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Nitric oxide (NO) is a really simple molecule—just a nitrogen atom bound to an oxygen atom. In spite or because of this, NO is a powerful actor in the body, going so far as to win “Molecule of the Year” from The American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1992. NO plays a role in regulating blood pressure, enhancing erectile ability and boosting brain function.
It also helps bodybuilders recover more quickly and effectively from intense weight training. Nothing else on earth gets you hard and helps you think better at the same time, plus it has bodybuilding benefits. Heck, maybe NO should’ve been awarded molecule of the century.
NO is a potent vasodilator, meaning that it helps your veins relax, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to pass through your circulatory system. This is particularly critical for bodybuilders because during and after workouts your muscles need more blood, oxygen and nutrients for better pumps, more strength and, ultimately, faster, more effective recovery.
Arginine is an amino acid that readily converts to nitric oxide. Increasing your levels by supplementing this amino helps drive up NO levels. Arginine helps deliver anabolic hormones including growth hormone (GH) to muscles, which signals them to grow. When you take arginine, you may notice that you appear more vascular, you have better muscle pumps and you feel stronger.
For best results: Arginine is available in many forms including the basic L-arginine. Take 3-5 grams of arginine up to three times a day for a total of up to 15 grams per day. Make sure you take one dose 30-60 minutes before you start your weight-training workouts. You can also take a dose upon rising and before bed.
Some research suggests that supplementing citrulline increases blood arginine levels more than supplementing arginine itself. Citrulline, also an amino acid, has the added benefit of helping to remove ammonia from the body. As you train with weights, ammonia is released, creating fatigue. Research has demonstrated that supplementing citrulline that’s bound to malic acid (citrulline malate) reduces fatigue and increases levels of ATP and creatine phosphate. But we don’t want to overhype citrulline at the expense of arginine. Consider taking both to maximize the amount of arginine in your blood system to support efficient conversion to NO, and the individual benefits they each provide.
For best results: Get in 2-3 grams of L-citrulline or citrulline malate about 30-60 minutes before weight workouts.
While increasing arginine intake will increase the amount available to be converted to nitric oxide, it’s good to include a few boosters to spur the conversion process. To increase NO activity, try pycnogenol. This extract from the French maritime pine tree is a potent antioxidant that increases the activity of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), an enzyme group that helps boost arginine conversion to NO. Panax ginseng, also known as American ginseng is another NO converter that boosts NOS activity.
For best results. Take 50-100 mg of pycnogenol when you take other NO-boosting supplements. Add 100-200 mg of standardized Panax (American) ginseng at the same time.
The fruit of this tropical evergreen tree provides unique support for boosting NO levels. You see, NO is free radical, many of which are harmful to the body. But, as we’ve pointed out, this molecule drives beneficial processes. However, antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals—generally a very healthful physiological response—can’t tell damaging free radicals from NO. While mangosteen contains powerful antioxidants, it also has an active component, mangostin, that supports NO levels. It inhibits the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, which enhances muscle recovery, boosts T levels and aids fat loss in addition to supporting NO levels.
For best results: Take 500-1000 mg of mangosteen extract up to three times a day for a total of up to 3000 mg. Take with whole-food meals, targeting pre-workout first, and then breakfast and dinner.