If you’re weighing up your pre workout muscle pump options and wondering whether to go with beta alanine or citrulline malate you need to read this.
You might be frustrated that your progress has started to slide away faster than protein ice cream off a warm waffle.
Or that your gains have just plain hit a road block.
When it’s time to deploy the double-barreled brute force of a pre workout, you just know. You can feel it in your mind… and muscles.
It’s time to up the ante and get back on the gain train.
And that’s where beta alanine and citrulline malate come in.
As muscle pump nutrients, one is the behemoth of blood flow. The verve behind vasodilation and pump in your pump-action.
The other will leave you a tingling feeling that something just isn’t right.
If you want to know which nutrient is best, check out this fight to the death… It’s Beta Alanine vs Citrulline Malate.
It’s all about the pump
A premium pre workout supplement contains the right nutrients in optimal doses.
Not only does it boost athletic and cognitive performance with stimulants such as caffeine, it also delivers huge muscle pumps, enhanced blood flow and better nutrient delivery.
There’s no better feeling than a shirt-splitting muscle pump where your blood vessels literally feel like they’ll explode under the pressure of your jacked up arms, shoulders or quads.
F*ck bro, it’s the one.
What’s a muscle pump?
Arnold once said that the pump to him was “as satisfying as cumming”.
And we have to agree.
Unless it’s coming inside Gal Godot’s ass, then it’d be a different conversation altogether. And would include lots of lube.
Anyway, the surge in blood flow and the tightness of your skin as your engorged muscle belly pushes against it is the best feeling in the gym. Period.
When you start lifting weights, the target muscle begins to contract. It needs oxygen and nutrients, and the only way you’ll achieve this is through an increase in blood flow.
In order to force as much blood to the muscle as possible, your blood vessels dilate. They do this because of an increase in a vasodilation compound called nitric oxide.
The increased blood flow ‘fills your muscles up’ with blood and draws fluid inside the muscle cell too.
This is where the insane, tight pump feeling comes from.
No nitric oxide means no pump.
Beta Alanine vs Citrulline Malate: What Are They?
Both beta alanine and citrulline malate have been used to enhance nitric oxide production during intense exercise.
They are both thought to be nutrients with vasodilatory properties.
Citrulline malate – the king of muscle pump nutrients
As an amino acid found most famously in watermelon, citrulline malate benefits intense exercise in a number of different ways.
It coverts to L-arginine in your kidneys as well as nitric oxide.
While taking L-arginine directly is a poor way of boosting NO concentration in your blood, citrulline malate has a high absorption rate, and therefore works effectively for muscle pumps.
There are a ton of benefits for anyone taking citrulline malate:
- Enhanced physical performance and reduced fatigue due to diminished ammonia production
- Decreased time-to-exhaustion
- Reduced perceived difficult of intense exercise
- Better productivity during strength training – more reps and higher loads
- Promotes muscle mass through enhanced nutrient delivery and muscle protein synthesis
- Improves endurance and boosts recovery time
Are there any side effects?:
Not unless you have really high blood pressure. In that case you’d be best staying away from a pre workout altogether anyway.
The only other (extremely rare) side effect is gastrointestinal discomfort. But that can be solved quickly by avoiding taking it on an empty stomach.
Who’ll benefit from taking citrulline malate?:
- Strength and endurance athletes who need that extra push at high intensity
- Weightlifters, bodybuilders and physique athletes
- Anyone wanting to get jacked as fuark with an insane pump brah
6,000 mg taken 20-30 minutes before a workout.
Beta alanine: might improve power output but comes with unwanted side effects
Much like citrulline malate, beta alanine is an amino acid. However, it doesn’t use the same enzymatic pathways as our trusted citrulline, and instead combines with histidine to convert to carnosine once ingested.
Your body can make it’s own beta-alanine.
Carnosine might result in reduced acidity during high-intensity workouts, therefore could help with performance and power. However, studies are limited.
Compounds such as creatine are much more effective at buffering acidity compared to beta-alanine. But you’ll rarely find these two nutrients in the same supplement unfortunately (whereas the best ones do contain creatine and citrulline malate).
Potential benefits of beta-alanine:
- Reduced fatigue and some increases in power output
- Reduced fatigue in older adults (studies don’t say whether they were jacked or not)
- Might help erections (presumably not while working out)
- Used by women to treat the menopause (are you a woman? If not, why’d you care?)
Are there any side effects?:
The biggest one]is called paresthesia. It’s a strange and uncomfortable tingling feeling you get in your hands, arms and neck.
it’ a bit like pins and needles. And if you’ve ever tried to work out with pins and needles you’ll know how sh*tty it feels.
Studies show that the optimal dosage is between 4,000 and 6,000 mg split into doses of 2,000 mg or less, with a 2 week loading phase.
That’s complicated for a pre workout supplement.
Not exactly optimal for a quick hit before a tough strength session.
Bottom Line: Beta Alanine vs Citrulline Malate
Citrulline malate is our clear winner for power, endurance muscle pump and all-round performance.
With no side effects and a great research profile, it blows beta alanine right out the water. You can put citrulline right to work – it doesn’t need a loading phase.
And it targets every aspect of physical and cognitive fitness. Not like beta alanine and it’s menopause nonsense.
Our top recommended pre workout with citrulline malate
When you’re looking for a pre workout containing citrulline malate, look not further than 4 Gauge by Roar Ambition.
It’s the most researched pre workout supplement out there, containing a cell-splitting 6,000 mg of citrulline malate, as well as the added benefits of creatine.
It contains only natural ingredients to keep your workout clean and to the point:
- Caffeine – smash through the energy barrier and get you best workouts yet
- L-theanine and rhodiola rosea – enhance cognition and focus to dial in on PRs
- Citrulline malate and red beet – boost performance, strength and stamina
- L-carnitine – reduce fatigue and muscle damage
- Coconut water – keep hydrated with specialized electrolytes
- Creatine – ramp up mass and strength with this primary substrate compound