Hardcore industry consumers and bodybuilding fans know the polarizing personality that is Rich Piana. Safe to say that his takes and perspectives are not for everyone. But that’s by no means an indictment, since there’s no faking over one quarter of a million YouTube followers.
For Rich’s fan faithful 5%ers, we have Rich Piana’s 5% Nutrition KILL IT Pre Workout.
Anyone that has truly killed it in the gym understands the straightforward intent of this pre-workout. But does Kill It prepare you to follow suit and live up to its name? Or is this just a product for Rich’s fans to support him a bit?
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Let’s examine the profile:
The Kill It Pre Workout Ingredients
The first thing to note is that this product is not available at many stores in America. The label at these stores does not provide as much information as the 5% Nutrition’s website, so we added the known doses where provided.
The second thing to note real quick is that there’s 250mg of caffeine per scoop, essentially making it a one-scooper (an underwhelming scoop for some, or maybe a heaping scoop for the bold). That helps us figure out where we’re at.
Creatine Blend (1500mg)
A 1500mg blend of creatine variants: Creatine Magnapower (Magnesium Creatine Chelate), Tri-Creatine Malate, Creatine Pyruvate.
Right off the bat, we have underdosed creatine.
As discussed in our article, Creatine is Broken, this leads to too much consumer confusion and our opinion is to do it right or don’t do it at all. If you do take this, you’ll want to add about 2g more creatine sometime during the day.
Creatine Magnapower (400mg)
A trademarked creatine that is chelate bonded to magnesium. The research readily found for this type of creatine was conducted by its creator, Albion Human Nutrition, so it might be biased. But bonding the highly proven creatine to magnesium, which is a necessarily abundant mineral within the human body, possesses the potential to yield higher bioavailability than creatine monohydrate.
However, we have yet to see research that concludes serious differences in bioavailability between creatines. The chelated mineral bonding process claims make Creatine Magnapower a more expensive ingredient than most creatines.
Also, there’s some confusion with the dosage, but that’s discussed below.
A creatine blended with malic acid (similar to the well-known citrulline malate). This bond touts the same basic intent as Creatine Magnapower, also possessing equally scarce supporting research. Malic acid is good stuff, but ultimately, using this creatine adds cost and lowers the actual yield of creatine itself.
Another addition to Rich’s attempt to drive straight into the ATP pathway as efficiently as possible. This creatine version was created by the same German company responsible for Creapure. More research can be found on creatine pyruvate, however nothing that can prove higher absorption or effectiveness than creatine monohydrate.[2,4,5]
Meanwhile, pyruvate itself hasn’t really shown any additional benefits in terms of power.
Further creatine dosing confusion
Creatine Magnapower is listed first in a 1500mg blend. But the 5% Nutrition website claims that it is at 400mg, whereas one store’s label states it’s 900mg.
In the label writing process, ingredients are listed highest to lowest order. If Creatine Magnapower is 400mg, you cannot possibly fill the remaining 1100mg with two other products if they’re each less than or equal to 400mg.
Something seems to be offer here… but we’re not sure if it’s the label or the 5% Website. Chances are, it’s 900mg, and the other two ingredients fill the other 600mg.
The long and short of this creatine blend
Honestly, all these fancy creatine bonds just leave us with less actual creatine. So after this complex, we still need to add more creatine and we’re not off to a great start here. Let’s see if we can get a pump going.
NO / Endurance Blend (7450mg)
A rather large proprietary blend could be promising. We know a little bit about what’s inside:
Citrulline Malate (3g)
Citrulline Malate supports both nitric oxide in the blood and muscular endurance. This is a “half-dose” compared to what’s used in the successful studies (either 3g of L-citrulline or 6g of citrulline malate for the clinical benefits) — that’s the bad news.
The good news is that it’s combined with a “strong half-dose” of agmatine sulfate, so the nitric oxide pumps should actually be feeling quite strong for most individuals.
The trademarked beta alanine acts as a pH lactic acid buffer. This reduces lactic acid breakdown and promotes muscular endurance.
We’re always happy to see beta alanine – we’re big fans of it in nearly any athletic situation. We don’t know the dose, so if we want to get a full 3.2g clinical dose throughout the day, we’d recommend adding 2g or so of extra beta alanine with food later one. This is not uncommon.
Taurine, a normal staple among pre-workouts these days, promotes cell volume by absorbing more water into the muscle cell. This can contribute to muscular endurance through cellular hydration.
We’re finding more and more benefits out from taurine, and despite the fact that it’s given a bad name due to the amino acid spiking scandal, it’s great to have pre workout. (We just don’t want it to count as protein in our protein powders – not an issue here.)
Unfortunately, no dose is provided here. Probably about 1g.
AgmaMax (Agmatine Sulfate) (750mg)
The trademarked agmatine sulfate is a well-known ingredient for boosting nitric oxide for your workout. It actually works by inhibiting your nitric oxide breakdown agents – so it keeps more around.
The typical dose in a mixed pre workout is 500mg, so this is above average in that aspect. If using it alone, 1000-1500mg is anecdotally the “preferred” dose, so having this mixed with the Citrulline Malate above makes 750mg look very appealing.
If nothing else, the 250mg caffeine / 3g citrulline malate / 750mg agmatine combination should be very well balanced in terms of energy and pumps for lifters.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (400mg)
Your primary focus ingredient here. Also known as NAT, it’s a much more stable and water soluble version of L-Tyrosine. This ingredient improves brain function through the synthesis of various neurotransmitters. Proper mind/muscle connection allows for more focus and a better muscle contraction during the workout.
Most stimulant pre workouts have around 250mg, so this is a better than average dose. However, other pre workouts have also seen 1.2g and 1.5g, so it’s not nearly the biggest either. Overall, beginners will enjoy some focus, but those who are really into focus ingredients will be left wanting more.
Creatinol-O-Phosphate functions partially as a lactic acid buffer, a similar function to beta alanine. At the same time it prolongs anaerobic glycolysis. Giving a phosphate back to the ATP process, creatine effects are increased within the same pathway.
We really wish there was more research on this, because it seems quite promising. Pre workouts just seem to feel better and stronger when COP is involved. We don’t know the dose here.
More perceived a necessity than breakfast to some these days, caffeine stimulation promotes energy and blood flow. These basic uses for caffeine can assist the endurance aspect.
Again, this dose makes it roughly a one-scooper for most of us. That’s good for value, but not good for the creatine blend.
A varied form of the BCAA valine, L-norvaline promotes cardiovascular efficiency and blood flow for nutrients. The 100mg dose here is the minimum effective dose, but has also been seen in the upward of 250mg.
Like COP, well-performed studies on oral dose in humans — especially for trained athletic purposes — are nowhere to be found. We wish we had more information to give you, but this is an ingredient we’d rather have than not have.
Rhodiola Rosea Extract (Root)
This tonic herb assists the body resistance to stress and also contributes to mood enhancement.
This is our favorite herb, but it is likely in too small of a dose to do a ton of work here. You can read more about it on our Rhodiola Rosea page.
The 5% Nutrition team does really well with the flavoring, and KILL IT is no different:
Note: The above section was updated October 11, 2016 with the new Grape Bubblegum flavor.
Thoughts on KILL IT
At first glance, KILL IT seems to be a slightly-above-average pre-workout. In the sea of other pre workouts, it doesn’t stand out, but it’s also not bad — Rich Piana’s fans who wish to support the man could definitely do worse.
Two places where users might feel a difference are with the COP and the L-Norvaline, especially in combination with the well-dosed agmatine / citrulline combo. If nothing else, pumps should be on here.
But then the details get a bit hairy…
Unfortunately, not all ingredients are openly displayed, and you have to hunt for dosage information on the 5% Nutrition website, which uses images to display the doses and at least one of them (the Creatine MagnaPower) seems to be flat-out wrong.
Although there are novel creatines used, they’re essentially half-dosed, and force you to go add more to get an efficacious… so what’s the purpose? We’d rather have that money go into more citrulline and buy some cheap creatine monohydrate ourselves.
This is a perfect example of what we were discussing in our Creatine is Broken article.
Pixie-dusted coconut water concentrate?!?!
Another marketing point that doesn’t add up is the “Coconut Water Concentrate for hydration”. It’s discussed on the 5% Nutrition’s product page, which lends the idea that it’s to be found within the major blends at a real dose. Sounds cool, right?
Not so fast, though!
A peek at the label reveals that coconut water concentrate is the second of a two-ingredient, 42mg potassium source. So what is this, 0.5% daily recommended potassium?
This is the epitome of pixie-dusting, and doesn’t even deserved to be mentioned in the marketing collateral here. Not that we care about coconut water (does anyone??), but at some point, let’s just quit while we’re ahead!
At the end of the day…
Overall, this should be an above-average product in terms of energy/pumps, but there’s a bit too much confusion going on here for us to give a solid recommendation and justify the price to anyone but Rich Piana’s biggest and most supportive fans who are willing to tolerate a bit of gimmickry.
In response, Rich Piana and team then released the next level energy pre workout supplement, the 5150 Pre Workout! Or, if you want to stack in some insane stim-free pumps, get after it with FULL AS F*CK!
But all is not lost. You can always stack it with the 5% Jug!
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- Perez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM; Journal of Strength and Conditioning; “Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness;” May 2010