What is Arginine?

Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid, and a precursor to nitric oxide production in the body. The ability to produce more nitric oxide is crucial for bodybuilders, or anyone looking to build
mass. Nitric oxide is a powerful
vasodilator that increases blood flow to
the muscles, and produces that feeling
most often described as “The Pump“.

The Pump:

The surge of strength and power that comes from flushing blood into the muscle.

This mechanism allows you to get better delivery of oxygen, nutrients and hormones into thirsty muscles during a workout. Timing is one of the many factors to consider when taking arginine, but when taken correctly, you will know exactly what it means to experience a skin tearing muscle pump.

How Does Arginine Work?

The best time to take arginine is 30-60 minutes pre workout. Arginine is best absorbed on an empty stomach either 30-40 minutes before a meal, or two hours after. This will allow the body to create more nitric oxide and the blood vessels to dilate, or open up wider to facilitate blood flow. As you work out you will be able to flush more blood into the muscle, and increase your energy levels.


When the body is anabolic it is in a state to build and repair muscle.

Taking arginine on an empty stomach before breakfast and before bed will also help keep your body Anabolic. Arginine has also been shown to increase production of GH by the body, resulting in better recovery and bigger muscle gains.

The three most common forms of arginine that you will come across are L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketogluterate and arginine ethyl ester. All three forms are beneficial, but arginine alpha-ketogluterate and arginine ethyl ester have an easier time being assimilated and utilized by the body.

Arginine Research

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch examined the effects of arginine, and found it valuable for athletes and bodybuilders looking to increase protein synthesis.

A study from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggest that arginine supplementation post exercise might boot recovery by increasing available glucose for muscle glycogen storage.

Syracuse University in New York performed a study to test optimal arginine dosing to increase GH levels. A dose of 5-9g resulted in a greater boost than the group that a 13g dose.

Arginine Recommended Dosage

To get the most out of arginine it is recommended that you take 3-5grams/3 times a day. Before breakfast, pre workout, and before bed.

Adding arginine to your arsenal of supplements will affect your gains by allowing you to train harder and ensure that your muscles aren’t deprived of the nutrients they need to properly grow. Arginine is the answer if you’ve never been able to feel a muscle get “pumped”, or are just looking for an edge to get bigger and leaner than the competition.


  • J Nutr, 134: 2888S-2894S, IJSNEM Volume 9, Issue 3, September
  • S. R. Collier et al., “Growth hormone responses to varying doses of oral arginine,” Growth Hormone and IGF Research, 15(2):136-39, 2005.
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