Pre-workout supplements are quickly becoming a staple in many people’s training and supplement regimes, the energy hit, vascularity and resultant muscle pump is undeniable…you can feel it working! So about that muscle pump, what causes it and why is it such an important element of a workout?
L-arginine. L-arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning it is generally made by the body in sufficient quantities, but occasionally you need to consume it via the diet or in the form of supplements (such as in malnutrition, burns, infection etc).
Why is L-arginine so effective
L-arginine is one of the main components responsible for a process known as vasodilation i.e. widening of blood vessels. If blood vessels widen they are naturally able to transport more blood around the body, and more blood means more oxygen to the muscles, and more oxygen to the muscles means more energy for physical activity and exercise!
L-arginine is recognised to increase the release of growth hormone, as well the production of nitric oxide, a critical component in vasodilation and muscle pumps! Many studies support the benefit of L-arginine, with several clinical papers prompting the ‘effective dosage’ recommendation to be at or around 3-9g per day.
Come off it for a while
It is suggested that you rest from L-arginine supplements for approx. 8-12 weeks, because according to Llewellyn, (2012), persistent supplementation with L-arginine could reduce the natural production of arginase, an enzyme that is needed to break down arginine and thus produce nitric oxide.
NOTE: L-arginine does act on the cardiovascular system (heart), so if you have any underlying medical condition then please do consult your Doctor before commencing a supplement that contains L-arginine, or any pre-workout supplement for that matter.