PreShock marks GEAR’s entrance into the pre-workout market with its primary selling point being Fulvic Acid. Other than that, the formula is similar to other pre-workouts…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
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. Creatine’s primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy. 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.
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 other form of Creatine has demonstrated any clear superiority over Creatine Monohydrate, so we generally recommend sticking with this particular form. The optimal dose of Creatine Monohydrate, excluding loading phase, is about 5g per day. Pre Shock contains an undisclosed amount of Creatine per serving, but given a 3.25g proprietary blend shared between several ingredients, the amount in one serving is obviously less than optimal.
GEAR claims that the inclusion of Fulvic Acid increases nutrient (specifically Creatine) uptake, and countering dehydration (by acting as an electrolyte). Physiologically speaking, Fulvic Acid can increase nutrient uptake in living cells, and generally contains 70 or so minerals. For this reason, it is commonly considered the “ultimate electrolyte”. However, the claim that Fulvic Acid can increase Creatine absorption significantly is more or less unsubstantiated. GEAR is basing this claim solely on the general notion that Fulvic Acid has the ability to increase the absorption of various nutrients, but no studies have been conducted specifically regarding the absorption of Creatine.
At this point in time, it would be more practical to simply include a clinical dose (5g) of Creatine, rather than a sub-standard dose with the hopes that Fulvic Acid will enhance its absorption enough to make up the difference.
Agmatine has become one of the most popular pump ingredients for pre/intra-workout supplements, due to preliminary evidence which indicates it can favorably influence Nitric Oxide Synthase (which triggers Nitric Oxide production).
Agmatine has been demonstrated to up-regulate eNOS (the “good” NOS) while inhibiting the other NOS enzymes (the “bad” NOS) in vitro, but human studies are non-existent. Despite the inherent pro-eNOS nature of Agmatine, it remains under-researched in humans so an optimal dose has not been established, though anecdotally speaking, 500-1000mg may be effective. Whether the amount of Agmatine in Pre Shock falls somewhere in this range is unclear, but not out of the question (given the 3.25g blend).
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”.
The lowest dose of Beta-Alanine which has technically been shown to still raise muscle Carnosine levels is 1.6g. However, its fairly obvious that one serving of Pre Shock contains less than that.
Glucuronolactone has become a popular additive in energy drinks as well as “detox” supplements which claim cellular protective benefits. Despite being included in various energy products, it has not been studied in isolation in regards to any claims made by these companies. For now, we cannot say with any certainty whether Glucuronolactone makes any difference in Pre Shock.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to Dopamine and Norepinephrine (Catecholamines). Because of this relationship, it is commonly alleged (mostly by supplement companies) that Tyrosine can increase levels of these neurotransmitters, which would ultimately convey some performance enhancement benefits. However, supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce any noticeable performance enhancement benefit in multiple studies.
While Tyrosine may not increase workout performance directly, it has been shown to preserve cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor, such as noise, cold exposure, and potentially, exercise. This is because Tyrosine, upon ingestion, forms a pool which is then drawn from to create more Dopamine and Norepinephrine when depletion occurs. To put it simply, Tyrosine will not increase Dopamine and Noradrenaline, but can help ensure optimal levels are maintained during/after exercise.
Given a 1.57g proprietary blend, Pre Shock probably contains a moderately effective dose of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, but the lack of disclosure makes it somewhat questionable.
Phenylalanine is the first amino acid precursor of Dopamine, before Tyrosine so, in the context of Pre Shock, the implications are basically the same. Similar to Tyrosine, Phenylalanine will not outright increase Dopamine but may help to encourage optimal levels. Ultimately, it’s not really an ingredient of much importance, but it can’t hurt.
Alpha GPC is considered one of the most bioavailable Choline sources and is generally used to increase Acetylcholine levels in the brain, which can enhance cognitive ability. However, Alpha GPC also has some direct (though under-researched) physical performance enhancement implications.
A 2008 study, published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”, found that oral supplementation of 600mg of Alpha GPC increased Power Output by an average of 14% in resistance trained males.
Given a lack of disclosure, we can’t be sure of the amount of Alpha GPC, but it’s pretty unlikely that Pre Shock contains 600mg, or anything close to that. Alpha GPC tends to be quite expensive, so most pre-workouts don’t contain much, but even a little bit may still help to improve the cognitive effects of the formula.
Caffeine has become a staple in any stimulant-containing pre-workout, simply because its safe (in average doses) and highly effective. Caffeine is able to boost alertness, focus, and muscle contractibility via the release of Catecholamines (primarily Noradrenaline) almost instantly upon oral ingestion.
GEAR lists the amount of Caffeine per serving at 125mg, a fairly low dose compared to most Caffeine-containing pre-workouts, but certainly enough to kick-start the energy/focus factor when combined with the other stimulants present in Pre Shock.
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).
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. Unlike Caffeine, Theobromine has not been extensively studied with regards to its effect on physical performance so an optimal dose has not been established.
Pausinystalia yohimbe is generally standardized for the alkaloid, Yohimbine HCl, which is an alpha(2) receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptor responsible for blocking lipolysis (breakdown of fat). By blocking the action of this receptor Yohimbine allows for more lipolysis than would otherwise be possible from exercise.
A 2006 study, published in “Research in Sports Medicine”, found that Yohimbine supplementation (20mg/day) induced relatively significant fat loss in athletes (soccer players). These results conflicted somewhat with those of an earlier (1991) study from the “International Journal of Obesity” in which Obese men did not benefit from long-term Yohimbine supplementation. However, the obvious difference between these two studies was that in the failed study the subjects did not exercise.
As previously stated, Yohimbine directly acts on alpha-2 receptor so for it to be truly effective as a weight-loss agent, it must be combined with something that activates the fat-burning process in the first place (i.e. stimulants or exercise). Pre Shock contains an undisclosed amount of Yohimbine, but it generally takes just a few mg to convey some (perhaps not all) benefit.
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.
Unfortunately, the amount of Taurine in Pre Shock appears to be far less than the 1-2g doses used in the positive studies above, given its position (after Yohimbine) in the proprietary blend.
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 Alpha GPC, Huperzine-A can certainly elevate the aspects of performance controlled by Acetylcholine.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
With the exception of Fulvic Acid, the Pre Shock formula is pretty standard. We’re pretty skeptical of the implication put forth by GEAR that the addition of Fulvic Acid boosts the absorption of the ingredients to the point of superiority over otherwise comparable pre-workouts. Given the (estimated) levels of key ingredients, multiple servings would be needed to achieve clinically validated doses.
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