Pump HD is a pre-workout by BPI Sports which is comprised of both stimulant and non-stimulant (pump) ingredients…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Creatine has the ability to rapidly produce ATP (cellular energy) to support cellular function (as in exercise). It has been studied more extensively than any other performance enhancing supplement, and has consistently been demonstrated to increase power output as well as muscle size, with maximum benefit achieved at around 8 weeks of consistent supplementation. During high intensity exercise, Creatine is used for energy which tends to spare the glycogen that would normally be used. Since lactic acid is a by-product created when glucose is burned for energy, Creatine may also indirectly reduce lactic acid build-up which poses a secondary mechanism by which Creatine can potentially enhance performance.
It is generally recommended to consume 5 grams per day but lower doses (3 grams) can still be effective if consumed over a longer period of time. 2 grams daily has been demonstrated to maintain Creatine levels (but not increase them) in athletes. Creatine comes in various forms, the most common of which is Creatine Monohydrate, which is formed by dehydrating a solution of Creatine, where a single water molecule remains bound to the Creatine powder. No research has yet proven that there is a more effective form of Creatine than the Monohydrate form, so this is generally the form we recommend.
Pump HD contains 2 grams of Creatine which is not quite an effective dose for increasing muscular creatine, but may be enough to maintain levels. For those looking to receive the full host of benefits associated with Creatine, we’d recommend consuming 2-3 grams in addition to what is present in Pump HD.
Aspartic Acid has been touted as a performance enhancer for decades now, with preliminary research (in rats) suggesting that Aspartic Acid may help remove excess Ammonia during exercise, effectively reducing fatigue. Though some efficacy has been demonstrated, the overall results are mixed and not particularly promising. A 1964 study, published in the “American Journal of Physiology—Legacy Content”, failed to note any significant changes in various performance measures including breathing capacity and metabolic rate in exercising men who received 2 grams of aspartic acid (magnesium and potassium salts) over a 9 week period. A similar failure occurred in a 1983 study from the “International Journal of Sports Medicine” , this study using 6 gram, acute dosages. However, a 1988 study from “Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport”, found that 10 grams of Aspartic Acid salts effectively increased time to exhaustion (cycling) in male athletes. This study also noted significant decreases in ammonia and lactate, indicating that this was the mechanism of action.
So, while different studies have yielded different results, it does appear that higher doses of Aspartic Acid may convey some anti-fatigue benefits during extended exercise. That being said, Pump HD contains just 1000mg of Aspartic Acid which unfortunately is far less than the minimum dose which has demonstrated this efficacy.
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that, along with Histidine, serves as a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine. Carnosine acts a lactic acid buffer, effectively delaying fatigue in the working muscle. Beta Alanine takes time to accumulate, but if taken over a sustained period of time (a few weeks), can be an extremely effective performance enhancing supplement with a strong safety profile. 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, which improves physical performance. 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. Unfortunately, Pump HD contains just 1g of Beta-Alanine, short of the minimally validated dose of 1.6g. It is certainly possible that this dose conveys some performance enhancement benefit, but not definitively proven.
Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, syrup-like substance found in such household products as soap, cough syrup, and hair care products. However, NO-Xplode contains several powdered forms of the substance. Glycerol is also used by athletes for its ability to counter dehydration due to its propensity for cellular water retention. Originally, Glycerol was purported to enhance athletic/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. While the evidence is not in favor of Glycerol as a performance enhancer, Glycerol has been shown to increase cellular water uptake (similar to creatine), which ultimately may result in a fuller muscle feel.
BPI does not mention why Glycine is included in the formula, so we can only assume it’s because Glycine is the simplest amino acid, involved in the production proteins and ATP. While this may be true, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Glycine supplementation has any sort of performance enhancement effect in humans or that it effectively restores ATP.
Leucine is an amino acid that belongs to the group known as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). If you have ever purchased a BCAA product, you may have noticed that it contains more leucine than the other two BCAAs (isoleucine and valine). The ratio is generally along the lines of 2:1:1 but we’ve seen as much as 8:1:1. COR-Performance Beta-BCAA contains the standard 2:1:1 dose of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, respectively. While no study has ever proved that there is an “optimal ratio”, several studies have confirmed that leucine is the most important BCAA with regards to muscle protein synthesis. Supplemental leucine has been shown to increase protein synthesis in rats as well as humans in dozens of studies, via activation of a special protein called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which stimulates muscle protein synthesis in mammals. Most recently, a 2012 study found that supplementation with 12 g of L-leucine per day resulted in improved protein synthesis in elderly males consuming a low protein diet. However, leucine has been shown to be effective at dosages ranging from 2-5 grams.
BLUEBERRY FRUIT CONCENTRATE:
Blueberry, in the form of both special preparations and blueberry enriched diets, have been shown to decrease blood pressure and relax blood vessels in rats, allegedly via increasing Nitric Oxide. However, a 2013 from “Nutrition Research” found that acute (one-time) consumption of fresh blueberries failed to influence vascular function in healthy male subjects. It is likely that long-term intake of Blueberries can have vascular benefits, but there is insufficient evidence to suggest one-time intake of Blueberry fruit concentrate (at the dose present in Pump HD) will increase blood flow.
PINE BARK CONCENTRATE:
Most of the research regarding Pine Bark Extract’s effect on blood flow has been directed at certain conditions such as hyper-tension and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). However, a 2007 study found that 180mg daily for 2 weeks effectively increased acetylcholine-induced vaso-relaxation in healthy men, indicating that Pine Bark (as Pycnogenol) can increase blood flow regardless of health state. This is good news for bodybuilders and athletes, and while the performance enhancement capabilities of Pine Bark remain under-researched, it may certainly be effective as a “pump” ingredient. Pump HD contains 1000mg of a combination of Blueberry fruit, Pine Bark, and Red Wine concentrates, so it is possible that the formula contains an effective dose of Pine Bark.
RED WINE CONCENTRATE:
Red Wine Concentrate is generally standardized for the compound Resveratrol, which has gained massive popularity in recent years as an anti-aging supplement, though there is really no evidence which indicates it can extend the lifespan of humans. That being said, it is a relatively potent antioxidant which has implications for overall cardiovascular health. A 2012 study, published in “The Journal of Physiology”, concluded that Resveratrol was able to improve exercise performance via augmenting fatty acid oxidation in rats. However, currently there are no human trials upon which to draw conclusions.
Contrary to popular belief, Taurine is not a stimulant but rather an an amino acid with anti-oxidant properties. In a 2011 study, Taurine was shown to significantly decrease oxidative stress in skeletal muscle following exercise. Prior to that, a 2004 study showed that Taurine may decrease exercise induced DNA damage, as well as “enhance the capacity of exercise due to its cellular protective properties”. A recent 2013 study noted a 1.7% improvement in 3k-time trial of runners after supplementing with Taurine, but noted that more research would be required to determine the exact mechanism of action.
It’s unfortunate that Taurine has developed a sort of stigma because of its inclusion in energy drinks. While Taurine does not provide “energy” in the way that caffeine does, several studies have shown its effectiveness as an antioxidant with workout-enhancing properties, and while the exact mechanism of action remains unknown, it appears likely that Taurine may improve exercise performance by reducing some of the cellular oxidative damage that generally leads to fatigue. The usual dose of Taurine used for performance enhancement is about 1 gram. Pump HD contains no more than 1g per serving, but probably considerably less (a few hundred mg).
The amino acid Carnitine is under investigation for a variety of alleged benefits, the most supported of which is its ability to reduce exercise-induced muscular damage. A 2002 study, published in the “American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism”, found that 2 grams of L-Carnitine (as L-Tartrate) significantly reduced markers of exercise induced stress following squats in healthy adult males. A 2007 study, published in the “Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research”, found that 1 and 2 grams of supplemental L-Carnitine (as L-Tartrate) effectively reduced markers of muscular damage following exercise in healthy humans. While the previously mentioned studies were unable to identify an exact mechanism of action, a 2008 study noted enhanced muscle oxygenation, citing this as a possible mechanism of action.
Carnitine, as either Acetyl-L-Carnitine or Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC) has been shown to increase Nitric Oxide and plasma Nitrate levels at 1-3 grams, a possibly mechanism of action for the increase muscle oxygenation noted in the 2008 study mentioned above. Overall, there is no clear consensus as to whether Carnitine can directly enhance exercise performance, because results have been mixed, though the recovery claims (reduction of muscular damage) are well-supported.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, the three of which are collectively referred to as ‘catecholamines’. A 1981 study found that subjects who consumed 100mg/kg of Tyrosine experienced a significant increase in urinary catecholamine levels, but supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce the performance enhancing effects commonly associated with increased release of catecholamines. This is because Tyrosine does not instantly get converted into noradrenaline, dopamine, or adrenaline. It forms a pool, and when there is a deficit of catecholamines, the pool is drawn from to create more. So rather than directly improving physical performance, Tyrosine has demonstrated the ability to restore levels of these neurotransmitters to baseline, thereby improving aspects of cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor (sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and possibly exercise). In other words, Tyrosine may restore levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline when necessary, but does not increase them beyond normal levels. These restorative effects have been noted at doses ranging from 2-13 grams, but given a proprietary blend of 1230mg, Pump HD likely contains a negligible dose.
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, and is a well-established ergogenic aid. Caffeine consumption causes an increase in Catecholamines (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine), which tend to increase focus, concentration, and perceived energy while simultaneously promoting fat oxidation. However, this increase in fat-oxidation tends to fade with prolonged use, so it does not appear as though caffeine is a long-term effective fat burner. While caffeine’s weight loss potential is negligible, it increases focus and perceived energy in most people, which generally leads to more intense workouts. The exact dose of Caffeine in Pump HD is undisclosed, but we estimate it contains between and 150 and 250mg.
Psoralea corylifolia is an Indian herb which has a somewhat documented historical use as a mental stimulant. Psoralea is a moderately potent catcholamine (noradrenaline/dopamine) reuptake inhibitor in vitro, though there are currently no documented human studies. Assuming this effect holds true in humans, Psoralea may potentiate the effects of Caffeine (by preventing the breakdown of Catecholamines), resulting in more focus/intensity.
The primary active component of Yohimbe (Pausinystalia Yohimbe) is Yohimbine, which acts as an alpha-2 receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptor responsible for blocking lipolysis. By blocking the action of this receptor Yohimbine allows for more lipolysis to occur. A 2006 study showed that while there were no increases in strength, supplementation induced fat loss in athletes (soccer players).
As previously stated, Yohimbine acts directly on alpha-2 receptor, it can also increase the catecholamine neurotransmitters adrenaline and noradrenaline, which generally coincides with increased focus/perceived energy. However, this increase may degrade fairly quickly (a few weeks) with prolonged use.
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. However, Pump HD contains far less Ornithine than the 6g dose used in the above mentioned study.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Although Pump HD’s profile is pretty comprehensive, with a wide range of proven pre-workout ingredients as well as a few stimulants, the major drawback is the doses of some of these ingredients. Creatine, Beta-Alanine, and Leucine are three of the most scientifically validated performance enhancing ingredients out there, but in order to receive a truly effective dose, two servings of Pump HD must be consumed. At about 90 cents per serving, Pump HD is not very competitively priced, considering the same formula could be more or less reconstructed for about half that. As far as all-in-one type pre-workouts go, Pump HD isn’t the worst we’ve seen but there are certainly better options out there.
Not sure which pre-workout is right for you?
The Pre-Workout category is one of the most saturated and arguably one of the most difficult to navigate. With every product claiming the be the absolute best, selecting the right one can be extremely difficult. Thats why we created this list…Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements
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