Nitric Oxide and Its Role in Training

Every lifter has heard of, chased after, and, at one time or another, attained a raging muscle pump. First popularized by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Pumping Iron”, the pump is a phenomenon sought by many and achieved by only the most deserving.

One of the foundational components to achieving a massive muscle pump during training is ample amounts of nitric oxide (N.O.). This molecule is much more than a pump enhancer though, it carries with it a number of benefits that enhance training, overall function, and even health!

Read on to see what this all-important molecule is and how it can benefit all aspects of your life.

What is Nitric Oxide?

Not to be confused with nitrous oxide (“laughing” gas), nitric oxide is an essential signaling molecule composed of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) present in numerous tissues throughout your body. It’s plays a role in all facets of life, including:

  • Regulating cell life & death
  • Neurotransmission
  • Nutrient transport
  • Immune system response

Benefits of Nitric Oxide

As a key regulator of blood flow (via vasodilation), nitric oxide plays a critical role in nutrient and oxygen delivery, glucose uptake, power output and velocity. Due to the range of actions N.O. performs, it’s no surprise that it offers a slew of benefits:

  • Increased Vasodilation:

    Nitric oxide’s most well-known benefit is in its role as a powerful vasodilator, which causes blood vessels to dilate (“relax”), promoting greater blood flow throughout the body, especially working muscles. [1] Greater blood flow to your muscles increases vascularity, fullness, and some monster-sized pumps.

  • Enhanced Oxygen and Nutrient Transport:

    Compounding on the increased blood flow comes increased delivery of oxygen and other essential nutrients (such as amino acids) which enhances performance, recovery, and muscle growth.

  • Decreased Fatigue:

    Nitric oxide also helps avoid premature fatigue, enabling you to train for longer, and reap more gains from your workout. During high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting, oxygen is depleted, leading to an accumulation of lactic acid, often felt as a “burning” sensation in your muscles, forcing to end your set.

    Nitric oxide boosting supplements, such as citrulline malate, can offset this fatigue and improve “athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to relieve post exercise muscle soreness.”[3,4]

  • Quicker Recovery:

    One of the most crucial factors in accelerating recovery is flooding your muscles with the essential nutrients it needs to repair the damage done by your intense workout. How freely and easily blood flows throughout your body is the determining factor in how quickly those nutrients get to where they need to be.

    Nitric oxide increases blood flow to the muscles and their surrounding tissues[4], which means more blood gets to your muscles quicker, supplying your muscles with the valuable muscle-building nutrients they need to GROW!

    Faster recovery also comes with the added benefit of allowing you to train more frequently, leading to bigger and better gains in strength and size.

  • Enhanced Glucose Utilization:

    Arginine is the amino acid that fuels nitric oxide production in the body. Research has shown that L-Arginine supplementation significantly improved the rate of glucose appearance, disappearance, and[5] Researchers conducting the experiment attributed this improved glucose utilization to increased nitric oxide production.

    As you’re probably aware, L-Arginine isn’t the most beneficial nitric oxide elevating compound in supplements; it offers terrible bioavailability. That’s why SteelFit includes Citrulline Malate along with Grape Seed Extract and Glutathione, three incredibly bioavailable compounds that support and enhance nitric oxide production.

  • Improved Cognitive Functioning:

    Over the past few years, nitric oxide has received greater attention for its role in enhancing cognitive function. More specifically, scientists are investigating N.O’s impact on neurotransmitter production. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells in the brain to the muscles in our body.

    Research published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research concluded that nitric oxide has a direct impact on the brain’s computational abilities of the brain. And, it also had an effect on memory formation and learning. [6] Basically, greater levels of nitric oxide resulted in heightened cognitive function and faster reaction times when performing mental tasks.

    It’s also been suggested that increased nitric oxide production could play a contributing role in the prevention of cognitive decline, as well as Type II Diabetes. More research is needed to confirm these suspicions though.

  • Cardio Protection:

    Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest, and most concerning, health problems facing adults, both young and old, today. In addition to nitric oxide relaxing blood vessels, it also relaxes the smooth muscles of the heart, which causes a reduction in blood pressure, thereby supporting cardiovascular health and function. [7]

    Having a healthy heart is also vital to exercise, as the healthier your heart is, the harder you can push yourself while training, leading to better performance and results in the gym.

Maximize Your Nitric Oxide Output

It’s clear that nitric oxide is a powerful ally for all aspects of your life — health, performance, recovery, and cognitive function. To make the most of your workouts, you must maximize your body’s natural nitric oxide production, and the best way to do that is with Steel Pump™.

Each serving of Steel Pump™ delivers proven nitric oxide boosting compounds, including Citrulline Malate, Grape Seed extract, and L-Glutathione, to improve blood flow, enhance performance, and generate some massive pumps. Don’t fall for another gimmicky NO-booster that’s laden with ineffective arginine. Invest in Steep Pump™ for the most epic pumps and performance you’ve ever witnessed!

References

  1. Harris MB, Mitchell BM, Sood SG, Webb RC, Venema RC. Increased nitric oxide synthase activity and Hsp90 association in skeletal muscle following chronic exercise. European journal of applied physiology. 2008;104(5):10.1007/s00421-008-0833-4. doi:10.1007/s00421-008-0833-4.
  2. Bailey SJ, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, et al. Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol. 2010;109(5):1394-1403. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00503.2010.
  3. Perez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J strength Cond Res. 2010;24(5):1215-1222. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0.
  4. Alvares TS, Conte CA, Paschoalin VMF, et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab = Physiol Appl Nutr  Metab. 2012;37(1):115-126. doi:10.1139/h11-144.
  5. McConell GK, Huynh NN, Lee-Young RS, Canny BJ, Wadley GD. l-Arginine infusion increases glucose clearance during prolonged exercise in humans. Am J Physiol Metab. 2006;290(1):E60-E66. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00263.2005.
  6. Paul V, Ekambaram P. Involvement of nitric oxide in learning & memory processes. The Indian Journal of Medical Research. 2011;133(5):471-478.
  7. Lewis SJ, Bhopatkar MY, Walton TM, Bates JN. Role of voltage-sensitive calcium-channels in nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation  in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2005;528(1-3):144-149. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2005.10.056.

Must Have Pre-Workout Ingredients

It’s a situation all gym goers have encountered before and will inevitably face it again. You’ve just finished up another tub of pre-workout, and it’s time to get a new one. Now, you could keep using the same old, worn out tired brand of pre-workout you’ve been using for the past few months, but you’ve soured on its taste, and it doesn’t seem to have the same “pop” it used to.

So, rather than force yourself to double or triple scoop that same product to get any noticeable effect from it, why not spend a few minutes doing some searching for a superior option?

Sounds easy enough doesn’t it, just head down to your local supplement shop or pull up your favorite internet retailer and pick one out. The problem is, there are literally thousands of options for you to choose from when selecting a pre-workout, and no shortage of poorly formulated, overpriced ones waiting to steal your hard-earned money.

That’s where this article comes in. Ahead, you’ll find out why most other products on the market fail to do what a pre-workout should do (enhance your performance) and what are some “must have” ingredients you should be looking for the next time you go to drop some dough on a new performance enhancer.

Where Most Pre-Workouts Fail

There’s no shortage of reasons why certain pre-workout supplements seemingly have little to no effect whatsoever on your mood, focus, energy, or performance. Those reasons include:

  • Under-dosed ingredients
  • Ineffective ingredients (i.e. ingredients that don’t belong in pre-workouts)
  • Too many stimulants (i.e. feeling “cracked out”)
  • Not enough stimulants (no “kick in the pants” factor)
  • Clumpy powder due to poor shelf stability of ingredients
  • Terrible flavor (yes, how products taste does matter these days! There’s far too many great-tasting pre-workout that are equally effective for you to have to choke down some nasty powder.)
  • Overpriced

There’s a slew of other reasons why 99% of all pre-workouts you see on store shelves are downright terrible, and note worth the plastic they’re packaged in. But while we could go on forever about what’s wrong with the majority of pre-workouts, let’s get refocused on why you are here — to find out which ingredient you absolutely should have in your pre-workout!

Including these ingredients will have an immediate and noticeable impact on your workout, so without further ado, let’s dive into the essential pre-workout ingredients you MUST HAVE before hitting the gym!

Essential Pre-Workout Ingredients

Caffeine:

Any pre-workout worth its salt must have caffeine. It provides the foundation from which all the other components of a pre-workout expand upon. Caffeine has stood the test of time and is renowned for its ability to increase energy, focus, mood, and motivation. But caffeine is much more than an effective central nervous stimulant, it’s also a valuable performance enhancer. Numerous trials have shown that caffeine improves endurance, stamina, time to exhaustion, strength, power, and pain tolerance. [1,2,3]

The key to caffeine is in finding the right dose for you. Pre-workout doses can range anywhere from 150mg all the way up to 600mg in a single scoop! The “sweet spot” for caffeine for most trainees tends to fall in the 250-300mg range. Find a pre-workout in that range, and you’ve taken your first step towards finding a great pre-workout. Steel Pump™ packs 300 mg Caffeine Per Serving.

Citrulline Malate:

Nitric oxide is a highly important signaling molecule that improves blood flow via vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). With greater blood flow comes increased nutrient delivery, improved waste removal, better performance, and bigger pumps!

The premier nitric oxide boosting compound on the market is citrulline malate. Formed from a combination of l-citrulline and malic acid, citrulline malate is a proven nitric oxide boosting ingredient. It’s even more effective than the old “go to” NO-booster L-Arginine. [4]

Citrulline malate has been heavily studied and shown to boost athletic performance, energy production, and endurance all while reducing fatigue. [5,6]

Peak ATP:

A vastly underutilized ingredient, Peak ATP is an exogenous form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) developed by TSI USA, Inc. that’s been shown to actually enhance cellular levels of ATP! Now, supplemental ATP is nothing new to pre-workouts, but the vast majority of these forms offer poor bioavailability, rendering them essentially ineffective. Peak ATP, however, has been shown research trials to be incredibly bioavailable and increase ATP levels. [7]

Studies demonstrate that Peak ATP provides a readily usable fuel source for muscles, improving their ability to contract with less fatigue. [8] Additional studies note improved body composition and lean mass as well as increased vasodilation (a.k.a. PUMPS). [9,10] Steel Pump™ contains 450 mg Per Serving, the clinically proven dosage.

Alpha GPC:

To get the most out of every rep of your workout, you need to be focused. Without focus, you’re mindlessly going through the motions, never really get the most bang for your exercise buck. Alpha GPC solves your focus follies by providing the body with a highly bioavailable source of choline.

Choline is an essential nutrient that’s used in a number of way by the body, but none is more important than supporting acetylcholine (the “learning” neurotransmitter). With more acetylcholine, you’ll have that dialed in feeling while training and a much stronger mind-muscle connection. [11]

Your Pre-Workout Solution

There’s a lot that goes into formulating an effective pre-workout. Don’t get duped into buying a product merely for the cartoon label or bargain bin price. Select a pre-workout supplement formulated by researchers who know the ingredient you need (and the doses needed) to produce results.

Steel Pump™ supplies the ingredients you must have in your pre-workout to enhance performance and set the stage for a PR-shattering pre-workout.

References

  1. TREXLER ET, SMITH-RYAN AE, ROELOFS EJ, HIRSCH KR, MOCK MG. Effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous on strength and sprint performance. European journal of sport science. 2016;16(6):702-710. doi:10.1080/17461391.2015.1085097.
  2. Graham TE. Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance and performance. Sports Med. 2001;31(11):785-807.
  3. Richardson DL, Clarke ND. Effect Of Coffee And Caffeine Ingestion On Resistance Exercise Performance. J strength Cond Res / Natl Strength Cond  Assoc. February 2016. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001382.
  4. Curis E., et. al; “Citrulline and the gut;”; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care; September 2007
  5. Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Lord T, Vanhatalo A, Winyard PG, Jones AM. l-Citrulline supplementation improves O2 uptake kinetics and high-intensity exercise performance in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 Aug 15;119(4):385-95
  6. Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22.
  7. Lu N, Wang B, Deng X, Zhao H, Wang Y, Li D. Autophagy occurs within an hour of adenosine triphosphate treatment after nerve cell damage: the neuroprotective effects of adenosine triphosphate against apoptosis. Neural Regeneration Research. 2014;9(17):1599-1605. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.141811.
  8. Rathmacher JA, et al. Adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP) supplementation improves low peak muscle torque and torque fatigue during repeated high intensity exercise sets. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012, 9:48.
  9. Wilson JM, et al. Effects of oral adenosine-5’-triphosphate supplementation on athletic performance, skeletal muscle hypertrophy and recovery in resistance-trained men. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013, 10:57.
  10. Lowery RP, et al. Oral ATP administration improves blood flow responses to exercise in both animal and human training models. Presented at 10th Annual ISSN Conference. Colorado Springs, CO. June 2013.
  11. Marcus L, Soileau J, Judge LW, Bellar D. Evaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2017;14:39. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0196-5.

What is Carbohydrate Partitioning?

In an ideal world, all the calories you eat on a daily basis would go to purely building muscle. Unfortunately for most people the calories you do eat each day lead to some muscle gain, and some fat gain too.

On the flip side when it comes to dieting, you’d preserve all of your lean muscle mass and lose only fat. Again, this isn’t an ideal world, and you’re bound to lose a bit of muscle when you diet, though there are certain things you can do (such as eating a high protein diet) that can mitigate the muscle loses while dieting.

The calories you do eat, or more specifically, the carbohydrates, you’re consuming aren’t going all towards building muscle, some are being used to increase your fat stores as well.

We’ve got some tips and tricks on how to manipulate your body’s partitioning of carbohydrates and other important macronutrients so that next time bulking season hits, you can maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gains.

Carbohydrate Partitioning 101

Carbohydrate partitioning is the physiological process by which the body decides what to do with the energy you obtain from the carbs you eat. Basically, where does your body “put” the carbs you’re eating following meal time.

When you eat (fats, proteins, carbs), the calories from those foods are either immediately used for energy or stored for later use. Ideally, you’d prefer those nutrients be used to fuel performance and / or muscle growth rather than build up fat reserves. Genetics play a large role in how your body partitions nutrients, as well the interactions between the brain, CNS, liver, gut, and muscles. These interactions are governed by the various hormones in your body and the associated signals they send to each part of the body. The most important of all these hormones is insulin.

Going back to our ideal world, we’d prefer to have high insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle and low (or poor) insulin sensitivity in fat cells, which would drive more calories into muscle and less towards fat. This is especially important when trying to bulk or gain muscle. Conversely when dieting, we’d want to be a little insulin resistant.

Several factors go into controlling insulin sensitivity, and a large part of that is genetics, for better or worse. While there’s nothing you can really do about your genetics, there are a few other tricks you can utilize to enhance your body’s insulin sensitivity, setting the stage for maximum muscle gain and fat loss.

Ways to Enhance Carbohydrate Partitioning

  • Exercise

    Intense exercise is by far one of the best ways you can enhance insulin sensitivity. Muscular contractions improve insulin sensitivity, as does being glycogen depleted, which occurs as a result of exhaustive exercise. For this reason, timing the bulk of your carbohydrate intake around your training window (pre, intra, and post workout) can do wonders for your natural carb partitioning abilities. Muscular contraction itself improves insulin sensitivity, facilitating glucose uptake into the cell.

    Just be sure the rest of the day to limit your starchy / sugary carb intake and focus more of fats, proteins, and fibrous veggies so you still hit your macros.

  • Optimize your Fat Intake

    Inflammation negatively impacts insulin sensitivity, and is a key indicator of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The average person’s diet overly emphasizes omega-6 fatty acids and lacks omega-3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish). Such a gross imbalance of these essential fatty acids leads to a chronic inflammatory state, which torpedoes your insulin sensitivity and leading to a host of other health issues, mentioned previously. In fact, it’s believed that the average person has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1, when ideally it should be 1:1.

    To start restoring some balance to your life invest in a high quality fish oil supplement and start eating cold water fish like Wild Alaskan Salmon, Albacore Tuna or Mackerel more frequently.

  • Relax

    Being stressed all the time elevates cortisol levels and wreaks havoc on your autonomic nervous systems (ANS). Without getting into the nitty gritty, when your ANS is out of whack, there is an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems which leads to fatigue, high blood pressure, disrupted sleep, increased protein breakdown, and insulin resistance. None of these are good for optimizing insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle.

    By chilling out and de-stressing, you promote optimal function of the ANS and promote a healthier insulin response across your body.

Supplement Ingredients to Enhance Carbohydrate Partitioning

After you’ve put the other tips from this list into action, you can invest in a nutrient-partitioning supplement that enhances your body’s nutrient intake and protein turnover, such as Steel Core™.

Ingredients such as Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) helps shift glucose into muscles and away from fat cells, increasing energy and reducing stored fat. ALA, when consumed with Carbohydrates, will partition those carbohydrates to muscle tissue and away from fat tissue. The distribution of nutrients towards muscle and away from fat either maintains or increases lean muscle and decreases body fat.