Is Agmatine Sulfate the Best Pre-workout Ingredient for an Insane Pump?
Using supplements to induce impressive muscle pumps has for many years been a mainstay for serious lifters seeking a muscle-building advantage. While the list of pump-friendly ingredients appears to be growing by the day, there remain a select few that continue to trump the others in both effectiveness and in the range of benefits they provide.
Arguably the best of these is agmatine sulfate, a naturally-occurring biogenic amine (a derivative of ammonia) originating from the conditionally essential amino acid L-arginine. While agmatine sulfate shares many of the same benefits as L-arginine, it’s believed to have better oral bioavailability and can be taken at much lower dosages to, among other functions, boost nitric oxide (NO) levels to achieve and sustain massive pumps.
Naturally produced in the body, stored in the neurons, and present in both the brain and spinal cord, agmatine sulfate functions as a neuromodulator (affects groups of neurons) and neurotransmitter (transmits messages from one neuron to another) to favorably influence a range of physiological functions, including memory and reasoning, neuronal development, cellular stability, blood pressure, insulin secretion and neuropathic pain reduction.14, 15, 16
…boost nitric oxide (NO) levels to achieve and sustain massive pumps.
Released naturally during neuronal activation, agmatine sulfate levels can be further increased via supplementation to optimize this compound’s multifarious effects. One such benefit of which bodybuilders are most appreciative is rounder, fuller and tighter muscles (AKA the pump). In fact, this remarkable compound, when taken in beneficial amounts, can, more than any other single pre-workout ingredient, greatly expedite blood flow to create more blood volume within the muscles, thus setting the stage for superior gains in muscle size and strength.
For such a small molecule, agmatine sulfate provides such an immensely powerful combination of muscle-building benefits. While especially notable for producing intense, long-lasting pumps it’s the various other added benefits, along with its pump-inducing actions, that’ll take your workout intensity to greater heights. Let’s take a look at what agmatine sulfate can do for you.
Skin Bursting Pumps
Like the amino L-arginine from which it is derived, agmatine sulfate, also referred to as ‘super arginine’ or the ‘perpetual pump’, acts as a major catalyst for driving blood into muscle tissue.1 Think of agmatine sulfate, a decarboxylized arginine metabolite, as a supercharged version of the traditional pump-procuring arginine.
Many who take agmatine sulfate report a specific tightness within their muscles that’s not experienced with any other ‘pumping’ product. Agmatine supersaturates the muscles with blood by selectively modulating a family of enzymes called the nitric oxide synthases (NOS) which catalyze the production of Nitric Oxide (NO), a ubiquitous regulatory molecule, from L-arginine.20
An important multipurpose signaling molecule, NO helps govern a range of physiological processes, from neural development and insulin secretion to inflammation, cellular protection and immune function. However, in bodybuilding circles it’s best known as a vasodilator (it widens blood vessels) and for its ability to improve blood flow to working muscles.8
By supporting vasodilation, agmatine sulfate, aside from producing tremendous pumps, can also help to regulate blood pressure and can even reduce the symptoms of hypertension. Thus agmatine may also optimize cardiovascular functioning and improve health generally (both important when striving to keep the body in an anabolic state).
Increasing Nitric Oxide is an important way in which increase both performance and muscle growth.
By improving the transportation of nutrients to working muscles, NO enables the muscles to work both harder and for longer. Also, the improved uptake of performance nutrients such as BCAAs and high molecular weight, long-chain carbohydrates (as specifically contained in ALLMAX CARBION) via increased NO levels can, by itself, aid the pump while enhancing circulation and creating an anabolic environment conducive to sustained muscle growth.15
Increased nutrient and blood delivery to the muscles can also effectively induce muscle protein synthesis while enhancing metabolic stress (an accumulation of metabolic by products such as lactate, hydrogen ion, inorganic phosphate and creatine). An accumulation of metabolic byproducts above and beyond normal levels increases the body’s adaptation response, which signals the muscles to become larger and stronger.17
Greater nutrient delivery to the muscles also helps to improve recovery, a crucial step in the muscle remodeling process, while helping to remove metabolic waste products such as chloride, lactic acid, ADP and reactive oxygen species. While acute metabolic stress signals growth, the continued removal of metabolic waste is important for reducing pain, enhancing recovery and countering muscle fatigue.
Furthermore, the fascial layer which surrounds a muscle is stretched to full capacity whenever this muscle is engorged with blood. The greater the fascial stretching, the more muscular expansion and ultimate growth you are likely to experience.17
Indeed, the muscle pump serves to greatly expand the cellular membrane surrounding the muscle itself. Whenever this occurs, the integrity of the muscle cell is threatened. As a result the muscle is forced to strengthen its cellular structure while at the same time activating anabolic pathways such as mTOR to enhance protein synthesis and counter ensuing muscle tissue degradation.17 By forcing more blood into muscle than would otherwise be possible, NO enables this important growth prerequisite to take place.
Agmatine exerts its powerful actions in different ways. Chief among these is its ability to stimulate the production of a specific type of Nitric Oxide Synthase called eNOS (endothelial) while limiting two other commonly secreted forms: iNOS (inducible) and nNOS (neuronal). It’s the eNOS that stimulates vasodilation and enhances blood supply to the muscles. It’s in this way that agmatine sulfate directly stimulates NO production. Concurrently, agmatine also selectively inhibits an enzyme that breaks down NO to keep NO levels consistently high when working out.
Relax and Grow
Supplemental agmatine sulfate exerts its powerful psychoactive effects by crossing the blood brain barrier where it can influence mood, reduce anxiety and depression, enhance brain function and decrease stress levels.22, 26
One’s mental state remains a frequently overlooked variable in relation to the achievement of impressive size gains. The more relaxed and less stressed we are, the faster the body can get to work healing damaged muscle tissue and translating gym efforts into enviable results. However, stress is often forced upon us, and we must deal with it as it arises. How we deal with stress through reasoning and general mental acuity may dictate how the body processes this stress. An inability to properly handle stress can lead to elevated levels of the muscle-depleting stress hormone cortisol and a corresponding reduction in the most prized of anabolic hormones, testosterone.
…influence mood, reduce anxiety and depression, enhance brain function and decrease stress levels.
Agmatine can help us to to overcome stress in several ways. First, agmatine sulfate activates imidazoline receptors in the brain.24 These receptors inhibit the central nervous system to assist in the reduction of certain mental health disorders while also lowering blood pressure and regulating insulin secretion (each of which can result from and lead to elevated stress levels).
As well, agmatine sulfate binds with NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain, selectively blocks NMDA channels in neurons and is localized in excitatory synapses in the hippocampus, leading scientists to link agmatine sulfate to the regulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission in the brain.10, 21 Specifically, agmatine is believed to prevent the excessive accumulation of glutamate, a key neurotransmitter involved in learning, memory and perception.25 However, when produced in excess, glutamate can also lead to the death of brain cells, restlessness, anxiety, an inability to focus and neuropathic pain.
…increase the ability to handle stress while improving mood and fostering a sense of wellbeing…
Agmatine sulfate also has analgesic actions. Thus it can also assist with the reduction of pain and inflammation.2, 9, 13 Agmatine has been linked to the release several types of endorphins and natural opioid substances in the brain, yet another of its benefits in terms of stress reduction and recovery.
An enzyme that produces agmatine in the body is increased whenever we are stressed, making agmatine secretion a natural response to anxiety.3 In short, agmatine sulfate, as an endogenous neuromodulator and when taken in supplemental form, increases the activity of neurons associated with the handling of stress, anxiety and depression.11 As a result, it may increase the ability to handle stress while improving mood and fostering a sense of wellbeing, all important variables when seeking to improve performance, aid recovery and grow.
Though beneficial on so many levels, exercise, and in particular exercise-related cellular oxidation and the concomitant production of oxidative-stress inducing free radicals, can also do great harm if not balanced with the proper intake of key antioxidants.
Research has shown that agmatine holds much promise as an antioxidant and for its ability to strengthen cells in light of its beneficial outcomes in models of illness and disease.6, 12 Most notably, agmatine sulfate has demonstrated powerful free radical savaging properties and by countering oxidative stress has been shown to reduce rotenone-produced cellular damage at the level of protein structure (rotenones are odorless, colorless, crystalline isoflavones, often used as a broad-spectrum insecticide, which can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction).7
The antioxidant capacity of agmatine can afford protection from mitochondrial insult while offsetting inflammation due to its role in the selective resistance to cellular apoptosis (cell death).4, 5
By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, protecting mitochondrial function, and suppressing apoptosis, agmatine is believed to contribute to the beneficial effects observed with its administration in models of injury and inflammatory pathologies. In short, agmatine can strengthen cells, reduce free radical accumulation, drive down chronic growth-restricting inflammation, and optimize the body’s energy systems.
Remember the imidazoline receptors from earlier? Aside from helping to address stress, these receptors are also of great benefit to regulating insulin secretion from the pancreatic beta cells.19, 23 And as we now know, agmatine sulfate stimulates the imidazoline receptors to optimize their functioning.18
Collectively there are 13 imidazoline receptors that are known to regulate insulin secretion. By selectively stimulating the release of more insulin, the anabolic processes associated with insulin production (such as the transportation of amino acids into muscle cells to optimize muscle protein synthesis) are engaged to a greater degree.
By taking agmatine, more blood glucose can be absorbed into the muscles.18Via agmatine supplementation we can therefore lower our blood glucose levels to help offset insulin resistance and enhance muscle glycogen storage to promote sustained energy levels and further enhance the muscle pump.
Muscle Pumping and Beyond
One of the many benefits of intensive resistance training is the much-coveted muscle pump. The pump influences muscle growth on multiple levels and tells us we are properly targeting the muscles under attack.
Bodybuilders are forever seeking the edge in muscle pumping technology. The right combination of nutrients and specific pump-friendly ingredients will provide a definitive edge in volumizing the muscles to full capacity.
Agmatine sulfate, among the best of the these ingredients, will enable a tsunami of blood to rush into your working muscles, creating massive amounts of metabolic stress and significantly stretching the muscle cells and the fascial layer that surrounds them to force ongoing gains in lean muscle growth.
In addition, agmatine sulfate supports healthy cellular functioning (including neuronal health) to counter both mental and oxidative stress.14 As well, it’ll provide you with more focus and a mindset conducive to attacking the weights with a vengeance. With agmatine, improved insulin regulation will enable more glucose will be driven into muscle tissue to further accentuate the pump and to encourage the proper storage of performance nutrients.
As part of a performance stack of pre-workout nutrients, agmatine is a sure bet. If the science along with real-world experience of countless happy customers is anything to go by, it’s bound to give you the results you desire. Products such as ALLMAX’s IMPACT Igniter contain a great dose of this muscle pumping ingredients, each full scoop gives you 1,000 mg of Agmatine Sulfate.
- Appleton, J. Arginine: Clinical potential of a semi-essential amino. Altern Med Rev. 2002 Dec;7(6):512-22.
- Aggarwal, S. et al. Agmatine enhances cannabinoid action in the hot-plate assay of thermal nociception. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Oct;93(4):426-32.
- Aricioglu, F. et al. Agmatine attenuates stress- and lipopolysaccharide-induced fever in rats Physiol Behav. 2005 Jun 30; 85(3): 370–375.
- Arndt, M. A., The arginine metabolite agmatine protects mitochondrial function and confers resistance to cellular apoptosis. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 Jun;296(6):C1411-9.
- Arndt, M. A., et al. (2009) The arginine metabolite agmatine protects mitochondrial function and confers resistance to cellular apoptosis. Am. J. Physiol. Cell Physiol. 296, C1411– C1419.
- Battaglia, V., et al. (2007) Different behavior of agmatine in liver mitochondria: inducer of oxidative stress or scavenger of reactive oxygen species? Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1768, 1147–1153.
- Condello, S. et al. Protective effects of agmatine in rotenone-induced damage of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells: fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis in a model of Parkinson’s disease. Amino Acids. 2012 Feb;42(2-3):775-81.
- Duarte, W., et al. Differential regulation of L-arginine transport and inducible NOS in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. Am J Physiol. 1995 Mar;268(3 Pt 2):H1158-64.
- Fairbanks, C. A., et al. Agmatine reverses pain induced by inflammation, neuropathy, and spinal cord injury. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Sep 12; 97(19): 10584–10589.
- Feng, Y., et al. Agmatine reduces extracellular glutamate during pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures in rat brain: A potential mechanism for the anticonvulsive effects. Neurosci Lett. 2005 Dec 30; 390(3): 129–133.
- Freitas, A. E., et al. Agmatine abolishes restraint stress-induced depressive-like behavior and hippocampal antioxidant imbalance in mice. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry Volume 50, 3 April 2014, Pages 143-150
- Hong S., et al. (2008) Agmatine inhibits hypoxia-induced TNF-alpha release from cultured retinal ganglion cells. Biocell 32, 201–205.
- Keynan, O. et al. Safety and Efficacy of Dietary Agmatine Sulfate in Lumbar Disc-associated Radiculopathy. An Open-label, Dose-escalating Study Followed by a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Pain Med. 2010 Mar;11(3):356-68.
- Lee, W. T., et al. (2009) Neuroprotective effects of agmatine on oxygen-glucose deprived primary-cultured astrocytes and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappa B. Brain Res. 1281, 64–70
- Nakaki, T. et al. Beneficial circulatory effect of L-arginine. Jpn J of Pharmacol. 1994 Oct;66(2):167-71.
- Reis, D. J., et al. Is agmatine a novel neurotransmitter in brain? Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. Volume 21, Issue 5, p187–193
- Schoenfeld, B. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct; 24(10):2857-72
- Sharawy, M. H., et al. Attenuation of insulin resistance in rats by agmatine: role of SREBP-1c, mTOR and GLUT-2. Arch Pharmacol. 2016 Jan;389(1):45-56.
- Sener, A. Stimulus-secretion coupling of arginine-induced insulin release. Insulinotropic action of agmatine. Biochem Pharmacol. 1989 Jan 15;38(2):327-30.
- Tuladhar, C., Z. et al. Rate of transport of L-arginine is independent of the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in HEK 293 cells. Nitric Oxide. 2005 Feb;12(1): 21-30.
- Wang, X. F., Agmatine modulates neuroadaptations of glutamate transmission in the nucleus accumbens of repeated morphine-treated rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 10;650(1):200-5.
- Weiss, J. M., Depression and anxiety: role of the locus coeruleus and corticotropin-releasing factor. Brain Res Bull. 1994;35(5-6):561-72.
- Weitzel, G., et al. Insulin-like partial effects of agmatine derivatives in adipocytes. Hoppe-Seyler´ s Zeitschrift für physiologische Chemie 361.1 (1980): 51-60
- Wu, N., et al. (2008) Agmatine and imidazoline receptors: their role in opioid analgesia, tolerance and dependence. Cell. Mol. Neurobiol. 28, 629–641.
- Yang X. C., et al (1999) Agmatine selectively blocks the N-Methyl-D-Aspartate subclass of glutamate receptor channels in rat hippocampal neurons. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 288, 544–549.
- Zhu, M. Y., et al. Exogenous agmatine has neuroprotective effects against restraint-induced structural changes in the rat brain. Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Mar; 27(6): 1320–1332.