When I got my first sample packet of Maximize I was skeptical - that is, until I saw the ingredients. I can unequivocally say that this is one of the first products that I was legitimately excited about before I even tried it. Having been away from pre-workout products for several years due to my distaste for the vast majority of them, I'll share with you why Maximize made me a believer and why I think it might convert you too.
Ingredients: Here is the bread and the butter, ladies and gentlemen. Maximize is actually the equivalent of roughly four products in one, and here's why: It's comprised of five "matrices", (think of them as categories, unless you're a Keanu Reeves fan, then think of them as Trinity in a black trench coat with her hair slicked back carrying numerous fully automatic weapons... wait, what?) at least four of which actually could be individual products in and of themselves. Furthermore, IForce actually discloses how much of each individual ingredient you are getting. Don't think this is a big deal? Take a peek at the label of your current favorite pre-workout drink. See that word - "proprietary"? That's the supplement industry equivalent of a big middle finger pointed your direction. Because whatever company chose to use that word doesn't want to tell you how much of each ingredient they actually use. Sure, they'll tell you they don't want to disclose the amounts because they're trying to protect their formula from their competitors - which might be a legitimate concern, but only to a point. What's really happening is they don't want you to know that they're engaged in a practice industry insiders refer to as "pixie-dusting". Pixie-dusting means that they sprinkle a very small amount of an ingredient into a product solely so they can put it on the label. The most frustrating part is the reputable companies will indignantly assure you that they're not doing that, but how would you ever know? You couldn't... until now. IForce actually tells you. There is no proprietary blend. In an industry where honesty is in short supply, it's refreshing to see some. Anyway, this concludes my rant on proprietary blends (for now), moving on to the product.
1. The first matrix is the "plasma expansion matrix". Dubious name aside, let's take a look:
-Arginine Ethyl Ester HCL 2000mg
-Arginine Pyroglutamate 1000mg
-L-Ornithine HCL 500mg
-L-Citrulline Malate 500mg
Honestly, this isn't earth-shattering, but for those that are chemically inclined, IForce did have the foresight to include all the intermediaries of the urea cycle, which produces arginine as a by-product. So as I am a bit skeptical how much you can actually manipulate your body's homeostatic mechanisms to induce vasodilation to a greater extent than what is normal when you exercise, at least IForce is showing some base chemistry knowledge here. Trust me, just like honesty, you'd think it'd be a prerequisite to be in the supplement industry, but no dice.
2. The next matrix is the "creaplex matrix". Only two ingredients here:
-Creatine Gluconate 2000mg
-Creatine Orotate 2000mg
I'm very pleased with two things - the amount of creatine in total (4g) and the two types of creatine used. Creatine gluconate gained its notoriety from Gaspari Nutrition's Size-On product and is simply a creatine molecule bonded to gluconic acid (for our purposes, gluconic acid is basically glucose). Orotate is more of the same - creatine bonded to orotic acid. However, there is some evidence that orotic acid itself is ergogenic (performance-enhancing). One theory is that there is a chemical pathway that allows orotate to boost beta-alanine, and ultimately, carnosine levels. Here's a visual aid so you know I'm not just making this up:
Now, I'm the first one to tell you that you don't "need" novel creatine compounds and creatine monohydrate will do just fine, but the creatines in Maximize I do personally prefer over other novel creatines like Kre-Alkalyn and creatine ethyl-ester. In any case, at least you know you're getting 4g of creatine, that's the take home point. It's nice to debate one form of creatine versus the other ad infinitum, but bottom line: get about 5g of creatine a day regardless of form.
3. The next matrix is the "muscle integrity matrix". I like to think my muscles are upstanding and moral already (okay, bad joke), but let's check it out anyway:
Okay, so the first three are just good ol' branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Just to be fair, I'll admit up front that I'm biased. I hate BCAAs. Look, I get it, they're insulinogenic (i.e., they cause an insulin spike). Insulin's a very anti-catabolic hormone. Great, let's conclude BCAAs can cause a rise in blood plasma insulin levels, no argument here. They also can be metabolized directly by muscle tissue. Even better, right? But here's the kicker, guess what else does the exact same things? It's not some rare growth fraction found in virgin rabbit's whey or an obscure herb that only grows in the Amazon during the winter solstice and is guarded by a cooperating team of panther assassins (actually, that would be awesome and now I'm disappointed). Nope. It's carbohydrates! Whoa, earth-shattering stuff here. Â Seriously though, my criticism is two fold:
1)They market BCAAs as if they will add 30lbs. of muscle overnight. Someone tell me how you can take 3 amino acids and make structures (proteins, and therefore tissues) that usually contain 10-20 amino acids. If I hired you as a chef and told you to make a fruit salad that contained at least 10 different kinds of fruit, but I gave you only bananas, oranges, and blueberries, could you do it? You'd quit that job.
2)Any quality protein is rich in BCAAs. That's right, chicken, egg whites, whey; they all have BCAAs already in them. But hey, you can't sell egg whites for $30 for a 1LB container, can you?
The nice part was, I recently spoke with an IForce representative and he didn't make any of the claims most companies do, and he didn't assert that BCAAs were superior to whole proteins. He said, "We used a small but clinical amount that has been shown to be sufficient to activate the mTOR pathway." Okay. At least there are no lies in that statement. Does activating the mTOR pathway (like insulin does, among other things) result in greater net protein synthesis? I think the jury's still out on that. So, what's the take home point? There's nothing inherently wrong with BCAAs. Just don't market them as something they're not. You can gain muscle without the BCAAs by themselves, but you can't gain lean tissue without whole proteins. Draw your own conclusions.
Taurine is predominantly an osmolyte - something that affects osmosis. A cell volumizer, if you prefer. It pulls water into muscle cells, which is good. I'm on board. Glutamine does not need to be rehashed here. It's the most abundant amino acid in the body. It can't hurt. It doesn't "decrease soreness", but that's a debate for another day. I'm neutral about glutamine.
4. Next up, the "cognitive blitz matrix". This is another area where the product shines. It's really akin to a "fat-burner" you would normally pay an extra $30-$50 per month for. Without further ado:
-Geranium Oil 25mg
Okay, 200mg of caffeine is just about right for me. Not too much, not too little (keep in mind I'm listing the amounts in two scoops, you can always just take one to assess your tolerance). L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that's a precursor to your catecholamines, like adrenaline and noradrenaline. When combined with stimulants like caffeine, it seems to make them "kick" harder, which makes sense from a physiological standpoint. Acacia contains tryptamine alkaloids which have beneficial psychoactive properties in humans (e.g. focus, clarity). Synephrine is from the citrus aurantium tree, the fruit of which is commonly referred to as bitter orange. It has a stimulant effect. These are all pretty consistent with a typical fat-burner, as I noted above. My favorite ingredient, by far, is the geranium oil. Despite this not actually being a scientific term and just referring loosely to some extracts from the geranium plant, it makes you feel incredible. Intense concentration mixed with a floating feeling, if I had to describe it. It's hard to explain, but I urge you to try it and see. The IForce representative described it as "tunnel-vision", and I really do think that's fair after using it a few times now. Let me stress that it is completely different from the typical caffeine buzz/overstimulation feeling.
5. Finally, the "phospho-support matrix":
There's really no need to discuss this one in depth, it contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium phosphates, along with phosphorous itself. You won't cramp, and it will keep your mineral stores from being depleted from hard training. Narangin, if anyone is wondering, is the flavanoid found in grapefruit that helps absorption.
(And, not specific to any matrix on the label, there are assorted B-vitamins that help optimize the whole spectrum of metabolic reactions.)
Taste/Mixability/Drinkability: Right now, Maximize is only available in raspberry lemonade. The flavor is fine, actually surprisingly gentle, and really, are you taking these products because of how they taste? Add some Crystal Light if it's a concern.
It mixes just fine, not a lot of sediment at the bottom of the shaker and what was there did not remain after some gentle re-shaking. It's not heavily carbonated, like another popular pre-workout drink that will remain unnamed. I don't feel nauseous or anything after drinking it, which is a problem for me with some other pre-workout drinks, as well.
All things considered, I highly recommend this product. You do not get overwhelming "energy", but you do get a razor-sharp mental edge and a definite ergogenic effect. As with anything, the performance-enhancing effect is going to be largely individual. I notice greater endurance, less perceived need for rest between sets, less perceived fatigue, and increased blood flow. Don't get me wrong, Maximize will give you that "wakey-wakey" feeling and clean-burning energy you need to get off the couch and in the gym, just not too much (which I appreciate). Given the choice between greater increased performance and a caffeine-headache, I'll take the performance benefits, all day. Anyway, as someone who does not work for IForce and is not motivated to sell this product in particular (granted, I want you to buy something from our website), as well as someone who has tried pretty much every pre-workout drink available, this one is one of the best. As I said in the first paragraph, I had high expectations for the product and I was not disappointed.
Here’s a link to the product itself, where you can purchase it, leave a review, or see what others have said about it: