Have you ever seen the words “proprietary blend” on your pre workout? I hope not.


Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

4 min read

Have you ever seen the words “proprietary blend” on your pre workout?

I hope not.

When a supplement company uses a proprietary blend it means they’ve chosen to hide the dose of each ingredient. This industry law was originally created to prevent rival brands from copying the formulas of other products, but nowadays it’s mainly used as a shady technique to sell below-par supplements to unsuspecting customers.

It grinds my gears when companies do this type of thing.

I mean, fuck, if you’re going to make a joke out of your formula, at least make it a good one:

A pre workout which uses a proprietary blend

A supplement manufacturer’s excuse for using a proprietary blend goes as follows:

Sounds convincing, right?

That’s because when this law was first introduced it was for these very reasons. Back then, in the early days of pre-workout supplements, the majority of brands kept their formulas top secret because they figured that if somebody copied their product, then they would lose out on sales.

It’s the same reason Coca-Cola keep their formula so secret.

However, in the world of bodybuilding supplements in 2024, this is total bullshit!

The Rock Dwayne Johnson

It didn’t take long for us to realize that proprietary blend stickers just don’t work.

Sure, it made sense to protect your formula, but in reality it’s very easy for a supplement manufacturer to take a product to a lab and discover all of the ingredients which have been used.

A prime example of this can be seen in the case of i-Satori H-Blocker. Released in 2006, this legendary formula was the first pre-workout to contain beta-alanine, and i-Satori were quick to slap a proprietary blend on the formula to stop their competitors from figuring out their awesome new ingredient.

Fast-forward just a few months, however, and you’d see a litany of pre-workouts containing beta-alanine.

iSatori H-Blocker pre workout

That happened almost two decades ago, and it showed how useless proprietary blends really are, so there is absolutely no need for a company to be doing it in 2024.

The only reason they will choose to use this loophole is because, in hiding the key dosages of each ingredient, it allows them to create dirt cheap supplements (because there’s fuck all in there except caffeine), then slap some silly hype on the packaging (call it ‘Death Pump’), and then sell it at full price to unsuspecting customers.

To make this even worse, companies will often also use a technique known as “fairy dusting”.

This is where they’ll load the product with caffeine and then sprinkle tiny amounts of several other ingredients into the formula, because it allows them to make marketing claims associated with all of those ingredients (even though they haven’t included enough of a dose to unlock them).

For example, as creatine has been shown to lead to more muscle growth, they can add a tiny amount to the formula and then add the words “Proven to build muscle!” to the tub. And as citrulline malate has been shown to enhance blood flow to working muscles during intense exercise, they can add a tiny amount to the formula and then add the words “Experience skin-splitting pumps!” to the tub.

Misleading as fuck, huh?

And this is not just a technique which is used by shady underground companies. No, several huge brands (Cellucor, Gaspari, Universal to name just a few) have been caught doing it in recent years.

So take my advice…

If a pre workout is genuinely as good as it claims, it will not use a proprietary blend.

Having a strong formula with a transparent list of ingredients and clinical doses is literally the best marketing which a product can have nowadays, so they will only choose to hide that if they’re lying to you.

Now slap that proprietary blend bullshit out of your shopping cart and go pick up a better pre workout supplement.

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

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