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The overall best pre-workouts aren’t necessarily the best pre-workout supplements for beginners. 

In fact, in my experience as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I’ve learned that most people do better when they work themselves up from a gentle or moderate pre-workout to a more intense one—and can avoid some of the unpleasant side effects of stronger pre-workouts while doing so. 

Ahead, I’ve rounded up all of the best pre-workouts for beginners with just enough punch to get you started and keep you going, all while amplifying your fitness gains. 

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners in 2023

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners Overall: JackedFactory NitroSurge

Good for: Anyone new to the weight room who wants to kick-start their workout journey

Best Overall

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout Powder

GGR Score: 4.22 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan pre-workout 
  • 180 mg of caffeine per scoop 
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Available in multiple sizes: 30 or 60 servings
  • Subscribe and save 15%
  • Available in 11 flavors
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • Manufactured in USA in cGMP certified facility
  • Vegan
  • Affordable at under $1 per serving (1 scoop serving)

Cons

  • Mixed reviews on taste
  • Mixed reviews on effectiveness
  • Contains sucralose

Bottom Line

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout is a generally positively reviewed pre-workout with 180 milligrams of caffeine and a large variety of flavor options.

For fitness veterans, the name “NitroSurge” is a dead giveaway that this Jacked Factory pre-workout intends to blow your muscles up (in a good way). But if you’re new to lifting weights, you might wonder what the “nitro” refers to. 

The namesake is the two-scoop serving that contains a 6-gram dose of L-citrulline1, a nitric oxide booster that is known to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow, creating that sought-after swell in your muscles during a workout. But that’s not the only great thing about NitroSurge: It also contains beta-alanine2 and betaine anhydrous3, which have both been studied for their ability to reduce fatigue and extend exercise duration. 

WIth 360 milligrams of caffeine in two scoops or 180 milligrams of caffeine in one scoop, either serving size will provide a nice jolt of energy. The included theobromine4 and L-theanine5 support mental acuity and focus, so you can stay locked in during your entire session.

jacked factory nitrosurge

One thing we really like about NitroSurge is that it provides two supplement facts labels: one for a single-scoop serving and one for a double-scoop serving. This makes it easy for beginners to start small and work their way up to bigger doses of ingredients, including caffeine. While you won’t get the optimal doses of each ingredient with just one scoop, you can always stack this supplement with another item for a more profound effect without the extra caffeine.

All of this good stuff comes in at a price point of just $30 per container, or about $1 per serving, making it a top pre-workout option for beginners who are hesitant to spend a lot of cash on supplements. 

One callout is that Jacked Factory products aren’t third-party tested, but that’s not typically a concern for people who aren’t athletes. We’ve tested JackedFactory products and between our personal experience and the brand’s label transparency, we’re confident in our recommendation. 

“We tried Strawberry Margarita (which looks like it’s only available on Amazon) and it is wildly delicious,” says Kate Meier, GGR head of content. “Like, I’d drink this by the side of a pool over ice. Drink it all day!” The members of her weightlifting team also love it.

Price per serving$0.99
Caffeine per serving360 or 180 mg
Other key ingredientsBeta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, L-citrulline, L-theanine, theobromine 

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners for Building Muscle: Transparent Labs BULK

Good for: Beginners who want to maximize their coveted newbie gains

Best for Building Muscle

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to help support muscle gain 
  • 20 grams of research-based active ingredients per serving 
  • 8 flavor variations are available
 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Transparent ingredient list
  • No artificial sweetener or color
  • Moderate dose of caffeine
  • 8 flavor options
  • 60-day money-back assurance

Cons

  • No creatine
  • Some users report it tastes bad

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ BULK supplement is attractive to those whose primary focus is split between potential muscle gain and a pre-workout pump. While the taste is questionable, the product works well for most users.

Between newbie gains and Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout, you’ll be the biggest lifter in the gym in no time. OK, that’s a false promise (probably), but BULK can 100% help you pack on the pounds thanks to its incredible pre-workout formula. 

As the name suggests, BULK is packed with muscle-building ingredients that work in a variety of ways. The main ingredients are citrulline malate (8 grams) for improvements in muscular endurance and general physical performance1; beta-alanine (4 grams) for staving off muscle fatigue2; betaine anhydrous to reduce fatigue and increase work capacity3; L-tyrosine for focus6; and alpha-GPC (choline bitartrate7) for focus. 

BULK also contains L-theanine, theobromine, taurine, an adaptogen blend, and BioPerine, a black pepper extract that increases the bioavailability8 of nutrients consumed. 

Oh, and we’d be remiss not to note that all of these quality ingredients are present in the clinically indicated doses in sports nutrition research. Proper dosing, and the fact that Transparent Labs posts certificates of analysis and composition for all of its products, are reasons why the brand appears on many of our nutrition guides, including our list of the best protein powders.

BULK also contains about the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee (200 milligrams per serving), which will give you a nice energy boost but shouldn’t cause jitters or other negative side effects of caffeine in people who are used to consuming it.

transparent labs bulk product bottle side by side on wood table

We do wish Transparent Labs didn’t omit creatine in this pre-workout, since creatine is proven to be one of the most impactful supplements for athletic performance and muscle gain. Transparent Labs says that they omit creatine because caffeine blunts its effects when taken together, but research on that topic is scarce and inconclusive. A 2017 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning9 found no change in performance among groups that consumed creatine alone or creatine with caffeine.

Anthony O’Reilly, GGR performance editor and product tester, has tried BULK and really likes the Blue Raspberry flavor, saying, “It’s hard to describe the taste of blue raspberry but that’s exactly what this tastes like. It’s not too sweet, which is a good thing.”

Read our full Transparent Labs BULK review for more details on this pre-workout.

Price per serving$1.66
Caffeine per serving200 mg
Other key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, taurine, betaine anhydrous (BetaPure), L-tyrosine, L-theanine, Alpha-GPC, caffeine anhydrous, theobromine, BioPerine 

Best Natural Pre-Workout for Beginners: Onnit Alpha Brain

Good for: Beginners who want a pre-workout with naturally-sourced ingredients

Best Natural

Onnit Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Includes beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Priced around $3/serving; subscribe-and-save option available
  • 2 flavors currently available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 200 mg of caffeine
  • Tiger's Blood flavor tastes great
  • Includes 225 mg of ashwagandha extract
  • Contains beta alanine and L-citrulline
  • Subscribe-and-save option is available

Cons

  • Only 2 flavors available, and Yuzu Peach isn't popular among our product testers
  • $3/serving is expensive
  • Key ingredients like citrulline and beta-alanine are under-dosed

Bottom Line

Onnit's Alpha BRAIN Pre-Workout is a unique blend of ingredients that our testers enjoyed for workouts where they wanted to be focused and energized. It only comes in two flavors; the Tiger's Blood flavor is our preferred choice.

Onnit Alpha Brain contains natural ingredients, sweeteners, and many other natural pre-workout staples such as beta-alanine, l-citrulline, and AlphaGPC for increased energy, strength, and focus. While some of the ingredients are under-dosed, beginners should start at lower doses before working their way up to larger ones, especially for ingredients like caffeine.

There’s 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is about two cups of coffee, along with 50 grams of Dyanmine, an ingredient proven to prolong caffeine’s energy-boosting capabilities. The combination also helps increase reaction time, according to researchers.

Woman Drinking Alpha Brain Pre Workout

Onnit and researchers warn, however, warn that you should avoid caffeine after taking this pre-workout because Dynamine stays in your system longer, so it could cause disruptions to your sleeping patterns.

Jacob Penner, USAW-L2 coach and owner of North Carolina-based Endless Strength Weightlifting, said the Alpha Brain pre-workout brings “great focus and clarity to your workout.”

“It’s not overly stimulating; it’s more of just feeling very present and ready to do the work,” he continues. “No tingles from this one. Two of our testers said they still got a good pump from this pre-workout.”

The flavor department was a mixed bag. “The Tiger’s Blood taste is tropical, but not pineapple; more coconutty/watermelon/strawberry,” Jacob says. The Yuzu Peach was bitter and some members of Jacob’s weightlifting team couldn’t finish their drink.

Read more in our full Onnit Alpha Brain pre-workout review.

Price per serving$2.99
Caffeine per serving200 mg
Other key ingredientsCitrulline malate, beta-alanine, Alpha-GPC, caffeine anhydrous, theobromine, African oil palm fruit  

Best-Tasting Pre-Workout for Beginners: Huge Supplements Pump Serum

Good for: Beginners who don’t yet enjoy the acquired taste of many supplements

Best Tasting

Huge Supplements Pump Serum Non-Stim

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Available in four flavors
  • Formulated to improve workout performance 
  • Claimed to increase pump and muscle fullness 
  • Claimed to enhance endurance and increase focus

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Reportedly effective
  • No post-workout crash
  • Taste is popular
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Sucralose may cause GI distress
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Although it does contain artificial ingredients, the Pump Serum Stimulant Free Pre-Workout powder is designed to pump you up for your next workout without any post-workout crash.

Truth be told, supplements aren’t always tasty. Sometimes the texture is grainy and sometimes there’s a strong aftertaste or chemical-like taste, usually due to artificial sweeteners. For a supplement aficionado, this usually isn’t a big deal, since such a person will grin and bear it in the name of its benefits. But for a beginner, a more palatable taste is ideal, so they can actually look forward to taking the supplement and make a habit out of it. 

We recommend Huge Supplements Pump Serum as the best-tasting pre-workout for beginners. Its robust flavors like Cherry Berry, Jungle Juice, Island Dream, and Strawberry Mojito live up to their names. 

GGR head of content and product tester Kate Meier tried the Cherry Berry flavor and said it’s quite sweet but that she enjoyed it. “It isn’t incredibly tart, but it is definitely sweet,” she says. “It does taste like cherry with berries. The instructions say to mix it with 8 to 12 ounces of water, but that made the taste too concentrated, so I mixed it with about 20 ounces and it was better.”

huge supplements pump serum

“It mixes well, but it seems to settle a little,” Kate continues, “so I just shook it before every time I took it. Doing that made every sip good.”

This is a non-stim formula, so you won’t get a caffeine jolt, but rest assured that Pump Serum contains plenty of ingredients for a great workout: 980 milligrams of choline bitartrate, 8 grams of L-citrulline, 2 grams of L-tyrosine, 1.5 grams of Nitrosigine10 (a form of arginine that can cause vasodilation), 1 gram of VasoDrive-AP11 (another nitric oxide booster), and Huperzine A12, a nootropic for focus.

RELATED: Best-Tasting Protein Powder

Price per serving$2.10
Caffeine per servingNone
Other key ingredientsL-citrulline, choline bitartrate, L-tyrosine, Nitrosigine, VasoDrive-AP, Huperzine A, GlycerPump™, BioPerine

Best Pre-Workout for Beginners for a Pump: Kaged Pre-Kaged

Good for: Beginners looking for a solid pump 

Best for a Pump

Kaged Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.16 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Contains research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and citrulline
  • Informed Sport-certified, meaning it’s been tested for quality assurance and banned substances. 
  • 7 flavors are available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good formulation of research-backed ingredients
  • Label transparency
  • 7 flavors and users overwhelmingly like the taste

Cons

  • Big serving size
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Kaged Pre-Kaged is expensive, but is formulated with research-backed dosages of key ingredients like caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline.

If you’re new to fitness, you may not yet be familiar with how nitric oxide affects fitness performance and produces the highly sought after muscle pump. Nitric oxide13 is a vasodilator, meaning it widens your blood vessels and helps increase blood flow. When exercising, this allows your body to more efficiently send oxygen and nutrients to your skeletal muscle tissue to keep. This increased circulation is also what causes your muscle to “pump” up during your session and stay that way for a little while post-workout. 

Kaged contains a hefty and clinically backed 6.5-gram dose of L-citrulline1, which is one of the most heavily studied nitric oxide boosters available in fitness supplements.

Kaged Pre-Kaged is a fully-loaded pre-workout that’s suitable for all fitness levels, and it’s a good choice for beginners who already have a little bit of a caffeine tolerance (or those who don’t mind dicing up the dose for the first couple of weeks).

Kaged Pre Kaged Pre Workout

Pre-Kaged contains 274 milligrams of caffeine per serving (the reason we recommend halving the scoop upon first use if you’re new to pre-workout) along with clinically effective doses of L-citrulline, beta-alanine, creatine HCl, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), taurine, L-tyrosine, and antioxidants—all of the best pre-workout ingredients and then some. 

Together, these ingredients make up a product that enhances focus (L-tyrosine6), boosts energy (caffeine), increases exercise endurance (beta-alanine2, taurine14, antioxidants), produces a muscle pump (L-citrulline), and helps you build muscle (creatine15, BCAAs16) and recover (BCAAs and antioxidants). 

And it’s tasty to boot: GGR product tester and editor Nicole Davis says the Krisp Apple flavor is yummy, although there is somewhat of an odd mouthfeel after taking a sip. It doesn’t dissolve the best, leaving some chunky bits, but that’s a small price to pay for such a robust formula—and if you down it in one go, you won’t notice. 

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout for Men

Price per serving$2.25
Caffeine per serving274 milligrams
Other key ingredientsL-citrulline, beta-alanine, BCAAs, creatine HCl, taurine, L-tyrosine, antioxidants

Best Budget Pre-Workout for Beginners: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Good for: Beginners on a budget

Best Budget

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Reputable brand 
  • Combines 175 milligrams of caffeine with 3 grams of creatine monohydrate and 1.5 grams beta-alanine
  • Available in 4 flavors
  • Mixes well
  • Tastes good

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Contains creatine
  • A slew of vitamins in this formula
  • Reputable brand
  • Tastes good
  • Affordable
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Some flavors reported to have a synthetic aftertaste

Bottom Line

Made with simple yet effective ingredients, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout provides users with a good boost of energy, improved focus, and enhanced performance.

Optimum Nutrition is one of our favorite budget-friendly supplement brands, and we’re fans of their Gold Standard Pre-Workout not only for its low price, but also for its modest caffeine content, 3 grams of creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, and fantastic taste and solubility. 

Gold Standard Pre-Workout is a good pre-workout powder for beginners because it contains essential ingredients, and it has a little bit of help from sweeteners and gums to improve the taste and texture. While artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers are often things that health-conscious people want to shy away from, they’re generally recognized as safe by the FDA and can make supplements more palatable to beginners. 

Aside from the great taste and texture, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout is less cost-prohibitive than many other pre-workouts with its price per serving of $1.

The modest 175 milligram-dose of caffeine will boost energy levels without hyping you up to an excessive level, and acetyl-L-carnitine hydrochloride17 and N-acetyl L-tyrosine18 bolster that effect with their effect on focus and reaction time. Creatine, beta-alanine, and L-citrulline provide ergogenic benefits, while AstraGin19, a bioavailability enhancer, is there to increase absorption of all of those nutrients. 

The doses of some of these ingredients could be higher (such as the 1.5-gram dose of beta-alanine), but overall, we think this is a great formulation for beginners. And it comes in yummy flavors like Blueberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Green Apple, and Watermelon.

Kate, GGR head of content, says some members of her weightlifting team have been using this pre-workout for years. “The flavors are always absolutely delicious; sweet but not too sweet,” she says, “and it dissolves perfectly in just 8 ounces of water.”

Price per serving$1
Caffeine per serving175 mg
Other key ingredientsCreatine monohydrate, AstraGin, beta-alanine, L-citrulline, acetyl-L-carnitine hydrochloride, N-acetyl L-tyrosine

Best Stim-Free Pre-Workout for Beginners: Naked Nutrition Stim-Free

Good for: New fitness enthusiasts who don’t want a jolt of caffeine but do want muscle-building ingredients

Best Stim-Free

Naked Nutrition Stim-Free Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free/stimulant-free 
  • Plant-based ingredients 
  • Claimed to improve focus, performance, and recovery
  • Includes CarnoSyn beta-alanine
  • Unflavored
  • No additives or artificial ingredients
  • Third-party tested for efficacy

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No additives or artificial sweeteners
  • Non-stimulant
  • Non-gmo
  • Vegan and keto friendly
  • Free from sugar, soy, and dairy

Cons

  • Some don’t care for the taste
  • Not a lot of reviews of the non-stim version

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a clean pre-workout supplement with a simple list of natural vitamins and minerals, Naked Nutrition's Stim Free Pre Workout may be for you.

For a caffeine-free boost of energy, try Naked Nutrition Energy Stim-Free, a high-quality pre-workout that contains several ingredients to help with muscle growth, hydration, and mental focus, but without the potential crash of an energy drink full of caffeine. It’s one of our top picks for the best stim-free pre-workout powders overall.

An image of Naked Nutrition Naked Energy pre-workout in a shaker

The ingredients list includes CarnoSyn, a patented form of beta-alanine shown to increase carnosine production; arginine20, an essential amino acid that can create muscle pumps; L-citrulline; and elevATP, a patented compound that has been studied for its ability to increase ATP production in the body21. (ATP is the “currency” of muscle contraction, which is why this is a great pre-workout ingredient.)

Additionally, Naked Stim-Free contains vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, folate, vitamin C, and calcium, all of which play different but important roles in human health and exercise performance. 

This pre-workout is unflavored, and it is free from artificial sweeteners, dyes, flavors, soy, GMOs, gluten, and proprietary blends. That is to say, it’s one of the best natural pre-workouts there is. 

Price per serving$1.20
Caffeine per servingNone
Other key ingredientsCarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine, niacin, Nitrosigine® (L-arginine stabilized with inositol), L-citrulline malate

Best Vegan Pre-Workout for Beginners: Genius PRE

Good for: People on a vegan diet who want a gentle energy boost

Best Vegan-Friendly

The Genius Brand Genius Pre

GGR Score: 4.26 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Caffeine-free nootropics-based pre-workout 
  • Doubles as a productivity booster 
  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Subscribe and save 20%
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee (from the ship date)
  • Available in 4 flavors

Cons

  • Only available in 20 serving containers
  • No 3rd-party certifications
  • May cause skin tingling

Bottom Line

The Genius Brand Genius Pre is a stimulant-free, nootropic-based pre-workout designed to help improve your focus and performance in the gym. It has very positive reviews, although customers do wish they could buy containers with more than 20 servings so they didn’t have to purchase as often.

A vegan-friendly and stim-free pre-workout, Genius PRE is a great choice for the beginner who just wants to remain focused during workouts without being overstimulated. Not only is this free of animal products, but it’s also free from preservatives, fillers, soy, and is non-GMO.

RELATED: Best Vegan Protein Powder

We turned to Jacob Penner, a certified personal trainer, USA Weightlifting coach, and someone who has tried more than 50 pre-workouts, for his thoughts on Genius PRE.

Genius Pre Workout 6

“This is stim-free, so it doesn’t get you all jacked up. I felt almost euphoric taking this, actually. It gave me a very calm focus,” he says, giving the overall workout experience on PRE a 4 out of 5. “It almost felt like taking a mood stabilizer, because I was relaxed, not stimulated; clear, and ready to take action.”

That would make sense, because this unique pre-workout formula contains nootropics like choline and huperzia. These are in addition to clinically-backed dosages of pre-workout staples like l-citrulline malate, carnosyn, betain anhydrous, l-tyrosine, l-arginine, and taurine.

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout For Muscle Gain

In terms of flavor, there are three options: Blue Raspberry, Grape Limeade, and Sour Cherry. Jacob says this gets a perfect score. “I took Blue Raspberry. Absolutely love the taste – this is like a blue icee,” he says, also rating it perfectly for solubility.

Genius Pre Workout 1

Genius PRE is third-party tested, which means that what’s on the label is accurate in terms of ingredients and dosages. However, we should point out that third-party testing often increases the price of a product; Genius PRE clocks in at about $1.90 per serving, making this one of the more expensive pre-workouts for beginners.

Also, Jacob notes that if you’re looking for a pump, you’ll get one, but it may not last long after the workout.

“I did a workout with a lot of upper back work, and my shoulders were so pumped up from it,” he says. “The pump was really good, but it didn’t last long. Pretty much by the time I was done lifting, the pump was fading.”

Price per serving$1.90
Caffeine per serving0
Other key ingredientsL-citrulline malate, carnosyn, betain anhydrous, l-tyrosine, l-arginine, and taurine

Best Endurance Formula Pre-Workout for Beginners: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance

Good for: Established endurance athletes looking for some extra oomph, or beginners looking to get started with an endurance sport

Best for Endurance

1st Phorm Endura-Formance

GGR Score: 4.75 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Combines creatine and beta-alanine 
  • Designed to enhance strength, power, and endurance
  • Designed to increase muscle hydration 
  • Designed to promote oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles
  • Available in four flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Added creatine
  • Reportedly effective
  • No caffeine
  • No jitters or post-workout crash
  • Includes PeakO2 adaptogen blend

Cons

  • Taste is not for everyone
  • Sucralose included

Bottom Line

Endura-Formance is formulated with all the key ingredients one would look for in a pre-workout drink. While the taste is not for everyone, most users experienced improved performance at the gym.

Let me start off by saying that 1st Phorm Endura-Formance has established itself as the go-to pre-workout in my routine. I’ve shuffled through many pre-workouts, with some of my other favorites still in rotation, but Endura-Formance checks all of my boxes as an endurance athlete. 

RELATED: Best Supplements for Runners

I compete in triathlons, and I love that Endura-Formance contains ample sodium, which is critical for prolonged muscle function, plus potassium to support the other end of the muscle contraction equation. It’s caffeine-free, which stimulant-sensitive people will appreciate, but it has other ingredients to boost endurance. 

Namely, Endura-Formance contains a compound called PeakO2, which is a blend of six adaptogenic mushrooms shown to increase VO2 max22 after a few weeks of supplementation—and VO2 max is one of the most important metrics for an endurance athlete. 

The other important ingredient is S7, a nitric oxide booster and vasodilator23, which can help maximize oxygen and nutrient delivery to working skeletal muscles—critical when an endurance athlete has depleted glycogen stores and needs blood glucose transported to muscle tissue.

scoop over bottle 1st phorm powder

It also contains 5 grams of creatine per serving. Creatine is typically thought of as a strength supplement, but creatine is an important amino acid derivative that plays a huge role in the phosphocreatine energy pathway. The phosphocreatine system24 involves the shuttling of creatine and phosphate to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers muscle contraction. 

While most endurance work is completed under aerobic or oxidative metabolism, all pathways are used concurrently in some capacity, and the phosphocreatine system kicks into drive during very short but high-intensity spurts of activity, such as a steep hill climb during an otherwise aerobic bike ride.

Price per serving$1.50
Caffeine per servingNone
Other key ingredientsS7, PeakO2, creatine, betaine anhydrous, beta-alanine, sodium, potassium, L-tyrosine

Other Pre-Workouts We Researched

Our roster of certified trainers, nutrition coaches, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts has tested more than 50 pre-workouts. Here are some others we think beginners might want to take a look at—or avoid. 

  • Cellucor C4: This long standing, widely loved pre-workout is a budget-friendly choice with a minimalistic ingredient list that’s a good starting point for beginners. 
  • Transparent Labs Stim-Free: Naked Energy Stim-Free is our choice for a caffeine-free option for beginners, but Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout would be a good next step for someone wanting to increase their intake of performance-enhancing ingredients.
  • Pre JYM Pre-Workout: Created by a popular bodybuilding athlete, Pre JYM is a quality pre-workout that our testers really enjoy. It might be a little strong for a beginner, though.
  • Onnit Total Strength and Performance: Onnit’s popular pre-workout is a blend of BCAAs, glutamine, and beta-alanine, but it doesn’t contain some pre-workout ingredients we think are more important, like citrulline.
  • XWERKS Ignite: This is an all-around good choice, but it didn’t beat out any of our above top picks for beginners specifically. 
  • Gorilla Mode: We don’t recommend this one for beginners or athletes due to the inclusion of N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine Citrate, which is a banned substance in some countries. 
  • Cira Pre-Game: Cira Pre-Game is a good option for those new to pre-workout, since it contains a mild amount of caffeine and all of the essential pre-workout ingredients.
  • Blackwolf: We recommend this caffeine-free pre-workout for people who want a stim-free supplement to help build muscle. 
  • Transparent Labs LEAN: This would be a good option for someone who is looking to support thyroid function to maintain or manage weight; otherwise, it’s a basic (but high-quality) pre-workout. 
  • Bucked Up Woke AF: This pre-workout is not recommended for beginners (or anyone, really) due to the extremely high level of caffeine and other questionable stimulants. Read our full Woke AF review.
  • Redcon1 Total War: Total War is probably too stimulant-heavy for beginners, but it could be something you work your way up to. Read our full Total War pre-workout review.

How We Picked and Tested the Best Pre-Workout for Beginners

Want to know how we choose products for our nutrition guides? Here’s a glimpse into our process for selecting pre-workouts. 

Third-Party Testing 

Third-party testing influences how we rate products. We believe that independent testing is important in the supplement industry since the FDA doesn’t regulate what goes into supplements—the FDA only mandates that manufacturers don’t mismarket their products, and the government agency has no power over a product or label until it reaches shelves

So, we look for supplements that have undergone testing via independent labs to ensure that their products are safe and effective. If we recommend a product that doesn’t have third-party testing, it’s because we feel comfortable with the brand’s stated manufacturing processes and label transparency, as well as our personal experiences with the product and the brand. 

Taste and Texture

While everyone will perceive taste and texture differently, we can still warn our readers about products that are objectively bad—such as powders that clump when you try to mix them or taste strongly chemical. 

Other Key Ingredients 

There are a few ingredients that have been proven to be effective in pre-workouts aside from caffeine, and in specific doses. Here’s what scientific literature recommends: 

  • Creatine: At least 3 grams 
  • Citrulline: 6 grams 
  • Citrulline Malate: 6 to 8 grams 
  • Beta-Alanine: 3 grams 

We look for pre-workouts that have these ingredients in these doses, or close to them. 

RELATED: Creatine vs Pre-Workout

Side Effects

Most pre-workouts are safe, but certain ingredients can cause side effects. In particular, the following substances can cause various types of discomfort: 

  • Caffeine: Excessive caffeine intake can cause GI distress, nervousness, anxiety, jittery feelings, temporary increased heart rate, and temporary increased blood pressure. Caffeine may also inhibit your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Creatine: In some people, creatine consumption can cause bloating, water retention, and general digestive upset. 
  • Beta-alanine: This ingredient causes paresthesia, a sensation of tingling on or under the skin, especially in the face and extremities. It’s harmless, but can be uncomfortable. Learn more about why pre-workout makes you itch. 
  • Other stimulants: Stimulants other than caffeine may cause side effects similar to caffeine but potentially to a greater extent. 

RELATED: Best Creatine Supplements

Caffeine and Stimulants

We look at the caffeine content of each pre-workout and check for other stimulants to make sure a product is safe for consumption, as well as how a product might affect someone who is not used to consuming stimulants. 

Benefits of Pre-Workout

The main benefits of pre-workout are energy, focus, increased exercise capacity/endurance, and increased strength. Some pre-workout ingredients may also assist with post-workout recovery and muscle soreness, although that’s not generally the main purpose of pre-workout. 

The extent to which you experience these benefits depends greatly on the specific ingredients in the pre-workout you take, the dose of each ingredient in the pre-workout, and your personal tolerance to the ingredients (especially the stimulants). 

Dosing and Interactions

Some ingredients in pre-workout may interact with medications, although pre-workout is generally considered safe to consume. If you take any prescription medications or regularly take any over-the-counter medications, it’s always advisable to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian before trying a new supplement in case of any potential interactions. 

FAQs About the Best Pre-Workout for Beginners

Finally, here are some common questions from beginners who are looking for their first pre-workout.

Is pre-workout safe?

There are hundreds of pre-workouts available, and many of them are perfectly safe. Others contain very high levels of caffeine and other stimulants, which can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels or cause other effects such as insomnia or anxiety. To ensure you’re getting a safe product, check for third-party testing.

Does pre-workout help with weight loss?

Pre-workout isn’t intended as a supplement for weight loss or fat loss. Weight loss happens when you are in a calorie deficit over a period of time, which can occur if you are consistently hitting the gym and burning more calories than you consume each day. Pre-workout supplements might help you get the energy you need to get your workout done, but they will not inherently help you lose weight.

Is it good to take pre-workout as a beginner?

Sure, beginners can safely take pre-workout supplements. However, we recommend starting with one of the above best pre-workouts for beginners to avoid overstimulation from high amounts of caffeine or other uncomfortable side effects.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

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