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About Me
Hey yo! For those of you who don't know my name is Phoebus Apollo. I am a Pittsburgh, PA based blogger, web designer, fitness nerd and once-passed bill writer. I spent 3 years working in the Portland, OR area for Circuit City and 4 years before that working at Regal Cinemas in downtown Portland, many of you may know me from those places. After moving to Pittsburgh I worked at Sears, now I work with Office Depot. Some of you may have met me via activities in the Pittsburgh area that I host or attend on meetup.com which is awesome. Others may know me from my work with Perverted Justice and their websites @ pjfi.org. A few may even remember that time I founded the alliance Of Sound Mind in Eve Online, although I am on haitus from the game. My hometown is Greenville, MI where most of my family is located.

This is a home for my ideas, projects, fitness logs and other nonsense. Right now I mainly post day to day thoughts on Facebook so check me out there to say hi!

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Primal Muscle’s “Primal Surge” 10x Pre-workout Supplement Review

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.

Workout Results

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.

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A Rant on the NRA & Philando Castile’s Death

I recently went on a little tirade on Facebook regarding the NRA’s response, or lack thereof, to the Philando Castile murder. Philando was a black American with to my knowledge a spotless criminal record who was killed at a traffic stop after announcing to the officer that he had a valid permit weapon. There is no reason at this moment to doubt the eyewitness account of his fiance, who watched him die, that he was in fact complying with the officer’s orders and that the officer had escalated the confrontation to lethal force for pretty much no reason.

This situation is a textbook 2nd amendment rights case, and when you think 2nd amendment rights you think the NRA which is a forefront gun rights advocacy group. After all what is more egregious than the government murdering a civilian for no reason besides that he was cooperating and in compliance with local gun laws? After a bit of pressure, the NRA made a comment that you can read in full on their Twitter account. The NRA refused to mention Castile by name, saying they will reserve comment “following an investigation”. I suspect there will be no follow up to this situation.

Supporters of the NRA might say here that reserving comment on a situation like this definitely warrants finding out “all the facts”, but fact of the matter is we have a fairly credible account of the situation. Listen, I’ll wait for you to go form your own opinion of this shooting as it might as well be any one of a number of other violent shootings targeting black Americans by police officers in our country. Fact is he was a licensed carrier of his weapon, there is no evidence he was doing anything other than cooperating with the law enforcement officer, and being murdered for this is a clear violation of his Constitutional rights. So I posit the question: if the NRA “can’t comment without and investigation” on a fairly clearcut case of a 2nd amendment Constitutional rights violation for a person who was murdered by the government – then what exactly is the NRA for?

The Rant

Like most special interest groups, the NRA has a narrative and agenda to push. That narrative is that inner city violence is self perpetuated by black society and that a well armed citizenry, military and police force is the only way to “control” them. It is a fear driven narrative that meshes well with their message that gun ownership is the only solution to foreign invading terrorist forces.

While the NRA is far from the only special interest group in the United States that puts its narratives before its policy making and principles (there are endless examples), for the NRA to refuse to at least even acknowledge the legitimate concerns gun owners in the country should have when a news story comes out that an American citizen was wrongfully murdered by a police officer – denying him any due process of law – for merely carrying a weapon and following the legal process to disclose it just demonstrates one thing: the NRA’s perpetuation of their narrative is based on their constituency – an older, white American society who believes in more “traditional” policies. A militaristic America, where arming the government more than the population keeps those minority groups and foreigners “in check”.

I fear a government that is armed to the teeth and able to outright murder its citizens without any due process of law, whose agents suffer very few to no penalties for these violations of our rights. I believe every American who believes in protecting their rights should fear the same thing. The NRA is quick to push that fear as a reason to arm the civil population – but fact is, and this is all throughout their own propaganda through all their official sources – the NRA would rather have the police force and military armed to the teeth. This is a more dangerous government, not a less dangerous one, it shows that their gun manufacturer sponsors profits are more important than a strong citizenry.

In the NRA’s narrative, a better society is one where every police officer is even better armed than today, and that is a dangerous society. No well armed civilian population can really do anything to hold a group like this accountable. That puts the NRA at odds with the chief principle of the 2nd amendment – that the primary reason we believe people should be allowed to carry guns is to protect ourselves from an oppressive government. One that would violate our due process and human rights by murdering our citizens, denying them the right to see a day in court.

If the NRA can’t stop that from happening for us, to protect us from a government that is not in any way accountable to us, then what is the point of it? We don’t need any advocacy group that refuses to actually advocate whenever doing so doesn’t bolster their narrative. This is a clear case of the group being ineffectual and potentially making the problem worse by alienating those who desperately need someone to advocate for them.

In short

If it was a white American who died I somewhat doubt they’d be waiting on the investigation to make a comment. Perhaps not every member of the NRA is racist, but the underpinnings of many of their primary concerns with society has a lot to do with pushing a social agenda which has racial undertones. One that can at times compromise their principles. A principled gun rights advocate should be calling for answers and justice for Philando Castile and I think it is out and out ignorant of the situation to suggest anything else.

The point of an advocacy group

Advocacy groups are supposed to, y’know, advocate. To support those who might be the ones who have nobody else to stand up for them. Philando cannot support himself in this cause because he’s dead, so you’d think people in a position to speak out on this kind of issue would be doing it now more than ever. Objectively, these two cases should be very cut and dry as far as what a guns-rights supporting American should think about the situation – they should be all for considering both gross misconduct by the police department and both cases should be looked at as potentially and the NRA refuses to comment. As the go-to group in the country to defend 2nd amendment rights, the distancing from even making statements about either of these situations is out and out troubling. I guess the “carry a gun legal or not and get shot on sight” policy many of these police officers have with our citizens is just an A-OK thing to the NRA.

While the NRA won’t say anything and is probably perfectly happy to never make a comment addressing this situation ever again and just forget it, not everyone in America is going to remain quiet. A great example of a public comment made by a gun rights advocacy group called the Second Amendment Foundation (based in Bellevue, WA) expresses grave concern over the situation involving Castile’s death in a statement in conjunction with the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

From the words of the SAF founder Alan Gottlieb: “Wednesday night’s shooting of Philando Castile is very troubling, especially to the firearms community, because he was a legally-armed private citizen who may have done nothing more than reach for his identification and carry permit. […] We have received calls of alarm today from many of our members across the country. They are justifiably concerned that a law-abiding citizen may have been wrongfully killed. […] The concerns of our members, and honest gun owners everywhere, go even deeper. Exercising our right to bear arms should not translate to a death sentence over something so trivial as a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and we are going to watch this case with a magnifying glass.”

Whether you believe in gun control or not, you should universally agree that so long as it is within the law people should not be shot and killed merely for being legal gun owners. Even a guns rights cynic should agree to this much. However to expect any American organization to practice principle over supporting their core narratives is just asking too much, it is an inbred facet of our society.

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Should Police Officers Have Guns?

I just wanted to repost this rant from Facebook, on the recent issues surrounding the crisis in our country on law enforcement led violence against our citizenry, especially those in the Black community.

Taking another look at Police and their role in our community

When I think of the police department and the public service they provide, I’ve always felt like this: The sole job of the police department in our society is to serve and protect the community, to uphold and to enforce the rights given to us by the Constitution.

That said, if someone were to come and steal from me, to take things from me, the odds of a police officer being able and willing to help me are statistically poor. If someone murdered me, murdered a member of my family again the odds of a police officer being able and willing to help stop the violence is poor. I can be pretty guaranteed that if a fight broke out, if someone wanted to rape someone I cared about, that if I personally cannot stop them that the odds – statistically speaking – of any police officer arriving in enough time to do any good whatsoever again, are too poor to rely on. If I want to protect myself and my family in these situations I need to be willing to act of my own accord to protect myself and my family. Even living close to a police station I just don’t believe anyone in blue can help me in a true crisis, it just is not plausible that they will react in the time needed to help me.

As such, I’ve always held the only thing a police officer can do for me is help investigate a crime after the fact, after me or someone I love is a victim. Honestly, most departments do not have the resources available to do a very good job of this, only seeming willing to help if handed the appropriate evidence to seek a conviction on a silver platter. I have never had confidence that a police department will help me greatly if my car gets stolen, or my wallet, or if someone violent hurts me or my family. They might if the perpetrator is out and out stupid, but if they are smart, once the crime is committed and they are gone it is only my word and my ability to collect evidence that helps me in any way seek a resolution via the help of law enforcement.

As a law abiding citizens when I think of the police I don’t think of a daring do-gooder who is going to protect me when I’m being threatened by violence. I more think of a mundane traffic stop, a levy for a fine, and an interaction with someone who if anything is there to intimidate me more than anything else. When I see law enforcement on the street and in public, I tend to have a genuine concern that even looking at them the wrong way or saying the wrong thing in their presence could get me in trouble, some might say that concern is unjustified but is it really? I see a law enforcement officer as someone who stands before me, looking for ways to fine me or imprison me to make their quotas – and I am the law abiding citizen!

No action without accountability

When I think about what that means for my family, my wife and stepchildren who are black, I have a real constant concern that these minor things could wind up being a tragedy for them, over something simple or stupid. My wife had a gun held to her face by a law enforcement officer less than a year ago in front of her children, over a mundane traffic violation. Because the threat of death is the best way to perform a traffic stop, I guess. For people who have the power of life and death, I kind of have to wonder if they even get more than the most rudimentary basic training in crisis resolution.

As agents of our government, police officers while serving are the opposite of private citizens. This country is built on the idea that citizens have rights, and the police officers being a part of the government have privileges granted to them by us. If the police department is not doing constructive things to prevent crime, if they can’t help me in the event of crime actually happening, then I’m not quite understood as to why they exist the way they do. I get that being an officer is a dangerous occupation, but no amount of that should create a system that protects those who just murder our citizens without any due process of law as frequently as police officers in our country do.

If you share the same concerns, I want to put forward an idea to you. Sure, police can theoretically respond to emergency situations and I’ll admit you can find examples of them doing so – but if you believe as I do that this does not reflect the real day to day ongoings of the police bureau in your community then tell me, why exactly do we as citizens permit our local police departments to carry guns and exercise lethal force at their own personal discretion? I used to think this was a necessary facet of our police department, but after seeing the developments in this country, well, I’m not so sure anymore. Do you actually believe that carrying guns will significantly impact a police officer’s ability to respond to your home invasion, to your mugging or violent beating, to your murder or the murder or rape of your family? Do you think your local police officers can exercise their discretion over applying lethal force – keeping in mind that death is an immediate revocation of any kind of due process – well enough to justify continuing to have that authority and that they should be consistently protected by the legal system when they don’t exercise best judgement with this power?

Protecting the Constitution and the people is the only role for the police department

The 2nd amendment was written to protect private people from their government, not to protect the government from the people. The 14th amendment says that no state shall deprive our life, liberty or property without due process of law which lethal force cannot provide. If police departments cannot create a system to hold their ranks to serious forms of accountability for these tragic incidents we’ve been inundated with for years time and time again, perhaps we should revoke the privilege they have to carry guns. While it may not be as easy as foreign countries to do this in the United States, it is our responsibility to do what is right and ethical in this situation, and most importantly, what protects the rights given to every one of us by the Constitution. The right to due process under the law, the right to a day in court for our crimes, the right not to be callously beaten and murdered just because some traitorous officer has a bad day.

Failure of an officer to exercise good judgement in a case of lethal force is, in my mind, high treason against the Constitution of the United States and personally I’d rather take the risk that I have to protect myself more in the future from violence than see any more tragedies like the kind that are on the news every single day. Such as the tragic circumstances behind the recent murders of ‪#‎philandocastile‬ or ‪#‎altonsterling‬ . I used to be critically skeptical of those saying police were being too brutal, but I think today I have to say we ‪#‎takeawaytheirguns‬ ‪#‎endlethalforce‬ ‪#‎bringaccountabilitytotheforce‬ because ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ ‪#‎alllivesmatter‬ and most importantly because ‪#‎peopleshouldnotbeafraidoftheirgovernment‬ !

One final thought: if I must choose my safety and security over the rights of others who are violated by all this police violence, then I easily choose to be unsafe and insecure. I am happy to deal with those consequences myself, to live in a country that is fair and that respects the life and rights of its people.

Some afterthoughts…

I think a lot of the encounters that you see hit the news have a lot to do with people who are reacting to things with human instincts. Citizens are not trained in crisis management and have every right to be nervous and anxious around officers especially because they know there is a reason to feel threatened – it only takes an officer with a bad attitude and poor judgement to miscarriage justice and that can be a severe disruption in someone’s life. Officers often see the world through the statistical bias that lends them to think minority groups are a higher risk of criminal behavior and it is also understandable that this would set a minority citizen at unease.

When these tragedies happen I believe a big part of why they occur is the officers (who should all be trained in crisis management unlike the citizen) are responding to their behavior with the classic fight or flight reaction – which is not the right reaction to rely on for good judgment with a firearm. So I think the only way to prevent more tragedy is to seriously consider removing the gun from the equation and only having a small class of officers – perhaps those who serve warrants or respond to emergencies with active shooters at the scene – be permitted to carry firearms, then to have a high level of oversight over all incidents where they are used. It is an honor and responsibility to anyone who serves our country to use the resources they are given by us responsibly. We cannot have a domestic police force all having the power of life and death, it just seems outside the scope of what is realistic to expect our domestic police force be trained for. Every deficiency of training an officer to handle a crisis situation results in a person whose rights are taken away. It may seem like a challenge, but revoking their firearms seems to me the only ethical solution.

As a citizen, I do believe citizens should maintain the right to own legally acquired firearms, because the fact is we each individually are the ones who most usually have to defend ourselves in a crisis situation. However that is a separate issue that I will address another day. I do want to be clear that this proposal is merely with regards to limiting what agents of our government – the police force – should be permitted to do. I appreciate any and all feedback should anyone stumble upon this.

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Pitch Practice – Dark Souls TV Series

So a new series of blog posts I’m going to do from time to time is where I pitch an idea, just one on the top of my head, and lay out what I think is awesome about it. Whether or not I’d ever expect the idea to take flight or garner interest is something else altogether, just consider this practice. Today I’m going to put an idea I’ve ruminated on for some time, the basic plot structure for a TV series based on the Dark Souls video games.

For those who don’t know, Dark Souls is a game series directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. Critically acclaimed, the series is known for its lauded difficulty, in a world where triple A game titles walk you through them to a point where they are outright holding your hand, Dark Souls challenges the player creating a much more rewarding experience.

Another challenging aspect of Dark Souls, which lures fans in, is the game’s cryptic lore. Told through item descriptions and vague NPC chatter, the story behind the world of Dark Souls is fantastically deep with lots of hidden clues. In a world where television shows tend to be dramatic by just being violent or bludgeoning you with narrative I think the subtle artistic aspect to Dark Souls lore would be perfect to carry into a tv show.

This will probably come off like nerdy fanfiction, but the point of this is just to show I have a basic premise to work with. I am not a lore expert by any means, so conflicting lore issues are generally not the biggest concern for me, instead just having the outline correct.

The Loglines

In the broken and dangerous world of Drangleic two chosen undead must complete a quest to fix their world before they lose the last of their humanity. The quest: choose to light the first flame of the world to continue an age of fire ruled by gods or allow the it to die, bringing about an age of darkness ruled by man.


For those of you unfamiliar with Dark Souls here is the basic story of the game. In this fantasy world set in a medieval setting the world was created as grey and ashen and was ruled by immortal dragons. Then change was introduced in the form of the first flame, from within the darkness of this flame humanity arose. Three humans found great power within the first flame called Lord Souls and took it for themselves, becoming the world’s first lords (or gods). They were: Nito – Lord of Death, Gwyn – Lord of Sunlight and the Witch of Izalith – Lord of Chaos. A fourth Lord Soul was found by a being known only as a furitive pygmy, it was a special Dark Soul with power the pygmy kept hidden from the other Lords.

The three Lords learned of the dragon’s weakness from one of their own who had betrayed them, and used this knowledge to strip the dragons of their immortal scales and destroy them. A new age had begun, the Age of Fire, and the Lords ruled the land bringing about peace amongst the humans. However eventually the first flame began to fade, and with it the powers granted to the Lords. Threatened with destruction, Gwyn committed what is referred to as the “first sin” by linking his own essence to the first flame to keep it burning for another era, but doing so causes humans to start becoming afflicted with a darksign – the beginning of the undead curse. Now each time the fire fades, the undead curse spreads further eventually finding itself a chosen undead who is persistent enough to collect of the old Lords power to relink the flame as Gwyn once did. Even if there is an age of darkness due to the chosen undead refusing to link the flame, the curse continues to spread and become worse until eventually a chosen undead rises that usurps enough power to link the flame and start another age of fire. While there are presumably many ages of fire and ages of darkness to a point where kingdoms from eras of peace are forgotten altogether, it is only clear at this point that the world is stuck in this cycle of fire and dark.

Set between the events of Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III, this series takes a look at the adventures of two chosen undead as they explore the land of Drangleic in search of the power that can grant them access to the first flame. Much like the game, a brunt of the story takes place with the help of supporting characters – humans, other undead, mystical beings like dragons and even gods – who share struggles ultimately culminating in the first flame’s fate. Even though our protaganists can die, they are functionally immortal due to the undead curse which resurrects them at bonfires spread throughout the land – but with every death the chosen undead loses a little of their humanity and sanity. Much of the world is now overrun with “hollows”, those undead who finally lost all sense of self and are only violent empty shells. As it pertains to the storytelling of the series a more important element of the curse is that death and resurrection has another effect – the world in which these characters inhabit is broken in both time and space, and as they die and resurrect the characters shift between realities constantly becoming separated from one another.

Several characters will directly return from the game series itself (characters such as the Emerald Herald, Patches, Darkstalker Kaathe, Kirk the Knight of Thorns and Gwyndolin), however many new characters introduced specifically for the show will be analogues to existing Dark Souls characters or potentially “reincarnations” if you choose to see it that way (there will definitely be a knight of Astora similar to Solaire, a knight of Catarina similar to Siegward/Siegmeyer, and a crossbreed dragon/human similar to Company Captain Yorshka or Crossbreed Priscilla).

Plot Synopsis

The most important element to this story is that it takes place with two primary main characters afflicted with the undead curse, one male the other female who do not have any definitive background or story. I have not given these characters names and I’m not convinced they need them as of yet, the less that is told about key story elements like this the more it retains the original storytelling mystique of the game series. In fact in the plot summary I’m going to just refer to them as the “Male Undead” and “Female Undead” for now. These characters are basically blank slates who react to the things they find in Drangleic in ways that establish their personality types, neither being definitively good or evil but eventually coming at odds to one another. They both meet the same set of characters but besides for a few key moments they will have little direct interaction with one another.

In general the first episode of the series will introduce the world and these two characters, with each one having very similar experiences (albeit both characters will in most cases be completely separated from the other) in almost a deja vu like manner. It will be revealed that the Emerald Herald drew them both to an undead settlement and even though she appears as she did originally in Dark Souls II she makes it clear she is nearing the end of her life. The characters learn the basic backstory to the world of Dark Souls while arriving at the shrine. The Emerald Herald has spent the last years of her life building a shrine to the bonfires – explained as embers of the first flame – which is being tended to by a shrine handmaiden and the last cursed members who are townspeople and workers who find menial labor as their willpower to stop from becoming completely hollow (which teaches the viewer about how hollowing and the curse works). These characters work on the shrine but the Male Undead attempts to speak to them the and Emerald Herald stops him, insisting that any stoppage from the work could lead to them going completely hollow. When the Female Undead arrives to the shrine the events play out nearly identically, she meets the Emerald Herald also – in fact the scenes can be told in parallel – however there will be some subtle differences in her experience, such as the builders being mostly gone (I forsee an overhead shot entering the shrine of workers, with the Male Undead’s scene being busy and then panning to the Female Undead’s entrance with a substantially more thin population of workers).

As the story progresses, we see the Male and Female Undead meet the cast of supporting characters who serve as a backdrop to tell fun/interesting stories focused on human nature, creating a lot of standalone episodes. The first destination for both undead is an asylum of undead, where they find a Knight of Catarina wearing the classic onion-shaped armor who is stuck at a drawbridge with a fierce drake at the other end. The Catarina Knight is helped by both undead in slightly different ways to solve the problem – the Male Undead solves the problem for the Catarina Knight and the Female Undead cooperates with him, encouraging him to help in the solution – and each gain a bit of the Catarina Knight’s respect (albeit for different reasons). Their next stop is to ring the Bell of Awakening and at the base of the church they both meet a Knight of Astora, I envision this being a female character who says her father was a great warrior of sunlight whose footsteps she is following in now that she has found herself now bearing the undead curse. This insinuates she is the daughter of the Dark Souls character Solaire, and she is met wearing his iconic armor and shield and sharing his boisterous persona. This character will introduce the soapstones which allows the undead characters to find each other via a summoning sign, which will be an important mechanic to understand what is going on down the line in the story. The Knight of Astora joins the Male Undead to ring the bell, and helps him fend off vicious gargoyles, whereas the Female Undead also has the Knight of Astora’s help however she has to use a soapstone summon sign to find her help.

Again I reiterate that the male and Female Undead’s journeys meet the same characters in a criss-crossing fashion, often both being in similar situations, but each story is completely separate. It is almost as if they are both in slightly different dimensions. In the first 5-6 episodes we see quite a few phantom images of other characters who especially appear clearer as the undead characters sit by the bonfires they encounter. Through deduction as the story swaps between scenes with the Male and Female Undead, the viewer should begin to notice events from one person’s “world” are being echoed in another via these phantoms, and that some characters only appear in one world or another as a summoned phantom via the soapstones.

In the fourth episode, both undead meet Patches, a trickster who lures them both into a trap. The Male Undead finds a clever solution to the trap which enables his escape, whereas in the Female Undead’s world she finds a method to brute force her escape, finding and beating Patches into submission. When cornered by both undead Patches offers them information, which convinces them to go separate ways to proceed on their journey exploring different areas to seek more power to find the first flame in the upcoming episodes.

The rest of the episodes are not set in stone but I have an outline as to how the story progresses for the two protagonists which I’ll outline below as well as how the plot for the first season resolves.

Story of the Male Undead

The Male Undead explores his path through the world and after traversing a toxic swamp he meets the Flame God Flann – one member of a distant royal family, seeking to find his own solution to the problems of the first flame – who convinces the Male Undead that it simply requires the right person to link the flame to end the undead curse. Flann is trying to find the research of a “scholar of the first sin” to learn more about the cycles of fire and dark, to find a better solution outside of merely linking or failing to link the flame. The Male Undead comes into conflict with a hunter of humanity (the Dark Souls red invading phantoms) Kirk the Knight of Thorns who kills undead over and over again to harvest their energy from their remaining humanity. It is established that Kirk uses an artifact called a Red Eye Orb to invade sources of humanity as a red phantom. It is later shown he does this to feed a young deformed girl with the human soul energy he acquires. At first this invader seems like an adversary, but the Male Undead finds out through the course of his adventure that Kirk is only feeding her this energy because she is the one of the last in the line of the Daughters of Chaos and she needs it to survive, which are descendants from the original Witch of Izalith. Lore fans of the series know The Witch of Izalith used her Lord Soul to try to recreate the first flame, but instead created a powerful horde of demons.

After the Male Undead allies with a Carthus warrior to venture into a demon ruins the Male Undead learns how to manipulate humanity from his own essence using the magic of pyromancy. The two dig deep into the ruins and find a tamed Stray Demon, and the Male Undead learns of the true nature of the relationship the Daughter of Chaos with Kirk from this demon. As it turns out, the demons of this ruin were enslaved by a legion of soldiers from a powerful nearby settlement, and despite their imposing size and power they are in a poor condition. The next time Kirk attacks the Male Undead coaxes a piece of his own soul using his newfound skills of pyromancy and gives Kirk this energy voluntarily. Kirk then takes the Male Undead to the young Daughter of Chaos out of respect and although she is sickly she shows the Male Undead how to create life with the human soul energy, however teaching him this technique causes her to die. Kirk departs, only being seen again in the Female Undead’s world as a hollowed warrior. After all this the Male Undead’s willpower to see his quest to its end is the only thing keeping him from going hollow and the advancement of hollowing is beginning to show in his exposed flesh as he becomes more thin and pale, decayed. Knowing he is almost ready to find the first flame, he is informed he simply needs more power to gain access, being told the only place to potentially find this energy is in the original land of the Lords, Anor Londo.

Story of the Female Undead

Then there is the quest of the Female Undead, which takes her to a citadel in a remote colony where she meets a royal family. These new rulers were the ones who established the undead asylum as a place to put hollowing undead to keep them safe from their mostly human population, a suggestion of their chief advisor. It is evident though that something is amiss, a creeping darkness seems to plague the community. Between this and the curse causing substantial groups of the population to go hollow the human settlement is starting to fall into disarray. The Female Undead journeys to a nearby township of the colony which is being plagued by dark forces and finds a giant grey wolf who fends off the Darkness. At first the giant Wolf attacks the Female Undead, but when she injures her right arm in the battle and the Wolf realizes she is not tainted by the darkness it befriends her. The giant Wolf is showing visible signs of aging and has an emaciated leg, but being giant and powerful the Wolf helps her continue her adventure into the darkness to find where to go next.

While exploring the chasms of darkness the dark beings who reside therein keep a distance from the Wolf or more importantly a silver pendant that hangs around the Wolf’s neck, allowing the Female Undead passage deeper into the chasm. At a distance she finds the royal advisor treading the depths as well and follows, staying hidden. He eventually notices her, confronts her and reveals himself to be a Darkwraith warrior. After defeating him, she finds what he was protecting, the lair of the Primordial Serpent Kaathe. Kaathe welcomes the Female Undead and explains to her how to fix the world – by collecting the power of all the Lords including the lost power of her “progenitor” (the furitive pygmy), which will allow her to become a Dark Lord and stop all those who would seek to kindle the flame. He says the darksign of the undead curse is what allows her to collect this power, and that she must find a way to acquire energy from the Dark Soul itself. If she does this all that remains to become the Dark Lord is to head to the land of the Lords, Anor Londo, to find the remaining power needed.

Kaathe says the Wolf knows the way to the power of the Dark Soul, giving her the Ashen Mist Heart which he explains is an artifact which will let her revisit the memory of those of history to find the Dark Soul energy that she needs. The Wolf somewhat understands what is being asked of him (the Wolf does not speak) and it leads the Female Undead to a graveyard deep in the nearby forest. Not far from a towering grave is a smaller one, where the Ashen Mist Heart resonates and allows the Female Undead to traverse into a dream world of the past, which is really the ancient memory of the Chosen One – the true Abyss Walker. Taking the Abyss Walker’s place in this memory the Female Undead finds Manus, Lord of the Abyss and defeats him.

Acquiring power from the Dark Soul during this challenge the Female Undead returns to her time, but when she tries to leave Wolf steps in front of her. Sensing the power of the Darkness, the Wolf turns on the Female Undead. Despite being old and wounded the giant Wolf takes the Female Undead off guard, his pendant weakening her until an errant blow rips the rope that keeps the pendant around his neck. She ultimately dies in the struggle, after inflicting further wounds the old Wolf. She wakes at a nearby bonfire with the dark energy from the memory still acquired and she chooses not to find the old Wolf again, heading next to Anor Londo.

Supporting Cast

As mentioned before while all this happens the supporting cast of characters sort of criss cross between the Male Undead’s world and the Female Undead’s world. Supporting character story arcs follow up like this:

The Knight of Catarina (analogue to the game’s Sieward/Siegmeyer) is always found in need of aid, and we come to realize that while he is a bit lazy and unmotivated what keeps him going is the need to feel important. The Male Undead settles the Knight of Catarina’s problem for him but realizes he made a mistake near the end, allowing the Knight of Catarina to fight (and die) on his behalf – the Knight of Catarina of course will resurrect at a nearby bonfire having died with his sense of pride intact. The Female Undead however believes in cooperation and teamwork and refuses to let him fight a battle for her and while she is well meaning this leads the Knight of Catarina ultimately to lose confidence, later resulting in him becoming hollow.

The Knight of Astora (presumably the daughter of the game’s knight Solaire) appears at pivotal moments to both adventurers, sometimes via the soapstone and sometimes in person. This character gives the person background and information on what is going on, expressing optimism and it is clear she is on the same quest as the undead (perhaps in her own reality). Using the power of the soapstone the Male Undead helps her achieve her goals, she reveals she is looking for a lost warrior, whereas while trying to help the Female Undead find her way out of the Abyss (where the Female Undead met Kaathe) the Knight of Astora is assaulted by frog beasts which expel a noxious gas causing her to become petrified. I haven’t decided where else to show her these are after all just basic ideas, but I do believe she would be a great character to use going into a second season plot.

Patches the thief will also make several returns to the story, reprising his role as trickster and all around uncouth person. I haven’t decided on any particular story to tell with him, but something about his ego and personality is what keeps him from going hollow and he knows this so he embraces it. In fact he calls his spirit “unbreakable”. Another point I’d add is that while it is generally considered that he lied to each undead when he told them in their first encounter to go each way to seek power, this is not necessarily the case.

Lastly the halfbreed dragon (analogue to the game series characters Priscilla/Yorksha) meets both undead at different points in their journey and convinces them they should work as agents for the Darkmoon Blades. Both undead conscript to the cause, the Male Undead believing Gwyndolin intends to help make him a worthy undead to link the fire (it is later found out this is a deceipt as Gwyndolin is in fact collecting power from as many as he can, killing any undead with strong humanity to absorb more power) and the Female Undead joins with the intent to betray the covenant, knowing that Gwyndolin has the power needed for her to become the Dark Lord. This returns us back to the main plot. A plot point viewers should deduce here is that the syncing between the character’s realities always happens at points of death/resurrection, the Male and Female Undead soon get separated after she dies (the Blades discover her treachery and assassinate her).

The Final Story Arc

Depending on how many episodes the series is greenlit for, the next series of events can either be strung together as a conclusion to the first season or can be segmented by supporting cast stories with the first part being a mid-season break and the second part being the season finale. Either way the story continues with both undead reaching Anor Londo, intent on betraying the Darkmoon Blades and killing Gwyndolin.

Despite the difficulty to get this far in their journies the undead both discover Gwyndolin’s antechamber is guarded by the elite warriors of Gwyn’s old guard. While their names are forgotten they are known only as the Dragonslayer and the Royal Executioner (those who know the game’s lore immediately recognize these two to be the infamous Ornstein and Smough). Both undead initially are unable to defeat the duo of the Dragonslayer and Executioner and the Female Undead who feels she is out of options, lays down her soapstone to offer assistance to others who might seek it and simply waits. The Male Undead sees her summon sign, and brings her back into sync with his world as a phantom. Together they defeat the Dragonslayer and Executioner allowing the Male Undead to meet Gwyndolin in his antechamber. As she returns to her plane of existence she finds herself alone still having to face the challenge of the Dragonslayer and Executioner who still live in her realm and continue to guard the antechamber. From here we skip ahead to each undead meeting Gwyndolin – the Male Undead making his way directly as he defeated his Dragonslayer/Executioner, whereas the Female Undead comes in a little later the fight having happened off-camera – she now carries the lightning spear that the Dragonslayer was seen holding before, however her face is decrepit and you can see she is slowly becoming more hollow. It is insinuated by this that after many attempts she managed to defeat the duo on her own, however this is a future plot point to explore in perhaps a second season.

This finally culminates with Gwyndolin falling to both undead, and they each having the power to access the Kiln of the First Flame, to decide the fate of the world. Before approaching the First Flame, they meet the Emerald Herald again. She explains that she was created to cure the curse but she knew when she was born that her sight, which lets her see the future, shows her that she simply cannot cure the curse. She encourages the Male Undead to link the flame. When she talks to the Female Undead the Emerald Herald is found out to have gouged out her own eyes. She says she gave up her sight to find the cure to the curse and now has it, she tells the Female Undead to touch the darkness within her to cure the darksign making the Female Undead mortal again (I will still refer to her as the “Female Undead” just to keep consistent but she is now no longer cursed). The now mortal Female Undead, still in possession of the power of the Lords, still wants to attempt to confront the challenge inside the Kiln to try to become the Dark Lord despite knowing the risk of failure is a death that is final.

Inside the Kiln, an Unknown Warrior paces around the site of the first flame, warding away any trespassers. The intention is for him to resemble Lord Gwyn from the series, but perhaps to be a little unique as this is not the same character. In the final exposition of the Emerald Herald prior to this fight, she explains that corpses all surrounding the flame are from those who linked it in the past and were defeated, this last warrior being the most recent one to link the flame. In battle the Male Undead defeats the Unknown Warrior using his pyromancy abilities and battle prowess. The Female Undead also defeats the Unknown Warrior in a fairly long and drawn out duel that exhausts all her remaining endurance, coming very close to being killed in the process.

As both undead approach the bonfire that is the First Flame, they see phantoms of the other (in past scenes phantom images become clearer when in proximity to a bonfire so their proximity to the first flame brings them into a very clear face to face confrontation). Unable to speak we see the Female Undead expresses dismay at the Male Undead, almost as if she is yelling at him to stop as she can see him potentially lighting the flame. A subplot to the story I did not mention is that in a previous episode when it was revealed that Kirk the Knight of Thorns went hollow it was in the Female Undead’s reality, and on defeating his hollow form she finds the Red Eye Orb. The Red Eye Orb senses strong sources of humanity beyond the dimensional barriers and begins to act erratic in the Female Undead’s hands, and she uses the orb to invade the Male Undead’s world as a red phantom. On arrival she puts forth a fevered argument over the merits of linking the flame, explaining that she wants to become a Dark Lord as a way to end the cycle and hopefully the curse.

She ultimately loses the fight, which brings her back to her own world (dying as a phantom is not the same as physical death, so even though she is mortal she is not yet “dead” from losing this fight). The Male Undead links the flame and tries to create life but fails, and immediately becomes consumed by the fire. The Female Undead walks away from the flame in intense thought about the situation, and as she looks at the corpses she sees the Unknown Warrior that she fought slain before her. Looking down at him, she sees the crest on his shield which is the same crest she saw with the Male Undead.

While contemplating this she walks past the Emerald Herald, who is blind but hears her, and speaks to her. The Herald tells the Female Undead that the only person who linked the flame who was not undead was Gwyn, and that having cured herself of the curse she might now have a different future if she tries to link the flame. She after all still has the power of Lords from her journey. The Female Undead returns to the first flame and as she puts her hand out to link the fire it consumers her but in a different way. The fire bursts out of her body splitting her into two distinct people, then from that second person flames reach out to all the corpses in sight of the first flame. These bodies stand up, including the Unknown Warrior and perhaps even one resembling the original body of Gwyn. They surround the Female Undead, whose body is now ashen. They let her walk away her sanity intact, giving her a new form of power as her skin cracks with molten fire and the old linkers of the flame begin to merge with her doppleganger at the site of the flame. She is now officially the world’s first Lord of Cinder, and with this the Emerald Herald dies.

The viewer is essentially told nothing during this but one thing that the viewer should extrapolate from the scenes is that this story happens over a large period of time with a lot of shifting in time, and that the Male Undead and Female Undead both exist in two distinct eras (with the Male Undead’s era occurring first). The resurrected characters, summoned phantoms and invaders are the consequence of the curse shifting people in and out of time and space with the help of soapstones to provide different ways to cross that barrier. The one period of time when both undead were in the same reality was merely the consequence of the death/resurrection cycles moving them through time deliberately, this moving them back towards a more consistent time with each death. With this all established, a new era begins.

Prospects for future series lie in the true events of conflict of the Dragonslayer/Executioner and the Female Undead (the Female Undead does defeat the Dragonslayer after killing the Executioner but before she can kill him the Knight of Astora interjects and convinces the Dragonslayer to stand down and leave Anor Londo with her – causing him to throw down his lightning spear that we later see the Female Undead use for the remainder of the series), exploring the consequences of the Lord of Cinder linking the flame and what it means for those with the curse, the story of the rising pilgrims and their quest to restore balance to the world, as well as more game lore elements.


Okay this is a lot of back and forth but I just wanted to lay out what I think would make a great skeletal outline (good job skeleton!) for what could be an honest/interesting interpretation of the Dark Souls video game on the tv screen. What did you think? Did any of this make sense whatsoever or was is just jumbled fanfiction? Feel free to hit me up on Facebook with your 2 cents. Thanks for reading!

Next for Practice Pitch: A video game idea of my own that I’d create were I independently wealthy and willing to learn game coding!

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Sports Leg + Lung Pre-Workout Review

Here we are back again for a quick preworkout review, Sports Leg + Lung (Tropical Orange Flavor) from Sports Endurance Inc. Just like previous reviews I’m going to give this product a breakdown to get a total look at what you get and what all the little things mean.

Cover to Cover

Sports Leg + Lung has a very simple package with a subtitle of being a “performance-amplifying workout beverage”. The bullet list: reduces fatigue, reduces leg burn, increases strength, increases energy and increases stamina. We’ll come back to these as we break the product down. I am a fan of the simplistic label.

The one thing I’m not sure of is a quite lengthy writeup on the side of the label, in short the blurb encourages you to take the product daily for best results, and reiterates that it is meant for a variety of physical activities – including lifting which is how I will be assessing it. If I hadn’t read this blurb though I’d have thought it was focused mostly at runners with the leg emphasis in the writeup, but all things considered I think the blurb is unnecessary.

Before I get into ingredients, I want to note one problem I have with the product, it’s not *really* a problem but I feel like it could be handled better. One serving of this is 2 scoops. Generally speaking I feel like a product like this should have a scoop big enough to make one serving one scoop, because I tend to forget the second scoop altogether (as most products dose the serving into a single scoop) and when I goof that up that leaves me going into a workout a little flat. Just a minor issue.

Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition

The flavor components of this drink are natural flavor, citric acid, sucralose. Very basic. Definitely like this although again, as I’ve said time and time before, I’d appreciate more use of stevia in preworkouts like this. Definitely a thumbs up here, one smell of the interior of the container will tell you just how much the flavor relies directly on natural orange flavor.

As for the taste, and I’m really a poor person to judge any taste, it definitely tastes just like I’d think an orange drink should.

Of course silica shows here just to keep the powder dry, which it does a better job of than most of the other preworkouts I’ve looked at. It stays nice, mixable and very powdery and dry with no clumping. It’s odd, it’s almost as if there aren’t many ingredients in this to even cause it to absorb extra moisture in the first place…

Ingredients – Sports Leg and Lung Blend 5120mg (CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, L-Taurine, Caffeine from coffee beans)

Oh. Well this will be an interesting review. In previous reviews, my gripe was too many ingredients that either have no purpose or place or just are there for marketing and show. In this circumstance, we are literally at a bare bones list of ingredients. Just three big ones and the flavoring/silica and that’s it.

Before I list in the ingredients down for a breakdown, I want to note that there is no reason to list these ingredients as a “blend” and not disclose specific amounts. I like to know roughly how much caffeine I’m intaking for instance, and frankly if these are going to be the only 3 ingredients, just tell me how much each is and leave it at that. I really respect when a product does this for me and doesn’t make me guess.

First of all we see CarnoSyn again, the extra awesome brand of Beta Alanine. I personally have no big opinion on whether CarnoSyn branded beta alanine is better or worse than the regular stuff and my opinion of it hasn’t changed greatly since my last review – I love beta alanine of any kind in any preworkout. I will note it must be a significant dose, more than what I’d normally expect (normally I’d figure it to be about 2g), if I had to guess I’d think 3g (really have to guess just because the quantities are not listed on the label).

On my first full dose of this preworkout I got paresthesia tingles (which I remind the reader is a harmless effect of beta alanine) which I haven’t had for a while. I personally prefer a beta alanine dose strong enough to cause the tingles, it really tells me the beta alanine is there, beginning to be absorbed and of high quality. Definitely a plus. This product will be a great boost your muscle carnosine and get all those great endurance and performance effects beta alanine offers. This I will note is where the product substantiates most of it’s label claims (reducing fatigue, increasing energy, strength & stamina).

L-Taurine is always a great additive to go with beta alanine since the beta alanine depletes it. However it is here for an extra reason, to help prevent buildup of lactic acids which can cause muscle aches post workouts – especially for cardio work like long runs. Runners who get leg aches from long runs will appreciate anything that will help with lactic acid buildup. I have to imagine the dose here is significant since it must be mostly the remainder of the dose – probably around 2g.

Lastly good old caffeine. Good to have it from a natural source although to me caffeine is caffeine. Again no exact information on how much is here, but I imagine is is low. Somewhere around 120-200mg is what I figure it must be. If I’m wrong please correct me. It did not strike me to be particularly high when I took it, which is fine depending on your caffeine tolerance.

Workout Results

During my workout I did not notice any particular spike in energy, the tingles let me know when it was absorbing and really from there throughout I just had a smooth, natural flow of energy. No big boost, but no dips. I felt the product definitely does bolster, and having a good strong dose of beta alanine is excellent for any workout. As a matter of fact I do believe this preworkout was what I was using when I set my most recent deadlift PR.

I do feel like this product has some missed potential. It makes a fantastic boilerplate for the start of a good preworkout – great natural flavor (sucralose supported sure but I feel it’s mostly natural), simple list of ingredients that complement each other and are in significant doses, some caffeine (likely not enough for the average preworkout enthusiast). Anyways those things are all great and fundamental to a great preworkout but… what else is there? I don’t like fluff in my preworkouts so I’m glad none is here, but I would like a few spotlight ingredients added to the list to give it a little extra oomph. Maybe a mix of exotic ingredients like plant extracts. Maybe some basic stuff like creatine or citrulline malate. How about something for mental focus like hordenine HCI or agmatine sulfate. Perhaps even something to help your mood like Phenylethylamine HCI.

If I had to choose a basis for creating a fantastic preworkout, I would definitely consider a mix like this particular product has. But on its own, this mix is just a good preworkout. I definitely will like using it. I do however feel though that it has potential it’s not living up to as it is. Good product though and will use again in the future.

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Nuance isn’t Dead or How I learned to stop worrying and somewhat tolerate modern Socialists

For those of you who don’t know, I have for most of my adult life been a libertarian or as some might say classically liberal – at least in the sense that my point of view is that the best form of government for people in general is one that has limited control over the economy paired with also having limited control over social policies and culture. It didn’t take long for me to realize that party-line Libertarians were by and large out of touch with what is going on (after all who would run with a candidate like John McAfee) and that supporting them was not going to result in any great change. I had to accept over time that for my forseeable lifetime I’ll be voting for either Democrats or Republicans for President and to sit in the seats Congress and just have to accept whatever flaws that system comes with (consequences like Donald Trump having a plausible chance of actually becoming President). In general it is just a sad state of affairs for me personally as I have no real candidates to support.

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”

For a while when I felt more expressive I took to a little writing online having a small blog called the “New American Myth” and one of the projects that I put on that site a while ago was a little subsite called “SocialismWORKS!”, a sort of snarky look at Socialism. My subsite was never really promoted, just kind of wandered out into the ether of the internet and despite me shutting down the New American Myth and saving a copy of SocialismWORKS! to my personal website library it still somehow gets circulated. It was probably originally created a decade ago, and while it is uncommon I do still get feedback once in a while. Most of the time the comments were from devout Socialists or apologetics of Socialism who just wanted to reach out to let me know that I’m truly uniformed about the world, the way things work, and just about life in general.

So randomly I received a question on Facebook this last week from someone who had read “SocialismWORKS!” and asked me who I was voting for in the upcoming 2016 elections. I realized right away this was a loaded question – anyone who watches my Facebook should know I’ve vocalized support for Bernie Sanders, easily the most openly Socialist of any presidential candidate to date. His campaign seems to be one of the few openly willing to let that term be used to describe their platform most shy away from it as divisive. Most other American political candidates even when supporting Socialist ideas stay away from the term like a plague. Also doing a little more digging, you’ll find that I’ve spent a bit of time showing satisfaction with Barack Obama’s Presidency. Doesn’t sound very classically liberal or libertarian on the face of it.

So I thought I’d take a second and record my thoughts and in the process explain something crude and simple that I’ve come to believe that not many people understand – at least not many I’ve met. The problem with most people’s ideas about government, morals and just life in general is real basic. While dealing with critical points of view groups of people tend to poorly implement critical, objective thinking. In groups, people do awful and stupid things. We yell down opposition, we try to bully and intimidate others who think “wrong” and we largely ignore the input of reasonable, intelligent people if we have agendas contrary to theirs. You’d probably think I’m just being cynical, but that isn’t my intent at all.

Regressive Humanism

During the last 300 years we saw quite an expansion of political ideas, many governments moving from crude monarchies to modern constitutional republics. Despite the number of times governments have let us down in that time, people still think that groups of people in government have our intentions better secured for us than we do ourselves. Now spending a lot of time dwelling on the morally absolute component of that – whether you believe in ideologies based on individual rights or on group entitlements – is a bit fruitless because where we’re at is somewhere else. Right now in America, we have a fairly large federal government with a metric ton of laws. We have to start there if we want to change anything.

One project I believed in that I scrapped when I essentially went silent on political matters was a wiki dedicated to drafting laws that could deconstruct existing major legislation. I believe it is entirely healthy for our government to need to periodically renew programs, scrap them and change them. I’m also a big believer in any legislation that compels Congress to read laws they intend to enact, so closer scrutiny can be made to filter out bad legislation. I’m also a big fan of revoking the line item veto, if a bill has bad components it should be thrown out completely. As we sit here, the lawbooks that actually govern our nation which create all the stupid situations we all so thoroughly criticize the government for just grow and grow, with relatively little effort put into controlling it.

I’ve never once heard a mainstream candidate talk about things like this, so again, no real candidates to support. Which leaves me in an awkward situation. No matter who I essentially vote for, I’m voting for someone who does not represent my opinions. However, I’m willing to wager you’re in the same situation, if you think about it closely.

The most opportunity to change something about government comes from when popular opinion has spotlighted it as an issue. Usually we’ll find an opportunity for a good issue to get a movement to support change in it. However here come in my criticisms of group logic. Usually when an ideological movement – at least in my experience in America – virtually any movement gets momentum it gets derailed in direction by those who do not have its best intellectual interests in mind. A lot of people have used the term “regressive left” to describe some movements today which could be good examples, but I honestly do not believe this is merely a leftist quality. It is a component of human nature to be regressive when in groups. We have to sort of step outside ourselves to acknowledge regressive behaviors if we want them to change, name them and shame them within our own interest groups. Of course most political ideological movements develop defense mechanisms to prevent like I mentioned before: thought police dictating “wrong think”, groups controlling the narrative in media by any means necessary going so far as to create safe spaces to restrict flow of information, and outright bullying and thuggery when the group is big enough to make it safe for the members to act out in this way.

I guess what I’m getting at, in short, is I believe that while there are a lot of good topics on the table – health care reform, gun violence especially within black communities and with how police officers mishandle their right to kill responsibilities, economy and trade, correcting remaining social injustices amongst various cultural backgrounds, overwhelming deficit spending – where we have a ton of opportunity to change the way things are now, we are essentially shouting down logical discourse in favor of regressive thinking across the board.

Reaping What You Sow

The result? At the time of this writing I personally believe the Democrat candidate is most likely to be Hillary Clinton, and the Republican candidate is most likely to be Donald Trump. While I might have a bit of respect for Hillary’s career she is by no means representing very many political issues very well I think most will agree with me on that and the idea of Trump being an American president is outright shameful and disgusting.

Which is where I’m at today. A libertarian who hopes an outright socialist like Bernie Sanders wins the liberal ticket merely because I believe he has a better chance to prevent America from the general destructive humiliation of a Trump presidency. Someone who wants the political process to change, has strong beliefs as many of you do, but ultimately finds himself unable to support most modern movements with those interests in mind due to dominance of regressive thinking. Someone who believes that the bullying epidemic in our country doesn’t end in the schools, but continues into adult life and dominates most popular movements – people like Clinton and Trump both being good examples of people who use group manipulation (of press and interest groups) to dominate their own political movements.

If you’re happy or content, and the nuance of this type of position is lost on you, then I’m sure you’ll be happy when you cast your vote in the 2016 election. If you’re not though, perhaps think a little bit about your own favorite political groups – ask yourself if they are helping or hurting the political process. They are after all, a big part of why we’re here where we’re at today. Just ask yourself – is regressive thought in my community hurting the overall political process? Are we supporting people with the right causes for the wrong reasons, and is that actually hurting the cause?

I believe the answers to those questions will be a good first step to challenge the new American myth we still live in everyday.

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Jacked Factory’s “Nitro Surge” Pre-Workout Review

Another scoop, another review – this time of Jacked Factory’s “Nitro Surge” pre-workout.

Cover to Cover

Jacked Factory’s tagline for Nitro Surge is that it is a “Scientifically Dosed Pre-Workout Powder”. It boats “Endless Energy”, “Muscle Growth”, “Powerful Pumps” and “Laser Focus”. Fairly straightforward label nothing really bombastic anywhere on it.

Let’s get straight to the ingredients.

Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition

The flavor of cherry limeade comes from a base of citric acid and pineapple fruit powder, real simple and basic and greatly appreciated. To boost the flavor a bit is some Ace K (acesulfame potassium) and sucralose and thankfully to get its color it uses actual fruit and vegetable juices. The powderizing agents of silica and calcium silicate keep it dry and mixable as it should, no caking was experienced.

All in all, appreciated to see some natural ingredients even if it needed a little bit of artificial sweeteners to boost, it’d be an A-grade on flavor from me if they could get this same mix with stevia instead of sucralose/Ace K.

I want to note in a non critical way that the spoon to scoop is nice and big but the handle seems like its an inch and a half long, barely fitting inside the container. Could probably trim half that handle off and still be good on the length of the handle.

Ingredients – A Team (L-Citrulline, Beta Alanine, Betaine Anhydrous)

It wasn’t until I reviewed this pre-workout that I noted the difference between L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate. Malic Acid with Citrulline is fine IMHO, but is double the dose to get the same quantity of Citrulline as just pure L-Citrulline powder. At the end of the day I’m not really sure which is better, but 2g of L-Citrulline powder (which is effectively 4g of Citrulline Malate to my understanding) seems ample. This will absolutely help with recovery and fatigue management. For its actual pre-workout effects you’re probably good but a little more couldn’t hurt would like to see this be 3g ideally.

Beta Alanine is another great stimulant and will help your workout volume with its positive endurance and energy output effects. The 1.6g dose should be plenty for preworkout purposes although you probably should consider taking a little more of this daily if your goal is dietary supplement more than mere pre-workout stimulation (using it only as a preworkout is still namely all I consume a preworkout for right now).

Betaine Anydrous is also a new one to me, a choline vitamin which if you have diverse dietary sources you should get some of. As a preworkout supplement this one is weak, but as a general health dietary supplement I think its fantastic. The vitamin lowers your homocysteine levels, which could be an issue for you if you have a meat-centric diet (as many working out will to keep their protein intake right). It’s great for the liver, and can help with the lipid levels to keep you burning fat. I’m not sure what dose is regarded as good for this, but 1.25g seems like plenty.

Ingredients – B Team (Caffeine Anhydrous, L-Theanine, Hordenine HCI, Black Pepper Fruit Extract Bioperine)

I won’t comment much on caffeine anhydrous but 180mg is okay. It’s not great, it could be better, especially since so many Americans like myself have completely ruined our caffeine tolerance through consuming caffeinated beverages. L-Theanine at only 90mg is kind of weak but I don’t think there is a ton of research on what would make for suitable levels… being a tea leaf derivative it has its own range of beneficial features. Here I believe it is to help provide mental focus (or “Laser Focus” as the label says) with an anti-drowsiness/relaxing effect. As a dietary supplement I’m all for more of this and honestly this should be like 250mg per dose rather than 90mg. Some of the effects of this take the edge off rather than put the edge on though but I’ll get to that more in my workout results below. Hordenine HCI is at a good 25mg dose and that will also help the “Laser Focus” claim, being great for your central nervous system.

Lastly the black pepper extract patented under the brand name BioPerine, well I’ll take this info from the horse’s mouth at the official BioPerine website. It is supposedly a “bioavailability enhancer” which lets you absorb nutrients more efficiently. Now I’m not really sure why it is here if that is in fact what it does. Most of what the BioPerine people suggest it works well with helping absorption rates are select aminos (none of which are included on this list at least that I see), minerals (none in this mix), antioxidants and vitamins (maybe L-Theanine is effected by this but again it is not on the site’s list of items to pair with Bioperine). Seems like a waste to me to include BioPerine if you aren’t going to include a few more other items that go along with it – like a ton of extra vitamins or a nice herb extract stimulant mix. Just a little wasted potential here, feel like it’s on the label to just be there.

Workout Results

I’m going to be honest about this, I feel like Jacked Factory might be simply misbranding this product by pushing it as a high energy muscle building preworkout, which isn’t meant to insult its preworkout properties in the least. I like this product a lot but not entirely for preworkout reasons. Now as for my workouts, I’ve had pretty good workouts while on this, it definitely helps concentration and focus and is a good change of pace from a preworkout that overstimulates and has a bite. This one is good to get focused but doesn’t get you amped which is not how I feel a product called “Nitro Surge” should necessarily behave.

While working out to give this mix a bit of a kick I have been stacking it with a half serving of the pro-thermogenic Diablo that I reviewed before. This just tastes good especially mixed with something else and the extra kick of a different stimulant product definitely helps a preworkout dose a ton. In fact, my last workout with that combination scored me a new personal best deadlift PR 1RM. This preworkout definitely gives good focus.

It just isn’t a “Nitro Surge”. It’s more like a “Cool Breeze”, refreshing and calming on a day when the bite of a harder mix just isn’t desirable and every workout schedule has a ton of those kind of days. Today is my recovery day, I’m enjoying Easter with the family and I’m drinking a dose of my “Nitro Surge” because I was feeling a little worn out and wanted the focus and energy, it made me feel great. I’d drink this daily if my personal budget for preworkouts permitted it. I also like it on certain workout days. But if you’re looking for that awesome kick in the ass get you peaked and freaked type of preworkout, this isn’t for you.

My final advice just be open minded and get it, experiment with stacking it with other preworkouts for a real full preworkout experience and I will definitely consume again. It is a creative blend and I like a lot about this and would like to see more like this in the preworkout marketplace. My only advice to the makers is maybe consider a herb-extra based stimulant mix to really make the BioPerine more worthwhile and give the product a little bite.

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ANS Performance’s “Diablo” Pro-Thermogenic Supplement Review

So my wife handed me ANS Performance’s “Diablo” thermogenic, so I’m hoping she was intending me to write another review instead of merely suggesting I’m getting a little… portly. Since I joined team No Legs and abruptly stopped my cardio, my capacity for burning extraneous fat has certainly gone down. What better way to find out if there is a better way to burn the fat off than by try out what will be my first thermogenic supplement?

Cover to Cover

ANS Performance’s product Diablo is billed as a pro-thermogenic supplement, in that it increases your body’s heat expenditure through “means” (will discuss that with this product in detail when talking about ingredients) which presumably increases fat burning potential. Whether or not this is a powerful fat loss tool or just a marketing gimmick, I will state upfront that I do have a sincere belief that the product can be useful for those working out. I’ll explain in more detail as I continue, first let’s take a look at the cover of the product.

ANS Performance has the product name Diablo blazened on the front with “Pro Thermogenic” along the top, denoting it is an “ultimate fat loss system” (which of course is a statement not evaluated by the FDA). In promotional materials online the fat burning properties of this product are heavily advertised. Some materials online suggest the product is to be taken prior to working out, but the bottle’s directions suggest taking up to 3 scoops over the course of a day starting with breakfast daily. This schedule makes sense if trying to assess its fat burning capacity for a long duration but for the purposes of this review I will be assessing it for its pre-workout qualities.

Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition

The flavor is definitely lime-like in taste, composed of citric acid, sucralose, a kick of Ace K (acesulfame potassium) and food coloring agents yellow #5 & blue #1. I honestly don’t think the product really needs its bright green complexion to be effective I’ve always personally just been fine with it being whatever color it just is, and I definitely dislike food coloring for its own sake. To say I’d prefer less artifice and more actual lime to be in this mix in here is absolutely an understatement, even if that results in the product not being as crayola green as it is. We have some calcium silicate and silicon dioxide again to keep the mixture dry and mixable and it seems to do fine in that respect, no caking and quick to mix was my experience.

Despite my griping I personally have no big issue with the flavor or taste, it’s fine and the lime-like flavor is a nice wake up.

Ingredients – L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Choline Bitartrate, Green Coffee bean extract, AdiLase (TM)

The LCLT (L-Carnitine L-Tartrate) is the most prominent ingredient at 500mg and is generally regarded at least in my cursory glance at things to be the lead ingredient to promote the fat burning and muscle recovery promised on the bottle. Generally speaking dosages that I’ve noted as being effective are around 1-2g per day, so as the bottle advises 3 doses of this supplement (which would be 1.5g of LCLT total) is sufficient to get all you should need from this product. So very sensible pick.

Choline Bitartate (250mg) is next in line. Generally speaking I’m in favor of biological elements in supplements that have a net positive impact on the body which is what Choline has, and it being delivered by a salt Bitartate is good. If you do consume the doses multiple times per day as advised, you should find that it may have a net impact on neurotransmission rates by being converted into acetylcholine. The liver might also be happy with a little bit of this stuff. Otherwise though, I’m not convinced at this moment by any compelling reason that this is a strong mover. It makes sense to add it this supplement, and I’m all for it, but I’m not sure the end user of this product gets a lot from this honestly. Supplements are supposed to add things you don’t normally get and while choline comes from various sources taken directly it is a decent thing to add. It’s one of those situations where you don’t really get excited but it does make sense to have included.

I heard green coffee bean extract (150mg) was popularized on Dr. Oz in a manner that suggested it was a fat burner on the league of replacing physical exercise. I think it goes without saying to be skeptical of this claim and that it is entirely possible the little extra chlorogenic acid you might get from this mix is not going to have a substantial health benefit, and I do somewhat think prunes or eggplant might be an equally sufficient source. The manufacturer promotes the green bean extract as an inhibitor of an enzyme that allows glucose to be more available, thus causing the body to draw on other sources more readily (like fat). Whether this is the best ingredient for that end, if this inhibition is anything noteworthy to begin with, or whether it is mostly a marketing thing is honestly indiscernable to me at this time. I do not really object to natural ingredients in supplements but with some thought I think a better one could be found for this.

– AdiLase, a flower extract of the Hemerocallis fulva (ditch lillies), at 125mg is kind of an odd ingredient. I’m not too familiar with this ingredient, I think its increase in use in supplements has to do with tests that show in rats at least that it increases lipolysis, which to the layman just means it helps burn the fat good. Its popularity comes from Asia, where like many other herbs and vegetation it is peddled as a curative medicine. ANS says it is for those people who struggle to lose fat with “typical” high stimulant fat burners and that this can help “low responding” fat storage cells. Assuming this is in fact the case just on the face of it, I’m not sure 125mg 3 times a day will have any noticable impact on changing the way the user’s body decides what fat storage to take from as it burns fats during activity.

Again while I had some gripes, these primary ingredients are fine.

Ingredients – DIABLO INFERNO COMPLEX (!!!)

This extremely named mix is only 212mg, so lets go over it. Caffeine Anhydrous, which I assume is around 125-150mg of this mix (personal guesstimate) is the primary stimulant here. I’m going to be honest, since the rest of the list is kind of long and I doubt it even adds up to 100mg of material I’m going to just throw random comments here and there about what I see on it: 1) Hordenine for CNS stimulation, good but likely not in this bottle at the 25mg dose it probably should be (unsure without an exact list but it is last on the list which generally denotes it is the least included ingredient even below the various plant extracts) 2) Lots of plant extracts some for stimulation some for increasing that heat factor, if you are going to throw in extracts of plants this is what I like, a big mix of various things for all sorts of effects 3) B-Phenylethylamine HCI which I think is great for mood and focus and I think this should be regarded as standard for a stimulant mix.

Workout Results

Well the workout in question did happen on a very cold morning, it was probably 25 degrees out and my home gym is poorly insulated so it was probably 40 degrees. It didn’t help that the workout was early and I also sleep in a poorly insulated part of the house, so to say a thermogenic supplement would be welcome here is an understatement.

Now I believe to be fair to a supplement we have to remember nearly all supplements are meant to have a noticable but negligable effect on training. They are the cherry on the top, not the whole sundae. Usually I take my supplement 5 minutes before I head down to start working out, but I focus on having my more focused part of my lifting morning around 20-30 minutes when I usually experience the best part of the feels from the actual preworkout. Just so I could judge this I did take the supplement on its own, which honestly the stimulant factor of the supplement leaves room to stack it with another preworkout if you like, depending on your tolerance of caffeine.

Now I’m really unsure if this is genetic or whatnot, but I sweat like a pig – not like the expression implies but more like real life in that I don’t sweat hardly at all. I have had heavy face drenched workouts but usually this happens only in warm weather where the sheer heat and humidity around me is driving it moreso than my own body’s inclination to sweat. I always kind of chaulked this up to my Native American background although I’m unsure if genetics have much to do with it. However with relatively little warming up, I did start to feel warmer than usual which was incredibly welcome in this workout given how cold it was. After 10 minutes of the workout I felt fully warmed up and ditched the hoodie which is a notable thing to say in a poorly insulated Pittsburgh basement in the middle of winter. I did not have that extra heavy sweat that people do sometimes talk about when taking good thermogenics, but again I am just not predisposed to sweat much while working out.

Now I’m still on the fence about this supplement. I don’t personally see myself taking 3 doses a day as I’m not really inclined usually to take supplements for anything other than preworkout purposes (unless you’re talking about creatine which I’ll take daily so long as true nutrition keeps shipping me some free with various orders). That said I definitely liked Diablo and would recommend people try it to find out for themselves if its good. While I am critical a bit of the product’s full ingredients page, some things might be there to market some things just to hype, I’m happy overall with the supplement and think if you did use it at the recommended dosage you would probably notice some difference in your overall training as far as losing fat. Perhaps not the “ultimate” fat burning capability is promotes but at least a good one.

So would try again and would suggest to others, but I would not invest any time into hyping this product. If using as a preworkout consider stacking it with another stimulant of your preference after you try it once or twice on its own.

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Sportrition’s “Infuze” Pre Workout Review

As a followup to my previous review, this time I’ll be taking a look at Sportrition’s Infuze pre workout (Strawberry Flavor). Again since in my training cycle I am still in recovery from an injury, I am closely documenting how I feel workout to workout and I feel this puts me in a good place to give the product a very clean slate in comparing it to my normal preworkout, a simple 200mg caffeine anhydrous pill.

Cover to Cover

Once again I’ll check out what is on the cover. For a pre workout it is also pretty basic, claiming the four attributes of “Focus, Energy, Growth & Recovery” on the label. I’ll refer back to these later. It also on the very front of the label shows the general dosages of primary ingredients – 3g of Citrulline Malate, 2g of Beta-Alanine (marketed as the premium variant “CarnoSyn”), 1g of Creatine HCL, 750mg of Agmatine Sulfate and 175mg of caffeine. That is pretty handy to have this info up front and I wish more companies did this.

Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition

First we got some information on flavoring, the flavoring agent is simply mentioned as “natural and artificial flavors” which is a little vague, some silica dioxide which I’ll come back to later and it is flavored with sucralose. I was a little disappointed this was not stevia, but sucralose-base is still fine as I mentioned in the previous review.

As for nutrition, it looks like a small series of vitamins (various vitamin D, B1, B3, B6, B12 and folic & pantothenic acids) I think these are fine and a good roster of items to supplement to address the problems of deficiencies – but of course you all eat your vegetables so you shouldn’t be deficient in any of these. Right?

No calories for this preworkout – as for the taste, well I can’t say it tasted very strongly like strawberries, maybe they should suck it up and make an all natural strawberry flavoring agent for this drink.

Cake N’ Bake

Well it seems the silica powder just wasn’t enough to keep the mixture dry. The product has a huge label on its top lid warning you to keep in a cool, dry place for fear of attracting moisture and caking the powder, thereby hardening it. Well unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to store it anywhere before I had issues with this as upon opening the mixture I did find that it had already caked prior to even getting to me. This powder is very mixable though and I found out that as soon as water hit it, it dissolved fast.

I didn’t have to complain about it as I was notified directly by Sportrition that the batch sent to me was suspected of caking and hardening and that I should contact one of their reps if there is any problem for a replacement batch. Good customer service to spot this problem and notify potential customers before they get their merchandise! However I do feel this product will be stronger when they address this problem in future revisions of this mixture. If the caking happens to you while you could contact the company and I’m sure they’d help you, I’d honestly suggest it isn’t a big deal as it only makes the product harder to scoop – the caking doesn’t affect its quality any.

Ingredients – CarnoSyn Beta Alanine 2g, Citrulline Malate (2:1) 3g & 175mg of Caffeine

These are essentially the key ingredients to me in this mix so I’ll talk about these first. First I have similar thoughts on Beta Alanine as the last review but my understanding of CarnoSyn branded beta alanine is that it has a sustained release feature which means you need to take it fewer times a day to notice the benefits of it. A 2g dose is good as far as I’m concerned but I will note I have no other beta alanine supplementation during the day so I’m probably not taking enough overall (you should probably take CarnoSyn beta-alanine 2-3 times a day and generic beta-alanine 1-3 extra times – I might decide to get more to consume throughout the day in the future and see how it helps). So to anyone reading if you want your muscle carnosine levels elevated be sure to grab extra beta alanine to dose with throughout the day, I’d suggest preferring CarnoSyn-branded beta alanine.

On a stimulant level, the 175mg of Caffeine is only slightly lower than what I’m used to (200mg) and again with the beta alanine it is an okay level of stimulation to me. Enough to talk about its “Energy” properties on the bottle for sure.

Citrulline Malate is a new supplement to me, and its 3g dose should be suitable to get its positive benefits of managing muscle fatigue and recovery, and is adequate as a days dose. However you may find extra citrulline malate is beneficial. I’d definitely give it a point towards its use of “Recovery” on the front of the bottle for this level of dosage.

Ingredients – B Team

Next we got Creatine HCL (1g), Taurine (1g), Agmatine Sulfate (750mg), N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (500mg). I like the inclusion of taurine since beta-alanine depletes taurine levels and always felt you should balance them, although I consider this a minor issue as it is unlikely normal diet won’t rectify this matter if you eat proper. Agmatine Sulfate I assume is also here for its neurotransmission properties – probably going towards the “Focus” element of the pre workout. And of course Creatine HCL is fine as a creatine base mix although I have no major opinion about hydrochloride bound creatine over just monohydrate or any other number of delivery systems.

This is also my first time with N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, and I’ll comment more on my thoughts about this next.

Workout Results

During this workout again, like the last pre workout I reviewed, I did notice an energy boost but the stimulant action was weaker than before. However as the workout proceeded, one of the best benefits of this preworkout was my levels of focus and clear headedness was great. I attribute some of this definitely to the N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, which I honestly will look for in other preworkouts. Again though I am something of a newbie to preworkout consumption, so perhaps I’m just beginning to see how things work. Mileage may vary on this preworkout and its overall effectiveness to you but I had a net positive experience with it and think the average consumer will too. Definitely no junk in it every ingredient has a good reason to be here.

Did it live up to the cover? “Focus” was great, “Energy” was okay perhaps could’ve been more stimulating, “Growth” is difficult to assess with just the dose of Creatine HCL driving that but several ingredients took care of “Recovery” factor just fine. Overall not misleading and I appreciate how the product presents itself.

One perhaps criticism was that the last preworkout I took spoiled me with its incredible mix of natural plant-based stimulants and full 200mg of caffeine. If this preworkout had that, I have a feeling my overall experience would’ve been greater. Fact of the matter is the modern American has a high caffeine tolerance with all the coffee and caffeinated beverages they consume and I’m no different.

All in all good product would try again in the future, hopefully the caking is less of a problem in future revisions for this product.

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Naturo Nitro “Decimus” Pre Workout Review

Today I’m writing a fairly lengthy review of Naturo Nitro’s “Decimus” Pink Lemonade preworkout supplement. To provide some context, my fiance got a discount on this preworkout for the purpose of posting a review and since I’m the one who actually used it I thought I’d write the review for her and try to be as objective and informative as possible.

Some quick background on me first – I am a novice-to-intermediate powerlifter who is off his normal routine workout due to coming back from a bad injury. For the purposes of this review that’s probably a good thing as it gives me something of a clean slate – I’m lifting very light and keeping a close eye on progress with notes week to week. Having only trained for a couple years and starting training in my 30’s I’ve been very critical and skeptical of the merits of various preworkout supplements, so I have not yet used any preworkouts whatsoever – normally I’m only using a 200mg pill of caffeine anhydrous to get a shot of pep prior to my workout.

The workout I tested this preworkout with was a very simple squat/bench/deadlift workout with an accessory of stiff-legged deadlifts with bent over rows. Simple workout and the weights were super light as I’m still nursing myself back up to my normal strength potential and being very cautious of anything that might cause any new injury. My previous week’s workout that I will compare this workout to was the same workout with only the caffeine anhydrous pills as comparison point.

Cover to Cover

First let me describe what you get on the outside label. Naturo Nitro’s bottle is fairly straightforward in a simple blue design with a stamp saying “Best Seller” on the bottle. There is no real unnecessary hype on here which to me is a pro – many preworkout paste spastic nonsense to hype you up. In my mind if the preworkout does its job in my mind, it will hype you up on its own.

There are a few claims posted to the front label – “increase workout intensity, maximum mental focus and energy, enhances muscle growth & endurance, amazing taste and mixability, 100% absorption” with the standard asterick next to each claim pointing to a notice that these claims are “not evaluated by the FDA” and that the supplement does not essentially cure, treat or diagnose any known illness (a fairly standard disclaimer). I will refer back to these claims as I provide my opinion on it.

Ingredients – Flavor & Nutrition

Probably most important to me is the ingredients, lets go through them real quick. 1 scoop is a fairly standard 28 grams with no sugar added. The pink lemonade flavoring is sucralose-based with natural flavor and citric acid which I think is a good simple combo. A standard silica dioxide mix is here to keep the powder dry and to keep the flavors strong. As for the “Amazing taste and mixability” claim I would agree it tastes like pink lemonade, goes down good, my mixing was with a spoon and not a shaker bottle but mixing with the recommended amount of water did leave a fairly small amount of powder at the base of the drink the two times I mixed it. I’m pretty sure that would not be the case if I was using a mixer bottle, but I would rank that as “good mixability” moreso than amazing.

Zero calories, tasty, no complaints.

Ingredients – “Performance Blend”

Naturo Nitro lists all their ingredients in three categories. This one, the “Performance Blend” is 3000mg total of a combination of Beta Alanine, Arginine AKG and Agmatine Sulfate – if everything is to FDA guidelines the first ingredient (Beta Alanine) should be the largest portion of that mix and it should list in descending order from there.

Beta Alanine is a great supplement I’ve eyed for a while, it acts as a great stimulant and has lots of positive workout volume benefits (affecting endurance, oxygen uptake and energy output). Also we don’t get a lot of free form beta alanine so supplementing it makes sense. Arginine AKG is a nice non-essential amino acid, good for kidneys and liver, although sometimes I think its popularity in supplements has more to do with libido pumping. Agmatine Sulfate I assume is in here due to its neurotransmission properties, for the “mental focus” aspect of the aforementioned claims.

All considered, not bad but without exact dosages while I’m pretty sure you’ll get the beta alanine you might want in this dose (I got a bit of paresthesia tingles after my workout which makes me assume its plenty of beta alanine) the arginine AKG is probably on the low side of what I often see recommended as dosage (1500-3000mg) especially if the agmatine sulfate is in the 500-1000mg range. Although all said, great mix of ingredients – simple and effective supplements.

Ingredients – Creatine Blend

I don’t have a ton to say about the creatine blend. 2000mg of creatine base is fine, I don’t know a ton about the creatine subcomponents but having it be I assume mostly creatine monohydrate is fairly straightforward. I might usually consume more than this, but I have powderized creatine that I usually drink with whey protein drinks. Creatine is to me an essential ingredient – if you are a non responder to creatine, it still doesn’t hurt to have more, if you aren’t you will notice a performance gain in long term usage.

Ingredients – Energy and Focus Blend

At 394mg, this has the most as far as stimulating and generating focus goes. I assume a ton of that is the first ingredient, caffeine anhydrous, I hope 200mg worth. The rest appear to be very natural plant based stimulants, with a series of other good effects that improve focus. Again falling back to the “maximum mental focus” claim this supplement it appears to have ingredients with a positive effect on mental focus.

Workout Results

So during my workout I did notice a boost in energy and focus over my normal use of caffeine andryhous from the prior week. This tended to peak about 20-30 minutes into my workout during my bench pressing, which resulted in me topping off that final set with triple the normal range of reps – I was after all handling very (very) light weights. By my previous week’s workout set, I had been fatigued by the end of the complete workout, but despite the extra work this week plus my normal progressive overload and the extra reps I mentioned I finished this workout feeling great. Some of this may be simple readjustment to lifting after the injury as I am in the early phases of that adjustment but I believe quite a bit of it was due to the supplement.

The supplement in comparison to competitors has a lot of easy to understand natural ingredients, with very well established and effective supplements that are helpful prior to working out. Very few of the claims on the front of the package I take any serious objection to, and for someone who is critical of ingredients used I found all of them to be relevant and useful. Would definitely purchase again.

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