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Move over Cellucor C4, there’s a new kid on the block! The Pulse pre workout supplement by Legion Athletics is here, and it has taken a well earned place in the heavyweight category of high performance pre workout supplements. This product is built on a solid foundation of exercise science and sports nutrition, and all of the ingredients in it are backed up by peer reviewed scientific studies. Not only is it packed full of quality ingredients, it is also free from artificial sweeteners and dyes. Now all this is great, but really it is nothing new or exceptional as most pre workout powders contain many of the same or similar ingredients. However…. the active ingredients in Pulse are supplied in clinical doses, which is something unique that really sets the Pulse pre workout drink apart from the pack. In this review we will examine the ingredients and their doses in a bit more detail, and look at the results they generate in terms of energy, strength, endurance and focus. We will also talk about other important factors such as the taste and mix-ability etc.
In a single serving there are almost 20 grams (that’s right, 20 grams!) of active ingredients. First off, this makes the Pulse pre workout incredible value for money. More importantly though, it tells us that the active ingredients are most likely present in significant enough amounts to actually deliver the effects they are purported to. Most other supplements don’t even come close to providing enough of each component to produce the effects observed in clinical trials. It is very common to see a ‘proprietary blend’ of active ingredients in other pre workouts which is as small as 3 grams. The science tells us that 3 grams of any one of the key components is probably not enough, so it is highly likely that they are all under dosed when the total of all of them comes to 3 grams. As we go through the ingredients and their quantities we will see that Legion Athletics not only talks the talk, but they also walk the walk.
This is a fancy way to say Citrulline Malate, which is Citrulline (an amino acid) bound with malic acid. This substance is included in many pre workout products due to its function as a nitric oxide or N.O. booster. There are numerous other substances shown to have nitric oxide boosting capabilities (L-Arginine is anoher commonly used one) but Citrulline Malate has been shown to be the most effective when used with the intent of boosting nitric oxide production. Increasing Nitric Oxide levels in the body enable more blood to flow and helps to create what we know as “the pump”. Check out a description and more details on the mechanics of the pump here if you are not familiar with it.
So there are many other products that contain Citrulline Malate, but they are mostly underdosed with only a few grams at most. The thing is, studies show that an effective dose of Citrulline Malate is between 4 and 10 grams. In one serve of Pulse there is 8 grams. In one serve of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout for example, there is 1.5 grams. To be fair, the recommended dose of the Optimum Nutrition product is 2 serves but that is still only 3 grams. So we can see that in terms of pump, Pulse pre workout has got you covered. In addition to a pump like no other, Citrulline Malate is also said to improves muscle endurance, relieve muscle soreness and improve aerobic performance.
It is safe to say that Beta Alanine is present in almost every pre workout supplement in one form or another. It is a key ingredient that provides huge benefit to those doing resistance training. This is because it has been proven to be very effective at increasing muscular stamina. It does this by raising intra muscular Carnosine levels, which is important because there is a limited amount of Carnosine in the muscles. Carnosine is used up each time the muscles contract, and when the levels become too low we experience fatigue. So by boosting this we can extend the number and intensity of contractions the muscles can perform before fatiguing.
Most studies show the dosages needed to be effective are 4-6 grams per day, however most other supplements contain significantly less than this. Beta Alanine occurs naturally in many foods such as chicken, beef, pork and fish but to saturate the muscles I think it is best to supplement immediately before a workout. Pulse contains 4.8 grams per serve, which will make sure that you can lift longer and harder, thereby tearing more muscle fibers and increasing the effectiveness of your workout.
Betaine Anhydrous is the amino acid Trimethylglycine (TMG) with the water removed (Anhydrous). This substance is found naturally in certain foods such as beets and Quinoa. Farmers have always known about the effects this substance can have on their animals, and commonly supplement their animal feed with TMG to increase the muscle mass of their livestock. Recently, research has shown that supplementation of Betaine can increase strength, improve muscle endurance and increase growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 production in response to acute exercise. The amounts dosed in the studies above are between 1.25 and 2.5 grams. Pulse contains 2.5 grams per serve. Legion Athletics hits another home run!
Ornithine is an amino acid utilized by the body in the Urea Cycle, which is very important in translating Arginine (created by Citrulline Malate) into vein popping pumps. As well as this, studies have shown that Ornithine supplementation can reduce fatigue in prolonged exercise and help the body burn fat for energy, and when used in conjunction with Arginine can increase human growth hormone levels. The amounts of Ornithine in the studies linked above were 2 and 2.2 grams, and Pulse contains 2.2 grams per serve so you can see that once again they’ve got it covered.
Caffeine and L-Theanine
Another area where Pulse does really well is with the stimulant component. For many pre workouts, this is the only part that is dosed in sufficient amounts to actually do something. Unfortunately, sometimes these stimulants are not approved for human use by the FDA and ultimately get banned because testing indicates they may be dangerous. In line with the rest of the scientifically proven ingredients, the only stimulants in Pulse are Caffeine and Theanine. Caffeine is a well known stimulant that also has Metabolic and mood enhancing properties. When Caffeine and Theanine (an amino acid found in tea) are taken together, research shows that mental and physical stress are reduced, Nitric Oxide is boosted and mood, focus and alertness are improved.
Clinically effective doses of L-Theanine and Caffeine are said to be 100-250 mg and between 6 and 13 grams per pound of body weight respectively. Pulse has 350 mg of both Caffeine and Theanine per serve which puts the user right in the sweet spot.
If Caffeine is not your thing, you may want to check out these Caffeine free pre workout supplements.
Ok, so what about the other important factors that make or break a pre workout supplement?
Taste and Mixability
As we’ve seen above, the formula of Legion Pulse is first rate. With all these amino acids you would expect it to taste terrible, however I myself was pleasantly surprised. I also checked out some reviews on Amazon and other people seem to like the taste too. It mixes well, I just put it in a glass, add some water and swish it around. Occasionally I had to give it a quick stir but often it will dissolve on it’s own.
Value for Money
Ok, so 1 serve of Pulse is 2 scoops and they recommend starting with 1 scoop to assess your tolerance. Most products recommend starting with half serve to assess your tolerance and because I have used a lot of pre workout over the years I rarely do this. After looking at the ingredients of Pulse, I actually did start with one scoop. All I can say is wow. I feel like 1/2 a serve of Pulse is stronger than most of the other products I’ve tried. If you are an average person (say you weigh less than 200 pounds) then I think you will get double the amount of servings from one container of Pulse, which makes it fantastic value for money.
There are 2 desiccant packets (the moisture absorbing things) in a container of pulse which keep it smooth and powdery. I was wondering why it wasn’t clumping until I started getting to the bottom of the container and found another desiccant packet. Well done Legion!
There is no Creatine in the Pulse pre workout. I think this is a good thing for 2 reasons. Firstly, if you’re going to supplement Creatine then you will most likely take your creatine supplement separately anyway as you need more than the amount included in pre workout supplements. I’ve never seen one that has enough in it to be effective. Secondly, Legion reason that Creatine is more effective post workout anyway. If you are interested, this post has information on other Creatine free pre workout supplements.
To summarize this review of the Legion Athletics Pulse pre workout supplement I would say it is a high performance pre workout that offers great value for money. It is suitable for both the novice and advanced weight trainer alike. Unless you make your own, I doubt you will be able to find any other products that contain clinically effective doses of high quality ingredients like Pulse does. Go get some!