Spending a week at Olympia in Las Vegas resulted in me having to buy a new suit case and filling it with 40 pounds of supplements various manufacturers wanted me to try and paying $50 for the right to fly it home. The least I can do is try each and every one of them and review them for you here.
I am going to divide the reviews up by type of supplement and this first one - Nitric Oxide - will evaluate three different brands.
So, what is "NO?" NO stands for nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. To produce this gas, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid Arginine. Nitric Oxide is a molecule consisting of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen. The production of Nitric Oxide occurs when the amino acid L-arginine is converted into L-citruline through an enzyme group known as Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS).
Now that we have the chemistry behind us, what does NO actually do? In short, it causes increased blood flow which serves to deliver more nutrients to muscles, thus helping them become larger when subjected to stress. In some cases, they also cause what I'll call a "euphoric" feeling for period of time after ingesting. I like to describe the effect to audiences like this: "It makes me feel 20 years old again -- for about 50 minutes."
Like creatine, this supplement has been scientifically shown to increase endurance and size. So, it is something that those who tolerate it well may wish to consider. I, for one, never enter a gym without a bottle containing an NO enhancer.
Here are three I have used and each is worth considering:
1. White Flood. This was the first NO enhancer I took on the recommendation of my son who is out ahead of the game on these kinds of things. Indeed, I still take it. It is manufactured by Controlled Labs, it works, and after a year and a half, White Flood still works for me and I have not become tolerant of it, that is where I don't get any benefits using the same dosage. I will warn you that you can (and probably will) get a little "jittery" for several minutes after taking it. This is a natural and harmless side effect from the Beta-Alanine contained in White Flood. For me, it is usually good for 45 - 60 minutes of a full-bore workout.
2. Hemo-Rage. I got this at Olympia. It is manufactured by Nutrex Research and a Bodybuilding.com 2010 supplement award nominee. It is touted as one of the more powerful NO enhancers. I used it yesterday before working legs and I can honestly say it was my best leg workout in a year. I can barely walk today - literally. Unfortunately, I can't say it was all because of the Hemo-Rage. I changed a few things in the workout, went deeper into my squats and hacks, and was mentally ready for legs after watching the Olympia competition. I can sure say that Hemo-Rage didn't hurt anything and I seemed to stay alert and motivated during the entire workout -- about 20 sets of upper legs and 6 sets of calves. No jitters like I sometimes feel with White Flood. Hemo-Rage also contains some creatine, unlike White Flood, but I take my creatine separately anyway so that part is kind of "more of the same" for me. Bottom line? I'll use Hemo-Rage again soon in order to determine whether the leg-shred was due to Hemo-Rage or just plain rage. ;) If it is the Hemo-Rage, I'm a convert!
Stay tuned . . .
3. Black Powder. This is hyped product manufactured by MRI and is used by some of the "hard core." Like Hemo-Rage it was nominated for a Bodybuilding.com 2010 supplement award. I used it this morning and it came through. While it was an off day for me - just 12 sets of traps and 10 sets of abdominals today, I felt stronger in general throughout my workout and felt that I could lift a lot more than I was lifting in the trap portion of the routine. I felt my energy was was moving up throughout the routine and I did not feel fatigued at the end of the session. This one deserves another try in a big body part workout, which I will be doing in the future after I cycle through all the samples and review them here, all with a view to naming "the best of the best."
When To Use: BEFORE you start your workout, or at least drink half before you begin your working and then sip the other half during your workout, and then switch to water. It takes about 10 minutes to gain the effect and then you should start working out. The key is not to stop working out until you are done. There is no time for chit-chat on NO. It doesn't last forever -- sometimes you'll get a bump for an hour; other times it is gone in 40 minutes. It doesn't wait for you. It doesn't care if you're working out or chatting up the pretty gal next to you. Personally, I like to take half of it in the 10 minutes before I begin my workout (driving to the gym) and then start sipping the rest during my workout, usually finishing about 15 minutes into the routine and then switching to pure water. You can experiment and should.
Caution: With any product containing amino acids, taking too much is a possibility. Dosing with too much Arginine can lead to diarrhea, weakness and nausea. Unfortunately, dosing guidelines have not been established, so it is best to do what is known as "tolerance mapping." Take a small dosage for one week, note the benefits and the side effects, and increase the dosage until the benefits are maximized and the side effects minimized. Over time the two will converge and you will hit the optimal dose for your body.
Train hard; diet harder!