MaxxMuscle Atomic Bomb is the brand new pre workout supplement from IFBB pro Anth Bailes.
Like all good pre workouts, it’s marketed like a Hollywood action movie:
- Bold statements!
- Massive explosions!
- Huge biceps!
In this MaxxMuscle Atomic Bomb review, we’ll see if it’s more Terminator 2 or Titanic 2.
(Yes, that actually exists!)
Atomic Bomb is the latest addition to the “100% Or Nothing!” series from MaxxMuscle, and joins a line-up which claims to be among “the best supplements ever developed”.
That’s a rather bold statement.
(First box ticked!)
And as you can see, they also have an explosion on the cover.
(Second box ticked!)
Let’s take a look at the formula to see how it stacks up to industry-leading pre workouts…
MAXXMUSCLE ATOMIC BOMB REVIEW: THE GOOD!
I’ll break down the entire formula soon, but we’ll start with a roundup of the main plus points.
MaxxMuscle opted to use an open label formula, which is great because it means we can see every ingredient (and the dose) very clearly. They deserve praise for this, because it’s alarming how many manufacturers continue to hide their formulas behind proprietary blend stickers. It should be a thing of the past.
The product also takes the unique approach of coming in the form of single serving sachets, as opposed to a typical powdered tub with scoop. It seems weird at first, but you’ll soon question how you ever lived without it.
When we get to the ingredients, there’s still plenty of good news to be had.
3 grams of beta-alanine will have your skin crawling (even though it’s slightly below a full clinical dose), and it comes alongside 150mg of the exotic stimulant DMHA (2016’s “next big thing” after DMAA was banned).
500mg choline will improve focus during training, and we get a very interesting combination of 150mg caffeine and 150mg TeaCrine as our primary energy driver. I’m a huge fan of TeaCrine, and in a moment I’ll show you why you’ll probably love it, too.
Considering this is the first pre workout Anth Bailes and his team have released, Atomic Bomb is off to a very promising start – but it isn’t all good news…
MAXXMUSCLE ATOMIC BOMB REVIEW – THE BAD!
In all my years working with products from some of the biggest (and smallest) supplement companies around, I’ve NEVER seen a perfect product.
And this one doesn’t break the mould.
Citrulline malate is way down at just 2.5 grams per serving, considerably below a full clinical dose of 6-8 grams. This is among the most important ingredients in a solid pre workout, so it’s a huge misstep for Atomic Bomb.
We also get a silly creatine blend. Instead of providing a full clinical dose of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, MaxxMuscle (like many other supplement companies in recent years) have over-complicated this process by using a 1.85 gram combination of different creatine sources (creatine HCL & creatine monohydrate) – in a dose which is too small to produce the benefits anyway!
We also get a gram of taurine. This is often included in pre workout formulas because it has links to increased focus and better blood flow to working muscles, but if you’re a regular reader of my website you’ll know I f**king hate taurine because it works as an antagonist of caffeine.
There’s no betaine, which is a shame given its ability to increase strength output.
And finally we have the inclusion of niacin (vitamin B). It’s touted as an energy booster but the real reason companies use this ingredient is because it creates a similar tingling effect to beta-alanine. This enables manufacturers to under-dose their product in beta-alanine and “trick” the customer that they can feel it working.
It’s an odd move, because Atomic Bomb is contains a lot of beta-alanine.
MAXXMUSCLE ATOMIC BOMB – INGREDIENT BREAKDOWN
Let’s take a look at the entire formula and break down what each ingredient does.
We will also see if the dose included in Atomic Bomb is sufficient to yield the proposed training benefits it promises on the tub.
We will start with the ingredient that’ll draw the most attention…
DMHA is an exotic stimulant capable of providing a euphoric training effect, which can lead to some great workouts.
It arrived on the bodybuilding scene in 2016, and was considered a ‘replacement’ to DMAA which was banned in 2013 because it offered a watered down version of most of the same effects.
Unfortunately, DMHA is already starting to go the way of its predecessor and many sporting governing bodies have begun dropping the ban hammer on products containing it. Australia were the most recent to do so, and this caused a few of the supplement industry’s big hitters (Redcon1, Iron Addicts Brand) to remove DMHA in a bid to remain on the shelves.
It’s interesting to see MaxxMuscle throw caution to the wind by including this ingredient at a time when it could put athletes into a ‘grey area’, but until more is known about the safety of DMHA I’d advise any professional athlete to avoid it entirely (even if it means you can’t buy this product).
Example; Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt famously had his 4x100m relay gold medal stripped after teammate Nestor Carter used DMAA to enhance his performance.
Anything over 100mg should be considered a decent dose, and Atomic Bomb goes all in with a mighty 150mg.
We move from an ingredient woefully short on scientific evidence, to perhaps the most well-researched ingredient of all time
You’re probably already familiar with many of caffeine’s benefits. It can improve a variety of training factors from mental focus, to energy output, to alertness, and even calorie burn. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Most pre workouts contain 200-400mg caffeine, so the 150mg we get in Atomic Bomb is really quite low. However, it has an ace up its sleeve with the next ingredient…
Allow me to introduce you to the next generation of energy supplements; TeaCrine.
Its popularity is still in its infancy, but I do expect this ingredient to become a real power player within the supplement industry in the next five years.
When this ingredient was first discovered, it was considered a distant relative of caffeine which could possibly serve as an alternative. Turns out it’s more like caffeine’s bigger, stronger brother – kinda like when Kane arrived in WWE and started f**king everybody up.
I love this thing.
So what’s the difference between caffeine and theacrine?
Well, caffeine works by inhibiting adenosine receptors. TeaCrine also inhibits adenosine receptors, but it does so while activating dopamine receptors. Higher dopamine levels = more energy, and more focus! (6)
But that’s not even the best news…
The effectiveness of caffeine depends largely on your tolerance levels, which is why you continually need to raise the dose over time. TeaCrine appears to have no tolerance build-up. Wowza! (5, 7, 8)
Further still, a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed us that a whopping 80% of theacrine’s benefits are exhibited within the first hour of consumption; meaning you won’t spend the rest of your day bouncing off the wall like a piece of Flubber. (9)
That’s great news!
More research is needed before we can truly consider it a superior option to caffeine (and it’s being done), but the signs are positive and MaxxMuscle have made a brave move by choosing to combine the two rather than lumping for good old caffeine (even though that would have been cheaper).
They deserve praise for this.
The combination appears to work well, as researchers from Rutgers University, New Jersey, found that replacing a 270mg dose of caffeine with a combo of 150mg caffeine and 120mg theacrine resulted in superior training output. (10)
Atomic Bomb does even better than this, with 150mg caffeine alongside 150mg TeaCrine.
Most people know beta-alanine as the pre workout ingredient which gives you the tingles, but there’s more going on under the hood.
It’s been shown to buffer against the build-up of waste product during intense exercise (“the burn”), and a 2008 study noted that trainees using beta-alanine could achieve about 25% more reps per set before they reached failure. (11, 12)
A full clinical dose of beta-alanine is 3.2 grams, and new research suggests that splitting it into two even 1.6 gram servings leads to slightly better uptake in the muscle cells. (13)
MaxxMuscle Atomic Bomb comes in at 3 grams which is slightly below the max threshold, but still easily high enough to reap the training benefits it offers over time.
(It would have made sense to remove some of the less effective ingredients from the formula and add an extra 0.2g to this one.)
2.5g CITRULLINE MALATE
This is where things take a major turn for the worse.
Citrulline malate is capable of improving a whole host of training aspects, and should be considered a high priority when looking for a potential new pre workout.
Increased recovery speed between sets… check! More reps achieved before muscle failure… check! Better pump… check! (24, 25)
It does this by accessing the body’s nitric oxide pathways, allowing for greater delivery of nutrients to muscle cells as they work, but it is quite an expensive ingredient so we often see companies under-dose it and then still make claims on the packaging about the benefits on offer (a practice known in the industry as “fairy dusting”).
That’s precisely what’s happened here.
Even though it has a much higher absorption rate than its predecessor for this job (arginine), it’s still not enough. (26, 27)
A full clinical dose is 6-8 grams, and Atomic Bomb contains just 2.5 grams. With such a bright start, this ingredient lets the product down considerably.
1.8g CREATINE BLEND
Creatine is the best-selling bodybuilding supplement of all time.
It’s also among the most well-researched, with over 30 years of academic trials to back up it’s effectiveness.
It’s used to boost explosive strength output, and a 2003 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that creatine supplementation results in a strength increase of about 8%, and a 14% increase in the number of reps performed to muscle failure. (14)
It’s perfectly safe, too. (15)
As such, it’s the one supplement every athlete should be using; whether as part of a pre workout or post workout, or simply on its own.
But if you’re going to include it in your pre workout formula, you gotta do it RIGHT!
(That’s why I’m such a big fan of AML Pre Workout, because they did it right!)
MaxxMuscle give us a 1.8 gram combo of creatine HCL and creatine monohydrate. In doing so, they’ve kinda Nerfed their own product. Creatine HCL looks solid but it doesn’t make sense to use two different forms of the same ingredient when one could’ve done the job. (16)
Plus, a clinical dose of creatine HCL is 2.5 grams and a clinical dose of creatine monohydrate is 5 grams. That means a 1.8 gram combination isn’t enough, no matter which way they split it.
Hydromax (a.k.a. glycerol) is a popular ingredient in bodybuilding supplements for it’s ability to enhance “the pump”.
A dose of 0.7g-2g is sufficient to yield those benefits, so at 3 grams Atomic Bomb goes BIG on this one, and you should see some great pumps if you drink plenty of water in the gym (this would have been even better with a full dose of citrulline malate alongside it). (18)
It’s pretty common for body weight to increase slightly while using hydromax. Don’t panic; this is an increase in water weight, not body fat.
Aside from the pump aspect, though, this ingredient is mostly superficial. Supplement companies love to boast that it can provide greater hydration to muscle cells during exercise, but that’s not true. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics predicted that we’d need a dose of about 80 grams (!!) to unlock those benefits. If each scoop of your pre workout was that big, the tub would be the size of a fridge! (17)
Bioperine is included in almost every pre workout supplement because it increases the absorption rate of all the ingredients around it.
It can also slightly increase the production of dopamine, which isn’t a bad thing. (19, 20)
500mg CHOLINE BITARTE
Choline is well-known cognitive booster.
It has been shown to improve focus, but choline bitarte is among the less expensive forms of this ingredient (Alpha GPC being the best). A dose of 500mg is sufficient. (21)
Taurine is the darling of the energy drink and preworkout industry.
It can boost focus, but as I mentioned earlier, I like to steer clear of taurine before training because it clashes with caffeine. It seems that most manufacturers are completely unaware of this research, because taurine remains a popular ingredient. The only one to buck the trend is the aforementioned AML Pre Workout. (22, 23)
Given caffeine’s obvious training benefits, particularly when they add TeaCrine to get even more from it, it makes no sense to also include taurine.
Chromium is a mineral used for regulating glucose metabolism and insulin. It’s also quite useful for appetite suppression, but more research is needed.
However, it’s nothing more than filler inside Atomic Bomb.
You’ll only see a benefit to supplementing with chromium if you currently have a chromium deficiency (most people don’t), and you’d need 10x the dose found here anyway.
Niacin (vitamin B) is often linked to increased energy, hence its inclusion in so many preworkouts and energy drinks, but there’s no evidence to support claims it can boost workout performance when taken directly before training.
As long as you get enough vitamin B throughout the day, you’re good.
It’s mainly included in pre workout supplements to mask when beta-alanine has been under-dosed, as it creates a tingly sensation which feels quite similar. With Atomic Bomb providing a near full clinical dose (only 0.2g short), including niacin is unnecessary anyway. It serves no purpose here.
MAXXMUSCLE ATOMIC BOMB REVIEW – THE FINAL VERDICT
It’s time to deliver a score out of five…
Has Anth “The Freak” Bailes delivered on his promise to build a pre workout which can compete with the very best?
Atomic Bomb is a decent product, but it isn’t going to to trouble those at the top of the pre workout food chain.
Athletes will instead be drawn to supplements which contain fully dosed servings of key ingredients like CitMal and creatine (this does neither), and will be put off by the inclusion of DMHA.
However, TeaCrine is the standout ingredient here.
The decision to go with a full tub of single-serving sachets instead of powder and a scoop is definitely original (and convenient), but this of course is reflected in the price. If we’re talking £60 for a pre workout (or £40 for the tub version), there are better products out there for the same price or less.
Atomic Bomb receives a respectable 2.5 stars.
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