Whether you’re a new or seasoned disciple of the iron, one thing that you can never get enough of is the sensation of engorged blood vessels that feel like they’re about to pop after your workout. Nothing compares to the sheer euphoria one experiences after knowing that their muscles are being saturated with nutrient rich blood which will help to forge their future body – ounce by painful ounce of muscle gained.

In your quest for these skin splitting pumps, you need to recruit the help of specific highly sought-after ingredients that lend themselves to vasodilation, or the ability to let blood vessels widen in order to compensate for the flood of anabolic blood heading to your muscles.

You probably know of one or two of these ingredients, as they can be considered staples of many pre-workout pump supplements, but yet there are others which are not well known, and which are likely to blow your mind.

Ready to take the express train to Pumpsville? All aboard!


The current cookie-cutter supplement when it comes to helping you achieve the much desired pump is undoubtedly citrulline (which you will find included in supplements as L-citrulline or citrulline maleate). Citrulline is an amino acid, like arginine, which is able to increase levels of nitric oxide in blood.

In fact, consuming citrulline will elevate blood levels of the amino acid arginine, as it first needs to be converted into arginine before its effects manifest. At this point you’re probably wondering why don’t you just consume arginine then, right? A wise observation my dear Watson! However, things aren’t always as black-and-white as they may seem.

When arginine is consumed as is, a significant portion is metabolized by the liver resulting in less than stellar amounts being absorbed to elicit action. Citrulline, on the other hand, allows arginine to survive this metabolic process, so a significant amount enters blood.

To experience the joyous effects that citrulline will bring your muscles, it is recommended to consume between 3-8g of it about 60 minutes prior to your workouts. Regular folks also routinely consume citrulline nowadays, albeit in much smaller quantities such as around 1g twice daily.


Even though resveratrol has been the name in every athlete’s and grandma’s subconscious mind for at least the past decade, it appears that pre-workout manufacturers are still slow to start taking advantage of this miraculous polyphenol antioxidant compound.

Abundant in the skin of grapes, Japanese knotweed and of course red wine, it has a pronounced effect on vasodilation and vascularity when consumed prior to your workout.

Its antioxidant properties may also assist with reducing nitric oxide degradation, so that the molecule persists longer in blood for continuous vasodilation. Combined with vitamin C, resveratrol forms a dynamic duo which also positively influences overall blood vessel health to facilitate healthy nitric oxide production over the long haul( nitric oxide is produced within blood vessel walls). Doses of between 5 to 25 mg consumed approximately 60 minutes before your work out will do the trick.

Oh, and tell grandma to stop picking at your stash even though she knows very well it helps to control her blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity!


Agmatine is an interesting compound whose potential extends beyond that of typical vasodilator supplements. Naturally made from arginine, it can more correctly be classified as a neurotransmitter than an amino acid, since it has functions that extend to the brain as well.

When consumed prior to your workout (usually in the form of Agmatine sulfate), it increases levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme which is involved in the production of nitric oxide. It also boosts your energy levels being able to function as a mild stimulant, and can also mitigate pain felt during your session by stimulating the release of endorphins, natural feel good compounds and neurotransmitters.

Increasing levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase is a necessary step to bypass the natural limits of nitric oxide production, as this conversion is considered the rate limiting step. What does this mean? Think of it like this: you have two stairways that people can use to exit a burning building, and 1000 people trying to get out. Those stairways can be considered the rate limiting step. Now imagine if you had 100 such stairways – you can see how much faster people would be able to move from one point to the other.

This same analogy can be used to explain the relationship between endothelial nitric oxide synthase levels and how fast (and how much) nitric oxide can be produced.

Consuming 500 to 1500mg of Agmatine sulfate about an hour prior to your workouts is sufficient for taking things up a notch. On an important note, do not consume a pre-workout products that has Agmatine along with protein, or you risk wasting all of it. This is because Agmatine and arginine compete for the same uptake transporters, with arginine being favored significantly.

HydroMax Glycerol

This is a weird one for sure, likely because it doesn’t necessarily do anything very fancy such as increasing production of nitric oxide or blah blah blah. Rather, this is able to assist with pumps and vasodilation on a very elementary level, but one virtually everyone forgets to consider – fluid volume. HydroMax glycerol consists of 65% glycerol and 35% silica by weight, and was developed to replace the older glycerol monostearate which suffered from solubility issues.

If you are dehydrated, you will not achieve any type of pump to boast about, as there simply is not enough fluid, either in plasma or your intramuscular fluid, so all that you have is a “pipe” (pun intended) dream.

This is what makes HydroMax glycerol so effective. Its primary mechanism of action is to decrease urine volume. That means that less fluid is eliminated in urine, with more water recycled to the blood and muscle if necessary.

You can consume HydroMax glycerol around the entire peri-work out window, pre, intra, and post. Dosages of between 700mg to 2000mg are sufficient for increasing fluid volume and subsequent pumps experienced, though there have been reports of doses as high as 1g per pound of bodyweight being consumed for massive vascularity and vasodilation, not to mention an increase in exercise performance and resistance to fatigue.


L-Norvaline is a close relative of the branched-chain amino acid L-valine, except that it is unbranched. It is important to note that Norvaline by itself is not an exceptional vasodilator supplement, but when used in conjunction with a proven basic vasodilator supplement such as L-citrulline, or even L-arginine, it leads to meteoric changes in the pumps you experience.

Second only to the actual production of nitric oxide by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), the next most important factor that determines how much of a pump you experience has to be the amount of arginine allowed to accumulate in blood. While some of the arginine will be acted upon by eNOS, some will also be degraded by another enzyme known as arginase without being able to do anything.

Norvaline inhibits the arginase enzyme, and thus allows for a greater amount of arginine to be converted into nitric oxide. This allows for the upper ceiling of nitric oxide production to be achieved, in some instances as much as 55% more! This is massive. Wouldn’t you love to get an increase of 55% added to your salary?

You don’t need a lots of nor valine eater, dosages of between 50mg to 150mg daily about an hour before your workout is more than enough to turn things up.

Honorable Mentions

There are many other pump boosting ingredients that you can find today, which while effective, may deliver a bottom line that is less significant than the big five. Beetroot extract, pomegranate extract, epimedium (horny goat weed) and betaine are all great options in their own right.

Summary – Top-5 Ingredients For Improving Pump And Vasodilation

At this moment in time, the aforementioned five ingredients are the cream of the crop. Any effective pre-workout supplement that is worth its weight will have at least one, of these ingredients (and ideally more than one).

And yet, even though arginine is the one that started this revolution, as the natural order of things go it has been superseded by the next generation. Virtually all of the new generation vasodilator ingredients still have a mechanism intricately linked to arginine, as without this amino acid you have nothing.