A great pre workout can make you feel unstoppable, helping you power through a great workout on those days when you didn’t feel like going to the gym.
A bad pre workout, however, can leave you feeling flatter than a witch’s tit.
So whenever you find a pre that truly delivers, it makes sense to cherish it.
There are many areas of the fitness industry which need a kick up the proverbial backside, but the pre workout sector is by far the main culprit here, with hundreds of below-par supplements and energy drinks filling the shelves that do little to enhance performance nor deliver on the big claims they make on the packaging.
So when the folks at Adapt Nutrition got in touch to ask if I would run their new pre workout through my deliberately harsh supplement rating system, I was happy to oblige on the condition that I can be as brutally honest about the product as I always like to be in my supplement reviews.
After all, when a company reaches out to me openly knowing that I’ll tear the formula to shreds if it doesn’t deliver, I take it as a sign that they are supremely confident in their product.
Today, you’ll get my full, uncut Adapt Nutrition Pre Train review, and we’ll see how it fares against the the best pre workout supplements available today.
The Pre Workout Problem
Bad pre workout supplements tend to fall into one of two traps:
- It made me sick
- It did nothing at all
It’s tricky to determine which of the two situations above is nastier.
Would you rather pay top dollar for a product that makes you feel more jittery than Grandma playing Jenga? Or would you like to spend money on a pre that delivers all the hard-edged intensity of a Jennifer Aniston rom-com?
Heck, this hit-and-miss scenario is the main reason that I regularly make my own pre workout drink using individual ingredients.
While there are certainly good energy-boosting supplements out there to be used, the marketplace is booming and we inevitably have tons of manufacturers rushing low-grade products out to the masses to cash in on the trend.
Supplements are usually loaded with sugar and caffeine, then followed-up with extremely hypey (word?) advertising campaigns, hoping to carry their product on that hype alone.
One of the telltale signs of a bad pre workout is when a supplement manufacturer chooses to hide their nutrition information behind what’s known as a proprietary blend.
They’ll tell you, the consumer, that this is to preserve their top secret creation and stop competitors from stealing it. And yes, when pre workouts were new on the scene, this made perfect sense.
But nowadays, it’s common knowledge that most pre workout supplements are largely based around the same list of key ingredients, so if they’re hiding the formula it’s because they don’t want you to see how terrible it is. Some will even include a banned substance or two.
When looking at any pre workout which claims to be at the top of the line in terms of performance enhancement, its important to know that we now live in an age where if a company has a great formula, they’ll let their numbers do the talking (a great example of this is the marketing behind Jim Stoppani’s Pre Jym).
Adapt Nutrition Pre Train Review
Which brings me to Adapt Nutrition Pre Train…
It is always refreshing to see a product arrive on the scene which lays everything out in such a transparent manner.
There are no proprietary blends, no hidden ingredients.
Adapt Nutrition fully embrace the new wave of the supplement industry by getting behind the concept that your formula is your strongest selling point, and they deserve huge praise for doing this in an industry where too many manufacturers still take the easy way out.
But before I give that praise, let’s look at the formula itself.
Each serving provides you with:
- 3g arginine
- 1.5g citrulline malate
- 1g betaine
- 140mg bitter orange peel
- 1.5g beta-alanine
- 300mg caffeine
Here’s a quick rundown of all the main ingredients.
- 3g Arginine
Arginine is a nitric oxide booster that’s found in lots of preworkout supplements. Why do you need to boost nitric oxide before a workout?
Well, this will cause your blood cells widen, allowing for greater delivery of nutrients while you workout. (1)
This means greater performance and, as such, arginine has been included in a ton of preworkout supplements since the first boom of N.O. boosters hit the market in the mid-2000’s.
At 3 grams, the argnine dosage in Pre Train is not high enough to produce maximum effectiveness due to arginine’s poor absorption rates.
For that, we must rely on the next ingredient…
- 1.5g Citrulline Malate
Consider citrulline arginine’s bigger, better model.
This amino acid will perform many of the same jobs as arginine with one crucial difference – once inside the body, most of our arginine dose is lost on it’s way to the working muscles. In fact, one study suggests that as little as 1% arginine survives it’s journey through the liver and intestines. (2)
Citrulline, on the other hand, has a much greater rate of absorption. (3)
Citrulline allows you to gain the benefits of arginine supplementation better than using arginine itself, and among those benefits are greater training endurance, faster recovery between sets and a better pump.
The drawback here is that the citrulline dose in Pre Train isn’t high enough at just 1.5g to yield the maximum effectiveness.
Sure, we are also get arginine and the two will work together as a 4.5g tag team to open up your blood cells and increase the delivery of key nutrients while training, but if we really want to get the most bang for our buck we’d be looking to remove arginine from the formula and replace it with a citrulline malate dosage of around 6 grams.
- 1g Betaine
Betaine shows promise when it comes to boosting athletic performance levels.
One useful study from the University of Connecticut found that using betaine before training was able to help participants boost their strength output by around 25%, while a further study noted that it is particularly useful during sprint performance. It has since been a mainstay in the supplement plan of most track athletes ever since. (4, 5)
Optimal dosage is around 2.5g per day.
While Pre Train does only give us 1g betaine, note that it also includes choline, which is broken down by the body to derive more betaine. This is an interesting combo, but once again the total dosage is on the light side to see the full potential of the mixture.
- 140mg Bitter orange peel
If you have ever used a fat burner before, you’ll be familiar with bitter orange peel.
This energy-boosting substance is a less potent relation of the banned substance ephedrine, and it’s benefits include increased fat loss and focus. It has similarities with caffeine, but those effects will only be felt if you are caffeine naive. (6)
At 140mg, the dosage here is significant enough to get the job done.
- 1.5g Beta-alanine
Beta-alanine is responsible for the tingly, skin-crawling sensation you experience with most pre workout supplements.
But while most companies throw it in there for that purpose alone, it does have some pretty useful training benefits if the dosage is correct!
Most notably, supplementing your workouts with beta-alanine has been shown to buffer your resistance to lactic acid build-up, meaning your muscles are able to withstand “the burn” to a greater degree. (7)
It’s worth mentioning that through regular beta-alanine supplementation you will gradually lose that tingly effect (paresthesia), but you will continue to see the full training benefits it offers.
At 1.5g per serving, Adapt Nutrition have given Pre Train enough beta-alanine to reap some (but not all, as the clinical dose is 3.2g) of the results it offers, without making the dosage so high that it blows your head off.
- 300mg Caffeine
Caffeine is the king of ingredients in any pre workout, and they really haven’t messed about here.
At 300mg, Pre Train sits right at the top of the marketplace in terms of caffeine content, making it a supplement which is certainly not for the feint-hearted.
Caffeine will boost everything from your ability to focus, to your energy levels and even fat loss. That being said, your experience with caffeine supplementation depends largely on your tolerance levels. (8)
If you are already consuming plenty of caffeine through your diet (tea, coffee, etc) then you will not get as much of a “kick” from the caffeine in your pre workout as somebody who is more caffeine naive.
(Some of my clients find that 200mg is enough to power them through a session, while others need a bit more.)
Needless to say, 300mg is a whopping dosage and it makes Pre Train the go-to choice if you ever find yourself playing a teenager in a Freddy Krueger movie.
- 1g Taurine
Taurine is often included in pre workouts and energy drinks, so it’s no surprise to see it here.
That’s because it’s a well known focus enhancer. (9)
However, it’s an ingredient which should not be included in any product which relies on caffeine as it’s primary energy source. That’s because taurine is an antagonist of caffeine, and actually opposes some of it’s effects. (10)
The potential training benefits of caffeine far outweigh those offered by taurine, so it makes sense to prioritize caffeine and knock taurine off the ingredient list.
Sadly, supplement manufacturers fail to have caught onto this research and continue to include it in their formulas.
- B Vitamins/Niacin
Finally, we have a mixture of B vitamins and niacin to round out the formula.
Like taurine, these are yet more ingredients which do present value if taken on a regular basis, but do not deserve to be part of a pre workout formula.
B vitamins are thrown in because they can boost energy, and this allows supplement companies (and energy drink manufacturers) to use marketing phrases about increased energy.
But as long as you obtain enough B vitamins throughout the day, you’ll get the full rewards. There are no advantages to consuming them before you train.
Niacin, on the other hand, is included for nothing other than it’s ability to create a flushing, tingling effect similar to that of beta-alanine.
When a product is under-dosed in beta-alanine, the inclusion of niacin can mask this by temporarily enhancing the tingling effect and making the consumer “feel” the product kicking in.
Both ingredients here are superficial.
Adapt Nutrition Pre Train Review – The Final Verdict
This is a good supplement.
Particularly if your workouts are typically under an hour, and based around high intensity interval training.
It could be better, of course.
The dosage of citrulline/arginine mean it won’t be as effective for those workouts which never seem to end, and if you used this before a mammoth gym session I believe you’d find yourself face down in a bin looking for sugar before the end of your gym time.
But that’s not really what Pre Train was designed for.
The combo of caffeine, beta-alanine, betaine and bitter orange peel mean this is a pre workout supplement which will wake you the f**k up, and fast.
It’s un-be-lievable for HIIT workouts.
In fact, every single participant in a group of my male and female clients that trialed this supplement gave it a big thumbs up.
That does not happen very often.
As such, Adapt Nutrition Pre Train receives a very nice 3 stars on my supplement rating system, and I’ll even go as far as saying that Pre Train is among the best pre workout supplements developed in the UK in the last 2-3 years.
- Alvares, T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Feb;37(1):115-26.
- Castillo, L., et al. Splanchnic metabolism of dietary arginine in relation to nitric oxide synthesis in normal adult man. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1993; 90: 193–7.
- Sureda, A., et al. Arginine and citrulline supplementation in sports and exercise: ergogenic nutrients? Med Sport Sci. 2012;59:18-28. doi: 10.1159/000341937. Epub 2012 Oct 15.
- Lee, E. C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jul 19;7:27.
- Armstrong, LE, et al. Influence of betaine consumption on strenuous running and sprinting in a hot environment. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 May;22(3):851-60.
- Stohs, S. J., et al. Effects of p-synephrine alone and in combination with selected bioflavonoids on resting metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate and self-reported mood changes. Int J Med Sci. (2011).
- Hoffman, J., et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Dec;29(12):952-8. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1038678.
- Beaven, C. M., et al. Dose effect of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol responses to resistance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Apr;18(2):131-41.
- Kim, S., et al. Taurine Induces Anti-Anxiety by Activating Strychnine-Sensitive Glycine Receptor in Vivo. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. August 29, 2009, 380.
- Giles G. E., et al. Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Oct;102(4):569-77. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 20.