NeuroPump is Hybrid Performance Nutrition’s most recent pre-workout which contains a concise blend of some effective ergogenic/pump ingredients as well as a few stimulants/nootropics for increased focus/energy…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, syrup-like substance found in such household products as soap, cough syrup, and hair care products. NeuroPump, like many pre-workouts these days, contains a powdered form of Glycerol known as Glycerol Monostearate which, due to its propensity for cellular water-retention, is used by athletes to counter dehydration during extended exercise as well as increase the “pump” aspect of weight lifting. Originally, Glycerol was purported to enhance exercise performance. However, while several studies have demonstrated increased water retention as a result of pre-exercise Glycerol consumption, none have demonstrated a clear performance enhancing effect as a result of that. Despite not possessing any inherent performance enhancement benefit, Glycerol may be useful for those who seek a fuller muscle feel while lifting (A.K.A. The Pump).
Betaine Anhydrous, also known as Trimethylglycine, is primarily found in Beets (hence the name) and has recently gained popularity in the supplement community for its potential ergogenic effects. A 2010 study from the Journal of the International to Society of Sports Nutrition found that daily supplementation with 2.5g (1.25g twice daily) of Betaine positively influenced strength and power, but did not determine a mechanism of action. A 2011 study, published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”, found that subjects who consumed 2.5 grams of betaine daily for 14 days were able to achieve more repetitions while bench pressing. The researchers in this study also noted signs of increased muscular oxygen consumption (a first step towards findings a possible mechanism of action). A 2013 study, published in “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that 6 weeks of daily Betaine supplementation improved body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity as well as power (but not strength).
While these results are certainly encouraging, it should be noted that Betaine supplementation, at the standard 2.5g/day doses, has also failed to increase power output more than once. Currently, the reason for these discrepancies is unknown, but it appears there may be “responders” and “non-responders” to Betaine supplementation. The responder/non-responder dichotomy is something that users of Creatine may be familiar with, and just as with Creatine, the only way to find out which one you are is to give it a shot. When Betaine works (and it usually does)…it’s quite noticeable. The exact amount of Betaine present in the NeuroPump formula is unknown, but given a proprietary blend of 4,600mg, we’d estimate it contains 1200-1500mg.
Agmatine remains very under-researched, despite having a variety of health/performance implications. Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to regulate Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS), an enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine, and either elevate or reduce its presence, depending on the type of NOS. NOS is a widely misunderstood enzyme, mostly due to supplement companies not properly explaining its function and how that function relates to physical performance. It is largely thought that NOS is the enzyme that “breaks down” NO, when it is actually the enzyme that catalyzes the production of NO from Arginine in the first place.
Nitric Oxide generally has a positive connotation in the bodybuilding/athletic community because it is associated with vasodilation, which clearly has performance/health benefits. However, this beneficial effect of NO only pertains to NO in the blood vessels. Elsewhere in the body (like the brain) NO can inflict damage and actually be quite harmful. So ideally, what we really are after is a way to reduce NO in the areas of the body where it can cause harm, while increasing it in blood vessels where it can beneficially influence physical performance.
It’s important to understand that there are several types of NOS, all which are required for the production of NO. Inducible NOS (iNOS) and Neuronal NOS (nNOS) are considered harmful because they elevate NO in immune cells (causing inflammation) and the brain (causing neuronal damage), while Endothelial NOS (eNOS) is considered beneficial as this is the kind which increases Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels, resulting in vasodilation. Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate eNOS (the “good” NOS) while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS). However, as mentioned above, Agmatine remains under-researched because it is a relatively new entrant in the supplement industry. Currently, most of the research has been done in vitro, with absolutely no studies regarding the potential physical performance benefits of Agmatine in humans.
While Agmatine is commonly touted to increase Nitric Oxide, there is preliminary evidence which indicates it can induce the secretion of Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which can in turn trigger Testosterone production. A 1995 study found that rats treated with Agmatine experienced increased LH secretion in a dose-dependent manner. Due to the lack of research on humans, no optimal dose has been identified with regards to performance enhancement, but the average range for pre-workouts tends to be 500-1000mg Agmatine per serving. NeuroPump likely contains around 500mg of Agmatine, though we can’t be completely sure.
Hordenine (chemical name N, N-dimethyltyramine) remains relatively under-researched, despite its escalating popularity in pre-workout and weight-loss supplements. Oral doses of Hordenine have been shown (in animals) to augment Noradrenaline-induced muscle contraction while not directly inducing contractions itself, indicating that it works as a Monoamine Reuptake Inhibitor. So, rather than acting as a stand-alone stimulant, Hordenine can amplify/extend the effects of other stimulants by blocking the reuptake of Noradrenaline (and other Monoamines), and is especially effective when combined with compounds like Phenylethylamine (PEA) which tends to be rapidly oxidized by Monoamine Oxidase (the enzyme that Hordenine blocks). NeuroPump contains both of these compounds.
R-Beta-Phenylethylamine can induce a short, but somewhat potent release of Catecholamines (Dopamine, Adrenaline, Noradrenaline). While studies testing the effects of PEA supplementation on exercise performance are limited, a boost in Catecholamines may certainly translate into more focus and energy in the gym, resulting in a more intense workout. Unfortunately, the effects of PEA tend to degrade very quickly as it is rapidly metabolized upon reaching the brain. For this reason, it is generally seen alongside Monoamine Reuptake Inhibitors (such as the above mentioned Hordenine) which block the enzymes that break down PEA. The combination of Hordenine and PEA tends to produce entirely different results than PEA by itself, so these compounds are believed to be very synergistic (and rightfully so).
Pikamilon (alternatively spelled ‘Picamilon’) is formed by combining Niacin (vitamin B3) and GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in mammals). Pikamilon is able to effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier where it is converted into GABA. Since GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (as opposed to excitatory) it may produce anxiolytic effects when levels are increased beyond normal. However, Picamilon does not produce the sedative like effects of other GABA pro-drugs and instead is commonly used as a nootropic (cognitive enhancer) because it has also been demonstrated to increase cerebral blood flow due to its Niacin component (Niacin is a vasodilator). Despite a fair amount of efficacy demonstrated in animal studies for both cerebral vasodilation and as a non-sedative anxiolytic, human studies remain scarce. However, the mechanisms by which Pikamilon can enhance performance do exist, and may be further potentiated by the other cognitive enhancement ingredients in the NeuroPump formula.
Huperzine A is an Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it blocks the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in increased levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine controls skeletal muscle and is largely responsible for the ‘mind-muscle connection’. In addition to controlling the muscles, acetylcholine is also involved in learning, memory, decision making, and various other mental activities. Combined with the above mentioned Citicoline, Huperzine A can certainly elevate the aspects of performance controlled by Acetylcholine. Ultimately, Huperzine adds a performance enhancement dimension to NeuroPump that is non-stimulant, but very effective.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
NeuroPump doesn’t contain any new, groundbreaking compounds, but instead contains a relatively well-rounded combination of pump-based/ergogenic ingredients and stimulants. Due to the lack of transparency, the individual doses of each key ingredient are unknown, but given a 4600mg proprietary blend, there is no reason to suspect less than optimal doses. What is most interesting about NeuroPump is that it contains no Caffeine, a rarity in pre-workouts these days. However, given that the formula contains certain stimulants which would be synergistically enhanced by Caffeine (PEA/Hordenine), we’re not convinced that the lack of Caffeine is such a good thing. That being said, NeuroPump may appeal to those who prefer to avoid Caffeine, but still seek some sort of mental stimulation. At about $1 per serving, NeuroPump is more or less appropriately priced relative to products with similar profiles.
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