The idea behind pre-workout stimulants is great. Maybe you're feeling a little punky or you just don't feel as jazzed about going to the gym as you normally do and wham! Here comes a little liquid or powdered motivation to restore your mojo.
But for me, at least, the reality of most of these "energizers" hasn't matched up to my expectations. Oftentimes, the buzz I get from these grocery-store products – many of which are just a shovelful of caffeine and some chemicals that act as accelerants to caffeine's fire – is harsh and off-key, closer to anxiety than inspiration.
They're like bad booze brewed in a discarded backwoods cistern when what I wanted was some fine, 25-year-old Scotch, or like some funky-smelling weed grown in an old coffee can when what I wanted was some genetically-engineered herb cultivated in a hydroponics lab.
Most were bad. Most are bad.
So yeah, I prefer a little bit more sophistication in my energy product. I prefer something that gives you focus, energy, inspiration, and even additional strength and endurance; something like, or rather, exactly like, Biotest's Power Drive®, which is affectionately called "rocket fuel for the mind."
Power Drive® isn't something you take because you want to conquer the world by 5 PM because you planned on spending the evening completing at least six of the Seven Labors of Hercules and those Augean stables, from what you've heard, are pretty messed up.
Taking something that gives you that much anxious energy exacts a toll on the nervous system and the body. Just ask any meth freak.
Instead, most of us want something that stimulates, enhances, and restores the brain and body; something that provides a controlled burn that would have the following specific effects:
- Increased muscle-fiber recruitment and strength
- Enhanced neural recovery
- Heightened and focused concentration
- Accelerated training progress and muscular gains
- Boosted motivation and mood
- Higher and sustained energy levels
- A mental edge during competition
- Enhanced performance in studies or exams
- A reduction in social anxiety
And all that is exactly what Power Drive® was designed for.
Power Drive®'s active ingredients are known as nootropics – substances that give cognitive benefits to the brain that often translate to physical benefits. In order to qualify as a nootropic, a substance has to meet five criteria set by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, the man who coined the term:
- It has to enhance memory and the ability to learn.
- It has to increase the efficacy of neuronal firing mechanisms (which is where the physical benefits of nootropics kick in).
- It has to help the brain function under stressful or disruptive conditions.
- It has to protect the brain from chemical or physical assaults.
- It has to have few or no side effects and be virtually non-toxic.
There are about 85 known nootropics, each of which has slightly different capabilities, mechanisms of action, and strengths. Three of them were chosen to form the backbone of the Power Drive® formulation. They are:
Here's a short rundown of the attributes of each:
This amino acid is known as the "master precursor" because it's required to form the stimulatory neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, known collectively as catecholamines.
Back in early 1980's, an MIT scientist named Richard Wurtman discovered that when combined with a catalyst, tyrosine
"Enhances performance, improves subjective vigor, decreases fatigue, diminishes subjective confusion, and decreases anxiety and tension."
And a little over a decade later, Dr. Jeffrey Stout, then of the University of Nebraska, found that tyrosine, when given an hour before exercise, increased peak bench press torque by 283% during a set of 15 reps.
L-tyrosine, along with boosting cognitive function, also stimulates the production of the fat-burning thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
Forbes magazine called this nootropic a "wonder drug." They're not wrong. The mag was mostly intrigued by its potential in slowing down mental decline and staving off Alzhemer's because it's been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells and neural connections – a process once thought to be impossible.
But phosphatidylcholine also leads to an increase in another vital neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine, which helps control motor unit recruitment, along with reflexes and reaction times.
Here's the thing: Muscles are made of individual motor units and if you can recruit more of them, courtesy of acetylcholine, you experience an almost immediate gain in strength, power, and endurance. Over the long run, this enhanced ability to kick in more motor units will likely result in more muscle mass.
Dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE, is an amino acid naturally produced in the brain, but supplying additional amounts through the diet has some interesting effects.
It, like phosphatidylcholine, helps increase levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but it's also thought to increase blood flow to the brain, which results in improved oxygen and glucose uptake and manifests itself through increased focus and increased mental stamina.
It also has some unique abilities to elevate mood, address certain symptoms of depression, and increase athletic performance. (It may even have some life extension effects as one early study showed that mice lived an unheard of 50% longer when they were given DMAE.)
Power Drive® is remarkably free of any negative side effects. Perhaps paradoxically, it doesn't even seem to effect sleep patterns negatively. While it brings you mentally up, it's not the skin-on-fire type of energy enhancement sometimes felt with cruder stimulants.
It just makes the brain work better at everything it does, and if the brain decides it's time to go to sleep, it actually helps with that too.
Neither is Power Drive® addictive, at least not in any clinical sense. However, it might be "addictive" in the way that any pleasurable experience is, in that you'll likely want to try it again and again when circumstances call for it.
Power Drive® is an orange-flavored, pleasant tasting powder that mixes easily in your protein drink or water. Take 1 scoop 30 to 60 minutes before workouts, athletic events, exams, or any event where you want to think or perform better, or even just to feel more mentally alert and even keeled.
- Haiken M. Get Smarter: A Powerful Brain-Boosting Supplement You've Never Heard Of. Forbes. Jan 16, 2013.
- Hochschild R. Effect of dimethylaminoethanol on the life span of senile male A-J mice. Exp Gerontol. 1973 Aug;8(4):185-91.
- Kanno T et al. DL-/PO-phosphatidylcholine restores restraint stress-induced depression-related behaviors and spatial memory impairment. Behav Pharmacol. 2014 Sep;25(5-6):575-81. PubMed.
- Lim SY et al. Intakes of Dietary Docosahexaenoic Acid Ethyl Ester and Egg Phosphatidylcholine Improve Maze-Learning Ability in Young and Old Mice. J Nutr. 2000 Jun;130(6):1629-32. PubMed.
- Wurtman RJ. Food consumption, neurotransmitter synthesis, and human behaviour. Experientia Suppl. 1983;44:356-69. PubMed.
- Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea – The Father of Nootropics. Noomind, The Nootropics Authority.
- Stout JR et al. Acute effects of Neurogain-Kick™ on strength and endurance in female athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 1998;12:278.