Power Analysis: BSN N.O. Xplode 2.0

Yeah, baby. It’s N.O. Xplode 2.0! No one has gone through a serious workout program without hearing about this product. It’s a legend, even though sometimes I really don’t know why. Before I even started training seriously I had heard about N.O. Xplode. It has been copied by other Pre Workout Supplements as well, because that is always what is done with the best products. If you have ever wondered why some people are your gym are WIRED or in my case, seem super angry and determined, living in some crazy other world zone, N.O. Xplode is probably to blame, or thank, I have no idea. Just take one look at their advertisement and you will see what they are going for–ripped, strong, powerful. Of course, this can be kind of intimidating, and Pre Workouts should be taken with caution, but they can be very useful, and sometimes mean the difference between serious gains and lackluster results simply because of enhanced motivation. Here’s why:

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What is a Pre Workout Supplement?

A Pre Workout supplement is a powdery substance designed to help you push your body to the EXTREME. If taken before a lifting session, Pre Workout supplements are designed to improve focus and energy, allowing you to lift more and build muscles faster. Of course, caffeine has a lot to do with all of this added energy. Don’t fear, if you have a low tolerance of caffeine, there are decaffeinated versions of Pre Workout supplements that can be taken to achieve desired results.

Pre Workouts contain a similar formula of a few key ingredients (aside from Caffeine):

 L-Arginine to support oxygen flow and create a pump: this amino acid is a vasodilator, which means it may help your blood vessels expand within a normal range.

Beta-Alanine to promote muscular endurance, maximize protein synthesis, and decrease fatigue during your workout: this is responsible for your ability to push through a difficult workout. It is also the cause of the strange tingling sensation you will get when you take pre workout supplements!

Why Should I Take Pre Workout Supplements?

Pre Workout supplements are particularly effective at ensuring that you are able to push through a tough workout even if you are tired. They pump you full of energy, and make you feel like you can lift anything. Of course, lift with caution to prevent injuries (says me, clearly the expert…). Pre Workouts can also enhance focus and endurance during your workout, which helps you to push out more reps, support blood flow to the muscles, and create the pump that many bodybuilders crave. Pre Workouts can enhance results due to its ability to help you push through harder and further.

What Makes N.O. Xplode 2.0 Special?

I was initially terrified to try N.O. Xplode. I used to be very sensitive to caffeine, and I initially only purchased pre workout supplements that did not contain caffeine. I received a sample of N.O. Xplode, and decided to try it during Kris Gethin’s DTP leg workout, because I clearly knew I would need something to put me in another place. It was intense, but it worked. The first thing I noticed was the intense tingling feeling, which in itself made me want to work harder, just to get rid of it! I was able to push through a really intense workout, focused, and enjoying every step of the way. I have noticed that the formula has changed in the 2.0 version, and it is not as strong as it used to be, despite claims that it is stronger. Even the flavor is slightly reduced.

I did notice a pump, particularly in my forearms. They felt like they were going to pop even after only three sets of my first exercise. I do notice a difference in the quality of my workouts without it, but I find that I can’t take it any later than 5:30 p.m. if I want to have a chance to sleep before 3 a.m. It does achieve its desired result, it keeps me energized, and I find that it maybe goes a bit too far. It doesn’t give me the shaking feeling of an energy drink, but it has been known to make me quite angry at times, but that makes for a stronger workout.

By the way, N.O. stands for nitric oxide. BSN explains its purpose here: “N.O.-XPLODE™ 2.0’s key ingredients support nitric oxide production, oxygen delivery, working capacity and electrolyte balance, helping you create show-stopping muscle pumps and vascularity and experience more rewarding workouts and performance.” 

I have only tried the Fruit Punch flavor, and it is very good. Most other pre workout supplements I have had have been absolute torture to drink. I would dread drinking them, sitting on the bench at the gym sipping them for up to 10 minutes just trying to get them down. This one is much more tolerable, I have never had an issue with it. I do recommend stirring it rather than shaking it, because I have had it pop the top off of my bottles before and everyone thinks the noise is something a lot scarier than a pre workout!

Shake and take with caution!

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Where to Buy Xtend?

N.O. Xplode is extremely popular, and should be carried at most supplement stores, like Popeye’s in Canada. I ordered mine off bodybuilding.com, typical.

Power Analysis: Muscle Milk Review

 Sometimes the hardest part of sticking to a diet or exercise regime is finding the time to cook meals, especially meals that will provide you with all of the essential nutrients to build and repair muscle. It is really easy to fall off the wagon because of cravings, or lack of preparation. Another huge issue that arises with a bodybuilding diet is monotony, food tends to taste boring, and protein shakes can become really boring when you are drinking them every day. If you are like me, you get really bored with protein shakes fast. At first, I will get a new protein and absolutely love it, and over time it becomes the enemy because I get so bored of it. It becomes really hard to motivate yourself to drink something that you can’t stand, so you turn to a chocolate bar, pizza, or some other craving. This is why it is extremely important to have meal replacement options, because there will be days that you can’t motivate yourself to cook, or drink a protein shake, and it is that moment when you need to be prepared so that you can prevent senseless cheating. My tried and true meal replacement favorite is Muscle Milk by Cytosport. I never get bored it this, I can drink it every day, and I still enjoy it. It is also filling, unlike a lot of protein shakes, and has a great macro nutrient ratio. Get your hands on some Muscle Milk!

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What is Muscle Milk?

Muscle Milk is a fabulous meal replacement option, meaning that it can be taken in place of food. This can be a life saver if you don’t have the time, energy, or cash to prepare 6 solid meals a day. Muscle Milk contains a blend of proteins (Calcium Sodium Caseinate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Concentrate), which are obviously key to building and repairing muscle. Since Muscle Milk contains a protein blend, you get the best of all world–slow and fast digesting proteins. Fast digesting proteins, like isolates, are soluble and enter  the blood stream quickly. What this means for you is that the protein contributes to greater growth and recovery due to protein synthesis. Slow digesting proteins, like casein, keep you fuller longer. This protein is perfect for meal replacement, as it is designed for periods where you cannot refuel quickly. Casein is also very high in amino acids, which help to speed muscle repair, promote muscle growth, and limit muscle breakdown.

In addition to protein, Muscle Milk includes fast-burning fats that help provide the caloric energy needed to fuel exercise and recovery. It also includes Omega 3, 6, and 9 fats, which are critically important for a healthy diet. Also, Muscle Milk is loaded with Glutamine (to rebuild muscle, serious key to bodybuilding) and other essential vitamins. It is pretty much the perfect go-to meal replacement shake. Check out the macros:

Muscle Milk Macros

Why Should I Take Muscle Milk?

Well, 6073 members of Bodybuilding.com can’t be wrong, and that is how many people have added Muscle Milk to their list of supplements on bodyspace. Muscle Milk keeps you full, provides you with essential nutrients, and tastes great. Also, it is lactose free, so it is the perfect meal replacement for those with lactose sensitivity. It contains no milk, despite the title, but it does contain a plethora of other awesome ingredients to help you build and maintain an awesome figure.

What Makes Muscle Milk Special?

The reason I continue to purchase Muscle Milk is the flavor, it tastes great and I haven’t gotten sick of it, which is saying a lot. I even bought a 5lb tub, which shows how serious I am about my love for Muscle Milk. I leave my Muscle Milk at work, because it is a simple and convenient meal to eat when you are in a rush. I particularly enjoy the Chocolate flavor. It is smooth, and mixes well. I also have the Chocolate Malt flavor, which is very similar to the Chocolate, I would suggest either flavor. I am yet to try some of the more exotic flavors, but I have my eye on the Red Velvet Cake and Raspberry Cheesecake.

If you are cutting down on carbs, I find that mixing one scoop of Muscle Milk with one scoop of Whey Protein Isolate of the same flavor is a very effective way to maintain the Muscle Milk flavor and texture, without the high amount of carbs. I take two scoops at a time for one serving, because I try to ensure that I am taking 30g of protein per meal. In two scoops Muscle Milk gives you 32g protein, 18g carbs, 12g fat. This is a very good ratio, especially for a meal replacement. It is also very low in sugar, with only 2g per scoop!

Where to Buy Muscle Milk?

Muscle Milk is a fairly standard product. I have bought it numerous times on bodybuilding.com. A 5lb tub is currently going for $48.98 Canadian, which means one meal will cost you around $1.50 if you take two scoops. Pretty decent. You can also find Muscle Milk at Popeye’s and other health food and supplement stores.

Don’t give yourself the excuse to cheat, make sure you always have a meal replacement with you!

Power Analysis: Scivation Xtend Review

If I had to choose my favorite bodybuilding supplement, Scivation Xtend would be it. Until recently, I had never heard of this supplement and I did not understand its value. Now that I have used it, I will never stop. What sets Xtend apart from all other BCAA supplements is the taste. I have tried a few others and they do not compare. Xtend is not chalky, it has a light, fruity flavor, and I never get bored of it. I have tried six different flavors of Xtend and I have never been disappointed. I drink Xtend all day long, it is a perfect replacement for calorie packed beverages like pop and juice, and it is easy to drink. Right now I have a collection of four Xtend flavors that I mix up so I never get bored. I also keep Xtend at work, because having it on hand is just that important. If you have never heard of Xtend or BCAA’s read on.

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What are BCAA’s?

Aside from protein, BCAA’s are probably the most important supplement you can add to your regime. BCAA’s primary function is to help build, protect, and repair your muscles. I always tell people that my water is amazing because it prevents my muscles from eating themselves, which sounds stupid, but that is basically what it comes down to. BCAA’s, or Branched Chain Amino Acids are essential amino acids that account for about 35-40% of your overall amino acid count. The body is able to produce the other 60-65% but without proper nutrition and supplementation it will not be able to benefit from the essential amino acids. The amino acids that make up BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Leucine is particularly beneficial for people who weight lift or  are training due to the increased anti-catabolic effects this amino acid can offer.

Why Should I Take BCAA’s?

BCAA’s are an extremely important supplement to take as part of a weight lifting program because of their ability to increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle protein breakdown. BCAAs are metabolised in the muscle and as a result the body is able to utilise the essential amino acids to build new proteins within the muscle. As a direct result the risk of catabolism is significantly reduced. More than this, your ability to increase lean muscle tissue is drastically increased. BCAAs are also known for their great ability to prolong the onset of muscle fatigue whilst training which not only allows you to train with more intensity; it also helps you to sustain good strength levels. (Thank you Monstersupplements.com for the great explanation!)

BCAA’s can be taken as an intraworkout supplement, and Bodybuilding.com also suggests taking them before and after workouts. I am addicted to Xtend, and drink it all day long. I seriously picture it protecting my muscles as I drink it, and it makes me feel amazing. You can take Xtend in a double dose during your workouts as well, for added protection against muscle loss. We have all worked so hard to build our muscles, taking Xtend is like muscle life insurance. I mix it into this giant 2.2L bottle and just go crazy. I drink 2-3 of these a day, depending on if it is workout day, and each bottle contains one scoop of Xtend.

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What Makes Xtend Special?

Supplement stores offer a wide array of BCAA products, so what makes Xtend so special? I currently have Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA supplement, AmiN.O. Energy, which is also a very good choice, as all Optimum Nutrition supplements are, but there is just something incredible about Scivation Xtend. Xtend is sugar-free, which is great if you are watching your calories. It is like crystal lite, but it actually does good things for your body. Seriously, Xtend tastes amazing. I was the happiest person on the planet when they came out with new flavors, and I have tried Mango and Strawberry Kiwi so far and have loved them both. The first flavor of Xtend that I tried was Grape because Kris Gethin suggested it. It really is amazing, but I would definitely say that Mango is my favorite. It tastes like a glass of fresh mango juice (a more artificial version) and that is something you can get excited about if you are eating a very bland diet.

Xtend helps me to fight sugar cravings because it is sweet, and it makes me feel like I am drinking something totally different. It doesn’t have an aftertaste, doesn’t taste like chalk, doesn’t have a crazy amount of coloring that makes you question what you are doing to your body. It is just incredible. Other BCAA supplements tend to taste very strange because BCAAs are hard to disguise. It anyone has had a glass of glutamine (amino acid) straight, you know exactly what I mean. It is vomit inducing, and very chalky. Even glutamine mixes in with Xtend and you can’t taste it! I have noticed that a lot of other BCAA supplements have not been able to disguise the amino acid taste, which makes them very difficult to drink. If they have, they are much less flavorful and thus difficult to consume all day long, every day, for life.

In a 12 week period I went through two and a half containers. It was just that good.

Here are my ratings of the flavors I have tried:

Grape Escape: 4 – this has the perfect amount of sweetness. Grape can often be really artificial and difficult to enjoy, but this flavor does not have that typical artificial taste. It is a great choice, I bought two containers of it and loved them both.

Green Apple Explosion: 4.5 – until I tried Mango Nectar, this was my favorite flavor. It is genuinely delicious. It has a little bit of a sour kick to it, which makes it even more interesting. I absolutely love it and highly suggest it.

Lemon Lime Sour: 3 – this flavor is good, but it was a little bit strange. It didn’t appeal to me as much as the others, but it was still great and I would get it again.

Mango Nectar: 5 – this is my current favorite flavor. It tastes like mango juice, and is absolutely amazing. I even like to mix it with vanilla protein, it makes it taste like an orange creamsicle. You cannot go wrong with this flavor if you are a mango lover.

Raspberry Blue: 4 – this flavor is very good as well, great flavor combination that reminds me of Gatorade. It has the highest ratings on bb.com!

Strawberry Kiwi: 4.5 – this is part of their new collection of flavors. It is a great combination of two of my favorite fruits and I was dying to try it. It is light and fruity and tastes a lot like crystal lite.

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Where to Buy Xtend?

You can buy Xtend at any supplement store. I have been buying it off bodybuilding.com because Canadian supplement stores have insane prices and I would much rather wait for a package than pay those kinds of insane prices. You can get it at Popeye’s if you want to, but I suggest ordering it online. It is a way better deal. It comes in four different sizes: 5, 15, 30 and 90 servings.

Visit bb.com to check out prices and more reviews and be sure to add BCAA’s to your supplement program!