Does Arginine Supplementation "Work" for Strength and Muscle Building? - Bodybuilding Supplements

Does Arginine Supplementation “Work” for Strength and Muscle Building?

Arginine is an amino acid and the core ingredient of most of the popular pre-workout supplements (No-Xplode, SuperPump, Super Charge, NaNo Vapor, etc). Why? Well, arginine is a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. Nitric oxide is the gas that is responsible for the vasodilation that leads to the enhanced “pump” for which these types of products are so famous.

Of course, while we all enjoy an awesome pump in the gym, one thing that might flicker through your mind every time you fork out your hard in earned dollars for a new jug of whatever new “flavor of the month” pre-workout is hot is…

Does arginine actually do a darn thing for muscle building? For performance?

For the longest time, there was no evidence to support an argument one way or another. Now, we’re starting to see some published data.

What’s it show?

Well, let’s take a look…

This study (Arginine and antioxidant supplement on performance in elderly male cyclists: a randomized controlled trial) concluded there is…

“…a potential role of L-arginine and antioxidant supplementation in improving exercise performance in elderly.”

This one (Pharmacokinetics, safety, and effects on exercise performance of L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate in trained adult men) showed arginine supplementation…

“… positively influenced 1RM bench press and Wingate peak power performance. AAKG did not influence body composition or aerobic capacity.”

On the other hand, this study came to a different conclusion…

“We found that acute L-arg supplementation increases Mbv during recovery from sets of resistance exercise with no increase in strength performance. It is still premature to recommend nutritional supplements containing L-arg as an ergogenic aid to increase muscle strength during resistance training in healthy subjects.” (*Mbv = “Muscle Blood Volume)

As did this one, which concluded that arginine supplementation fails to improve muscle endurance.

The final word goes to this review, which analyzed 13 relevant studies and concluded…

“In summary, it is still premature to recommend dietary supplements containing L-arginine as an ergogenic aid for healthy physically active subjects.”

That sounds about right to us. While arginine based workout supplements do give an awesome pump, whether or not they do anything else has yet to be conclusively proven.

Author: Paul

Paul Crane is the founder of His passions include supplements, working out, motorcycles, guitars... and of course, his German Shepherd dogs.

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