When I started to lift in the evening after work a few years back, I cut back out caffeinated pre-workouts and fell head-over-heels for stim-free pump supplements. I mean, who doesn’t want jitter-free energy, focus, endurance, and—of course—veins that really pop?
Lately, I’ve just been taking free-form amino acids that have been shown to ramp up the body’s production of nitric oxide (the magical chemical that dilates blood vessels so you look swole and can lift until it’s time to hit the hay). My go-to concoction: three grams of l-arginine, 500 milligrams of agmatine sulfate, and four grams of l-citrulline, mixed with some flavored BCAA powder and water.
To minimize my pre-workout chemistry, I decided to test 10 of the most popular nitric oxide-boosting products, which combine pump-friendly ingredients like the ones I already love.
After a long, thorough, and incredibly veiny experiment, I’ve got plenty to say about which products I loved—and which I didn’t. One thing I noticed right off the bat: The pill-form pump supplements just didn’t do it for me. While I noticed instant pump, energy, and endurance after slugging back the powdered supplements (or just chewing on the powders straight), I waited and waited for the pills to kick in.
If you want to crank out those extra reps and watch your muscles literally blow up in the weight room mirror, here are the powdered pump products that now hold a special place in my gym bag.
4th Place: PEScience High Volume
A combo of citrulline, arginine nitrate, and agmatine sulfate (my go-to’s!), High Volume’s formula immediately caught my attention.
I tried the Cotton Candy, which is arguably the most popular flavor (and will blow your mind if you have a sweet tooth). Though it was slightly grainy, the flavor knocked my socks off so much that I didn’t care.
The pump kicked in gradually and peaked about 20 minutes into my workout. Once it kicked in, that sweet nitric oxide boost lasted throughout my entire gym session.
3rd Place: MAN Sports Pump Powder
I have to say, I’m a huge fan of MAN Sports’ Sour Batch-flavored anything, and the Sour Batch Pump Powder did not disappoint. Like High Volume, this one didn’t mix as well some of the other pump supplements out there, but I’d take the ‘meh’ mixability for the taste (and results) any day.
Pump Powder gets its power from agmatine sulfate, glycerol monstearate, and citrulline malate, and contains more of them than any of the other supplements I tested.
That higher dose definitely made a difference, and I felt an insane pump by the last set of my very first exercise. By my third exercise, the veins in my upper chest bulged—something I’m always working for.
At one point, I thought my arms (forearms, biceps, and triceps, all included) were literally going to pop. It was awesome. Seriously, my pump was so strong that I could barely finish some reps because my muscles were getting in the way.
2nd Place: BodyTech Nitrulline Powder
This pump supp is a muscle-friendly fiesta of l-citrulline, l-arginine HCL, taurine, glycerol, and l-norvaline. I loved that the watermelon flavor was nice and sour—not overly sweet.
My pumps kicked in during the second set of my first exercise (weighted dips). The horseshoe in my tricep was really poppin’, and I loved it. I held onto a solid pump throughout my workout and looked much more vascular than usual. It was like I had road maps of veins all over my arms!
After trying this just once, I was sold. Not only did I look and feel great, but I powered through my workout with intense focus. (I also wanted to pop another scoop in my shaker cup after the gym, just to savor that sweet-sour watermelon goodness.) A new favorite, for sure.
1st Place: iForce Nutrition Hemavol
If I could have only one supplement for the rest of my life, it would be Hemavol. I love the tanginess of the watermelon flavor, how perfectly the powder mixes into water, and the transparency of the ingredients label.
Agmatine sulfate and citrulline malate are the real all-stars here. Hemavol packs 500 milligrams of agmatine and 2,500 milligrams of cittruline malate, which is more than all over the other supps, except MAN Sports’ Pump Powder.
This product is no joke. After just one set of bicep curls, a tight pump filled my arms, and I was incredibly swole throughout every single exercise that followed. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I truly thought my arms were going to pop, and by the time I finished my workout, I could barely move them.
Maybe the mirrors were playing games with me, but I also looked way bigger than usual. The pump was REAL. And guess what? It lasted long after I left the gym.
To me, Hemavol is a 10 out of 10. Sign me up for auto-delivery now!