H:VOL is a pump-based pre-workout containing a variety of different ingredients, some more effective than others…FIND IT HERE
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.
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.
Allmax lists the amount of Citrulline Malate in one serving of H:VOL at 1253mg which, unfortunately, falls far short of the 6-8g range used in the above-mentioned studies.
NITROSIGINE™ (INOSITOL STABILIZED ARGININE SILICATE)
Arginine Silicate is a combination of Arginine and Silicon which, aside from conveying the benefits of both substances, has exhibited additional benefit, beyond that of standard Arginine. A 2005 study noted that Arginine Silicate induced greater vasodilation and increase blood flow in mice, as compared to Arginine HCl. Similar results were achieved in a later (2007) study published in “Metabolism” and it was concluded that Arginine Silicate was more effective at raising plasma Arginine levels than Arginine HCl.
Given that various forms of Arginine have produced questionable results when it comes to performance enhancement, Nitrosigine is a much better way to go than the usual Arginine HCl or AKG.
Agmatine remains very under-researched, despite possessing 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. Because of the lack of human studies, no optimal dose has been established for Agmatine, though average doses in pre-workout formulas are 500-1000mg.
Allmax has chosen what appears to be a random dosage of Agmatine, but with 575mg per serving, it is within the average range that anecdotal reports indicate is effective.
Out of the three Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), Valine appears to possess the least unique benefit. However, it is commonly alleged that Valine may counter exercise-induced fatigue by reducing the amount of Tryptophan available for Serotonin synthesis.
A 2001 study concluded that Valine lowered the amount of exercise-induced 5-HT (Serotonin) in mouse hippocampuses. During exercise Tryptophan is transported to the brain where it is converted into Serotonin. It is hypothesized that Serotonin is responsible for mental fatigue. It has also been established that BCAA directly compete with tryptophan for the same pathway to the brain, and therefore may reduce the amount of Tryptophan available for Serotonin production. This would explain certain subjective anti-fatigue effects of BCAA supplementation noted in a few studies.
Unfortunately, the amount of Valine in H:VOL is pretty negligible and, with only 380mg per serving, it wouldn’t likely make much of a difference.
Norvaline is chemically related to the branched chain amino acid Valine, though the potential benefits are much different. In vitro studies and rat studies have demonstrated that Norvaline is able to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme that breaks down Arginine. The (theoretical) result is that more Arginine is able to convert into Nitric Oxide.
However, Norvaline has never been studied in humans as it relates to performance enhancement, so for now we are left with only a theoretical mechanism of action. Given a lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established, but common doses range from 125-250mg. Allmax has dosed H:VOL slightly below this range at 100mg per serving.
Despite its inclusion in energy drinks, Taurine is not a stimulant and does not increase perceived energy or focus. Rather, it is an amino acid with antioxidant properties with implications for exercise recovery as well as slight performance enhancement.
In a 2011 study from “Cell Biochemistry and Function” Taurine was shown to significantly reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress in skeletal muscle. These findings were consistent with those of an earlier (2004) study, published in “Amino Acids” which 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, also from “Amino Acids” noted a 1.7% improvement in 3k-time trial of runners after supplementing with Taurine, and these findings were further corroborated in a later 2013 study from “Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism “ in which Taurine supplementation was able to increase strength as well as decrease oxidative muscle damage.
The amount of Taurine in H:VOL is certainly significant. At 2500mg per serving, Taurine is perhaps the only clinically dosed ingredient in the entire formula.
Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, syrup-like substance commonly used in industrial goods and cosmetics, mostly to increase viscosity. Glycerol, as a molecule, has a propensity for cellular water retention, and this property is what makes it of particular interest to bodybuilders and athletes.
A 1996 study, published in the “International Journal of Sports Medicine”, found that Glycerol supplementation prior to exercise increased endurance time in cyclists. These findings were replicated in a 1999 study from the “European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology” in which pre-exercise Glycerol supplementation enhanced time performance (also in cyclists).
However, a 2003 study, published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”, found that, while post-exercise Glycerol supplementation prevented exercise-induced dehydration, this had no impact on performance measures (compared to placebo).
Ultimately, the results of most of the research on Glycerol indicate that it can be an effective pump agent (due to water retention), but may only noticeably enhance performance (endurance not strength) during long-duration exercise where dehydration becomes a contributing factor. H:VOL contains a seemingly random 1147mg of HydroMax per serving.
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.
Unfortunately, with just 60mg per serving, H:VOL contains a negligible dose of Ornithine. At such a low dose, none of the efficacy of H:VOL can be attributed to Ornithine, so in this particular instance, it’s useless.
Theobromine belongs to the same class of chemical compounds as Caffeine, known as Methylxanthines. While its CNS stimulant properties are less potent than Caffeine, it is alleged to increase heart rate to a greater degree, potentially enhancing oxygenation. Although Theobromine is commonly included in stimulant-containing pre-workouts (because it is technically a heart stimulant), Allmax seems primarily concerned with its ability to act as a vasodilator. There have been absolutely no clinical trials regarding Theobromine and athletic performance, but the assumption here (and it is just an assumption) is that Theobromine can potentially enhance the pump. However, at just 15mg actual Theobromine per serving, the effects are not likely to be particularly noticeable.
H:VOL contains an ultra-standardized form of Rutaecarpine, RC-NOS, yielding about 24mg of Rutaecarpine.
A 1999 study, published in “Cardiovascular Drug Reviews”, found that Rutaecarpine acted as an effective vasodilator in rats and “may increase Nitric Oxide”. Two separate studies, one in 2005 and one in 2011, found that Rutaecarpine supplementation in rats effectively reduced the effects of caffeine when taken at doses of 20mg/kg or 80mg/kg. While human studies are lacking, these studies indicate that there is a significant antagonistic interaction between Rutaecarpine and caffeine, so ideally we only like to see Rutaecarpine in supplements that do not contain Caffeine (like H:VOL).
Policosanol is a mixture of oils derived from Cuban Sugar Cane, which is marketed primarily as a Cholesterol-lowering supplement. Over a dozen studies conducted and funded by the Cuban government indicate that it can be quite effective, but studies outside of Cuba have cast serious doubts over the validity of the Cuban studies.
Given that H:VOL is not a cholesterol supplement though, we don’t really see what role Policosanol plays in the formula, and Allmax makes no mention of it outside of the supplement facts panel.
A 2000 study from “Neuropsychobiology” indicated that Policosanol may improve reaction time in humans, but the results were no more promising than with other compounds we already know do this. It would be a waste of time to speculate further, so we’ll leave it at that, in the hopes that Allmax Nutrition decides to fill us in on why exactly they included Policosanol in H:VOL.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Allmax has made use of a relatively wide variety of potentially effective ingredients with the H:VOL formula, but some of the doses of individual ingredients are subpar. With pretty negligible amounts of Citrulline and and Ornithine, users may want to opt for two servings at a time.
Still not sure which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!
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