Chasing The Pump (Check Your Pre-Workout)

We ALL love that feeling, the PUMP. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, your training is most likely sub par. Anyway, the pump is that feeling you get when it feels like the muscle your training is about to burst through the skin. Remember Arnold’s famous quote? If you don’t, stop reading this and go watch “Pumping Iron.” Arnold stated, “The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is… The Pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that’s what we call The Pump. You muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, and it’s really tight – it’s like somebody blowing air into it, into your muscle. It just blows up, and it feels really different. It feels fantastic.” Funny, yet true. The pump is probably the best feeling you get in the gym next to a PR (personal record) but I would argue that is more mental than physiological.

A solid pre workout formula can aid you in achieving that lovely pump, which quite honestly is the main reason I supplement with a pre-workout. Granted, the research is there to demonstrate that ingredients making up most of the pre-workout blends on the shelf have proven benefits on strength, endurance, and hypertrophy, I enjoy feeling and seeing it goto work even if that pump fades two-hours later(there’s my bro-esque line of the blog) Before we dig any deeper I am going to be completely honest with you, as all of my articles will be, NO ONE ever got huge off of a pre-workout supplement. So don’t ask if this one works or that one works. I am not going to sell you snake oil, because quite frankly, I’m not getting paid for pushing supplements, rather giving you the knowledge to make the correct choice for your needs. You need to evaluate the ingredients and determine if it contains the ingredients I will talk about below at the the recommended dosage. Sure, you can have all the right ingredients, but if it is not dosed properly, you’re probably not going to see a benefit. This can be difficult as most companies use a proprietary blend to avoid giving out their formula, since this is the case I recommend sticking with a reputable company that has been in the game and proven to produce a quality product time and time again. Beyond the ingredients you have to test what works for you. Many friends of mine have raved about a particular brand but when I tried it I thought it was a dud. Similar to diet, diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. Again, I’ve never heard of anyone getting huge off of a pre-workout, but I have witnessed many grueling workouts get completed that may not have without the extra boost and ergogenic aid provided by the mythical pre-workout solution. Below I will briefly run through some key ingredients that should be part of your pre-workout and one surprise powerhouse that you may wish to avoid. Later this week I will be reviewing Animal RAGE and demonstrating it’s mixability, taste, as well as go through a training session that I will post for you to give a try.

Proven ingredients have been scientifically shown to improve performance in endurance and strength as well as gains in muscle mass. Caffeine and Creatine are undoubtably ergogenic aids. Both of these have been studied more than anything else and as long as the subjects were given the proper dose both have come out on top time and time again. As for creatine (monohydrate) a 20g loading phase for 1 week followed by 5-10g per day is recommended.This dosage has been shown to increase size and strength in multiple studies, just goto and search creatine and hypertrophy and you will find thousands of results for research studies.

Caffeine is really individualized in the amount an individual can handle. Some do not do well with stimulants and require a caffeine free pre-workout, others, like myself, have a high tolerance and can handle upwards of 600-800mG (about 4-5 Tall Starbucks coffees). Caffeine has shown to be beneficial at different dosages and is generally studied by weight of the subject. A 2008 study demonstrated participants to lift significantly more repetitions on the bench press as opposed to those consuming a placebo. The dosage provided in this study was 5mG/kG body weight, which would be the equivalent of 500mG for a 200 pound individual. Assess your tolerance and see what you can handle.

Before we go into the next two. Caffeine actually counteracts the benefit of creatine loading in muscle when combined(2). This is the reason I solely take creatine post workout along with a carbohydrate, which has shown to increase its benefit. By consuming creatine pre workout along with caffeine you are not doing any harm, but you also may be wasting your money.

Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn) is what gives you that tingling sensation that usually hits about 15-30 minutes after consumption. This should be dosed at 3.2g/day to see an ergogenic effect. This does not all have to be consumed at once and has actually shown benefits to be broken up into two 1.6g doses (you will most likely avoid the tingly feeling). If your pre workout does not contain 3.2g you can purchase this in the raw form,, and add it to your post workout shake as it has shown benefits when combined with creatine.

Citrulline-Malate has been around but is starting to generate more buzz for its benefits of reducing muscle fatigue and increasing endurance (53% more repetitions on bench compared to placebo)(4). These studies have provided subjects with 6-8g of Citrulline-Malate prior to working out. Again if your favorite pre-workout doesn’t currently have this in or you are unsure of the dosage, you can purchase it in the raw form and add it in if you wish.

There are definitely more ingredients you will find on the label of your pre-workout but these are some of the main ingredients with evidence to back them up. If you have any questions about additional ingredients feel free to contact me on twitter @LuKKoV or facebook,

Remember to check back for the Animal Rage review and an accompanying training session.

Stay Fit

.Pre-workout Supplement

1. Woolf K, Bidwell WK, Carlson AG. The effect of caffeine as an ergogenic aid in anaerobic exercise. Int J of Sport Nutr Exerc Meta. 2008;18:412–29.

2. K. Vandenberghe, N. Gillis, M. Van Leemputte, P. Van Hecke, F. Vanstapel, P. Hespel  counteracts the ergogenic action of muscle creatine loading. Journal of Applied Physiology February 1, 1996 vol. 80 no. 2452-457

3. Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012;43:25–37. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z

4. Perez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24:1215–1222. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0.

Changing up your workout pt. II: Tires

So, what can you do with a tire other than using it as a means of transportation?

Many people who haven’t been around the strength and conditioning world would never think to implement a tire into their exercise routines. Yes, a tire! You can use anything from a car tire, to a tractor tire to get a great workout in!

If you’re using a bigger tractor tire, which can be anywhere from 250 to over 1000 pounds, flipping it is a similar movement to a power clean. It requires speed, strength, and technique. The same triple extension created in the ankle, knee and hip in a power clean is also utilized when doing a tire flip. Always be sure to warm up very well and start with a lighter tire before you go after a big one!
-example workout: Set timer for :60. See how many flips you can do in that period of time. Take 1-2 minute rest, then start back up again. Repeat 5x.

Tires are not only flipped, but can also be used for a faster cardiovascular workout. For small “step ups” you can get any old car tire and step up and down as quickly as you can. You can hop in and out of the hole of the tire multiple times, and do the same with a bigger tractor tire, too! Get a partner and you can even do “box jumps” on either side of the tire.
-example workout: On smaller tire, do 30 step ups, then 15 burpees in front, and then jump through tire. On bigger tire, do 30 “box jumps” (jump to top of tire), and 1 flip. Repeat 5x.

To engage your core and upper body, you can do planks on and off the tire. To make things a little more difficult, try and do “walk-ups” using your hands to “walk up” from the ground to the tire while holding the plank position. After you’ve finished with these, you can do dips off your tire, push press it, and press it off the floor!
-example workout: Set timer for :60. In plank position, “walk” up and down the tire as many times as you can, then do 60 seconds of the following: push press, floor press, dips. Repeat 3x.

If you hold a small tire at one end, (pictured above) you can do what I call “tire slams”. From the upright position, hold it at one end only with both hands. Next swing the tire up how you would a kettlebell. At the top of the “swing”, start to force the tire down and slam (bounce) it off the ground. (Make sure you let go of the tire!) It will then bounce back up. Simply catch it, and repeat this movement.
-example workout: 3 sets of 12 slams.

One last interesting exercise you can do with a tire is to throw it just as you would a medicine ball. This can be done by throwing it way out in front of you, or throwing it behind you.
-example workout: Try going in a field and throwing it all the way down and back!

Protein “Icee”

Hey everyone!

The heat is starting to crank up a few notches, so I have a super healthy, guilt free, and easy recipe to cool things down a bit! It is easy to get caught up with indulging in all of the ice cream and fro-yo being thrown around during the summer. You may be under the impression that going to a frozen yogurt shop may seem like the healthier route than getting regular ice cream, but you might want to think again. Plain frozen yogurt may have less fat and calories than hard ice cream, but when you add all of the extra cookie dough bites, brownie pieces, sugar-coated dried fruit, sprinkles, syrups, etc. you’re not really benefitting much at all. You could just settle for plain frozen yogurt, but that’s really not much fun either. So why not just make some frozen treats at your own home?

RECIPE : Protein Mint Chocolate Chip Icee
What you’ll need:

-Chocolate mint tea (Stash makes a great and fairly cheap one)
-Cookies ‘n creme protein powder (my favorite brand is Matrix)
-Ice (preferably this kind!!! It blends the best)
-Flavored Stevia (chocolate liquid drops or french vanilla packets. Although unflavored works just as fine!)
-Splash of almond milk


  • First you’ll need to make some iced tea. I made mine simply by boiling 5 cups of water, putting in 7 tea bags, throwing in a few ice cubes, and then refrigerating it.
  • Next get out your blender. A smaller (single serving) one will work best in this case! Per serving put in: 3/4 c ice, 3/4 c iced tea, 1 scoop protein powder, splash of almond milk, and either a packet of stevia or a few drops of liquid stevia.
  • Blend together until it makes a smooth “icey” consistency. (Roughly 45 seconds).
  • Pour in a pretty glass, dust with cocoa powder or cinnamon and enjoy!

There are many ways to change up the flavor of this recipe! For added health and/or fat burning benefits, feel free to use a flavored green tea with plain vanilla protein powder! For an anti-oxidant punch, throw in some berries and/or chia seeds. For a creamier taste, add 1/2 banana. Have fun with it and be creative! If you make this recipe or any of my recipes for that matter, I’d love to see! Tag me on Facebook, tweet @bee_russ, or on Instagram @brussy 🙂

Meet the Fitness & Health Writer | Luke Koval

Luke Koval earned his B.S. degree in Kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University along with course work in Sports Nutrition and it currently completing his M.S. in Wellness and Human Performance at the University of Pittsburgh As this industry is constantly changing, you can either stay ahead of the curve or get left in the dust. Luke uses his experience and education to evaluate the most current research in nutrition, supplementation and training.

From exercise to nutrition and supplementation, new studies and clinical trials are being performed every day, and the results and data from this research is what he uses to tailor ever-evolving training regimens. Recommendations coming from Luke are evidence based and has the science to back it up. He has been working in the fitness industry for over 5 years and therefore has application and anecdotal evidence to accompany the science.

Luke practices what he preaches. As the owner of Luke Koval Fitness, he not only helps others reach their goals, but applies his methods to his own training and nutrition plans to prepare for competition. Luke is a natural, national-level competitor in both Bodybuilding and Men’s Physique within the NPC.