The First PumpI started weight training when I was in 6th grade. My dad had a 2,000 square foot two-story workshop, and I turned half of the upstairs into a little gym. There was no lighting up on the second floor, so I ran an extension cord up there for a drop light and my radio. It was a pretty bare bones workshop—wooden rafters exposed, tin roof, and no a/c or heat. It was my very own little cave where I began my bodybuilding journey.
Pretty sure back then I bench pressed, did curls, and trained forearms every day. My earliest memory of a muscle pump was training forearms. My cousin had big Popeye-looking forearms and I was determined to beef mine up. I would do sets of 20 reps on wrist curls till the burning was too intense for me to stand. I remember the flood of blood rushing in and making them feel so big. The “pump” was addictive. In this article, I want to share the journey that led to the creation of Animal Pump Pro.
Nitric Oxide: The Next CreatineIn high school, I was powerlifting competitively and was already a total muscle science nerd. I read everything I could find on enhancing performance. I was a frequent customer at GNC and was always looking for the next edge. In the early 2000s, I picked up the book “The Nitric Oxide Revolution” by Edward Byrd at my usual GNC store. This book made Nitric Oxide (NO) out to be the next miracle in muscle strength and size. I was about to be in for skin-splitting pumps and tremendous size gains. This was around the time L-Arginine flooded the supplement market and every pre-workout around was touting NO and the “pump.” I took a lot of these supplements and, to be honest, it’s hard to really say if they made a difference or not. By no means did they deliver on what they claimed to do.
Mechanisms of Hypertrophy and the Role of Nitric OxideA few years later, I was working on my Master’s thesis on beet root and its role in exercise performance. Beet root is a source of nitrate that can enhance serum NO. Again, the topic of NO and its effect on muscle hypertrophy and strength were still on my mind. Research around this time was coming out about the mechanisms behind resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Basically a combination of mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress are initiating factors for hypertrophic response. These initiating factors lead to satellite cell activation, myogenic pathway stimulation, elevated anabolic hormones and cytokines, and cellular swelling in skeletal muscle. So where does NO fit into this process? Increasing NO is thought to increase the cell swelling effect via increase in blood flow and interstitial fluid. It’s also thought to have a role in satellite cell proliferation and the ability to increase training volume, which in turn increases the hypertrophic stimulus imposed on muscle tissue. The accumulation of metabolic byproduct from working muscle causes the cell swelling “pump.” The “pump” is maximized during resistance training and relies heavily on glycolysis, resulting in a build up of lactate along with other metabolites which causes an osmotic pull of water into the muscle. This reperfusion causes muscle to become engorged with fluid—in the research world this is known as “exercise-induced hyperemia”—aka the “pump.” We still don’t know what the cell swelling “pump” effect has on hypertrophy, but it very well could play a large role based on anecdotal evidence we see in bodybuilding.
Animal Pump CreationBeyond Nitric Oxide, there are several other means to increase blood flow and intercellular hydration. At this point in early 2019, I was ordering 7 different ingredients in bulk powders to make my own pre-workout concoction. I trialed lots of different ingredients but narrowed it down to just a few I really believed in. While I got what I wanted, it was a huge pain in the ass having to weigh out each powder every day. So I searched the market for a product that I felt was clinically dosed and used ingredients that actually could enhance weight training performance. There was nothing that fit my exact needs.
I wanted a pre-workout that could work on multiple pathways to enhance resistance training performance. I wanted it to be caffeine free so I had the option to use or not use stimulants, but I still wanted a product that could give me focus and energy. So I teamed up with Animal to formulate the product that I had been perfecting in my kitchen for the past few years. For vasodilation, we used a combination of Citrulline Malate and Nitrosigine, which can both increase NO via increasing Arginine levels. To enhance anaerobic systems, we used creatine monohydrate which has a role in generating more energy for working cells and results in more metabolites and cell swelling effects. Creatine is also well known for its ability to increase total body water. We added Hydromax, a form of glycerol, for hyper hydration of muscle cells. We included a combination of Alpha-GPC, Huperzine A, and L-Tyrosine to provide long-lasting cognitive function and stronger muscle contractions.
Animal Pump Pro was exactly what I wanted in a product. Thinking back to training forearms in my dad’s workshop, I wouldn’t have believed that one day I would create a product that gives the best workout performance and pump possible. Huge thanks to everyone on the Animal Team and all of you Animal supporters for making this possible. Go get some nasty pumps.