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9 Common Mistakes When Picking a Pre-Workout Supplement

There are lots of things to watch out for when buying a pre-workout supplement. Here are 9 common mistakes when choosing a pre workout supplement

Do you absolutely need a pre-workout supplement? No. There are dozens of athletes and fitness enthusiasts that maintain a solid physique relying solely on whole foods. No personal trainers worth their salt will tell you that muscle gains or fat loss is futile without supplementation.

With that being said, however, chugging down a pre-workout drink mix will give you that extra amp to push yourself just a little harder in the gym or on the track.

Be advised, though, that not all supplements are created equal.

Choosing a pre-exercise supplement is definitely something you want to be choosy about. With so many supplement options, are you making these mistakes when making your selection?

Mistake #1: Not Looking at the Ingredients

Funny image of young man looking in magnifying glass

When it comes to supplements, the best single piece of advice is this: stick with basic ingredients. If you’ve ever flipped through a fitness or bodybuilding magazine, then you know they are notorious for displaying supplement ads just about every other page..

These new products always supposedly contain “breakthrough” ingredients that the ads claim renders all other ingredients obsolete. When it comes to these alleged “scientific breakthroughs,” take it with a grain of salt..

Remember, the supplement industry is a business; their first and foremost goal is to make a profit. To do that, they need to release new products that are supposedly an improvement over the previous one released.

This isn’t to say that new products should automatically be dismissed; it just means you should be naturally skeptical.

Stick to the Basics.

When it comes to pre-workout supplements, just stick to the basics and what has been proven to work.

This includes tried and proven ingredients like caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, and L-citruline malate just to list a few..

The formula in Rebellion includes all of the above ingredients and has ZERO proprietary blends..

Ideally, the ingredients list should be fairly brief. If the list is nearly the length of a paragraph, then the rest is usually just useless fillers that either do nothing or at worse dilute the primary ingredients..

Stick to What Has Been Scientifically Proven.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: if there is no scientific literature that verifies the ingredient’s efficacy as an energy booster, then stay away from it.

By scientific literature, this means independent studies published under actual scientific journals.

Many supplement ads include scientific studies. However, these are often studies funded by the company. Obviously, the company has a financial incentive for reaching a specific result, so you can’t expect unbiased findings.

Mistake #2: Choosing a Product With too Much Sugar


A lot of energy drinks as well as pre-workout formulas have sugar content levels comparable to soda pop, sometimes even more.

Many energy products provide energy via simple sugar because sugar is cheap, and it certainly does give you immediate energy, though as you probably know, the energy is quickly followed by a crash where you feel lethargic all of a sudden.

On top of that, sugar also wrecks all sort of havoc on your body. Studies have linked it to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

According to the American Heart Association, excess sugar also increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

A pre-workout supplement that contains mostly sugar is not a whole lot better than a can of Coke or Pepsi. In fact, you might as well drink a can of soda pop because it’s cheaper, and you’ll get the same buzz and kick. Soda, after all, also contains a small amount of caffeine.

The same holds true if the supplement contains other “healthier” sugars, such as cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave syrup, or sugar alcohol.

These are usually touted as being natural, and therefore somehow less harmful. Whether it’s the common table sugar or a natural source, the effects of too much sugar are all the same on the body.

Another issue is that the extra sugar also translates to additional calories. These are empty calories with zero nutritional benefits. These are also calories that you have to especially keep tabs on if you’re on a calorie deficit and trying to lose fat.

Mistake #3: Buying the Cheapest Pre-Workout Supplement


It’s understandable that people want to save money when it comes to supplements. They're sometimes not cheap and if you supplement stack, meaning you take multiple products (e.g. whey protein, fat burners, BCAAs, etc), then that’s quite a hefty monthly budget.

However, the saying that you often get what you pay for definitely applies to supplements. Once again, supplement companies want to maximize profit while cutting down on overhead cost.

As a result, each serving may contain very little of the primary ingredients with the rest being useless fillers.

While you don’t want to purchase the cheapest pre-workout formula on the market, it may not be necessary to buy the most expensive. When you buy supplements on the pricier end, it is crucial to understand what it is  you're paying for.

If you are spending money on a pre-workout, you want to make sure that you are buying a product that includes high quality ingredients that are proven to be scientifically effective.

Mistake #4: Choosing a Supplement Based on Brand Alone

Supplements bottle with supplements

Some supplement brands are extremely well-known. I am sure you have seen your favorite bodybuilder or physique competitor advertising for a big name supplement company.

Popularity, though, does not always equal quality. As was mentioned earlier, the reason name brand supplements cost more is mainly to offset the overhead marketing cost and endorsements.

The more popular brands also tend to be the ones that release new products that are featured in fitness magazines with a lengthy report that outlines some of the so-called breakthroughs discussed earlier.

These reports are often accompanied by before and after photos, scientific illustrations, and detailed explanations of the new ingredient that is glamorized as being the next fountain of youth.

Unfortunately, its not uncommon for the studies backing these supplements to be company-funded which can result in them being heavily biased.

This isn’t to paint high name supplement brands in a broad brush and say they’re all shady. It’s just to point out that the ingredients in a supplement are more important than the popularity of a company..

This is a big reason I created my supplement line Bro Labs. I wanted to create supplements that had scientifically proven ingredients and weren't overpriced like many supplement companies. .

Mistake #5: Using a Pre-Workout Supplement With Ineffective Dosages

Some supplements do not contain optimum dosages. When it comes to caffeine, some brands contain as little as 40mg, roughly half the amount contained in an 8-ounce cup of coffee.

While this may suffice for some people, it’s hardly enough to really amp you up especially if you’re a big guy. Some people naturally respond to caffeine better than others, but a good amount per serving is about 150mg to 200mg.

The maximum recommended daily amount is 400mg, so this leaves room for a second serving should you need it later in the day.

The same goes for other ingredients commonly found in pre-workout supplements. Creatine is another typical ingredient. Some contain as little as one or two grams per serving.

This isn’t big deal if you supplement separately with a creatine monohydrate product, but studies suggest you need at a minimum 3 grams per day.

Supplements with too small of a dosage may require you to take 1.5 or 2 servings. This means using up the product more quickly and having to buy more.

Taking more than a single serving in one sitting also potentially means overdosing on other ingredients. A pre-workout supplement may only have 40mg of caffeine but 100% of your daily serving of, say, retinol acid (vitamin A).

If you take 1.5 or 2 servings, then you are sure to get way more vitamin A then your body needs. Vitamin A overdose has been linked to liver damage and bone pain.

Mistake #6: Being Swayed by a Unique Propriety Blend

one hundred dollars banknote as a bait in mousetrap concept

What does it mean when a product contains a propriety blend? They’re quite common and every brand seems to have their own unique blend that seemingly distinguishes it from the competitors.

A propriety blend just basically means that the supplement contains a blend of ingredients that are listed under a single name.

The propriety blend usually has some cool sounding name along with the patented symbol indicating that the blend is protected by a trademark.

Here’s the thing: propriety blends are mostly a gimmick. This isn’t to say they’re all worthless; it’s to say that they’re just a way for the company to advertise its latest product as being revolutionary due to having a propriety blend containing secretly guarded ingredients.

Even when the ingredients are listed, the exact amount of each of those ingredients is often not listed. Instead, the label lists the sum total amount of all the ingredients combined.

When it comes to pre-workout drinks, caffeine is often among the ingredients, which means the amount is not listed. You always want to know how much caffeine you’re getting because you don’t want to risk overdosing if you also consume caffeine from other sources.

Another common occurrence is to list an ingredient, but not provide the clinically effective dosage. If a supplement lists an ingredient within a proprietary blend, there is no way of knowing if you are getting the right amount of that ingredient to see results.

Any supplement company worth its salt should be completely transparent and fully disclose everything that goes into its product along with its exact dosage of every ingredient. You should always know what you are getting with each serving

Mistake #7: Using a Pre-Workout Supplement Without Compatible Ingredients

You can’t simply mishmash ingredients together simply because they have all been proven to have a positive effect on the body. Some ingredients are better absorbed by the body when combined with other ingredients..

It was recently discovered, for example, that a substance found in grapefruit, known as narangin, actually keeps caffeine in the body for longer periods, thus prolonging its effects..

One ingredient in Rebellion, called black pepper extract, has been shown to increase the absorption of certain nutrients and ingredients.

There are also ingredients that should not be combined as they may compete for absorption with one cancelling out the other.

Caffeine has been shown to inhibit the absorption of iron, so combining it with caffeine is clearly not a smart blend. Many supplement makers incorporate blends that do not take such factors into consideration.

Mistake #8: Using a Pre-Workout Supplement With Unnatural or Synthetic Ingredients

Deadly poison in bottles on black background

Not all ingredients are created equal. Take vitamin C, for example; the vitamin in supplement form comes in a synthetic variety known as ascorbic acid.

While ascorbic acid is labelled as vitamin C, it is actually missing 80% of vitamin C’s molecular structure.

The same holds true for many other ingredients, especially those that are found in pre-workout supplements.

Once again, caffeine is placed at the forefront of the discussion because the stimulant is available in a variety of forms.

There is natural caffeine, such as that found in coffee, and there is synthetic caffeine made via chemical or biochemical synthesis. Synthetic caffeine is the variety found in your typical energy drink or shot (i.e. Red Bull, 5 Hour Energy, Monster, etc.).

While synthetic caffeine is known to produce a quicker spike in energy, it also results in a greater crash and side effects, such as jitteriness, sleeplessness, nervousness, and all the other symptoms that natural caffeine has been vilified for.

Natural caffeine, such as those derived from green tea, black coffee beans, and yerba mate, are far better sources that provides a sustained release of energy.

Liquid Caffeine vs Caffeine Anhydrous

Here’s something else to digest(no pun intended): even natural caffeine comes in different forms. There’s natural caffeine and there’s caffeine anhydrous. The latter is basically the caffeine dehydrated and reduced to powder form.

Caffeine anhydrous is mainly the type found in products like Rebellion and Tea Rexx.

According to a study conducted by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, anhydrous caffeine is more effective in low to moderate doses compared to coffee for subjects performing time-trial athletic performances and exhaustive exercises.

With this in mind, when a pre-workout supplement contains caffeine as a primary ingredient, there are two things you should be looking for:

  1. Is it natural or synthetic caffeine? and
  2. Is the caffeine in liquid or caffeine anhydrous form?

With the second point, if the product comes as powder or pill, then it’s obviously caffeine anhydrous.

Mistake #9: Buying a Supplement Solely Based on User Reviews

Muscular Male holding supplements

What’s wrong with user reviews? Don’t they provide an unbiased feedback of the product?

Here’s the thing: many brands encourage their affiliates and endorsers to submit a review. Obviously, these are going to be biased.

In some cases, the reviews are even written by freelance writers who never even tried the product and basically write a fake review based on what other reviewers have written.

Have you ever looked up a product on Amazon and noticed that it has an enormous amount of perfect five-star ratings and very few one and two-star reviews? Could it be that the product really is that good?

Sure, that’s possible, but more likely a bulk of the reviews came from people affiliated in one way or another with the product.

The same applies to workout supplements. You have to be very careful when reading the reviews. Phony reviewers are even becoming smarter.

Instead of saying nothing but good about the product, reviewers will paint the product in a mostly positive light but also list a few minor and overlookable negatives so as not to come off as an obviously biased review.

No matter how good a product actually is, it will have a few people who either expected the product to be a magic pill or for one reason or another just didn’t feel its effects.

Even with a product like Rebellion, the reviews may not be perfect, but there is a comfort in knowing that the reviews came from real people who gave it an honest try.

Choose Wisely

Some pre-workout Rebellion-3-Packsupplements give you a bolt of energy to help push you through a rigorous workout. Other supplements are crap and, at best, provide you energy simply from the placebo effect..

With Rebellion, every ingredient has been scientifically proven in INDEPENDENT studies..

This is a product that will give you a kick to the rear for those days when going to the gym is the last thing you feel like doing.

If you want razor-sharp focus and feel absolutely pumped for an impending strength training or HIIT, then pick up a bottle of Rebellion.

After just a single serving, you will never want to work out without it again!