I'll cut straight to the chase with this. There are a plethora of pre-workout supplements on the market but not all contain the 'money ingredients', the key components that make pre-workout supplements the big players they are in the industry today. So here are my top 4 ingredients that I firmly believe are integral to a good pre-workout experience.
In no particular order, first on the list is Agmatine. This molecule is now one of the most heavily researched supplement ingredients around. A derivative of L-arginine (produced via the removal of the carboxylic acid group), Agmatine is showing great promise in neurotransmission and muscle excitability.
Agmatine may increase your focus and muscle endurance through its ability to act on cathecholamines such as Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and Dopamine. Animal studies also show that Agmatine enhances insulin production, which considering insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body may well increase muscle growth potential.
This conditionally essential amino acid is key to the synthesis (production) of Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide, or NO as it’s commonly known is proven to vasodilate i.e. widen the blood vessels so that more blood can get to your working muscles. The improved blood flow also directly increases oxygen delivery to your muscle and brain, and where blood and oxygen goes…energy usually follows!
3.) Citrulline Malate
Citrulline Malate is known to reduce fatigue and improve endurance during exercise. It works collaboratively with L-arginine and is actually converted to L-arginine after ingestion. Citrulline Malate is gradually becoming more favourable than L-arginine itself due to its ability to increase plasma levels of L-arginine and L-ornithine over time.
The current consensus of opinion is that performance enhancement is better when L-arginine and Citrulline Malate are combined.
The brilliant Beta-alanine is a must have in any pre-workout for its ability to improve performance via a slightly different mechanism to all of the above. Beta-alanine is known as a buffer, much like a sponge that goes around the body mopping up Hydrogen ions, a by-product of exercise that triggers that nasty burn in your muscles!
Like Agmatine, Beta-alanine is also a neurotransmitter that can increase muscle excitability and focus. You may already be familiar with the tingling effect beta-alanine can cause in your extremities such as your ears, hands, feet and sometimes your arms and legs. This is known as paraesthesia and is proof that beta-alanine is doing its job!
Examine.com, (2016). Agmatine. Retrieved 11th Feb, 2016, from http://examine.com/supplements/agmatine/