They’re a staple of fitness performance, but what is the best pre-workout for weight gain?
Today we’re looking at how your pre-workout can help you gain weight, improve recovery, and offer benefits beyond a hype training session.
We’ll be covering some of your most important questions: what do they do? How do I know which to buy? And, crucially, which is best?
Let’s dive straight in…
Pre-Workout Supplements: What Do They Do – and How?
The idea of a pre-workout is to improve workout performance. They combine a range of ingredients that are either stimulatory of performance-enhancing, driving improvements in at least one area:
- Power output
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Conditioning and anaerobic endurance
- Time to exhaustion and maximum endurance
Most good pre workout supplements cover the whole range of these benefits. Especially caffeinated pre-workouts, which improve performance across the range of different exercises and training styles.
No-caffeine supplements have a reduced range of benefits, and many of the best results we’re talking about do involve caffeine somewhere, in this article.
Recommended: If you’re avoiding supplements, here are some natural pre-workout alternatives to help you improve your workout performance.
How To Gain Weight
Weight gain happens when your calorie intake is higher than your calorie output (also called a calorie surplus). There are a few ways that pre-workout supplements can affect this, but they’re all indirect. Pre-workouts are not weight gainer supplements.
They can be used to support weight gain – especially muscle gain – but won’t directly boost weight gain. What they can do is support better muscle gain. This points to an important distinction: weight gain quantity and weight gain quality.
If you wanted to gain the most weight in the shortest amount of time you might start drinking condensed milk. But, most people want to gain muscle weight, not just fat. This is a key factor in how you gain high-quality weight…
How Does Gaining Weight Work?
You gain weight by eating more calories than you use. However, weight gain happens as a result of many types of weight.
Muscle gain is the most popular, because it’s the healthiest and most functional kind of weight gain. It makes you better at things, improves your health, and gives you closer control over your metabolism and weight change into the future.
There are 2 major controlling factors in muscle gain – and these are important for how pre-workouts affect weight gain:
- Mechanical tension: the physics of tension on muscles when they’re loaded with resistance
- Metabolic change: your muscles’ chemical structures adapting to energy needs
Any way you can improve either of these factors – both the demand they can carry and your ability to recover from them – the better. This is how pre-workout supplements are best suited to improve weight gain quality.
As we’ll see, there’s an indirect benefit and it’s going to be important to your selection of pre-workout supplement on a bulk…
Can Pre-Workout Supplements Support Weight Gain?
Yes – pre-workout supplements have a major role in the quality of your weight gain and an indirect, minor one in your weight gain quantity. It’s the focus on muscle gain that will make pre-workouts effective for improving your weight gain diet and habits.
1. Better Workouts, Better Results
Better workouts are the tool of improving weight gain with pre-workouts. They drive a series of changes that improve performance. If you’re looking for better weight gain, improving your training is one of the best ways to do this. Better workouts drive better results – as long as your diet and sleep are in order.
For example, when we improve the amount of work done (also called volume) from workouts, we improve the stimulus to build muscle. This also improves changes in areas like tendons and bones, which contribute to weight gain and other positive change during strength-building exercise.
A good pre-workout supports higher-volume training, driving up both mechanical tension and metabolic change. It also supports better strength and strength-endurance, putting more weight on the bar and on your muscles.
Longer, heavier resistance workouts lead to better results. Compounded over months, this can be a significant difference to your results.
2. Metabolic Change with Pre-Workouts
It’s not just about your performance, however. Many of the most popular ingredients in pre-workout, like caffeine, change your metabolism. While caffeine typically increases calorie output, it also increases the uptake of carbs and fats into muscles.
This is a powerful tool for improving your muscular cell response. This makes them stronger, but it also contributes to their adaptations after a workout. There are a few things this changes:
- Carb uptake and replenishment
- Triglyceride and ketone levels
- Cell metabolism
- Changes to mitochondrial density and Type-1 fiber size
- Cell volume: the size of individual cells
- Electrolyte function – improving cell volume even further
What’s interesting about this is that each of these changes is related to better muscle growth. Cell volume, for example, is linked to muscle protein synthesis. It communicates the same abundance and growth-environment as protein or carb levels.
3. Post Workout Recovery
You’ll also improve areas like recovery after a workout with some of the most popular pre-workout supplement ingredients. These overlap between caffeine and other forms of performance-enhancer.
For example, compounds like citrulline are powerful nitric oxide boosters. This improves blood flow to the muscles, as well as improving the permeability of blood vessels.
This improves your ability to shuttle nutrients into tired muscles and improve their recovery. It’s also a powerful way to support strength-endurance and cell volume via the historical bodybuilding favorite, sick pumps.
Beta-alanine, on the other hand, buffers muscular fatigue. This helps reduce muscle damage and kickstarts a more effective recovery process. It supports better muscle metabolism in the ways that matter most for repair, recovery, and growth.
It also boosts repeated bout performance, muscular endurance, and blood flow.
These are great ingredients for promoting better quality muscle growth and workout-to-workout performance.
These should inform your choice of pre-workout when trying to gain weight. A pre-workout that contains these ingredients and caffeine is going to provide enormous benefits.
4. Nutrient Support: Vitamins and Minerals
The last thing you should look for is appropriate vitamin and mineral support. These are less glamorous but incredibly important.
Vitamins help regulate metabolism, driving your energy balance. This is key for better health, as well as improving long-term performance and recovery. Meanwhile, minerals are both important directly and include the essential electrolytes you need.
Electrolytes are the most important salts in the body, controlling cell hydration and muscle function. This makes them key players in cell volume, which we just discussed, and proper recovery. For example, the balance of magnesium and calcium determines how well you recover from exercise.
Meanwhile, sodium and potassium control hydration, supporting muscle growth, as well as replacing lost salts from sweat.
Here’s the secret: good pre-workouts for muscle gain are about better workouts and better recovery. They support proper regulation of fatigue and then improve your balance of inputs and outputs.
There’s nothing special here, that’s how all of nutrition works. However, most people forget this when looking for a pre-workout supplement.
Recommended: Checkout more on the topic: Does Pre Workout Make You Gain Weight?
What Is the Best Pre-Workout for Weight Gain? Our Review
The best pre-workout for weight gain is Transparent Labs’ BULK Pre-workout, due to it’s balance between being a bulking supplement as well as a pre-workout supplement.
The product improves your workout performance, provides essential vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, gives you a great pump in the gym. All of these benefits help improve your workout, leading to better muscle gains.
This is my best rated pre workout for weight gain. It’s designed to complement a weight gain diet in all the ways that we’ve just mentioned. This is obvious from the ingredient label, which reflects many of the most important things to look for:
This is a fine balance of the main benefits we’ve already outlined. Benefits are split between vitamins and minerals, performance enhancers, and recovery aids. This particular product also provides mental performance support.
This is a secondary set of benefits that is both great for mental performance, but also recovery. Your recovery after a workout is not only physical, but also mental. You need to shift gears into a relaxing mindset, and this is easier with the support of compounds like theanine, tyrosine, and theobromine (a mild muscle relaxant).
It’s a relatively low caffeine supplement, so you may want to add your own. This does make it more versatile, however, which is a great benefit.
Another great pre workout for gaining weight, Nutrex Outlift is a high-stim pre-workout, the opposite of BULK’s low-caffeine formula. This means it’s more focused on amping you up, and this offers the wakefulness of caffeine as a main benefit.
Outlift also offers a combination of 3 major performance enhancing ingredients. These are citrulline, beta-alanine, and creatine. These cover strength-endurance, normal endurance, and recoverability between efforts.
These are great benefits to improve your workout, which is the main way this product improves your weight gain. It also contains mental support for workouts with theacrine, choline, and NALT. These are great for supporting energy levels alongside caffeine.
This is a powerful product and only comes in 2nd place for two reasons:
- It’s far harsher and you are more likely to experience caffeine side effects
- It has a much larger metabolic burn than BULK, which means you need to eat more
Outlift is still a great choice, but it’s going to need planning into your diet more carefully. The ingredients are effective and well-dosed, and I like this as an extreme pre-workout.
My 3rd and final recommendation for the best rated pre-workout for weight gain is Onnit’s Total Strength + Performance. The performance blend helps endurance and supports post-workout recovery, kickstarting growth after exercise.
Meanwhile, the power blend is a great mixture of hormonal support and protection. This is great for high-quality weight gain, protection from stress, and improved appetite. These all drive better weight gain after exercise.
The support blend is for general wellbeing. Luteolin is a popular neuroprotective and anti-stress compound, and may support cardiorespiratory health. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and has its own heart and blood vessel benefits, further improving recovery potential.
Onnit’s product is a great all-rounder pre-workout. It doesn’t offer any stimulant effects, which can be positive or negative (depending on your preference). It’s a great product for recovery and health, but doesn’t improve workouts as effectively as the other items on this list.
Due to the fact it’s not as hard as other products, this pre workout can be recommended for beginners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pre-workout good for gaining weight?
A pre-workout supplement makes your workouts better, which can make your weight gain better. This depends on the ingredients, however, and how your habits around workouts change because of it.
The pre-workout isn’t likely to increase calorie intake, but may have a range of other benefits that contribute to better muscle gain. This is also great for health, and supports better quality of weight gain.
Which supplement is best for muscle gain?
The best and most reliable supplements for better muscle gain include:
- A complete protein powder (ideally a collagen peptide)
- Caffeine (for better workouts)
- Citrulline Malate
- Electrolytes: sodium and potassium, then magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Supplements that use any – or all – of these offer distinct benefits. The combination is also important, especially with synergists. These are compounds that work better together th an apart. Examples include caffeine and theanine, or creatine and glycerine.
If you find ingredients that work together, you’ll experience better results. You should also look for effective doses and the way that these compounds affect you personally. There’s always a personal aspect to nutrition and you can’t beat a supplement that just works when you use it.
I’ve provided a lot of reviews on products that didn’t live up to the ingredients or claims from their manufacturer. There’s nothing wrong with getting some real-life experience and reviews!
Don’t forget to checkout the best pre-workout meals to gain weight.
Here’s the short version: the best pre-workout for weight gain is the one that makes your workouts better.
There’s no effective pre-workout that makes you gain weight because it’s a more complicated process than that. What you should be looking for is performance-enhancing ingredients that help you work harder, longer, and more often in the gym.
The quantity of weight gain depends on your calorie intake, but pre-workouts can improve the quality by improving workouts and the adaptations that happen in your muscle.
If you can get a pre-workout supplement that also improves post-workout recovery (with beta-alanine, citrulline, or creatine) then that’s even better.
You Might Like:
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- Transparent Labs Bulk Vs Lean: The Best Pre Workout?
- Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine Review
- Transparent Labs Bulk vs Pre JYM – Best Pre-Workout
- Transparent Labs Stim Free Pre Workout Review
Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.