NO2 Type Products


What’s the story on NO2 type products? They used to be all the rage, but now I don’t see them as much.


So in 1996, Ed Byrd and Anthony Almada of EAS parted ways and Byrd created MRI, a San Francisco based company that soon afterward, rolled out the original “NO2.”

It was nothing elaborate: Arginine alpha ketoglutarate in a hard pill, complexed with some binders and fillers.

And while it’ true that it was better (or certainly more palatable) than straight arginine, it was arguable whether it worked much better.

At the time, a 30 day supply was going for $70 to $80 and… people were actually buying it. By the year 2000, MRI was reportedly worth over $125 million.

Did it give you a better pump while training? Marginally speaking, yes. There were no steroid like pumps here though, and from the beginning I considered it an entirely cosmetic product (nobody I ever knew grew significant amounts of muscle from any Arginine salt).

It’s fair to say that 20 years later, NO2 has had its run. It’s still out there today, but it’s far, far less prominent.

Better Pump Ingredients

Yes, you’ll find better “pump” ingredients such as Norvalline and Agmatine, but none of them sell very well solo, they always seem to be part of a pre-workout or other formula.

The exception may be L-Citrulline, which is shaping up to have other interesting properties applicable to weight trainers.

In any case, the best pumps can usually be had with a permissive amount of insulin and lots of water. You can accomplish that by consuming a small carb based meal pre-workout (with lots of water) or…

With high molecular weight modified starches, aka highly branched cyclic dextrins etc sipped on during and immediately after your workout.

Alternatively, bodybuilders have been reported to use 50-100mg of Viagra to enhance pumps during training.

I mention this only because its come off label in recent years, and most doctors can prescribe it for right around $1/pill. Not for that purpose of course, but you know what I’m saying.

Overall though, NO2 products usually get a big thumbs down from me.

Too much emphasis on the cosmetic, not enough on building real muscle.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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