Today I’m going to introduce you to the best pre workout supplement of the year; AML Pre Workout.
The name doesn’t exactly set the world on fire, right?
Couldn’t they have called it Nuclear Pump? Or Squat Mountain, perhaps? Hang on… I’ve got it… Maybe AML stands for Atomic Muscle Landslide? Oh, it stands for Advanced Molecular Labs.
But we’d be foolish to judge a book by its cover, especially in this case. Because in a fitness world populated by over-hyped pre workouts delivering poor ingredients and basic formulas, anyone who knows their stuff knows it’s the ones which avoid the hype that usually pack the most punch.
So when this clean red and white tub called simply AML Pre Workout dropped through my door ready for this review, you can bet your bottom dollar I was f**king terrified of it.
After hailing it as the best pre workout of the year, I can hear some of your questions already.
- “Is it a proprietary blend?”
- “What are the main ingredients?”
- “Is it better than Pre Jym?”
- “Is it really just called Pre Workout?”
I’ll answer all these and more, so strap yourself in, grab a protein shake and get ready to put this product through my deliberately harsh supplement rating system. To date, no supplement has ever achieved over four stars.
AML PRE WORKOUT – THE GOOD
Every product comes with good points and bad points.
So before I break down the entire formula (see below), I’ll take a quick run through the main good points of the product. These are the things which stand out the most.
First up, AML should be commended for their straightforward approach in building this product.
Somewhere along the way, the pre workout sector of the fitness industry lost its message and became about supplements whose goal was to “blow your head off”, by loading you up on experimental exotic stimulants, then leaving you face down in a dumpster three hours later when the crash hits home.
But, in truth, the goal of a solid pre workout should be to make you train harder. That’s it. It’s not about “getting off your face”. It’s about making you perform better as an athlete.
So you won’t find any exotic stimulants here.
This product has clearly been designed with athletes in mind. They won’t have to worry about unknown ingredients being deemed ‘safe’ one minute and ‘banned’ the next. If you’re a stim-junkie, you’d be better off using a pre workout like Total War.
AML Pre Workout presents a rock solid formula which only uses safe and proven ingredients.
- 8g citrulline malate
- 2.5g betaine
- 400mg caffeine
These are clinical dosages for performance benefits, the kind of which we do not see in the vast majority of pre workouts available today.
Citrulline malate is the real powerhouse ingredient in AML Pre Workout. It provides the foundation for some killer pumps, increasing your recovery between sets and boosting your endurance levels. In staying away from exotic stimulants and unproven ingredients, AML have chosen caffeine as the product’s main energy boosting stimulant.
That’s great, because caffeine is perhaps the most well-researched stimulant of all time, but at 400mg caffeine per serving this is one of the strongest supplements on the entire market!
Yes, despite the fact that every pre workout claims to be the strongest one available, this product can legitimately lay claim to the throne.
Of course, a massive 400mg serving could also be a bad thing (I’ll get to that later)…
AML PRE WORKOUT – THE BAD
Nothing is perfect. Not even AML Pre Workout.
The first thing I noticed is that they hide some of the ingredients behind a proprietary blend.
It’s always a bad thing, here’s why.
Fair play, they do disclose the dosages of all key ingredients (citrulline malate, caffeine, betaine, etc) and you can find out the doses of other ingredients by searching the company website, but using a proprietary blend is a thing of the past. For a product which claims to be designed with athletes in mind, I was disappointed to see the doses of certain minor ingredients remain undisclosed, if only from a transparency perspective.
We also have the inclusion of some ingredients which don’t necessarily need to be in your pre workout. For instance, creatine.
Creatine is outstanding for boosting explosive strength, but there aren’t any additional benefits to consuming it as part of your pre workout versus at any other time of day.
Of course, I’m nitpicking here (because the product is genuinely outstanding, as you’ll see below), but the company was originally very vocal in calling out other supplement manufacturers for including ingredients which showed no additional benefits to having them pre workout as opposed to just having them at any other time of day, one example being Jim Stoppani’s Pre Jym for including leucine.
But as far as bad points go, and the way I usually pick a product apart in this section, AML Pre Workout made it out without too much damage, don’t you think?
AML PRE WORKOUT REVIEW – INGREDIENT BREAKDOWN
Next up, I’m going to break down the entire formula ingredient-by-ingredient, to determine whether AML Pre Workout is capable of boosting your performance in the gym the way it claims on the tub.
Caffeine is your workout’s best friend.
Research has shown it to improve a range of different training aspects including focus, energy levels, and even a slight improvement in calorie burn (although that last one is subjective to the individual’s tolerance levels). (1, 2, 3)
But what most people don’t know is that caffeine has also been shown to boost explosive power output during weight training. (4, 5, 6)
But isn’t 400mg way too high?
The increased strength output mentioned in the studies above was only achieved with supplementation of (you guessed it!) 400mg. Also, when AML researchers were questioned as to why they chose to include such a high dose of caffeine per serving, they cited the impressive results of a great 2012 meta-analysis which was published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. Analyzing the data of over 70 clinical studies on caffeine supplementation, the researchers confirmed that a dose of 400mg is optimal for an increase in strength performance. (7)
They broke this down to 5mg per kg of body weight, which equates to 400mg for a 175lb guy.
Interestingly, the same study also discovered that a dose of less than 2.1mg per kg of body weight (so that’s 168mg or less for a 175lb guy) doesn’t provide any training benefits at all!
(Another reason to put down those awful supermarket energy drinks!)
The bad news is that if you cannot handle the full 400mg dose of caffeine, the company advises you to take half a serving. But this means you’re also half-scooping every other ingredient in the tub, and therefore losing the benefits.
Thankfully, they moved quickly to rectify this potential issue by releasing a stim-free version of the same product, which gives you everything minus caffeine, so an option here would be to pick that up and add your own caffeine to suit your tolerance level.
8G CITRULLINE MALATE
Okay, so the huge dosage of caffeine is the one which takes all the headlines, but the real MVP is citrulline malate.
If you’ve been reading my website for some time, we know that I’m a big fan of using this ingredient in pre workouts. Heck, it was the number one ingredient in my handy guide on how to make a DIY pre workout!
Because citrulline malate has been shown to improve everything from your recovery between sets, to the number of repetitions to muscle failure, to an incredible pump. (8, 9)
During a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it was concluded that supplementing with citrulline enabled test subjects to achieve an average of one more rep on every single set of their workout.
Those kind of improvements in training endurance are fantastic in the big picture of building muscle.
Citrulline does this by accessing the body’s nitric oxide pathways, allowing for greater blood flow and nutrient delivery to working muscles.
If you think that sounds familiar, it’s because it does. Back in the early 2000’s, supplement companies used a substance called arginine to attempt the exact same thing.
Citrulline is a superior way of supplementing with arginine, because it’s actually broken down into arginine once it’s inside the body, yet it has a much better absorption rate than it’s older cousin. One study from the British Journal of Pharmacology discovered citrulline to be 50% more effective for raising blood levels of arginine than using arginine itself! (10)
Again, though, the benefits of citrulline only arrive when we take it in its clinical dose of 6-8 grams.
To learn more about the crazy training benefits of citrulline malate, read this.
At a huge 8 grams per serving, AML Pre Workout is right at the top end of the market in terms of clinical dosage.
Betaine is one of the most underrated pre workout ingredients.
But thanks to new research on its effectiveness when taken before training, it is slowly building a worthy reputation as a solid performance booster.
Like citrulline before it, betaine has been shown to improve training endurance, muscle recovery, and even explosive strength, so it’s definitely something to look out for when buying a new pre. (11, 12, 13)
In fact, a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition even discovered that just one week of betaine supplementation improved performance in sprint-based cycling workouts by 5%. (14)
The effective clinical dosage of betaine is 2.5 grams, which is precisely what Advanced Molecular Labs provide.
Have you ever experienced a tingling sensation when trying a new pre workout supplement?
But although it’s probably best-known for making you want to rip your own face off, there are greater rewards underneath the surface if you can consistently supplement with beta-alanine…
One notable benefit is an increased capacity to push through lactic acid build-up during intense exercise (“the burn”), and that’s something which is incredibly useful when it comes to building lean muscle. During an interesting 2008 trial at the College of New Jersey, researchers tested the effectiveness of beta-alanine on a heavy squat program.
Participants saw a remarkable 22% increase in the number of repetitions they could perform until muscle failure was achieved. (15)
A clinical dose of beta-alanine is 3.2 grams, but I don’t consider this a red flag. New research indicates that splitting your beta-alanine dose into two segments leads to greater absorption, so two grams before training is fine. (16)
But here’s the odd thing…
AML have followed in the footsteps of most savvy supplement companies, by releasing a post-workout supplement (you guessed it, AML Post Workout!). One would think they’d include a second helping of beta-alanine inside this post-workout product to achieve a full daily dose, but they haven’t. This means you’d need a second serving from elsewhere if you wanted to consume the full 3.2g per day. It is very cheap, of course, and it’s useful to have, but this box could easily have been ticked by simply including another serving in their post-workout formula.
5G CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Creatine is the best-selling bodybuilding supplement of all time, and it’s also the most well-researched.
A daily dose of 5 grams has been shown to produce the full strength benefits of creatine, and while many supplement companies like to include experimental, unproven creatine blends in a bid to stand out from their competitors, the true sign of a good product is one which realizes that no creatine blend has ever outperformed the original (creatine monohydrate) since its arrival on the bodybuilding scene in the very early 1990’s.
A review study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research back in 2012 looked at the huge available body of research of creatine supplementation, showing that it causes an average of 8% strength increase.
Also, the number of reps performed to failure rose by an average of 14%! (21)
The odd thing, as mentioned at the top of the article, is that there are no additional benefits to consuming creatine immediately before you hit the gym, versus at any other time of day, so it didn’t strictly need to be included in a pre workout. Also, the new AML Post Workout contains another 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, which is unnecessary because research clearly shows us that five grams is enough. (22)
(Of course, if we’re reduced to picking faults that they’re giving us extra useful ingredients, then they’re doing something right!)
So it’s nice, and it’s certainly not going to harm your workouts, but it’s not necessary.
Included in most pre workouts, bioperine is simply black pepper extract.
It’s an ingredient which rarely takes center stage in a product, like Omega-3, or a holding midfield player at Manchester United.
But that doesn’t make it useless.
It can create a slight increase in adrenaline, which is definitely useful in the gym, but bioperine’s main job is to increase the bio-availability of all other ingredients in the supplement. (17, 18)
This amino acid is a dopamine precursor.
Alongside the massive serving of caffeine, it’s responsible for much of the energy kick you’ll feel from AML Pre Workout.
By increasing dopamine availability to the brain, we are able to boost our training capacity. This was shown nicely in a 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, where it helped trainees improve their tolerance to hard exercise in outdoor heat. (19)
MACUNA PRURIENS SEED EXTRACT
This is velvet bean extract which, like acetyl l-tyrosine, serves the primary function of increasing dopamine production during exercise.
And that’s something which it has been shown to do very well. (20)
This is also one of the ingredients which is going to take the edge off the huge 400mg caffeine serving because, as shown in the study mentioned above, supplementing with macuna pruriens to increase dopamine production will also promote better moods and lower stress levels.
520MG POTASSIUM CITRATE
Here’s a pre workout ingredient we don’t see very often! Potassium citrate is used in AML Pre Workout to work in conjunction with betaine and creatine monohydrate in order to enhance muscle hydration and cell volumization.
Through regular supplementation we also reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. (30)
Taking too much potassium usually leads to heart issues, and these safety concerns prevent it from being sold in supplement form (too easy to overdose), which means it’s a mineral which is found lacking in most people’s diets.
By including 520mg potassium citrate in AML Pre Workout, you’re getting the full benefits it offers (both for training and overall health), without the potential risks of supplementing it on its own.
NOTABLE ABSENTEES FROM AML PRE WORKOUT
If you are a keen pre workout user, you may be spinning the tub around looking for a few ingredients which appear to be missing.
I’m going to cover them now.
These are some big name players, you’ll see them in almost every other pre workout (albeit usually under-dosed anyway!), but AML chose to leave them out for the reasons below…
That’s right, no BCAAs.
The reason AML picked a fight with Jim Stoppani was due to the doc’s insistence on the importance of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) before training. The guys at AML heavily disagreed with this.
They brought the facts down hard, too, citing research which shows that while leucine after exercise is great for muscle growth, taking it before exercise can inhibit dopamine production by preventing tyrosine from reaching the brain, making the trainee feel sluggish during training and/or leading to early CNS fatigue. (23, 24)
- Agmatine Sulfate
Here’s another popular pre workout ingredient which has been shelved by AML.
Bodybuilding.com’s store claims that “Agmatine can promote greater nitric oxide production, enhance recovery, and even improve metabolic function!”
Does it f**k.
AML were quick to point out that there is zero scientific evidence to support any of the claims above. In fact, there are studies which show it can actually inhibit nitric oxide production! (25)
In 2014, Dr. Gad Gillad’s study on the benefits of agmatine supplementation for nerve health was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. (26)
“The fact that agmatine is touted for bodybuilding purposes is completely unsubstantiated and is backed by outright false claims.”– Dr. Gad Gillad.
Taurine is another pre workout heavy-hitter to be thrown away by AML.
Taurine is used in a ton of pre’s because of its effectiveness at improving mental focus and blood flow. (27, 28)
But you’d need a dose of 2g per day to see those benefits, which is far more than is usually included in a pre workout or energy drink.
And here’s the thing; taurine and caffeine don’t play nicely.
In fact, a study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior found that taurine actually opposes some of caffeine’s effects. It concluded that taking both ingredients together only serves to increase the likelihood of headaches and decreased training performance! (29)
You’d think that all supplement manufacturers would stay up to date on developments in the world of nutrition and sports supplementation…
Thankfully, Advanced Molecular Labs did.
Given that caffeine offers us far greater training benefits than taurine, it makes sense to prioritize caffeine and disregard taurine before training.
When I broke down the formula earlier in the article, I spoke about citrulline malate and explained how CitMal is a superior form of arginine.
This has been shown in research dating back ten freaking years, but arginine continues to feature in many top-selling pre workouts to this very day.
Not this product.
THE AML DREAM TEAM
One of the reasons this is such a solid pre workout is the team behind it.
Advanced Molecular Labs was founded by Steve Blechman in 2014. This guy is the real deal, and the main reason I was looking forward to checking out AML so keenly. You’re probably a fan of his work (maybe unknowingly!).
When most people think about supplement “gurus”, they think of Jim Stoppani and his quest for science-based supplements. Well, Steve Blechman has been every bit as instrumental in the industry, with his work dating all the way back to his time at the helm of TwinLab in the 1970’s!
Steve oversaw the introduction of several supplements which are now household names, including whey protein (yes!), creatine, and Omega-3. Since 2001, he’s been in the fitness magazine business and is currently the man behind one of the world’s best-selling publications, Fitness RX.
Steve is joined at AML by former NFL athlete turned fitness model Joe Donnelly. Joe is someone I’ve long followed and respected, thanks to his beastly training mindset and his candid social media personality.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what Advanced Molecular Labs can put together in the future, and in an over-saturated marketplace filled with products that fail to keep their promises, it’s good to have another science-based, forward-thinking company out there who are always looking to raise the game to a higher level.
AML PRE WORKOUT REVIEW – THE FINAL VERDICT
It’s crunch time!
Time to put AML Pre Workout through my supplement rating system and determine whether it really is one step ahead of its competitors…
The clinical dosages of all key ingredients are a big factor here, while the partial proprietary blend (I’m nitpicking, it’s my job) puts an unnecessary blemish on the scorecard. Overall, this product is one I’m very happy to recommend to my clients and followers for good reason – it works!
Given that they picked a fight with Jym Supplement Science upon the product’s release, you probably want me to answer the burning question; is AML Pre Workout better than Pre Jym?
Yes, it is.
But that’s more about the ingredients they chose to leave out, rather than those it put in. Because Pre Jym is definitely not a bad supplement either.
As you can see below, I have awarded AML Pre Workout a score of 4.5 stars. That’s the highest score I’ve given any supplement, ever, and I hope this company continues to build upon the product with more great releases in the future.
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