Review: Nutrex Hemo-Rage Pre-Workout Supplement
Note: Hemo-Rage has been replaced by Hemo-Rage Ultra-Concentrate.
“From the Underground we bring you HEMO−RAGE Black the meanest, strongest and cruelest pre-workout detonator this planet has ever seen. We went down to the laboratory and cooked up the most vicious blend of raging energy inducing, strength signaling, blood volume expanding, pump activating, extreme focus enhancing, fat detonating and muscle building compounds imaginable. This wicked formula operates in a territory no other pre-workout supplement has ever dared to go. In fact we needed extra insurance to be able to bring this explosive concoction to you. HEMO-RAGE Black gets you ready for battle when you hit the dungeon for an all-out war with the weights. Welcome to the Underground!”
Funny, despite the hoists and chains, I’ve never thought of my gym as a “dungeon.” Nor do I regard pushing/pulling inanimate objects as a “war.” But then again, I’m not the sort of person this ad copy was written for, either. I graduated from high school a long time ago. 😀
Nonetheless, I can certainly appreciate a good pre-workout supp. I”ve sampled quite a few and have my faves, but I’m always happy to try a new one… and hopefully add it to my (short) list of worthwhile products.
But does Hemo-Rage belong on my list?
HEMO-RAGE BLACK PROPRIETARY BLEND 20,000mg
CELL VOLUME/MUSCLE BUILDING COMPLEX
Dextrose Polymer Blend
Research Grade L-Glutamine
Waxy Maize Starch
Creatine Ethyl Ester Dichloride
Guanidinopropionic Acid (GPA)
1,3 Dimethylamylamine HCL
POWERPLEX™ [Strength Signal Complex]
Powergrape® (Vitis Vinifera L.)
Micronized Beta Alanine
HEAT SHOCK PRO™
Prickly Pear Extract
L-Arginine Ethyl Ester Dichloride
BLOOD BOIL™ [Nitric Oxide Complex]
L-Arginine AKG (2:1)
2-(Nitrooxy) Ethyl 2-Amino-3-Methylbutanoate
Glycocarn® (Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine)
EPO UNDERGROUND™ [Blood Doping Matrix]
Blood Building Vitamin & Minerals
Albumin (From Egg Whites)
PSYCHO™ [Neuro Complex]
Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)(Leaf)
[Standardized 20% Bacosides]
Natural & Artificial Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Phosphate, Monobasic Potassium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Chloride, Acesulfame-K, Sucralose, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Blue.
The short answer is “no”—there are waaaaay too many ingredients here for my comfort. As USP Labs’ Jacked proves, you don’t need 50+ ingredients to create an effective pre-workout supp. We’re firmly in Muscletech territory here.
In addition, there are a few disquieting compounds tucked away in those edgy-sounding proprietary blends. So let’s go through ’em, from the top:
ANABOLIC ENERGY™ – This is a blend containing two forms of caffeine, PEA (phenethylamine) and PEA derivatives.
PEA is a biogenic amine synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine. Although it’s found in a number of foods, chocolate is the best-known source of dietary PEA.
It was once thought to be the reason people became “chocoholics” (due to its mood-elevating properties); but oral PEA is too rapidly metabolized to be very effective.
Various supplement makers have attempted to get around this limitation by either a) including compounds known to inhibit the enzyme responsible for breaking PEA down (monoamine oxidase), or b) using “substituted phenethylamines”—like the ones in Hemo-Rage—with (presumably) longer half-lives.
But there’s some risk to the latter: “substituted phenethylamines” are a very diverse group of pharmacologically-active chemicals that includes pharmaceuticals (like ephedrine) as well as drugs of abuse (such as methamphetamine and ecstasy).
Unfortunately, I found virtually NO INFORMATION WHATSOEVER on the actions or toxicity of the methylated PEA derivatives in this formula. Yet they’re turning up in other supplements, too, such as Lipo 6 Black and Fastin.
For the record, “no information ” doesn’t automatically mean “bad.” But it does mean you’re acting as a guinea pig in Nutrex’s experiment… for Nutrex’s profit.
This is also true for the two caffeine derivatives. 1,3-N-Dipropyl-7-Propargylxanthine is a caffeine analog that is 100x more potent than caffeine at binding to adenosine receptors in in-vitro tests. To my knowledge, however, it has never been tested in humans. I have yet to see any data from animal bioassays, either. Safe? Probably… but who really knows?
And who really knows what “1-methyl caffeine” is supposed to be, either? Caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. In other words, regular ol’ caffeine already HAS a methyl group at C 1. So is “1-methyl caffeine” really just plain caffeine… or something else? Nutrex isn’t talking, which doesn’t exactly inspire my confidence.
CELL VOLUME/MUSCLE BUILDING COMPLEX – this blend contains a sexed-up collection of carbs, creatine and amino acids.
The carb component (which makes up a little more than half of each serving) consists of a “dextrose polymer blend” (i.e., maltodextrin), dextrose, waxy maize starch, cluster dextrin (a type of modified food starch) and mannitol.
Why all the different carb sources? Why not? More looks cooler than less, I guess. There are also three different forms of creatine (plus creatinol-o-phosphate), because… well, just because, ok? There’s no proof that any blend of creatine works better than a single form, or that any of these alternative forms works better than plain, boring ol’ creatine monohydrate, but, hey—when you’re fighting all-out wars with the weights in your underground dungeon—you’re too preoccupied to notice stuff like this…right? 😉
Whatever. It’s still creatine, of course, and—as we all know—creatine is a pretty useful ingredient. Ditto the branched chain amino acids, leucine, valine and isoleucine. Glutamine too, although I seriously doubt there’s enough glutamine in a serving of this supp to matter.
Lastly, this blend contains guanidinopropionic acid (GPA)—a curious choice for a creatine-containing supp. On the one hand GPA can improve insulin sensitivity (good), but—as a creatine analog—it may also interfere with creatine uptake (not so good).
FAT DETONATOR™ – Wow… even MORE caffeine, and theobromine too. Plus yohimbine and 1,3 dimethylamylamine. From a fat loss perspective, this combination probably doesn’t pack much of a punch, but it WILL get you wired… which is why a lot of people take “fat burner” supps for, anyway.
Certainly the combo of caffeine and 1,3 dimethylamylamine will get you going. 1,3-Dimethylamylamine (DMAA), is an adrenergic amine that acts as a CNS stimulant. It was originally patented by Eli Lilly as a nasal decongestant in 1944, but largely abandoned until re-introduced as a dietary supplement (Geranamine™) by Proviant Technologies (the parent company of Ergopharm). Although there’s no current research on it, DMAA’s gotten mostly rave reviews from users for its effects on mood, focus and energy.
In addition to its (very modest) effects on lipolysis, yohimbine is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, so could conceivably potentiate the effects of the phenethylamine compounds present in the “Anabolic Energy” blend.
Between the “Anabolic Energy” and “Fat Detonator” blends, Hemo-Rage is looking like pretty “stimmy” stuff, indeed.
POWERPLEX™ [Strength Signal Complex] – this blend is a real mixed bag of compounds that—in most cases—are almost certainly underdosed. While sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine and trimethylglycine (betaine) offer therapeutic and/or ergogenic benefits, they need to be taken in multigram amounts. The same is true for many other compounds in Hemo-Rage, such as the creatine, branched chain amino acids and arginine salts. Yet, after subtracting the carbohydrates (10.5g per serving), there’s only 9.5g of “room” for all these things. This simply isn’t large enough.
At any rate, grape seed extract is a potent antioxidant and can induce vasodilation/relaxaton under experimental conditions. Glycocyamine is a creatine precursor and hypoglycemic agent; and coenzyme Q10 is a naturally-occurring antioxidant compound required by the body for the synthesis of ATP.
Prickly pear is traditionally used as a hangover cure, and has antioxidant, hepatoprotective and gastroprotective effects. Opuntia pads contain fiber/mucilages that improve glycemic control and blood lipids. Arginine, of course, is a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, although there’s no data to indicate that esterified arginine is more effective than the free form amino acid.
BLOOD BOIL™ [Nitric Oxide Complex] – this contains some of the usual suspects normally found in NO-boosters: arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG), l-citrulline and l-norvaline. Like NO-Xplode, it also contains rutaecarpine, a plant alkaloid and vasodilator. Rutaecarpine can alter the activities of drug-metabolizing enzymes, such as CYP1A2, however, which makes it a curious (and perhaps unwise) choice for a formula as complicated as Hemo-Rage is.
Speaking of complicated, the “Blood Boil” blend also contains 2-(Nitrooxy) Ethyl 2-Amino-3-Methylbutanoate—a valine derivative that allegedly serves as an NO source. I could find NO reliable information on this compound however… that is, nothing about its efficacy, and nothing about its safety. Nada, zip, zilch.
Lastly, “Blood Boil” includes glycerol monostearate and Glycocarn. Glycerol has been used in bodybuilding circles for years as a “plasma expander;” the monostearate form is preferred for its minimal side effects. Of course… as you might have guessed, multigram amounts are required. This is also true of Glycocarn, an esterified form of carnitine that has been shown to a) increase plasma nitrate/nitrite (a measure of NO production) in resistance-trained men as well as b) enhance peak power production during a cycling (Wingate) test. Subjects in these studies, however, took 4.5g—far more than could possibly be in Hemo-Rage.
EPO UNDERGROUND™ [Blood Doping Matrix] – Blood doping matrix??? While most of these nutrients play some role in maintaining the integrity of red blood cells, there is exactly zero proof that any of them (individually or collectively) will effectively increase the number of red blood cells to “doping” levels. This is an utterly pointless addition.
PSYCHO™ [Neuro Complex] – this is a collection of compounds common to a large number of supps designed to enhance mood and concentration. Once again, however, ingredients like tyrosine and taurine are almost certainly underdosed. The vinpocetine and huperzine—which are effective in very small amounts—are probably the most useful ingredients. Vinpocetine is an alkaloid derived from periwinkle that affects cerebral blood flow, memory and learning. Huperzine A is an alkaloid isolated from a Chinese moss (Huperzia serrata) that has neuroprotective and cognitive effects.
Whew! That pretty much covers what’s in Hemo-Rage. So what does it all add up to?
A real mess, in my opinion.
While there’s no doubt in my mind that Hemo-Rage will get you fired up and produce a decent pump, this has to be one of the most incoherent, kitchen-sinky formulas I’ve seen in a long time. In the effort to appear “dangerous” and “cutting edge,” Nutrex has decided to gamble with the health and safety of its customers, by including several poorly characterized compounds and piling on the stims/nootropics. Among the three other people (besides myself) I’ve gotten direct reports from, two became nauseous after using it. The third (Paul) didn’t, but stated flat out: “it kicked my a**.”
And what was my experience with Hemo-Rage?
The first two times I tried it, I decided to err on the conservative side, with a single, level scoop. It seemed fine to me, but not particularly exceptional. So, on my third try, I used a big, heaping scoop. I drank it right before an abbreviated workout (5 x 5 bench), so it didn’t really kick in until just after I got home.
And “kick” is the appropriate word, too. Truth is, that stuff got me high. I can’t say that I actually minded—it was rather enjoyable, in fact. But it was also unexpected and—on reflection—somewhat disconcerting. What if I’d been behind the wheel of my car or under the bar at the gym when this stuff hit me? However lucid I was, I wasn’t in shape to do anything even remotely hazardous. Took over an hour to wear off, too.
Now, I have no particular objection to taking stimulants or even getting high (a state I experimented with often enough during my undergrad years), but I prefer to know what the hell I’m taking and understand what the long-term risks are (if any).
To be honest, I feel that Hemo-Rage contains a) too many ingredients overall; b) more stims than it needs to be effective; and c) more unknowns than I care to deal with. As such, I will not be buying it again. It’s not often that you’ll see me say that about a supplement that “works,” but I’m making an exception in this case.