8 Best Nootropics For (Pre-) Workout In 2024

Updated July 8, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 8 minutes)

In this article, I'll examine the 8 best nootropics for pre-workout. I'll also cover the potential risks and side effects you may run into, as well as the benefits you can expect.

Are you looking for an edge in the gym? If so, Nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers or smart drugs, can provide just that.

These substances can improve focus, energy, and motivation for a better workout experience. They can also improve cognitive function, allowing for better mind-muscle connection and technique during exercises.

Let's take a look at the 8 best nootropics for pre-workout and see what they have to offer.

The best nootropics for pre-workout, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • VyvaMind
  • Creatine
  • Caffeine
  • Phenibut
  • Alpha GPC
  • L-Theanine
  • Modafinil
  • CDP-Choline

1. VyvaMind

VyvaMind is a nootropic blend. A nootropic blend combines cognitive-enhancing ingredients to create a synergistic effect. In VyvaMind, this includes nootropic ingredients such as:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Citicoline 
  • L-Theanine 
  • Caffeine Anhydrous

Usually, pre-workout supplements contain caffeine as their main energizing ingredient. VyvaMind uses caffeine as just one component in a blend of powerful nootropics to boost energy and focus.

The biggest difference is the energy boost, improved cognitive function, and overall mental clarity without the jitters or crashes often associated with caffeine.

VyvaMind also uses the anhydrous form of caffeine. Anhydrous simply means "without water." So, caffeine anhydrous is just purer and more concentrated than regular caffeine powder or pills.

If you're doing heavy compound lifts and need improved focus and mental clarity, VyvaMind is definitely worth a try.

VyvaMind Pros

  • Uses all-natural ingredients
  • Combines multiple nootropics for a synergistic effect
  • Improves cognitive function and mental clarity
  • Improves energy without jitters or crashes
  • Uses a more potent form of caffeine

VyvaMind Cons

  • Not ideal for people on a budget

VyvaMind in Summary

VyvaMind combines multiple powerful ingredients for improved focus, energy, and cognitive function as a nootropic blend. It's not the most budget-friendly option, but it may be worth it for those looking for a high-quality and all-natural pre-workout nootropic.

2. Creatine

Creatine is a compound that is found naturally in the body. It’s mostly found in muscle tissue, but it’s also found in the brain.

Creatine is important for energy production in the body. It helps to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's energy currency. When ATP is broken down, it releases energy that can be used by the cells in the body.[1]

Creatine has been shown to improve cognitive performance, short-term memory, and attention span.[2] It can also help to protect the brain from age-related decline and damage. Β 

Creatine is also effective for pre-workout because it helps improve muscle energy production. When you take creatine before working out, your muscles will have more ATP available for energy production.

This means you’ll be able to work out harder and for longer periods. Creatine has been shown to improve exercise performance by up to 10-15%.[3]

Creatine Pros

  • Well-established safety profile
  • Naturally found in the body Improves cognitive function and memory
  • Enhances exercise performance

Creatine Cons

  • Some people may experience water retention

Creatine in Summary

Not only used for muscle building and exercise performance, creatine can also improve cognitive function. It’s a naturally-occurring compound in the body and has a well-established safety profile. However, some people may experience water retention when taking creatine supplements.

3. Phenibut

Phenibut is a popular nootropic that is sometimes used as a pre-workout supplement. Phenibut works by modulating neurotransmitters in the brain.

Phenibut is structurally similar to GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate anxiety levels. By binding to GABA receptors, Phenibut is thought to mimic the effects of GABA and reduce anxiety.

Additionally, Phenibut increases levels of dopamine, another neurotransmitter that plays a role in pre-workout motivation and focus.

Some research indicates that taking a GABA supplement orally can lead to higher levels of growth hormone in the blood and increased protein synthesis.[4]

However, more research is needed to determine the specific effects of Phenibut on exercise performance.

Phenibut Pros

  • Helps reduce anxiety and improve focus
  • Enhances exercise performance (preliminary research)
  • Relaxes muscles

Phenibut Cons

  • Can be habit-forming if taken in high doses

Phenibut in Summary

Commonly used for its anti-anxiety effects, Phenibut also enhances exercise performance and relaxes muscles. It works by modulating neurotransmitters like GABA and dopamine. However, it can be habit-forming if taken in high doses.

4. Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is a choline-containing supplement that is often used as a nootropic. It is known to increase levels of acetylcholine (ACh), a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning.

Research indicates that Alpha GPC can enhance athletic performance by increasing power output and reducing fatigue at dosages of 600 mg or greater.[5]

When taken before exercise, it can help to improve focus and mental clarity. Alpha GPC has also been shown to improve mitochondrial oxygen consumption oxygen, which can help delay the onset of fatigue.[6]

As a result, it is not surprising that Alpha GPC is often used as a pre-workout supplement by athletes and bodybuilders.

While more research is needed to confirm its efficacy, there is no doubt that Alpha GPC can be beneficial for those looking to improve their cognitive function and physical performance.

Alpha GPC Pros

  • Improves cognitive function and memory
  • Enhances exercise performance
  • Improves mitochondrial oxygen consumption

Alpha GPC Cons

  • Some people need high doses for it to be effective

Alpha GPC in Summary

Alpha GPC is a choline-containing supplement that can enhance cognitive function and physical performance. It works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and mitochondrial oxygen consumption.

5. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid that can be found in tea leaves. It is a nootropic, which means it helps to support cognitive function. L-Theanine has been shown to improve focus and attention while also reducing stress and anxiety.[7]

When taken before a workout, L-Theanine can help you to stay focused and motivated throughout your session. The amino acid helps to increase levels of dopamine, GABA and serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and cognitive function.[8]

L-Theanine also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. This can lead to improved recovery from exercise and reduced soreness.

L-Theanine Pros

  • Improves focus and attention
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Enhances mood and cognitive function
  • Improves recovery from exercise

L-Theanine Cons

  • Can cause drowsiness in high doses

L-Theanine in Summary

A popular nootropic, L-Theanine can improve focus and attention while reducing stress and anxiety. It can enhance cognitive function and mood, and also aid in recovery from exercise.

7. Modafinil

Modafinil is what many consider the β€œking” of nootropics.

It is a prescription medication used to treat sleep disorders, but it has also been shown to enhance cognitive function and improve wakefulness.

A study found that taking modafinil before exercise lengthened the time it took to reach exhaustion by 85% and reduced RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). The lower RPE suggests that the feeling of fatigue was likely reduced, thereby enhancing performance.[9]

Modafinil is not only effective for physical performance but can also enhance focus and attention during exercise. It works by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.[10]

However, it can be difficult to obtain due to its prescription status and should only be used under medical supervision.

Modafinil Pros

  • Enhances cognitive function
  • Improves wakefulness
  • Can enhance physical performance and reduce fatigue during exercise

Modafinil Cons

  • Requires a prescription, which can make it difficult to obtain

Modafinil in Summary

Considered a wakefulness agent, modafinil can enhance cognitive function and improve physical performance during exercise. It works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.

8. CDP-Choline

CDP-Choline, also known as Citicoline, is a nootropic substance that has become increasingly popular as a pre-workout supplement.

CDP-Choline is thought to work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). In addition, CDP-Choline is also a precursor to Phosphatidylcholine (PC), which is a major component of neuronal cell membranes.

Phosphatidylcholine is essential for maintaining the structure and integrity of neuronal cell membranes, and it also plays a role in signal transduction.

In the context of exercise, CDP-Choline has been shown to delay fatigue and improve physical performance.[11]

CDP-Choline Pros

  • Improves focus and attention
  • Enhances cognitive function
  • Delays fatigue and improves physical performance

CDP-Choline Cons

  • Can take several weeks to reach full efficacy

CDP-Choline in Summary

CDP-Choline, or Citicoline, can improve focus and attention while enhancing cognitive function. It has also been shown to delay fatigue and improve physical performance. However, it may take several weeks for the full effects to be felt.

What Are the Best Nootropics for Pre-Workout?


The best nootropics for pre-workout are:

  1. VyvaMind
  2. Creatine
  3. Caffeine
  4. Phenibut
  5. Alpha GPC
  6. L-Theanine
  7. Modafinil
  8. CDP-Choline

My list contains a combination of nootropics that can enhance cognitive function and physical performance and delay fatigue.

It is important to note that some of these substances, like Modafinil and Phenibut, should only be used sparingly and under medical supervision as they can be habit-forming or have other potential side effects.

As always, consult with a medical professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

How to Choose the Right Nootropic Supplement for Pre-Workout?

The best way to choose a nootropic supplement for pre-workout is to look at each ingredient and determine how it may benefit your specific goals and needs.

Some important factors to consider include the potential side effects of each substance, proper dosage guidelines, and whether or not a prescription is needed.

I highly recommend looking into nootropic blends like VyvaMind, which have been specifically formulated for physical and cognitive enhancement during exercise.

With nootropic blends, you get more bang for your buck as they contain a combination of effective nootropics, and you can rest assured that the ingredients have been carefully selected and tested for safety and efficacy.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics for Pre-Workout?

The benefits of nootropics for pre-workout include improved cognitive function, enhanced physical performance, delayed fatigue, and improved focus and attention.

Nootropics can also have a positive effect on mood, which can help with motivation during exercise.

Overall, incorporating nootropics into your pre-workout routine can lead to better results and a more enjoyable workout experience.

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics for Pre-Workout?

Nootropics' most common side effects include headaches, nausea, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Some nootropics, like Modafinil and Phenibut, have the potential for addiction or dependence and should be used cautiously.

Nootropics like L-Theanine can cause drowsiness, so it is important to get your dose right if you use it as a pre-workout supplement.

Do Nootropics Really Work for Pre-Workout?

Yes, some nootropics have been shown to improve cognitive function, physical performance, focus, and attention in the context of exercise.

However, it is important to note that individual results may vary, and nootropics should be used as a supplement to an overall healthy lifestyle, not as a replacement for proper diet and exercise.

Most of the nootropics on my list help to enhance the effects of exercise, but they still require consistent and dedicated effort in the gym to achieve desired results.

Final Thoughts

So what do we know about using nootropics for pre-workout?

A variety of nootropic substances can enhance cognitive function and physical performance and delay fatigue during exercise. Most of the nootropics on the market have minimal side effects, but some, like Modafinil and Phenibut, should be used cautiously.

Choosing the right nootropic supplement for pre-workout involves considering your specific goals and needs and researching proper dosage guidelines and potential side effects.

Overall, incorporating nootropics into your pre-workout routine can lead to improved results and a more enjoyable workout experience.

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