The Pain was Worth the Pleasure
Molecular Nutrition Original Formula X-Factor’s main ingredient is Arachidonic Acid (ArA).
ArA is polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It is found naturally in a human body’s cells and is most abundant in the brain, muscles and liver. Dietary examples containing ArA are eggs and red meat. ArA is a key inflammatory intermediate and can also act as a vasodilator. Through its conversion to active components such as the prostaglandin PGF2alpha, ArA is necessary for the repair and growth of skeletal muscle tissue.
I purchased 2 bottles of X-Factor from AllStarHealth.com for $48.39 per 100 count bottle for a total of $96.78. I dosed this product only on workout days at 6 caps (1.5g) per day on an empty stomach, 45-60 minutes pre-workout. Since I average 5 workouts a week, 200 caps of XF lasted me 34 workouts at just under 7 weeks. For me this worked out to $2.85 per workout. The manufacturer actually recommends 4 caps (1g) per day, so for comparison that would be 50 work outs at a cost of $1.94 per workout. While I can’t speak to the quality of the product, for a cheaper run of ArA you might want to check out X-gels.
I did quite a bit of research on maximizing ArA’s benefits before taking it and the best data I found was to take as follows:
45-60 minutes Pre-Workout on empty stomach:
Molecular Nutrition X-Factor 6 caps (1.5g ArA)
Controlled Labs Glycergrow 2-4 scoops – for enhanced ArA absorption
AI Sports Nutrition L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) 2g – 8g for reduced platelet aggression
Also to maximize ArA’s effects I eliminated anything that would negate my body’s natural inflammatory responses. This included Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil, flax oil, olive oil, NSAID, Glucosamine, MSM, Bromelain and so on.
As a side note: While I did not have this problem, some people report experiencing headaches with ArA and have gotten around it by adding 81mg of baby aspirin and also by splitting up their ArA dosage throughout the day. This does not count as an NSAID and will not negate the inflammatory process. If you get headaches easily, then I highly recommend listening to this advice.
While I felt great through my workouts from beginning to end, the weights in general just felt heavier. For example, my current max on bench press is 345x1 and each week I’d put 315 on the bar it just felt so heavy that I dared not even attempt a second rep, let alone add more weight. Starting X-Factor I performed 225x16 on bench and after 7 weeks on XF I could only perform 12 reps of 225. For Deadlifts I performed a 10 minute test. Max reps of 225. Starting week of XF I got 80. Final week of XF I got 84 and those extra 4 reps were a major major grind.
Starting weight – 209.0 lbs Final weight 214.6 lbs (+5.6 lbs)
Starting Body Fat - 15.1% Final Body Fat - 15.9% (+0.9%)
Starting Fat Mass – 31.6 lbs Final Fat Mass – 34.2 lbs (+2.6 lbs)
Starting Fat-free Mass – 177.4 lbs Final Fat-free Mass 180.4 (+3.0 lbs)
Starting Body Water – 129.8 lbs Final Body Water 132.0 lbs (+2.2 lbs)
So to summarize – Gained 5.6 lbs. of which 2.6 of it was fat, 2.2 was water and 0.8 was muscle.
--------DOMS and the “Swole Effect”----------
There is no doubt that DOMS was increased in a major way right off the bat. I should note that this pain is not intolerable in any way and honestly was quite welcome. In the days following a workout, I really felt the areas of each muscle that was previously pushed to its limits and beyond. This soreness gave the feeling of a prolonged pump. However, was this feeling merely the DOMS or was it an actual “Swole Effect”? To test this question I broke out the tape measure before my arm workout and measured a very cold, but hard flexed right bicep at 17.25 inches. Immediately following my arm workout I took another measurement and read 18.5 inches. The next morning, roughly 11 hours later, I measured a solid 17.5 inches. Later that day, the next morning and that evening I measured again a cold, but hard flexed right bicep flex at 17.375” (17 3/8”). So while the “swole effect” did decrease at the 24 hour mark, I still maintain an eighth inch increase 48+ hours later.
As the weeks went on I noticed that while I still was experiencing DOMS, I did not seem to feel the same swole effect. To test this out I conducted the same test as before during my 7th and final week on XF. Cold flexed right bicep 17 ½ inches. Hot flexed bicep 18 3/8 inches. 24 hours later 17 ½ inches.
This confirmed to me that the initial effects of XF had unfortunately diminished. On the positive side, my right bicep cold measurement did increase another eighth of an inch from 5 weeks earlier.
Besides the increase in DOMS I also experienced awesome workout pumps. I think I can honestly say they were the best I’ve ever experienced. It took a while to find the sweet spot, but once I increased my GMS, LCLT and water consumption pre-workout that when things really changed for the better.
Starting on my 6th week the DOMS really fell off and the joint pain came on strong for the remainder of this run. At this point I was really missing my Orange Triad, fish oil EPA/DHA and Super Cissuss. After sitting and lying down for even 30 minutes, once I got up my ankles and knees had me hobbling across the room. Fortunately the pain went away the more I walked around and it never did affect the quality of my workouts.
Molecular Nutrition makes some very bold claims to the benefits of ArA and X-Factor. They toss several studies around that speak extremely well of this supplement. The most ridiculous claim on their website refers to a 2006 university placebo controlled study where it was common for subjects to increase their bench press 1RM by 44%. WOW!!! Let’s see, my max bench is currently 345 lbs so add 44% and I am at an even 500 pound one rep max!!! Wouldn’t that be nice? I realize this is how you sell a product and won’t go on any further about it.
On the positive side I feel there is real value to this product. I can assume that since my bicep size increased that my other muscle groups followed suit. While I am not as vascular and defined as id like to be, I am happy with what I see in the mirror and at the end of the day I think this is what most people are truly after in a supplement.