Another pre-workout review would definitely help me provide a little levity considering all the recent serious business blogging I’ve done lately. Today I’m going to review an interesting drink in terms of ingredient list, one I kind of look forward to breaking down.
Please keep in mind while reading that I am on a powerlifting training regiment and that is how I will be evaluating this product.
Cover to Cover
Primal Muscle’s Primal Surge has a fairly straightforward label, I’m not really sure why “10x” is on the bottle I can’t quite tell if it’s part of the product title or not. It states simply that it is a “pre-workout drink” and it is watermelon flavor. I love watermelon, personally, and appreciate the simple marketing on the label.
The side label claims in a discreet area that the product will “blast intensity”, “maximize focus” and “crush workouts”. Well let’s see how that plays out…
Customer Care Experience
Shortly after our purchase of this preworkout we got a nice email from Primal Muscle’s reps. Standard message of thanks for the purchase and also suggested I read their “Primal Muscle Training Guide” in case it is helpful. Before I provide a short commentary on this guide I just want to say, I don’t really have a need for it and I’m not the type to buy muscle magazines. I very rarely take advice on training regiment from random sources.
That said, the Primal Muscle Training Guide was very much composed like the typical muscle magazine. It has some training suggestions, some text blurbs reminding you why supplements are a vital component to a training regiment, an ad for Humatropic (and its “MicroRNA Growth Factory Poly-Peptides”) with promises of “rock hard cuts” and affirmed legality. Also included were similar ad segments for other supplements on their list – MesoFX, Primal BCAA’s, AndroxyFX, Lipotase, TridenosenH intermixed with little articles about workout plan and how cardio, recovery, training variety are all useful/necessary aspects of training.
Look, I have low expectations and if anything I did think the idea of the rep sending over a guide at all was itself cool and appreciated the effort to compose such a thing. If I were to be a smartass and suggest a better “guide” I’d suggest the following: make it a little shorter, keep the writeup for company products each to a page insert and cut out the “op ed” blurbs about these products. Also keep the “blueprint” training guide because (why not) but cut down the sections on cardio/recovery/hiit/etc to 2-3 articles (perhaps “tips and tricks” or “common mistakes”) and maybe also throw in an interesting interview or something you wouldn’t otherwise expect just as something fun for those few who take the time to read the guide. Hell, can’t get an interview? Maybe just slap in a crossword puzzle. It’s in a PDF format maybe you could even toss in some kind of printable poster. Any single fun mindless thing that is otherwise unexpected.
Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition
The flavor based ingredients are mostly sucralose and “natural and artificial” watermelon-y flavor. I will insert here my normal gripe that I’d like to see more pre-workout companies try stevia as a sweetener. Calcium Silicate and Silicon Dioxide make this a nice dry mix with easy mixability and I was fairly happy with it’s day one mixability, it required virtually no stirring on my part to mix.
Another personal gripe is we’ve got a dabble of Red 40 in the mix to give the powder a bold red color. I know it’s supposed to look powerful and watermelonish, but as I’ve stated in previous reviews I am not a fan of adding artifice if it’s not needed. I mean I understand why some foods have dye in them (candies, deserts, other presentation-based foods) but not preworkout drinks. We don’t need it to look pretty folks – we just need it to work. It could gain a better flavor and more natural red color if it simply contained more natural watermelon, I might ad.
As for the actual taste, it definitely tasted watermelon-able. Like I mentioned before I just love watermelon. It tasted kind of like what you imagine any watermelon-like punch might taste like. It’s all good – my palate is like a horse and I could drink watermelon-alose all day long.
Headline Ingredients (Niacin, Beta-Alanine, Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, Citrulline Malate, Caffeine)
One thing I absolutely love about this product is it’s no bullshit ingredient list. Unlike other products that obscure quantities with a “mix” prefix or find artificial reasons to group them, this just has one very definitive list from head to toe on what it’s made of. Bravo! Also the diversity of the list is pretty awesome for a preworkout, double Bravo!
Niacin (5mg) also known as a form of Vitamin B3 is the heaviest supplement on the label, and a surprising addition to the mix. I’m not versed enough to say if it’s “common” to have Niacin in a pre-workout but the overall health considerations of having extra B-vitamins is plenty reason to have it in anything. A true health supplement, more B-vitamins will help the body generate good cholesterol, eliminate bad cholesterol and improves the ability of the body to burn carbohydrates into glucose. At 5mg, this pre-workout is not sufficient to replace a daily dose (it is about 25%-33% of what you’d want to consume in a day) but with a normal healthy diet or multi-vitamin supplement it is nice to get the extra Niacin.
Beta-Alanine (2000mg) is here for a great boost to your endurance, workout volume and generally is an awesome stimulant. A fundamental pre-workout ingredient the 2g dose is probably what I’d recommend someone choose for a pre-workout. I would suggest that if you want the best dietary benefits of Beta-Alanine that you should consider taking a second dose through the day. I will note this is the generic type of Beta-Alanine, which is fine as I’ve not formed strong opinions about the popular “CarnoSyn” brand you see other pre-workouts using.
Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (1500mg) is primarily here for its nitric oxide boosting, but I’m never really fully convinced this has a noticeable training effect this has. It also has those libido gains for those who look forward to it. If you want your product to be the “BEST NITRIC OXIDE PRE WORKOUT” (from their website) this seems like a sensible core ingredient.
Good ol’ Citrulline Malate (1500mg) is also here, the primary purpose seems to be for it to convert to L-Arginine, essentially boosting the Argining supplementation and the nitric oxide boosting. I am assuming the ratio is 2:1 on this Citrulline Malate correct me if I’m wrong (not sure what it means if the ratio is not listed). This of course is a partner to Arginine AKG because the Citrulline will be converted into Arginine as it is processed by the body.
Between the Arginine AKG and Citrulline Malate, the dosages are lower and I imagine they are designed to compliment each other to provide a culmitive effect. Even so, I believe these doses are low for the intended effect. I would prefer either of these be closer to 2g or even 3g (3g being closer to what I hear recommended).
While on the smaller end of the list I put caffeine up here since it is an essential stimulant and at 250mg, it is closer to what I recommend in a pre-workout. Most Americans have a degree of caffeine resistance being we drink so many caffeinated beverages, and most pre-workouts settle on 200mg of caffeine – or less. 250mg is great and refreshing to see and it definitely gives you a little kick.
Other Ingredients (L-Carnitine, Mucuna L-Dopa 20%, Taurine, Theobromine, Yohimba HCI)
These ingredients are in lower quantities than most of the above, but definitely are important factors to the mix. I find some of these the most interesting.
L-Carnitine (750mg) is an appropriate dose for a pre-workout and the primary role here is fat burning and recovery. Keep in mind for the full benefits of this you should be supplementing it at other times throughout the day (I think a 1.5g to 2g total daily dose is best), although your diet and body may do this for you.
Mucuna L-Dopa 20% (450mg) is a new one for me to look at. An extract of the velvet bean, increasing L-Dopa in your system can effect mood and its supplementation as far as I’m aware is shown to directly increase dopamine, which you probably know as the neurotransmitter that fires off when new expansions to Dark Souls 3 DLC are announced. I am not educated enough about L-Dopa nor about what the 20% indicates to tell if this dose is effectual or not, but it’s a nice and interesting addition to the mix. Generally something to help your mood is going to help your workout.
Taurine (400mg), a natural balance to Beta-Alanine, is a logical supplement. It however seems to be a low dose in my opinion, other preworkouts I have used had 1g to 2g. Whether this is even needed or not is debateable as if your diet is normal it is unlikely you need extra, but given there is a healthy Beta-Alanine dose I’d suggest a higher Taurine dose. A bigger dose could earn the pre-workout makers the right to talk more about reducing lactic acid buildup, but I feel like runners are not their primary demographic.
Theobromine (100mg) commonly found in cocoa extract and concentrated best in darker chocolates is a great cardiovascular stimulant and I imagine they are also parlaying this into the mix to improve their claims on nitric oxide production for the mix. The 100mg dose is okay as it is difficult to tell how many times someone might use your product in a day, but I’d probably have a 200mg to 250mg dose.
Yohimbe HCI (3mg) is in a tiny dose because it can in some cases have negative effects, it is a nice adrenaline booster and fat burner. This is a secondary fat burning component that is definitely a play by the maker to claim the pre-workout is powerful. While I normally complain the dose should be higher in situations like this, given there are two other stimulating factors in the mix the Yohimbe can be kept at this level I think and still do its thing. Also I can more safely take a double dose in a day if I want the extra pep or do a second workout without concerns of negative effects Yohimbe can have in extreme doses.
I used this preworkout for a 4 day training week just before beginning my workout. Well I will say that during these workouts I maintained a smooth, steady state of alertness in comparison at least to previous workouts. I definitely noticed an energy boost which was calm and without a crash.
While reviewing preworkouts I have to say, preworkouts are somewhat difficult to evaluate. Your workout quality can easily overridden by the day you’re having, your diet, your rest. However I will say that on this preworkout there was less of a rush to a peak effect followed by a crash and that was consistent every time I took it. It definitely provided consistent energy through the workout which makes this preworkout one of my favorites since I started reviewing them.
Going over the ingredients once more, the pre-workout isn’t perfect. Some doses are low, there are a lot of doubled up ingredients which is smart but also for those doses to be exactly right a lot of research should b done and I believe just based on what I see there is room for optimization, and things like the red dye is just unnecessary. Overall though, the ingredients are a great selection of interesting materials that come together for a good experience.
In previous reviews I typically wrap up by suggesting whether I’d try it again. I will step aside from those previous reviews this time by saying that this pre-workout, if you try and like it as I have, could easily be a staple pre-workout to use. I definitely believe one element of supplements and pre-workouts is diversity but this pre-workout is smart, composed well and would be a good one to routinely use.