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Legion Pulse Review

Pulse is Legion’s pre-workout which contains nothing but effective ingredients at clinically validated doses. The formula’s only stimulant is Caffeine (350mg per serving though!) making it ideal for those who prefer to avoid harsher stimulants…

Legion Pulse

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L-Citrulline Malate

Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). As demonstrated in a 2007 study, supplemental Citrulline is significantly more effective at raising plasma Arginine than supplemental Arginine itself, and while results with Arginine are mixed, Citrulline has demonstrated clear efficacy as a performance enhancer.

The problem with supplemental Arginine is that it is metabolized in the intestines and liver into other substances such as Ornithine and Urea. The intestines and liver contain relatively high levels of Arginase, the enzyme that converts Arginine to Ornithine and Urea. As a result, very little goes on to be involved with the synthesis of NO because it is being diverted for other purposes. Citrulline, on the other hand, is able to bypass the liver and is metabolized into Arginine elsewhere, where not as much Arginase is present. Thus, more of the Arginine is able to go on to convert into Nitric Oxide.

A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Malate supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males.

A 2008 study from “The Journal of Strength & Conditioning” found that 8g of Citrulline Malate was able to progressively increase the amount of reps performed later in the workout (by as much as 52%) and significantly reduced muscle soreness.

A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.

A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (less ATP was required for the same amount of power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study.

Citrulline is generally considered to be most effective at doses of 6-8g, though it is rare to find that much in pre-workout supplements (it gets kind of expensive). Pulse contains a highly effective 8 gram dose of Citrulline (as Citrulline Malate) per serving, consistent with the dose used in the above mentioned 2008 study and beyond that used in most other studies.

Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine is a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine, which functions as a lactic acid buffer capable of reducing fatigue in the working muscle. Though it takes time to accumulate in muscle tissue, Beta-Alanine supplementation, for at least two weeks, is highly effective at increasing muscular Carnosine concentration.

One study in particular that measured the Carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with higher muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power output in the latter half of a 30m sprint (because they had less lactic acid build-up). Multiple studies have confirmed that Beta Alanine supplementation increases muscular Carnosine in a dose dependent manner. In particular, a 2012 study published in “Amino Acids” found that subjects who consumed 1.6 or 3.2 grams of Beta Alanine daily experienced significant increases in muscle carnosine in as little as two weeks, with the higher dose achieving a higher concentration of Carnosine. The doses used in this study, 1.6 and 3.2g, are the most common doses seen in supplements.

A 2008 study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, noted improvements in power in resistance trained males using 4.8g daily for 30 days. This same 4.8 gram dose was also shown to increase muscular endurance in sprinters in a 2007 study from the “Journal of Applied Physiology”. Generally speaking, the highest dose used in most pre-workouts is 3.2g because that is, after all, an effective dose. However, Legion has gone the extra mile with Pulse by including 4.8 grams of Beta-Alanine per serving, in-line with the highest, most effective dose used in studies, and more than we’ve ever seen in any pre-workout.

Betaine Anhydrous

Betaine (also known as Trimethylglycine) is the amino acid Glycine with the addition of three methyl groups attached. Betaine is alleged to increase power output and strength by increasing cellular swelling, a phenomenon well established with Creatine supplementation, which can drastically reduce the damaging effect of outside stimuli (such as exercise) on the working muscle. So far, Betaine has been investigated in several human studies, and has had some pretty encouraging results in most.

A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that 2.5g Betaine (split into two 1.25mg doses) over the course of 15 days increased muscle endurance during squats and appeared to improve the quality of each rep (likely because they were easier).

A 2010 study, again from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that the same supplementation protocol (2.5g daily in two equal doses) effectively increased isometric bench press and squat force as well as bench throw and vertical jump power.

A 2011 study, published in “The Journal of Strength & Condition Research” noted improvements in number of bench press repetitions and total volume load with same 2.5g dosing protocol for 14 days. However, another 2011 study from the same journal noted no such improvements in power output or number of reps performed, though there were subjective reports of fatigue reduction.

A 2012 study from the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted improvements in cycling sprint power after just one week of supplementation at the standard 2.5g dose.

Most recently, a 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” noted increases in arm size, bench press work capacity, overall body composition, and a trend toward increased power (but not strength). This was the first study to specifically measure the effects of Betaine supplementation on body composition, so further study is needed to corroborate these findings.

Pulse contains the standard dose of Betaine used in the above mentioned studies of 2.5g, a highly effective amount which eliminates the need to take two daily doses.

Ornithine

Ornithine is an amino acid used alongside Arginine and Citrulline in the Urea Cycle, the process by which Ammonia is metabolized into the harmless substance Urea. Prolonged exercise generally brings about increases in Ammonia, which causes fatigue in the working muscle after enough has built up. As evidenced in a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supplemental Ornithine, at a dose of 100mg/kg, has failed to influence fatigue in short duration exercise. However, a 2008 study from “Nutrition Research” noted a significant reduction in fatigue during prolonged exercise in healthy volunteers who consumed 2g Ornithine daily for 6 days and 6g prior to testing. Unfortunately, because of the structure of this study, it is unclear whether Ornithine requires “build-up time” or if acute supplementation is effective. Either way, it appears Ornithine will only be noticeably effective during prolonged exercise, when Ammonia would usually cause fatigue. Pulse contains 2200mg of L-Ornithine, much more than the average Ornithine-containing pre-workout which may be somewhat synergistic with the hefty dose of Citrulline that Legion has also packed into the Pulse formula.

Theanine

In a 2008 study, published in “Nutritional Neuroscience”, researchers investigated the cognitive effects of a combination of Theanine and Caffeine compared to Caffeine alone on various measures of cognitive performance. Participants received either 50mg of Caffeine or 50mg of Caffeine and 100mg of Theanine before completing various tasks including word recognition, visual image processing, and attention switching. While Caffeine was able to increase alertness and accuracy during the attention switching tasks, the combination of Caffeine and Theanine was able to improve both performance and speed, while reducing the subjects’ susceptibility to distraction.

Another 2008 study from “Biological Psychology” found that, while 150mg of Caffeine increased alertness and improved (decreased) reaction time, adding 250mg of Theanine further improved reaction time, alertness, and decreased the number of headaches reported from Caffeine.

A 2010 study, also from “Nutritional Sciences”, found that the combination of 97mg of Theanine combined with 40mg Caffeine significantly improved focus and attention on various cognitive tests, compared to placebo.

Another 2010 study, this one published in “Appetite”, noted an improvement in task-switching ability using the same 97mg Theanine/40mg Caffeine combination.

Theanine is, in our view, a very under-utilized ingredient in pre-workout supplements these days. Despite a well-established synergistic relationship with Caffeine, supplement companies seem reluctant to include Theanine in effective doses mostly because of cost issues (it is relatively expensive). However, Pulse contains a highly effective 350mg of Theanine to go alongside the 350mg of Caffeine.

Caffeine Anhydrous

Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid, oral consumption of which triggers the release of Catcholamines (Noradrenaline, Dopamine, Adrenaline, etc.), generally inducing a state of increased alertness, focus, and perceived energy. A vast multitude of studies have concluded that Caffeine consumption prior to exercise can favorably impact performance and enhance muscle contractibility.

Since habitual Caffeine consumption often leads to tolerance build-up, those seeking to get the most out of their Caffeine-containing pre-workout should limit Caffeine throughout other parts of the day. Pulse contains 350mg of Caffeine which is enough to make even a somewhat Caffeine-tolerant individual feel noticeably more focused and alert. Though 350mg would normally be considered “jitter territory”, the 350mg dose of Theanine present in the Pulse formula may partially (if not completely) reduce the likelihood of the Caffeine causing any negative effects.

The Bottom Line

Pulse contains nothing but effective ingredients at highly effective, clinically validated doses. Although there are no other stimulants in the formula, the hefty 350mg dose of Caffeine and Theanine can easily provide the focus and alertness that many users of pre-workouts have become accustomed to.

Still don’t know which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!

References

  1. Derave, Wim, et al. “β-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters.” Journal of applied physiology 103.5 (2007): 1736-1743.
  2. Hoffman J, et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. (2008)
  3. Stellingwerff, Trent, et al. “Effect of two β-alanine dosing protocols on muscle carnosine synthesis and washout.” Amino Acids 42.6 (2012): 2461-2472.
  4. Wilson, Jacob M., et al. “Beta-alanine supplementation improves aerobic and anaerobic indices of performance.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 32.1 (2010): 71-78.
  5. Sale, Craig, Bryan Saunders, and Roger C. Harris. “Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance.” Amino acids 39.2 (2010): 321-333.
  6. Suzuki, Yasuhiro, Osamu Ito, Naoki Mukai, Hideyuki Takahashi, and Kaoru Takamatsu. “High Level of Skeletal Muscle Carnosine Contributes to the Latter Half of Exercise Performance during 30-s Maximal Cycle Ergometer Sprinting.” The Japanese Journal of Physiology 52.2 (2002): 199-205.
  7. Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín, and Philip M. Jakeman. “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24.5 (2010): 1215-1222.
  8. Bendahan, D., et al. “Citrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle.” British journal of sports medicine 36.4 (2002): 282-289.
  9. Sureda, Antoni, et al. “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Free radical research 43.9 (2009): 828-835.
  10. Giannesini, Benoît, et al. “Citrulline malate supplementation increases muscle efficiency in rat skeletal muscle.” European journal of pharmacology 667.1 (2011): 100-104.
  11. Graham, T. E., and L. L. Spriet. “Metabolic, catecholamine, and exercise performance responses to various doses of caffeine.” Journal of Applied Physiology 78.3 (1995): 867-874.
  12. Graham, Terry E. “Caffeine and exercise.” Sports medicine 31.11 (2001): 785-807.
  13. Hoffman, Jay R., et al. “Effect of 15 days of betaine ingestion on concentric and eccentric force outputs during isokinetic exercise.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25.8 (2011): 2235-2241.
  14. i, Cheng, Masao Shinohara, John Kuhlenkamp, Christine Chan, and Neil Kaplowitz. “Mechanisms of Protection by the Betaine-homocysteine Methyltransferase/betaine System in HepG2 Cells and Primary Mouse Hepatocytes.” Hepatology 46.5 (2007): 1586-596.
  15. Trepanowski, John F., et al. “The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25.12 (2011): 3461-3471.
  16. Hoffman, Jay R., et al. “Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6.1 (2009): 1-10.
  17. Cholewa, Jason M., et al. “Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 39.
  18. Lee, Elaine C., et al. “Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7 (2010): 27.
  19. Demura, Shinichi, et al. “The effect of L-ornithine hydrochloride ingestion on performance during incremental exhaustive ergometer bicycle exercise and ammonia metabolism during and after exercise.” European journal of clinical nutrition 64.10 (2010): 1166-1171.
  20. Sugino, Tomohiro, et al. “L-ornithine supplementation attenuates physical fatigue in healthy volunteers by modulating lipid and amino acid metabolism.”Nutrition research 28.11 (2008): 738-743.
  21. Owen, Gail N., et al. “The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood.” Nutritional neuroscience 11.4 (2008): 193-198.
  22. Giesbrecht, Timo, et al. “The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness.” Nutritional neuroscience 13.6 (2010): 283-290.
  23. Haskell, Crystal F., et al. “The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood.” Biological psychology 77.2 (2008): 113-122.
  24. Einöther, Suzanne JL, et al. “L-theanine and caffeine improve task switching but not intersensory attention or subjective alertness.” Appetite 54.2 (2010): 406-409.
  25. Graham, T. E., and L. L. Spriet. “Metabolic, catecholamine, and exercise performance responses to various doses of caffeine.” Journal of Applied Physiology 78.3 (1995): 867-874.
  26. Graham, Terry E. “Caffeine and exercise.” Sports medicine 31.11 (2001): 785-807.

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