It’s a true rarity these days when we come across a supplement that simply leaves us speechless. We get may one or two products a year that we see, and just say WOW!
Today is one of those “wow” moment, thanks to Sparta Nutrition. A company that’s mostly made its name as a prohormone supplier, Sparta is in the midst of revamping its entire line up and upgrading everything to V2 status.
Part of the V2 line includes Sparta debuting its first pre workout supplement titled Kraken, and believe you me, it’s every bit the BEAST the name implies.
The Kraken TL;DR
- A super-loaded DMHA pre workout supplement…
- …yet with only 200mg caffeine
- Clinical pump doses
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Take one look at this label, and then take a moment to pick your jaw off the floor. This thing is a MONSTER of a pre workout! Kraken boasts a fully disclosed label (extremely rare when dealing with the Eria + DMHA combo) and clinical doses of everything you’d want in a focused, pumped and energized workout.
Hold on everyone, things are going to get REALLY FUN!
You want pumps? There’s no better place to start for pure pump perfection that a heaping 4g dose of L-Citrulline. L-Cit is the go-to nitric oxide (N.O.) boosting ingredient on the market today for strong, dense pumps. The reason we’re such fans of L-Cit is that it’s heads and tails better than L-Arginine in terms of elevating N.O. levels. This translates to bigger, badder, and better pumps during your workouts.
Furthermore, L-Citrulline also enhances circulation and vasodilation, which provides greater nutrient and blood delivery to your muscles, which ultimately allows them to work at higher outputs for longer durations. Lastly, Citrulline boosts ATP production, primarily due to its role in the Krebs Cycle.[2,3,4]
CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine (3.2g)
Ready to get your tingles on?! You better be, as Kraken contains the full clinical tingle-spiking dose of Beta Alanine. BA is a precursor to carnosine, which acts as a powerful intracellular buffer that shuttles away lactic acid in skeletal muscles.
Basically, by offsetting the buildup of lactic acid, beta alanine helps alleviate any burning sensation that develops in during extended working sets. BA ultimately helps increase endurance, while also boosting strength, power, and time to exhaustion.[6,7,8]
3.2g is the dose that we see as the minimum you’d want across the day to achieve the clinical benefits in the studies (and others) cited above. This can be spaced out across the course of the day, but the Kraken gets it all on with at once. This doesn’t mean you can’t add more later if you really love the ingredient and are an endurance athlete though…
Kraken provides not one but, two different pathways for improving pumps during your workout. The first was through an increase in N.O. production thanks to a huge dose of L-Citrulline, the second comes via “water pumps” with HydroMax®, a high-yield form of glycerol that contains 65% glycerol by mass. When looking to glycerol inclusion in pre workout supplements, HydroMax® has become the de facto choice compared to Glycerol Monostearate (GMS) which only contains at most 25% glycerol by mass, with the rest being composed of saturated fats.
In essence, HydroMax® essentially turns your muscles into ultra absorbent sponges that soak up tons of extra water. This creates a state of “hyperhydration” in the muscle which leads to greater overall endurance in your workout[10,11] and lays the groundwork for those water-based pumps we first mentioned.
Make sure that you’re using at least 16 oz of water with HydroMax®, otherwise you’re not really getting the most bang for your buck from its water-retaining abilities!
Sparta Nutrition doubles down on the water based pumps established with HydroMax by including a solid dose of the amino acid L-Taurine. Much like our previous ingredient, Taurine also functions as a cell volumizer which aids muscle fullness, endurance, and those “water-based” pumps we mentioned.
It’s also worth noting that Taurine is found in rather vast amounts in the brain. In addition to aiding performance and pumps, taurine also improves mental focus and cognition. It’s one of the many multi-faceted ingredients you’ll find in Kraken, but is outshined by our next dual purpose ingredient….
This is going to be a good reason to drink plenty of water while you’re training – give the HydroMax and taurine something to latch on to!
Agmatine Sulfate (1g)
Among its numerous properties, Agmatine is first and foremost a powerful N.O. extender. What we mean is that, agmatine helps prolong N.O. levels by inhibiting arginase, the enzyme that breaks down Arginine. This makes agmatine then an indirect elevator of nitric oxide, as opposed to L-Citrulline which directly boosts N.O. levels.
Combining Agmatine with L-Citrulline creates an amazing tag team of N.O. boosters that not only skyrocket N.O. production in the body, but keeps it sustained well throughout your workout. Ultimately, this results in significantly stronger, denser, and longer-lasting pumps that you won’t get with any other way than by using a combination of pump ingredients.
Also, Agmatine enhances cognition and focus thanks to its role as a neuroregulator / neuromodulator in the brain. If you can’t tell, we love this ingredient and never pass up the chance to extol its benefits.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (500mg)
Stepping away from pure pump ingredients to more focus-based ingredients, we come across the might brain booster, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT). This ingredient is a more stable and bioavailable form of the non-essential amino acid L-Tyrosine. NALT increases the production of two critical neurotransmitters in the body, noradrenaline and dopamine.
Together, dopamine and noradrenaline help increase focus, cognition, and overall mood while also mitigating signs of stress and anxiety.[15,16]
Eria Jarensis Extract (250mg)
Now we get to the really fun portion of KRAKEN, the stims! Leading off the powerful stim blend is Eria Jarensis extract, one of the breakout stims of 2016. Eria Jarensis is a potent PEA-like molecule that has an extremely pronounce euphoric effect.
Specifically, Eria Jarensis is extracted for its N-phenethyldimethylamine content. The how and why Eria works can get a little to “meaty” for us to explain here in short order, so if you’re really interested in “geeking out” with this ingredient, checkout our in depth write up: Eria Jarensis Extract / N-phenethyl dimethylamine: The Next Big Thing?
Just know that we’ve tried this ingredient in several of our other top pre workouts, and we are BIG FANS!
Caffeine Anhydrous (200mg)
Supplying the main kick in the pants energy for Kraken, is old faithful himself good ol’ caffeine anhydrous. It may not be as trendy as our previous ingredient or eye-catching as our next ingredient, but caffeine was, is, and always will be a solid choice whenever you’re looking to increase energy, mood, alertness, or just about anything else in life!
Yet the dose is where we get the most major differentiator than the other fully-loaded pre workouts in Kraken:
Is 200mg really enough for a kick?!
We were wondering the same thing and reaching out to Sparta Nutrition for a little explanation on the dosing. They promptly responded with the following:
“One major comment in regards to why we only put 200mg of caffeine: 200mg is a moderate dose of caffeine instead of 300-400mg because of the doses of Eria, DMHA, NALT, and B12 we put in – all beyond any major competitor we could find. We could’ve saturated it with caffeine which is so cheap, however there was no need as it’d just detract from the overall balance.”
To put it succinctly, YES, 200mg is more than enough to provide the initial jolt you need to get going in the weight room, especially when combined with the previous ingredient and our next new stim…
If Eria Jarensis is the cute new girl of the stim world, DMHA is the standout hottie older sister that’s home from college. Also known as DMHA or Kigelia Africana Extract, DMHA has been the headline grabbing stimulant of 2016, even more so than Eria Jarensis. DMHA is an aliphatic amine similar to DMAA that’s also found in nature.
However, unlike DMAA which brings unparalleled focus and drive, 2-aminoisoheptane brings more of an uplifting, euphoric feel to a pre workout.
Just in case you weren’t sure DMHA really came from nature, and isn’t some crazy “Franken-stim” concocted in a lab, check out a little study published in late 2014 titled Metabolic Profiling of Kigelia africana Extracts with Anti-Cancer Activity by High Resolution Tandem Mass Spectroscopy. In it, it describes where DMHA was extracted from asl as some other applications it’s previously been used, including as an antibacterial, anti-cancer, and analgesic (pain relieving) agent.
This feel-good, energy-boosting ingredient has been putting workouts on the next level in 2016, and we definitely expect that to continue into 2017.
Last, but not least, we arrive at another nitric oxide extending ingredient with that amino acid L-Norvaline. This derivative of the BCAA L-Valine is another indirect N.O. booster, similar to Agmatine, due to its ability to “extend” the life of Arginine in the body.
Norvaline inhibits Arginase, which helps sustain N.O. levels leading to greater blood flow, nutrient delivery, and most importantly, MASSIVE PUMPS!
Norvaline is a great “add on” ingredient in a pump blend, so long as it’s not the only ingredient in a pump blend.
Now if that isn’t loaded – but not overloaded with caffeine – then we don’t know what is!
In late 2016, Sparta started with two flavors: Sex on the Beach and Sour Gummy Bear… but in 2017, they moved manufacturing to Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals and now have Bombsicle and Watermelon Rancher too! Watch the videos up top where the team discusses them!
Mike has beta tested the Sex on the Beach flavor, and it lives up to its name, tasting like the cocktail, although it is rather “feminine” tasting, if that makes any sense. We look forward to trying sour gummy bear next. These are both very unique flavors!
Wow, just….WOW! We’re completely floored by the profile here and are already pegging this to land quite somewhere in our Top 10 pre workout list (which is due to get split into two parts – one with exotic stims like this, and one without).
We’ll keep putting Kraken through the paces in short order over the next few weeks, and make sure to stay tuned for our full reviews that we’ll be sure to get out ASAP. You’ll be able to find out what we think eventually on our YouTube channel.
Kraken is a can’t miss product of 2016/2017 and one you definitely don’t want to miss. Next, we’re going to have to do a little exposé on Sparta Nutrition because these guys now have our attention.
Don’t let the powerful combination of stims fool you into thinking Kraken is just another cheap stim bomb, in reality, it’s one of the best dosed, and well rounded formulas we’ve ever seen. End of story.
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- Demady, D; Agmatine enhances the NADPH oxidase activity of neuronal NO synthase and leads to oxidative inactivation of the enzyme.; Department of Pharmacology, The University of Michigan Medical School; 2001
- Deijen JB, Orlebeke JF; Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress . Brain Res Bull. (1994)
- Dollins AB, et al; L-tyrosine ameliorates some effects of lower body negative pressure stress . Physiol Behav. (1995)
- Ismet, Ara, et al; “Evaluation of Antimicrobial Properties of Two Different Extracts of Juglans regia Tree Bark and Search for Their Compounds Using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrum”; International Journal of Biology; Vol. 5, No. 2; 2013; Retrieved from http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijb/article/view/25651/15862