A Definitive Guide to Pre-Workouts for Women

Train harder, go further and maximize the potential of your body – all with the perfect pre-workout. 

Sounds amazing right? Us fitness girls just want to reach our absolute peak in every workout, and a quality pre-workout can be an excellent way to get the most out of every lift. We’ve just got to find the perfect one.

Sounds simpler than it actually is though girls. You might start your search, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of choice, the countless reviews and the promises of next-level results. But how do you know what’s actually going to work and what will just give you a next-level headache?

It’s information overload out there girls and it’s no wonder many of us just don’t know where to start.

At SMG, we know the struggle. We’re always on the lookout for the best products and we’ve gathered all of our experience and expertise to bring you this guide to pre-workouts for women.

From what pre-workout is, through to the ingredients you should be looking out for, we’ve created an all-encompassing, definitive guide to pre-workouts for women.


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  • What is pre-workout?
  • What does pre-workout do? 
  • What makes a good pre-workout?
  • Ingredients
  • Caffeine dosages
  • Research
  • Quality
  • Should you go for pre-workouts designed for women?
  • FAQ’s
  • The final scoop 


pre workout scoop

What is pre-workout?

A pre-workout supplement is usually a formula designed to help you reach optimum levels of success in your workout. It’s usually available in powder form and can be mixed with water to enjoy as a shake before you head to the gym.

In an ideal world, a good pre-workout can help you push harder in the gym. It can improve your ability to focus on what you’re doing and should increase your ability to make gains. All of this combines to help you get the most out of every workout and push you right to the upper limits of your potential.

That’s the dream girls.

The reality of the situation is this market is extremely saturated. It appears that just about every fitness brand out there has their own tub of pre-workout on the shelves.

Because there are so many varieties available, it’s hard to know what to look for in a formula. Although they may all be under the umbrella term of pre-workout, the ingredients list rarely looks the same from brand to brand. Don’t worry, we’ll get to ingredients later, girl.

The one thing all of these pre-workouts have in common is they’re all claiming to boost your physical performance in the gym. But what does that mean?


What does pre-workout do?

Girl, there are tons of pre-workout supplements on the market. It’s so easy to get lost in a world of promises, false guarantees and half-assed products. Don’t worry though, we’re here to look out for you.

To help you stay on the right track and filter the real deal out from the crap, we’re going to talk about what you should expect from a high-quality pre-workout and what “boost your performance” really means.

A good pre-workout should be able to do the following:


Improve energy levels.

They should contain ingredients that boost your energy levels for your workout. However, this shouldn’t be a quick increase and a sudden crash. A good pre-workout should give you explosive power and improve your endurance without jitters or headaches. Aka don’t go for something that’s just a big hit of caffeine.

woman drinking pre workout

Make you feel stronger.

To really push your strength to the limits, a smart pre-workout will contain creatine. This is one of the most highly researched ingredients in the world of supplements and it can make you feel stronger and your muscles feel bigger.

It boosts your ATP production, which is your bodies main source of energy. On top of that your body can use creatine as a fuel, so by supplementing it, you’re dramatically increasing your sources.

If that wasn’t good enough, this handy ingredient also improves muscle cell hydration. This can improve protein synthesis for a more efficient repair process, and it makes your muscles look bigger too. Bonus.


Improve focus.

The more focused you are on your workout, the more likely you are to reap results. No more giving up half way through a set or feeling unmotivated – a pre-workout should give you the support you need.

Now, a lot of pre-workouts out there say they achieve this, by pumping their formula with a hell-uv-a-lot of caffeine. Although caffeine will increase your energy levels and ability to focus, if you’re sensitive to it, you can experience some pretty intense crashes and even jitters if you’ve had too much. Caffeine should be carefully dosed, not maxed out.


No crashes.

An intelligent pre-workout formula should only use ingredients that work in harmony together to bring you a clean, yet powerful lift. We’ve said it before, but if it’s just pumped full of caffeine you probably won’t be benefiting from a smart formula that gives you a well-rounded experience. You might just get a migraine.


Key Point: A good pre-workout will make you feel stronger, more energized and won’t give you a nasty, jittery crash halfway through your workout. 

What makes a good pre-workout?

We’re pretty familiar with the pre-workout market and we’ve reviewed countless products.

To help filter out the good from the bad, we’ve created a criterion of what we expect from a product as the bare minimum.

A Definitive Guide to Pre-Workouts for Women 1


If you’ve started researching pre-workouts, you’ll start to see the ‘proprietary blends’ on a lot of labels. This is an immediate red flag for us, as a proprietary blend is an undisclosed mix of ingredients. It’s something manufacturers can use to cover up fillers in their product and we are not on board with it. We like to know exactly what we’re putting in to our bodies and unknown blends are an unnecessary risk.


Well researched.

At SpotMeGirl, we’re all about nourishing our bodies. We spend a lot of time planning what we’re going to eat and when, to ensure we get the maximum benefit from it. We’re also pretty clued up on why our body needs these foods too. When it comes to a supplement we take the same approach.

Needless to say, we ain’t no scientists. But we do want to see extensive research surrounding each ingredient to justify its place within the formula. The more of that we can see, the more confident we are that it’s a legit pre-workout.



This is a big deal for us. There are so many ingredient labels packed with unknown, unpronounceable, factory-made nutrients. We’re not about that. Your body is designed and optimized to process all-natural ingredients, not synthetic chemicals. Plus, with a chemical you don’t know what side-effects you might experience. Overall, we’re not sold on factory manufactured “nutrients”.


Using these criteria, we’ve reviewed and compared a variety of products to find the best option for you. Check out our favorites here: 10 Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Women


A Definitive Guide to Pre-Workouts for Women 2


When looking over the ingredients label, you should keep an eye out for natural products. The world is full of naturally-occurring nutrients, designed by mother nature to help you smash your workouts. Well, she might not have designed them for that specific reason, but they really do work either way.

To put it simply, your body isn’t designed to process synthetic chemicals. Instead, it will more readily absorb natural products that won’t clog up your system. You’ll be surprised at how much more alert and fresher you’ll feel with a natural option.

If you’re looking at the list of ingredients and the names are just strings of numbers and letters, it’s probably fake stuff.  Watch out for these, you could just be jamming up your body with synthetic crap.

To give you an idea of what a quality, all-natural pre-workout should contain, here are a few ingredient examples:


Caffeine and L-Theanine: Caffeine alone is a great way to improve energy levels and boost performance, but the addition of L-Theanine (an amino acid found in tea leaves) takes it up a notch. According to the experts, these two ingredients work together in perfect synergy to boost power output and increase mental awareness.


L-Citrulline Dl-Malate: Extracted from watermelons, this can help you dilate the blood vessels, pumping up your muscles and delivering more oxygen to key areas for a longer workout.


Rhodiola Rosea: Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, this Scandinavian herb combats bad moods and even fatigue. So, your mood will be boosted, and you’ll be motivated to smash your workout.


[infobox]Key Point: All natural ingredients will be better absorbed by your body and give you a clean lift. [/infobox]

coffee beans pouring out of a cup

Caffeine dosages

Energy is key to getting the most out of your workout, and caffeine is a great way to power-up beforehand.

However, some products take it too far and pump their supplements full of the stuff, leaving you with shaky hands, a headache and sometimes an intense crash. Too much caffeine has even been linked to insomnia [1] and anxiety [2].

You don’t need hundreds of grams of the stuff for incredible results. Instead, it should be just enough for a sweet energy boost and improved focus. Look for a product that keeps caffeine carefully regulated, so you don’t feel the negative side effects of too much.

[infobox]Key Point: You don’t need loads of caffeine in a pre-workout. They could leave you with negative side-effects. [/infobox]


After you’ve found the supplements with ‘real’ ingredients, you need to find out why they’ve been used. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on filler ingredients, so head to the manufacturer’s website for more info.

Ideally, you should be looking for some science behind their decisions. Are they backing up their claims with studies and research or are they just putting it in there because most pre-workouts do?

Look out for the product that’s tried and tested, backed up by real science and heavily researched. Anything less than that is probably developed by a part-timer who’s looking to cash in on your fitness journey, and that’s not cool girls. We’re looking for experts only.



When it comes to a high-quality product, there are a few ways to tell the good stuff, from the shelf fillers. A quick and easy way is to look out for certifications.

 FDA approved: This means the U.S Food and Drug Administration has reviewed and tested the product to confirm that the benefits of it outweigh the risks of the items planned use.

cGMP certified: This notifies the purchaser that the product is created in a safe, controlled environment.

With these certifications to their name, you can rest assured you’re looking at a product that’s made it through a rigorous quality examination.


Woman drinking pre-workout

Should you go for pre-workouts designed for women?

When it comes to picking the right product for women, the truth is, a lot of companies will change their branding and even up their price to appeal to a female audience. But finding the right option for you as about a lot more than the color of the bottle.

Up until recently, the fitness and supplement game has been very male dominated, so a lot of the best products out there are focused on appealing to them.

Only recently have companies started making products specifically for women, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best option out there for you. A lot of the time, sellers will just change the color of the labels, the brand message and maybe even charge you extra for something pink.

Don’t be drawn in by that, girl. When you’re searching for the best pre-workout for women, don’t be put off if it seems like it’s made for a dude. As long as the ingredients tick all the boxes and it’s backed up by science, it has the potential to be an excellent pre-workout drink, for men and women.

[infobox]Key Point: Pre-workouts with women-centric packaging aren’t always the best option. Read the label and check out the ingredients to find the right brand for you.[/infobox] 


Still got a few questions? No worries girl, here are a few FAQ’s about pre-workouts.

Are there any side effects to pre-workouts?

Some very caffeine heavy pre-workout formulas can cause some side effects. You may feel jittery, dehydrated, you could suffer from headaches and your heartrate could increase. However, that’s usually the case with higher caffeine formulas.

For more information, read this article on pre-workout side effects.

Should you be cycling your pre-workout?

If you continue to take a pre-workout without a break occasionally, you may find you become less sensitive to it’s affects. To get the most out of your pre-workout, you should aim to have a week off once every 6-8 weeks.

Will it affect a drugs test?

As long as your pre-workout has entirely above board, natural and doesn’t contain any banned substances, it won’t affect a drugs test. Another reason you should avoid those nasty proprietary blends.

How much should you pay for a pre-workout?

When it comes to pre-workouts, you should be prepared to pay for quality. The best pre-workouts are usually at the higher end of the spectrum in terms of price, which isn’t always great for your account, we’ll admit. But it pays off in the end girl, trust us. As soon as you start dropping the price you’ll see huge helpings of caffeine and mysterious proprietary blends at every turn.

Will pre-workout affect my sleep?

Almost all pre-workouts have caffeine in them, so if you’re particularly sensitive avoid taking it close to when you go to sleep. We’d say don’t take a pre-workout within five hours of going to bed to avoid any affects on your ability to sleep well.

When should I take my pre-workout?

It’s up to you and how the pre-workout affects you. Some people take it 30 minutes to an hour before they workout, others drink theirs just 15 minutes before. Test it out for yourself, but don’t take it any earlier than an hour before you head to the gym, so you get the best out of the energy lift it gives you.

 a scoop of pre-workout

The final scoop

We’re hoping that after reading out guide you should know what pre-workout is and how it works. You should know what makes a good pre-workout, what you should avoid and which ingredients to look out for.

With all this information, you should have everything you need to find the best pre-workout for women to suit you and your fitness goals. Whether you’re a bodybuilding goddess or queen of the cardio, the right product can give you the perfect boost to get the most out of every session.

To help you find the best quality product, we’ve reviewed a range of pre-workout brands. Check out our favorites and head to our Top 10 Pre-Workouts page.



[1] Watson, E., Coates, A., Kohler, M. and Banks, S. (2016). Caffeine Consumption and Sleep Quality in Australian Adults.

[2] Winston, A., Hardwick, E., & Jaberi, N. (2005). Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(6), 432-439. doi:10.1192/apt.11.6.432

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