Curious as to what ingredients work to increase nitric oxide, and thus, pumps and blood flow?
Let’s take a look at the science and research behind the top nitric oxide boosting supplements and why they belong in your pre-workout stash, especially if you are after skin-tearing pumps and next-level training.
The Best Nitric Oxide Boosting Supplements
1. L-Arginine (as Nitrosigine®)
Arginine is an immediate precursor to nitric oxide and creatine, making it a crucial amino acid for expansion of blood vessels.
In turn, arginine taken prior to training leads to increases in “pumps” and nutrient transport. Nitric oxide performs a number of critical functions within the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems.
Better yet, research shows that arginine boosts growth hormone levels about 90 minutes after ingestion, suggesting it may help in promoting fat loss and reducing muscle catabolism during training.
The key is to supplement with Nitrosigine®, which is a patented form of arginine silicate stabilized with inositol, making it much more bioavailable for nitric oxide production. Nitrosigine® produces pumps so intense you will never train without it again!
Citrulline is an alpha-amino acid that human DNA does not encode, but is still in certain proteins. Supplementing with L-citrulline rapidly increases plasma L-arginine concentrations and thus indirectly enhances the production of nitric oxide. It also promotes the use of other amino acids, especially BCAAs.
As part of the urea cycle, citrulline is essential for detoxifying the body of ammonia and lactate; in turn, citrulline use leads to rapid improvements in physical performance and peak power production.
The key with L-citrulline is to use research-backed doses since many inferior pre-workout products use a small 500 mg dose.
Nitrosurge and Nitrosurge Shred contain a full dose of L-citrulline, along with a blend of synergistic, research-backed ingredients that drastically increase nitric oxide, blood flow, pumps, energy, and focus.
3. Hydromax® Glycerol Monostearate
Hydromax® is the purest form of glycerol on the market. Glycerol is a simple fat molecule with many properties in the body. After taking Hydromax®, you will experience increases in the concentration of fluids in your blood and muscle tissue.
Since the body is in a constant state of maintaining water balance, glycerol helps pull water into muscle cells and create a fuller appearance. It is crucial to hydrate adequately when taking glycerol to maximize its blood flow and pump-promoting properties.
Moreover, Hydromax® significantly enhances the absorption of other ingredients taken with it. Ultimately, this means faster delivery of essential nutrients to muscle tissue during training greater muscular pumps.
This is exactly why we include a hefty dose of Hydromax® in PUMP SURGE, the most potent non-stimulant pump and nootropic pre-workout on the market.
Other Pre-Workout Ingredients Worth Using
1. Amino Acids (EAAs and BCAAs)
Amino acids are great for decreasing muscle damage and enhancing recovery. They are essential for repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin, and hair. Aminos also play a part in the function of organs, glands, tendons, and arteries.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have many physiological benefits, including decreasing muscle damage and promoting muscle protein synthesis when taken before or after exercise.
Essential amino acids (EAAs) contribute to protein synthesis directly, as opposed to reducing muscle breakdown. Consumption of EAAs pre-exercise creates a greater protein synthesis response than when consumed post-exercise.
Keeping your muscle tissue in a state of positive nitrogen balance helps them maintain fullness and longer-lasting pumps.
Beta-alanine is a beta amino acid that the body uses to synthesize carnosine. This particular amino acid is great for delaying fatigue, improving blood flow, and enhancing muscular endurance.
Alpha-alanine is one of the 20 common amino acids in nature and is abundant in many biomolecules; beta-alanine, however, is not part of any major enzyme or protein biosynthetic pathways.
Carnosine is an important dipeptide in muscle cells made up of histidine and beta-alanine and is limited by the availability of beta-alanine. Thus, beta-alanine supplementation is beneficial to athletes looking to increase anaerobic and aerobic performance.
Studies show that carnosine can increase by upwards of between 58% and 80% after 4-10 weeks of beta-alanine use. Carnosine helps stabilize muscle pH by picking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released during exercise as part of the process of energy release. H+ decreases muscle pH (higher acidity), leading to fatigue.
A drop in muscle pH reduces their ability to contract forcibly. By picking up H+, carnosine delays the decrease in pH and therefore increases our ability to work harder for longer.
Furthermore, taking beta-alanine is better for increasing carnosine than ingesting carnosine itself. The body hydrolyzes carnosine into beta-alanine and histidine.
However, independent ingestion of beta-alanine and histidine allows them to be transported into skeletal muscle and re-synthesized into carnosine. Beta-alanine is the amino acid that influences intramuscular carnosine levels the most.
3. Betaine Anhydrous (Trimethylglycine)
Betaine anhydrous (trimethylglycine or TMG) derives from the amino acid choline; it is naturally occurring in plant species, particularly sugar beets. In recent years, betaine anhydrous has garnered a healthy amount of praise as a pre-workout augmenter and potent performance enhancer.
Betaine anhydrous is a crucial component to the formulation of many biologically important molecules and regulator of homocysteine levels.
Furthermore, betaine anhydrous is an osmotic compound and promotes cellular hydration, much like Hydromax® does, thereby helping maintain cellular integrity and water balance. As such, be sure to keep fluid intake high when using betaine.
While this list isn’t necessarily exhaustive, these are currently the most potent nitric oxide enhancing supplements available.
Remember to be wary of pre-workout supplements with proprietary blends, as that’s generally a sign of hiding ineffective doses of key ingredients.
We’d love to hear your experience and thoughts in the comments section on what helps you get the best pumps during training!
About the author
Elliot Reimers, CNC, M.S. Candidate