Pre-Workouts THEN vs. NOW

From the BluePrint Power Hour

pre-workout-drinksA lot of people want to believe pre-workouts are better today than they’ve ever been, but is that really the case? In order to find out, lets go back in the time machine, to when the original “pre-workout” came of age.

The year is 1989, and a small but edgy company called AST Research starts placing ads in muscle magazines for something called, “dymetadrine 25”. The ad copy makes some bold claims. Stuff like “instantly gain 5, 10 or 15% greater strength moments after your first dose”! You had to understand the times.. there was nothing on the market then that worked. Certainly not like what these guys were claiming. Still, the asking price wasn’t much so I mailed my order in. Yes, snail mail… and a money order for I think it was $24.95 for 100 tabs.

From the first dose, I thought I had found my nirvana. The product was crazy strong, and it had me borderline happy for the first time in my life. I really could train heavier – a lot heavier, and it seemed to help with fat loss. The year is now 1993 and a budding young entrepreneur named Bill Phillips had my name on his mailing list. So he sent me a copy of his “Natural Supplement Review”. In it, he gave the ECA stack 5 stars. I’d already put those two together (the A or aspirin was later dropped) and ephedrine plus caffeine is like peanut butter and jelly.

Shortly afterwards, Dan Duchaine introduced his Ultimate Orange to the sports nutrition world. It boasted healthy levels of herbal caffeine and ephedrine, but also something called “quadra carb” and if memory serves a smidgeon of whey protein as well. It was and remains probably the most well thought out pre-workout ever to hit the market. This was the pinnacle. Pre-workouts would never be better. In fact, they were about to tank precipitiosly.

Since ephedra’s demise, all sorts of stims have taken its place. The one constant though is stupid levels of caffeine – 550mg in one product I found. We had DMAA, lost it and there are a few products with it now. But it’s in court vs. the FDA and you know how that usually goes.

It gets worse. You’ll see all sorts of things tagging along with super high caffeine levels. Stuff like creatine, beta-alanine, yohimbe, NO enhancers among others. I have to wonder who formulates this garbage. Caffeine completely negates creatine’s effects, strong vaso constrictors like DHMA and DMAA work against NO ingredients etc etc. It’s enough to make me bang my head on a wall.

I’d hope people stop and think for a moment: If all these pre-workouts are so great, where’s all the muscle to show for it? I mean c’mon. It’s to the point most people can’t train without them, but I see no additional muscle from these products. In fact, I see quite the opposite. Bunch of skinny kids with an ever so slight amount of muscle on their frames. No doubt due to sky high cortisol levels as a result of these strong stimulants.

This is an appeal on my part to dial back the stimulant effect and not just because I’m working on a product of that type. The feedback I got was that it needed more “umph” for it to blow people away. The reality is that the more “umph” a product has the higher it raises cortisol. So while I’ll be re-formulating to meet market expectations, understand the balance: There can and will be more “umph” to it, but it’ll never be as much as some products. If it sits on the shelf for that reason well, I wouldn’t be surprised. In the interim, I’d like all of you to hold your pre-workout to a higher standard. If it contains loads of caffeine plus creatine, or stronger stims like DMHA or DMAA plus NO enhancers – ditch it. It’s not doing you any favors.

In the past 26 years, I’d argue we’ve actually gone backwards. I’m looking to do better.

From The BluePrint Power Hour (Dec. 20, 2016)

Coach Rob Regish

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