There’s definitely no shortage of pre-workout supplements on the market.
However, there’s a whole other category of supplement that can support your workout performance specifically by enhancing your blood flow.
This in turn has a range of benefits, from increased muscle pumps, to improved mind-muscle connections, to possibly even improved recovery after your workout.
These products are called “nitric oxide boosters,” since they work by increasing nitric oxide synthesis which leads to vasodilation and enhanced blood flow.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is produced by pretty much every cell in the body and is one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health. NO is a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the inner muscles in the blood vessels, causing the blood vessels to widen. By doing this, NO lowers blood pressure and increases circulation throughout the body.
But, surprisingly, nitric oxide isn’t actually what you’ll find in these supplements. What you WILL find are nitric oxide boosters, in the form of specific amino acids. These compounds or protein molecules are used by your body to make nitric oxide. This increases your overall levels of NO and that’s when you see the benefits we’ll go into below.
This isn’t so much a this or that type of situation, but more of a preference. Pre-workout has tons of other ingredients. With a standard pre-workout, you’ll likely get beta-alanine tingles and caffeine for energy, to name the bare minimum of most pre-workouts.
Your pre-workout could very well have nitric oxide boosters, like l-citrulline, built into it.
Nitric oxide supplements focus on blood flow-boosting ingredients.
That being said, you could easily stack a pre-workout with a nitric oxide booster. These NO boosters specifically work to open up the blood vessels and give you a great pump. This happens because of the specific amino acids found in NO boosters, arginine, and citrulline. If you see either one of the ingredients in your pre-workout, you’re already taking nitric oxide boosters!
NO boosters can be a great pre-workout alternative for people who don’t like the tingles or the stimulants that you’ll get in typical pre-workouts. Both can be great additions to your pre-workout routine. It just depends on what you’re looking for from your pre-workout supplement.
If the caffeine is your only concern, you can also look into non-stim pre-workouts.
Nitric oxide is involved with most cell processes, especially the process of vasodilation. When the blood vessels widen, it increases the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles during exercises, thus boosting performance.
Studies have shown that increased levels of nitrate in the blood are associated with a 25% increase in intermittent exercise performance. (1) They also show that the group that took the nitric oxide booster saw increases of around the same percentage in total reps and weight to failure performed compared to the placebo group.
All to say, nitric oxide boosters may improve your athletic performance.
One of the key “side effects” of nitric oxide is that it increases blood flow, which includes the areas that will help you perform your best in the bedroom. A study found that men who had some trouble getting it up also had lower levels of L-arginine or L-citrulline, which leads to lower levels of nitric oxide. (2)
Another study found that L-citrulline improved erection hardness in men. (3)
While this suggests nitric oxide boosters may help erectile dysfunction, dietary supplements are NOT designed or approved to treat any conditions.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major risk factor in developing cardiovascular disease. Research shows that nitric oxide plays an extremely important role in regulating blood pressure and impaired NO activity contributes to hypertension. (4) Over time, consistently high blood pressure can lead to more severe cardiovascular conditions and even kidney disease.
Because of the dilating effects nitric oxide has on the blood vessels, it naturally lowers blood pressure as there isn’t as much resistance in the vessels as the blood passes through. Healthy nitric oxide levels may support your cardiovascular health.
That said, nitric oxide supplements have NOT shown to treat lower blood pressure. Rather, there seems to be a link between NO levels and hypertension overall. The same goes for big claims surrounding cholesterol and blood sugar.
Citrulline not only increases nitric oxide production but also has a positive effect on muscle soreness.
One study had a group of people take 8g of citrulline malate an hour before exercise compared to a placebo group. They found that this citrulline group reported 40% less muscle soreness than the placebo. (5)
Now that we went over the science, here are the top nitric oxide supplements currently on the market.
If you’re into that “vascularity” look, where your veins are all popping, then nitric oxide boosters can help you feel cooler while you train. In our book, this counts for something.
With all of these out of the way, here’s our list of the best nitric oxide supplements on the market. Every product on our list is third-party-tested and up to cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) standards.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Nitro Pump from Vedge Nutrtion combines 4 blood-flow boosting ingredients to support your gym performance.
First, they include a full 5 grams of citrulline malate per two scoops. While we generally prefer l-citrulline because it has more citrulline by weight, this is still an effective dose.
Second, they include beetroot extract powder. Beets are famous for their nitrate content, which in abundance can increase nitric oxide synthesis.
What makes Vedge Nitro Pump stand out are two unique ingredients: NitroRocket® and S7™
NitroRocket® is a specially engineered extract of Arugula that contains around 10% nitrates to support nitric oxide production. This high nitrate content comes in contrast to many “nitric oxide boosters,” which contain great ingredients in theory, but not enough of the substances that truly support your blood flow.
S7™ is a blend of 7 plant-based ingredients that also increase nitric oxide. (Green coffee bean extract, green tea leave extract, turmeric root extract, sour cherry fruit powder, blueberry fruit powder, broccoli head powder, collards leaf powder.)
Vedge takes some of the best the plant world has to offer and combines it into one delicious product.
Vedge is a 100% vegan company, co-founded by vegan bodybuilders to support vegan athletes.
For all of these reasons, Vedge Nitro Pump is our #1 pick.
Try it for yourself, and you’ll see why. All three of their flavors are absolutely on point. We like the powder form because it’s easier to get effective doses.
At a close second is Transparent Labs Nitric Oxide Advanced Pump Amplifier.
The base of this product is a patented form of amino acids called NO3-T®.
NO3-T® is essentially an amino acid bonded to a nitrate. This gives the ingredients the benefit of whatever the amino acid is, in addition to the nitrates necessary for nitric oxide synthase. These NO3-T® forms of arginine nitrate and betaine nitrate, then, give a double whammy to increase blood flow.
They also include a patented form of l-glutathione, Setria®. This ingredient, a powerful antioxidant, may work augment nitric oxide production, further encouraging healthy blood flow. This phenomenon has been examined in this study, although more research on this ingredient and its role in nitric oxide production would bolster this claim.
With three other supporting ingredients, (pine bark extract, vitamin C, and Astragin™) Transparent Labs Nitric Oxide without a doubt will improve your pumps.
It’s an all-around great product from a trustworthy company you can’t go wrong with.
Okay so here’s the deal with this product, they market it as a product to improve sexual performance. However, when we look at the ingredients, its going to be effective for workout performance also.
In fact, among the products on our list, it’s the simplest. They use a patented VELOX® that combines l-citrulline (the preferred form of citrulline) and arginine.
Their claim is that while arginine and citrulline are both effective, they work better synergistically. They also present the published research to back it up.
This capsule option also comes with a 67-day money-back guarantee and free shipping on US orders. VigRx as a company that make supplements to support sexual health have a long track record in the industry. While most “boner pills” are total garbage, they use simple formulas with well-studied ingredients.
So if you’re looking for a nitric oxide supplement for your bedroom cardio, look no further than VigRx Nitric Oxide.
Magnify also includes a powerful blend of nitric oxide boosters. It includes 1500mg of arginine, 1000mg of citrulline, 1000mg of beetroot extract, and 10mg of Bioperine. It’s a simple, quality blend that can help improve your workouts.
The inclusion of Bioperine black pepper extract is to support the absorption of the other ingredients.
All Huge Supplements products are made in an FDA-approved facility made in the US, and only use scientifically backed ingredients.
The serving size may seem a little daunting at 6 capsules, however, you can modify the doses per workout easily depending on how much of a boost you’re looking for.
For the most powerful, effectively-dosed nitric oxide boosting supplement Huge Supplements Magnify, is our #1 pick.
Onnit has another simple, solid option.
Per scoop, you get 3g of citrulline and 1.4g of arginine as NO3-T® arginine nitrate, which we’ve talked about. It also includes fermented beetroot powder and Careflow® mango fruit powder, both of which may further support nitric oxide synthesis.
One of the knocks on this product is they use proprietary blends, so you don’t know exactly how much you’re getting of some of the ingredients. They also use citrulline malate instead of l-citrulline.
Onnit’s product is Informed-Sport certified, so it’s a good option for athletes.
Jacked Factory is another popular supplement brand, especially when it comes to boosting performance in the gym. N.O. XT gives you a nice kick of L-Citrulline at 1.5g per serving with the addition of Nitrosigine, which provides similar benefits as L-Arginine.
Overall a really solid option and a great price point for the amount of product you get.
If you’re looking for an Arginine dominant option, Crazy Bulk Nitric-Max is for you. For the 2-tablet serving, you get a huge 1800mg dose of L-Arginine to kick your workouts into the next gear.
The calcium added helps the effects of arginine last a little longer so you get the most out of every workout and every serving.
This formula comes with three forms of arginine:
It also has l-citrulline.
This l-arginine complex is interesting, but they use a proprietary blend, so we don’t know the exact dose of each of these. It’s a lower price point than many options on our list, though, so it could be a great place to start if you’re looking for a lower entry point.
Yes, the ranking is done, but we always want to make sure our customers understand how we go about choosing our products and how much research goes into providing you with the best information.
Unlike getting medication from the doctor’s office, online supplements have different quality control measures. As such, you can get roped into buying a supplement that doesn’t guarantee quality. We only include third-party tested products on our lists.
Tons of supplements on the market are full of unnecessary ingredients just to make up the product, slap a label on, and sell. We ensured all the products on this list have quality ingredients that actually do what the product claims to do.
All else equal, we wanted to give you products that are worth the money you’ll be spending on them. The price range varies, however, the quality of the upper-end products will match their pricepoint.
While many nitric oxide booster supplements differ, overall the products generally provide a boost that lasts between an hour to 90 minutes.
Obviously, this makes it great for your pre-workout.
For longer training sessions, you can also take it as an intra-workout.
Similar to a pre-workout, it’s best to take any NO booster 20-30 minutes before your workout. This will give the ingredients time to start taking effect so you can actually see and feel the benefits during your lift.
Nitric oxide supplements are generally deemed safe when taken in the right amounts. Like many supplements, NO boosters could cause some digestive discomfort and diarrhea.
If the product has beet juice in it, like Onnit’s NO booster, you may find that your urine or poo like dark red. This is totally normal and just dye from the deeply colored vegetable.
Citrulline and arginine are the two stars of the show here. They support the production of nitric oxide by encouraging nitric oxide synthesis.
Citrulline seems to be more effective overall, since arginine doesn’t digest as well. Therefore, we gave a pump to products with ample doses of l-citrulline.
Then, there are the plant extract ingredients, like beetroot.
Honestly, yes, you can. Pure l-citrulline comes at a lower price point and will give you most of the benefits. Again, check out our article for products, but if you want the shortcut, we recommend Kaged L-Citrulline because it’s…
As usual, the supplement industry takes their claims too far. Yes, a nitric oxide booster may support your bedroom performance, but it’s probably not the solution to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or other complex sexual conditions. These envelop a host of factors, from the emotional to the mental to the physiological. These supplements are NOT a replacement for viagra.
Second, some places you may read that nitric oxide boosters can increase energy levels. However, most of them do not have caffeine. Some may have B vitamins, which may support energy production, but overall these claims are unfounded.
Third, you’ll even see claims that they support the immune system. While it can as a downstream effect of other health benefits, these are not immune supplements in the same way something like vitamin D is.