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Tag Archives: Pre-workout

  • High-Stim VS Non-Stim Pre-Workouts: What's the Difference?

    Pre-workout supplements have become synonymous with the gym lifestyle. If you ask any serious gym goer about their supplement stack, you can pretty much guarantee they will name the big three: protein, creatine, and a good pre-workout.

    However, when it comes to pre-workout supplements specifically, there are a couple of things that should be considered.

    One of which relates to their stimulant content.

    What are stimulants?

    Stimulants ultimately describe a broad category of drugs and compounds that increase energy, and can boost mood, heighten mental acuity, enhance focus and attention, and even improve emotional wellbeing.

    Moreover, some have even been shown to have potent ergogenic effects, meaning they can enhance exercise performance.

    Stimulants can be found in a variety of the foods we consume on a daily basis. However, they are often only consumed in small doses, and consequently only have a small effect on mental and physical performance.

    It is for this reason that a number of pre-workout supplements include stimulants in higher doses -- to cause much larger improvement in performance.

    Some of the most common natural stimulants include:

    • Caffeine
    • English walnut extract
    • N-Methyltyramine
    • Ginseng
    • Guarana
    • Taurine

    It is these stimulants that are most commonly used in supplements.

    Are stimulants safe?

    I first want to preface this section with the caveat that I am talking about LEGAL stimulants here.

    There are a variety of illegal stimulants available via various means that impact the body in a very different manner to the legal stimulants found in supplements --  and they are going to be much less safe as a result.

    But, with respect to legal stimulants, they are relatively safe for most of the population.

    There are certain individuals who may have heart issues or emotional disorders (for example, general anxiety disorder), and therefore may not be safe to take stimulants as it could potentially make their concerns worse.

    Moreover, in higher dosages, stimulants can elicit certain side effect, including:

    • Jitteriness and restlessness
    • Feelings of anxiety and nervousness
    • Becoming dizzy and losing balance
    • Headaches
    • Water retention and bloating
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • The onset of muscle spasms

    Now, it is important to note that these side effects are very rare, and only likely to occur in higher dosages. In fact, in the low to moderate dosages applied in most pre-workout supplements, these are very unlikely to happen.

    However, some people are simply more sensitive to stimulants than others -- which is why it is always important to seek advice from a medical professional before commencing supplementation with a stimulant based pre-workout.

    One other thing to consider when it comes to stimulants is that they also have the potential to impact upon your sleep. If taken too close to bedtime, they can make it harder for you to fall asleep, while also impacting your sleep quality -- all of which can impact your recovery and the quality of your training.

    High-Stim VS Non-Stim pre-workouts

    With all this in mind, you might have guessed that the primary difference between high-stim pre-workouts and non-stim pre-workouts comes down to their stimulant content.

    High stimulant pre-workouts contain a number of stimulants, while non-stimulant pre-workouts contain none.

    This does not mean that one is better than the other, just that non-stim pre-workouts rely on other compounds to improve performance that don't act on the brain and central nervous system in a stimulant-like manner.

    While high-stim pre workouts are likely to exhibit a more noticeable effect on mood and energy levels, they may also induce some of the side effects listed above. And of course, they also have the capacity to impact your sleep.

    This means that they may not be all that suitable if you typically train later in the afternoon, or are sensitive to stimulants. On the other hand, they could be a great option if you train earlier in the day and are not sensitive to stimulants.

    It all depends on you.

    Best High Stim Ingredients

    If you are after a high stimulant pre-workout that can take the results of your training to the next level, you want to make sure it includes at least two of the following three ingredients.

    1.   Caffeine

    Caffeine is one of the most effective, and the most well-researched, performance enhancing supplements on the planet. It is known to improve mental alertness, attention, and reaction time, and enhance strength, power, and endurance [1, 2].

    With this in mind, it impacts both mental and physical performance in a very big way, and should be a staple in any high-stim pre-workout.

    2.   English Walnut Extract

    English Walnut Extract is a naturally occurring compound that is derived directly from the bark of the English Walnut tree.

    This compound is a stimulant that acts directly on the central nervous system, where it boosts energy and mental alertness, improves cognitive function, and promotes the secretion of numerous feel good hormones [3, 4].

    As a result it can seriously improve workout performance, causing significantly better training outcomes.

    3.   N-Methyltyramine

    One rather interesting stimulant is N-methyltyramine, which is a powerful compound found in the bitter orange plant.

    This particular supplement interacts with the neuroendocrine system, causing the secretion of noradrenaline -- the neurotransmitter that promotes the “flight or fight” response [5, 6].

    As a result, it acts as a potent stimulant, increases focus and attention, boosts mood, and vastly improves exercise performance.

    Best Non-Stim Ingredients

    Now, if you are someone who does not respond well to stimulants, or likes to train in the evening, a non-stim pre-workout is going to be a better option -- and you want to make sure it contains some of these ingredients:

    1.   L-Citrulline Malate

    Citrulline is an amino acid that increases your body's production of nitric oxide. This then increases blood flow to your muscle tissue, which results in a marked improvement in exercise performance [7, 8].

    More specifically, citrulline has been shown to increase the number or reps you can perform per set, or the amount of weight you can put on the bar for a given set.

    In short, this means more strength and muscle size over the duration of a training block.

    Moreover, citrulline has also been shown to speed up recovery after training. This pretty much guarantees that you will get more out of every gym session, which is the integral to long term changes in size and strength.

    2.   Beta Alanine

    Beta-alanine is a unique amino acid that your body uses to produce the compound “carnosine” -- which your body uses to prevent the accumulation of lactate in your muscle tissue.

    As a result, beta alanine has been shown to cause large improvement in muscular endurance, while also preventing the accumulation of fatigue throughout a training session [9, 10].

    This ultimately means that beta-alanine allows you to get the most out of your workouts, leading to significant improvements in muscle growth and fat loss.

    3.   Agmatine

    Agmatine is a neurotransmitter that is found in the cells of your brain. With this in mind, its supplementation has been shown to reduce sensations of pain, while also improving mood and emotional wellbeing [11, 12].

    As I am sure you can imagine, this can have a huge impact on exercise performance.

    Interestingly, agmatine has also been shown to act in a manner similar to citrulline, where it increases nitric oxide production. This increases blood flow to your muscle tissue, giving you a better pump and speeding up recovery.

    Talk about a win-win.

    Summary

    Pre-workouts that contain both high amounts and zero stimulants can offer a myriad of benefits -- which means the choice comes down to which one is better for you.

    If you are sensitive to stimulants or train later in the afternoon, maybe opt for a non-stim pre workout option as this will not have any negative effects on your sleep. On the other hand, if you train early in the morning and dont feel sensitive to stims, you can take your pick.

     

    1. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294-312.
    2. Grgic, J., Grgic, I., Pickering, C., Schoenfeld, B. J., Bishop, D. J., & Pedisic, Z. (2020). Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(11), 681-688.
    3. Liu, Rui, et al. "Small Molecule Oligopeptides Isolated from Walnut (Juglans regia L.) and Their Anti-Fatigue Effects in Mice." Molecules 24.1 (2019): 45.
    4. Kim, Dae-Ik, and Kil-Soo Kim. "Walnut extract exhibits anti-fatigue action via improvement of exercise tolerance in mice." Laboratory animal research 29.4 (2013): 190-195.
    5. Camp BJ. Action of N-methyltyramine and N-methyl beta-phenylethylamine on certain biological systems. Am J Vet Res. 1970 Apr;31(4):755-62.
    6. Koda H, Yokoo Y, Matsumoto N, Suwa Y, Fukazawa H, Ishida H, Tsuji K, Nukaya H, Kuriyama K. Antagonistic effect of N-methyltyramine on alpha2-adrenoceptor in mice. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1999 Nov;81(3):313-5.
    7. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans: A Review of the Current Literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(5), 1480-1495.
    8. Pérez-Guisado, J., & Jakeman, P. M. (2010). Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(5), 1215-1222.
    9. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    10. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
    11. Keynan, O., Mirovsky, Y., Dekel, S., Gilad, V. H., & Gilad, G. M. (2010). Safety and efficacy of dietary agmatine sulfate in lumbar disc-associated radiculopathy. An open-label, dose-escalating study followed by a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pain Medicine, 11(3), 356-368.
    12. Shopsin, B. (2013). The clinical antidepressant effect of exogenous agmatine is not reversed by parachlorophenylalanine: a pilot study. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 25(2), 113-118.
  • Why you NEED a good pre-workout

    Over the last decade pre-workouts have arguably become the most commonly used supplement in the world. They have gone from being “non-essential” to deeply embedded into gym culture in less than a decade.

    But what are the benefits? And are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

    What are the benefits of a pre-workout?

    Now, something that I really do want to highlight here is that you can undoubtedly make some serious gains without pre-workout supplements.

    I mean, from a muscle building perspective, as long as you are training hard, recovering adequately, and eating sufficient protein, you can be pretty certain that you are doing everything you need to maximise growth and adaptation.

    However, ask anyone who has been training for a decent amount of time and they will tell you that the “training hard” part of the equation can be easier said than done.

    Which is where pre-workouts really come into their own.

    1.   Better Focus

    It is well established that many of the common ingredients found in pre-workouts increase mental alertness, leading to improvements in attention, reaction time, problem solving capability, short term memory, and judgement [1].

    Moreover, some of them can reverse some of the mental effects that come from a lack of sleep [2].

    Taking this back to the gym, it is highly likely that improved mental performance could cause better physical performance, and ultimately, a better workout. If this leads to more reps per session, or more weight on the bar, then we are looking at some serious improvements in gains over time.

    Moreover, taking a pre-workout before your session after a bad night sleep might help you train well, even if you are feeling subpar.

    2.   Increased Strength

    Pre-workouts have the capacity to cause substantial increases in muscle strength on a per-session basis [3, 4, 6].

    This means that if you were to take a pre-workout before a weight training session, you will be able to lift more weight than you could without it. While this is cool in its own right, it happens to have some impressive long-term benefits.

    If you are undertaking a long term strength training program, a good pre-workout will help you lift more weight every single session. This will lead to greater training adaptations, and more strength gains over time.

    And when you think about how this effect compounds over the duration of months and years, it becomes huge.

    3.   More Muscle Growth

    In addition to improvements in strength, a good pre-workout also has the potential to improve weight training performance at more moderate loads, by increasing the number of reps you can do at a given weight [3, 5].

    For example, without a pre-workout you might be able to leg press 180kg for 8 repetitions. However, after taking a pre-workout, you might be able to leg press the same weight for 10 repetitions.

    This directly increases the amount of volume you perform each training session, and is going to increase the amount of muscle growth you are likely to experience over the duration of a training block [7].

    4.   Greater Endurance

    Many of the core ingredients in most pre-workout supplements play an important role in preventing the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscle tissue during exercise [6, 8].

    This can in turn lead to case improvements in both muscular and aerobic endurance, while limiting fatigue accumulation during a training session.

    This can also increase the amount of volume you lift per session, while simultaneously boosting the quality of your working sets. Over time you can expect this to manifest itself in improvements in muscle strength, muscle growth, and even fat loss.

    5.   Bigger Pumps

    There are a number of pre-workouts that include ingredients that can be classified as “vasodilators” [4, 6].

    While this word might sound very technical, it very simply describes a type of compound that helps relax and widen your blood vessels. This increases blood flow throughout your body and to your muscle tissue, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

    The result?

    A significantly greater pump!

    This can further increase the results of your training, while simultaneously increasing the size of your guns when you leave the gym (a nice bonus, if you ask me).

    6.   Faster Recovery

    Lastly, in addition to better gym performance, taking a pre-workout before you train will also improve your recovery after exercise [4, 5].

    By increasing the movement of proteins and nutrients into your muscle tissue, pre-workouts can make sure that your body has everything it needs to repair itself after a solid session. This accelerates recovery between sessions, while also reducing muscle soreness.

    The best bit here is that this improved recovery between training sessions will ensure that the quality of your training stays high over the duration of a training block -- again enhancing the result of your training.

    What to look for in a pre-workout supplement?

    I also want to highlight that while a GOOD pre-workout will provide the above benefits, there are some that are much better than others. Which is why if you are after a high-quality pre-workout to take your training to the next level, they should tick the following three boxes.

    1.   No Proprietary Blends

    A proprietary blend is a combination of several different ingredients that sit within a supplement.

    Unfortunately, despite being extremely common, proprietary blends are actually a loophole that supplement companies use to avoid listing how much of each individual ingredient is in their pre-workout. This makes it much easier to hide smaller doses of effective (and often costly) ingredients, while bulking it up with a larger amount of ‘filler’ ingredients.

    Obviously this means the supplement is cheaper to make, but it also makes it much less effective -- even if it does happen to include some good ingredients.

    So, if you are looking at a pre-workout that contains a priority blend, turn and run.

    2.   Too Many Ingredients

    Another you want to be wary of is a pre-workout having too many ingredients -- which I would define as ant more than 6 or 7.

    When it comes to pre-workout supplements, they generally have small serving sizes (5-10 grams on average). As such, the more ingredients they contain, the less of each ingredient you get.

    This again makes it easier to provide you with less of the more effective (and more expensive) ingredients, making the supplement less effective.

    3.   Scientifically supported ingredients

    Lastly, you want to make sure that the pre-workout you are taking actually contains ingredients that have been shown to work in the scientific literature -- something that is not always the case (despite what advertisements might have you believe...).

    With this in mind, they should include some of the following:

    • Caffeine
    • Creatine
    • Beta-alanine
    • Citrulline malate
    • Agmatine
    • L-Tyrosine

    And if they don't? Put it back on the shelf and never consider it again.

    Final Remarks

    Before we finish up, I want to also mention the fact that many compounds found within pre-workouts are classified as stimulants -- which means they have a direct impact on your physiological and psychological systems.

    As a result, you should definitely touch base with your GP before commenting supplementation.

    However, once you have done that, you can expect to see some serious benefits from taking good quality pre-workout supplements, including improved physical and mental performance, better recovery and more intense pumps, and over time, greater improvements in strength and size.

    Just make sure you do your research and find a good one.

     

    References

    1. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294-312.
    2. Cook, Christian J., et al. "Skill execution and sleep deprivation: effects of acute caffeine or creatine supplementation-a randomized placebo-controlled trial." Journal of the international society of sports nutrition 8.1 (2011): 1-8.
    3. Grgic, J., Grgic, I., Pickering, C., Schoenfeld, B. J., Bishop, D. J., & Pedisic, Z. (2020). Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(11), 681-688.
    4. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans: A Review of the Current Literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(5), 1480-1495.
    5. Pérez-Guisado, J., & Jakeman, P. M. (2010). Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(5), 1215-1222.
    6. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    7. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
    8. Tumilty, L., Davison, G., Beckmann, M., & Thatcher, R. (2011). Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. European journal of applied physiology, 111(12), 2941-2950.
  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Advanced Review - Higher Stim & Higher Price

    [A]
    80

    A clean formulation, likely appealing to anyone not out for a super-high-stim pre-workout. But with just 20 serves per jar, this one isn’t cheap.

  • What Makes a Good Pre-Workout

    Pre-workouts are one of the most widely used supplements on the planet. Said to give you that extra ‘boost’ of energy in the gym, they have embedded themselves deep into gym culture, becoming a workout staple.

    However, due to their increased popularity, the supplement industry has become saturated with thousands of different pre-workout supplements -- some of which are much better than others.

    Moreover, many include ingredients that have no research to support their use, or are simply ineffective -- all of which means that you need to be selective.

    What should I avoid in a pre-workout supplement?

    If so many pre-workouts are sub par, then how can you find a good one?

    Well, when it comes to choosing a pre-workout supplement, there are a few things that you need to look out for.

    1.   No Proprietary Blends

    A proprietary blend is a combination of several different ingredients that sit within a supplement.

    Unfortunately, the term ‘proprietary blend’ is often misunderstood by people looking for supplements. Because it sounds like a legitimate term, it creates the illusion that the supplement must be of a higher quality -- however, nothing could be further from the truth.

    A proprietary blend is a loophole that supplement companies use to avoid listing how much of each individual ingredient is in their pre-workout. This makes it much easier to hide smaller doses of effective (and often more costly) ingredients, while bulking it up with ‘filler’ ingredients.

    Obviously this means the supplement is cheaper to make, but it also makes it much less effective -- even if it does happen to include some good ingredients.

    2.   Too Many Ingredients

    Now, if you look at the label of a pre-workout and it has more than 6 or 7 active ingredients, I would suggest you put it back.

    One thing to remember when it comes to pre-workouts is that they generally have small serving sizes (5-10 grams would be the norm). This means that the more ingredients they have, the less of each ingredient you get.

    This again makes it easier to provide you with less of the effective ingredients (which again, are often more expensive) to save cost -- making the supplement less effective in the process.

    3.   Outlandish Claims

    Finally, a good pre-workout supplement should do two things:

    1. Improve exercise performance
    2. Increase mental performance

    As a result, if you see a pre-workout advertising the ability to “shred fat” or “boost muscle growth” then you should turn and run -- because they have obviously spent more money on marketing than they have on creating their product.

    What Should I Look for In a Pre-workout Supplement?

    So, what does a good pre-workout look like?

    Well, going off the above suggestions, you want to make sure that your pre-workout makes no outlandish claims, lists the dosages of all its ingredients individually, and has less than seven active ingredients.

    And once it has ticked those boxes, you want to make sure that the ingredients it contains are actually effective.

    Which begs the question: what are the most effective pre-workout ingredients?

    Caffeine

    Straight out the box we have one of the most widely researched (if not the most widely researched) ingredients on the entire planet -- being caffeine.

    Look, let's face it. There is a pretty good reason as to why 99% of the population start their day with a warm cup of coffee. It is because caffeine has the ability to improve mental alertness, attention, and reaction time [1].

    More importantly, caffeine has also been shown to have an extremely potent effect on exercise performance [2], where it can improve:

    • Muscular strength
    • Muscular endurance
    • Cardiorespiratory endurance
    • Anaerobic power

    This means that it makes the perfect pre-workout ingredient as it improves the mental and physical aspects of performance.

    While the recommended dosage of caffeine does differ based on bodyweight, an effective dose should sit somewhere between 200 and 400 milligrams.

    Agmatine

    Agmatine is one of many neurotransmitters found in your brain.

    With this in mind, there is evidence to suggest that supplementing with Agmatine can reduce sensations of pain and improve mood [3, 4]. These effects could conceivably improve workout performance by increasing the number of repetitions you achieve per set.

    Anecdotally, there are also a number of people within the fitness space who also believe that Agmatine can increase blood flow to the muscle tissue, increasing the ‘pump’ you get in the gym. This could also increase nutrient flow to the muscle tissue, enhancing growth and recovery.

    However, it is important to note that this is simply anecdotal, and thus far there is no evidence demonstrating this effect in humans.

    Dosage recommendations generally sit within 200-1000mg per serving.

    Citrulline

    Citrulline is a “non-essential” amino acid found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. The reason it is considered to be non-essential is because it can be naturally made in your body, and therefore does not have to be obtained through your diet.

    However, increasing your natural levels of citrulline though supplementation has been shown to have some positive effects.

    Firstly, supplementing with citrulline has been shown to increase weight training performance [5]. This means an increase in the number of reps you can perform per set, or the amount of weight you can put on the bar. Over time this can lead to improvements in muscular strength and muscle growth.

    Secondly, it has also been shown to reduce intra-workout fatigue, which might increase the quality of your workouts [6].

    And finally, citrulline has also been shown to improve recovery after exercise [5]. While this may not sound all that impressive, improved recovery means that you can get the most out of your next training session -- which could cause lasting improvements in strength and size.

    The optimal dosage of citrulline malate (a specific type of citrulline) appears to be around 6000mg.

    Beta-alanine

    Like Citrulline, beta-alanine is also a non-essential amino acid.

    However, unlike many other amino acids, your body does not use it to create other proteins. Instead, it is used to produce a compound called carnosine -- which has been shown to limit the accumulation of lactate in your muscle tissue.

    As a result, it has been shown to improve muscular and aerobic endurance, and limit fatigue during training [7].

    Interestingly, and most likely due to improvements in acute training performance, the long term supplementation of Beta-alanine has demonstrated improvement in both muscle growth and fat loss -- suggesting it could have pretty positive effects on body composition [8].

    Anywhere between 2 and 5 grams of Beta-alanine has shown to be effective.

    L-Tyrosine

    L-Tyrosine is another amino acid that can be obtained from the food you eat. Uniquely, this particular amino acid is used to create the key compounds dopamine and adrenaline -- which is why it is so common in pre-workout supplements across the globe.

    As such, supplementing with L-tyrosine has been shown to improve reaction time [9] and attention, while also promoting sensations of wellbeing [10].

    Interestingly, one study has also found that taking L-tyrosine before exercise may actually improve performance [11]. While this may not directly improve strength and hypertrophy gains, it could potentially improve workout quality.

    Evidence would suggest that dosages between 500 and 2000mg are most effective here.

    Key Points

    Over the last decade the supplement industry has become saturated with subpar pre-workouts. But that doesn't mean that good ones don't exist.

    It just means that you need to pay close attention to the ones you buy.

    Try and avoid those that contain proprietary blends, or those that have a large number of ingredients. Moreover, any that are making outlandish claims should be avoided like the plague.

    And if you can find one that has a few of the scientifically supported ingredients listed above, then you can be pretty confident in its effectiveness.

     

    References

    1. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294-312.
    2. Grgic, J., Grgic, I., Pickering, C., Schoenfeld, B. J., Bishop, D. J., & Pedisic, Z. (2020). Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(11), 681-688.
    3. Keynan, O., Mirovsky, Y., Dekel, S., Gilad, V. H., & Gilad, G. M. (2010). Safety and efficacy of dietary agmatine sulfate in lumbar disc-associated radiculopathy. An open-label, dose-escalating study followed by a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pain Medicine, 11(3), 356-368.
    4. Shopsin, B. (2013). The clinical antidepressant effect of exogenous agmatine is not reversed by parachlorophenylalanine: a pilot study. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 25(2), 113-118.
    5. Gonzalez, A. M., & Trexler, E. T. (2020). Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Exercise Performance in Humans: A Review of the Current Literature. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(5), 1480-1495.
    6. Pérez-Guisado, J., & Jakeman, P. M. (2010). Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(5), 1215-1222.
    7. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
    8. Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
    9. O'Brien, C., Mahoney, C., Tharion, W. J., Sils, I. V., & Castellani, J. W. (2007). Dietary tyrosine benefits cognitive and psychomotor performance during body cooling. Physiology & behavior, 90(2-3), 301-307.
    10. Banderet, L. E., & Lieberman, H. R. (1989). Treatment with tyrosine, a neurotransmitter precursor, reduces environmental stress in humans. Brain research bulletin, 22(4), 759-762.
    11. Tumilty, L., Davison, G., Beckmann, M., & Thatcher, R. (2011). Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. European journal of applied physiology, 111(12), 2941-2950.

     

  • The 5 Best PWO Ingredients for Massive Pumps

    If you're serious about getting the most out of your workout, you will quickly discover that the use of a well-timed pre-workout supplement can go a very far away. However, realizing this is just half of the battle. The other half, more importantly, has to be selection of the best ingredients that can help you reach your goals.

    In this article we are going to reveal what the five best pre-workout ingredients to look for are, and how the massive pumps they deliver on contribute to muscle gains and strength increase.

    Creatine

    Creatine is one of the most heavily researched supplements in history, and for good reason – it absolutely works. Regardless of what your specific sport discipline is, there is a very good chance that creatine supplementation can help take you to the next level.

    Creatine possesses muscle volumizing properties, which refers to its ability to increase a cell’s water content[i]. This is very important for muscle pumps as dehydration adversely affects vascular flow and dilation.

    Studies have indicated that regular creatine supplementation can yield a 5 to 10% increase in strength gains, not to mention the fact that it is extremely safe and plays a very important part in energy production.

    It's no secret that the more energy that is available to muscle cells for your work out, the higher your performance output will be and subsequently linear progression.

    All the bells and whistles aside, creatine should probably your first stop when looking for a good pre-workout supplement. It is very affordable, and with a dose of 10 g daily, noticeable changes can be observed after a week or two.

    Beta Alanine

    Beta alanine is quickly becoming a favourite when it comes to high-intensity performance and endurance training, thanks to the fact that it is able to combat muscle fatigue quite effectively.

    Interestingly, beta alanine itself doesn't do much for performance in the short term. Rather, it helps to raise levels of intracellular carnosine, which is a semi-essential amino acid that plays a key role in helping to buffer accumulation of positively charged hydrogen ions.

    Over time, what you will notice is improved resistance to fatigue and extended exercise duration, especially when it comes to exercise of an intermediate length lasting more than one minute.

    Citrulline

    Citrulline is a very popular and effective amino acid that is naturally produced by the body in small amounts.

    However, you will be hard-pressed to notice any difference if you rely on naturally produced citrulline. Instead, consumption of citrulline based supplements are known to help increase blood flow and circulation throughout the body[ii].

    Upon consumption, citrulline must first be converted into L-arginine, which subsequently helps to raise blood levels of nitric oxide.

    While L-citrulline is fine in terms of its vasodilator capacity, citrulline maleate is arguably much more effective by virtue of its resistance to metabolism, and the fact that it also supports energy levels.

    Doses of between 3 to 6 g of citrulline are generally effective and safe, and are associated with fewer gastric side effects that are notorious to arginine supplements.

    Caffeine

    Given that you are not sensitive to the effects of stimulants, caffeine is one of the most affordable and effective pre-workout boosters that you can take advantage of right now.

    There is a reason why coffee is the most popular beverage in the world, especially when it comes to elevating alertness and reducing fatigue. Caffeine, taken as is or in a pre-workout form, is highly beneficial to several aspects of your work out.

    For instance, it helps to increase power output, increases the rate of fat addition, and even has a mild effect on increasing your resting metabolic rate. Not to mention that it can help increase your drive and motivation to get your workout done.

    Plus, there is the lesser known effect of caffeine being a mild vasodilator[iii], which can support muscle pumps too.

    Just try to take your caffeine earlier in the day as it is known to interfere with sleep if you should take it too close to bedtime.

    Glycerol

    Probably the most exciting development in pre-workout supplement science as of recent is the inclusion of powdered glycerol in some formulations. Glycerol is essential a sugar alcohol, one used naturally as a flavouring and preservative in many foods and found naturally in many plants.

    Glycerol works in a unique manner, but one that can best be compared to creatine’s mechanism on enhancing muscle pumps; by promoting hyper hydration. This can have the effect of improving performance[iv].

    Having strong osmotic properties it is capable of retaining water in the blood and muscle cells, leading to a profound engorging of the vascular system. This is very noticeable when working out. It is also beneficial in fighting dehydration[v], which is known to have a negative impact on performance.

    In Summary

    Pre-workout supplements are a dime a dozen, but the fact of the matter is that many supplements will not give you what you expect unless you know what you’re looking for. You should aim for products that contain some of the ingredients we mentioned above, or even make your own if you’re feeling adventurous!

    [i] Häussinger D, Roth E, Lang F, Gerok W. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease. Lancet. 1993;341(8856):1330-1332. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(93)90828-5

    [ii] Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Lord T, Vanhatalo A, Winyard PG, Jones AM. l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015;119(4):385-395. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00192.2014

    [iii] Umemura T, Ueda K, Nishioka K, et al. Effects of acute administration of caffeine on vascular function. Am J Cardiol. 2006;98(11):1538-1541. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2006.06.058

    [iv] Hitchins S, Martin DT, Burke L, et al. Glycerol hyperhydration improves cycle time trial performance in hot humid conditions. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999;80(5):494-501. doi:10.1007/s004210050623

    [v] Wagner DR. Hyperhydrating with glycerol: implications for athletic performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 1999;99(2):207-212. doi:10.1016/s0002-8223(99)00049-8

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