Recommendations: Pre-Workout Supplements (eg, SuperPump, NO-Xplode, Jacked)
Pre-workout supplements—like Gaspari’s Super Pump 250, BSN’s NO-Xplode, and USP Labs’ Jacked—are BIG sellers.
Although I do not have data to prove it, it would not surpise me if these were the most popular and widely used body building supplements in North America… short of staple supplements like protein powders, of course.
Although each product’s formula differs somewhat, the core of each is usually based upon 5 ingredients and variations thereof…
- Stimulants and nootropics (compounds that exert cognitive effects): Ingredients like caffeine, vinpocetine and huperzine will get you both “jacked” and mentally focused for your workout.
- Creatine: A “no-brainer” supplement if there ever was one, numerous clinical studies (see J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jul;97(7):765-70, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):332-43, Med SCI Sports Exerc. 1998 Jan;30(1):73-82 , J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Aug;17(3):425-38) validate creatine’s muscle-building ability. If there’s an issue here, it’s that it may be under-dosed in products like these.
- Arginine: An amino acid, and a precursor for NO (nitric oxide) synthesis, it is this ingredient that leads to the beloved “pump” that users really enjoy. Increased vascularity and fuller looking muscles are but two of the benefits.
- Beta-Alanine: Like creatine, there is some good, solid evidence that shows beta alanine “works.” Like creatine, however, it may be under-dosed in products like this.
- Additional Elements: Many companies “round out” the ingredients in their products by adding antioxidants, vitamins/minerals, amino acids, insulin sensitizers and the like. Although a formula with additions like this may seem like a better value, in truth, many of these are either “label decoration,” or else make little direct contribution to improving strength/mass. They do little harm, of course, but a product with a lot of extras isn’t necessarily “better” than one with a simpler formula (although it may be more expensive!).
Why do people like these pre-workout supplements so much?
Energy. Pump. Focus. Longer, more intense workouts. Heavier lifts. Pretty much everything that makes a good workout a good workout.
Of course, being fans of both great supplements and great workouts, we’ve reviewed—and tried— many of these products ourselves. Here’s a list of some of the more popular pre-workout supplements on the market…
- USP Labs’ Jacked 3D: Small. Compact. Powerful. At just under 5 grams per scoop, Jacked doesn’t contain a lot of useless filler ingredients. In fact, there are only 7 ingredients in the entire formula. When taken at the maximum 3-scoop dosage, it is likely delivering close to optimal amounts of all the supporting ingredients.
- Gaspari Nutrition’s Super Pump 250: Although this product`s formula is unnecessarily complex and somewhat convoluted, Super Pump 250 is an extremely popular product that delivers where it matters most… in the gym.
- BSN’s NO-Xplode: NO-Xplode does a pretty good job of meeting its promises, and is pretty popular with users. If there’s an issue, it’s that it too is unnecessarily complicated and contains some ingredients that are obviously irrelevant and/or redundant.
- Controlled Labs White Flood: An interesting product featuring many of the “usual suspects”, White Flood turned out to be Elissa’s favorite pre-workout supplement. That does not mean it features a perfect formula however; several of the key ingredients are under-dosed.
- Labrada’s SuperCharge: 9 ingredients, a solid formula, plus pretty decent taste makes this offering from Labrada worth a look!