Nitric oxide is a big deal and we love it, but it’s not excessively rare like so many people make it out to be.
In fact, nitric oxide is incredibly abundant in the body. Taking part in many natural roles such as: immunity, ammonia removal, and what you are particularly interested in: vasodilation.
All thanks to a little oxygen atom double bonded to a nitrogen atom forming a molecule short of one election (hence N.O).
As an athlete, you seek out nitric oxide to increase performance and muscle growth.
This is achieved through nitric oxide’s ability to increase vasodilation of veins, aka relaxation of the vein wall, allowing for greater volumes of nutrient-rich blood to flow.
Long term nitric oxide production stimulated by exercise contributes to the remodeling of your veins. This results in larger veins for an increased blood flow effect; hence why you see such large veins on professional bodybuilders. It’s not always a case of them having absolutely insane nitric oxide pump at that moment, but rather long term vein expansion.
Just like how the way you live influences testosterone production and metabolism, the way you live also influences your basal nitric oxide production. Here are 3 activities that promote nitric oxide production (nitric oxide synthase activity).
- Natural sunlight increases nitric oxide production. Originally, scientists thought that the vitamin D produced by sun exposure lead to nitric oxide production. However through experimentation with vitamin D supplements, researchers found that it’s in fact the sunlight exposure that directly stimulates nitric oxide production (Weller et al, 2010).
- Exercise leads to increased nitric oxide production in athletes and bodybuilders. The exact mechanism behind this is too complicated to explain, but physical activity effectively increases both nitric oxide synthase expression as well as nitric oxide synthase activation (Green et al, 2004). This is a two-fold increase or cascade effect increase in nitric oxide.
- Diets high in the amino acids L-Arginine and L-Citrulline naturally increase overall nitric oxide output. This up regulation is strictly a concentration dependent increase in enzyme activity. Meaning, more Arginine is available to be used in the production of nitric oxide.
Nitric Oxide supplements can raise N.O levels even higher than natural dietary and lifestyle methods.
While the above methods can increase your nitric oxide levels, there are also countless nitric oxide supplements on the market that can help you hack your way to higher levels.
Though, like all supplements… Many are pretty low quality and over-priced. Here, we’re going to share with you easy an actionable supplements for boosting nitric oxide levels.
10 Best nitric oxide supplements for massive pumps
#1 Nitric Oxide Boosting BULK
Let’s face it, you are wanting to raise your nitric oxide levels so that you can have a better workout and build more muscle, right?
If that’s the case, then you should be taking the best pre workout specifically designed for bulking.
BULK is that pre workout, and nitric oxide boosting is only one of its many benefits that it does extremely well.
How does Bulk raise nitric oxide levels?
- 6 grams citrulline malate
- 125 mg L-Norvaline
What else does BULK offer?
- Clean god-mode energy rush
- Long lasting endurance
- Improved muscle gain
There is simply no reason to go out and buy a stand-alone nitric oxide booster to add to your lacking pre workout. Why would you spend the money twice? However if you crave heavy stimulants with your pre workout, plus a pump, then our #2 is right up your alley.
#2 Pump and Stimulant Loaded Koala Freak
BULK is a legend, but what if your lifestyle demands nothing short of 300 mg caffeine per serving in your pre workouts?
If that’s the case, then Koala Freak is your go-to for skin tearing pumps and complete energy packed tunnel vision!
Like Bulk, Koala Freak is fueled primarily by L-citrulline Malate. However instead of L-Norvaline, Staunch loads Koala Freak up with an additional Agmatine Sulfate and Arginine AKG. Essentially, it’s all in there… And not only for pump!
Koala Freak also contains Peak ATP, BetaPure betaine, and a selection of other must-have pre workout ingredients for one crazy time in the gym.
#3 MTS Vasky Inexpensive yet effective stim-free nitric oxide booster
It blows our minds, that BWSB is the ONLY site that includes MTS Vasky on their top nitric oxide supplements list. Vasky is a LEGEND.
Why do we say this?
Well, first off you can see our whole MTS Vasky review here. But the short edition is this…
Vasky is a powerful stimulant-free pump powder that provides serious clinical dosages of nitric oxide boosters all for under $20 per 30 servings.
That’s right – It works awesomely, and it costs less than $20 for a full month supply.
On top of that, it’s made by Tiger Fitness’s own Marc Lobliner who knows what he’s doing. So if you want a stimulant-free NO based pre workout, yet you are short on cash… This is it all day without question.
#4 Cellucor NO3 Chrome Pill Based NO booster
NO3 Chrome by Cellucor has been on the market for a few years, but still remains one of the top picks for nitric oxide supplements. What really makes NO3 Chrome special is the utilization of Nitrate bonded arginine. This has a twofold significance for nitric oxide production, let us explain.
First, if you have taken any chemistry class, then you will know that nitrates are soluble 99% of the time unlike many other molecules. This benefits you directly by significantly increasing the solubility of the arginine nitrate complex which means a much better absorption rate (faster and greater efficiency)!
Note- this rule of thumb can be applied to other supplements as well. If an ingredient is [ingredient] nitrate then you can assume that the absorption will be greater than [Ingredient] offered alone.
Second, and specific to nitric oxide – for the arginine to become bioavailable to produce nitric oxide, the nitrate group must first be removed. This process, which the body performs well results in an additional nitric oxide molecule being produced. Therefore, per each arginine nitrate you are netting two nitric oxide molecules; from two separate pathways respectively!
Alongside the arginine nitrate molecule, you will find L-Norvaline, Pycnogenol, L-Citrulline Malate, Calcium Ascorbate, and Grape seed extract. All of these ingredients promote muscle pump in one way or another.
Specifically, L-Norvaline is worth mentioning. L-Norvaline is what is known as an Arginase inhibitor. Arginases are enzymes in the body that specifically degrade arginine into products other than nitric oxide. This process occurs naturally, and can seriously limit the amount of time that free nitric oxide promoting levels of arginine are available in your body. Therefore, by taking an arginase inhibitor like L-Norvaline, you can stop this form of arginine degradation thus reserving these molecules for the nitric oxide production pathway!
#5 Pro Supps NO3 DRIVE Pill based NO Booster
Remember all the ways NO3 Chrome functions? Well, NO3 Drive works entirely different. In fact, NO3 drive doesn’t even contain Arginine or L-Norvaline in its formula! But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective nitric oxide pump product.
It’s actually quite frustrating. The fact that NO3 Drive produces great muscle pumps yet we cannot definitively analyze the specifics on where it’s actually coming from. This Nitric Oxide booster is primarily an herbal cocktail containing ingredients we may not completely understand for another few years. Two ingredients that we can tie down in NO3 Drive are L-Citrulline and Agmatine Sulfate. Both of these are proven pump promoters that we would expect in a nitric oxide bodybuilding supplement.
5 best nitric oxide boosting ingredients
Below are the 5 primary ingredients used to boost nitric oxide in supplements. Some products contain just one ingredient, while others contain a combination.
#5 Arginine – The Direct Nitric Oxide Maker
The amino acid L-arginine is the original nitric oxide enhancer. Until a few years ago, it was still widely used as one of the top nitric oxide products (along with different l-arginine variations). In your body, L-arginine converts into l-citrulline via nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide is a byproduct of this process.
So, l-arginine is essentially the molecule that directly produces nitric oxide – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to take. Rather, it’s one of the least effective supplemental nitric oxide boosters.
This is because while nitric oxide synthase is converting l-arginine into l-citrulline and nitric oxide, arginase is also in the body converting arginine into ornithine and urea.
To make matters worse, your intestines are loaded with arginase. The one place l-arginine has to be able to pass through in order to get into your blood stream. So, you see where this is going. For a better pump, continue on.
#4 Norvaline – Stops Arginase Activity
L-Norvaline is another interesting amino acid for modulating nitric oxide production. Being a unique form of valine, Norvaline is a compound brought into the body through diet alone.
Once in the body, it is able to deactivate the enzyme arginase (or at least keep it occupied). Which, as you know is responsible for converting arginine into urea and ornithine. So, theoretically that leaves more free arginine to be converted into nitric oxide and citrulline via nitric oxide synthase.
Note: if you are looking for a strictly pump-based pre workout, we highly recommend viewing the best stim-free pre workouts. Our highest rated pre workout without caffeine contains both L-Norvaline as well as our #1 pump inducer!
#3 Glycerol – Nitric Oxide Independent Muscle Volumizer
For starters, glycerol doesn’t make nitric oxide. Never has, never will. But, what it does do (and does well) is bring water into your muscles for a great swelling pump!
There has been a moderate amount of research done on Glycerol, and the general consensus is that it’s safe and effective. The only thing to put further thought into is which type of glycerol you are going to use.
Thus far, Hydromax’s glycerol is the most superior as we learned while making our best glycerol supplements guide. Its super stable, and much, much less is required to produce awesome hydrating pumps! To put it into perspective, some products require upward of 20 grams glycerol to work effectively. Hydromax on the other hand is only a matter of grams. Not bad, we approve.
#2 Agmatine Sulfate – NOS Modulator
Agmatine Sulfate, like many of the other ingredients on this list do not directly form nitric oxide. Instead, Agmatine Sulfate appears to down-regulate nitric oxide synthase, or at least specific types. This short disabling of NOS seems to result in a large influx of nitric oxide after the fact. Due to this, Agmatine Sulfate is used as a nitric oxide promotor.
Further research and interpretation may be necessary to truly understand how this ingredient functions to produce a great pump! A reasonable Agmatine Sulfate dosage is between 500 and 1,500 mg for bodybuilding. Lower dosages are used for the nootropic realm.
#1 Citrulline Malate 2:1 – Massive Nitric Oxide and Endurance Response!
Compared to other supplements, Citrulline Malate is king. There is no denying it when it comes to bodybuilding. Yes, Agmatine Sulfate and Glycerol are seriously awesome. And, in certain situations they can all be combined.
But… If you just had to choose one: Citrulline Malate is it.
It’s all about dosage though. To get the most bang for your buck, 6 grams of quality Citrulline Malate is the golden ticket. You can read more about this powerful pump and endurance producing ingredient in our Citrulline Malate guide.
Conclusion on nitric oxide supplements
If you decide to take a nitric oxide booster, whether or not it’s one of our choices; we highly recommend that you consider the natural methods as well. Supplementation alongside healthy lifestyle habits can make a much more noticeable impact than supplementation alone. This is true in nearly every aspect of bodybuilding and weight training.
Likewise, there is no reason why you have to take a ‘nitric oxide supplement’ like the ones above. You can totally just go out and buy raw versions of the 5 best pump ingredients. Now, go get that pump.