Muscle for life

The Hunt For the Best Pre-Workout Supplement

The Hunt For the Best Pre-Workout Supplement

Pre-workout supplements are one of the biggest sellers in the supplement industry. Are they worth it, though, or would caffeine pills be just as good?


Advertisements for pre-workout supplements are some of the most exaggerated in the industry.

Take 10 – 20 grams of powder and you’ll experience “highly explosive energy,” “maximum anabolic activation,” and “extreme training endurance,” they say.

Are these products actually worth it, though, or are you better off popping a couple caffeine pills or drinking an espresso instead?

Well, I have good news and bad. Let’s get the bad out of the way first…

Pre-Workout Profits:
The Big Scam
















Pre-workout supplements are notorious for several deceitful practices:

  • Including ineffective ingredients to make long, impressive nutrition labels.

  • Citing misinterpreted, cherry-picked, flawed, or biased studies to sell you on the effectiveness of certain ingredients.

  • Under-dosing key ingredients and hiding it behind the “proprietary blend” labeling loophole. This allows companies to not disclose the actual composition of each part of the blend, and thus hide the truth about what you’re actually buying.

  • Using substantial amounts of caffeine and cheap carbohydrate powders like maltodextrin to give a kick of energy. This is an easy, inexpensive way for supplement companies to make you think their product is good. You can save money by just popping a few caffeine pills and eating a banana instead.

  • Using chemical names of everyday compounds to mislead you into thinking the products have special ingredients. For instance, epigallo-3-catechin-3-O-b-gallate is just green tea extract, and 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine is just caffeine.

Why do these things?

Because it’s extremely profitable.

What most consumers don’t know is supplement companies make very little money on certain products, like protein powder, and need to make up for that by making exorbitant profits on others. The pre-workout supplement is one of them.

Let’s look at how the game works.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Shady Supplements, Inc Wants to Make a Pre-Workout Supplement

Shady Supplements, Inc. is looking to create a pre-workout product, and they believe two things are key for sales:

  1. Including ingredients that have been clinically proven as safe and effective, so bold marketing claims can be made and defended.

  1. Including a bunch of other junk that sounds impressive, but which has no science to back it up. This is done to pad the ingredients list, making you feel like you’re getting a lot for your money.

There’s a problem, though.


The junk is cheap, but using clinically effective dosages of good ingredients gets really expensive, really fast.

Shady Supplements doesn’t want to spend a lot on the manufacturing, however. They want to make big profits, so they decide to do something else.

They use small amounts of the good, expensive ingredients, and combine it with the junk to create their own “proprietary blend.” For good measure, they also include a bunch of caffeine and a gob of carbohydrate powder so you have a spike of energy during your workout. (Which will be followed by a big crash, unfortunately.)

Why the proprietary blend?

Well, by doing that, they only have to tell you the total weight of the blend, not the dosages of each ingredient in the blend. You get ripped off without ever realizing it.

Another little trick of the proprietary blend is the fact that ingredients are listed in descending order according to predominance by weight. That is, the blend contains more of the first ingredient than the second, more of the second than the third, and so forth.

When the first ingredient in a blend is something cheap, let’s say maltodextrin or creatine monohydrate, it can be (and often is) 90%+ of the whole blend. No matter how many other ingredients are listed after the first, they can altogether only constitute a very small percentage of the actual blend.

Yes, there are $50 tubs of 90%+ maltodextrin powder out there that are marketed as effective pre- or post-workout supplements.

So, Shady Supplements has their fraudulent pre-workout formulation ready to go. It’s time to move to the next phase of the scam.

How to Sell a Crappy Pre-Workout Supplement

The marketing department gets ahold of the product, and knows their game.

  • They create claims based on the benefits of ingredients that would be effective if the dosages were actually correct. But, as the dosages are tiny, nothing can really be expected in terms of actual effects.

  • They embellish benefits, stretching them to the breaking point. 

  • They place full-page ads in magazines featuring athletes, drugged-up bodybuilders, and fitness models, who pretend like Shady, Inc’s supplements are essential to getting big, lean, and strong.

Unfortunately, it works all too well.

People wind up rushing to the stores to pay $50 for a product that cost Shady, Inc. $3 to manufacture, and that would’ve cost $20 to create if the junk were dropped and clinically effective dosages of key ingredients were used.








We, as Consumers, Can Force a Change

The first thing you should demand as a consumer is no proprietary blends. There’s absolutely no reason to use them for anything other than deception and fraud.

All the science behind effective ingredients and dosages is publicly available. Everyone knows what works and doesn’t, and in what amounts. Claims of “trade secrets” are bogus.

If a company isn’t willing to tell you what you’re actually buying, it’s because they don’t want you to know. Don’t support them. Force them to change their ways.

The second thing to know is that more ingredients doesn’t mean a better product. In fact, you won’t find a legitimate pre-workout, fat burner, or anything else really with 15+ quality ingredients because it’s financially impossible to use clinically effective dosages of that many.

By voting with your dollars and choosing wisely, you can force the changes that need to happen:

  • The death of the proprietary blend.

  • The use of effective ingredients at clinically effective dosages.

  • The elimination of ineffective “label filler” ingredients, and of the reliance on caffeine and carbohydrate powders for performance benefits.

Don’t ever forget that you, as the consumer, have the power to influence the marketplace.

With your money, you can choose to help maintain the status quo–the dishonest shenanigans–or help bring about meaningful change in the industry.

Pre-Workout Supplements Don’t Have to Suck

This brings us back to the original question: pre-workout or caffeine pills?

Well, caffeine is a useful pre-workout supplement that can increase muscle endurance and strength. It’s probably the simplest, cheapest way to get more out of your training.

There are, however, several other safe, natural molecules that can further improve your performance…if they’re dosed properly.

Here are my favorites:

  • Beta-alanine

This is a naturally occurring amino acid that limits the amount of carnosine, a dipeptide, stored in the muscles. As beta-alanine levels increase, so do intramuscular carnosine levels.

Research has shown that supplementation with beta-alanine can reduce exercise-induced fatigue, improve anaerobic exercise capacity, and exhibit mechanisms that can increase lean mass.

A meta-analysis of 23 exercises tests of beta-alanine supplementation showed that the clinically effective dosages ranged between 2.6 and 6.4 grams per day, with a median effective dose of just over 5 grams per day.

  • Citrulline

This too is an amino acid and it’s sometimes used instead of its counterpart, L-arginine to stimulate nitric oxide production because it’s better absorbed, and results in higher plasma arginine levels. (L-arginine is unreliable in the mechanism of stimulating nitric oxide production.)

Thus, it’s no surprise that supplementation with citrulline has been shown to improve muscle endurancerelieve muscle soreness, and improve aerobic performance. The effective dosages have been shown to be 6 – 8 grams per day.

  • Ornithine

This is an amino acid, which, along with arginine and citrulline, plays a key role in a metabolic cycle known as the “Urea cycle.”

This is the process by which the liver converts ammonia into urea, which is expelled through the urine and sweat, and it impacts physical performance capacity.

Research has shown that supplementation with ornithine can reduce fatigue in prolonged exercise, promote lipid oxidation (the burning of fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrate or glycogen), and increase human growth hormone and insulin-like growth-factor 1 production when paired with arginine.

The clinically effective dosages in the studies cited above were 2, and 2.2 grams per day.

  • Theanine

Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in tea can, when paired with caffeine, provide several cognitive and ergogenic benefits.

Research has shown that supplementation with theanine and caffeine can reduce the effects of mental and physical stress, increase the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow, and improve alertness, focus, attention, memory, mental task performance, and mood.

The clinically effective dosages of L-theanine in the studies cited above range between 100 – 250 mg.

  • Betaine

This is also known as trimethylglycine, and it’s a compound found in plants like beets.

Research has shown that supplementation with betaine can improve muscle endurance, increase strength, and increase human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 production in response to acute exercise.

The clinically effective dosages in the studies cited above range between 1.25-2.5 grams.

While those are the “cream of the crop” in terms of effective ingredients for pre-workout supplements, the problem has been trying to find products that use them.

You’ll find one or two here and there, but they’re always horribly underdosed and come with a bunch of other junk, including artificial sweeteners and food dyes, which I avoid as much as possible.

The reality is an underdosed pre-workout is not worth the money as you won’t get much more out of it than caffeine pills. But…a properly formulated product would be far superior to caffeine alone.

And that’s why I decided to just make my own product and do it right.

I Couldn’t Find the Pre-Workout I Really Wanted…So I Made It

I’ve been living the “fitness lifestyle” for over a decade, have sold over 200,000 books, and have helped thousands of people lose weight, build muscle, and get healthy.

For years now, I’ve been researching, testing, and recommending to others the best workout supplements I could find, but it was a constant struggle to maintain a list that met my standards.

What I’ve wanted for not just myself but others is simple:

  • All ingredients backed by published scientific literature.
  • All dosages at clinically effective levels.
  • No artificial sweeteners, dyes, or unnecessary fillers.
  • Good taste.
  • Good value per serving.

Apparently that’s way too much to ask, because these products simply haven’t existed. Most don’t even begin to come close to those standards.

So I did what I could. I found the best possible products for myself and my readers, but in the back of my mind, I knew things could be done better.

As my career as an author began to grow, and my “tribe” here at Muscle For Life began to form, I finally saw an opportunity to do something about the status quo that I hated so much.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and, I believe, add real value to the marketplace.

I created my own line of workout supplements, which I believe will set the standard by which all others are judged.

Furthermore, my goal with LEGION (the name of the company) is to help educate consumers on the science of athletic performance so they can make better decisions in both their workout supplementation and training.

Now, my pre-workout supplement is called PULSE and it contains all the ingredients we just discussed:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  • No artificial food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.




What do you think about pre-workout supplements? Love them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • Perge

    Shipment to Brazil?

    • Michael Matthews

      Possibly! We’re looking into it…

  • Ringo

    What would you recommend in the way of supplements for someone just getting started in a weight loss/muscle building journey? The must-have essentials starter kit, if you will.

    • Michael Matthews

      Protein powder if necessary, creatine, and multi-vitamin.

  • Andrea H

    Hi Mike! I don’t currently take pre-workouts supplements for may of the reasons you outlined. I was really excited for your supplement line when you announced it! I went right to the page to read more about them, specifically Pulse. My concern though is the amount of caffeine. As someone who doesn’t even drink coffee and will break a caffeine tab into halves (or even quarters), I feel that 350mg will be way to much for me. As such, I was thinking that I could take a half serving, but was wondering if it wouldn’t take the other ingredients below their clinically effective levels… I realise that these dosages vary based on bodyweight, so if it helps I’m about 150 lbs. Thanks Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Andrea!

      I totally understand. Most pre-workouts have between 300-400 mg of caffeine per full serving and as this is what people are used to, we went with that.

      Funnily enough 1/2 of a serving will give you more of the effective ingredients than a full serving of almost all other pre-workouts, haha. It will still have an effect.

      But the ultimate solution is that we will be doing a low-caffeine version of the product as well. It will probably have 50-100 mg of caffeine, or possibly even none…

      • Andrea H

        Wow! Both options will be great! Thanks for replying Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, thanks! 🙂

  • Rob

    What do I think? I think it’s about time you got these pre-orders going Mike! Just kidding. But seriously, can’t wait to get my hands on Pulse.

    • Michael Matthews

      I know! Haha. Thanks Rob. We will be ready soon!

  • Kevin

    Mike I’ve been a follower of yours for a long time. Your supplements look awesome! I know paying for top quality stuff isn’t cheap, but I must say it is tough affording your products considering I’m on a college student budget. I’m 20, should I even be messing with supplements like that or can I make good enough gains on no supps?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kevin! I totally understand. You don’t need any supplements to do well. If you were going to buy just one, I would recommend the creatine because it’s cheap and provides the most bang for the buck in long-term results…

  • Stuart Cullinan

    Ive read that caffien works but that tolerance develops quickly and so it becomes much less effective in a rather short period. This has been my experience to.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah tolerance does reduce its effects. I’ve been taking 200-400 mg before training forever now and still feel it.

  • Eric

    Hey Mike! Really looking foward to get my hands on Pulse! But while it has not been released yet and you’re still checking out about world wide delivery (I live in Brazil), what pre-workout sup did you enjoy the most so far?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Eric! We’re definitely going to be looking into international delivery.

      I’ve been using ON’s PRE for a while and it has a decent amount of beta alanine and citrulline, which is why I like it.

  • Austin

    Hi Mike. I realize the intended use for this product is as a pre-workout supplement — and it looks like it will be an excellent one. But looking at the ingredients and their respective properties, might this also be effective as a coffee alternative outside of the gym? Any thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure if you want. Kind of an expensive alternative but it’s up to you. Personally I would just grab some caffeine pills as the other ingredients in PULSE are really geared toward improving athletic performance.

      • Austin

        Yeah, I think it may indeed be cost prohibitive (for me) as a coffee alternative — though ideal for pre-workout use. Appreciate your honesty, since I suspect that many in your position would be solely focused on moving maximum units.

  • Chad

    Will your products be available in Canada?

    • Michael Matthews

      We’re looking into international shipping and such. You’ll hear from me on this!

  • Logan Dulmus

    Hey Mike. What do you think of Assault by Musclepharm? Obviously the ingredients are under that damn proprietary blend, but Musclepharm themselves tell you that there are 2 grams of beta alanine per scoop. The price is decent for how many servings you can get. Obviously the product is inferior to Pulse, but I think it’s the best of the crap pre workouts. Also, Pulse is a bit expensive for how many servings come in each bottle. How much does it cost to manufacture a bottle of it? I think I might just end up buying pure beta alanine and citrulline malate from Nutrabio and add the clinically effective dosages to my Assault.

    • Michael Matthews

      Assault is straight garbage, like most of MP’s products. I would recommend trying ON’s PRE or MT’s Nano Vapor instead. At least those products have SOMETHING in them.

      Remember that 21 servings is a month’s worth of pre-workout if you take 5 servings per week (what most people will do). Almost all pre-workouts on the market last 2-4 weeks and are the same price.

      You can definitely buy raws and add them to an existing product.

      • Josh

        I second that MP Assault is garbage. Prior to reading up on PWO supps, I purchased it b/c of all the good press from BB.com. Fact is, the old formulation did NOTHING for me. The new formulation looks to have even less of the key ingredients (e.g., beta-alinine) you need. Pulse is slightly more pricey, but at least you are getting effective doses of what you need. Plus, as you can see my beta-alinine question above, Mike actually takes ownership of his product / brand. MP never got back to me when I asked about the change in formulation.

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks Josh.

          MusclePharm President and Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy DeLuca is the brother of Bodybuilding.com CEO Ryan DeLuca. Big surprise.

      • Logan Dulmus

        Thanks for the reply Mike. I’ve had decent results with the Assault, but then again I’ve only ever tried two other PWO’s. The main reason I bought it was because I got 120 servings for like 50 bucks with a BOGO deal. I’ve also signed up for the preorder notifications. Hell if I actually felt something with assault, I’m stupidly excited for Pulse. Thanks for finally doing something about this shit system Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. Yeah it seems like a good deal but you’re really not getting much for your money.

          If you just take some caffeine pills instead you’ll feel the same, haha.

          Thanks for your interest in my product. Yeah as you’ll see, Pulse is LIGHT YEARS ahead of Assault…

  • Josh

    Mike – Congrats on launching your supp line! I’ve signed up for pre-order updates; can’t wait to try Pulse. Question for you: I noticed that one serving of Pulse has 4.8g of beta-alanine. In several studies, the 2-6g / day effective dosing you reference is broken up into multiple doses (e.g. 800mg/dose). While I know you are trying to hit the 5g “effective” dose in one swoop, won’t the paresthesia from such a large dose prove uncomfortable? Did you test group Pulse? If so, what was the result with regard to the tingles? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Josh! I appreciate it.

      Yeah BA can be split up like that or take in one dose.

      You’ll feel the tingles but it isn’t intense enough to cause any real discomfort.

      Yup we passed around the R&D samples quite a bit and everyone was hooked, lol. People from the manufacturer are also waiting with baited breath.

      If you REALLY don’t like BA tingles, then 1/2 of a serving would probably be best for you.

  • Victor P

    Mike, you are the ideal person for launching a supplement line. You keep on top of all the scientific findings for the rest of us and do a pretty good job of boiling things down on a complicated subject – nutrition/fitness. I will be purchasing this product in about 2 months (I’ve already purchased other pre-workout supplements to cover the interim). Thanks for putting out a product which the rest of us trust to be of a high quality. Keep up the great work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much Victor. I really appreciate that. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime. I’m happy to help.

  • Jake Ruby

    Cant wait to get my hands on this stuff Mike. Bring it to market already!!! Or just send some of us loyalists some samples 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jake! Haha soon soon!

  • Logan Dulmus

    Hey Mike. I’m still thinking of using raws to add to my PWO. Have you ever heard of agmatine? I’m hearing its the real deal. If so, do you know of a clinically effective dosage protocol?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm from what I know agmatine is mainly for cognitive enhancement and pain reduction? Don’t see a reason to include that in your pre?

      • Logan Dulmus

        Agmatine is a by product of arginine that some people are calling “super arginine” due to its ability to boost nitric oxide more effectively. It does also have the cognitive benefits and pain reduction. It is also a powerful antioxidant. I’m wondering if it is safe to take it with citrulline and ornithine for a serious nitric oxide boost. Apparently it is just now becoming popular among fitness enthusiasts. I was just asking you because you’re the expert here. You always seem to have some depressing news about what doesn’t work.

        • Michael Matthews

          Agmatine inhibits NO production…


          Beware the bullshit marketers…

        • Lab700

          A study is not always the answer. Agmatine is extremely effective if you’re looking for a good pump. One gram and my veins explode. The pump is even more pronounced with the addition of citrulline malate. I’ve taken agmatine for over a year with very positive results. Sometimes it comes down to the brand; I’ve had my share of ineffective agmatine.

          A good raw formula is the use of 3-5g citrulline malate; 1g agmatine; 1.6-3.2g CarnoSyn beta-alanine. This will work well for pump, endurance, and accelerated recovery.

          I enjoyed this article, and I hope this post is helpful to each of the readers here.

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s unusual. Most people won’t experience a pump from it as it down-regulates NO…

  • Eelco

    Hello MIke,
    Iam struggling with my weight. I want to gain some weight, i tried a couple weight gainers. But non of them helped, and after reading your story it scared to buy a new one. Can you give me some advice?
    Keep up the goog work!

    • Michael Matthews


      What I like to do is focus on eating a bunch of calorie-dense foods. Here are my favorites:

      Red meat

      Grains like brown rice and quinoa

      Oils like coconut oil and olive oil


      Whole-fat dairy

      Multi-grain pasta and bread

      Almonds and almond butter


      White and sweet potatoes

      And you have to make sure you’re training correctly too:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-hardgainers-guide-to-guaranteed-muscle-growth/

      Hope this helps!

  • Michelle

    Hi Mike, I’ve just finished your book ‘thinner, leaner, stronger) its brill. I’m not a competitor but I train hard and diet consistently. Whilst your book confirmed a lot of things I thought I knew I have learnt tonnes. I understand the principles I’m bodybuilding are mostly consistent for men and women and its really good to have a guide aimed directly for women, this is my bible now!! Just keeps me motivated, when I feel like I’m losing control a little I pick it up an I’m back on track. Training a been great since I followed your compound routine and I’m spending way less time in the gym, I’m building more muscle and losing fat, -15% now and 8 stone 8, thank you so much : ) I was wondering, could you send me a sample of your pre workout please for myself and my partner? He’s just read the male version! And introduced me!!

    Thank you so much : )

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Michelle! Really glad you liked the book.

      Wow great job on your progress! Those are impressive numbers!

      I don’t have samples yet because they’re actually really expensive to produce, but I will within a couple months or so!

      Thanks again for writing and keep me posted on your progress!!

  • Jamie

    I’ve tried so many pre workouts, and found that the only one to work was the old Jack3d, which included a compound called methylhexanamine. They recently removed because there were a number of sports deaths related to taking methylhexanamine-containing products. Although this is terribly sad, the people who took this were competing in hardcore cardio sports events such as marathons. Taking something which shoots your heart up is not a great idea if your doing endurance cardio. I guess in the gym you have rest times so it wouldnt effect you as much. I found that this product gave me so much energy and focus and its a shame that it has been removed from the sports product industry.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah the Jack3d scandal sucks.

      The reason why companies do this is it’s expensive to use high dosages of safe, ergogenic amino acids and much cheaper to just use potentially dangerous stimulants.

  • Joe

    I noticed that many pre-workout supps recommend being taken on an empty stomach (e.g. nutrabio extreme nitric stack, BSN NO Explode, etc..) or you won’t get the “max effects”.
    1) What is the reason behind this?
    2) If one was bulking and wanted to (or needed to) eat before a workout, (even using your 30-30-30 recommendation), how do you eat before working out and take a pre workout supplement on an empty stomach?
    3) Do you recommend Pulse be taken on an empty stomach?

    • Michael Matthews

      Caffeine and other stimulants just hit harder on an empty stomach, and that’s really all those products have going for them.

      The energy that comes from a pre-workout meal and the potential muscle-building benefits (as discussed here: https://www.muscleforlife.com /guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/) outweigh the extra caffeine kick that comes from taking it on an empty stomach.

      You don’t have to take Pulse on an empty stomach, no.

  • cody

    man ill be glad when pulse comes out. ive tried many pwo’s and the only one i really like is beast mode. they seem like a decent company. other’s like gat nitraflex, pro supplements mr. hyde, c4 all made me feel straight up like shit. sports nutrition adrenaline is another decent pwo. Do you have a target launch date for pusle?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Cody. We’ve actually begun fulfilling orders so if you head on over and place yours, it will go out this week!

  • halevi

    I have a cup of coffee before I workout and it really helps. When I forget to drink a cup before a workout, I struggle with my energy level.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah coffee is good like that. 🙂

  • Tyler

    Hey MIke,
    I look forward to trying pulse. I have a similar quesion that another person 5 months ago had. I think 350mg caffeine is way to much from me and I would have a heart attack haha. I heard you mention that you might be coming out with a low caffeine(50-100mg) version. I think that amount of protein would be perfect. Have you made any progress on this new version lately?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Haha yeah a low-caffeine version is in the works for sure. I think I’m just going to go 0 actually.

  • Martin Holroyd

    Hi Mike. I’ve just finished reading your book. It was a great read! Very informative. I can’t wait to try out your fitness tips and diet plans to see results for myself!

    I just wanted to post on here to ask a question. I was looking for a pre workout, but unfortunately due to living in the UK cannot buy the pre workout you recommend (unless you ship to the UK??) I just wondered, if you had any suggestions for a good pre workout I could buy that is available within the UK. I’d prefer without creatine as I already have a supply of creatine and prefer to take it post workout anyway.



    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Martin! Def lemme know how it goes.

      We do ship to the UK! If that’s too expensive, then I reecommend ON’s PRE. It’s a decent product.

  • Sandra Marr

    Just tried Pulse for the first time. Oh my goodness what an effect it had on my energy.

    I tried to review it but couldn’t find a page so here is my feedback. I took 12g (probably didn’t use enough water). I also took 500mg Lean Green (green tea extract) and 5g BCAA. The BCAA I usually have because I train in the morning in a fasted state.

    I went straight into my workout (Mikes program for shoulders) and I was buzzing. I went up with each weight and then did intervals afterwards (which I haven’t done previously as it isn’t recommended by Mike plus I don’t have the energy or even slight inclination). I am 44 and haven’t experienced energy like it in years. I was skipping for a minute at a time which I can’t usually manage.

    Cutting is working very slowly with me so I hope this will give me a much needed lift to speed up my metabolism a little. I think I will take a little on Saturday as I always find it very hard to motivate myself for intervals, and after Pulse I wanted to run a mile!

    I will take a little less next time as I did get a tingly, slightly pins and needles effect on my head, hands legs and arms! I would suggest building up from less than 12g. (I don’t normally drink any caffeine at all). I might try 5g.

  • Trevor Bergen

    I see that there’s no carnitine in this pre workout, should I be supplementing carnitine as well as the pre workout? Also it looks as if theres no bcaa in the pre, should I still be taking my 10g bcaa on top of the pulse pre?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, no carnitine as it doesn’t improve performance (it can help with muscle recovery though, which is why I include it in my post-workout product).

      No BCAAs either as they take up a lot of room and also don’t improve performance. You don’t need them unless you’re training fasted.

  • Beth C

    Wondering if your maltodextrin is corn derived, and if so if it is non-GMO. Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Currently it’s corn-based and isn’t certified as non-GMO, but I’m looking into finding a supplier for this. I’ve heard there are only 1 or 2 that actually produce such a product and they charge a fortune…

  • Mickey J Herrera

    Can’t wait to get my hands on one of these tubs Mike I will just add in some Creatine be the best around unlike what I thought about MP assault the old one it gives me stomach discomfort like Acid build up I only took it because of the nutrient label looked impressive but started thinking twice Ill just have to man up and finish it best of luck hope you blow up with your product line also hope it encourages future supp companies to follow your steps with actual full doses.

  • I am loving Pulse! I just finished my second bottle, and am getting ready to order another. However, I also just ran out of my creatine and was curious as to why creatine isn’t in the formula. What’s the reasoning?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man!

      Because creatine has no ACUTE effects and I wanted everything in Pulse to confer immediate training benefits.

      Many companies include creatine because it’s cheap and does work once the muscles become saturated, but I would rather take my creatine separately and focus on acute performance benefits with a preworkout.

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  • Michael

    Hey Mike,
    Do you think this product will have a positive effect on running? I am an avid runner and have been lifting for 6 months and would like to know if this PWO would effect me negatively or positively on race day?

    • Michael Matthews

      Absolutely. It’s REALLY good for endurance exercise. You’ll be hooked.

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  • Tai

    Hey Mike, general question for you. How does this product differ from say, Cellucor C4 and Betancourt Bullnox (two products that based on my research are highly rated)?

    • Michael Matthews


      If you compare the formulations ingredient by ingredient you’ll see that Pulse gives you a LOT more per serving.

  • Pako Tamayo

    Is this product safe for dudes or dudettes with GERD?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not sure. Never been asked that before. 🙂

  • Pako Tamayo

    Is this stuff safe for people with GERD? …any digestive issues?

    Thanks. I shall try

    • Michael Matthews

      I’ve never been asked that before so I’m not sure actually. If you do try it, let me know.

  • Kevin

    Hey Mike, What’s the difference between L-Citrilline and Citrilline Malate?

    • Michael Matthews

      When an amino acid has L- appended, it means it’s the form we actually ingest. When an amino is in a “malate” form, it is combined with malic acid to improve absorption.

      • Kevin

        So if i wanted to just take Citrilline by it self as a supplement, which one would be better to take, the L Cit or Malate?

        • Michael Matthews

          Malate is used in many studies, which is why I chose it.

          • Kevin

            You know where i could get citrulline malate from to take as a stand alone supplement, i’ve only seen L-Citrulline like in stores not the malate version? thanks

          • Michael Matthews

            No, sorry. But L-cit will work too.

          • Kevin

            Ok thanks you been a big help last question, if i go get say the L-cit what would be a good dosage to take i see you mention 8g of cit, is that good?

          • Michael Matthews

            YW. Yup 6-8g.

  • Morgen

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the info! 🙂 Have you taken/heard of a pre-workout called Kill It! by Rich Piana?

    • Michael Matthews

      No I haven’t. Have you tried it?

      • Morgen

        Yeah, I love it. It’s the only preworkout I’ve tried that has actually made a difference in my workout/how I feel. The main ingredient seems to be agmatine.
        I’m going to try either the Legion Pulse or Twinlabs Nitric Fuel because I want something I can take everyday (I was warned against using kill it! More than 3x per week).


        • Michael Matthews


          I’m not impressed by the formulation to be honest, but some people’s bodies respond well to certain things while others don’t.

          I’d be curious to hear how you like Pulse if you end up trying it.

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  • Chentelle

    Hey, wondering if you have any samples i could try?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, sorry, not yet. They’re VERY expensive to produce (minimum order is about $30,000) and I have to use that money to stay in stock, haha.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Kelly

    “Artificial & natural flavors, maltodextrin, eryithol – how is this “clean?” Check out DoVitamins PurePump – no hidden ingredients.

  • white plains

    I bought the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack – just took my first packet today before the gym – It kicked in quickly. I’d say it took about fifteen minutes. I got amazing pumps, my veins looked swollen. The energy level was spectacular, and most of all I felt relentless. My body actually went out of commission before my energy and motivation did. I left the gym wanting to do more, but knowing my body couldn’t. I would highly suggest this supplement as a must have in your stack.

  • Robbie Whiting

    HI Michael. My name is Robbie. I’m a 28 y.o./female and I just started working out a few days ago…again. I want to find a pre-workout formula and I was wondering if Pulse is something a woman could take or is it just for men? Also, what are BA tingles?..

    • Hey hey!

      Pulse is great for women. Most women like to start with 1 scoop and save 2 for their more intense workouts. 🙂

      BA tingles are just that–your face and body gets tingly. 🙂 It’s completely normal.

  • Emanuel Dushaj

    Does Pulse help you get energy even if it doesn’t have caffeine?

  • Harry

    Hi Michael,
    I really enjoyed reading your article and finally opening up the eyes of many of us who started working out and got inundated with broscience and scams with regards to pre-workouts.
    So i’m glad you made the decision to put together a product based on factual science for all of us to use in a correct manner.

    However, i’ve been to the legionpulse site and wanted to order your preworkout immediately but the shippingcosts alone far exceed the cost of the product itself.

    To clarify things, i live in Belgium (europe) and shipping/handling/customs/tax really add up and prevent me from buying your products.

    In the (near?) future, could you perhaps look into this so we EU-customers can also purchase your products?

    Keep up the good work and i hope you’ll have a great day 🙂



    • Glad you liked it man. I’m happy to help. 🙂

      I totally understand on the shipping to the Europe.

      I’m actually in the middle of setting up a fulfillment center in the UK, but it’s taking a lot more work than I originally thought… It’ll be ready in a few months.

      In the meantime, feel free to shoot an email to [email protected], and I’ll have them hook you up with a discount for shipping!

      • Harry

        Hi Michael,
        Thank you for your reply and the exciting news about the setup of a UK distribution center in the near future.
        I also want to thank you for your offer to email your customer service. That is what I call customer friendly :-))

  • DK

    Hi Mike
    Would really love to give Pulse and your other products a try but live in Ireland and shipping is too costly.
    Can I ask is it simply Citrulline in Pulse or Citrulline Malate? I know you have stated Citrulline only but just checking?


  • Beck

    Hi Michael… I want to try your product in the UK as it fits all the criteria I’m looking for… Have you thought about establishing a supplier here?

    I wouldn’t mind being a representative for you if so…

    [email protected]

    Let me know!

    Kind Regards,


    • I’m working on setting up a distribution center there right now! It should be ready Q1 2016.

      I appreciate the offer! No need for a representative ATM. 🙂

      Talk soon!

      • lloyd

        Adding to this, will Forge be available in the UK?

  • Michael, I do have one doubt but it’s all got clear away. Actually, Robbie has asked the same thing what I would like to know. I hope that Pulse will work more effective than other supplements.

    • Cool!

      LMK if you have any questions and how you like Pulse!

      Talk soon.

  • Alicia Facal

    Mike…I’m in Aus…are there any plans for your supplements to come out this way as well?

    • I hear you brother. I’m going to be looking at international shipping options next year.

  • Pretty much everything I’ve read about beta-Alanine and citrulline malate suggests that they’re most effective with high-rep workouts that last longer than sixty seconds. So is it beneficial to take either of them with the BLS routine, even though the majority of its exercises are in low-rep ranges? Similarly, I’ve also heard that beta-Alanine is useful for HIIT, but is it significantly useful even if my HIIT “work” periods are only thirty seconds long?

    • Good questions and I’m going to dive into the details more in upcoming articles on individual ingredients over at the Legion blog.

      Long story short is your anaerobic threshold will increase, which WILL translate into more reps when you’re training to failure (or close to failure). You’ll also notice less fatigue in your workouts.

  • GOD

    lmao.nice marketing tho

  • Bruce

    Hi Mike,
    Nice article as usual,
    Supplements always be a good topic, people just always have the idea of searching a magic formula for fast results..
    I have a question, I’m thinking of adding maltodextrin and creatine to my post workout whey since I’m having trouble to gain mass..what do you think of it? Especially maltodextrin..
    Been eating alot, but still the scale wont budget for 2 months..really frustating..:(
    Best regards!

  • Tom Board

    Hi Mike,

    When will this be available to purchase in the UK?

  • Lonnie Bray

    Hey Mike, while still waiting for ur stim free pre workout im still searching and wondering if you had any recommendations. I love pulse and all ur products but my adrenals need a break from time to time. Any suggestions?

    • Glad you’re a fan of Pulse. 🙂 I understand needing a break. I actually recommend taking a week off from Pulse every 8-10 weeks!

      Honestly, I don’t have any good stim-free pre-workouts I could recommend.

      Your best bet is to pick up L-citrulline DL-malate, beta alanine and betaine and put together your own pre-workout. It’ll be better than anything you could pick up.


      • bowden

        In relation to your comment above, could I buy all the ingredients you have listed above and effectively create your pre-workout or tweak a pre workout I already have to boost the main ingredients to their effective dosage? For example my pre is very basic and has 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, if I bought this and boosted it to its effective dosage would that be practical or you would advise against it?

        Cheers Al

        • Sure you could. And yup, totally fine to increase dosage.

          Not sure on TMG.

          • bowden

            Thanks for your quick response! Look forward to giving it ago!

          • Any time!

  • Rafal Cislawski

    Does Taurine boost effects Beta Alanine. I heard that you want to ad Taurine to Pulse, why?

    • Because there’s research that shows it improves endurance. Not a MAJOR addition, really, but a nice tweak IMO.

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