The Legion PULSE pre-workout supplement is part of a growing trend of supplements only available online — in this case through the Legion Athletics website or through Amazon, where it’s very popular amongst Amazon Prime users who get free shipping.
It’s also part of the trend of premium products using clinical dosing of their key ingredients, or the actual effective doses used in the studies they cite. Another trend we like!
After looking over Pulse, however, we have to say we like the formula, but need to balance the cost/value benefit. The ingredient profile will definitely give you noticeable pump and endurance — there’s no problem there.
In addition, if you’re looking for something completely different, this might be something worth trying. There are two ingredients here that are not typically included in pre workouts at this dose, and it might give you what you want.
However, the dosing of L-Theanine is one of those ingredients that’s unusually high, and we’re not sure if want that much, even if it’s paired with the fairly high caffeine dosage. On the other hand, some people love it though, so it’s going to come down to how much you like this ingredient.
We were originally concerned with some negative reviews on Amazon, in which the product had some severe clumping issues, but it seems that LEGION has taken care of the issue in newer tubs, so you’re safe there.
So before we get into the details, you can check out the prices on PricePlow and sign up for price drop alerts:
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Let’s take a quick look at the profile:
Legion PULSE Ingredients
Off the bat, stim-sensitive users need to see that there’s 350mg caffeine. Legion attempts to ward this off with a whopping 350mg l-theanine (which acts as a relaxant and fights anxiety), but that’s a bit out of our range, from personal anecdote.
The overall market trend seems to be towards high-stimulants with some L-theanine, however, so if you really like the ingredient and are turning into a high-tolerance power user, you might like it.
We’ll get back to that in a bit.
Citrulline has been a proven arginine enhancer (which goes on to become nitric oxide) in a number of studies over the years at a dosage of six to eight grams.[1,2] The trouble has been that it’s been one of the more expensive pre-workout ingredients so it’s usually improperly dosed — not so here! This is a whopper of a dose, and using what the studies used. You’ll probably feel a pump at half a scoop!
Remember that citrulline malate consists of about half citrulline, so you’re getting about 4g of citrulline here. That’s a very great number — if you can handle the caffeine and l-theanine combo. Otherwise, you can step it down to a bit more than a half scoop, and still feel pretty good.
Beta-alanine is a proven power output enhancer and reducer of muscle fatigue, but like citrulline, it’s pricey and thus usually not adequately dosed. The 4.8g here is well in excess of the 3.2g that even top-of-the-line products usually top out at, and that number seems to have been included specifically due to the results of a couple of studies done on weight-trained males and professional sprinters.[3,4]
While the research is great, the side effects of the tingling skin may annoy – especially at this dose.
That’s why, once again, this might be best taken at about 60% of a scoop, in line with roughly 200mg caffeine plus 200mg l-theanine.
Betaine Anhydrous (2.5g)
Betaine is a muscular endurance and power enhancer that’s backed by a number of solid studies, and the 2.5g dose here is exactly what was used in all of them.[5,6]
This has been the newcomer supplement in 2014 and is good to see here. Note that if you lower the dose of Legion Pulse because of the high caffeine / l-theanine, you’ll be a bit low on this.
L-Ornithine HCL (2.2g)
Ornithine is thought to improve endurance by more effectively removing ammonia waste from muscle tissue, but it’s the ingredient in this lineup that is most thinly supported by science thus far.
There is one study showing improved endurance at a 2g dose when taken daily over an extended period of time, but the catch is that participants ALSO took an additional 6g immediately prior to exercise.
One thing to note is that the “ammonia waste removal” discussion in the first paragraph above has to do with the urea cycle — L-ornithine works alongside L-arginine and L-citrulline for that. This makes it potentially very synergistic
If nothing else, this dose is pretty large and most pre workouts no longer include it, so you may very well feel something different here – just like with the large dose of L-theanine below. This could make it a good pre workout if you’re bored of other stuff and want to stick with ONE stimulant (caffeine).
Caffeine Anhydrous and L-Theanine (350mg each)
According to several studies, theanine enhances the cognitive focus effects of caffeine. We don’t question those results, but 350mg of caffeine alone is high-end (about four cups of coffee’s worth!) and that’s even before you pair it with an equal amount of theanine.
Now normally, many l-theanine users can notice good effects with 200mg of caffeine paired with 200mg l-theanine. That’s why we think a 60% or so scoop would make sense here (and save you money).
But anecdotally, when we’ve used even 200mg l-theanine, it’s too relaxing! It kind of felt a bit like being a relaxed “surfer bro”. Not a terrible feeling to have (it even helps sleep quality) — just not sure if we want to spend the money to feel like that for a workout.
Because of that L-Theanine dose, even users who are usually OK with the amount of caffeine might feel a bit “out of it” with the standard serving. Only one way to find out…
What’s with the calorie count?
One user (Dvn) on Facebook asked what was up with the calories: “5g of carbs but only 5 calories per serving?”
This is due to the sweetening with the sugar alcohol, erythritol, as well as oligosaccharides. Sugar alcohols have about half the calories as sugar, so the carbs vs. calories will look a bit “off” here.
The Bonus Features – Naturally Sweetened / Flavored
Legion Advertises “NO ARTIFICIAL JUNK”, and goes on to say that it’s 100% naturally sweetened with stevia and erythritol and no unnecessary fillers, dyes, or other chemicals.
While that sounds good, the lack of “unnecessary” fillers seems to have caused a bit of a clumping issue:
Legion Pulse Reviews are a Mixed Bag
It’s tough to take reviews on Amazon at face value – the site is known for having too many fake reviews. However, these seem to be pretty legit – many of which are from Mike Matthews’ fan base.
But then there were some reviews with clumping and even melting issues!!
Update: Brian on our Facebook page posted a picture showing that his is fixed – it looks like they now have two silica desiccant packs, which may have solved the issue!
So the reviews fall into about two categories: 5 star epic reviews, and then 1 star reviews complaining about the product being hard a rock and tasting very bad.
On the other hand, given the number of positive reviews, it seems like a “love it or hate it” kind of situation… and the haters’ issues have been solved, so we’re back on track with PULSE.
Pulse is priced at a premium level to reflect the clinical dosing, at roughly $2 to $3 per serving. There’s no question the pump and muscular endurance lineup is solid, sticking to proven basics at tested doses.
You could do ½ through ¾ doses to make it a little more economical and cut down on the stims, but you’d be falling below the tested range for betaine… half-doses would put you below the clinically tested range of nearly every other ingredient. And though it’s cheap and easily added in separately, at this price range you’d often see creatine monohydrate with other products.
On that note, many people like creatine in their post workout, or don’t use it at all. If that’s the case, you might like it.
At the end of the day, no doubt, this one is different. The ornithine and theanine definitely dictate that… so you might like it — especially if you don’t want any exotic stimulants that sometimes put you over the edge.
If you only want tried and true caffeine, this one makes a lot of sense.
We’re awaiting price drops to get our hands on more, we hope that there will be occasional deals on Amazon.
As an FYI, Legion was founded by fitness star Mike Matthews, who runs Muscle For Life.
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- Perez-Guisado, G, et. al; “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness“; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; May 2010
- Sureda, A, et. al; “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Journal of Free Radical Research; 2009
- Sale, C, et. al; “Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance”; Amino Acids; 2010
- Derave, W, et. al; “β-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters”; Journal of Applied Physiology; 2007
- Lee, E, et. al; “Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance”; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition; 2010
- Hoffman, J, et. al.; “Effect of 15 days of betaine ingestion on concentric and eccentric force outputs during isokinetic exercise”; Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research; 2011
- Sugino, Tomohiro, et al; “L-ornithine supplementation attenuates physical fatigue in healthy volunteers by modulating lipid and amino acid metabolism”; Nutrition Research; 2008
- Giesbrecht, Timo, et al; “The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness”; Nutritional Neuroscience; 2010
- Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR; The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial; Altern Med Rev; 2011
- LEGION Pulse, Naturally Sweetened Pre-Workout Supplement for a Smooth Energy Rush, More Strength, More Endurance, and No Jitters or Crash, Fruit Punch, 522.5 Grams; Amazon; 2015
- PricePlow on Facebook; 2015
- Evert, A; Sweeteners – Sugars; Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine; 2013