Not every pre-workout formula is created equal. While many share similar nutritional profiles and contain ingredients that give them similar effects, there are big differences from one to the other that make each one at NUTRISHOP unique.
This week, our running blog will focus on the stimulant levels of our most popular pre-workout supplements — not only reviewing the product profile that makes each one great, but also examining the caffeine levels in each and parsing out the advantages between them all.
Since “zero” seems like a good place to start, we’ll lead off with the one non-stimulant pre-workout that can and should be stacked with all others: ANX-P3. Not only is ANX-P3 perfect for a morning workout after you’ve already had your coffee (since it has no caffeine or other stimulants), but it can be safely used in conjunction with other products.
The story on ANX-P3 is this: Most pre-workout nitric oxide boosters are taken immediately before exercise to achieve the full effect. This is OK. But research has shown a better way, and the best part is that it can be combined with the existing NO products out there for a maximum benefit.
If the L-Arginine NO Synthase pathway, used primarily in standard pre-workouts, is the fastest way, consider what we’d call the “scenic route”: The Nitrate-Nitrite-Nitric Oxide Pathway (or, for our purposes here, the N3O pathway). It takes longer, but you’ll be glad you went this way, too! Arginine Nitrate uses this pathway, and FORZAONE has created ANX-P3 as an answer to all the short-lived nitric oxide boosters out there.
Arginine Nitrate is the newest approach to nitric oxide boosters, utilizing this secondary pathway for a more sustained, long-lasting effect. You might be wondering the difference between these two pathways, and it’s this: While the first depends on oxygen for its effectiveness, the second does not nearly as much. The takeaway for the consumer is that during intense exercise, in the middle or toward the end of your workout when your body is low on oxygen anyway, the L-Arginine NO Synthase pathway is much less effective, and NO production won’t last as long. You’ll have a great start to the workout, but it may not last. The N3O pathway, accessed by Arginine Nitrate, doesn’t rely on oxygen nearly as much, meaning a longer, sustained effect that will last through your final reps.
You might be wondering why Arginine Nitrate is important, or what it does. First, we’ll start off with pure L-Arginine, an essential amino acid that plays a big part in many important bodily functions, including immune function and muscle building. But it’s also an immediate precursor to nitric oxide, and as a peer-reviewed article in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy points out, this makes it crucial when vasodilation — the expansion of blood vessels for better blood flow — is needed. Bonded with a nitrate, this provides improved blood flow to and from the heart, maximizing that sought-after pump and vascularity.
With improved vasodilation and blood flow over a longer period, the end product for the athlete is the highest possible nutrient delivery during the workout. This is important because of the muscles’ desperate need for vital nutrients to recover, rebuild and sustain strength and endurance.
Because it contains no stimulants and uses a different pathway for Arginine Nitrate, it’s recommended that ANX-P3 be stacked with other, stimulant-based pre-workouts for a superior pump.
The next-lowest caffeine level among NUTRISHOP’s quality pre-workout supplements is NO-XP3. With 100 mg of caffeine, it’s about equivalent to a cup of coffee, making it a solid choice for your mid-morning workouts even if you’ve had some actual coffee earlier on. Specifically, NO-XP3 has advantages over other, more stimulant-dependent pre-workouts, namely vasodilation.
What you’re looking for with a nitric oxide supplement is a product that will improve your body’s ability to deliver nutrient-rich blood to the muscles — that’s the “pump” effect we’re talking about. The problem with many products is they don’t actually dilate the blood vessels to do this; instead, they constrict them, providing a higher heart rate and a fake pump. That’s NOT what you’re after — you actually want the blood moving!
Five blends in N.O.XP3 are designed to help promote the pump and gains in strength, size, vascularity and workout focus:
Pump Blend: This is the crown jewel, so to speak, of N.O.XP3! This blend is aimed at increasing blood flow, not just simulating it, with a specifically dosed blend of L-Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AAKG), Citrulline Nitrate and GlycoCarn, among others. Citrulline Nitrate (more on it later this week) is an important, natural precursor to nitric oxide, AAKG helps to metabolize nitric oxide faster and also helps in protein synthesis, and GlyoCarn is quite simply one of the best nitric oxide boosters available.
Power Blend: With Beta-Alanine and Kre-Alkalyn as some key players in this blend, your system gets a shot of ATP-boosting creatine to improve muscular strength and endurance during your workout and the benefit of an energy “buffer” in Beta-Alanine, which will also help provide energy and strength.
Performance Blend: A Modified Glucose Tri-Polymer Blend, along with Phenylethylamine HCI (PEA) and Caffeine Anhydrous, make for the energy-boosting effects needed to have outstanding focus from a pre-workout product. PEAs are well-known for mood-boosting properties and non-liquid-form caffeine is effective for focus as well.
Recovery Blend: L-Taurine and L-Glutamine AKG are amino acids that help rebuild your muscle tissue AS you work them — not many pre-workout formulas can also help you DURING your lifts! Your muscles need high-quality recovery acids to build and keep you anabolic if you want to grow and prevent injury.
Electrolyte Blend: The four ingredients in this blend are all about keeping your most important cells hydrated during your workout so as to maximize their function.
The next substantial boost in caffeine in the NUTRISHOP line of pre-workouts is found in VASOCOR, which has about 175mg. The beta-alanine in this product is actually included in one of its blends, the pH Correction Strength and Endurance blend, where it works with L-taurine AKG and kre-alkalyn to keep the carnosine levels high in the muscles. But VASOCOR also has a nitric oxide precursor blend, complete with GlycoCarn and citrulline malate, plus ingredients designed to imitate anabolic hormonal releases that will boost strength and power output.
Move beyond VASOCOR and you’re into the big-boy realm of pre-workout products, with HEMOVEX and ERRATIC at 300mg and N’SANE beyond even that. These are for the workouts you really need to pump up intensity and focus — perhaps you’re an early riser and the first thing in the morning is your workout. You’ll definitely want to take these early in the day, and not after coffee!
It’s true that many nitric oxide boosters also have creatine in them, but many times it’s micronized monohydrate in small doses that don’t get absorbed nearly effectively enough. HEMOVEX gets around this with a more modern approach, using creatine magnapower and citrulline nitrate to boost strength and muscular endurance during the workout. We’ll look at these ingredients and show why they’re important, and how you can take advantage of them:
- Creatine Magnapower: Known to lab nerds as creatine magnesium chelate, a completely different compound form of creatine that delivers the vital supplement to the muscles in a different way. Typically, creatine monohydrate and even Krealkalyn reach the muscles in a very specific pathway, with Krealkalyn being a much more stable option between those two. However, creatine magnapower delivers it via a different pathway. The upshot: You could theoretically stack two forms of creatine at once and increase the amount of it in the muscles, creating more strength and power.
- Citrulline Nitrate: During the absorption process, it’s converted into nitric oxide in the body. The immediate result is an increased blood flow due to expanded blood vessels, and better delivery of creatine throughout the system. This is one of the most effective vasodilation products around.
ERRATIC begins with its proprietary blend, the P4 Complex: Beta-Alanine (Carnosyn), Arginine Nitrate, Citrulline Nitrate, Agmatine Sulfate.
Beta-Alanine (Carnosyn): Beta-alanine is one of the most important pre-workout ingredients around; if it’s not in your pre-workout, well, you need a new one. A pre-cursor for carnosine, a protein building block that bonds with histidine (another amino acid), beta-alanine is shown in studies to reduce fatigue in athletes while increasing total muscle work and power.
Arginine Nitrate: Arginine Nitrate is backed by some pretty heady research. It was found by a 1999 study in Cardiovascular Researchto be a bona fide precursor to nitric oxide; German research from 2003 indicates that it plays a role in wound-healing and recovery; in 1998, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that arginine can even stimulate growth hormone secretion.
During intense exercise, in the middle or toward the end of your workout when your body is low on oxygen anyway, the L-Arginine NO Synthase pathway — the more common route for typical pre-workouts — is much less effective, and nitric oxide production won’t last as long. The effect of this process is usually seen early in the workout, when energy and stored oxygen levels are high.
Citrulline Nitrate: Citrulline is an amino acid that does a few things, including helping support L-Arginine in the body and also serving as a precursor to nitric oxide production. Imagine there is a line of dominos that has to fall before the effect of nitric oxide can take place — the presence of Citrulline is one of the first dominos. The end result of taking a Citrulline Nitrate product is gains in strength, endurance and faster recovery. Recent studies have proven that citrulline helps to relax the blood vessels, making it an essential ingredient in any vasodilatory (blood-flow increasing) supplement.
Agmatine Sulfate: Basically arginine with the carboxylic acid end removed, agmatine produces several byproducts directly involved with cell growth. Many see it as an exciting new ingredient, particularly for its potential as a “novel neurotransmitter,” according to one scientific review.
HOW IT HELPS YOU: The long story made short on the blend above is that each ingredient in the formula works in synergy to improve athletic endurance and performance, while providing a crazy, impressive pump you can see. Have you ever had a workout so intense — muscles swollen, veins popping — that you almost don’t recognize yourself in the mirror? That’s the pump — and the results you can expect with ERRATIC.
The second important blend in ERRATIC is the S5 complex, featuring instantized leucine, glycine, Betaine HCI, Kre-Alkalyn and Vanadyl Sulfate.
Instantized Leucine: Leucine, an essential amino acid, is crucial because of its ability to activate key pathways in the body that lead to protein synthesis, which is proven to increase the amount of skeletal muscle hypertrophy, or growth. Leucine plays an important role in activating your muscle building processes, which prevents using muscle tissue for fuel during exercise.
Glycine: Some neat trivia on glycine — it’s the smallest of the amino acids. But it still plays an important role in protein synthesis, serving as a pre-cursor for proteins, which of course are key to muscle-building.
Betaine HCI: Betaine is an important vitamin derived from choline, a protein-and-fat-based dietary component that adds structural integrity to cell membranes. Naturally occurring in sugar beets, Betaine regulates the body’s levels of homocysteine, a potentially toxic substance that is a byproduct of meat digestion.
Kre-Alkalyn: Unlike creatine monohydrate, Kre-Alkalyn is a pH-buffered creatine which ensures the highest level of creatine availability delivered to muscles. Studies show that nearly 100 percent of creatine from Kre-Alkalyn is absorbed and none is converted to toxic impurities and never biodegrades to creatinine. This allows the highest level of absorption and utilization with levels up to 10 times that of other creatine forms. Essentially, you need to take far less product, while saving your kidneys from excreting high levels of toxic creatinine.
Vanadyl Sulfate: Known primarily for its mimicking effect of insulin, it becomes clear why this ingredient is part of ERRATIC. Insulin’s role is to help quickly shuttle nutrients through the bloodstream to recovering tissues, and in the case of your workouts, this means your muscles. The result is faster recovery on the spot, and more energy.
HOW IT HELPS YOU: The S5 Complex, with its inclusion of energy-boosting creatine (which increases ATP, cellular energy) and vanadyl sulfate as an insulin-mimicker, obviously is a great way to improve energy and power for your workout, while amino acids in the blend help to preserve muscle tissue as you fatigue.
The final blend in ERRATIC we’ll go over is the E6 Complex, comprised of n-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Advantra-Z, and Pikamilon.
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine: The body uses tyrosine to create the brain’s chemical messengers involving feelings of energy. It’s used to help treat people with depression, ADHD, sleep deprivation, narcolepsy, PMS and even Parkinson’s because of its ability to be converted into dopamine and norepinephrine. An article in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior revealed studies that have shown tyrosine to aid the body during times of stress or fatigue, both primary symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Caffeine Anhydrous: One of the most popular fast acting stimulants. Caffeine Anhydrous acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increases the release of adrenaline, acts as a thermogenic agent (raises metabolic rate and core body temperature), increases the use of body fat for fuel, and spares muscle glycogen increasing endurance. Studies suggest Caffeine Anhydrous has significant effects on physiological response and performance of trained athletes. Caffeine Anhydrous is primarily used as a power and energy accelerant. This fast-acting substance delivers the right molecular structure to your energy systems for maximum energy and power output. Caffeine Anhydrous is fast-acting because it stimulates the central nervous system so you’re neurologically charged to increased levels of alertness and focus.
Advantra-Z: An extract of a citrus fruit that helps stimulate metabolic processes, favor uptake of amino acids into muscle, increase lipolysis (breakdown of fat) and exert mild hunger-suppressant effects. Advantra Z is the only patented thermogenic ingredient for weight loss and physical performance on the market today.
Pikamilon: Once in the body, it causes the release of GABA and niacin, and this ingredient serves two ways — first as a vasodilator, expanding the blood vessels for that insane pump we talked about earlier, and also as an anti-anxiety focus-enhancer.
So, who will benefit most from ERRATIC? Basically, anyone wanting to gain muscle, get focused and energized for a workout, get a great pump, and lose body fat. With the three aforementioned blends working as 1) a mood enhancer, 2) a way to increase blood flow for athletic performance and 3) a surefire way to get that coveted pump you only achieve on your best workout days. As always, the work you put into your training will be the deciding factor in what you get out of it — don’t leave your energy and performance up to chance with the same-ol’, same-ol’ pre-workouts. Deviate from the ordinary.
A natural promoter of nitric oxide in your own body is L-Arginine AKG, and this compound is a primary ingredient in CellShock’s N’SANE, a powerful pre-workout formula designed to increase your focus and intensity during the workout as well as provide enhanced blood flow and vascularity. N’SANE aims to be the BEST pre-workout product available, and its 9.3 out of 10 rating on Supplement Reviews online indicates that it is a premier formula.
While “other” pre-workout formulas rely on inhuman levels of caffeine or stimulants alone to achieve this effect, N’SANE relies primarily on two patented compounds designed to increase not only energy and focus, but strength and muscle endurance itself:
GlycoCarn: Working in conjunction with the L-Arginine AKG also in N’SANE, GlycoCarn is a highly effective precursor of nitric oxide production in the system. Its ingredients signal to your body to increase the nitric oxide levels in your blood naturally, helping to promote expansion of the blood vessels for better circulation to the muscles. That means stronger lifts, the ability to have longer workouts and better training sessions, and an overall increase in muscular performance.
KreAlkalyn: Creatine is one of the most-researched muscle improvement supplements available, and one of the things all that research has shown is that in its normal form (creatine monohydrate), it is incredibly unstable and breaks down once its pH is altered within the body. Creatine is transformed into creatinine, a benefit-less byproduct, with most creatine products because of that instability. What KreAlkalyn does is provide a pH-buffered version of creatine, meaning that it will not break down the way normal creatine products would; instead, nearly 100 percent of it is absorbed to help increase muscle mass and strength.
With your body pumping blood more efficiently while also containing anabolic compounds, you can count on increased intensity in your workouts, stronger lifts, improved vascularity and a great pump.