April 15, 2024 10 min read

A Guide To Pre-Workout Supplements For Women

The fitness world is always evolving, and one of the most exciting changes is that more women are lifting weights than ever before. There have been many pervasive myths and unhelpful opinions on the topic of women lifting weights in the past, but thankfully public perception is changing.

Girls and women all over the world are discovering in increasing numbers just how empowering strength training can be and all the vast benefits it has for their health. But, despite the uptick of women in gyms, the supplement industry hasn't yet caught onto how to serve this demographic as well as they deserve.

Most supplements are marketed for men. This can make women feel excluded from the world of supplements and uncomfortable buying products that don't match their goals and motivations, but the problem is much larger than just this concern.

A huge majority of the research done on supplements is based on male subjects, and this means there's a distinct lack of attention paid to what works best for women's bodies. Women have physiological differences from men that affect what ingredients are effective, what dosages are safe, and even what ingredients can have harmful effects.

The divergent hormonal makeup of men and women means that drugs and supplements are often metabolized in different ways which then produce different effects on the body. This clearly points to a need for supplements created specifically for women.

New companies have been emerging to tackle this problem head-on by creating a pre-workout supplement with women's health in mind. Pre-workout is one of the most popular and helpful types of supplements on the market, and women should have safe and effective options available to them.

Keep reading to find out all the details on the best pre-workout ingredients for women, and which ones are better to avoid.

Why Should Women Use Pre-Workout?

The question of whether or not to use supplements at all is a valid one. The answer is always personal, and it depends on many factors.

There's no doubt about it: supplements can enhance workout effectiveness and athletic performance if used correctly, but there are also ones with undesirable side effects. The world of supplements in general can be overwhelmingly difficult to navigate, and taking into account the lack of options for women is an added challenge. 

For all these reasons, it's not surprising that many women throw in the towel and give up on the idea of supplements altogether. But, it doesn't have to be this way. 

The field of sports supplement research is always evolving, and this means companies have the opportunity to apply these findings to create reliable, safe, and effective products.

Pre-workout supplements in particular are one of the most commonly-used and well-studied areas of supplement science. They're arguably the best-proven type of supplement for improving athletic outcomes.

Pre-workout Can:

  • Increase training intensity
  • Improve strength and explosiveness
  • Increase endurance
  • Allow for higher volume training
  • Lower perceived exercise effort
  • Enhance mood and focus

All of this lends itself to better-quality workouts and corresponding athletic gains. It essentially enhances whatever results are being pursued with workouts, whether they're cardiovascular, strength-related, or even aesthetic goals.

The important question then isn't whether women should or shouldn't use pre-workout. Women should have access to effective pre-workout supplements that take into consideration their unique needs so that they have the option to utilize this helpful fitness tool if they choose.

It's high time the latest research is applied to high-quality products for women. 

What Pre-Workout Ingredients Work Best For Women?

Amongst the countless ingredients often seen in pre-workout formulations, there are only a few that stand out as effective. A formula with a few high-quality ingredients is more often than not a better choice over complex formulations containing filler ingredients, fad ingredients, and ingredients not backed by substantial research.


Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world, and its uses extend well beyond offering a jolt of energy in the morning. It's also one of the most well-studied substances used for increased athletic performance. This means the claims behind it are thoroughly backed up by piles of evidence. 

The Benefits

Caffeine can help increase alertness, focus, muscular endurance, power, cardiovascular endurance, and even thermogenesis which may help with fat loss. Its primary effect comes from the fact that it delays fatigue by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine gradually builds up throughout the day and causes feelings of drowsiness, so caffeine temporarily delays tiredness.

It has a half-life average of 8 hours, which means half that amount of caffeine consumed is usually metabolized by this time, although in reality, this number varies widely. This is the main point of concern with caffeine use.

The Concerns

Although it undoubtedly has many positive effects on athletic performance and even health in general, it is a stimulant. Stimulants increase brain activity and can sometimes have undesirable effects if used incorrectly. Most notably, caffeine can disrupt sleep if it's consumed within 6 hours before bed. Some sources even state caffeine within 12 hours before bed can negatively impact sleep.

Another concern about caffeine is the fact that it can potentially increase blood pressure as well as anxiety in some people. For these reasons, people with anxiety disorders are usually recommended to stay away from high doses of caffeine, as are people with known heart conditions. Small doses may still be fine, but it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional first for clarity. 

The final group of people who need to be wary of caffeine intake are pregnant or breastfeeding women. High amounts of caffeine during pregnancy can restrict blood supply to the fetus, so it's best practice to limit daily intake to 200 mg per day (equivalent to approximately 2 cups of coffee). The recommended intake for breastfeeding women is slightly higher at 300 mg per day.

Unfortunately, many of the energy drinks and pre-workout supplements available on the market today have extremely high amounts of caffeine. While caffeine is a helpful ingredient, consuming too much has more drawbacks than benefits.

This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that men metabolise caffeine faster than women, so recommended doses for pre-workout based on research on male subjects are inaccurate for women. 

The Solution

To address this blatant issue in the fitness industry, women need pre-workout supplements that include caffeine for its vast benefits in concentrations high enough to have an effect, but low enough to avoid side effects. Mamasupps Pre-Workout has 100 mg of caffeine per serving to do just that. It's low enough in caffeine for it to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume, even if they sneak in a daily coffee. Women who desire a larger dose can double up on their serving for a more pronounced stimulatory effect.


L-Citrulline is another widely used pre-workout ingredient known for its well-supported effects. It's a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid present in several foods like cucumbers, cantaloupe, and especially watermelon. 

Although it can have a pronounced benefit on athletic performance, it's not a stimulant, which means it can be consumed any time of day with no negative impacts on sleep, anxiety or blood pressure.

It also has a different method of action than caffeine, which means combining the two in the same pre-workout supplement formulation can boost its overall effect.

The Benefits

L-Citrulline is extremely safe for both men and women. It has multiple beneficial influences on training, and it even has positive effects on overall health. One example of this is its ability to slow the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The benefits L-citrulline imparts on athletic performance centers mainly on its ability to increase nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide a gas created in the body involved in several essential bodily processes, but most relevant to exercise, it causes blood vessel dilation. This means nitric oxide opens up the blood vessels wider to allow for more blood, oxygen and nutrients to enter working muscle tissues.

The result is that L-citrulline can reduce fatigue, prolong endurance, increase cardiovascular performance, and even reduce muscle soreness after working out. This makes it not only an excellent pre-workout ingredient but an outstanding multi-purpose ingredient that helps users have high-quality workouts and high-quality recovery.

L-citrulline can also increase ammonia clearance from muscles during workouts. Ammonia tends to build up during high-intensity exercise, and it contributes to fatigue, so L-citrulline can additionally help delay fatigue and allow for greater workout volume through this effect.

The Concerns

There are very few concerns around the use of L-citrulline for the average person. A few specific scenarios where caution is needed are with kidney dysfunction, or if someone has clinically low blood pressure. 

The kidneys are needed to metabolize L-citrulline, so anyone with impaired kidney function should consult with a healthcare practitioner before supplementing with L-citrulline. The vasodilating effects are also good reason for caution for anyone with low blood pressure since it can further decrease blood pressure.

A final group of people who should check in with a medical expert to confirm if L-citrulline is safe for them is anyone taking medications for erectile dysfunction since it can potentially interfere with them.

Pregnant and breastfeeding may also want to garner a second opinion before beginning use, although there are no specific concerns associated with L-citrulline. 

The Solution

Overall L-citrulline is one of the most effective and safe pre-workout ingredients available. It has very few contraindications, but those who are wary of its use may be able to gain similar (but lessened) benefits from consuming foods naturally high in L-citrulline like watermelon before a workout.

Beetroot Powder

Beetroot powder is exactly what it sounds like, a freeze-dried and powdered version of the juice from the vibrant root vegetable known as beets. These nutritional powerhouses are fantastic for overall health, but they have some pretty distinct benefits as a pre-workout tool in particular.

Beets are one of the best natural food sources of nitrates, a naturally occurring substance in plants that get converted into nitric oxide in the body. As mentioned, nitric oxide has several ways of contributing to improved athletic performance.

The Benefits

Much like L-citrulline, beetroot powder can improve blood flow and therefore enhance oxygen delivery, and aerobic endurance. On top of this, beets can play a role in promoting overall better cardiovascular function by lowering blood pressure. This can help make the body more "oxygen efficient" which means beetroot enthusiasts may be able to exercise more vigorously and for longer sessions.

Beetroots impressive results don't end there. They also have some evidence for improving mitochondrial function which likely further contributes to their ability to delay muscle fatigue. Their antioxidant-rich nutrition profile is another benefit since it mitigates muscle damage and supports quick recovery.

Last but not least, beetroot contributes to good overall health by helping improve insulin sensitivity. This plays a role in exercise since insulin is what allows glucose to enter cells to be used as energy. Poor insulin sensitivity can result in inefficient energy metabolism and quicker fatigue during workouts.

The Concerns

There are practically no health concerns when it comes to using beetroot as a component of pre-workout since it's a natural whole-food product. One of the very rare scenarios to exercise caution with is with low blood pressure medication since it can potentially have an interaction.

Aside from that, the biggest drawback to consider with beetroot is simply the extent of their effects. While there is evidence of beetroot's ability to enhance exercise performance, it's possible that it doesn't offer results quite as dramatic as other pre-workout ingredients. 

The Solution

Since beetroot is helpful and safe, it's a wonderful ingredient to use as a pre-workout supplement. That being said, it's likely most effective when used in a formulation that strategically incorporates other ingredients as well to give its results a boost.


Choline is an essential nutrient found in foods like eggs yolks, liver, and red meat. It plays an important role in cognitive function, fat metabolism, cell signalling and muscle contraction, as well as cell membrane function.

While choline is less common and less well-studied than the aforementioned ingredients, there's an emerging body of evidence indicating it can improve athletic performance. 

Choline levels in the blood are thought to decline during bouts of strenuous exercise, and this has been linked to reduced strength and endurance. Some studies have shown that oral supplementation of choline can mitigate this effect and result in better workouts.

The evidence on the ingredient is still evolving, so it's best used in combination with other helpful pre-workout ingredients for an undoubtedly reliable product. 

What Pre-Workout Ingredients Should Women Avoid?

Women can generally do well with the same pre-workout supplement ingredients as men in different doses, but there are a few notable exceptions.

Some pre-workout formulas include ingredients designed to boost testosterone levels, and this isn't usually a benefit for women since it could drive them towards hormone imbalance. 

Another ingredient best avoided by women is beta-alanine. While beta-alanine can be effective at reducing muscle fatigue, it often comes with a side effect sensation of tingling or itchy skin, and it lacks sufficient safety data for pregnant or breastfeeding women to confidently use it.

A final category of ingredients best left out of pre-workout supplements for women is synthetic stimulants such as DMAA or DMHA. While these certainly have a potent stimulatory effect, they can also pose cardiovascular risks as an unwanted side effect.

Tips For Optimal Pre-Workout Supplement Use

Figuring out what pre-workout supplement works best for each gym-goer is a personal decision that often takes some experimentation. It's always wise to start with a small dose to safely monitor the effects before using it regularly.

Ideally, each ingredient should be recognizable and included for a specific purpose. More ingredients do not equal a more effective product, but rather the quality of the ingredients used does.

Concerning how often to use a pre-workout supplement: some athletes enjoy using pre-workout for every workout, but it has the most pronounced effect on more challenging workout days. 

Women who prefer to use pre-workout more sporadically often find it most helpful for lower-body sessions or full-body workouts instead of lighter workout days that use less exertion. Part-time use can be a great way to avoid becoming desensitized to certain ingredients like caffeine, though another effective strategy is simply to take a temporary break if the pre-workout appears to be losing its potent effect. 

In addition to being especially helpful on intense workout days, pre-workout supplements can be a much-needed resource on days when energy is low and an extra boost is needed to complete a quality session. This can reduce training plateaus and help athletes stay consistent with their training efforts.


Women can benefit from using pre-workout supplements every bit as much as men, but there should be special considerations for their unique biology. Pre-workout can fast-track gym goals, create better aesthetic outcomes, and give a much-needed edge for elite athletes.

There are many safe and effective pre-workout ingredients available, but few companies have put the care and consideration towards developing a formula targeted for women as well as Mamasupps has. 

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