Pre-workout or "N.O." (nitric oxide) supplements have been around a while, getting much press with the release of "N.O. Explode" a few years back. What's the big deal about them and what do they do for you? I've tried many of them but use only a couple here and there.
Force Factor, one of latest to capitalize on the N.O. supplement craze, is in my opinion the K-Mart of these supplements because it lacks any real punch to it's ingredients yet makes outrageous claims of miraculous fat-burning and muscle building results- don't fall for it; it's ALL marketing hype just like 5-Hour Energy shots. Both of them spend more on media buys for their lousy commercials than they do actual R and D for the product. Maybe that's why they are so overpriced. Ok, let's stay on-topic:
Since N.O. Explode came out, pre-workouts have gotten better in my opinion. It's usually only a matter of time before someone, somewhere finds a replacement ingredient that works just as well or better to get a desired result for cheaper than the current favorite found in what's on the shelves now. Without getting too scientific, let's talk about what is in these supplements that help you "swell up",lean out, have more endurance, stronger sets and less fatigue (according the the labels and marketing) some of these things are very potent and can effect some people very adversely, so be careful!
Besides the obvious huge dose of caffeine and a little creatine most of these mixes have in their "proprietary blend" (more on that later) ingredient list, there are many other potent things in there that might help kick-start your training or what ever else you are about to take on that requires focus and/or more athletic ability.
The short list of some of the latest high-octane ingredients found in these supplements are:
Beta-Alanine, Arginine, Theobromine, Evodiamine, R-Beta-Methylphenylethylamine and my personal favorite 1,3-Dimethylamylamine. Some are way to wordy to even try to pronounce, I know. Let's break them down and talk about what they actually do to help us burn fat and get ripped results.
One of the biggest, hottest ones currently for that is Beta-Alanine. BA is naturally occurring beta amino acid and is a component of the peptide amino acid carnosine, which has great anti-aging properties and is found in large concentrations in muscle and brain tissue. Supplementation of BA has been suggested to up the content of carnosine in muscles decreasing fatigue thus allowing more muscular work to be done; helping to reduce the burn brought on by lactic acid from intense training- I like the sound of that.
Arginine is one of the most common naturally occurring amino acids. It is mainly included as a supplement ingredient because it is a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) and is necessary for the synthesis of creatine (which is also naturally occurring) it helps decrease healing time of damaged tissue (muscle in our case) and decreases blood pressure. In general most adults don't need to take arginine as it is naturally occurring in our bodies but it's understandable why it is included in pre-workout supplementation (this is the main ingredient in Force Factor) WEAK.
Theobromine is a caffeine-like ingredient, but not as potent. It comes from the cocoa tree so you can find it in dark chocolate. It is a mild stimulant and has a diuretic effect on us (makes us urinate more) which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is one of the reasons that these supplements can appear to help you get "shredded" that most people don't really think about. When we pee more, we get rid of water and salt usually held subcutaneously just under the skin. This look occurs from eating food high in empty calories/salt, usually processed and/or fast food from S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) This makes us look puffier or bloated. So, when we pee more, we flush all that out and thus look "leaner" or more shredded. This is a bodybuilding/fitness model must- you can't be holding any water and expect to land a cover!
Evodiamine is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements; extracted from the Tetradium family of plants which has shown in some mice studies to reduce fat uptake. It's mechanism is similar in theory to capsaicin, which is the active ingredient in chili peppers. At the very least the theory could be that it increases metabolic rate much like a thermogenic, or "fat burner" pill like Hydroxycut. A Japanese animal study in 2001, found that evodiamine doubled fat burning in it's subjects.
R-Beta-Methylphenylethylamine is one of the newer ingredients on the menu for pre-workouts supplements. It is somewhat similar to what norephedrine was years back before it was banned. R-Bet-Methyl stimulates norepinephrine in the human body with weight loss effects like appetite suppression and increased energy much like caffeine. Sounds like a good combination to me if the goal is to drop inches and pounds.
Now for my favorite ingredient, DMAA or Dimethylamylamine. It's a legal over the counter stimulant that is extracted from geranium plants although some sources say that has never been confirmed ands it is synthetic. Early on it was patented by the drug company Eli Lilly as a nasal decongestant. Years later it was brought into the fitness supplement industry. It, much like R-Beta-Methyl (above) are norepinephrine releasing agents which increase energy and focus, amp up vasoconstriction (restricts blood vessel size) and heightens the senses. Some report a feeling of eurphoria and/or mental well-being. It has also been suggested that DMAA stimulates dopamine release but that is not confirmed. DMAA is not approved by the FDA and in 2009 the World Anti-Doping Agency added it to the 2010 prohibited list. That's ok, that does not mean it is illegal, just that drug-tested athletes should not be taking it.
There have been a whole host of positive testing results among athletes and DMAA, like American Sprinter Mike Rodgers in 2011, claiming he drank vodka with an energy drink two days before an event in Italy causing the positive result. And the very latest, February 2012, two U.S. soldiers who collapsed during training kicked off an investigation into DMAA as it was found in their systems. The DoD decided to take all products containing DMAA off base-store shelves as a precautionary measure. But the DoD did stress- these ARE legal products and the link between the two dead soldiers and DMAA has not been confirmed. Final findings are expected in late March, 2012.
Truth is, more people die every year from obesity-related conditions, smoking or drinking than anything containing DMAA. You simply have to do your research and practice common sense. If you have a sensitivity to caffeine or any other stimulant, you probably should stay away from these products. Everyone is different- the way each of our bodies react to different foods, supplements and training modes.
The other thing to think about is that if you are new to training (especially higher intensity) and you are told to start taking supplements like this from your buddies, your trainer or whomever, just take it slow and maybe let the training condition your heart/cardio respiratory system prepare to take the effects a bit better. I have been training for close to 20 years and I have had no problems what so ever trying various supplements like these. Others who are new to training may not experience the same tolerance so again, use common sense and always test toleration levels slowly!
Besides my favorite protein bars made by Promax, my favorite pre-workout supplement right now is called Noxipro by CTD Labs out of Spring, TX.I have no affiliation with CTD Labs, I just like their product. It is similar to the popular Jack3D, but the mixture of ingredients in Noxipro just work better with my system. There are many products out there that qualify as pre-workout supplements. Many of them however do not have the potent ingredients such as DMAA in them. As with any supplement, since it is NOT regulated by the FDA, they take advantage of what is called the "Proprietary Blend" which simply means they don't have to disclose just how much of anything is in the product and that rubs many the wrong way, rightfully so.
Again, the bottom line about ANY supplement is this: It does just that- it only SUPPLEMENTS what YOU do day in/day out in the gym and in the kitchen. I like them for that reason. They give me a kick when I need it. What I rely on is my nutrition and my training, NEVER supplements. That goes for protein supplements, "fat burners" like Hydroxycut, creatine, or pre-workout mixes.
Nothing takes the place of a solid nutrition/training plan for your body type or goal- and the will to improve. In my book that will never change. For more info on how to bring it all together and get the body of your dreams with full support from me, visit http://www.robertmartingfitness.com
Until my next post, train, eat and supplement smart!
In this short video shot in Palm Springs, Ca I show you the beauty of bodyweight supersets if you don't have a gym or wieghts. If you know what movements to do and in intense fashion (superset) you don't always need gyms and weights to get lean! Of course, your nutrition must be in order no matter what you do; that's a golden rule! Make sure to check out the end..very cool!
Most of my results (and magazine covers) came from dedicated sessions in a fully equipped gym, with various workouts structured around a combination of compound movements and isolation movements. Home workouts with limited equipment can however offer a great stand-in session when you can't make the gym. If you want to train with me in the gym and recieve dedicated support from me in the gym and the kitchen step by step, visit me at http://www.robertmartingfitness.com there, we can train one-on-one no matter where you are! Do it now!
I just saw another infomercial for P90X and it got me thinking…
A few months back I did a post right here on this blog mainly on Beachbody’s flagship product “P90X” (scroll down a few posts) and other topics surrounding the company.
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the documentary-style infomercials that BeachBody spends millions on per year to plaster its marketing message all over the networks- hey, infomercials that hit even just a little bit can help you retire early.
As it turned out, The New York Times was also putting together an article on BeachBody. In doing so, they paid me a visit (which was awesome) thanks NY Times!
The Times asked me a few questions on my knowledge of BeachBody; back in 2002 I was paid talent in a few of their infomercials as someone who appeared to use their products (then Power 90).
My contribution to the article includes the age-old principle coined by Joe Weider over 50 years ago called “Muscle Confusion”. Which simply means doing different workouts, tempos and movements every time you train (ground breaking stuff here).
The quote got a response from Carl Daikeler, CEO of BeachBody:
The guiding principle is to mix up routines and “confuse” the muscles so as to avoid hitting a plateau. So some days are devoted to dumbbells or resistance bands, in addition to old-fashioned push-ups and pull-ups. Other days are reserved for yoga or cardiovascular workouts that involve a lot of jumping and squats.
But Robert Marting, a personal trainer who sells his own exercise videos, says that “muscle confusion” is a time-tested principle of bodybuilding, and that the idea has been around since the early days of Joe Weider, a creator of the Mr. Olympia contest. Beachbody “kindly borrowed the principle and just retermed it as a training secret,” he says.
True enough, Mr. Daikeler says.
“Trainers love to give negative reviews of P90X, saying it’s not that special,” he said. “They are right. It’s not that special.”
Well, I wasn't being negative, I was only stating the truth; and at least Carl was being truthful too. If P90X really were that special, I don’t think pitchman Tony Horton would be training in his own "tricked out" home gym as explained in the NY Times article, he’d be training in his living room in front of a plasma TV.
What about if you did the full 90 days and you did'nt know what or how to continue training? Do you just start again from day 1? Watch the entire series again for another 90 days? Who likes re-runs? This is a problem with P90 obviously and where some complaints come up with this program along with injuries that can sideline your progress.
I guess P90X just not ‘confusing’ enough to keep real results coming!
It’s a great read either way, check out the entire article on the official NY Times site HERE
Thanks again to the New York Times for including http://www.robertmarting.com in their article and thanks to BeachBody for giving me something to blog about!
Ok so what about the really bad 5-Hour Energy shot commercials? Does this little shot of caffeine, niacin, amino acids, B vitamins and water really keep you going strong like the lousy ads say? Simply, I say no way– smart nutritional choices from REAL, UNPROCESSED food every couple hours throughout your day and plenty of water will BY FAR keep you feeling awake much better by stabilizing your blood sugar than 5-Hour Energy. You'll be fueling your body to burn calories, preserve muscle, all while keeping your brain on alert and no amount of anything in a bottle can do that the way smart nutrition can do.
But hey, if the folks at 5-Hour Energy told you that, they wouldn't be selling any units- and they sell a ton of it because people just don't know any better. Since you are reading this post, you now know better!
For one thing, these low-budget commercials are showing every-day folks falling asleep on the job, usually sometime after lunch. Sadly, every day folks at work probably are on the S.A.D. diet, (standard American diet) consisting of too much processed, salty foods usually in large sittings at one time like lunch. It's smart marketing, because sadly that is what the average person does. Do you want to be just average? I didn't think so.
The simple truth however is you would be better off drinking a cup of joe or tea. The antioxidant content in tea leaves and coffee beans do your anti-aging abilities well. The thing about coffee addicts is this: coffee acts as a diuretic, which drains your body and brain of water- this can make us feel VERY tired- so drink your water steadily throughout the day and keep caffeine intake in check! Again, 5-Hour Energy doesn't want you to know this fact.
Caffeine/coffee is a big addiction problem in the U.S., if not the world and 5-Hour Energy knows this, too. Their commercials tell us it takes less time and is just easier to throw back a shot of 5-Hour Energy than to brew some coffee, so we may as well be addicted to it rather than coffee- at least that's what it says to me. Caffeine addiction means huge $$. It has been proven that caffeine can help amp up your metabolism and/or stay more active. This can help burn excess fat and calories.
5-Hour Energy also says the amino acid content in their shot boosts its ability to get you moving. They call it their "energy blend" However, there is no clinical evidence anywhere that proves this. Amino acids come from food, and some are made by our bodies. This is where eating the right natural foods come in again- so don't be duped into believing you get what you need in aminos from a little bottle, or that amino acids wake you up. Amino acids simply aren't stimulants but building blocks.
Study after study has proven that kids who eat a healthy breakfast perform better on cognitive tests later in the day than those that don't. The same has also been studied/proven in adults who keep their blood sugar stable from eating smaller, healthy snacks every couple hours/day, starting with some good nutrition in the morning.
Most folks are very busy and don't have time to eat (so they say) much less eat healthy (so they think). We are all busy; if you can't find time, you make time- it's that simple. Many even skip breakfast- which is a bad move. Breakfast kicks off your metabolism for the day, much of your energy later in the day comes from your morning meal. If we don't eat breakfast, we usually feel it around lunch time or shortly after. Couple this with a big, usually unhealthy lunch with co-workers and you get the crash from eating too many dead carbs (maybe your job is boring you to sleep too).
Let me make this clear: 5-Hour Energy or caffeine for that matter is NOT the cure for this. Eating lighter, smarter meals throughout the day are- hands down.
So, if you aren't a morning person and you see this silly 5-Hour Energy spot where the little non-early rising "busy executive" is trying to wake up and hit the road, take a shot of 5-Hour Energy and skip breakfast, don't follow suit. Instead, get up 15 minutes earlier, get some instant oatmeal, half a multi-grain bagel (watch the salt) or apple with peanut butter, or a couple hard-boiled eggs you made previously. To make those things takes literally minutes and you can hard boil many eggs at once to have ready to eat. Or, a good choice is one of many great protein bars. I always have a few Promax bars on hand when time is short to prepare food.
Same goes for lunch during a busy work day. If you love to eat (most of us do) then do it more often! Meaning, DO NOT go out for lunch and over-do it on the junk calories with a huge meal that keeps you full for hours. This means anything too salty and heavy like pasta with cream sauces, fried foods, big burgers with all the bread, chips and salsa, so-called "healthy salads" with bacon bits and ranch, blue cheese, or other cream dressing loaded with salt and who knows what else. Instead, ask for half lemon juice and caesar, balsamic or vinaigrette- and to be safe always ask for any dressing on the side so you can apply it sparingly to your liking. Better yet, make some quick meals in bulk yourself at home and put the meals in a small cooler to take with you on the road. Example: Previously-cooked chicken tenders and a bag of salad- see how easy that is to carry?
After all, as I've always said a great body and a productive, healthy life will never come from a bottle. Eating right, getting quality sleep and proper training methods will give you the best odds to achieve those goals!
If you don't know where to start, no problem. Just sign up for my free mini-course you see right here on this blog to the right. In it I explain how to get started on the right foot with regard to smart food choices and training. When you are informed, you can be TRANSFORMED-No little plastic bottle of magic "energy potion" needed.