2013-2014 Some New Players in the Game
I always look back at 2013-2014 as the years where the industry started to change for the better. In my last article, I mentioned how I had the most fun during the days where most pre-workouts came in blends with undisclosed amounts of caffeine and DMAA. While they were fun, they weren’t necessarily "good". Now, at least from my perspective, to understand why pre-workouts are the way they are today (fully disclosed and well dosed), I must give credit to YouTube during these years. For the next bit, I will give a brief description of what changed a good portion of the average fitness “bro” over the internet.
2013-2014 was probably the best time to start a YouTube channel. Back then, many successful fitness channels just their start, and many popular ones from back then are still going. This is the time that has been called the “Golden Era” of YouTube fitness by some popular YouTube channels. If you look back, most things changed when Ian McCarthy started what I like to call the “Pop Tart Revolution”. While he got a lot of hate, he is, at least in my opinion, the sole reason why “IIFYM/Flexible Dieting” got popular. With the slew of negative reactions he got from established fitness celebrities, one thing was undeniable, he was RIGHT. No longer did we have to eat 6-8 spaced out meals a day our "metabolism burning", while all being chicken+rice+broccoli meals with a casein shake before bed. This started a whole slew of YouTubers being held accountable for actually having some scientific proof to their muscle-building advice.
Why is this all important? Well, with all the skepticism going around, the supplement industry got hit hard as well. Now, as I type this, I realize that I could make an entire article simply about this period and how it changed the industry. For now, I’ll go over why it changed pre-workouts. This is when companies started getting called out for not using clinical doses of products, this is a time where making your own pre-workout with bulk powders started to become popular, and finally, this was a time where companies started to get called out by YouTubers trying to seem “real”. Now Youtube was obviously not the only reason things have changed, with information being much more available on many platforms, SR as well of course, we saw the power of fitness magazines lose their power. Instead of sifting through magazines with heavy advertising and questionable advice given out, we had people like Alan Aragon and Layne Norton giving out some scientifically backed advice, with a bunch of Youtubers simply regurgitating it like they actually did research themselves. The anabolic window became a joke, the term "clean eating" became something aspiring Matt Ogus wannabes would say "Lol clean eating? You mean spraying windex on your food bro?" to, and god forbid you didn't focus solely on strength to build muscle if you were a "natty". Anyone who was running a "bro-split" was suddenly uniformed and "spinning their wheels" when it came to results, no matter how good they looked.
Companies simply throwing in 500mg of creatine mono to say that there is creatine in their products couldn't escape from getting some well-deserved criticism, as well as using junk forms of creatine like Creatine Ethyl Ester. This was a good thing, and we still see it to this day. I could give more examples, such as beta-alanine's magical "3.2" dosage, but I need to get into what pre-workouts were popular during this time.
If you check out the top ranked products for 2014, you’ll start to see that it is more of a mixture of what kinds of pre-workouts were popular. We have JYM at the top, which was a fully-disclosed pre-workout, followed by LGI’s Fully Loaded, which was also fully-disclosed. Some other popular ones were Nitramine from Myokem, which had a great nootropic blend, and although it was not completely disclosed, they still disclosed the amount of betaine, beta-alanine, agmatine, caffeine, and l-carnitine l-tartrate. Nootropics during this time were not as popular as they are now, so proprietary blends for these ingredients were not as bad back then as they are now. Even Nitramine went to full-disclosure, so even they were saw the changes that were coming to the industry.
There were still products that had proprietary blends, such as LeCheek’s Speed X3 and BPI’s 1MR Vortex, but was a definite trend in products becoming fully-disclosed. NutraBio, Muscle Elements, and Purus Labs are just some companies that come to mind that went ahead and went full-disclosure, but there are plenty of other examples.
On a side note, with DMAA being gone, there was a very brief period where AMP Citrate was popular. I was a big fan of AMP Citrate, and actually liked it more than DMAA, however it turned out to be a short lived romance that was quickly taken away from us. AMPitropin from LeCheeck was my favorite product during this time period, simply due to the inclusion of AMP Citrate and how well it worked. I miss stacking a pill of that with some sort of pump product. Couldn't imagine doing that now with all of the well-dosed, fully loaded pre-workouts you see today.
The biggest change I saw with SR during this time, was that the "Ingredient Profile" section of the review suddenly became the most important part of the review. Simply taking a pre-workout and mentioning the ingredients wasn't enough, you had to go over the dosages, forms of ingredients, if it was in a propietary blend, etc. Some people seem to focus more on this section of the review, than the effectiveness of the product.
Like the pre-workouts from 2011-2012, many of the pre-workouts from this time-period have been discontinued or have been reformulated. Condense is still around, Fully Loaded has since been discontinued, Speed X3 is gone, pretty sure Stimul8 isn’t as strong as it once was, and NutraBio’s Pre has been reformulated 3 times since then.
Like C4, there are multiple versions of Stimul8 now
I guess what I really want to say about 2013-2014, is that it was a turning point due to the increase in consumer knowledge, with some big help from YouTube and some other sources. I see this as a good thing, as many more people can simply look at an ingredient profile and know if they are getting screwed or not. While I did say that I had the most fun in 2011-2012 with sketchy pre-workouts consisting of undisclosed amounts of caffeine and DMAA, I still much prefer knowing what I’m putting in my body, and the industry has changed for the better.
If you're interested in taking a closer look at the top rated products on SR from 2013-2015, check out the following link: