Remember 1982? I sure do! No, I’m not talking about “Centerfold”, by J. Geils Band, or guys dressing like chicks to get actual chicks, or that HORRIBLE “Halloween part III” that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Michael Myers, I’m talking about the genesis of Pre-Workout products! Now that you can’t stop singing; “My-Angel-is-the-Center-fold”, in your head, let’s take a look back at what was. Enter, Ultimate Orange. A Dan Duchaine creation and the first of all Pre-Workout concoctions. I guess you could call Ultimate Orange a Dracula to all other Vampires, a GTO to all other Muscle Cars, an Amanda Latona bikini side butt pose to every other goddamn “fit chick” butt-shot on Instagram. Let the madness stop!!…what am I saying!?? Continue with the butt shots, ladies. Alas, Ultimate Orange would have an amazing 20+ year run until the main ingredient (besides for possible Dbol, thanks Dan) Ephedra was banned in 2004. Yes, this ban had been complete horseshit, but the world of bodybuilding supplementation needed to carry on, specifically to fill the void that Ultimate Orange would leave behind.
After a slew of wannabe’s and “ephedra free” knock-offs over the past decade, the pre-workout subcategory of supplementation has been hit and miss. Only in the past few years has a major jump been made with more heavily and proven researched ingredients to take the fit-fam to new levels of training intensity. Let’s take a look at the “new school” and try to understand some of the ingredients that would assemble a winning pre-workout formula:
First and foremost; CAFFEINE! Do NOT underestimate the power of caffeine. There is a reason that this psychoactive stimulant is a part of EVERY pre-workout/energy drink out there. Number one; it works, number two; its safe, and number three; its effective! Seriously, does anybody know of anybody that knows of anybody that died from caffeine?? NO! Of course not! It is the world’s most widely used stimulant, and not one illness or malady reported. “Doctor, my nail beds won’t stop bleeding, I think it’s the caffeine”, said no one, ever. In addition to it’s energy bumping effects, there is heightened focus, better muscular contractility, and the effect of increased free-fatty acid liberation for energy use! Can’t beat that!
It used to be fashionable to pound L-Arginine pre-workout because it would give you vaso-dilation and a ridiculous pump. And for some it did! The problem with L-Arginine supplementation is that after a while, your body would adapt to it and the effects would be lost. It would stop working, although, but that didn’t stop it from remaining expensive! So the science geeks figured out a better way of doing things. Those wacky brainiacs discovered an amino acid with a certain ability to “round up” free Arginine that was already consumed in the diet via protein sources, and thus increasing general plasma Arginine levels! GENIUS! Citrulline Malate is its name, and what does it do for you? It increases Growth Hormone secretion by the anterior pituitary and makes your adrenal glands produce more testosterone, nandrolone, and naturally occurring oxymetholone. KIDDING! Actually, higher plasma levels of Arginine will lead to a chemical reaction which results in increased nitric oxide production and a delay of ammonia build up in the hard working muscle cell. Train harder, get more reps, and experience less fatigue on those brutal drop sets. Sure, not as fancy as naturally occurring Anadrol, but way safer and way smarter too! While we are on the subject of delaying muscular fatigue via amino acid supplementation, let us also talk about Beta-Alanine and Taurine. Both amino acids act similarly to CitrullineMalate in the effects of higher muscular endurance. Beta–Alanine works to increase Carnosine plasma levels (which is actually a di-peptide), which in turn increases muscular endurance, and Taurine acts a powerful anti-oxidant to help defeat those nasty “free radicals” that would impede those extra reps and cause a decrease in strength of muscular contractility! As you can see, these three potent amino acids work back to back to create the best environment for your performance.
Did someone say Agmatine Sulfate?? Of course they didn’t. It is so NOT a common thing to just blurt out into the open! In truth, I couldn’t think of an appropriate segue, however, in relation to pre-workout “pumps” and nitric oxide release, Agmatine Sulfate is showing strong anecdotal promise among bros and fit-chicks in gyms worldwide. Although technically classified as a neurotransmitter and is showing some promise as a treatment for neuropathic illnesses, it has some ability to inhibit the Nitric oxide synthase enzyme. So basically, it may allow for higher natural blood levels of Nitric Oxide for that wild, skin splitting pump! As a result of this action, it is included in a lot of the cohesive pre-workout formulas out there.
So what do we do about no ephedrine? After all, the old E/C/A stack (ephedra/caffeine/aspirin) was the original energy pill. SOAP BOX RANT – Ephedra was banned because two idiot kids died while they were “taking ephedra”, and working out, bodies draped in garbage bags, while inside of a boiling hot sauna. But naturally, it was the ephedra that killed them. You know what? Those two idiots were so dumb that they would have found a whole new and unthought-of way of killing themselves devoid of any ephedra, and of course, the FDA would still find a way to blame Ephedra. – END SOAP BOX RANT. Lucky for us, the wizard bodybuilding chemists alchemized DMAA, or 1-Dimethylamylamine, but those frigid foiling feds took that away too. Again, the bodybuilding wizard chemists whipped up another LEGAL potion, and this time 2 different strains similar to the short lived DMAA called: N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine and 2-Aminoisoheptane. So far so good with these two stimulants. Both are powerful CNS stimulators, much like their older brother DMAA, and thus, are a welcomed addition to any high octane pre-workout supplement. As if these two hybrid DMAA clones weren’t enough to kick things into super overdrive, there is are a few more stimulant that would be a hell of a stack to complete the Fantastic 4 of stims.
Yohimbine HCL has long been a go to for those seeking fat loss. Where most stimulants would affect the beta adrenergic receptors (smooth muscle constriction, fatty acid liberation), Yohimbine HCL would counter effect the down regulation of alpha 2 adrenergic receptors, while at the same time increasing cardiac contraction! Sounds scary yah? It’s not all that bad. They work hand in hand to make the heart work harder, arteries constrict, liberate fatty acids for energy expenditure, keep adrenalin high, and they make rocket thrusters grow out from all your hinge joints. I kid, I kid, but the former points are all true. Here’s the rub; Yohimbine HCL is NOT well tolerated by everyone. It can and has caused nausea in a lot of cases and trials and it can also inhibit fat loss if used to long, or, at too high a dose because of it’s antagonistic nature of the alpha 1 receptor. Yes, there are a lot of receptors and a lot of nomenclature that is being thrown around, but it will all make sense. The answer: Rauwolscine. Very similar to Yohimbine HCL in action and structure, but from a different plant altogether and ONLY stimulation of the alpha 2 receptors! So fat loss NEVER gets impaired. It should be noted however, that Rauwolscine is a powerful substance that can cause “jitters” and anxiety in those who are sensitive to stimulants. User beware.
The last stimulant that would complete the Fantastic 4 of the current stimulant scene, is Theobroma Coacao Extract (yielding Theobromine) if: N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine and 2-Aminoisoheptane were Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, and Rauwolscine was The Thing, then Theobromine would be The Human Torch. Take that Marvel Comics vs. Real Life Supplement cross-over! Theobromine is a chemical cousin to Caffeine and strong stimulant, but with the absence of the psychoactive focus/energy properties. So although you won’t “feel” it working, you will notice yourself feeling hotter and perspiring more. And so the Fantastic 4 of stimulants is complete and ready to aid you in attacking your next workout, but just like in the Fantastic 4, every once in a while, a new mysterious character shows up to help.
Just like the Silver Surfer’s first appearance (in FF #48), Higenamine HCL is a mysterious figure that looks like it maybe pretty powerful! The flying surf board is a dead give away. I kid, but Higenamine HCL is chemically a beta-receptor stimulator (kind of like Ephedrine HCL), and so it has great potential to make a HUGE impact on fat loss, specifically during training! Hey, if the Fantastic 4 with the Silver Surfer can’t take on and beat Galactus, who can??? Sorry, I went ultra-nerdy there, but you get the general gist of it. Four main heavy hitting stimulants, plus Higenamine HCL more than makes up for the lack of DMAA or Ephedra in any pre-workout formula.
Finally, the cherry on top is an important fixture for any narcissistic, megalomaniac, and uber powerful pre-workout formula. Like a prom-queen without a tiara, a pre-workout concoction would NOT be complete without Bioperine. Sounds pretty fancy, I know, however, Bioperine is just a trademarked name for Black Pepper Extract. Here you thought you were getting a diamond, but instead you got a Cats Eyes Aquamarine Topaz. Trust me, it’s not as expensive, but she’ll never know (insert evil laugh). Black Pepper Extract is a nice addition to a pre-workout formula because of it’s innate ability to slow intestinal transport, or in other words, increase the bioavailability of other ingredients! So really, that prom-queen was gonna look pretty hot anyways, but drop that tiara a-tilt on her big, bold-hold hair, and that hotness factor just went through the roof!… I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school.
I can read your minds. How on earth are you supposed to get ALL of these ingredients in the proper reported doses and not spend a small fortune while taking up precious kitchen counter top real estate?? The fact is, it is not worth the trouble. Without sounding to “frony”, luckily all of these powerhouse ingredients can be found in TOTAL WAR, from Redcon 1. There may not be an Ultimate Orange anymore, an effective one anyways, but we are in a great time and place with supplementation because TOTAL WAR supersedes its’ predecessors by leaps and bounds. If Ultimate Orange was “Dutch”, and TOTAL WAR was the Predator, and if this was real life, Dutch wouldn’t stand a chance. Proceed with caution though, fit-fam, Total War shows no quarter for the weak…