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A Not So Basic Preworkout

preworkout with nootropicsI’ll start this article off by stating the obvious—there are a ton of preworkouts, and plenty work very well. Unfortunately, most of them work by simply stimulating the central nervous system, failing to offer much else.

The first few times they’re great, but then tolerance sets in. This results in a workout plan that starts off productive but ultimately falters, with all of that focused and intense energy you brought to the gym taking a detour around exercise number two.

Before you know it you’re sucking at the last drops of preworkout left in your water bottle.

Exercise requires being present, and nothing ruins that more than a feeling of flatness sweeping over you as you try, and fail, to push yourself. That brings me to another very important aspect of fitness most preworkouts miss out on: improving the mind-muscle connection.

What is the Mind-Muscle Connection?

The idea of a mind-muscle connection finds its roots in “broscience”, but there is some evidence to back up its claim.

An informal study was performed on experienced bodybuilders with EMGs used to test whether load, cadence, and form dictate muscle activation, or whether it is possible to mentally focus neural drive towards specific, targeted muscles and away from others.

The results confirmed the idea of the connection between the brain and body. That’s why this stack of compounds is built around nootropics that can not only aid both physical and mental performance separately, but act to enhance the connection between them.

What’s Not In It

This mix will not include typical stimulants for a few reasons:

  1. Many people don’t respond well to them.
  2. To ensure you are able to work out for as long and intensely as you have to without having to worry about “burning out”.
  3. Some workouts you might not need the extra energy, but you will still need the focus and motivation this stack offers. You can always add a stimulant if you so desire.

This isn’t to say stimulants are bad, but saving them for when you truly need help can ensure you get the absolute most out of them when you need it. Plus, they may not be applicable to all situations. When I run, for example, being “stimmed” out of my mind usually results in a poor workout, but when I’m calm and focused on the task at hand I notice the miles tend to breeze by.

What’s In It?

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC Skeletal Formula

Alpha GPC Skeletal Formula

Aside from its ability to increase focus [1], Alpha GPC has demonstrated possible effectiveness at increasing strength and growth hormone output (after 48 hours of fasting) [2], and potential to increase fat oxidation [3].

What makes this valuable is this acetylcholine precursor’s ability to increase the mind-muscle connection. When acetylcholine is released at the neuromuscular junction it crosses the synapses where it binds to receptors on the surface of muscle fibers, causing muscular contractions. The more this communication can be improved, the more muscle fibers you will be able to recruit resulting in better quality contractions and results.

There are less expensive acetylcholine precursors that can be substituted, like CDP Choline, but the true magic of Alpha GPC lies in its ability to improve self control and impulsiveness [4]. If you’ve ever skipped one too many workouts, or ate a dozen donuts and forgot your diet, you understand how beneficial this can be.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam powder not only prevents the overly stimulated feelings sometimes associated with Alpha GPC, but it seems to keep strength consistent throughout workouts [5]. Some users actually report increased strength output during the later part of their workouts.

Aniracetam is also incredibly effective as an anxiolytic and mood enhancer, and this can make a big difference on those days when working out sounds too cumbersome, or if you’re one of the many people that have anxiety that’s directly related to being at the gym [6].

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a combination of the amino acid citrulline and malic acid. It increases energy levels by removing ammonia from the body. Basically, citrulline malate adds another level of anti-fatigue, allowing you to train harder and for longer periods of time. [7]

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is an amino acid that combines with the amino acid histidine in muscle cells to form carnosine, which is critical for muscle strength. Carnosine is an acid buffer, and it prevents the rise in hydrogen ions during high intensity exercises. It staves off the dreaded lactic acid burn and prevents muscle fatigue, increasing the amount of work you can perform at high intensities [8].

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a stimulant, but it doesn’t come with the typical unpleasant side effects. This nootropic improves motivation, focus, and energy by improving neuronal communication and transmission [9, 10]. It also improves motor coordination and resistance to muscular fatigue [11], and it acts as a potent mood enhancer [12].

Preworkout Stack Dosages

Alpha GPC: 300-600mg (fat-soluble) Take with food 90-120 minutes before your workout.

Aniracetam: 1-1.5g (fat-soluble) Take with food 90-120 minutes before your workout.

Some people become too relaxed from aniracetam during the “first half” of its effects, but it is short lived in the body and its metabolites typically reverse the overly calm feelings aniracetam induces [13].

Citrulline Malate: 6-8g Taken around 60 minutes before training.

Beta alanine: 2-5g Beta alanine can be taken all at once with citrulline malate before your workout, but large doses can result in an uncomfortable tingling feeling called paresthesia, and this can be avoided by taking smaller doses of 800mg-1g throughout the day.

Sulbutiamine: 300mg (fat-soluble) Taken with food around 60 minutes before training.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21156078
  2. http://www.jissn.com/content/5/S1/P15
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673596
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428999
  5. http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/7/921.full.pdf
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11597608
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11911459
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4059305
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573727
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10858919
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9572910

 

A Review of Nootropics Use in Sports

nootropics athletics

Nootropics can help your athletic performance.

Most individuals take nootropic supplements to boost cognition, to improve their focus, to help them study for a test, and so on.  However, many athletes may be surprised to find that nootropics can help them to perform better physically.

It would make logical sense that a supplement that can improve focus and clarity would have a positive effect on the body’s response to physical activity. The better you can focus on the task at hand, the better you will perform. Certain nootropics even directly improve muscle contraction and growth.

Some nootropics like phenylpiracetam are so effective at improving athletic performance that they are banned from competitive sports; others are equally as effective and entirely fine to use for any sport. So how do nootropics work with your body to improve your athleticism?

How Nootropics Help Athletic Performance

nootropics soccer

Nootropics can help boost cognition, which can help you think on your feet.

Taking nootropics affects the brain’s levels of neurotransmitters, which helps the brain to connect with muscle tissue and send out signals.  Raising neurotransmitter levels can help the brain to communicate more efficiently with the rest of the body, and can improve reaction times by promoting a higher level of cognition.

Specifically, most nootropics increase acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter commonly known to improve memory and learning. However, acetylcholine also improves muscle control as well as balance. Mental and physical fitness are linked, and so a quicker and healthier brain produces faster reflexes and greater endurance.  The effects of individual nootropics on physical activity vary, however, so you will need to choose wisely.

Benefits of Different Nootropics in Sports

 

nootropics hockey

Nootropics can also help build muscle (so that you win a fight or two in hockey).

Alpha GPC has been linked to increased levels of growth hormone as well as quicker fat oxidation, meaning that it promotes muscle gains and helps to burn fat leading to improved physical performance and body composition [1].  Aniracetam, in addition to being more potent than other racetam supplements like piracetam, can help to reduce anxiety as well as increase focus [2]. 

Oxiracetam increases spatial learning, which helps your brain to improve physical coordination. Huperzine A prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine to improve memory and muscle control; it also increase alertness.

All of these nootropics will improve neuronal communication between the brain and body, but also have specialized individual effects.  With all of these options to choose from, it is a simple matter of picking a nootropic and seeing which is best for your sports performance.

Which Nootropics Are Right For You?

You may be curious about trying nootropics to improve physical performance, and there are many excellent choices out there.  Be careful of taking supplements that may be banned from a particular sport, but otherwise experiment and find what works best for you.

Weightlifters find Alpha GPC and Huperzine A 1% helpful in doses of 300mg and 10mg respectively, usually stacked together.  Other athletes may find aniracetam and oxiracetam useful in doses around 750mg two times per day.  Find the stack or single supplement that works best for you, and enjoy greater athletic success!

Sources

  1. http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(12)00089-5/
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299901010056