces fatigue, and helps recovery; also removes lactic acid for more reps with less soreness.

Thus, improved blood circulation plays a crucial role in optimizing both mental and physical performance, making it a key focus in today's top nootropic pre-workout supplements.

Circulation enhancers to look for in nootropic pre-workouts: Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Beetroot, Setria Performance Blend, B-complex vitamins

Supporting brain chemicals

Supporting brain chemicals

When you're working out in the gym, several key brain chemicals -- such as dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine -- play a crucial role in determining your performance and overall experience by:

  • Increasing your pain threshold
  • Boosting your mood
  • Bolstering motivation
  • Providing the energy needed for intense physical activity

High-powered thinking and intense training in the gym can both deplete the body of brain chemicals it needs to perform.

Pre-workout formulas and nootropic stacks often include nutrients that help the body to produce, maintain and restore critical performance driven brain chemicals.

Brain chemical support to look for in nootropic pre workouts: N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, B-Complex vitamins, citicoline, L-Theanine, Rhodiola rosea

Enhancing energy

Enhancing energy

Energy is a universal performance booster, whether you are exerting yourself physically or mentally. Nootropic and pre workout ingredients often include energy boosters, typically as caffeine, but also as stress-busters (more on that in a minute) and mitochondria boosters.

Optimizing mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, is especially promising for mind-body performance benefits in the gym. Optimized mitochondria may be associated with:

  • Increased Energy Production: Enhanced mitochondrial function leads to more efficient ATP cell energy production, providing more energy for both brain and muscle activity.
  • Improved Muscle Endurance and Strength: Efficient mitochondria can help muscles work harder and longer during exercise, improving endurance and strength.
  • Enhanced Cognitive Function: The brain is energy-intensive. Mitochondria ensure it has the energy for cognitive functions like focus and coordination, which are crucial for effective workouts.
  • Reduced Fatigue: By efficiently producing energy and managing waste products, optimized mitochondria can help reduce feelings of fatigue, both mentally and physically.

Energy nutrients boost physical performance and cognitive function in the gym, enhancing overall workout effectiveness. Increase energy from multiple angles for the best workout benefits.

Energy support to look for in nootropic pre workouts: Caffeine, citicoline, CoQ10, Rhodiola rosea, Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT), B-Complex vitamins

Learn more about the best energy supplements.

Strengthening stress resistance

Strengthening stress resistance

Training is stressful on the body and mind. The best nootropic pre workout supplements include nutrients that regulate the body's responses to stress.

Stress-related nutrients in nootropic pre workout formulas help to maintain homeostasis (balance), performance and recovery under the significant stressors related to peak athletic performance.

Pre-workout supplements often supply antioxidants, too. These compounds protect cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress that is generated during exercise. As a bonus, antioxidants help muscle aches and recovery post-workout, too.

Stress support to look for in nootropic pre-workouts: Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Beetroot, Setria Performance Blend, Rhodiola rosea, CoQ10

Optimizing cognition

Optimizing cognition

The brain-boosting results from nootropics can enable you to work faster, train harder, and get more done during your session.

Some of the key benefits of taking nootropics pre-workout include:

  • Greater focus and concentration in the gym
  • Stronger motivation before and during workouts
  • Natural energy boosts, both mental and physical
  • Faster mental recovery from intense workouts
  • Improve reaction time and mental sharpness
  • Support for a bright, balanced mood; no crash

Cognitive enhancers to look for in nootropic pre-workout supplements: Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, Rhodiola rosea, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Beetroot, Setria Performance Blend, Rhodiola rosea, CoQ10

Next let's explore some of the top nootropics for pre-workout!

Top Nootropic Nutrients for Pre-Workout Use

In this section, we will cover some of the top nootropic nutrients that are found in pre workout supplements. We will discuss how they are believed to work, as well as touching upon some research backing their potential to enhance athletic performance.

L-Tyrosine (as N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine)

L-Tyrosine (as N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine)

L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that helps gym training and athletic performance by enhancing brain chemicals, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine.

These neurotransmitters drive cognitive processes like focus, alertness and concentration, which can charge-up gym workouts.

Plus, L-Tyrosine helps with stress management and fatigue management, potentially improving endurance, energy and athletic resilience during high-intensity or prolonged exercise.

L-Tyrosine is a clinically backed performance enhancer that has been shown to help:

  • Reduce the negative effects of stress on cognitive task performance during combat training.(3)
  • Improve memory under stress conditions (subjects were immersed in cold water).(4)
  • Promote overall sharp mental performance under stressful conditions (loud noise [90 dB]).(5)

L-Tyrosine's ability to reduce the effects of stress and fatigue under sleep deprivation and challenging conditions may be helpful for athletes striving to stay focused and intense while training at the gym.

Tip: N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is a preferred form of tyrosine due to its potential bioavailability advantages. Bioavailability refers to how much of a compound is present in the bloodstream after it is consumed.

Learn more about N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine



L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. It is often found paired with one of the most popular pre workout: caffeine.

Human research shows L-Theanine + Caffeine (in a 2:1 ratio) may take the edge off stimulation. It may instead help reduce caffeine jitters and deliver its best energizing effects in a calmer, cleaner form.(6)

L-Theanine is also a pre-workout booster in its own right. It raises Alpha brain waves, settles the central nervous system and optimizes brain chemicals -- for a calm-yet-alert state of mind.

Research-backed L-theanine nootropic benefits that contribute to pre-workout supplements include:

  • "Wakeful relaxation" for alertness, sharpened attention and calm, focused intensity in the gym.(7)
  • Calming effects (without making you sleepy) may help with jitters in the gym and in competition.(8)
  • Improved sleep quality for rest to help athletes build muscle and perform at their best.(9)

Even though L-Theanine may not directly impact physical strength or endurance like other pre workouts, its support for relaxation, sleep and cognition can have a big impact on overall athletic performance.

Learn more about L-Theanine



Caffeine may be the #1 nootropic pre-workout ingredient.

For the gym, it is research-backed to improve mind-body exercise performance (alertness, endurance, energy, strength), fat burning, muscle glycogen and mood.(10,11)

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition position statement, here are a few more tips for maximizing caffeine's benefits as a nootropic pre-workout:(12)

  1. Caffeine works best in low-to-moderate doses; big caffeine doses do not deliver bigger benefits.
  2. Researchers report that caffeine improves athletes' endurance in time-trial competitions
  3. It improves alertness during exercise on little sleep, as well as during long endurance sessions.
  4. It improves athletic performance during high-intensity training and intermittent training

With its combination of performance-enhancing benefits for both the brain and body, caffeine remains a prized nootropic pre workout among competitive athletes, especially those seeking sharp cognitive function under conditions of sleep deprivation.

Too much caffeine is counterproductive in the gym. For the best caffeine benefits, stay in a moderate-to-low dosage range and/or stack it with L-Theanine.

Note: The two caffeine-containing supplements we recommend as nootropic pre-workout options both supply low-to-moderate dose caffeine stacked with L-Theanine. (For more, see: Caffeine 2 and Pre Lab Pro®).



Red beetroot supplies an active ingredient called nitrate that raises Nitric Oxide (NO) -- relaxing and widening blood vessels and encouraging robust circulation to both the muscles and brain.

Nitrates in beetroot have been shown in research to help with cognitive function, exercise performance (endurance and strength, specifically), and overall cardiovascular wellness.(13)

In addition, beetroot supplies betalains, which are pigment antioxidants that help to protect muscle tissues against the cell-damaging, age-accelerating effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress.(14)

Overall, look for beetroot as a natural ingredient in nootropic pre workouts for energy, cognition, performance-enhancing muscle pumps, and even to get a head start on recovery.

Setria® Performance Blend (L-Citrulline + Glutathione)

Setria® Performance Blend (L-Citrulline + Glutathione)

Setria Performance Blend (L-Citrulline + L-Glutathione) is another popular circulation-booster that is favored by today's best nootropic pre-workouts to increase blood flow to the brain and muscles.

Setria Performance Blend works like beetroot but is known for providing an especially long-lasting nitric oxide boost. In fact, researchers have reported that the Setria Performance Blend mini-stack sustains blood nitric oxide levels for twice as long as other sport nutrients commonly used to increase circulation (L-Citrulline and L-Arginine).(15) This is beneficial for long-workout sessions and endurance athletics.

Setria Performance Blend graph

Setria Performance Blend's potential for athletic endurance, energy, strength and power is backed by research.

Some researchers have reported that supplementing with this blend helped to improve muscle mass gains after four weeks and maintain muscle better after eight weeks (when compared to a placebo and L-Citrulline alone).(16)

(For more on Beetroot and Setria Performance Blend, see: Pre Lab Pro®)



Phosphatidylserine (PS), a phospholipid found naturally in the body, is one of today's most promising nootropic pre workout ingredients.

It is thought to potentially enhance gym training and athletic performance through several mechanisms:

  • Stress Reduction: PS may help reduce stress and its physiological effects, including blunting the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels limit muscle recovery and growth.
  • Cognitive Benefits: Supports memory, processing speed, concentration. Improved cognition may promote better mental clarity during training and more effective workouts.
  • Exercise Capacity and Recovery: PS supplementation may improve exercise capacity and reduce muscle soreness, thereby aiding in quicker recovery after intense workouts.

While PS is mostly known for its science-backed benefits for long-term memory, short-term memory and working memory, it has also been studied in the context of sports performance.

Researchers have reported that PS's stress-regulating benefits may help golfers to improve their scores and help cyclists to increase endurance.(17,18)

Learn more about Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Rhodiola Rosea

Performance-enhancing herb Rhodiola Rosea, one of the best nootropic pre-workouts

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen herb that is traditionally used to help the body maintain balance in the face of stress.

As a nootropic pre-workout, Rhodiola Rosea is a top choice for fighting off the stress that accompanies training and competition. It instead promotes calm thinking and strong performance under stress.

Rhodiola strengthens resistance to stress, blunts the production of stress hormone cortisol, and regulates brain chemicals. The result is a stimulating, resilient and sharp mind-body state that naturally enhances athletic performance.

Rhodiola is considered a legal performance enhancer. Its long history of safe, effective use by athletes make it a top pre-workout choice for competitive athletes. It has even been used by Russian Olympians.

Rhodiola's performance benefits are attributed to active ingredients called rosavins and salidrosides. Look for supplements that are "standardized" for these compounds.

In scientific research, supplementation with Rhodiola rosea has been shown to enhance the body's ability to adapt to physical exercise, partly suggested by less damage to skeletal muscle.(19)

In a published review on rhodiola for exercise and sports, researchers suggested the herb appears to protect against stress, improve explosive power in athletes and promote muscle recovery.(20)

Overall, rhodiola is also associated with benefits that improve focus, amplify energy and banish mental fatigue, helping to enhance workout performance via natural stim-free pathways.

Learn more about Rhodiola Rosea



Citicoline is one of the best nootropics overall to look for in brain supplements. Its role as a dynamic mental performance enhancer also make it a top pre-workout for mental intensity in the gym.

Citicoline boosts synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, which is vital for brain cell membrane integrity, memory, focus, and concentration. Citicoline also supports brain chemicals like acetylcholine and dopamine.

And critically, citicoline energizes brain cells. In one clinical study, researchers reported that citicoline supplementation was associated with a 13.6% increase in brain energy metabolism.(21)

For athletic performance, these cognitive benefits may help improve focus mental clarity, reaction time, endurance and overall performance -- and deliver clean natural energy without a crash.

Researchers have suggested that adolescent males taking citicoline for 28 days demonstrated improved attention and psychomotor speed; additional benefits that may interest athletes.(22)

Learn more about Citicoline

Maritime Pine Bark

Maritime Pine Bark

Maritime Pine Bark Extract is beneficial for workouts and cognitive function as a natural nitric oxide booster and also due to its high antioxidant content.

This extract's powerful proanthocyanidin antioxidants are responsible for raising nitric oxide production, which in turn increases blood flow.(23)

Boosted blood flow increases the supply of energizing oxygen and nutrients to a high-performing brain and hard-working muscles in the gym.

Pine bark antioxidants also regulate oxidative stress and inflammation that may accompany intense physical exercise. In doing so, its antioxidants may promote soothing muscle and joint comfort, as well as supporting overall recovery after intense training sessions.

Learn more about Maritime Pine Bark Extract



The B-Complex provides foundational support for multiple biological functions related to cognitive performance, gym training and the mind-muscle connection.

Among the most valuable for athletes, essential vitamins in the B-Complex help to support:(24)

  • Neurotransmitters: support nerve function and the production of neurotransmitters, contributing to improved cognitive performance, including focus, memory, and mood regulation.
  • Brain energy: B-vitamins are crucial for both cognitive and gym training performance due to their role in energy metabolism and brain function.
  • Circulation: B-vitamins, particularly B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folate), and B12, play a significant role in improving blood circulation that delivers oxygen and nutrients efficiently throughout the body.

These 3 combined benefits make B-Vitamins valuable for both mental function and physical aspects of training and performance.

Learn more about Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin B12

CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10)

CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10)

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is useful as a pre-workout supplement mainly due to its key role in energy production. CoQ10 plays a key role in the mitochondrial electron transport chain, which is crucial for cellular energy.(25)

In addition, CoQ10 has been suggested to help protect and multiply power-generating mitochondria in neurons and muscle cells.(26)

By enhancing energy production at the cellular level, CoQ10 can potentially increase stamina and endurance during exercise.

Researchers have proposed that CoQ10 may:

  • Provide anti-fatigue benefits that boost performance of subjects on stationary bicycles.(27)
  • Improve oxygen utilization during exercise.(28)

Further, CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, helping to reduce stress on your cells that is generated during intense physical activity. This can reduce muscle damage, modulate inflammation and aid in recovery.

As a unique energizing antioxidant, CoQ10 makes sense in pre workouts, especially those that are designed to promote peak energy without caffeine or other stimulants.

(For more on CoQ10, see: Performance Lab® Energy).



MCT oil is fast fuel: It goes straight to the liver from the small intestine, bypassing usual digestion steps, and turns into energy quickly for the brain and muscles.

As a nootropic, MCT oil also fuels the brain for mental energy and cognitive performance.

In terms of physical training, MCTs are great because they help create more mitochondria in muscle cells. More mitochondria boost energy for improved workout performance.(29)

Researchers have also reported MCT may help athletes perform better at high intensity exercise and improve endurance.(30,31)

As a bonus, by raising ketones, MCT oil may also increase energy expenditure during workouts, which can help to increase calorie burning if you are cutting or just trying to shed a few extra pounds.

(For more, see: MCT Energy Oil).


Top 5 Best Nootropic Pre-Workout Supplements

  • Pre Lab Pro®: Nootropic energizing pre-workout powder enhances athletic performance with moderate-dose caffeine, sports nutrients and brain boosters. Berry flavored mix.
  • Mind Lab Pro®: This whole-brain booster is the top straight-up nootropic stack to take pre-workout. It does it all, including focus, motivation, intensity, mental energy and more.
  • Performance Lab® Energy: Caffeine-free energy pill enhances vitality by optimizing cells' mitochondria. Helps to power both muscles and mind through workouts with no crash.
  • Caffeine 2: Best pre-workout caffeine pill, enhanced with nootropics L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine and B-Vitamins. 50 mg caffeine per cap enables dosage fine-tuning that customizes your workout energy.
  • MCT Energy Oil: Fast acting fuel source provides a stimulant-free energy boost for mind and body. Versatile format mixes into protein shakes, pre-workout powders, etc.


Traditional sports nutrients like beta alanine, creatine and protein work primarily on muscles. Nootropics, on the other hand, improve cognitive function, helping athletes with a range of concentration, energy, motivation, drive and focus benefits.

When appropriately utilized, these substances can set the stage for cognitive function that empowers athletes to reach their fullest potential, both in training environments and competitive settings.

As research continues to explore the interplay between nootropics and sports, it unveils new possibilities for pushing the limits of human performance and athletic excellence. Including hybrid nootropic/sport nutrients that boost the brain and muscles at the same time.

If you are thinking about taking a nootropic pre-workout supplement, you have more high-quality options to consider than ever before.

All of the nootropic pre-workouts discussed in this article are great choices for anyone seeking to boost physical performance and enhance cognitive performance at the same time.

Scientific References

  1. Utley A, Gonzalez Y, Imboden CA. The Efficacy of A Nootropic Supplement on Information Processing in Adults: A Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Study. Biomed J Sci & Tech Res 49(1)-2023.
  2. Abbott-Imboden C., Gonzalez Y., Utley A. (2023). Efficacy of the nootropic supplement Mind Lab Pro on memory in adults: Double blind, placebo-controlled study. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, e2872. https://doi.org/10.1002/hup.2872
  3. Deijen JB, et al. Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain Res Bull. 1999 Jan 15;48(2):203-9
  4. Mahoney CR, et al. Tyrosine supplementation mitigates working memory decrements during cold exposure. Physiol Behav. 2007 Nov 23;92(4):575-82. Epub 2007 May 22
  5. Deijen JB1, Orlebeke JF. Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Brain Res Bull. 1994;33(3):319-23
  6. Dodd FL, Kennedy DO, Riby LM, Haskell-Ramsay CF. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jul;232(14):2563-76. doi: 10.1007/s00213-015-3895-0. Epub 2015 Mar 13. PMID: 25761837; PMCID: PMC4480845.
  7. Nobre AC, et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 01/2008; 17 Suppl 1:167-8.
  8. Kimura K. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45
  9. Rao TP, Ozeki M, et al. In Search of a Safe Natural Sleep Aid. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Mar 11:1-12.
  10. Hodgson AB, Randell RK, Jeukendrup AE. The metabolic and performance effects of caffeine compared to coffee during endurance exercise. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59561. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059561. Epub 2013 Apr 3. PMID: 23573201; PMCID: PMC3616086.
  11. Schubert MM, Hall S, Leveritt M, Grant G, Sabapathy S, Desbrow B. Caffeine consumption around an exercise bout: effects on energy expenditure, energy intake, and exercise enjoyment. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Oct 1;117(7):745-54. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00570.2014. Epub 2014 Aug 14. PMID: 25123196.
  12. Guest NS, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Jan 2;18(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4. PMID: 33388079; PMCID: PMC7777221.
  13. Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation and exercise performance. Sports Med. 2014 May;44 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S35-45. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0149-y. PMID: 24791915; PMCID: PMC4008816.
  14. Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):2801-22. doi: 10.3390/nu7042801. PMID: 25875121; PMCID: PMC4425174.
  15. McKinley-Barnard S, Andre T, Morita M, Willoughby DS. Combined L-citrulline and glutathione supplementation increases the concentration of markers indicative of nitric oxide synthesis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 10;12:27. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0086-7. PMID: 26097441; PMCID: PMC4472409.
  16. Hwang P, Morales Marroquín FE, Gann J, Andre T, McKinley-Barnard S, Kim C, Morita M, Willoughby DS. Eight weeks of resistance training in conjunction with glutathione and L-Citrulline supplementation increases lean mass and has no adverse effects on blood clinical safety markers in resistance-trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Jun 27;15(1):30. doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0235-x. PMID: 29945625; PMCID: PMC6020314.
  17. Jäger R, et al. The effect of phosphatidylserine on golf performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Dec 4;4:23.
  18. Kingsley M, Miller M, Kilduff LP, McEneny J, Benton D. Effects of phosphatidylserine on exercise capacity during cycling in active males. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38:64-71.
  19. Parisi A, et al. Effects of chronic Rhodiola Rosea supplementation on sport performance and antioxidant capacity in trained male: preliminary results. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Mar;50(1):57-63.
  20. Lu Y, Deng B, Xu L, Liu H, Song Y, Lin F. Effects of Rhodiola Rosea Supplementation on Exercise and Sport: A Systematic Review. Front Nutr. 2022 Apr 7;9:856287. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.856287. Erratum in: Front Nutr. 2022 Jun 20;9:928909. PMID: 35464040; PMCID: PMC9021834.
  21. Silveri, et al. Cognizin® Citicoline Increases Brain Energy (ATP) by 14% and Speeds up Formation of Brain Membranes by 26% in Healthy Adults. Society for Neuroscience, San Diego California
  22. Cooke M, Iosia M, Buford T, Shelmadine B, Hudson G, Kerksick C, Rasmussen C, Greenwood M, Leutholtz B, Willoughby D, Kreider R. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Mar 4;5:8. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-8. PMID: 18318910; PMCID: PMC2315638.
  23. Schmitt CA, Dirsch VM. Modulation of endothelial nitric oxide by plant-derived products. Nitric Oxide. 2009 Sep;21(2):77-91.
  24. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068. PMID: 26828517; PMCID: PMC4772032.
  25. Littarru GP, Tiano L. Bioenergetic and antioxidant properties of coenzyme Q10: recent developments. Mol Biotechnol. 2007 Sep;37(1):31-7. doi: 10.1007/s12033-007-0052-y. PMID: 17914161.
  26. Zimmerman MA, Hall M, Qi Q, Mehta SL, Chen G, Li PA. Ubisol Coenzyme Q10 promotes mitochondrial biogenesis in HT22 cells challenged by glutamate. Exp Ther Med. 2021 Nov;22(5):1295. doi: 10.3892/etm.2021.10730. Epub 2021 Sep 14. PMID: 34630650; PMCID: PMC8461507.
  27. Mizuno K, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, Mizuma H, Ataka S, Tahara T, Sugino T, Shirai T, Kajimoto Y, Kuratsune H, Kajimoto O, Watanabe Y. Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. 2008 Apr;24(4):293-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2007.12.007. Epub 2008 Feb 13. Erratum in: Nutrition. 2008 Jun;24(6):616. PMID: 18272335.
  28. Zozina VI, Covantev S, Goroshko OA, Krasnykh LM, Kukes VG. Coenzyme Q10 in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: Current State of the Problem. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2018;14(3):164-174. doi: 10.2174/1573403X14666180416115428. PMID: 29663894; PMCID: PMC6131403.
  29. Watanabe S, Tsujino S. Applications of Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Foods. Front Nutr. 2022 Jun 2;9:802805. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.802805. PMID: 35719157; PMCID: PMC9203050.
  30. Chapman-Lopez TJ, Koh Y. The Effects of Medium-Chain Triglyceride Oil Supplementation on Endurance Performance and Substrate Utilization in Healthy Populations: A Systematic Review. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2022 Sep 30;31(3):217-229. doi: 10.7570/jomes22028. Epub 2022 Sep 13. PMID: 36096496; PMCID: PMC9579472
  31. Wang Y, Liu Z, Han Y, Xu J, Huang W, Li Z. Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS One. 2018 Feb 8;13(2):e0191182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191182. PMID: 29420554; PMCID: PMC5805166.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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