What Are the Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Beginners in 2017?

Whether you’ve just working out recently or if you’re a proud gym junkie, at some point you’ll want to take your workout to the next level.

Maybe you’ve overheard talk about pre-workout supplements and are curious about all of the buzz. Do these supplements deliver on their claims?

In this article, I’m going to answer that question and share my picks for the best pre-workout supplements for beginners in 2017. Do you really need a pre-workout supplement when you first start working out?

Who Can Benefit from a Pre-Workout Supplement?

When starting a regime of working out, you probably have a goal of either losing weight, building muscle, getting fit, or a combination of both. It’s possible to achieve all of those goals without taking a pre-workout supplement, but it will probably take longer.

Pre-workout supplements deliver a variety of benefits that will help you make the most of your workout. As a novice, you may be under the impression that pre-workout supplements simply provide energy. However, these supplements do much more. Additional benefits of pre-workout supplements include:

  • Better muscle building through the inclusion of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • Sharper focus as a result of B vitamins and caffeine
  • Increased endurance leading to greater fat loss (source)

Common Pre-Workout Ingredients and Their Functions

As you shop around for the best pre-workout supplements for beginners, you’ll notice that the highest rated brands contain many of the same ingredients. Each ingredient has its own purpose. Here are a few ingredients to look for.

Whey Protein

Proteins stimulate muscle growth. That applies whether you get it from the foods in your diet, or buy whey protein, which metabolizes a little easier than the protein you get from the foods you eat (source). Whey protein usually comes in powder form and you mix it with liquid.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is an amino acid that reduces muscle fatigue, so that you can work out longer (source). It also takes away the burning sensation that you feel when you’ve done a hard workout.


You get a dose of caffeine in your morning coffee or in your late afternoon energy drink. Caffeine wakens your cells and makes you feel more alert (source). Many supplements contain caffeine, so if you don’t want to add extra caffeine into your day, look for a caffeine-free supplement or skip the morning coffee.

Creatine Nitrate

Many manufacturers add creatine to their formulas because it increases strength and builds lean muscle mass (source). Creatine literally saturates your muscles and lets them work out beyond what you can do without it. Take it every day, even on your rest days, before or after your workout. Creatine gives you extra strength and nitrate gives a rush of blood to your muscles, which is commonly referred to as “pumps.”

How to Take a Pre-Workout Supplement

Pre-workout supplements come in the form of powders and capsules. Most of these supplements instruct you to take them 20-30 minutes prior to beginning your workout. Powders can be integrated into pre-workout smoothies to give you a major boost and keep you powered up through the duration of your exercise.

If you’re like me and you head straight to the gym from work, you’ll probably find the capsules to be more convenient. Capsules don’t require any prep work and you can take them anywhere. .

Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout Explosive Energy



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One of the main ingredients in C4 is beta alanine, which is a common component in many supplements. Beta alanine is an amino acid that energizes your muscles. This powerful substance causes immediate and lasting effects. When you feel tingling in your body, you know it’s working.

C4 also contains creatine nitrate. This product gets an additional boost from N-acetyl l-tyrosine, which helps to bring your mental and physical performance to a peak.

The main ingredients listed above get an additional burst of energy from caffeine and TeaCor, which also acts as a stimulant. Cellucor rounds out this formula with an additional blend of vitamins and minerals.


  • High energy without the jitters
  • Doesn’t cause an energy crash mid-workout
  • Lets you sustain a longer workout


  • Some users report slight itching
  • Some users report slight nausea in the beginning

Kaged Muscle In-Kaged



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Kaged Muscle took a three-part approach to developing this formula with ingredients that address muscle stimulation, energy, and endurance.

The muscle fuel matrix contains amino acids such as L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. These amino acids work together to fuel your muscles and prep them for a rigorous workout.

The pump matrix contains L-Citrulline, carnosyn, and coconut water, which work together to give your workout enough endurance to last for hours.

The third part of this formula contains Taurine, L-Tyrosine, and organic coffee to support your neurological system and keep you mentally alert. The caffeine comes from green coffee beans.

I can see how this three-part approach makes things clearer for beginners. Users have reported that by using this product, they were able to push their workouts further.


  • Caffeine is organic and is well-tolerated by most people
  • Three-part formula addresses muscles, strength and endurance
  • Keeps you hydrated
  • Dissolves easily in water
  • Provides extra energy through lifts


  • Too sweet for some people’s taste
  • Some users report upset stomach

Nutrex Research Outlift



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Outlift by Nutrex Research is formulated around the power of amino acids and creatine. This formula contains BCAAs including l-valine, l-leucine, and l-isoleucine, which create a mighty force to build lean muscle, preserve metabolism, enhance energy and improve stamina.

The BCAAs get a lift from taurine, which is another amino acid that works as a building block of protein. The citrulline in this product has its own job to do by reducing fatigue and increasing your endurance.

Nutrex Research put an extra dose of caffeine into this formula. It has 350 mg. of caffeine, compared to 250 mg in most other brands. It’s strong enough to give your workout a quick jolt, but may be too much for some people and make them jittery. Personally, I like the extra caffeine so I can skip my morning coffee.


  • Gives great focus without a head rush
  • Doesn’t have that chemical or gritty taste
  • Doesn’t have proprietary blends, so you can see all 10 ingredients on the label
  • No artificial dyes


  • Caffeine is too strong for some people
  • A bit more expensive than comparable products

Alpha GX7



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Alpha GX 7 includes several ingredients that you might expect to find in a pre-workout supplement like citrulline for endurance - l-carnitine for building muscle and caffeine to improve mental focus and alertness. This formula has a few other ingredients that have an impact on your workout.

This product contains niacin, which you can also get from certain foods like fish, meats, milk, eggs, and certain vegetables and grains. Niacin helps convert carbohydrates into fuel (source).

This product contains a couple of good ingredients to increase your mental focus, like mucuna L-dopa (also known as velvet bean) (source) and taurine. Theobromine does dual duty as a stimulant and mild diuretic (source).

The unique combination of ingredients in this product gives you the drive to help lift more weight and break weight loss plateaus.

This product takes effect quickly, so it’s something to try if you like to work out at lunchtime.


  • Caffeine is mild and doesn’t cause jitters or mid-afternoon crash
  • Doesn’t cause body tingling
  • Gives good pumps of energy
  • Takes effect quickly


  • Not enough caffeine to have an effect on some people

Fitness Labs Pre-Workout



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This formula by Fitness Labs also includes many of the common pre-workout ingredients like citrulline and arginine, to help keep you focused on your workout. It also contains beta alanine to decrease muscle fatigue. These ingredients are particularly helpful when training for an competitive event.

Fitness Labs included betaine in their formula which helps to increase your power, strength, endurance and delays fatigue.

This formula also contains caffeine and a host of vitamins and minerals.


  • Doesn’t cause itching
  • Doesn’t give you the jitters
  • Jumpstarts your metabolism
  • Gives good pumps


  • May need to adjust the dosage because of the caffeine level
  • Some users report slight stomach upset

The Top Pre-Workout Supplement for Beginners

The clear winner for the top pre-workout supplement for beginners is Cellucor C4 Pre-Workout Explosive Energy. This formula contains many of the common ingredients that work to increase your energy, decrease fat, and build muscle. This product has the benefits of containing beta alanine, creatine, important vitamins and minerals, and just enough caffeine to perk you up without overstimulating you.

Helen Sanders

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!