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How to make your own homemade pre-workout

In a perfect world we would always be well rested, we would sleep 8 hours a night, eat the perfect diet and always be full of energy. We would have no need for a pre-workout supplement.

In reality we work night shifts, are on diets and without energy. We are stressed from our jobs, kids or our partner so we need that little extra boost.

Something that gives us energy and laser focus, when we go into the gym to give the best performance and get the best results. Be it losing weight or gaining muscle mass.

Now I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like to waste my money. Especially on useless bodybuilding supplements. I’m not the richest dude, far from it, so I want to get the best bang for my buck.

That’s the reason most if not all commercial pre-workouts don’t make the cut. Each of them are either:

  • Missing an important component
  • Pixie dusted ( as in, to low of a dosage to produce effect)
  • Loaded with useless stuff
  • Overpriced
  • All of the above

I was personally a big fan of Jack3d and DS Craze (in retrospect, all of us stim junkies know why).

So since none of the commercial pre-workout supplements could satisfy my needs, I decided to formulate my own homemade pre-workout formula through research (trial & error).

I will go by each ingredient, the dosage and reasons why its included, so you can decide for yourself, if and what you want to modify.

homemade pre-workout
Find your inner mad scientist and experiment!

My homemade pre-workout ingredients

Caffeine (A must)

Lets start with the most known, the most used, the most effective(legal) and the cheapest compound available.

Caffeine can help you lose weight by itself due to a number of positive metabolic effects on energy expenditure, as it increases thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and reduces energy intake (Harpaz et al., 2017).

But while It can increase energy expenditure on its own, every other thermogenic works better when combined with caffeine.

An upper daily limit should be set at 400-600mg depending on your body weight, while an optimal pre-workout dose should be 200-300mg, depending on your tolerance and body weight. There is not effective pre-workout without caffeine!

L-Tyrosine (A must)

It is a precursor amino acid for stimulatory neurotransmitters. Tyrosine is converted to L-DOPA which can then get converted into dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline, collectively also knows as catecholamines (Ramussen, et al., 1983).

It may also raise thyroid hormone production, since it’s also a precursor for its synthesis. Basically it amplifies the effects of other stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, etc.

L-Theanine (Recommended)

Its a relaxing agent that doesn’t sedate, and it also reduces the perception of stress and slightly improves attention.

Basically it’s role is to improve focus and to prevent jitters and anxiety because it can take the “edge” of due to the high amount of stimulants (Dietz, Dekker, 2017); (White et al., 2016).

Choline Bitartare (Recommended)

Every pre-workout needs a cholinergic compound, cholin bitartare is just one of them. Intake of cholinergic compounds increases acetylcholine which can lead to improvements in muscle power and contraction.

It could also potentially enhance fat loss due to its effect on lipid (fat) transport and metabolism.

Choline could favor an “incomplete oxidation of fatty acids and disposal of their carbons in urine as acylcarnitines in humns” which could help to increase the amount of fat loss on a diet (Hongu & Sachan, 2003).

In a 22 female athletes study (15 taekwondo and 7 judo athletes) who were selected from different weight categories and divided into two group, according to weight, the choline supplemented group lost more body fat, without suffering significant strength and lean body mass losses (Elsawy, Abdelrahman, Hamza, 2014).

Sodium (A must)

Yes you read that right, I want you to put salt in your pre-workout. Sodium helps to regulate a number of key functions in the body, including muscle contraction, nerve function, blood volume, and acid-base balance.

When you decrease your sodium intake, your body will compensate by excreting potassium, which will cause a decrease in the fluid volume of your muscle cells. This hurts their ability to grow.

Increasing sodium intake, therefore, can increase muscle size by adding more fluid volume. A higher volume of intracellular fluid also increases protein turnover, further spurring growth.

Another mechanism through which sodium can increase strength is by increasing extracellular fluid levels (fluid outside the cell membrane). This in turn improves the leverage in your joints, allowing you to move more weight on lifts.

These increases in fluid volume both inside and outside the cell have also been shown to reduce the incidence of muscle strains and tendon injuries by decreasing the friction exerted upon these tissues.

Finally, many critical amino acids are sodium-dependent. This means they are able to enter a muscle cell only when accompanied by a sodium molecule.

Nicotine (recommended)

A powerful ergogenic aid, can be used both for fat loss and for strength training due its ability to increase focus, concentration and work capability.

It is also very cheap, and a decent alternative if you cant manage to get your hands on Ephedrine. Nicotine helps with fat loss, through many mechanisms. All in all, a good thing to have in your pre workout.

SUGGESTED USE: Nicotine gum. You chew the gum a couple of times and then push it between your gums and cheek and leave it in place. When the gum starts to lose the tingling sensation, you can chew it again until that feeling comes back.

Ephedrine (recommended)*

Unfortunately where I live this isn’t legal, so I use nicotine, but I did manage to try it on vacation, so I can speak from experience. This has potential to bring the stack to a whole other level!

Ephedrine is a CNS stimulant similar to amphetamines, but it is less pronounced as it releases noradrenaline and dopamine.

It gives you more energy and can help with fat loss success since it increases metabolic rate by around 10% ( Astrup et al., 1986), thermogenesis, and oxygen consumption.

The increase is greater and lasts longer when combined with caffeine, so that’s why you it’s sensible to stack them together (Magkos, Kavouras, 2004).

*It may or may not be legal in your state/country depending on the law.

Yohimbine HCL (optional)

Yohimbine is an alpha-2 antagonist, meaning it inhibits the effect of alpha-2 receptors. This has many effects in the human body including to help mobilize stubborn bodyfat.

In women the stubborn body-fat ares are the hips and thighs, while in men lower back, and abs.

For yohimbine to work, you need to use it fasted, since even the tiniest insulin release from food or BCAA negates its effects.

On top of it, there is no point in using it with your pre-workout until you’re already lean and really only have the stubborn fat left.


Caffeine (300mg)

Ephedrine (25mg) / Nicotine (2mg)

L-Tyrosine (3g)

L-Theanine (300mg)

Choline (1g)

Yohimbine (0.2mg*kg)



Caffeine (300mg)

Ephedrine (25mg) / Nicotine (2mg)

L-Tyrosine (3g)

L-Theanine (300mg)

Choline (1g)

Sodium (3g)


Hopefully this article gave you a rough idea, on why it’s better to make your own homemade pre-workout. But as anything, this is not set in stone, this works for me, while you can always experiment.



  1. Harpaz, E., Tamir, S., Weinstein, A., & Weinstein, Y. (2017). The effect of caffeine on energy balance.Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology28(1), 1-10. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jbcpp.ahead-of-print/jbcpp-2016-0090/jbcpp-2016-0090.xml
  2. Ramussen, D.D., Ishizuka B., Quiegley, M.E., Yen, S.S.C (1983). Effects of Tyrosine and Tryptophan Ingestion on Plasma Catecholamine and 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid Concentrations http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jcem-57-4-760
  3. Dietz, C., & Dekker, M. (2017). Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition.Current pharmaceutical design. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28056735
  4. White, D. J., de Klerk, S., Woods, W., Gondalia, S., Noonan, C., & Scholey, A. B. (2016). Anti-stress, behavioural and magnetoencephalography effects of an l-theanine-based nutrient drink: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Nutrients8(1), 53. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/1/53/htm
  5. Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses.Biological psychology74(1), 39-45. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051106001451
  6. Hongu, N., & Sachan, D. S. (2003). Carnitine and choline supplementation with exercise alter carnitine profiles, biochemical markers of fat metabolism and serum leptin concentration in healthy women.The Journal of nutrition133(1), 84-89. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12514272
  7. Elsawy, G., Abdelrahman, O., & Hamza, A. (2014). Effect of choline supplementation on rapid weight loss and biochemical variables among female Taekwondo and Judo athletes.Journal of human kinetics40(1), 77-82. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/hukin.2014.40.issue-1/hukin-2014-0009/hukin-2014-0009.xml
  8. Magkos, F., & Kavouras, S. A. (2004). Caffeine and ephedrine.Sports Medicine34(13), 871-889. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200434130-00002
  9. Astrup, A., Madsen, J., Holst, J. J., & Christensen, N. J. (1986). The effect of chronic ephedrine treatment on substrate utilization, the sympathoadrenal activity, and energy expenditure during glucose-induced thermogenesis in man.Metabolism35(3), 260-265. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0026049586902118

Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

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