Top 10 best pre workouts for beginners 2021

Are you a weight-lifting beginner? Have you decided to try a pre-workout?

That’s a good decision. A pre-workout can increase your energy and focus. Also, they will improve your endurance and strength.

Finally, they contain ingredients that stimulate the pump. This makes your muscles look full and huge.

There’s a lot of choices, even for beginners. Which pre-workouts should you consider?

This guide will review the best pre-workout for beginners. Don’t train again until you’ve checked it out!

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout

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Best pre workout for beginners

  1. Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout – Best Overall
  2. Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout – Best Low Caffeine Pre-Workout
  3. NutraBio Pre Stim-Free – Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout
  4. Steel Supplements PRE-Workout – Best Low Beta-Alanine
  5. Cellucor C4 Ultimate Pre Workout Powder – Best Mass Retail Pre-Workout
  6. Nutricost Pre-Workout Powder For Women – Best For Female Beginners
  7. Legion Athletics Legion Pulse – Best Natural Formula
  8. MuscleTech Vapor X5 – Best For Value-Conscious Users
  9. 1Up Nutrition Pre Men – Best For Mental Enhancement
  10. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged – Best For BCAAs

Reviews – The Best pre workout for beginners

Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout – Best Overall

Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout

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Here’s our pick for the best overall. Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout is a complete and balanced formula. Suggested dosing is 1 scoop for beginners, and 2 scoops for experienced users. 

This product is a 5-complex pre-workout. It covers all your training needs. The Energy & Focus Matrix provides 187 mg caffeine for beginners. As you advance, that goes up to 375 mg. Also, there’s a dual absorption complex. Finally, Superhuman has more servings than other pre-workouts.

PROS

  • Features A 5-Complex Formula
  • Dual Servings Sizes For Beginners To Advanced
  • There Are Two Absorption-Enhancing Ingredients

CONS

  • It Contains Artificial Ingredients

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout – Best Low Caffeine Pre-Workout

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout

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Here’s a pre-workout with a low caffeine dose. Some beginners may be sensitive to high caffeine products. One full scoop provides 205mg total caffeine. 

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout contains several ingredients that slow the release of caffeine. These ingredients also smooth out caffeine’s effects. If 205mg is too much, users can take a half-scoop. One downside is the high 4g beta-alanine dose. This is a very effective dose, but some users won’t like the harmless tingling effect. 

Still, like every pre-workout in this guide, Bulk is a complete formula. Finally, it’s 100% natural.

PROS

  • Lower Caffeine Dose Than Many Other Pre-Workouts
  • Complete, Balanced Formula
  • Contains Zero Artificial Ingredients

CONS

  • The 4g Beta-Alanine Dose May Be Too High For Some Users

NutraBio Pre Stim-Free – Best Non-Stim Pre-Workout

This is the best choice for beginners that do not want any stimulants. NutraBio Pre Stim-Free features leucine and creatine. These are ingredients not always found in pre-workouts. 

Yet, they support muscle growth, strength, and endurance. There’s also a good focus complex and a good pump complex. Most stim-free pre-workouts compensate by adding more pump and focus ingredients. 

Focus compounds stimulate motivation so you can train harder. Pre Stim-Free also contains a hydration complex. Finally, this product features full disclosure labeling, right down to the “other ingredients”.  

PROS

  • Fully Disclosed Formula
  • Contains Extras Like Leucine And Two Forms Of Creatine
  • Includes A Hydration Complex

CONS

  • There Are Small Amounts Of Artificial Sweeteners

Steel Supplements PRE-Workout – Best Low Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is an important ingredient. It helps increase endurance. Yet, as noted, it also causes a harmless tingling effect. Not everybody can deal with this. 

That’s why some pre-workouts have a lower dose. Steel Supplements PRE-Workout is our pick for the best low beta-alanine content. The clinical dose is 3.2 grams, but Steel uses a max dose of 2g. This is the dose for the two-scoop serving. 

There’s also a suggested one-scoop serving for beginners. At that dose, there’s only 1g of beta-alanine. Finally, this pre-workout has a 6-ingredient Energy, Focus & Mood Complex.

PROS

  • Low Dose Beta-Alanine For Users That Do Not Like Its Harmless Side Effects
  • Well Balanced Formula
  • Features A Comprehensive Focus Complex

CONS

  • There May Not Be Enough Pump Ingredients For Some Users

Cellucor C4 Ultimate Pre Workout Powder – Best Mass Retail Pre-Workout

Cellucor C4 Ultimate is the best pre-workout you can buy in a retail chain. Of the entire C4 lineup, C4 Ultimate is the most complete. It has full disclosure labeling. That’s a big step from the proprietary blends of other C4 versions. 

It’s also well-dosed. There are no underdosed ingredients in this version. Plus, it’s a complete formula. It does contain artificial sweeteners. Still, it contains natural flavors, plus stevia. 

PROS

  • Full Disclosure Labeling
  • Effectively Dosed
  • Balanced Formula

CONS

  • The Natural Ingredients Are Offset By Artificial Sweeteners

Nutricost Pre-Workout Powder For Women – Best For Female Beginners

Here’s our pick for the best pre-workout for female beginners. Nutricost Pre-Workout Powder For Women is a complete formula designed for ladies only. 

This formula contains a complex of B-vitamins for healthy skin and hair. The formula has lower dosages across the board. The label is 100% transparent. Caffeine is low, at only 200mg per one-scoop serving. 

Other ingredients help smooth out the effects of caffeine. These include l-theanine and theobromine. Finally, Nutricost products are 3rd party tested for quality.

PROS

  • Lower Doses For Women Users
  • Contains Important B Vitamins
  • Transparent Formula

CONS

  • Contains Some Artificial Ingredients

Legion Athletics Legion Pulse – Best Natural Formula

Legion Pulse is our choice for the best natural pre-workout. Pulse does not contain any artificial ingredients. This is a simple, 6-ingredient formula. It does not have ingredient complexes like many other pre-workouts. That means each ingredient is well dosed. It has 350 mg of caffeine, which may be a lot for some users. 

Still, there’s theanine to help offset the caffeine. As well, some users like a more diversified energy and focus complex. As beginners gain experience, personal preferences will become obvious. For some beginners, a formula like Pulse may be the best way to go. 

PROS

  • 100% Natural 
  • Only 6 Ingredients
  • Effectively Dosed Formula

CONS

  • The Formula May Be Too Simple For Some Users

MuscleTech Vapor X5 – Best For Value-Conscious Users

If the value is a consideration, MuscleTech Vapor X5 is the choice for you. This value-conscious pre-workout is well-dosed and fully disclosed. It has a 5-complex formula. 

It also has two suggested serving levels: one scoop and two scoops. Since the max caffeine dose is 380mg, one scoop may be best for new users. Once users adjust to the formula, they can use the max dosage. 

Vapor X5 also has an effective creatine/betaine complex for strength and endurance. Finally, MuscleTech Vapor X5 has an exclusive Neuro-Sensory Blend. This increases focus and motivation.

PROS 

  • Fully Open, Effectively Dosed Formula
  • Two Suggested Serving Sizes
  • Exclusive Cognitive Complex

CONS

  • Contains Some Artificial Ingredients

1Up Nutrition Pre Men – Best For Mental Enhancement

1Up Nutrition Pre Men

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Most of the pre-workouts in this guide have good cognitive ingredients. They have to, that’s a key benefit. Our pick for the best mental enhancer is 1Up Nutrition Pre Men. Concentration and motivation are two keys to a great workout. 

Beginners will learn the importance of mentally connecting to the weights. 1Up Pre Men has the formula that will help in this area. Like many pre-workouts, there are two suggested servings: “Strong” and “Intense”. Each of the 3 complexes has a total dose and an individual ingredient dose. 

That makes it easy to see how much you’re getting of each ingredient. Finally, there are two forms of caffeine dosed at 199 mg, and 399 mg.

PROS

  • Features An Open Label
  • Ingredients Are Clinically Dosed
  • Exceptional Focus Complex

CONS

  • There Are Artificial Flavors & Sweeteners

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged – Best For BCAAs

BCAAs are an important supplement for beginners or anyone interested in muscle growth. They stimulate processes in the body that trigger growth. 

The term for this is protein synthesis. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged is the best pre-workout for BCAAs. The BCAAs consist of 3 amino acids. Pre-Kaged contains a 3.5g BCAA complex. There’s also a separate 3g of leucine. This is the most anabolic of any amino acid. That means it has the greatest impact on muscle growth. 

Also, this is a complete pre-workout. It has an exclusive ORAC antioxidant blend. Finally, it also has 274mg of natural caffeine. 

PROS

  • Features BCAAs With 3.75 mg Of Leucine
  • Contains Natural Caffeine
  • Fully Open Label

CONS

  • May Not Have Strong Enough Stimulants For Some Users

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best pre workout for beginners?

What Is A Pre-Workout

A pre-workout is a supplement that increases energy, focus, endurance, and pumps. Many will also increase strength. The formula depends on the brand. There may be several complexes of ingredients that support any or all of these effects.

The Benefits To Using A Pre-Workout

  • More Energy – This is one of the primary benefits of a pre-workout. The level of energy depends on the amount of caffeine and other stimulants, if any. Are you sensitive to stimulants? There’s many no-stim formulas available. An outstanding example is NutraBio Pre Stim-Free.
  • Enhanced Focus & Concentration – The best pre-workout for beginners should include focus, motivation, and concentration ingredients. These compounds work synergistically to create a mindset geared to lift weights. 
  • Increased Pumps – Getting a good pump is a big deal for many lifters. Every pre-workout in this guide has ingredients for a good pump. 
  • Greater Endurance – Every good pre-workout contains ingredients that limit fatigue and increase endurance. The idea here is the ability to get a few more reps. Beginners will learn that this is important for progress.
  • Increased Strength & Power – Most pre-workouts increase power and strength. Is this important to you? Then look for a product containing creatine and betaine. One example is MuscleTech Vapor X5.

Ingredients To Look For In A Pre-Workout

Here’s a list of ingredients every pre-workout for beginners should have:

Caffeine – This is the most common and most popular of any energy ingredient. Caffeine increases alertness and energy. Also, it can improve performance and aid in fat burning. (1)

Here’s a look at the types of caffeine usually found in a pre-workout:

  • Caffeine Anhydrous – This version of caffeine has any moisture removed. This leaves a dry powder. This leads to more concentrated caffeine.
  • Infinergy Dicaffeine Malate – This trademarked version consists of 75% caffeine and 25% malic acid. The caffeine absorbs slowly. This decreases the chance of jitters.

Tyrosine – This ingredient improves focus and mental function. This is an amino acid involved in the production of two neurotransmitters. They are dopamine and norepinephrine. They’re important for cognitive enhancement.  (2)

Choline – This is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. Choline stimulates the synthesis of acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that promotes an improved mood. It’s also important for the mind-muscle connection. The mind-muscle connection means your ability to concentrate on the working muscles. Some users have a hard time feeling the correct muscles as they train. This mental link ties into your ability to feel the right muscles working. (3, 4)

Alpha GPC – This is a form of choline, it’s 40% choline by weight. It occurs naturally in our brains. Alpha GPC features improved absorption. Otherwise, it provides the same benefits as regular choline. (5)

Huperzine A – This ingredient is not in every pre-workout. One example of a product that contains huperzine is NutraBio Pre Stim-Free. Huperzine elevates focus. It also works with choline by increasing acetylcholine. It blocks an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme regulates the breakdown of acetylcholine. The act of blocking this enzyme means there’s more available acetylcholine. (6)

L-Citrulline – This ingredient stimulates nitric oxide. This in turn increases blood flow. This causes the pump, muscle swelling. It’s not the only ingredient that does this. There are several. Yet, it is the most common and may be the most effective. It’s found in countless pre-workouts. Some pre-workouts, like Legion Pulse, contain citrulline malate. This is a mix of malic acid and citrulline. Why malic acid? It’s involved in the production of ATP. This is what the body uses to fuel muscular energy. (7, 8, 9)

Agmatine Sulfate – You won’t find this in every pre-workout. One example of one that has it is NutraBio Pre Stim-Free. Agmatine is another ingredient that stimulates the production of nitric oxide. (10)

Nitrosigine (™) – Here’s a patented complex of arginine and silicon. It’s becoming a common pre-workout ingredient. You’ll find it in NutraBio’s Pre Stim-Free. It’s also the primary pump ingredient in MuscleTech Vapor X5. Nitrosigine promotes longer-lasting effects. Finally, it works in the body for 6 hours. (11)

Beta-Alanine – This is a common ingredient that helps endurance. How does it work? By increasing carnosine levels in the body. In turn, this buffers lactic acid buildup. This allows you to train a little harder. What about side effects? Well, this causes the infamous tingling effect. This effect is temporary and harmless. Still, it bothers some users. Some users are not willing to use the full clinical dose. For those users, there are pre-workouts with reduced dosages. The best example of this is Steel Supplements PRE-Workout. This product has a max dose of 2g. That’s much lower than the full clinical dose of 3.2 g. (12)

Creatine – This is the most effective and studied supplement you can buy. While not common, some pre-workouts add creatine. A good example is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged. Creatine does several things. It increases muscle fullness. Also, it improves strength, power, and endurance. (13)

Betaine – Like creatine, betaine promotes muscle fullness. Also, like creatine, it improves power and strength. Betaine is a common ingredient, and it’s in most of the pre-workouts in this guide. (14)

What To Consider When Looking For A Pre-Workout

Right from the start, you should understand a couple of important points.

Prop Blends Vs Open Labeling

Here’s an important point about what to consider in your first pre-workout. Being a beginner doesn’t mean you should use an under-dosed product. There’s no reason to buy an inexpensive pre-workout with an underdosed prop blend. What’s a prop blend? It’s a listing of ingredients in order of weight. There’s a total dose, but no individual dosages. You should always know exactly what you are getting.

Clinical Dosing

You should understand that effective pre-workouts use ingredients that are clinically dosed. The best ingredients have been researched and have established effective doses. It’s important to buy a pre-workout that uses this level of dosing. Don’t fall for a value-priced formula that uses weak doses. Even if it has a great ingredient list, low dosed formulas won’t do anything for your workouts.

Full Disclosure Labeling

As noted, don’t buy any product that’s using prop blends. Here’s a tip. Even though you’re a beginner, buy the best product you can. You may have to ease into the dosing by using half a dose. Many good pre-workouts list two dosing levels on the label. As you get used to the product, you can move up to the full dose. That’s much better than buying an underdosed prop blend.

When Should You Take Your Pre-Workout?

First, make sure you read and follow all label directions. It’s best to take your pre-workout with at least 8-10oz of water. You should take it 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to train. It’s not necessary to use it on your off-days. There will be products that may suggest that.

You can expect the effects to last a couple of hours. This is brand-dependent. It’s also stimulant-dependent. A product like 1Up Nutrition Pre Men is long-lasting. Other products that only contain caffeine may not last as long.

Conclusion

Alpha Lion Superhuman Pre-Workout is a complete pre-workout. There are 5 complexes in this formula. The energy complex has a max dose of 387 mg caffeine. There’s also dual serving sizes.

Would prefer a stimulant-free pre-workout? NutraBio Pre Stim-Free is a 100% transparent label. That even includes the “other” ingredients. Also, there’s creatine, leucine, and a good hydration complex.

Finally, are you a woman beginner? Then Nutricost Pre-Workout Powder is the way to go. This is a pre-workout that has dosages adjusted for female users. It also has several B vitamins. These are important for women’s health and beauty.

The best pre-workout for beginners is the one you can tailor to your preferences and goals. Once you’ve trained with a good pre-workout, you’ll never train without one!

References:

  1. https://examine.com/supplements/caffeine/
  2. Deijen, J. B., & Orlebeke, J. F. (n.d.). Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8293316
  3.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#h7
  4. Choline – PubMed Central (PMC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
  5. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  6. Treating senile dementia with traditional Chinese medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515/
  7. Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J., & Gonzales, J. U. (2017, January). Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749691
  8. Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
  9. Bahri, S., Zerrouk, N., Aussel, C., Moinard, C., Crenn, P., Curis, E., … Sfar, S. (2013, March). Citrulline: from metabolism to therapeutic use. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23022123
  10. Haulică I, et al. Preliminary research on possible relationship of NO with agmatine at the vascular level. Rom J Physiol. (1999). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11068606
  11. https://nitrosigine.com/about/
  12. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
  13. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine
  14. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/3/539/4690529
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