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Cray

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REVIEWS (148)

Reviews by Cray



Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Triple CS Supplements for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  December 4, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Decent Value
  • Low Dosages
  • Indigestion
  • Prop Blends

Quick Summary

An under-dosed but decently priced multi. Doesn't compete with top-notch daily multis, but the potential is there.

Introduction

I'm a believer in consistently taking a daily multivitamin in order to ensure I'm meeting core nutritional needs. I usually stick to a basic, one-pill multi with a relatively simple ingredient profile (ON's Opti-Men is my go-to). I want to note that I view multi-vitamins the same way I view protein - as a mandatory dietary staple; not a product I expect will take me to the next level. Thus it makes this particular category rather dif...

Quick Summary

An under-dosed but decently priced multi. Doesn't compete with top-notch daily multis, but the potential is there.

Introduction

I'm a believer in consistently taking a daily multivitamin in order to ensure I'm meeting core nutritional needs. I usually stick to a basic, one-pill multi with a relatively simple ingredient profile (ON's Opti-Men is my go-to). I want to note that I view multi-vitamins the same way I view protein - as a mandatory dietary staple; not a product I expect will take me to the next level. Thus it makes this particular category rather difficult to review.

Thanks to Triple CS for allowing me to run their men's multi and my apologies for the delay in posting this review.

Ingredient Profile

Triple CS Men's Multi (which I will refer to as CS in this review) has a simple ingredient profile, especially compared to some of the more aggressive "paks" on the market. This is not uncommon for one-a-day pills but even though the profile is simple, it's under-dosed compared to like-products.

Here's the deal. Pills are not a good delivery method of vitamins. They don't trigger digestion and thus aren't absorbed as efficiently (which is why it's always recommended to take vitamins with meals). To compensate for this most multis contain a dose of core ingredients that greatly exceeds the daily recommended dosage. Additionally, the recommended daily dosage doesn't account for factors such as body mass and metabolism. All said and done you want a multi with an aggressive vitamin profile that includes high doses of vital, water-soluble vitamins.

Let's compare CS to FLEX Nutrition's Mega Multi, another vitamin I recently reviewed and found to be competitively priced, well-dosed, and all-around simple. CS loses or ties on nearly every ingredient when compared to FLEX, sometimes significantly so. Sure, the daily percentages are decent, but reference the previous paragraph. Would you rather take in 10,000 IU of Vitamin A or 4,000? 1,000mg of B6 of 7.5mg? 50 IU of Vitamin E or 30? You get the point.

Overall the profile of this multi, while not poor in its structure, does not have as high a dose of most critical nutrients and vitamins compared to similar products.

Also included in CS are small prop blends titled Male Support, Immune Blend, and Antioxident Fruit and Energy Blend. Given these are prop blends there is no way to adequately examine dosage, however a surface examination suggests to me they are under-dosed. Case in point, Echinacea is the primary ingredient in the Immune Blend, which in total is 110mg per dose. Echinacea, a common herb for immune support, carries a recommended daily dose of 300mg.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

Two easy to swallow caps that I usually took daily with my evening meal. See side effects.

Effectiveness

As stated, it's difficult to gauge a vitamin's effectiveness. Did I notice a significant difference taking CS compared to Opti-Men or another multi? Not really, which is more a point in favor of CS than anything else given its weaker profile. Unfortunately I did feel ill for about a week or so while running this product, and it was clear my body was having to work to fight something off. I'm not going to point the finger at CS here and say this is because the multi's profile is not as complete it still provided me more general health support than I would have received running nothing at all. But I almost never get ill when taking a multi-vitamin consistently.

Value

The industry norm for a men's multi is roughly .50c per dose, with the more aggressive "packs" running closer to $1.00 per day. CS is available on the manufacturer's website at $17.95 for 30 days, which equates to a competitive .60c per serving. This is a decent price point, and it should be given the simply profile, but I would still argue it's not exactly a good value. I always use ON's Opti-Men as my gold standard here. Not only is the profile of that product far more complete, but a big bottle will cost you .46c per day.

Side Effects

This multi-vitamin gave me the worst powder burps and indigestion I've ever received from such a product. For hours after dosing I'd find myself gassy and constantly belching. Not to mention the burps had that awful herbal vitamin taste. Very unpleasant.

Conclusion

This is a mediocre multi that needs adjustment. While not poorly structured, the dosing doesn't match up to competitor products. And while the pricing is solid, there's still better value to be found for your money. Not to mention the negative side effects I experienced. I'm a hard sell on multi-vitamins and unfortunately CS doesn't make the cut just yet.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Myokem for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  November 1, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Improved Libido
  • Robust Profile
  • Improved Sexual Performance
  • High Dose Of Acacetin
  • Some Muscle Fullness
  • Perceivable Estrogen Control
  • Expensive
  • No Noticeable Cortisol Control

Quick Summary

Solid overall. Wasn't as potent for me as others, but still a good option. More expensive.

Introduction

I've recently come to really appreciate the impact of a solid AI on my everyday physique and maintenance goals. I've run all three of VMI's "arimi" products and had very positive experiences with two of those supplements. Having not run any of Myokem's product line before, and being intrigued by the profile of Alphadex (specifically the amount of Acacetin), I decided to grab a bottle.

And sorry for the title. I couldn't stop myself.

----Ingredient Profil...

Quick Summary

Solid overall. Wasn't as potent for me as others, but still a good option. More expensive.

Introduction

I've recently come to really appreciate the impact of a solid AI on my everyday physique and maintenance goals. I've run all three of VMI's "arimi" products and had very positive experiences with two of those supplements. Having not run any of Myokem's product line before, and being intrigued by the profile of Alphadex (specifically the amount of Acacetin), I decided to grab a bottle.

And sorry for the title. I couldn't stop myself.

Ingredient Profile

Alphadex's profile is fairly complex but not overly so. There are four primary ingredients (plus Bioperine for absorption) with purported properties related to estrogen inhibition, hormonal balance, and increased testosterone production. The struggle I have with evaluating these ingredients and their dosages is the lack of reliable research, but I did my best below.

Safflower Seed Extract is mostly touted for its blood and heart-support properties e.g. preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease, widening blood vessels, and so on. It's an unusual ingredient for this type of product IMO. In his review of Alphadex, bctuhill posited that this extract was likely included to combat the drying-out effect of Acacetin. That could be the case.

Next up is BGE (I'm not spelling that out); a compound related to the Brassica family of vegetables which are touted for their anti-estrogen properties. Very common for an AI, though research suggests oral bioavailability of these compounds is poor. VMI's Arima-XD is primarily built around Brassica-related ingredients.

What I really love to see in an AI is Acacetin, a known AI that binds to androgens to prevent estrogen conversion, while also inhibiting rises in cortisol levels. I had a fantastic experience with a product that included 100mg of Acacetin per dose and you get DOUBLE that in a daily dose of Alphadex. To me this is the cornerstone of the ingredient profile.

Finally there's Mangosteen extract; a supplement that was foreign to me initially. Mangosteen has properties that claim to stimulate the immune system and improve mental health, but research is minimal and unreliable.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

Dosing of Alphadex was honestly somewhat difficult for me. I practice Intermittent Fasting yet the instructions on the bottle said to take two caps daily, with food, one in the AM and one in the PM. Thus I usually tried to remember to bring a cap with me to work to dose at lunch and would take my second cap five hours later with dinner. A small inconvenience, but I did sometimes forget to grab my lunch dose which meant I was taking two caps at dinner. Not sure if that had an impact on my results.

Very easy to swallow caps with no aftertaste, indigestion, or other side effects.

Effectiveness

If you read my Arimidrol review, you'll note I raved about the product's libido boosting and cortisol control properties, thus I had the bar set pretty high for Alphadex given the 200mg dosing of Acacetin. While that mark was not missed, I think my expectations were too lofty. I was reasoning the increased dose of Acacetin would hit me twice as fast and would have a stronger effect overall, however that was not the case. As I experienced with Arimidrol it really wasn't until week three when the product started to take effect, with those effects strengthening until the end of the bottle. I experienced a small but noticeable increase in muscle hardness and density, as well the usual spike in libido, drive, and all things related to sexual performance (again, Acacetin really works from me on this front). Overall I can't say I noticed a difference between Alphadex and its 200mg of Acacetin per day and Arimidrol's 100mg daily dose.

I did not experience the same level of cortisol control as I have with other AIs. Can't pinpoint the exact reason here. Could be my dosing protocol, could be diet, could be a host of factors. I certainly didn't gain weight, but I didn't lean out and feel as "tight" as I normally do when running an AI.

Value

A 28 day bottle of Alphadex can be purchased for around $45. This is really the only gripe I have with the product. At a per dose cost of $1.60, you are paying more for Alphadex than you are for other AIs. Granted it is difficult to gauge the price of AI's considering ingredient profiles are rather unique and really no two of this category of supplement is identical. As I've stated several times, Alphadex packs a higher dose of Acacatin than other supplements, however as you've read this did not result in improved effectiveness for me. Certainly could prove beneficial for a larger person, or someone who does not respond as strongly to a lower dose.

From past research I've done I can tell you it is standard to find good AI's at a price point of roughly $1 a day. So while Alphadex is on the higher end of the price scale, certain users may find it more effective and worth the money.

Side Effects

I had no joint dryness while on this product.

Conclusion

Overall I enjoyed my experience with Alphadex and would recommend it as a viable, safe, well-dosed estrogen blocker. While not the most cost-effective option, it's still worth considering and a good stack option as part of a PCT. A solid product.



Overall
Overall
8.2
Effectiveness
Effectiveness
8.3
Value
Value
8.0
Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Flexx Sports Nutrition for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  October 24, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Good Value
  • Great Pump
  • Fully Disclosed Profile
  • Effective
  • Clean Energy
  • Clumping

Quick Summary

Pumping you up and energizing you at a good price.

Introduction

After some poor experiences with stim-heavy pre-workouts, I've been sticking to lower-stim products with fully disclosed profiles. I enjoyed Rexx Sports' AminoAide, especially the patented glycerol HydroMax which is included in that product. Driven 2.0 also includes HydroMax and had an overall solid profile, so I opted in for a tub.

FYI I'm 34, a father of two, desk job, try to work out 4x a week. General goal to maintain my physique and exercise enough to excuse my whiskey-drinking habits.

-...

Quick Summary

Pumping you up and energizing you at a good price.

Introduction

After some poor experiences with stim-heavy pre-workouts, I've been sticking to lower-stim products with fully disclosed profiles. I enjoyed Rexx Sports' AminoAide, especially the patented glycerol HydroMax which is included in that product. Driven 2.0 also includes HydroMax and had an overall solid profile, so I opted in for a tub.

FYI I'm 34, a father of two, desk job, try to work out 4x a week. General goal to maintain my physique and exercise enough to excuse my whiskey-drinking habits.

Ingredient Profile

Driven 2.0 is a solid, well-rounded product. While the profile isn't particularly unique it does pack into each scoop a solid dose of the major pre-workout players e.g. Beta Alanine and Betaine, good hydration support with over 100mg of Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride, and a decent hit of stims primarily via 300mg of Caffeine. But the most impressive aspect of this product is its "pump" ingredients as each scoop includes a full 2mg of HydroMax, 1.5mg L-Citrulline, and 1g Agmatine Sulfate.

Most of the ingredients are dosed in an appropriate range. Some are a little light e.g. Agmatine which I like to see closer to 1.5mg per dose, but overall the profile is very complete. My only grip is the inclusion of Creatine Mono. It's just not needed. If I want to supplement Creatine, I'm going to do so separately.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

I received the Pink Lemonade flavor which pretty good. Very sharp and tangy, but I like those types of flavors. Did sometimes agitate the back of my throat given it is so tart, but nothing unusual.

Wow. The CLUMPS. It's extreme with this product. Having had this exact same issue with AminoAide, I think it's safe to say this is a side effect of the inclusion of Hydromax. The powder clumps up solidly in the tub and will need to be regularly broken apart using a fork. You'll have to focus on pushing the powder into the full space of the scooper manually. Yes, it's a pain, but as the tub itself states: "clumps = pumps".

Once the product actually hits water it dissolves relatively easily. I sometimes had a little residue in the bottom of my shaker bottle, but no further clumping or foaming. For dosing, I generally sipped down one scoop in 12oz. water on my way to the gym; roughly 20-30 minutes preworkout.

Effectiveness

Driven hits all the preworkout bases, but is particularly effective in producing a quality pump. I'm not really a pump-chaser btw. I enjoy it, but am primarily focused on the energy provided by a preworkout product. That said I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this aspect of Driven. Within about three sets I'd look and feel noticeably tighter and more swole. I'd get deep aches working certain muscle groups, particularly triceps, which felt fantastic and like I was really crushing the muscle. This was definitely one of the best pump-inducing preworkouts I've tried recently.

The energy from Driven was also on point. I find 300mg of caffeine to be my typical sweet-spot, and Driven hit that mark right on. No crash or jitters or any of the negative side effects I sometimes experience from stim-heavy products. I also found Driven's hydration support to be beneficial. In addition to getting me up and ready to lift, my stamina was on point. I'm always running an intra-workout BCAA product, so I am not stating that Driven was the sole purpose behind my improved stamina, but I do think it played a role.

Maybe the only slight downside to Driven is in the "focus" category. Not saying this product performs poorly on this front - it doesn't. But it's not as strong here as it is in the other two categories or in comparison to some competitors. I did not find myself experiencing those "tunnel vision" or hyper-focused workouts. Again, not really a con for me, just felt it worth mentioning.

Value

The industry average for preworkouts, from my research, is right around $1.00 per serving. If you want to go for a product that touts high quality, clinically dosed ingredients (Outlift for example) you can expect to pay upwards of $1.50 per scoop.

Currently the best price I can find for Driven is on Amazon at $23 for 25 scoops / .92c per serving. Since this is a solid, one-scoop preworkout that, as stated, is effective on multiple fronts, I find this to be a very competitive and fair price point.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

Rexx Sports has a solid, well-performing, versatile, effectively dosed, competitively priced product in Driven 2.0. Absolutely a preworkout I would recommend to lifters of all ages and experiences, and certainly worth a look if you're wanting an all-in-one product with a relatively simple stimulant profile.



Overall
Overall
8.4
Effectiveness
Effectiveness
8.2
Value
Value
8.5
Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Redcon1 for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  October 4, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Improves Recovery
  • Good Value
  • Hydration Support
  • Amazing Taste
  • Decreased DOMS
  • Average BCAA Dosage

Quick Summary

A quality BCAA with a robust support profile at an excellent price point. Can't go wrong this option.

Introduction

As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I prefer simpler BCAA products that are not prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Breach checked all those boxes and already had some really positive reviews, so I opted in for a tub.

----Ingre...

Quick Summary

A quality BCAA with a robust support profile at an excellent price point. Can't go wrong this option.

Introduction

As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I prefer simpler BCAA products that are not prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Breach checked all those boxes and already had some really positive reviews, so I opted in for a tub.

Ingredient Profile

For most of my BCAA supplements, I am primarily concerned with the actual dosing of BCAAs. 5g of essential BCAAs per serving has been clinically proven to be the minimum effective dose for an average-sized human. Breach includes that standard 5g at a 2:1:1 ratio. I personally don't have a preference when it comes to BCAA ratio, so long as the profile includes at least 1g each of isoleucine and valine. I'm happy with 5g, but I wouldn't mind a slightly higher dose. VMI's Aminogex is a very similar product and includes 7g per scoop.

Breach also includes a solid dose of the electrolytes potassium and sodium, as well as 1g each of Taurine and Coconut Water Powder. A good, disclosed profile that's not too flashy but effectively hits all the targets.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

I requested and received the Tiger Blood flavor, which I very much enjoyed. It tasted like a mix of coconut with a tropical citrus punch. Very different from anything else I've ever tried, but delicious none the less.

I generally dosed one scoop per day in 32 oz. ice water and sipped either preworkout or throughout the morning. Mixability was not a problem. No clumping or foaming at all.

Effectiveness

I personally can't tell the difference between most BCAA products. I do notice a difference in my general recovery and the amount of DOMS I experience when I'm taking a BCAA versus when I'm not, but not usually between individual supplements. I'd rate Breach as slightly above average compared to with most other intraworkout products I've reviewed recently as it provided solid recovery, good intra-workout support, and decreased DOMS.

I will say the hydration support in this product noticeably battled fatigue and kept me going strong well into my workouts, while also making sure I wasn't too beat up the following day. I've had a nice run of quality BCAA products that have kept my DOMS low despite me getting into the gym 4-5 times a week, and Breach kept that streak alive.

Value

Most solid BCAA supplements will cost you around .80c per serving. Some of the flashier products with broader ingredient profiles will run you closer to $1.00 per scoop.

The price of Breach is all over the place, but I'll Pump You Up currently has it for just under $20. That's a steal! At only .66c per serving, Breach is one of the more affordable products I've seen on the market lately. Combined with the fact you're getting a solid, well-dosed product that tastes great means this product earns a high Value rating from me.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

Breach was my first experience with RedCon1 as a brand, and I was absolutely impressed. I look forward to trying more of their products and would absolutely recommend Breach as a quality intra-workout BCAA supplement.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Universal for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  September 20, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Good Ingredient Profile
  • High Dose Of Core Vitamins
  • Strong Organ Support
  • Robust Profile
  • Strong Digestive Support
  • Versatile
  • Some Ingredients Underdosed
  • IF YOU A Female Dog AND WHINE ABOUT PILLS NOT FOR YOU

Quick Summary

You know what it is. This is the best vitamin product. Back up.

Introduction

Ah yes. THE PAK. The quintessential kitchen-sink multi-vitamin for active lifters. If you haven't tried Animal Pak, do you even lift bruh?

I'm a believer in consistently taking a daily multivitamin in order to ensure you're meeting core nutritional needs. I usually stick to a basic, one-pill multi with a relatively simple ingredient profile; ON's Opti-Men is a good example. However I've run Animal Pak before - both the new powder formula and the older version of the paks - thus I ju...

Quick Summary

You know what it is. This is the best vitamin product. Back up.

Introduction

Ah yes. THE PAK. The quintessential kitchen-sink multi-vitamin for active lifters. If you haven't tried Animal Pak, do you even lift bruh?

I'm a believer in consistently taking a daily multivitamin in order to ensure you're meeting core nutritional needs. I usually stick to a basic, one-pill multi with a relatively simple ingredient profile; ON's Opti-Men is a good example. However I've run Animal Pak before - both the new powder formula and the older version of the paks - thus I jumped on the chance to try the newer formulation of the pill paks.

One final introductory note: I view multi-vitamins the same way I view protein - as a mandatory dietary staple; not a product I expect will take me to the next level.

Ingredient Profile

Animal Pak is absolutely effing loaded and is slightly different from its powdered brother. There are five major complexes: Vitamin, Amino Acid, Performance, Anti-Oxidant, and Digestive Enzyme. While the powder includes a Uni-Pro Blend in the Performance Complex (a prop blend of protein and organ support ingredients), the pill paks include a fully disclosed profile of liver and organ support that is higher dosed and more robust than the powder, but lacks the inclusion of whey protein. A small difference, but notable. I personally prefer the profile of the pill paks here. Say that five times fast.

The only other change between the pill paks and the powder seems to be in the Amino Acid Complex. There are marginal differences in each of these ingredients between these two versions, but overall I think the pill version comes out slightly ahead.

I could write a doctoral thesis on the profile of Pak and how it compares to other products, which ingredients are appropriately dosed, which aren't, and so on. I'll try to do a quick hitter here:

Aside from the Vitamin complex, the other four profiles are basically unmatched by any competitor multi-vitamin. They are insanely robust. Even Vital 4U and its 14 different pills don't hold a candle to Pak on these four platforms. That said, Vital 4U has generally higher dosages of core vitamins and minerals i.e. vitamins A and C, and more ingredients that support the immune system and mental clarity. Even so, when looking at the Vitamin complex in a silo (which I feel is the most important of the five) it takes a product like Vital 4U stack up against the Pak. Your basic one-a-days aren't going to come close.

That's not to say the Pak is flawless. I think some of the profiles are a bit gratuitous. Most of the ingredients in the Amino Acid complex are under dosed, some drastically so. Tyrosine, for example, has a recommended daily dose of 500-1000mg daily. You get 164mg from 2 Paks. Now, I understand the intent here is to support reaching daily values, not to provide the full daily dose, but does 20% of your daily dose of something like Tyrosine really make a difference?

Regardless, as was the case with Animal Pak Powder, it's the Vitamin and Enzyme complexes that are the MVPs for me.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

Each pak is 11 hard-packed pills that range from small to relatively large. I'll admit, even for someone like me who generally has no issues with pills, this is still a LOT of swallowing (zing). It took me around 10 oz. of water to get down all of these pills, and I was generally dosing only one pak daily with dinner. No issues with odor or powder burps it's just a lot of pills.

If you struggle with pills - go get the powder.

Effectiveness

It's rather difficult to gauge a vitamin's effectiveness, but I knew I was taking the Pak. I absolutely felt a stronger sense of general health and wellness. Admittedly this feeling could be totally psychosomatic, but I did not get sick or have any sort of health issues while running this product. Both my kids came down with a small bug during the month I was running Animal Pak, and as usual I skated through unscathed. I haven't been sick in about a year, and when I ran the Animal Pak Powder I avoided the flu despite my entire family and half my office coming down with it. I have to think that's a testament to the effectiveness of this brand and this product.

One other note on effectiveness - the Pak doesn't fully replace a proper Digestive Enzyme. I didn't have quite the regularity that I do when I'm running that type of supplement, but I did notice a significant difference in my movements, even more so than I experienced while running the powder version (which is interesting given the digestive enzyme profile is identical). Again, although it may not fully cover a certain health aspect, the Pak assists and supports across the board.

Value

The industry norm for a men's multi is roughly .50c per dose, with the more aggressive products running closer to $1.00 per day. The Pak falls in this range. At $29 for 44 paks and a recommended dosage of 2 paks daily for active individuals, you're looking at a price point of $1.32 per serving. Pretty pricey. That said, I saw solid effectiveness from running 1 pak per day and I honestly think smaller individuals or those already running a robust stack with a true digestive enzyme and amino acid supplement would do just fine with a single pak daily.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

My recommendation of Animal Pak varies depending on the person. It is a solid, EXTREMELY well-rounded multi that I think can be used in a variety of fashions and can be relatively affordable depending on your wallet and how you dose the product. Am I buying this year round? No. But when I need as much health support as possible, this is where I am turning. Animal Pak is the king.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to VMI Sports for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  September 10, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Quality Brand
  • Not Effective
  • VMI Has Better AIs

Quick Summary

The weakest of VMI's three AI products I've run.

Introduction

I gave VMI's original Arimistane high marks - a 7.7 overall - and I had an even more positive experience with their reformulated Arimidrol, to which I gave an 8.6 overall score. So of course, when I had the opportunity to run yet another AI/estrogen blocker by VMI, I absolutely went for it. I don't play around much anymore with hormonal supplements but I've become a big fan of AIs and have responded well to most products in this category.

Ingredient Profile

Arima-XD's profile is more compl...

Quick Summary

The weakest of VMI's three AI products I've run.

Introduction

I gave VMI's original Arimistane high marks - a 7.7 overall - and I had an even more positive experience with their reformulated Arimidrol, to which I gave an 8.6 overall score. So of course, when I had the opportunity to run yet another AI/estrogen blocker by VMI, I absolutely went for it. I don't play around much anymore with hormonal supplements but I've become a big fan of AIs and have responded well to most products in this category.

Ingredient Profile

Arima-XD's profile is more complex than its brothers and contains a suite of four core ingredients with purported properties related to estrogen inhibition, hormonal balance, and increased testosterone production. The struggle I have with evaluating these ingredients and their dosages is the lack of reliable research. Also, some of the ingredients didn't make sense to me as to why they were included in this type of product.

Let me elaborate. Calcium-D-Glucarate works by assisting the kidneys in facilitating the removal of glucuronidated toxins and hormones from the body. ALL steroid hormones, including estrogen, DHEA, and testosterone, are glucuronidated, meaning Calcium-D-Glucarate shouldn't have a net positive effect with respect to aromatase inhibition. Hoping someone smarter than me can clarify how this ingredient is supposed to function in this supplement.

As for the rest of the profile, the inclusion of I-3-C and DIM make sense. These compounds are related to the Brassica family of vegetables which are touted for their anti-estrogen properties. Chrysin however, was another head-scratching ingredient for me. While Chrysin is known for being a test-boosting plant compound, its bioavailability is extremely poor, with dosages of up to 3,000mg having been proven as being ineffective. Seemed like a waste to include it in Arima-XD.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

I took my two pills in the AM roughly 30 minutes pre-workout on lifting days. Even on non-workout days, I still dosed the caps in the AM in order to maintain a consistent dose routine. Very easy to swallow caps with no aftertaste, indigestion, or other side effects.

Effectiveness

If you read my Arimidrol review, you'll note I raved about the product's libido boosting and cortisol control properties, thus I had the bar set pretty high for Arima-XD. Unfortunately that mark was missed completely. I experienced none of the same improvements to sexual performance, libido, drive, etc. Nor did I get any of the drying out/leanness or weight loss effects. I actually gained a few pounds while running Arima-XD, and am now coming in around 210 lbs. whereas before I was consistently at 205 lbs.

I am not blaming Arima-XD here or saying it caused negative effects, only that I really didn't experience anything at all, and certainly nothing near what I experienced while on Arimidrol. This basically sums up my experience with this product - I didn't feel like I was running any sort of AI supplement throughout the entire bottle.

Value

A 30 day bottle of Arimidrol can be purchased for between $25 and $30 depending on the seller. Arima-XD is in the same ballpark with the cheapest I could find being $24 on AllStarHealth. Hard to gauge this price against competitor products considering ingredient profiles are rather unique and really no two of this category of supplement is identical. From past research I've done I can tell you it's fairly standard to find good AI's at a price point of roughly $1 a day.

Side Effects

I had no joint dryness while on this product.

Conclusion

I was rather disappointed with my run of Arima-XD, especially considering my track record with other VMI AI supplements. This was far and away the worst of their trio of AI's that I tried, however I am keeping in mind my past experiences, as well as the fact that no two people respond in identical fashions to the same product. I know for a fact that VMI puts out quality estrogen blockers and, though I would be quick to refer people to Arimidrol over Arima-XD, it's clear my experiences are in the minority based on other reviews. VMI remains my go-to for a quality AI, thus I would say Arima-XD is worth considering (but seriously just go get Arimidrol).


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to HD Labs Nutrition for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  August 28, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Reduced DOMs
  • Endurance Support
  • Hydration Support
  • Fully Disclosed Profile
  • Too Expensive
  • Not Widely Available

Quick Summary

A well-rounded BCAA with added caffeine, but the price may scare some away. Price is the only reason this isn't a full green light recommend for me.

Introduction

As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I also tend to prefer simpler BCAA products that don't contain prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Sustain hits all of these marks, so I decided to...

Quick Summary

A well-rounded BCAA with added caffeine, but the price may scare some away. Price is the only reason this isn't a full green light recommend for me.

Introduction

As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I also tend to prefer simpler BCAA products that don't contain prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Sustain hits all of these marks, so I decided to give it a run.

Ingredient Profile

For most of my BCAA supplements, I am primarily concerned with the actual dosing of BCAAs. 5g of essential BCAAs per serving has been clinically proven to be the minimum effective dose for an average-sized human. As do most intra-workout products, Sustain includes 5g of BCAAs at a 2:1:1 ratio. Nothing flashy here, but on point and meets the appropriate standard.

Sustain also includes hydration-focused minerals e.g. potassium and sodium at solid doses. I like to see ~150mg+ of each of these individual supplements in an intra-workout, and Sustain is packing 210mg of Potassium and 190mg of Chloride. Good stuff.

The rest of the profile is a mixed bag. I like the inclusion of Choline for cognitive support, but the dosage is low. The classics B6 and B12 are also here; both with solid doses. And finally we have 117mg of caffeine which might be an appealing addition to some users. Personally I didn't notice caffeine was included in Sustain until the product had already arrived and I generally prefer my intra-workouts not contain any additional stimulants as I'm always running some sort of preworkout plus I'm a big morning coffee person. But 117mg was a small enough dose to not cause me any concerns. Could be a nice bonus if someone wants a BCAA product for mid-day and needs that extra boost. I personally did not use the product in this fashion.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

I received the Crackberry Lemonade flavor, which I enjoyed. It's nice and tart with a good berry-lemonade flavor. Very drinkable in 32 oz. water. No issues with clumping or excessive foaming, however I did notice my bottle would sometimes have a peculiar odor after I'd finished the serving.

I generally dosed one scoop per day in 32 oz. ice water and sipped either preworkout or throughout the morning.

Effectiveness

I personally can't tell the difference between most BCAA products. I do notice a difference in my general recovery and the amount of DOMS I experience when I'm taking a BCAA versus when I'm not, but not usually between individual supplements. Same can be said for hydration support. I definitely notice the lag and the fatigue set in earlier when I'm running a product that lacks those minerals and electrolytes.

Sustain was right on par with most other intraworkout products I've reviewed recently: solid recovery, good intra-workout support, and decreased DOMS. I personally didn't notice the kick from the caffeine, but I could tell the hydration support and additional vitamins and minerals were helping battle fatigue. I've had a nice run of some strong BCAA products that have kept my DOMS low despite me getting into the gym 4-5 times a week, and Sustain kept that streak alive.

Value

Most solid BCAA supplements will cost you around .80c per serving. Some of the flashier products with broader ingredient profiles will run you closer to $1.00 per scoop.

Unfortunately the price of Sustain is not very competitive. I'm hypothesizing this is because HD is a relatively new company and its products are not widely distributed. Hopefully, with time, this will change, as right now Sustain is only available on HD's website at $35 for 30 scoops. While not insanely overpriced, that's still a steep $1.16 per scoop, and there're simply too many awesome BCAA products with extremely similar profiles for significantly less money to make this a competitive price. VMI's Aminogex is an example. Aminogex has a similar mineral profile and 7g BCAAs for .76c per scoop. If you're on a budget like me, saving $10 on a tub of intra-workout does matter and will sway my buying decision.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my experience with Sustain. I personally didn't experiment with multiple servings per day and don't feel that needs to be done for this product to be effective. The profile is on par with many other BCAA supplements, and the inclusion of a small dose of caffeine could make this product stand-out for some people. Bring the price down to around .80c a scoop and I'm on board. If you've got some cash to spend and don't mind dropping a few extra dollars for a new product, I'd say Sustain is worth a look.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to HD Labs Nutrition for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  August 21, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Clean Energy
  • Fully Disclosed Profile
  • Too Expensive
  • Not Widely Available
  • Underdosed Ingredients

Quick Summary

Not a bad experience for me, but under-dosed in most supportive capacities and far too expensive.

Introduction

After some poor experiences with stim-heavy pre-workouts, I've been sticking to lower-stim products with fully disclosed profiles. I'd no experience with HD Labs Nutrition before and thus decided to grab Calibrate, which met the aforementioned criteria, when it became available to the Troopers.

Ingredient Profile

Thus far all the reviews of Calibrate are in consensus - most of the ingredient profile is significantly under-dosed at one scoop....

Quick Summary

Not a bad experience for me, but under-dosed in most supportive capacities and far too expensive.

Introduction

After some poor experiences with stim-heavy pre-workouts, I've been sticking to lower-stim products with fully disclosed profiles. I'd no experience with HD Labs Nutrition before and thus decided to grab Calibrate, which met the aforementioned criteria, when it became available to the Troopers.

Ingredient Profile

Thus far all the reviews of Calibrate are in consensus - most of the ingredient profile is significantly under-dosed at one scoop. The actual profile isn't bad; it's comprised of most of the usual players for improved energy, endurance, and vasodilation it's just lacking across the board. A few examples:
Beta-Alanine - recommended dose of 2-5g - Calibrate serves up 1.6g per scoop
L-Citrulline Malate - recommended dose 6-8g for sports performance - Calibrate serves up 500mg per scoop
Citicoline - standard therapeutic dose 500mg-2g daily - Calibrate contains a measly 12.5mg per scoop

Truly, the one bright spot for me was the stim profile, which is the reason I grabbed this product in the first place. At a somewhat low ~225mg of two types of caffeine per scoop and lacking any other ancillary stimulants, I figured Calibrate would provide just the right amount of clean, sustained energy for a 30 minute lifting session

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

I received the Raspberry Punch flavor which I very much enjoyed. A good, balanced red raspberry flavor that wasn't overly sweet or tart, and didn't have a lingering aftertaste.

No issues at all with clumping or foaming. One scoop dissolves quickly and easily in 12 oz. ice water. I drank down each dose about 20 minutes pre-workout on my way to the gym

Effectiveness

All in all I had a decent experience with Calibrate despite the under-dosed profile.

The stimulants worked well for me and were exactly what I expected in terms of effectiveness. I noticed the boost in energy pretty swiftly after each dose and had no issues with cold sweats, jitters, or anything along those lines. A good kick that lasted me through most of my workout, and I felt comfortable grabbing my usual large iced coffee afterward. Certainly not as powerful as other products, but that was not what I was after. Also worth noting that I lift for maintenance and my workouts are just not that intense. I'm a father of two - I'm not looking to compete and get hooooooge. I'm fighting the dad bod with conservative workouts that minimize injury risk.

I did still feel the Beta Alanine tingles slightly, despite the fact the dose is just below the recommended threshold of 2g. No noticeable differences in strength as a direct result of this product, however my workouts are hypertrophy focused and if you've read any of my recent past pre-workout reviews, you'll note I generally am not looking for a product to provide strength increases. Same deal for endurance, though I'm always running an intra-workout BCAA that usually contains electrolytes for this exact type of support.

Value

The industry average for preworkouts, from my research, is right around $1.00 per serving. If you want to go for a product that touts high quality, clinically dosed ingredients (Outlift for example) you can expect to pay closer to $1.50 per scoop.

Calibrate is only available on the vendor's own website at a STEEP price of $50 for 32 scoops / $1.56 per serving. Unfortunately this is really where Calibrate lands in the "would not recommend" category for me. There's too many basic products out there with similar stim profiles that can be purchased for FAR cheaper. And the rest of the profile is just too under-dosed to warrant this price point, especially considering most hardcore pre-workout junkies are going to want to double-scoop this supplement. No, unfortunately I can't swallow this price point for this product.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

I didn't hate Calibrate or find it to be a bad product, it's just far too expensive and needs a lot of tweaking to the ingredient profile to make it a true contender. If this was way less expensive, say .80c per scoop, I'd change my ranking to Would Recommend as I think it's a good, moderate-stim pre-workout that would work well for supplement noobies. If the dosages were fixed and actually hit the daily recommended levels (again, see Outlift) then yeah, I might think again about grabbing this product. For now though, this is just not a viable option in the hyper-competitive landscape of pre-workout supplements.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to Black Lion Research for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  August 13, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Disclosed Profile
  • Effective Dosages
  • Aphrodisiac Effects
  • Simple Profile Easily Replicated For Cheaper
  • Too Expensive

Quick Summary

An overly simple, but effective, test booster that either needs an additional ingredient or a cheaper price point.

Introduction

In the midst of a very beneficial and positive run of VMI's Arimidrol, I started shopping around for a natural test booster that I could start taking immediately after finishing the AI. I wanted to experiment with leveraging a low-estrogen environment in my body with a test booster to see if I could maintain the same type of effects and progress I was receiving directly from the AI.

Ingredient Profile

I ultimately decided to...

Quick Summary

An overly simple, but effective, test booster that either needs an additional ingredient or a cheaper price point.

Introduction

In the midst of a very beneficial and positive run of VMI's Arimidrol, I started shopping around for a natural test booster that I could start taking immediately after finishing the AI. I wanted to experiment with leveraging a low-estrogen environment in my body with a test booster to see if I could maintain the same type of effects and progress I was receiving directly from the AI.

Ingredient Profile

I ultimately decided to pick up Black Lion's Viron for this cycle as it was a super basic booster. I didn't want a "kitchen sink" product with a variety of untested, unproven extracts and ingredients. Viron has one core ingredient - Eurycoma Longifolia Extract AKA Longjack AKA Tongkat Ali. This is an extremely common supplement with a host of research supporting its aphrodisiac, anti-estrogen, and testosterone boosting qualities. Yes, some of this research is questionable and lacks proper citations, but the popularity of Longjack in natural test boosting supplements is testament to how it is regarded in the supplementation community.

Viron's one other ingredient is 20mg of Boron Citrate which is another needs-more-research ingredient purported to have a positive effect on test production. Again, very common and found in many other test boosters.

The standard dosage of Eurycoma Longifolia is 200-300mg of a 100:1 extract taken in 1-2 doses daily. Viron hits you with a solid 500mg dose daily, with each bottle containing enough pills for a 30 day cycle.

Taste/Mixability/Dosing

Per the instructions, I split my two pill dose and took one in the AM on an empty stomach and the other in the PM, usually with a meal. Very easy to swallow caps with no aftertaste, indigestion, or other side effects.

Effectiveness

It's worth noting that I've historically responded well to boosters with Longjack at their core, thus I had a pretty good sense of what to expect from Viron. Unfortunately I think my experiment might have backfired in the sense I had already reached my natural peak with respect to body composition and hormonal state. If you read my Arimidrol review, you'll note I experienced a marked uptick in libido and sex drive, as well as a leaner, harder physique.

Once I transitioned to Viron, I did not continue to experience the aforementioned effects to the same degree. As usually happens when I come off an AI my libido dropped slightly and I felt like I was retaining more water. Nothing dramatic of course - I don't have any issues with low test or anything along those lines, however my hopes of maintaining that optimal physical/hormonal state through my run of Viron were unfounded.

This is not to say Viron is a bad product - not at all - only that I may not have given this product an optimal opportunity to showcase its effectiveness. For most of the bottle I didn't notice any of the traditional effects that I normally get from a test-booster. Not until towards the end of week three and into week four that is, when I did start to feel more aggressive, had a heightened sex drive, and could tell the aphrodisiac qualities of the Longjack were starting to hit me. In the end the product came through, but this is probably better either stacked directly with an AI and/or other products and not run after the fact.

Value

Test boosters run a wide cost range. The more robust products like Animal Stak, TEST1FY, and Rise run between $35-$50 for a month's supply. Supplementing straight Longjack extract can be done for cheaper, with Amazon having a number of products available for under $25 for a month supply at the same dose as Viron.

Most of Black Lion's products are not widely available. The best I could find Viron was $40 for a month's supply on suppz.com. This isn't a terrible pricepoint, but it's not particularly competitive. You could effectively build your own version of Viron with NOW's product line and save around $10 for a month run (at a dose of 600mg of Longjack daily). If you had some other ingredients included in Viron e.g. DAA or Fenugreek, then I'd be OK with the value here. Same if the overall cost was dropped to $30 a month which is on par with most AI's and other, simpler test boosters.

Side Effects

None.

Conclusion

While I appreciate the disclosure and simplicity of Viron, I feel it needs at least one or two more proven ingredients to be considered a top-tier natural test booster. As it stands now this is a two-ingredient product with a high price point. If you respond well to Longjack and can somehow find this on sale, go for it, but I think there are too many other quality options for Viron to be a true contender right now.


Full-Container Received through SR TROOPs.
Thanks to VMI Sports for sending it out!
(Show run details )
  August 1, 2018

 Pros:
 Cons:
  • Improved Hydration
  • Improved Recovery
  • Fully Disclosed
  • Reduced Fatigue
  • Great Taste
  • Competitive Price

    Quick Summary

    A quality BCAA with a robust support profile at an excellent price point. Can't go wrong this option.

    Introduction

    As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I also tend to prefer simpler BCAA products that don't contain prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Aminogex checked all those boxes for me so I snapped it up.

    Side note - I did stack a second ...

    Quick Summary

    A quality BCAA with a robust support profile at an excellent price point. Can't go wrong this option.

    Introduction

    As I've written in other reviews, I'm a fan of consistently supplementing BCAAs for overall health and recovery. I try to ensure I'm ingesting 5-10g of BCAAs every morning during my fasted window, regardless of whether I work out or not. I also tend to prefer simpler BCAA products that don't contain prop-blend complexes but do include hydration support. Aminogex checked all those boxes for me so I snapped it up.

    Side note - I did stack a second BCAA product, EVLution's Recover Mode, on top of Aminogex for roughly the first two weeks of the tub.

    Ingredient Profile

    For most of my BCAA supplements, I am primarily concerned with the actual dosing of BCAAs. 5g of essential BCAAs per serving has been clinically proven to be the minimum effective dose for an average-sized human. Aminogex comes in with a solid 7g dose of instantized BCAAs at does meet this mark at a 2:1:1 ratio. I personally don't have a preference when it comes to BCAA ratio, so long as the profile includes at least 1g each of isoleucine and valine.

    Aminogex also sports a robust profile of hydration-focused minerals e.g. potassium and magnesium which I very much appreciated. I wouldn't mind higher doses here - I like to see 150mg+ of each of these individual supplements in an intra-workout. That said, these specific ingredients are TRAACS; a specific brand that touts its manufacturing process and the purity and effectiveness of its products.

    Taste/Mixability/Dosing

    I requested and received the Orange Ice Pop flavor, which I very much enjoyed. It was a nice subtle orange flavor without any aftertaste or medicinal tinge. Honestly, if anything, it wasn't strong enough. The faint taste was so good it left me wanting to add more than one scoop to my bottle in order to get more flavor.

    I generally dosed one scoop per day in 32 oz. ice water and sipped either preworkout or throughout the morning. Mixability was not a problem. No clumping or foaming at all.

    Effectiveness

    I personally can't tell the difference between most BCAA products. I do notice a difference in my general recovery time and the amount of DOMS I experience when I'm taking a BCAA versus when I'm not, but not usually between individual supplements. When running solo, Aminogex was right on par with most other intraworkout products I've reviewed recently: solid recovery, good intra-workout support, and decreased DOMS.

    Yes, while running Recover Mode alongside Aminogex I did experience more pronounced recovery benefits. I was getting 7g BCAA intra-workout and another 5g from Recover Mode post-workout, and I definitely felt like my DOMS was as light as it can get. I was dealing with minimal soreness most days and felt refreshed and energized post-workout. RecoverMode is also loaded with electrolytes and minerals, so the combination of those two products was really fantastic.

    Value

    Most solid BCAA supplements will cost you around .80c per serving. Some of the flashier products with broader ingredient profiles will run you closer to $1.00 per scoop.

    AminoAide can be bought on Amazon at $23 for 30 scoops or .76c per serving. I think this is an excellent price point given the 7g of BCAA per scoop (most products are 4-5g), and the solid profile of other vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. While not as loaded as some products, Intra Blast for example, Aminogex is still pretty stacked. I'd put it on the upper end in terms of overall profile. For under .80c per scoop - this is a great deal.

    Side Effects

    None.

    Conclusion

    For the most part I've been impressed with VMI as a brand. In particular I LOVE their AI products - check those out for sure if you've not already done so. Aminogex is another winner in my eyes. This is absolutely worth a look if you're shopping for a new intra-workout product.




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