Gold Standard Pre Workout Review: is there any Side Effects & are the Ingredients Good for Energy?

Image of a muscular man about to have a drink

Any lifer knows that training is the primary driver of muscle growth. Pounding down supplements will only get you so far, and like a loaf of stale bread, workouts become familiar, borning, and certainly not good for growing muscle.

There aren't many things that will slow down your progress as inadequate training, but thankfully, it's not hard to get an effective workout. Providing your body with the correct ingredients for mental focus and physical output prevents workouts from being just another chore to tick off your to-do list.

After trying ON's Gold Standard Whey and casein, we decided to take their pre workout powder for a spin. In our Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout review, we'll see if it's worthy of the gold standard title.

Gold Standard Pre-Workout Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Optimum Nutrition divides the ingredient label into 3 clearly-marked sections, each of which performs different mental and physical functions inside the body.

Aside from the workout-boosting ingredients, you know, the stuff that we really care about, there are 7 individual vitamins & minerals. Most notably ON add vitamin D3 (500IU) into the mixture which is rare for a supplement in this category.





Acetyl L-Carnitine








More importantly for gym performance, ON kicks things off with their Muscle Matrix blend, which contains 2 ingredients, one of which you might not know a lot about (yet). The first ingredient is one that you will recognize though, and that's creapure creatine monohydrate (3g).

The second, which you'll learn more about later, is AstraGin. It's the trade name for astragalus membranaceus and Panax Notoginseng extract (not fun to pronounce) and is there to increase the absorption of the other notable nutrients like beta-alanine (1.5g) and l-citrulline (750 mg).

Closing down the ingredient list is the Energy and Focus Complex, a cocktail of nutrients including caffeine (175 mg) and l-tyrosine (250 mg), which are tasked with increasing your mental output. There is also acetyl l-carnitine (375 mg) which has been shown to improve memory, and to a different end, citrus bioflavonoids, which may have antioxidant properties.

So How Does it Work?

Let's start with two opposing benefits — strength and muscular endurance — because if you're thinking of buying this pre-workout, chances are you want to improve your strength levels or endurance capacity (or maybe both?).

Gold Standard Pre Workout boasts a full 3g of creapure creatine which is a highly sought-after german creatine thought to have superior absorption than the regular stuff. It's an impressive amount of creatine considering that other brands just chuck in a gram so that they can bulk up their nutritional label with an extra ingredient.

As for endurance, Optimum Nutrition adds 1.5g of beta-alanine into the mix, to fill your muscles with carnosine and fight off lactic acid.

On the mental side of things, l-tyrosine is an amino acid shown to improve mental performance, memory, and alertness when sleep deprived. Similarly, caffeine increases alertness which makes Gold Standard a top supplement for early morning workouts, or when you feel less than motivated after a day at the office.  

Image of a muscular strength athlete pressing a barbell overhead

Who Can Benefit From Taking Gold Standard Pre Workout?

Being a supplement free of harshly-dosed stimulants, Gold Standard Pre-Workout can be used by anyone looking for an edge in their training routine or sporting performance.

However, those who will enjoy its formula the most, are those who incorporate strength training into their exercise routine.

As we gain more strength and seemingly max out our potential, any supplement that can help us bust through plateaus, while also being rigorously tested, is worth having in our arsenal. As well as increasing 1rm strength, it can push us to get more reps per set which can grow more muscle on our bodies.

If you feel like your training is at a plateau and could use an injection of pace, go ahead and give Gold Standard Pre Workout a try and see how simple ingredients can amp up your sessions.

How To Take

There's are two ways to take Gold Standard Pre Workout.

The first way is by starting with around half a scoop if you're new to these kinds of supplements.

For the full dose, mix 1 scoop with 6-8 oz of water and drink 20-30 minutes before training.

Do you prefer your shakes to be sweeter? We found that using less water makes a noticeable difference in sweetness. That said, if you find it too sweet, go ahead and dilute it with more water until it hits the spot for you. Note, adding more water doesn't reduce the effectiveness of the active ingredients.

Sizes, Servings, and Scoop

The black and gold container is available in two sizes:

  • 30 servings
  • 60 servings

Although stocking up and buying the bigger size might seem like a good idea, we recommend purchasing the smaller tub first if you are not sure whether you will like it.

The scoop weighs around 10g when measured out. It's not the smallest scoop by any means, but it's definitely more condensed than a lot of other pre-workouts that we've put to the test.

The Available Flavors

ON offer a lot of different flavors for their signature pre-workout:

  • Blueberry Lemonade
  • Fruit Punch
  • Green Apple
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon
An Image of mixed fruits

All flavors use both natural and artificial sweeteners; tartaric acid, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. Many of the flavors also contain food colorings such as Red 40 and Yellow 5, which is something to be aware of if you don't like that kind of thing.

The Watermelon flavor is artificially sweetened too but doesn't contain any artificial colors.

Side Effects and Disadvantages

The main side effects which you may notice is a tingling or flushing sensation shortly after drinking the powder. This is due to the beta alanine and is a harmless sensation.

Note, when you feel the beta-alanine, the caffeine may not yet have kicked in. It's common for folk to report that their pre-workout has worn off when really, it's the exact opposite; it's just getting started!

Because many people prefer taking their creatine separately, having it in a pre workout powder, especially if it's at a low dose, can be really annoying!

However, the creatine used here is creapure, which is a micronized, German creatine with superior absorption. Also, it's dosed at 3g, which is significantly more than most other supplements in this category, who usually just throw in 1 or 2 grams so they can put it on the ingredient label.

If you're worried about not getting the full 5g of creatine, just mix in an extra 2g in your post-workout shake, and you'll be golden.

How Does it Compare?

If you are not sure whether it is a good fit for your workout style, you can compare Gold Standard to its close matches in our chart below.

For the full scoop on this year's top pre workouts, you can click here for our take on it.


Our Rating

Best For




Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Strength & Focus



ON Platinum Pre

Performance & Endurance




Lower Caffeine Needs



Overall Review

ON Gold Standard Pre Workout is an excellent supplement in many ways. It tackles the most critical aspect of high-level physical performance, energy, mental focus, and promotes endurance that lasts the whole workout.

Our only complaint is that is that it contains creatine. It's dosed at 3g which is a decent amount but is not the full 5g package so you may want to add in a couple extra grams to enjoy the full effects.

In addition to improving your physical attributes like, strength, endurance, and powder, Gold Standard utilizes tyrosine and acetyl l-carnitine to give you a mental edge in your hardest sets. Overall, we would recommend it to anyone looking for an energizing pre-workout supplement.

We hope you enjoyed our optimum nutrition gold standard pre workout review. Hopefully, it made deciding which product to buy an easier decision.

ON Gold Standard Pre-Workout

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Jonathan Abbott
Jonathan Abbott
Jonathan is a long time fitness enthusiast who specializes in helping others reach their goals faster with the most up to date sports science. When he's not working, you'll find him challanging his body with heavy squats and deadlifts.

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