A long, long time ago, I promised to do a few articles on supplements. I never really did, and now seems as good a time as any to make good on that.
I’ll gradually hit on proteins, post-workout supps, and other legal supplements one can put into the body to see various effects. Today’s post, however, focuses on the many and varied pre-workout supplements I’ve tried over the last couple years.
The photo above shows everything I’m currently using, with two exceptions.
Cytomax and Thermonex
Out of curiosity, and after many years of seeing it on the shelf, I broke down and bought a bottle of Cytomax by CytoSport. Huge mistake! I was interested because it lacked caffein (a near perquisite for most pre-w/o supps). Bottom line: It did not make me feel extra hydrated and energized during workouts as promised (quite the opposite), but I did pee a lot the rest of the day.
The second mistake was buying BAS’s Thermonex. At first, I liked them…until I learned they turned me (a laid back kind of guy) into a raging beast a la David Banner’s Mr. Hyde. And that reaction was actually some-timey. Other times I behaved more like Cal Lightman of Lie to Me fame…jittery and curiously intense.
Needless to say, both products are gone from my house.
The Long List of the Short List…
With that, I’ll share my thoughts on pre-w/o supps (pardon the abbreviations) I’ve tried. This short list isn’t all inclusive, but it’s pretty darn close. We’ll hit them one at a time, but first, let me share a few thoughts on pre-w/o supps:
You don’t need them to build a lean, mean, awesome physique.
Okay. With that out of the way, let’s talk about some supplements that can help the casual-come-serious weight lifter take things to “the next level.” This is a rank-ordered list from least favorite to favorite.
Cytomax and Thermonex — Throw them away! Enough said on that.
Xtreme Shock is interesting. It packs a skin-crawling flush that has driven me to my limits on my annual fitness tests (1.5 mi run, pushups, situps). For that purpose, and that purpose alone, I may use again in the future. Thing is, the crash is huge and hits very rapidly. Drinkability is great, but there is no lasting pump with this one. I’ve only seen it pre-bottled, which could really be pricy in bulk. Plus, it’s just not a real pre-w/o.
MRI’s Black Powder was actually my first true pre-workout a couple years ago. I thought it was awesome because it tasted better than the crap I remembered from my high school football days, and made me feel pretty pumped. What I didn’t realize, though, is that there were better supps out there that didn’t make you crash. The name is pretty awesome, though. That counts four something, right?
BSN’s Hyper Fx is definitely a pre-workout supplement. It does it’s job as it doesn’t let you crash halfway through your workout. Unfortunately, it’s mixability and taste isn’t awesome. Other than that, I like the mental focus without the super amped jitters many other pre-w/o supps give you. Taste is a pretty big deal, though. Oh…and you can’t just shake it up. It needs to be stirred; otherwise it foams and tastes even worse.
Cellucore’s N0-Extreme N-Zero was my second pre-workout. I liked it enough to buy two bottles. Funny thing is that the first bottle I purchased had been slightly exposed to humidity or something, so it was kind of clumpy. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure Cellucore had an issue with this, because my second purchase brought individual powder packets (think Crystal Light water flavoring packets). Honestly, this product is pretty great, because it has zero carbs and zero creatine. Hard to find in most pre-w/o supps. Taste is pretty good, but you see these weird, shiny floaters that I at first thought were bits of tinfoil that some disgruntled Cellucore employee surreptitiously dropped into the secret sauce. Why is it not my número uno? I’m not exactly sure. I think it’s because I just didn’t see the gains I saw after using this next potion for power.
BSN doesn’t do everything right, but this one is pretty good. With N.O.-Xplode 2.0, my mental focus was on, inter-set recovery was great, the pump was impressive and lasting, and I always managed to push out that extra rep. Drinkability was good, and it mixed well, too. While it may be a toss up between this product and Cellucore’s N0-Extreme N-Zero, the gains I saw with N.O.-Xplode were pretty impressive. In the 30 days I used this, I saw significant size, strength and muscular endurance gains.
Why do I need a pre-workout supplement?
Answer: You don’t. Simple as that. If you do choose to supplement with them, though, it is very important to limit (or eliminate altogether) other sources of caffein. Also, please follow the directions. Only ingest the recommended daily amount, and take a month or so off of pre-w/o supps after 8-10 weeks of usage. I know people who practically brag about taking 3X the recommended amount for months on end. Remember, the FDA is pretty particular for a reason. Protect your heart, brain, kidneys, and liver. Protect yourself!
Not sure. Whatever I’m inspired to write, I suppose. In the meantime, look forward to another supplement chat regarding post-workout supplements to include the favorite argument: creatine before or after your workout.
I’d love to hear what you think about this topic. What pre-workout supplements do you love or hate? Leave your comments hear. Sound off!
Until next time…
Product photos courtesy of BodyBuilding.com