Back in 2015, Adapt Nutrition hit the pre workout scene with Pre Train.
Now they’re back with Pre Train V2.
But is this sequel more Terminator 2, or Grown Ups 2?
Let’s find out, with my official Adapt Nutrition Pre Train V2 review! This is a post I’ve been looking forward to writing, because the original (review here) broke a few boundaries with it’s transparent label and insistence on avoiding proprietary blends.
However, it wasn’t a perfect supplement by any means, and it scraped through my supplement rating system with a two star score in the end.
So what has changed in Pre Train v2?
Have Adapt Nutrition managed to.. err.. adapt to the advancements made in the supplement industry over the last few years? Can it perhaps even challenge the current top dogs of the pre workout marketplace?
As usual, I’ll take you through all the good points of Pre Train v2, all the bad points of it, and then put it through my always harsh supplement rating system to determine it’s overall quality.
Let’s get going!
Adapt Nutrition Pre Train V2 Review – The Good
Why do we get a sequel?
Sequels are not the done thing in the supplement business, unless a product has featured a now-banned ingredient and had to reformulate it’s blend.
Thankfully, that’s not the case. Nothing in the original Pre Train was unsafe or wound up being banned by USADA. The reason they’ve released this product as a sequel is because the original sold very well and no doubt they want to cash in on that new-found fame. Also, the formula does stick fairly closely to the original, tweaking just a few minor issues to help it keep up with the ever-changing supplement landscape.
As always, Adapt Nutrition stay true to their tactic of holding a transparent label.
That means no proprietary blends, and no hidden ingredients. You can see all 15 ingredients and their amounts very clearly.
From the ingredients list above, you can see that caffeine is the star of the show here.
Just like the original, we get a stacked 300mg serving to send you into the gym like Rocky Balboa charging up a Russian mountain peak.
Another bright move here is the inclusion of l-theanine. This is designed to take the edge off caffeine, and should prevent you from crashing face down in a dumpster after your session.
Beta-alanine has been upped to 2g per serving. This is more in line with the rest of the supplement industry. Even though the clinical dose is 3.2g, that’s too much for most people to handle (“Tingle Mania!”) and research now indicates that two smaller servings yields slightly greater absorption anyway, so 2 grams before training is just fine.
Also, there are no exotic stimulants in Pre Train v2, so this is a pre workout which is perfectly safe for athletes to use.
Pre workouts are notoriously difficult to monitor, because untested singular ingredients regularly go from ‘safe’ to ‘banned’ in the blink of an eye, so keeping all 15 ingredients completely within the guidelines and staying away from exotic stimulants means you won’t have to keep on eye on USADA.
Adapt Nutrition Pre Train v2 Review – The Bad
When I reviewed the original formula it got two stars.
It showed promise as a performance booster for HIIT workouts, but the lack of other key ingredients besides a heavy dose of caffeine meant it struggled to compete against the industry’s top products.
Times have changed since 2015, but Pre Train v2 falls victim to a few of the same old mistakes…
It’s a step in the right direction to disband the unnecessary combination of 3g arginine and 1.5g citrulline we saw in the first product. This time around we get a straight 4.5g citrulline malate.
But if you’re a regular reader of this site, we know that the full clinical dose for performance benefits is somewhere between 6-8g, so Pre Train still falls short in this respect.
Interestingly, Adapt Nutrition appear to be aware of this, as they have released an intra-workout supplement called Pump which contains an additional 2.2 grams of citrulline malate, hitting you in the pocket for an extra £22, rather than putting the entire thing in Pre Train itself.
Sadly, a lot of companies have taken to doing this.
This familiar tale of missing the key dosage runs on through the remainder of ingredients, too.
Betaine is a great inclusion and steps up the dose from the previous release, but at 1.5g is still short of a full clinical serving.
Any hopes of double scooping the product to achieve slightly beyond a full clinical dose of most ingredients (3g betaine, 4g beta-alanine, and 9g citrulline malate) are quickly dashed by the monstrous caffeine serving, which would inevitably also be doubled (to 600g!). This is a definite “one scooper.”
Now let’s break down all of the ingredients inside the tub, for a thorough look under the hood of Pre Train version 2.0.
Caffeine is the MVP in Pre Train v2.
At 300mg, you’ll receive more kick than a henchman in a Chuck Norris movie.
Caffeine really is the best stimulant of all time. It has been shown to improve mental focus, energy output, alertness, and even total calorie burn. (1, 2, 3, 4)
There’s even new research which suggests it can be used to increase max strength, too. (5, 6, 7)
It’s worth pointing out, though, that those strength benefits are only unlocked when the dose tops out at 400mg, which very few pre workouts ever dare to try. One such product is the phenomenal AML Pre Workout.
Of course, it does have a few downsides. One such downside is that the effectiveness of caffeine largely depends upon the tolerance of the user, meaning if you drink coffee like a horse drinks water, you’d need a much larger dose than a total newbie to get the same “kick.” (8)
However, Adapt Nutrition have gone big on this ingredient, and 300mg is large enough to give even the most seasoned caffeine users a boost.
One possible development for future releases (if these sequels are to be continued) is the inclusion of theacrine.
Many see it as a long-term successor to caffeine (no pressure, guys!), because it appears to provide the exact same energy boost without the body’s natural ability to adapt to the product, and also without the comedown. (9, 10, 11)
It’s one to keep an eye on, as I’m sure Adapt Nutrition already are, but the research is still too light just yet.
There’s another substance making it’s way up the supplement industry ranks here.
In a nutshell, l-theanine is used to Nerf the effects of a large caffeine intake, because it provides a somewhat calming, relaxing energy. Research suggests a combo of caffeine and l-theanine allows you to enjoy a more prolonged sense of energy, without as much of a crash afterwards. (12)
However, that research used a split of 200mg caffeine with 200mg l-theanine (1:1 ratio), while Pre Train v2 opts for a top heavy split of 300mg caffeine and 50mg l-theanine (6:1 ratio).
Since it’s inclusion in iSatori H-Blocker back in 2007, beta-alanine has been a mainstay of pre workout supplements.
This is the ingredient responsible for the skin-tingling effect you get with a pre, known as parasthesia.
But there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that beta-alanine is rarely given enough credit for…
The main use of beta-alanine in a gym environment is to buffer against the build-up of lactic acid. A 2008 study from researchers at the College of New Jersey showed that participants using this ingredient over four weeks saw an impressive 22% increase in the number of reps to failure on a heavy squats program. (21)
Although a full clinical dose of beta-alanine is a whopping 3.2 grams, I don’t consider it to be a red flag when pre workouts come in under this.
New developments suggest that consuming two smaller doses at different times of the day leads to a slight improvement in beta-alanine’s absorption ratio, and most people cannot handle a full 3.2g in one go.
4.5g Citrulline Malate
So close, and yet so far.
In my article on how to create your own pre workout, I went on a rampage about supplement companies continuing to add outdated ingredients like arginine into products despite the fact citrulline malate is much more effective.
That mistake is something Adapt Nutrition made in their original product, too, with a split of 3g arginine and 1.5g citrulline malate.
In Pre Train v2 they’ve righted that wrong, by giving us 4.5g citrulline malate and zero arginine.
Citrulline improves recovery between sets, boosts training endurance, and makes us look like a non-green version of The Hulk, thanks to the increase in blood flow it provides to working muscles. (13, 14)
It’s better at doing arginine’s job than arginine itself. (15, 16)
But a full clinical dose for those performance benefits is 6-8 grams, not 4.5 grams.
This is known in the fitness industry as “fairy dusting”, whereby a manufacturer will include an ingredient so they can make it’s associated claims on the product (i.e. “Great pump! Great endurance!”, etc.) despite knowing the dose isn’t really big enough to get the full effect of those benefits.
As mentioned above, this is highly likely because Adapt Nutrition also have a standalone intra-workout product which does very little other than provide us with an extra 2.2g citrulline malate.
Betaine is a sprinter’s favourite pre workout ingredient.
It hasn’t really been recognized by the bodybuilding community just yet, but it’s getting there, thanks to research which shows it can improve endurance, muscle recovery, and strength output. (17, 18, 19)
Furthermore, a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition discovered that performance improvements can be seen in as little as one week. (20)
Once again the issue is not the ingredient, but rather the dosage…
A full clinical dose of betaine is 2.5g, and Pre Train v2 comes in with 1.5g.
Here we go again…
Another pre workout, another inclusion of niacin.
Niacin (vitamin B3) serves no additional purpose in a pre workout other than to create a flushing, tingling effect similar to beta-alanine. Usually, poor supplements throw in this ingredient to mask the fact they’ve severely under-dosed the beta-alanine in the product.
It’s a strange inclusion here, as Pre Train v2 contains a decent amount of beta-alanine.
140mg Bitter Orange Powder
If you’ve ever tried a fat burner before, you’ve likely heard of BOPE.a
Bitter orange peel extract is like a much, much, much less potent version of the now illegal fat burner ephedrine, and has been shown to promote a slight improvement in fat burning, mental focus, and energy output (although only if you’re caffeine naive). (23)
At 140mg, Pre Train contains enough bitter orange peel extract to do the job.
This is an ingredient who’s benefits are often overblown. Results with it tend to differ from person to person. It won’t make or break the product, but it won’t hurt either.
Taurine is the darling of the energy drink industry.
It allows manufacturers to make bold claims of boosting mental focus and increased blood flow. After all, it has been shown to do both! (24, 25)
But what they’re not mentioning (because most supplement companies appear to be unaware of is that taurine and caffeine do not like each other.
During a study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour, researchers found taurine actually goes as far as to oppose some of caffeine’s effects. They concluded that taking both ingredients together was counterproductive, and increases the likelihood of headaches and decreased training performance. (26)
Given the huge benefits of caffeine, it makes sense to prioritize it over taurine any day of the week.
Besides, you’d need a dose of 2 grams to yield taurine’s full benefits, not the 1 gram found in this product and most other pre workouts.
Adapt Nutrition Pre Train v2 Review – The Final Verdict
I am a fan of Adapt Nutrition.
I like their brand, and I love their approach to transparent labels and avoiding proprietary blends.
They just haven’t got it quite right yet.
Like it’s predecessor, Pre Train v2 works best when used in conjuction with short (sub-60 minute) HIIT sessions, thanks to the large amount of caffeine in each serving.
But it’s not enough to lay claim to the title “King of Pre Workouts.”
It makes moves in the right direction, but the dosage of key ingredients mean it’s not a complete enough supplement to lay claim to the title “King of Pre Workouts.”
If you’re looking for a supplement to provide you with a quick “kick” of clean energy for a HIIT workout, and without the subsequent caffeine crash, Pre Train v2 is very useful. This will be the niche in which it finds it’s home as a pre workout.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more well-rounded pre I recommend going along the lines of Total War for a superior experience.
It picks up 3 stars from me.
- Duncan, M. J., et al. The effect of caffeine ingestion on mood state and bench press performance to failure. J Strength Cond Res. (2011)
- Childs, E., et al. Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). (2006)
- Holtzman, S. G., et al. CGS 15943, a nonxanthine adenosine receptor antagonist: effects on locomotor activity of nontolerant and caffeine-tolerant rats. Life Sci. (1991)
- Kim, T. W., et al. Caffeine increases sweating sensitivity via changes in sudomotor activity during physical loading. J Med Food. (2011)
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- Del Coso, J., et al. Dose response effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on muscle performance: a repeated measures design. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2012)
- Mora-Rodríguez, R., et al. Caffeine ingestion reverses the circadian rhythm effects on neuromuscular performance in highly resistance-trained men. PLoS One. (2012)
- Beaven, C. M., et al. Dose effect of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol responses to resistance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2008)
- Feduccia, A., et al. Locomotor activation by theacrine, a purine alkaloid structurally similar to caffeine: Involvement of adenosine and dopamine receptors. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. (2012)
- Hayward, S., et al., Safety of TeaCrine®, a non-habituating, naturally-occurring purine alkaloid over eight weeks of continuous use. ISSN Poster Presentation. (2015)
- Habowski, S. M., et al. The effects of TeacrineTM, a nature-identical purine alkaloid, on subjective measures of cognitive function, psychometric and hemodynamic indices in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blinded crossover pilot trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (2014)
- Haskell, CF, et al The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. (2008)
- Pérez-Guisado, J., et al. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. (2010)
- Alvares, T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2012)
- 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)
- Schwedhelm, E., et al. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. (2008)
- Hoffman, J.R., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2009)
- Lee, E. C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
- Holewa J., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, Coastal Carolina University. (2013)
- Pryor, J. L., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2012)
- Hoffman, J., et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. (2008)
- Artioli, G. G., et al. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2010)
- 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)
- Kim, S., et al. Taurine Induces Anti-Anxiety by Activating Strychnine-Sensitive Glycine Receptor in Vivo. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. (2009)
- Moloney, M. A., et al. Two weeks taurine supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in young male type 1 diabetics. Diab Vasc Dis Res. (2010)
- Giles, G. E., et al. Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. (2012)