Muscle pump is by far the most talked about experience among serious bodybuilders. So many famous lifters have quoted their love of the pump that at this point it’s not even worth reiterating. So, when you go to the store to pick up a pre workout, which ingredients should you look for on the back of that bottle?
Better yet, which ingredients can you take alongside a pre workout or on their own to get a sick pump?
Here we will go over the top pump ingredients for bodybuilding as well as some of the other benefits these ingredients offer. Here we go!
Top 5 Pump Ingredients in Pre Workouts
Bonus Entry: Beet Root – Nitrate Rich Pump Producer
Beet root is an interesting nitric oxide promotor as you will soon see. When it comes to beets, the nitric oxide magic comes from the nitrate content of beets. More nitrates means more nitric oxide via a process where nitrates are converted into nitrites which then become nitric oxide (unless they are excreted from the body first).
You may have noticed that a lot of pre workouts contain Beet Root as a means of promoting nitric oxide pump. This is not as effective as you may think. Turns out, to get a good pump you need about 450 mg of nitrates in your body. In order to get that amount, you need an even greater influx of beets!
About 30 grams of beets to be exact. So, 200-500 mg of beet root extract really isn’t going to cut it unless it’s purified exclusively to provide a large percentage of nitrates.
Based on these dosages, beet root is a bit bust in most pre workout supplements (sorry Arnold iron pump). But, as a dietary item, eating a 20-30 grams of beets is nothing and may be just what your body needs to turn your intensity up a notch in the gym.
#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.
Concluding the Best Pump Ingredients
Now, you know a bit more about getting a great pump in the gym. We hope that moving forward, you will be able to make better assessments of pump supplements, and know what to avoid. Thanks for reading, and be sure to comment below to let us know about your pump journey.