Vasodilation: How are you getting these incredible PUMPS

Let’s start off discussing what vasodilation is – it is the process of a relaxation of blood vessels, allowing them to carry more blood to and from working muscle tissue. Vasodilation (to high levels) is triggered by the onset of exercise as the need for oxygen and nutrients is heightened during this time. The process of vasodilation is highly influenced by nitric oxide, and limited by the amount of nitric oxide that is available as it has been observed that a limited production of nitric oxide can lead to vasoconstriction.  High levels of nitric oxide aid in the conversion of an enzyme (GTP) into another (cGMP) which serves as an important messenger to, amongst others, the relaxation of smooth vascular muscle in order to create vasodilatory effects. Therefore, if levels of nitric oxide are inhibited vasodilation may not occur to the extent that allows maximal performance.  It can be suggested therefore that if we can enable the body to produce ample amounts of nitric oxide, proper levels of vasodilation can occur, enabling the body to transport ample amounts of nutrients to working muscle for maximal power output.

What is Nitric Oxide (NO)

Nitric Oxide, a key molecule manufactured by the body, causes vasodilation (an expansion of the internal diameter of blood vessels), which in turn leads to increased blood flow, oxygen transport, delivery of nutrients to skeletal muscle and a reduction in blood pressure. An amino acid called L-Citrulline can boost Nitric Oxide levels, increased strength, and markedly improved stamina can also be expected. In fact, the results may be classified into three categories

*The Promotion of an extended pump

*Signaling muscle growth and speeding recovery

*Increasing strength and stamina

NO relaxes the smooth muscle in the walls of the arterioles. At each systole, the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels release a puff of NO. This diffuses into the underlying smooth muscle cells causing them to relax and thus permit the surge of blood and other nutrients to pass through easily.  The innermost layer of cells (called the endothelium) releases nitric oxide when triggered by the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. The artery walls relax and blood pressure eases, thus increasing the blood flow in the arteries. Extra time at the gym helps this process even more, by increasing the amount of nitric oxide that enters the bloodstream. There have been over 60,000 studies done on nitric oxide in the last 20 years and in 1998, The Nobel Prize for Medicine was given to three scientists that discovered the signaling role of nitric oxide.


L-Citrulline – Is it better the L-Arginine? 

L-Citrulline functions in the body by being converted to L-arginine and then into nitric oxide. This nitric oxide is then going to be involved with vasodilation. This vasodilation is what helps increase the amount of blood and oxygen that is delivered to the working muscles, helping to prevent both mental and physical fatigue.  Secondly, L-Citrulline also plays a role in the urea cycle, where it helps to reduce the amount of lactic acid build-up you experience during your workouts.  Avoiding this build up of lactic acid is important in helping to reduce the overall levels of fatigue you feel during the workout, and in addition, if you happen to have ammonia levels that become too high due to lack of lactic acid removal, it can be fatal.  The main benefit citrulline provides you in terms of bodybuilding is an increase in nitric oxide (N.O.). This is your body’s chief vasodilation molecule, responsible for expanding your blood vessels and thus enhancing total body circulation. Better blood circulation means better muscle pumps while you work out. Not to mention, it can help decrease your blood pressure. But citrulline does not increase N.O. directly.  During the urea cycle, citrulline undergoes conversion into arginine, the direct precursor to N.O. When your body’s levels of arginine are elevated, your body is able to produce more N.O. And, once again, more N.O. means better blood flow.

Taking arginine may seem superior to citrulline on the surface, but this is not true. Much of the arginine you consume from supplements gets degraded in your digestive tract by intestinal bacteria and by the enzyme arginase in your liver. And thus, you would need to consume high levels of arginine for your body to produce a noticeable increase in N.O.  Citrulline, on the other hand, does not get degraded to the extent that arginine does, because it bypasses your liver and escapes arginase breakdown. Therefore, most of the citrulline you ingest can be used to produce arginine, which in turn can be used to increase your body’s N.O. production. Research has shown that up to 80% of the citrulline you consume is used to raise your N.O. levels. This means you don’t need to consume as much citrulline as you do arginine to notice better blood flow and thus better muscular pumps during your workouts.

Additional Benefits of Nitric Oxide

Improved recovery between hard workouts is a further benefit of increased NO levels. Nutrient uptake into damaged muscles has been shown to facilitate the healing process and NO speeds the rate at which nutrients pass through the blood, en route to providing valuable sustenance to sore, depleted muscle fibers. This increased blood flow may also offset inflammation resulting from intensive training sessions and reduce the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that is felt after particularly grueling bouts with the iron. Nitric oxide has also been shown to enhance recovery from chronic stress by decreasing tissue breakdown as shown by lower urinary hydroxyproline (UH) levels.

NO may reduce the possibility of cardiovascular disease in those who exercise regularly. Whenever we work for an extended period, the endothelium of our cells releases NO so it may exert its vasodilation effects to improve blood flow. A major precipitating factor in the formation of atherosclerosis (a plugging, or occlusion of our arteries) is damage to the endothelium. Whenever NO is released it prevents red blood cells from clumping together (or aggregating) and attaching to the endothelium wall, thereby potentially minimizing the possibility of heart disease or stroke. As mentioned, vascular tone is also controlled through NO release; this also serves to keep the arteries clean and clear and our risk of heart disease down.

The more we workout the more we are at risk of succumbing to muscular fatigue. By training with heavy weights we accumulate an abundance of lactic acid, a by-product of anaerobic metabolism and a major limiting factor when it comes to pushing our those extra reps and recovering between sets. By releasing more oxygen into our muscle tissues during training we may negate lactic acid build-up. By relaxing our largest blood vessels and allowing more blood to flow into our muscles, more oxygen is delivered and waste products (including lactic acid) are more efficiently removed.

Summing it all up: AmiNo Flow

So we have talked about what NO is, how it works and why it is important.  Fortunately for you Muscle Elements has developed an industry first FULL BCAA and FULL NITRIC OXIDE product all in one called AmiNo Flow.  With AmiNo Flow they give you 4 gm of pure citrulline (which the importance was described above) 500mg of agmatine sulfate (inhibits nitric oxide synthase (NOS), 10 gms of BCAA, and 16.5gm of total amino acids per 2 scoops.  The combination of the NO boosters like citrulline and the muscle building benefits of BCAAs makes this product extremely effective and very versatile it can be taken as your daily amino acid and nitric oxide supplement, added to your favorite pre-workout like PreCre, or even taken as a standalone stimulant free pre-workout.  Please feel free to visit for more info on AmiNo Flow and all of the other incredible products they have to offer.