Beginners have it the worst.
You're given so many options.
And worst of all is most of the advice is just going to overwhelm you.
You need this, that, buy that, spend time with this.
It's hard, I know.
Supplements are a world of gray, white, and black areas that isn't easy to navigate through.
The last thing you want to do is get something under dosed and only really has caffeine as a working ingredient.
You can even make your own pre workouts.
Here you'll find pre workouts that are true in what they do, with the best formulas to propel you towards your goals.
So let's jump in…
As a beginner, really any pre workout (and program) will work for you.
But you won't want to just pick any pre workout.
There is no magic or secrets to the ingredients that work best to pre workout supplements.
And we've done the research, we know what ingredients work.
So this is what we decided would be our criteria for selecting these pre workouts for you:
- Clinical dosages of proven, research backed ingredients (citrulline, caffeine, beta alanine)
- Dietary options (vegan friendly, natural flavoring, kosher, etc.)
- Preferences (low caffeine, no beta alanine tingles, endurance, etc.)
- Fully open and disclosed formulas (no proprietary blends)
And it doesn't matter what your gender is, male or female, these are pre workouts that contain ingredients that increase performance.
These are pre workouts that are made for any level.
The only difference is that they are beginner-friendly.
Best Pre Workouts For Beginners
If one company has not only flashy branding but also potent pre workouts with clinical doses, it would be Ghost Lifestyle.
This company has been set on a mission since 2016 to make waves with their supplements, and they have been.
And Ghost Legend v2 is vegan friendly, gluten free and soy free.
Ghost Legend (version 2) is worth the ranking here as it uses everything needed in a pre workout.
It has a similar profile to Wrecked, but if you prefer something with less stimulants, then Ghost is your choice.
Wrecked has more nitric oxide boosters but also more stimulants.
Ghost originally only had 202mg caffeine, 2g beta alanine, agmatine and norvaline.
Now in Ghost Legend v2, they've bumped up the dosages and added high quality ingredients, like 250mg caffeine, 3.2g beta alanine, 1.5g Nitrosigine and Senactive.
Ghost attacks energy, pumps and focus from various angles.
For pumps and optimal vasodilation, it contains l-citrulline and Nitrosigine, a potent combo for long lasting pumps.
Senactive is a fairly new ingredient, it can increase ATP production and help with energy.
Focus will be optimized thanks to the combination of L-Tyrosine, Alpha GPC, and taurine.
The stimulants in here are decently dosed with 250mg caffeine, 100mg theobromine and 1.5mg alpha yohimbine.
You won't be overly stimulated but yet you'll have more than enough energy to power through a tough workout.
Wrecked may not be the most friendly pre workout for beginners.
However if you can handle:
- 275mg caffeine
- 100mg hordenine
- 75mg n-methyltyramine
- 50mg higenamine
- 50mg theobromine
- 20mg synephrine
- 1mg alpha yohimbine
Then you're good to go.
The caffeine comes from 2 sources, 100mg is coming from caffeine malate, which is a slow digesting form.
So you'll only be hit with 175mg near instantly not long after consuming this, and the malate form will take more time to digest and deliver you energy.
This makes it perfect if you can't usually handle 300mg caffeine in it's fast acting form, along with the other stimulants pre workouts usually have.
What makes Wrecked stand out is it's blend of ergogenic aids.
Let's start with the pumps, with 8g citrulline malate, 2g betaine anhydrous, 1.25g Agmatine, 255mg VasoDrive AP and 100mg S7, you'll feel the pumps for hours and your muscles will be much more full.
This is a pretty intense blend of nitric oxide for a pre workout that wasn't just designed to be a pump pre workout.
An interesting ingredient that may be new to you is the S7.
S7 is a patented blend of several extracts from green tea, tart cherry, blueberry, broccoli, kale and green coffee bean extract.
Research has seen this blend of natural extracts to be able to increase nitric oxide by 230% by only using 50mg.
This will help expand blood vessels, allowing oxygen rich blood to flow throughout the body.
Now this is combined with 9g citrulline malate, 1.25g agmatine, and 255mg VasoDrive AP, so you may experience some intense muscle filling thanks to these nitric oxide boosters.
Keep in mind if you're lactose intolerant, VasoDrive AP is sourced from casein protein, but it is considered to be lactose free.
If you have a severe lactose allergy then you should avoid this ingredient.
And the stimulants in here are fairly hard hitting but it's not overly done where you'll feel jitters and anxiety.
It only uses 1mg of alpha yohimbine, which should be barely felt as this is a low dose.
Wrecked is one of the best pre workouts for beginners and with 25 servings of 21g, it's a long lasting purchase.
Use discount code FITFREK.
Bulk has the name of a pre workout as if it was designed only for muscle building.
But in reality, it just has clinical doses of performance enhancing ingredients.
From 6g citrulline malate to 4g BCAA's, 4g beta alanine, and 2.5g betaine anhydrous, you'll be able to squeeze out more sets and reps than usual with these ingredients.
Beta alanine will help clear out the lactic acid while citrulline malate will increase vasodilation and betaine anhydrous will increase muscle size and strength.
On top of that, the 1.3g taurine will help increase size by forcing more water retention in your muscles.
The nootropics and stimualnts in Bulk will help enhance both focus and energy.
The fast acting form of caffeine is dosed at 180mg, but on top of that there's 30mg of the malate form for long lasting energy, and 50mg theobromine on top of that, which is a mild stimulant.
The 360mg of theanine here is sure to be felt, it'll help increase calmness without causing drowsiness.
A similar pre workout to Bulk is Wrecked.
If you prefer more energy and pumps, then go with Wrecked, but if you want more power and strength, then Bulk is a good choice.
Superhuman by Alpha Lion might be one only pre workouts on here with DMHA.
It's not overly strong, with 100mg DMHA, 275mg caffeine and 75mg N-Methyl Tyramine HCl, you'll be getting a nice flow of energy without the jitters of anxiety.
There is also 100mg of a slower acting caffeine, caffeine malate, but that doesn't hit as quickly as the 275mg caffeine anhydrous.
Caffeine takes longer to digest in it's malate form, allowing you to have energy over a longer period of time.
DMHA is usually dosed at 200-300 in stronger pre workouts, so this is a nice introduction to exotic stimulants.
But keep in mind, NMT (n-methyl tyramine HCl) is banned by WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) and should be avoided if you're drug tested for competition.
NMT isn't really that strong of a stimulant, but it's mainly banned because it can work as a bronchodilator.
If you have experience with 300mg of caffeine, then Superhuman should be no problem for you.
But if you don't, then you should go for Bulk or MyProtein Pre Workout.
If you want the revised version without DMHA, then check it out here.
Use discount code FITFREK.
Volugen is one of the best non-stimulant pre workouts we've seen so far.
Morphogen Nutrition is a decent company that makes some potent supplements.
Volugen contains no caffeine, or anything that will keep you from sleeping at night, instead it uses ergogenic aids, strength boosters and nitric oxide enhancers to help maximize training.
Not only does it have a pure 8g dose of citrulline but it also has 3g HydroMax for the water-based pumps, the 2.5g betaine to help pull in more water into muscles and enhance strength, along with a massive 508mg VasoDrive-AP and 300mg Vaso6.
To help keep the nitric oxide levels up, the classic ingredient norvaline is included.
For nootropics and mental focus, Volugen has 1g acetyl-l-carnitine and 680mg rhodiola rosea.
Both of these ingredients will help increase focus and energy without being stimulants.
Simple pre workouts are hard to find these days.
However My Protein has done it right with THE Pre Workout.
The simply named THE Pre Workout contains exactly what you need and leaves out everything else.
The downside to THE Pre Workout is that it contains a small dose of creatine, 2g.
Creatine should be dosed at 5g for proper benefits, but you should have this ingredient in bulk anyway as it can be taken anytime.
And beta alanine is a little underdosed at 2g, it should be 3.2g at least.
But if you don't like the tingles then this dose may just be good for you.
There's also 4g citrulline with 2.5g betaine to help with muscle pumps, size and strength.
All in all, THE Pre Workout is the perfect introduction to the world of this category of energy supplements.
If you want something cheap and better than coffee, then Amino Energy has what you need.
This is a energy supplement with amino acids and caffeine.
It's fairly straightforward with 100mg caffeine per 2 scoops with a little bit of beta alanine (probably less than a gram)
Every serving has 5 grams of amino acids but they are in a proprietary blend, so you don't know how much of each amino acid you're getting.
But it's still a cheap choice and has been a popular pre workout for years now.
What Is A Pre Workout?
Pre workouts are supplements that provide energy for your workouts.
They contain ingredients that assist with different areas of your workouts, like endurance, strength, focus and motivation.
The ingredients used are typically ones that have some research supporting their purpose.
Should I Use Pre Workouts?
There's no reason not to unless you don't have the budget or can't have the ingredients in them for whatever reason (allergies, caffeine, etc.)
Not all pre workouts are created equally.
I created this list to help you find a pre workout that is friendly for beginners.
I also have other lists that include:
- Top pre workouts overall
- Pre workouts without stimulants
- Strongest pre workouts (stim junkies only)
You should pick a pre workout based on your preferences, but if you don't have any preferences and just want something that works then go for either Wrecked or Bulk.
When Should I Take A Pre Workout?
Typically you should take a pre workout 30-45 minutes before your workout.
But most pre workouts will be fine if you wait an hour or two because the effects last for at least 3-5 hours, even more for stimulant sensitive folks.
It should be taken on a empty stomach, so if you've just eaten a protein heavy meal, like eggs then you would wait at least 2 hours before consuming your pre workout.
I typically workout without eating anything in the morning, and just take my pre workout and that helps power through the workout without feeling hungry.
Some pre workouts are stimulant free, allowing you to consume it at night, or anytime without worrying it would disturb your sleep.
There are nootropics like huperzine which can possibly keep you up at night.
How Long Does It Last?
Pre workouts typically last anywhere from 4-6 hours. Even more if you're sensitive to stimulants.
For myself, the effects last at least 6 hours, with a slow temper off after the 6 hour point depending on the pre workout.
Some pre workouts hit and last longer than 6 hours, depending on how much caffeine was used.
Caffeine has a long half life so even after 6 hours, half the amount is usually still floating around your system, and this cuts in half for every 6 hours.
So if you consume 300mg at 12 pm, you'll have about 150mg at 6 pm. Then 75mg by 12 am.
Why Take A Pre Workout?
Modern science has taken us far and when it comes to supplement research, a lot has been learned about what several ingredients can do for improving workout performance.
While caffeine on it's own has some performance boosting benefits, ingredients like citrulline, beta alanine and betaine have been shown to help improve workout quality and reduce fatigue.
A good pre workout will contain several ingredients for mainly improving your workout experience as well as motivation.
However not all pre workouts are created equally and not all companies would spare no expense creating formulas with the best bang for your buck.
Ingredients to Look For
Pre workout ingredients are usually formulated together to achieve a goal or two.
Pre workouts can either contain just caffeine along with ergogenic aids (like ingredients that help with vasodilation or reduce fatigue) or they can choose to have thermogenic aids to help enhance fat loss.
No matter what you want to achieve, you generally want to have citrulline and caffeine as these two ingredients are well researched to help improve workout performance.
This is one of the most common stimulants you'll find in pre workouts.
It reduces mental fatigue by inhibiting adenosine and phosphodiesterase, while increasing alertness and awareness.
The fast acting form is usually just labelled as caffeine, or caffeine citrate, or caffeine anhydrous, while the slower acting form is the caffeine malate.
There's generally two forms of citrulline to look out for, citrulline malate and citrulline.
Citrulline is an amino acid that's able to convert into arginine, better than arginine itself.
It increases ATP production, removes and clears out the toxic molecule called ammonia, and can increase workout performance.
It'll help increase vasodilation and help deliver oxygen rich blood to muscles.
The other form is citrulline malate, which is bonded with malic acid and it's believed to be more bioavailability, but we haven't really noticed a difference.
If you see 8g of citrulline malate, this means you're getting 4g of pure citrulline.
Beta Alanine helps enhance workout performance by delaying fatigue, and boosts endurance.
It's responsible for the harmless tingling sensation that you get after drinking it, which is called paresthesia.
This sensation decreases as your body becomes saturated with beta alanine.
The clinical dose is anywhere from 3.2g to 6.4g per day.
Taking this will increase overall power, strength and work volume.
Beta alanine, like creatine, can be taken anytime during the day and it doesn't need to be in a pre workout.
Betaine is a strength boosting compound that works similarly to creatine.
It helps with size and strength gains.
Benefits can be seen with doses anywhere from 500mg to 2.5g per day, but we prefer the latter for the most benefits.
It'll also help increase muscle protein synthesis.
Creatine is not needed in a pre workout as it can be taken anytime during the day (pre, post, intra).
And you should use 5g per day, without needing to load.
It takes a few days for creatine to leave your system completely, so after a few weeks of using creatine daily, you can skip days where you don't take it if you wanted to save money.
Theanine is an amino acid that induces relaxation and calmness without causing drowsiness.
When combined with caffeine and other stimulants, it can result in a very smooth zen-like focus and energy.
It can also reduce jitters.
Doses are usually anywhere from 150mg to 300mg or more.
Watch out for the extra ingredients.
If you don't want artificial ingredients or coloring, then look at the fillers and avoid the ones that have them.
There are natural flavored pre workouts without coloring, or artificially flavored pre workouts without coloring.
But keep in mind, the natural ones won't taste as good, it'll just be healthier for you.