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MusclePharm Assault Black: An Evidence-Based Review

Assault Black is MusclePharm’s Black Series iteration on the flagship pre-workout, Assault. it contains some of the same ingredients but also some new additions…

MusclePharm Assault Black

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CITRULLINE MALATE

Citrulline is an amino acid which serves as a precursor to Arginine, and therefore is directly involved in the production of Nitric Oxide.  Unlike supplemental Arginine, however, Citrulline is quite reliable at increasing plasma Arginine and ultimately enhancing performance.

Citrulline has been shown to increase muscular contraction efficiency, meaning less ATP is required for a given workload.  This mechanism explains why subjects who consumed Citrulline were able to perform more reps later on in the workout compared to subjects who consumed a placebo.

Additionally, Citrulline has been shown to reduce muscle soreness effectively making it both a performance enhancing ingredient as well a recovery agent.

Assault Black contains 3g of L-Citrulline DL-Malate per serving, not a clinical dose but not an insignificant dose either.

AGMATINE SULFATE

In the past few years, Agmatine has gone from a rare ingredient to a pre-workout staple, though it remains seriously under-researched relative to other popular pre-workout ingredients. Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate Endothelial Nitric Oxide (eNOS), sometimes referred to as the “good” NOS, while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS) in vitro, but human studies are non-existent.

Still, anecdotal reports of Agmatine improving the “pump” are as pervasive as the ingredient itself at this point, so there is something to it.

Assault Black contains 750mg of Agmatine Sulfate, a slightly above average dose as far as most pre-workouts are concerned.

BEET ROOT EXTRACT

Beetroot Extract is the most common Nitrate source we see in pre-workout supplements, as Beets (in whatever form) have been the most extensively studied Nitrate source with regards to exercise performance.  We discuss Nitrates further in this article, but basically the effective range is 300-600mg.

Assault Black contains just 200mg of Beet Root Extract which most likely provides a pretty insignificant amount of Nitrate, if any at all.

CHINESE HAWTHORN

Crataegus pinnatifida, also known as Chinese Hawthorn, is a berry which has traditionally (but not clinically) been used as a heart health agent. Unfortunately, most of these claims are without merit and unsubstantiated by what little research there is. Extracts from Chinese Hawthorn have demonstrated some slight-moderate anti-inflammatory properties in vitro, and these properties have been noted in rats as well (though with less potency than the reference drug used). In all honesty, we’re not exactly clear on why MusclePharm chose to include Chinese Hawthorne in the Assault Black blend.

BIOPERINE

BioPerine is a patented form of Black Pepper Extract.  Several studies have found that black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels).

Piperine’s ability to increase absorption of other compounds is due to the inhibition of certain enzymes which breakdown most compounds, as well as the slowing of intestinal transit (increasing the amount of time these compounds are exposed to the possibility of uptake).

Assault Black contains an unusually high 10mg dose of Black Pepper Extract, double what we generally see.

CREATINE

Creatine is the most extensively studied ergogenic aid currently available, and by far one of the most effective at increasing both strength and muscle mass. Its primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy, thereby directly increasing strength and power output.

Additionally, 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.

Assault Black contains 1.5g of Creatine HCL, a pretty ineffective dose.

BCAAS (LEUCINE, ISOLEUCINE, VALINE)

The term “Branched Chain Amino Acids” (BCAAs) refers to the amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine which are commonly utilized together in a 2:1:1 ratio (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine). While Leucine does appear to be the most critical in regards to muscle protein synthesis, a 2009 study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” concluded thatBCAAs (2:1:1) have a more pronounced effect on protein synthesis than the same amount of Leucine alone, indicating that all three is the best way to go.

Assault Black contains 1.5g of total BCAAs which, like Creatine HCL, is an insignificant dose.

BETA-ALANINE

Beta-Alanine is the rate limiting amino acid in the synthesis of the dipeptide, Carnosine, which acts as a lactic acid buffer in muscle tissue.  Reducing the build-up of lactic acid can directly enhance muscular endurance, and this has been demonstrated throughout multiple studies in both athletes and non-athletes alike.

A 2002 study from the “Japanese Journal of Physiology” which measured the Carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with higher muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power outputin the latter half of a 30m sprint (due to 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.

Assault Black contains 2g of Beta-Alanine, a moderate (but not highly effective) dose.

ELEVATP

ElevATP is a patented combination of “ancient peat” and Apple extract which the manufacturer, FutureCeuticals, claims increases the body’s production of ATP.

Currently there are studies funded by FutureCeuticals, but we’ll have to wait for some more research before drawing our conclusions about this ingredient.  Ultimately, it may make for a fine addition to the Assault Black formula.

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.

Additionally, Caffeine can enhance calcium-ion release in muscle tissue, which directly increases muscle contraction force. Rather than discuss dozens of studies, we’ll leave it at this: Caffeine is an extremely effective ergogenic aid, though tolerance build-up is certainly an issue to keep in mind.

Assault Black contains a whopping 300mg of Caffeine per serving, more than enough for the average person to feel noticeably more alert and focused.

HUPERZINE A

Huperzine A is an Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it blocks the enzyme that breaks down Acetylcholine, indirectly increasing levels in the brain. 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 cognitive functions.

Assault Black contains 100mcg of Huperzine-A a moderately effective dose as far as anecdotal reports are concerned.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Assault Black is, in our opinion, an improvement over the original Assault, although the low doses of Creatine and BCAA’s certainly detract from its effectiveness.  The “pump” aspect is relatively well-done though, and with 300mg of Caffeine per serving, most users will feel noticeably more alert and focused.  Assault Black won’t be added to our Top 10 list, but if you’re currently using Assault (and liking it) you may want to give Assault Black a shot.

Still don’t know which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements list for some recommendations.

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