Will Pre-Workouts Or Coffee Give You A Better Workout?


Both offer energy, but don’t you want more?

Your life is busy. We get it. Your life can be draining. We also get that. But think about all of those bodybuilders and strength athletes who grind and grind and grind in the gym while still functioning outside of it with family, friends, work, and just plain old downtime. Sure, they have a work ethic, dedication, a real passion for their respective sports. But physically, what allows them to power through the day? The idea around pre-workouts or coffee is interesting, for both contain caffeine, so where does this debate lie?

We’ve all most likely had coffee before (or if you are sensitive to it, maybe not). But on the whole, it’s safe to say many of us love caffeine. It keeps us going, gives us energy, focus, and alertness. And for most of us it tastes good. But pre-workouts contain plenty of caffeine too, as well as added ingredients to power your workouts and keep you grinding hard to only see continued gains.

So, why are we talking about pre-workout or coffee if pre-workout does contain caffeine? Let’s take a look into this conversation a little more and find out why. Both will give you energy, but ultimately you want more than that. Real results. That’s why you grind in the gym anyway, right?

pre-workout or coffee

Benefits Of Pre-Workouts

Pre-workouts are incredibly popular supplements and athletes of all kinds have flocked to these products to give them real boosts of energy, as well as muscle pumps. The benefits of pre-workouts are hard to ignore and can really work to improve all your gains. Benefits of pre-workouts include:

  • More focus and energy to give you intensity and a drive to power through workouts (1).
  • Less fatigue so you don’t feel as drained while pushing through that soreness that comes on during those grueling workouts.
  • Better muscle pumps for increased size as a result of better blood flow through those muscles (2).
  • Worthwhile recovery by promoting efficient growth and faster turnaround time.

Benefits Of Coffee

Let’s jump into coffee and see what makes this different. As said before, pre-workouts do contain caffeine, which is what you’ll get out of coffee, but as a clean source of caffeine, you obviously won’t have the added ingredients associated with your workouts. Benefits of coffee include:

  • Improved energy levels for that nice boost to power you through workouts and your day (3).
  • Helps your metabolism by kicking it into gear to burn some of those unwanted calories.
  • Has nutrients like vitamin B2 and B5, as well as others like magnesium and potassium, to give you those vitamins and minerals.

pre-workout or coffee

Major Differences

When you look at both pre-workouts and coffee, what you will find at the core is improved energy and focus. This results from caffeine in both. But the major difference is that with pre-workouts, you get those added ingredients to boost performance, provide for muscle pumps, as well as many others. Such ingredients include things like creatine, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, and BCAAs, among others. So while drinking coffee before a workout is helpful, for those looking for real gains, a pre-workout is something you will get the most out of (4).

Now, what if you are sensitive to caffeine? You can always drink decaffeinated coffee, but that won’t do as much for your workouts. There are also huge benefits to caffeine pills since they help boost your energy levels and focus more at work. On the other hand, supplements companies have transitioned to create stimulant-free pre-workouts so you can get all those other ingredients to benefit your workouts. With options, you are able to find success with a pre-workout at the end of the day over a cup of coffee.

To put one more potential wrench into this plan, coffee may be cheaper. Buying in bulk may save money over pre-workout supplements which tend to get expensive. Plus, those premium pre-workouts will cost more than some bottom tier products that may contain ingredients you don’t want or need. So, depending on what you want to spend and how you want to allocate funds, this is something to absolutely consider.

strong man energy

Which One Is Better?

When all is said and done, a pre-workout will give you more benefits ultimately when it comes down to it. Of course, depending on price and what you’re looking for, coffee will give you great benefits to your workouts, but when looking to really maximize gains, with the caffeine and other ingredients included, you will get more bang for your buck with pre-workout supplements.

Best Pre-Workout Supplements

Finding the right pre-workout supplements can be challenging, and with so many on the market, the choices can seem daunting. We’ve put together a top list of the Best Pre-Workouts to make this decision easier for you. Some of our top choices deliver serious energy, powerful pumps, and better muscular endurance, all while offering the best in terms of focus.

Check out our list of the Best Pre-Workouts for more great products!

Best Supplements To Pair With Pre-Workouts

Along with the best pre-workouts, pairing these with other supplements can be of great assistance to you. A protein powder will cap either end of your workouts and as a great post-workout supplement, this will work to optimize growth and recovery for all your gains (5). While some pre-workouts do contain creatine, if it does not, finding a premium creatine product can really enhance your gains for the better as well. Plus, putting a multivitamin in the mix will keep you healthy overall so you only see those gains you want most.

Wrap Up

At the end of the day, pre-workouts or coffee will give you energy and allow you to thrive with your workouts. But pre-workout supplements will prove to be more effective given they have great ingredients, along with caffeine, to maximize your gains. The right supplements can have great effects for you so definitely check out the right pre-workout products, for you won’t be disappointed with the results.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Ellerbroek, Anya C.; Antonio, Jose (2019). “Effects of Pre-Workout Supplements on Strength, Endurance, and Mood”. (source)
  2. Kedia, A.; Hofheins, J.; Habowski, S.; Ferrando, Arny; et al. (2014). “Effects of a Pre workout Supplement on Lean Mass, Muscular Performance, Subjective Workout Experience and Biomarkers of Safety”. (source)
  3. Cappelletti, S.; et al. (2015). “Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug?”. (source)
  4. Martinez, N.; et al. (2016). “The effect of acute pre-workout supplementation on power and strength performance”. (source)
  5. Pasiakos, S.; et al. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.