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  • Writer's pictureNorth Shore Barbell

Pre-Workouts and Drug Tests

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

How many times have you heard of a powerlifter or athlete from another sport getting "popped" after taking a pre-workout supplement? Often, the punishments for this are slightly less, if not equal to that of someone taking anabolic steroids.

It's no secret that supplements, in particular, pre-workout supplements pose a threat to drug-tested athletes and have the potential to impact their drug-free status. So much so, that Drug-Free Sport NZ (The New Zealand WADA affiliate) has started campaigning for athletes to avoid the use of supplements entirely.

It's not uncommon for athletes to have no idea about what's in their pre-workout powder


From media coverage of recent cases of positive drug tests in this realm, there appear to be 3 things happening:

1) Athletes are using Pre-Workouts that contain trace amounts of a banned substance, that is not listed on the label

2) Athletes are ignorantly using pre-workouts with banned substances listed on the label, such as Higiname or Octopamine (FYI: Just because an ingredient is banned in sport, doesn't mean is illegal to sell over the counter)

3) Athletes are consciously using banned substances and claiming that their pre-workout/other supplement is contaminated

Jamal Browner, one of the worlds best un-tested lifters tested positive for a banned substance after breaking an IPF world record in 2017 due to a contaminated pre-workout.


It's unrealistic to think that athletes, both high and low level will ever stop taking supplements. A pre-workout is often a much-needed kick following a hard day at work and often provides benefits in terms of endurance and mental clarity beyond caffeine alone. So with that in mind, here are our top 5 pre-workouts for the drug tested powerlifter/athlete and a handful of things to consider when selecting nutritional supplements in general.

Please note: Use pre-workouts at your own risk. We claim no responsibility for positive drug tests associated with products in the following list.


5) Monster Energy | Ultra Zero

It's delicious and comes in a wide variety of fantastic flavours (some rarer than others).

Monster Energy surprisingly has a decent amount of caffeine amongst other things (roughly 160mg) but probably not enough to keep you up all night.

Where to buy: At North Shore Barbell, any diary or petrol station


4) Optimum Nutrition | Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a great caffeine-lite Pre-Workout option, suitable for someone that wants a bit of a kick and some of the fabled Beta-Alanine tingles. Gold Standard Pre has the Informed-Choice tick, meaning that each batch is tested for the presence of banned substances. Whilst this isn't the strongest Pre-Workout available, it comes in a ton of decent flavours and in relatively cheap, coming in at just under $1 NZD per serve (If you buy the 60 serve option).

Where to buy: Any supplement store in New Zealand

Optimum Nutrition products often have the Informed-Choice tick.


3) MusclePharm | Wreckage

Wreckage is a fair step up from Gold Standard Pre. A higher stimulant content, combined with nootropic (Potentially focus-enhancing) ingredients such as Alpha GPC makes Wreckage a decent option for people with a higher stimulant tolerance and/or a real aversion to training (I.E, you need to be decently energized to have a good session). Wreckage also comes with the Informed-Choice ticket (Like most other products in the MusclePharm range) which seems to be fairly a-typical when compared to other high caffeine Pre-Workouts.

Coming in at around $2.60 NZD a serve, you'll probably want to use this sparingly.

Where to buy: Any supplement store in New Zealand


2) PR Breaker | Materia

If you follow any American IPF (USAPL) lifters on social media, you've likely heard of Materia. Materia contains full doses of all your favourite Pre-Workout ingredients such as Citrulline Malate (Pumps/Endurance), Creatine (Strength) & Beta-Alanine (Endurance) plus a plethora of cognitive enhancers, all in clinically tested quantities. To summarize, Materia is the real deal for any serious athlete and if you're still unsure you can read the full write up here.

Unfortunately, Materia lacks the previously mentioned Informed Choice accreditations, however, as per the PR Breaker Website the product does not contain any banned substances.

Materia is currently not available in New Zealand, so you'll need to purchase via the US and thanks to some reasonably expensive shipping rates, it'll rook you $132NZD for a 20 Serve container with current exchange rates and a 10% discount code.


1) De Novo Supplements | Utopia

Utopia isn't strictly a pre-workout, it's a focus enhancer that can be used for a number of occasions including but not limited to sports. Utopia doesn't contain any of the typical Pre-Workout ingredients like Beta-Alanine & Creatine but it does contain efficacious doses of proven nootropic ingredients all deliberately added to work in synergy. Basically, it'll make you feel epic.

Once again, this product does not have and Informed-Choice accreditation but the brand is promoted as banned substance free (as per their Instagram page) and they sponsor a number of highly ranked IPF (AKA steroid-free) powerlifters such as Taylor Atwood, Daniella Melo, Jennifer Millican.

De Novo doesn't currently have an NZ distributor, meaning getting Utopia or any of their other products here can be fairly expensive - At present, a 30 Serve tub will cost you around $76 NZD with a 5% off discount code.

Pro-tip: Use code "ATWOOD" for 5% off Denovo Supps

As well as being a good pre-workout, Utopia is often used as a pre-work or pre-study supplement.


So, what if you don't have access to any of what we've mentioned above? Here are some tips for buying Pre-Workouts both on the internet and in stores:

  • Look for the Informed Choice or Informed Sport tick

  • Look for brands that self promote as "Banned Substance Free" BUT double-check each ingredient against the WADA banned list

  • Don't blindly trust the word of people that work in supplement stores - Do your own research

  • Not every brand can be trusted. Many companies employ manufacturers that also produce products containing banned substances which may lead to cross-contamination

TLDR: Use trusted brands, read ingredient panels and take responsibility for what supplements you use.


After some new Powerlifting Gear and live in Australia or New Zealand? Head to and use the code NSBB2021 for 10% off A7 Equipment!

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