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Supplement Review Ballistic Labs Big Boy
Pre-workout supplements almost always have stimulants, and nothing feels better before training than the rush of energy you get from a good, strong pre-workout absolutely loaded with stims. But a new era has begun. Innovative supplement companies are now formulating ground-breaking new pre-workouts that use absolutely no stimulants yet are still very effective still. One such product, appropriately called “Big Boy,” is made by Ballistic Labs. Although you may look at the label and be surprised that there are no stims in Big Boy, this was intentional … and the formula absolutely rocks!
Why No Stims in Big Boy?
Stimulants have their role, and we’re not debating that they’re helpful. However, consistently using stimulants can tax your body by adding physiological stress. It’s always advised to take breaks from stimulants such as caffeine to give your system a break. There are also times when you want to train late at night but don’t want to have your pre-workout keep you up all night. There’s also some research that indicates that caffeine and other stimulants are vasoconstrictors, which interfere with a pump. So by avoiding having stimulants in your pre-workout, you can get a better pump and experience better blood flow. In these situations, you no longer have to sacrifice the other benefits of a pre-workout, thanks to Big Boy, which has a host of ingredients to aid your training.
Ballistic Big Boy Under the Microscope
When reading the label of any stim-free product, don’t overlook the importance of each ingredient, as it’s there for a reason if it’s made by a company with a reputation for putting out good formulas. Some ingredients may be familiar to you from other pre-workout products, because of their efficacy in creating beneficial physical effects. Namely, they promote vasodilation, hydration and the delivery of nutrients to the working muscle. These actions directly support a better workout, better anabolic signalling from exercise and better recovery. And the best part is, it requires no stimulants.
Ballistic Labs prides itself on delivering high-quality products with scientifically based ingredients at a fair value, and Big Boy is no exception. Each tub yields 24 full-scoop servings of pump-enhancing ingredients. Each scoop weighs in at 12.2 grams, with 9.4 grams of actives including free-form L-citrulline, GlycerSwol™, agmatine sulphate and black ginger (aka Kaempferia parviflora or Thai ginger).
Free-Form Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate
Without a doubt, L-citrulline is the most recognizable ingredient on Big Boy’s list. L-citrulline is the main driver in most pump and pre-workout formulas because of its ability to increase vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). The mechanism by which citrulline gives you a better pump is not by its own actions but rather by converting into arginine, which then converts into nitric oxide, which increases blood flow. A higher rate of blood flow ensures the delivery of nutrients to the working muscle, resulting in the ability to train harder and longer. A starved muscle can’t work as well as a replenished muscle! It also helps remove ammonia, free radicals, lactic acid and other by-products of metabolism from the muscle. Chemically speaking, citrulline malate is citrulline bound to malic acid. Free-form citrulline isn’t bound to anything, so on a gram-per-gram basis, it contains more citrulline than citruline malate. For example, 8 grams of citrulline malate works out to be 5.6 grams of pure L-citrulline. Big Boy went a notch above the recommendation by including 6 grams of pure free-form L-citrulline in its formulation for optimal blood flow from your first rep to your last. Malic acid is a Krebs cycle intermediate, which is involved in ATP production, but on its own, it doesn’t have any ability to increase a pump.
GlycerSwol™ is a patented form of glycerol, an ingredient known for its hydrating effects. Glycerol is a powerful osmolyte, pulling water into your cells, where it keeps them hydrated for a high level of performance. Not only does the flood of water make the muscle look and feel larger (here’s the pump factor) but it has vital performance benefits, too. Even a slight decrease in hydration can negatively affect performance, and when you want each rep to count, staying hydrated is vital. Using a patented version of this ingredient ensures the dose is optimal, and Big Boy delivers 2 grams of glycerol per scoop.
To take your pump to the next level, one gram of agmatine sulphate works to buffer the breakdown of nitric oxide. Agmatine is a metabolite of arginine, which is the precursor to nitric oxide. Specifically, agmatine blocks two enzymes that interfere with nitric oxide (iNOS and nNOS), while it also works to increase eNOS. On its own, agmatine isn’t the strongest pump-enhancing ingredient; however, when combined with the other three active ingredients in Big Boy, it all adds up to a better pump. Plus, agmatine has other benefits, which will be discussed shortly.
Black Ginger Extract
Rounding out the active ingredients is black ginger extract, which may be unfamiliar to many users. This is a medicinal root from Thailand that’s very popular among Muay Thai fighters to increase endurance, vigor and muscle strength. But it’s also been clinically proven to be an effective aphrodisiac that also improves erectile function! Black ginger extract improves peripheral blood circulation and vasculature, thanks to the high levels of 5,7 dimethoxyflavone found in the herb. This flavone inhibits the enzyme that breaks down nitric oxide (NO), which further prolongs the pump. It’s been used to increase endurance, muscle strength and vigor. For a pump-focused product, black ginger extract has similar effects to agmatine, with its ability to inhibit the enzyme that breaks down nitric oxide. Essentially, this enzyme would fight against the other ingredients in Big Boy, limiting the blood vessels’ ability to dilate, leading to fewer nutrients arriving at the muscle and a shorter or less intense pump overall.
Big Boy Is Powered with Nootropics
We also want to point out the cognitive benefits of Big Boy. Nootropics (ingredients that improve cognitive functions) are becoming increasingly more common in pre-workout products, and we’re happy to see Ballistic Labs include them. Both agmatine sulphate and black ginger extract play a role in focus and increasing “good feelings,” even during a workout. Agmatine is a neurotransmitter known to increase mental focus, and black ginger extract boosts the levels and sensitivity of feel-good neurotransmitters.
Additionally, agmatine can be used to buffer pain, which may seem strange to point out for a pre-workout, but hear us out. Challenging training sessions naturally bring out some (good) pain as lactic acid builds, and managing this pain is part of being an athlete. Agmatine plays a role in diminishing inflammation to lower your perception of pain, which allows you to push through that point.
How Does Ballistic’s Big Boy Taste?
Big Boy comes in two fun flavours: Blue Sharknado and Cream Soda Slushee. Although both are true to their name and leave no strange aftertaste, the overwhelming favorite is Blue Sharknado. It tastes exactly like those little blue shark candies, complete with a hint of vanilla! It’s easy to drink and mixes well into 250 millilitres of water, which gives a very nice flavour profile.
Final Thoughts on Big Boy
If you’re looking to take a break from stims or if you’re training at night, Big Boy is an outstanding pre-workout for this. But you can also stack it with your current stimulant-containing pre-workout for even better results. As an off-label use, some guys even use Big Boy for other activities outside the gym where an increase in blood flow might be handy … we’ll let you figure that one out!