By: MDRN Athlete
Quick SummaryPre-Workout's are a dime a dozen in a saturated market, mostly with products full of fillers so let us take a look at a pharmaceutical grade product.
IntroductionBig thank you to MDRN Athlete for sending this my way. I'm Just your average athlete who is trying to be the best they can be at fitness. Since I love PWO products and have tried many over the years, I have developed a basic criteria on how I grade each of them for their performance value. My workout style is a mix of Barbell complexes/Functional fitness/Olympic lifting, bro lifting (pump chaser) and sprinting/explosive speed workouts. for me, a successful PWO is one that can shine through all of my workouts (yes, it is a lot to ask for especially with cardio) so with that said, let us see how MDRN's product does.
Ingredient ProfileSo the profile on this is huge. Both Smashley and DMF have given thorough breakdowns of the ingredients list and there really is not much more I can add to both of their stellar reviews. With that being said I have chosen some ingredients to highlight for myself because I feel that they are important to talk about.
The first cluster of ingredients is dedicated to pump and blood flow.
They went with 6g of L-Citrulline and 1g of Agmatine which are both in the sweet spot range for these ingredients, as well as some other ingredients but for the sake of my review, I am only going to talk about these 2.
L-Citrulline is an amino acid. It is turned into L-arginine in the kidneys after supplementation, which means L-citrulline supplementation is a more effective method of increasing L-arginine levels in the body than L-arginine supplementation.
Second key player of the pump is Agmatine. Agmatine is the old school of pump inducing ingredients. Agmatine can also inhibit nitric oxide synthase enzymes, which allows it to regulate elevated levels of nitric oxide. It is also considered to be a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator because it is stored in the neurons while being available for use.
The second cluster of ingredients is geared towards focus.
I will be discussing Alpha-GPC, Dynamine, and TeaCrine.
Alpha-GPC is dosed at 300mg.
Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (Alpha-GPC or -GPC) is a cholinergic compound that is used for its cognitive-promoting properties, and to enhance power output in athletes. It appears to also support cellular membranes and may aid in preventing cognitive decline. Although found in a variety of food products that are also rich in choline, appears to be pharmacologically active at higher doses. The standard dosing range is 300mg-600mg.
Dynamine is methylliberine, a purine alkaloid found in the Kucha tea leaf. Its molecular structure is similar to theacrine (aka TeaCrine) and is believed to behave in similar ways in the body. Like theacrine, methylliberine may amplify feelings of energy, mood and focus by activating dopamine receptors and other key neurotransmitters, inhibiting adenosine receptors, all without elevating heart rate or blood pressure. This is still a relatively new ingredient so the dosing protocols have not been well established yet to show the best synergistic use.
Theacrine is an alkaloid structurally similar to caffeine, and preliminary evidence suggests that it activates similar signalling pathways. The preliminary evidence also suggests less tolerance with theacrine. Although the role is not fully elucidated, theacrine appears to be capable of causing adenosine signaling changes similar to caffeine and similar to the role on adenosine signaling, theacrine may influence dopaminergic signaling in the same manner caffeine does through adenosine signaling so basically the same mental triggering that caffeine does, without the harshness of caffeine.
Finally, on top of these ingredients, they include 300mg of Caffeine.
Again, this is not the full list of ingredients for the product, just the ones I chose to talk about because I feel like they are the "big hitters" of the product.
Taste/Mixability/DosingAfter seeing the other review I will say I was lucky enough to receive the cotton candy flavored version of this. At first, I was not thrilled to try it because I never liked cotton candy as a kid, but I thought hey....this is why we review things so if it tastes bad you can talk about it.
So honestly, it tastes better than I thought. It's not great, but it is not bad. The flavor is hard to describe because I would say its a very mild cotton candy flavor, but they tried. There is a bitter note at the end, and it's directly due to the Agmatine. If anyone has ever tried that ingredient by itself, then you know what I am talking about.
Mixability was easy with 10oz of water in a shaker cup. Just give it a good shake before you throw it down and there are no problems.
Dosing is 1 scoop which is at 16g which is fairly large for a Pre.
EffectivenessSo here is where a product like this would shine. It is built by a pharmacist, every ingredient was carefully chosen to deliver the best effect, and most ingredients were dosed at clinically proven amounts. The only problem is, the product didn't shine. It was probably one of the most inconsistent products I have used in a long time. The only thing I would really notice from this was a pump, but at the same time, I still had to work for it with heavy volume training and repeated drop sets. The focus section of this product was essentially non-existent. I would find myself struggling to keep a strong mental focus on what I was trying to do, in fact, it was more like I had ADHD in the gym rather than being locked in on destroying my workout.
Eluding to this being inconsistent, there were days that it felt like I had not taken anything prior to working out, and all the weights felt heavier and running felt more laborious. Then there were other days where it felt like I hooked a car battery up to my downstairs mix-up and was balancing myself between being awesome in the gym and having a full-blown stroke. I tried taking this with a meal of simple carbs, I tried taking this 30 minutes prior to eating and working out, I tried taking it on an empty stomach, and I tried taking this completely fasted. Every different version generated different results, without showing signs of consistency.
Additionally, as others have noted, there was some tightness in my chest and moments of feeling lucid which were not enjoyable, and sometimes it was strong enough to the point where I just said the hell with it and left my workout.
ValueSo the value is a changing thing. It sells for $43 on MDRN's website but they were generous enough to create a 20% off SR code which drops the price down to $34.40 and for 20 servings that is $1.72 per serving. This is a premium price for a pre-workout, especially one that has shown these inconsistencies.
Side EffectsI have already talked about the side effects but in case you missed it the product is inconsistent on how effective it is, can cause a tightness feeling in your chest, feeling lucid, and reverse effect on focus.
ConclusionI'm staying away from this. I will not buy it again due to the issues that I had with it. I know they tried with the ingredients and tried to put together a clear labeled product that was dosed appropriately, but it just didn't happen. I will gladly stick to my less pharma-backed Pre-Workouts like Total War, El Jefe, and Pathogen. The positive aspect of products like these is it is different for everyone, so while this was not my cup of tea, it might work for someone else, however it does not get an approval from me.