Note: Some links on this page may be affiliate links. This means that we may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of these links (at no extra cost to you).
So you’re kick-starting your journey in the world of supplements, right? You’ve landed on the right page! Cause today, I’m going to walk you through the best pre workouts for beginners, their core ingredients with the recommended doses, and a detailed buying guide on how to pick the perfect pre workout for your needs.
I will also guide you through the side effects and precautions that must be taken into account before using any of those products. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick summary:
Best Overall: MusclePharm Assault
ON Golden Standard Pre Workout
BSN N.O Xplode
Strongest Pre Workouts for Beginners
As a beginner, picking your pre workout supplement is easier said than done. That’s why we’ve prepared this list of the best pre workouts available on the market now.
1- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout
It’s with no surprise that Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard pre workout is on our list. It includes all the essential pre workout ingredients, each of them at the perfect dosage for a beginner.
It’s keto-friendly and available in multiple flavors as well; Fruit punch and watermelon are our favorites. It’s recommended that you check your stimulant tolerance before buying this one as it’s slightly high on caffeine.
It’s product label is also very clear and to the point; very few filler ingredients which makes it one of the best pre workouts out there. However, Beta-alanine is slightly below the optimum dose, but it’s completely fine and does the job for a beginner. Also, it includes 25 mg of a proprietary blend.
- Proprietary blend present
- Some consumers suffered nausea
2- MusclePharm Assault Pre Workout
With its optimum ingredient dosages and with no proprietary blends on its label, this is definitely a strong contender on this list.
One thing that you should consider is the servings; yes, this bottle offers 30 servings but each serving is of 7.4 g which is a bit low compared to other products.
This pre workout gives you all you need in terms of an energy boost, but it might as well increase your trips to the bathroom in a higher rate than other products on our list.
Consumers have experienced much reduced soreness during their weightlifting session, even the older guys of 40+ years. One thing you should know that they’ve changed their formulae a few years ago. Some consumers didn’t like this change as the supplement didn’t provide the same kick as before.
- Perfect ingredient list
- No proprietary blends
- Misleading servings count
- Might increase bathroom trips
3- Cellucor C4
This zero sugar pre workout is optimum for those who want to shed some pounds off while getting a good energy boost. It’s said to be America’s number 1 selling pre workout. This supplement comes in 10+ different flavors which gives it an edge over its competitors when it comes to the taste.
C4 is suitable for all levels; whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or even a gym beast, this product will probably fit you quite well. However, It’s highly recommended not to consume more than 2 scoops per day.
One of the things we didn’t like about C4 is the excessive food coloring used. Multiple consumers have reported that their tongue and lips turned bluish just after using it. Due to a drop in quality, customers were suspicious in 2018 that Cellucor changed the ingredients and added some extra food coloring too.
In addition, it has been noticed by some customers that it has become a bit clumpy; some of them actually claimed that it was delivered to them clumped since day 1.
- Zero sugar
- 10+ different flavors
- Suitable for all levels
- Gets clumpy quickly
- Excessive food coloring
4- Vintage Blast Pre Workout
And here comes another “no proprietary blend” pre workout! Old School Labs -which is the company behind this pre workout- has a full transparency policy which puts their customers’ comfort first.
All the ingredients that form a strong pre workout are there; from vitamins and electrolytes that help with hydration and lower oxidation, up until the core ingredients like caffeine and creatine in reliable doses.
Unlike most other supplements, this pre workout won’t increase your heart rate in an abnormal way, that’s one reason that makes it suitable and extra safe for pre workout newbies. Also, skin tingling isn’t an issue for most Vintage Blast consumers.
On the other hand, some consumers reported a difficulty in dissolving the powder in water. In addition to the availability of only one flavor, and it could be much better. The price is also a drawback; it’s a bit expensive when compared to other pre workouts.
- Full transparency
- No abnormal heart rate spike
- Reduced skin tingling
- Long-lasting effect (1+ hours)
- Relatively expensive
- One flavor only
- Might face difficulty in dissolving
5- Blue Ribbon Pre Workout
The one special trait this pre workout possesses is that there are no proprietary blends at all. This is something you wouldn’t find in most supplements, even the best ones. Blue Ribbon is one of the few sports nutrition companies who put transparency above anything else.
But, this supplement lacks the recommended dose of beta-alanine and that’s a turnoff, without a doubt. Also, only two flavors are available, which doesn’t make this supplement the best, but it’s still on the list.
Although the bottle offers 40 servings, it’s relatively not cheap taking into consideration the slight shortage of ingredients mentioned above.
- Suits both men & women
- 2 flavors only
- Relatively expensive
6- BSN N.O.-Xplode
This is one of the oldest pre workouts available on the market now; it’s there since 2004. Container sizes available are either 30 or 60 servings. It also comes in 5 flavors; fruit punch, raspberry lemonade, cherry limeade, green apple, and grape.
It’s high on caffeine which can be considered as an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time; as a pre workout newbie you should check your stimulant tolerance before going for a high-caffeine supplement. However, the caffeine dose provided in this supplement is within the healthy range, but is slightly higher than other pre workouts on this list.
One turn off about this product is its price tag; it’s one of the most expensive supplements on this list. Also, a lot of consumers reported an increased number of trips to the toilet just after a couple of minutes from consuming a scoop.
Overall, if you have no problem in going to the restroom more frequently, then this pre workout would definitely fit you.
- 5 different flavors
- One of the oldest on the market
- A bit costly
- Increased restroom trips
7- Batch 27 Pre Workout Powder
What’s special about this supplement is that it’s much richer in beta-alanine than almost all its competitors; the stunning 3.5 grams tag plays a role in reducing soreness which allows you to perform more reps easily.
It’s also too high on caffeine but still within the recommended dosage. It’s recommended for beginners to take no more than one scoop per day, especially if your not sure about your stimulant tolerance. Also, the formulae used is backed by science so you don’t have to worry about the quality of ingredients used.
There are 5 different flavors to choose from which is a plus for this pre workout.
As a conclusion, this pre workout might not be perfect for all beginners as it’s too high on caffeine as mentioned above; so make sure to check your stimulant tolerance before buying it.
- Highest on beta-alanine
- Backed by science
- Might not be suitable for all beginners
Pre Workout Buying Guide for Beginners
You shouldn’t be going out there buying any random supplement you find on the market. Actually, the market is flooded with scammy products that won’t get you anywhere; in fact, it might affect your health negatively. So read on to get a better grasp of what you should be considering before buying.
Here’s a brief summary for this buying guide.
What Makes a Good Pre Workout?
Pre workouts usually include an overwhelming number of ingredients that might cause a serious hassle, especially for beginners.
So, what ingredients should I keep an eye on when buying my pre workout? There are mainly four essential ingredients that form the perfect pre workout supplement, let’s take a look at them.
1- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs is a group of 3 amino acids which are: Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are mostly broken down inside your muscles. That’s why they have a positive impact on your energy level during exercising.
BCAAs play a crucial role when it comes to muscle growth enhancement as well as boosting your performance while exercising. They actually represent about 35-40% of the essential amino acids present in your body. Studies also claim that individuals who were given a BCAAs dose before exercising decreased their fatigue by 15%.
BCAAs are crucial especially if you’re having a protein deficiency in your diet. However, if your protein intake is as recommended, then you shouldn’t worry about this particular ingredient although it would still be very beneficial if present in your pre workout.
Recommended dose: 0.09-0.15 grams for every kilogram of body weight.
Best alternative natural sources: Milk, whey, beef, chicken, chickpeas, and lima beans.
So, what’s one reason behind this over-energetic feeling you get a few minutes after taking your pre workout scope? It’s caffeine (along with creatine). Here’s how it works: caffeine basically tricks a chemical in our brain called adenosine. You feel sleepy when adenosine binds with its receptors, and that’s when caffeine comes in; it prevents this binding process.
Although caffeine is the most famous ingredient in any pre workout, some people actually tend to use a caffeine-free supplement. This is due to some side effects that are associated with excessive doses of caffeine. Some of those side effects are insomnia, fast heart rate, and addiction leading to the inability to exert day-to-day tasks without your daily caffeine dose. Fortunately, the allowable healthy dose is about 4 cups of coffee per day, which is quite a lot.
Recommended dose: No more than 400 mg per day (for a healthy adult)
Best alternative natural sources: coffee beans, cocoa beans, Guarana, and kola nut.
Creatine is scientifically known as a non-protein nitrogen; it actually contains nitrogen but is not considered a protein. As aforementioned, the two main ingredients responsible for boosting your performance is creatine and caffeine. Creatine is found naturally in your skeletal muscles; almost 95% of it is stored there.
Actually, creatine is considered the safest pre workout ingredient as it has been involved in a lot of research to ensure its safety. This is due to the controversy it has caused ever since it gained popularity in the early 1990s.
Despite the huge number of studies concluding that creatine is totally safe, there is still some speculation that creatine might cause long-term health issues like weight gain, kidney stones and digestive problems. However, those side effects aren’t backed up by evidence, so you shouldn’t worry about them.
- For the loading phase: daily dose of 20 grams for 4-7 days
- For the maintenance phase: daily dose of 3-5 grams
Best alternative natural sources: red meat, fish, beef, and salmon.
Last but not least comes another core ingredient that gives your muscles a significant boost. Beta-Alanine is responsible for improving your muscle endurance; which is the ability of your muscles to perform more reps without failure or fatigue.
Beta-Alanine escalates the levels of “carnosine” in your body; this decreases the acid levels in your muscles, resulting in a lower muscle failure risk.
One of its observed side effects is described as skin tingling (paraesthesia). This can be controlled by reducing the dosage to 800 mg at a time. Another drawback is the declination of taurine levels in your body.
Recommended dose: daily dose of 2-5 grams per day.
Best alternative natural sources: meat, fish, and poultry.
What is a Proprietary Blend
A proprietary blend is a disclosed group of ingredients used by a single sports nutrition company. The total weight of the blend is usually provided, but without the details of its ingredients nor their amounts. A lot of companies use a proprietary blend within their pre workout which doesn’t allow the consumers to know all about what will be entering their digestive system.
Best Pre Workout Brands
You should definitely choose a well-known, trustworthy brand that’s been in the field for some time and has a good reputation. This would significantly decrease the time you spend on researching the safety of the supplement you’re after. Here are some of the best pre workout brands out there.
Old School Labs: Old School Labs has been founded in 2013 in Southern California. As their name suggests, their main goal is to get back the “classic physique using supplements that make sense”. They’ve sold more than one million bottles since they started in addition to getting a 91% 4 and 5 star customer reviews.
Optimum Nutrition: They manufacture in almost every category in the sports nutrition industry. Being there since 1986 makes them an authority in the field of supplements. Also, Optimum Nutrition is the company that produces the prominent Gold Standard Whey, which is the world’s best-selling whey protein.
Blue Ribbon Nutrition: The best thing about Blue Ribbon Nutrition is their transparency towards their customers. They don’t believe in “proprietary blends” which helped them gain their popularity and trust within a short time span. They’ve been working for almost 4 years now.
BSN: Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition (BSN) was founded in 2001. It has become one of the leading sports nutrition companies throughout its 19 years of existence. Their innovative strategy has allowed them to introduce new categories to the sports nutrition field.
MusclePharm: Another well-known giant in this field is MusclePharm. With more than 35 different sports nutrition products and 15+ years of experience, they’re definitely one of the strong brands out there.
Cellucor: Last but not least comes another giant, Cellucor. What we love about them is the customizability they offer through their website. You can choose how tolerant you are to stimulants, what your main goal is, and whether you play competitive sports or not then watch them pick the product that suits you the most.
What to Avoid in a Pre Workout
When it comes to pre workouts, taking your time to read the product label is key. Some essential ingredients might be under-dosed, other unhealthy ones might be there in high quantities. Here are some of the phrases and characteristics that should trigger your suspicion if they’re there on the label.
Unfortunately, a lot of supplement brands use filler ingredients excessively just to make the facts panel look longer and more impressive. Actually, almost all pre workouts out there contain a portion of filler ingredients, just make sure you don’t get tricked by the lengthy product label; longer facts panel doesn’t mean a better supplement, at all.
As aforementioned, there are some ingredients that form the core of any pre workout. You should take extra care with the numbers mentioned for each ingredient. Double check the dosage for -at least- the 4 main ingredients; if it’s less than the recommended, then you shouldn’t waste your money on this supplement.
Research has confirmed the numerous side effects of artificial sweeteners and with the availability of alternatives, supplement brands should stop using them. Some of the famous examples are Acesulfame potassium, Alitame, Cyclamate, Aspartame, and Glucin. Going for a pre workout that doesn’t include any of those would be perfect.
Using chemical names for ingredients is one way to give the consumer a false impression. Although that’s technically correct, using the general name of an ingredient indicates the transparency of the brand and that it puts its consumer perception as a first priority.
Who Should Use Pre Workout Supplements
Pre workouts isn’t exclusive for gym beasts who are looking to bulk vigorously, it fits beginners as well. In fact, it can give the rookies a hand to quickly get in the weightlifting game or any other physical exercise like running or swimming. Moreover, there’s no physical harm in using pre workouts for teens under 18. However, we strongly recommend to get back to a doctor in this case.
So if you’re looking for faster body adaptation and higher endurance during your exercise session, then a pre workout is your best bet regardless of your age, gender, etc. as long as you follow the basic regulations and recommendations mentioned earlier.
Pre Workout Side Effects
This section is really important for novices and will help you make your final, definite decision on whether you’ll go for a pre workout or not. Here are the most common side effects.
This is due to the presence of stimulants like caffeine in most pre workouts. Your stimulant tolerance could be high, medium, low, or zero. You should pick your pre workout accordingly; so if you’re tolerance is high then you’re good to go for a safe pre workout with a high stimulant dosage, and so on.
High Blood Pressure
Another side effect associated with most stimulants is increased blood pressure. This would be especially dangerous for someone who’s already suffering from high blood pressure. So make sure that you’ve got a normal blood pressure or else consult your doctor before buying a pre workout.
Creatine might be a reason why you’re facing some digestive issues and bloating. However, you can avoid this by skipping the loading phase. So, you can replace the two-phase plan with a daily dose of 3-6 grams but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get the results you’re after.
Increased blood pressure to your muscles also reaches your brain, which might cause some headache. Citrulline, an ingredient present in some pre workouts, is responsible for this blood pressure spike to the muscles; this gives you a fine boost but it may come with a price.
- What is the best pre workout if I’m on an Intermittent Fasting plan?
One aspect to keep in mind is the intake of insulin. An insulin spike would break your fast so we recommend drinking a cup of black coffee for example in order to maintain your fast. However, you can use any sugar-free pre workout before your exercise session.
- Are Pre Work Supplements Dangerous?
The short and direct answer to this question is no. However, side effects are still a thing for most pre workout ingredients. So make sure to stick to the recommended dosage for each of the main ingredients mentioned earlier. In addition to referring to your doctor before using a supplement if you have any health issues.
All pre workouts on this list are of a high quality, it all depends on your needs. So, if you’re up for a quick start and have a high stimulant tolerance, then Batch 27 is the one for you. But, if you’re new to caffeine and need a steady start that would have a very low risk of suffering from side effects, then you should consider going for MusclePharm Assault.
Whether you want to lose fat without losing muscle mass, bulk up, or even maintain your body shape, a pre workout supplement will definitely help you out. So, what is the pre workout that you’d give a try? Tell us your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below.