More Fitness. More Knowledge. More Results.

Do the Ingredients in Your Preworkout Do Anything?

The following is a guest post by Sam Lebowitz. If you’re interested in contributing a piece send me an email at


Every serious gym goer is constantly trying to up their game at the gym, work harder, have more energy, focus, drive, see increased results, etc. A great way to do this is pre-workout. But what are some of the strange ingredients that help, or don’t help, take the workout to the next level.

(As a side note, this article’s intended purpose is purely informational and is not meant to say whether a certain ingredient is good or bad…just pure information)

Mucuna Pruriens

  1. What is it ? –This plant produces seeds that are high in levodopa (l-dopa), which is an amino acid supplement that when ingested turns into dopamine.
  2. What does it do? –L-Dopa has been shown increase growth hormone levels, in healthy individuals, within 60 minutes of ingestion (Root & Russ, 1972; Boden et al., 1972)
  3. What it doesn’t do – does not have any effect on testosterone levels, unless taken in extremely large quantities for a duration of time (Yamada et al., 1995)
  4. Where can you find it?- Hemo rage & C4 Extreme



  1. What is it? – L Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid
  2. What does it do?-  Taken as a supplement for those with phenylketonuria, a genetic disorder where one cannot break down phenylalanine, or in those who have phenylalanine deficiencies (*Moss  & Schoenheimer, 1940; Rohr et al., 1998). Phenylalanine is typically broken down in the body to produce tyrosine, which has been linked to synthesis of epinephrine, norepineprhine and thyroid hormone (Dillon, et al., 2009).
  3. What it doesn’t do – Tyrosine has been shown in two separate studies to not have an effect, when compared to a placebo, on protein synthesis and neurotransmitter production (Struder et al., 1998; Chinever et al., 2001)
  4. Where can you find it?: Assault, N.O. Explode, Pump HD

* This is an original study that is cited in multiple studies on phenylalanine




  1. What is it? – An alkaloid that is extracted from club moss Huperzia Serrata and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat swelling, fever and blood disorders (Liu, et al., 1986). More recently has been used in patients with Alzheimers disease in order to improve cognitive function, although it is not approved by the FDA for use in the USA.
  2. What does it do? – Acts by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase and has proven to be effective in both animal and human studies at increasing cognitive function, ( Bai et al., 2000; Gao et al., 2000; Ye et al., 2000). It has also been used to treat those who are affected by nerve gas attacks (Lallament et al., 1997, Grunwald et al., 1994).
  3. What it doesn’t do? – This non-FDA approved supplement does everything that people want it to do. Some studies use large doses (.1-.4 mg/kg ) in rats (Ye et al., 2000), where some studies use small doses and show similar effectiveness (25 ng) (Gao et al., 2000). Gao (2000) shows acetycholinesterase inhibition is reversible, which occurs within the hour of absorption. Lastly, there is no studies showing the toxicity levels of Huperzine-A because there is no know toxicity levels for the supplement.
  4. Where can you find it?   Hyper FX, Assault



  1. What is it?- All of these chemicals are involved in cellular respiration (energy for the cell!)
  2. What does it do? –  Well since it takes ATP to make ATP then let’s just drink it so we have more cellular energy to make more!
  3. What it doesn’t do- Unfortunately, drinking ATP or any of the chemicals that are necessary for cellular respiration does not make it more available to the cell. Even at high doses, much larger than would be found in a pre workout, none of these contribute to greater amounts of cellular respiration (Coolen et al., 2011).
  4. Where can you find it? Neon Sport Volt



  1. What is it? – This is a non-essential amino acid, first synthesized in the late 1800’s
  2. What does it do? In individuals who are unable to synthesize or create arginine internally, supplementation is necessary. Arginine plays a role in cellular division, immune function, release of hormones and healing of wounds (Stechmiller et al., 2005; Witte, 2003). If taken chronically, decreases in O2 in ATP necessary for exercise, decrease in blood pressure and improve vasodilation (increasing overall bloodflow) (Ferreria & Behnke, 2010).
  3. What doesn’t it do? – Does not give an (quoting “Insane Pump” and is not, in fact, a “Vascularity Initiator.” A 2012 study showed that Arginine, when taken acutely, does not increase nitric oxide upregulation (Alvarez et al., 2012). A systematic review of studies done on L-Arginine found that that body will balance other functions of the body to compensate for the increase in blood flow due to nitric oxide supplementation (Tschakovsky & Joyner, 2008).
  4. Where can you find it?  ENDGAME, C4 Extreme



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Bai, D.L., Tang, X.C., He, X.C. (2000). Huperzine A, a potential therapeutic agent for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 7 (3), 355-374.


Boden, G., Lundy, L.E., Owen O.E. (1972). Influence of levodopa on serum levels of anterior pituitary hormones in man. Journal of Neuroendocrinology.

Dillon, E.L., Sheffield-Moore, M., Paddon-Jones, D., Gilkison, C., (2009). Amino acid supplementation increases lean body mass, basal muscle protein synthesis, and insulin-like growth factor-I expression in older women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, 94(5), 1630-1637.

Ferreria, L.F., Behnke, B.J. (2010). A toast to health and performance! Beetroot juice lower blood pressure and the O2 cost of exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology.

Gao, Y., Tang, X.C., Guan, L.C., Kuang, P.Z. (2000). Huperzine A reverses scopolamine and muscimol-induced memory deficits in chick. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 21, 1169-1173.

Grunwald, J., Raveh, L., Doctor, B.P., Ashani, Y. (1994). Huperzine A as pretreatment candidate drug against nerve agent toxicity. Life Sciences, 54, 991-997.

Lallement, G., Veyret, J., Masquelieze, S., Aubriot, S., Bukhart, M.F., Bauichon, D. (1997). Efficacy of huperzine in preventing soman-induced seizures, neuropathological changes and lethality. Fundamentals of Clinical Pharmacology, 11, 387-394.

Moss, A.R. and Schoenheimer, R., (1940). The conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine in normal rats. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 135, 415-429.

Root, A.W., Russ, R.D., (1972). Effect of L-dihydroxyphenyalanine upon serum growth hormone concentrations in children and adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics.

Stechmiller, J.K., Childress, B., Cowan, L. (2005). Arginine supplementation and wound healing. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 20 (1), 52-61.

Tschakovsky, M.E., Joyner, M.J., (2008). Nitric oxide and muscle blood flow in exercise. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, 33(1), 151-161.

Witte, M.B., Barbul, A. (2003). Arginine physiology and its implication for wound healing. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 11(6), 419–423.

Yamada, T., Nakamura, J., Murakami, M., Okuno, Y., Hosokawa, S., Matsuo, M., Yamada H., (1995). Effects of chronic L-dopa administration on serum luteinizing hormone levels in male rats. Toxicology.

Ye, J.W., Shang, Y.Z., Wang, Z. M., Tang, X.C. (2000). Huperzine A ameliorates the impaired memory of aged rate in the Morris water maze performance. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 21, 65-69.



One response

  1. Hyta2

    This is a great article thanks ill try some of this stuff. I was just taking huperzine blends from

    March 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

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