Pre workout: Tested and Brendan approved

UND Wellness Center equipment. Photos by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

Often used by weight lifters and serious gym goers, pre workout is an energy supplement that is mixed with water and drank before training to keep athletes focused and energized.

With names like Assault, Anarchy and JACK3D, many pre workout powders sound less like nutritional supplements and more like those bands you liked during that phase you had in middle school.

Pre workouts vary greatly in potency, so four common types were put up to the test.

For each test, one scoop of pre workout was taken 15 minutes prior to the beginning of an exercise.

Cobra Labs:  The Curse

Cost: $30/50 servings

The Curse is my favorite pre workout of the four I tested for several reasons. Despite having an alarming 147 mg of “Mind Control Matrix” listed on the nutrition facts, The Curse is a solid performer at a decent price.

It provides a sudden burst of energy along with a solid hour and a half of consistent power. The tingling sensation often associated with pre workout is moderate, but goes away after about five minutes. After taking The Curse for the first time, I felt the intense urge to dance. This warning is not listed on its container, but should certainly be taken into account.

Six Star Pro Nutrition:

Pre Workout Explosion

Price: $15/30 servings

At only $.50 per serving, Pre Workout Explosion was the cheapest of the supplements tested. And that’s just about the only good thing I have to say about it.

Right after taking it, I experienced extreme tingling in my face and in my hands. This led me to believe it would be followed by an equally extreme surge of energy, and I was slowly disappointed when it never came.

It was kind of like getting promised a puppy for Christmas, and then never getting a puppy for Christmas. Sorry, I’m bad with metaphors.

This pre workout got quite good reviews online, but it left me unimpressed.

Pro Supps: Mr. Hyde

Price: $31/30 servings

Do you remember that time when you were 7 years old and just ate a handful of Pixie Stix before your mom could confiscate them? Remember how hyper you were, and that anything seemed possible? Imagine that feeling times 20, over the course of two hours. That sums up my experience with Mr. Hyde.

Ten minutes after taking the pre workout, my pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks and my resting heart rate skyrocketed to 110 beats per minute.

For two hours, I couldn’t take a break from lifting for more than a minute without feeling severe separation anxiety.

Mr. Hyde was by far the most potent pre workout of those tested, and I would only recommend it for people looking for a frighteningly powerful and long lasting wave of energy.

Cellucor: C4 Sport

Cost: $20/30 servings

If the standard C4 pre workout is a high school football star, C4 Sport is its scrawnier younger brother that is a decent cross-country runner.

Rather than giving an instant rush that is desirable for heavy weight lifting, C4 Sport delivers a small but consistent increase in energy that lasts around an hour. This can be perfect for someone that wants to try pre workout for the first time, but is worried about getting slapped by something like Mr. Hyde.


Pre workouts are certainly not for everybody and are only loosely governed by the FDA, so be sure to consult a doctor before taking any kind of supplements. It is usually recommended to take a pre workout supplement 20-30 minutes before the intended exercise.

A colleague of mine adamantly stood by the act of shaking the container, then quickly opening the lid and inhaling the pre workout dust that drifted out because, “It hits you so much faster, man.” Yeah, don’t do that. Ever. The only thing that should ever go up your nose is fresh air and the occasional exploratory finger. You can often feel the effects of pre workout in well under 20 minutes, so it is completely unnecessary to put flavored caffeine powder into your lungs.

Brendan McCabe is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].