Ephedrine for Bodybuilding, Pre-Workout Stacks & Cutting Cycles
Use of ephedrine for bodybuilding is considered to be effective in cutting cycles as well as in pre-workout formulation.
Ephedra and ephedrine were two of the most widely used fat burnings by male and female bodybuilders who wanted to get ripped, hard, toned physiques.
These products had significant energy-enhancing effects and also supported greater intensity at the gym as well as increased thermogenic metabolism.
This ingredient was typically taken in an ECA stack with caffeine and aspirin for increased weight loss efficacy. Since the ban on ephedrine alkaloids in dietary supplements, bodybuilders now use ephedra extract supplements that do not contain any of the now illegal alkaloids.
These products attempt to mimic the effects of ephedrine cutting cycles and pre-workout supplements by replacing this ingredient with other stimulants that bodybuilders can see benefits from. What do bodybuilders need to know about ephedra-based products sold today and how to use them safely? Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Ephedrine for Bodybuilding
Back in the day, getting your hands on ephedrine for bodybuilding in weight loss cycles, or to create a pre-workout wasn’t difficult.
Ephedrine is one of the primary alkaloids produced by the more potent of the ephedra plant species. This active phytochemical ingredient was known throughout the 80s and the 90s as being one of the most effective components to promote weight loss, energy, and to improve stamina.
Ephedrine wasn’t used to bulk up muscle, but it was beneficial in improving oxygenation as well as blood flow to the body’s muscles. This was facilitated through the mechanism of action of vasodilation and increased cardiovascular function.
Ephedrine acts as a stimulant on a number of central nervous system receptors that control metabolic function. It triggers specialized adrenergic receptors in the body, turning them on in the same way that the hormone adrenaline would.
For example, ephedrine triggers beta-2 receptors that line smooth muscle passages such as those found in the lungs and airways. This triggering mechanism encouraged those airways to dilate or widen, increasing easier airflow and oxygenation.
Ephedrine also behaves as a stimulant to beta-1 receptors that are found throughout the heart muscle. When these receptors are stimulated, the heart rate speeds up.
The force of heart contractions is enhanced. This effect accelerated blood flow throughout the body, deemed beneficial to bodybuilders to faster delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
Alpha receptors can trigger the body’s arteries to constrict. This increases blood pressure as well as the amount of blood flowing back to the lungs and heart for re-oxygenation.
For bodybuilders and athletes, and dieters these effects were deemed beneficial in boosting the efficacy of workouts and for weight loss due to higher metabolism.
It helps to promote fat loss before a competition by enhancing the metabolic rate, which in turn can contribute to thermogenesis or heat production, which can trigger lipolysis or fat destruction. Lean bodyweight and muscle to fat ratios are improved by stripping excess subcutaneous fat to expose hard, defined muscles.
However, due to an unreasonably high risk of side effects, the FDA has instituted a ban on ephedra products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids.
Athletes looking for something like ephedrine pre-workout stack or to use in an male or female cutting cycle, must turn to other products as well as ingredients.
Sources of Ephedrine
Today, products containing ephedrine and/or pseudoephedrine are fairly limited to bronchodilators, asthma medications, cough and cold remedies, cough syrups, and sinus medications.
The FDA continues to approve its used as a bronchodilator and for relief of nasal decongestion. This, it can be sold as a drug for the treatment of these conditions (under certain other restrictions), but cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.
Some of the most common products still available today that contain small amounts of ephedrine and/or pseudoephedrine include but are not limited to:
Other products are available around the world, depending on the legalities.
Many bodybuilders will attempt to buy these drugs in pharmacies to replace the effects of the now-banned ephedrine diet pills and supplements.
However, ephedrine content in such products is not particularly beneficial when used alone. Average milligram strength ranges from 12.5 mg to 25 milligrams.
Some of these products will also contain guaifenesin, an expectorant designed to loosen mucus build-up, often one of the symptoms of asthma attacks.
Athletes or dieters interested in ephedrine pre-workout in this regard (increased oxygenation) may find it moderately beneficial. However, as always, read instructions on such products and be aware of the potential for side effects.
These products have not been approved for recreational use, weight loss, energy enhancement or other off-label purposes.
Note: Consumers interested in buying any product like ephedrine for bodybuilding should also be aware that while it may not require a prescription, you may have to purchase it from the pharmacy counter. In most locations, it is stored behind locked doors.
You may also have to display identification, provide contact information, and sign for it. Today, sales of any products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are monitored and limitations for products do apply.
Ephedrine Pre-Workout Suggestions
Because products containing ephedrine are limited in regard to milligram strength, athletes and bodybuilders as well as dieters today tend to combine such products with other components designed to stimulate the body, much as ephedrine.
For this reason, an ephedrine cutting cycle may also use a number of other compounds including clenbuterol and illegal anabolic steroids like Anavar (Oxandrolone) or Winstrol (Stanozolol).
Use of other compounds will increase the risk of side effects dramatically. Caution is recommended and the abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids is strongly urged against.
A number of over-the-counter ephedra (with the ephedrine removed) products can be found with a wide variety of other stimulative ingredients. One of the most popular is that of Bitter Orange. Also known as the citrus aurantium, Bitter Orange contains p-synephrine, which behaves in a very similar manner as that of ephedrine.
A number of these products are designed specifically for an “ephedrine” pre-workout drink or powder. Some of the most popular products for such purposes include powders.
Popular pre-workout powders contain combinations of ephedra, cayenne or other thermogenic ingredients such as theobromine, which also acts as a stimulant that dilates blood vessels and acts as a bronchodilator.
It is always advised, regardless of the brand or the popularity of a pre-workout supplement, to carefully review ingredients and how they function in the body.
Some of the relatively common ephedra pre-workout products that contain 25 mg average of extract can include but are not limited to:
- Black spider 25 ephedra
- Rhino Rush pre-workout
- Ripped Power AGL
Rhino Rush is a particularly popular product that contains a combination of 250 mg of caffeine anhydrous (dry powder form of caffeine), and ephedra viridis leaf extract, one of the weaker ephedra species extracts.
When engaging in pre-workout routines, or developing your own pre-workout mixture, directions often recommend one to two scoops of the pre-workout powder mixed with anywhere between 4 to 8 ounces of water. This solution is to be consumed orally approximately 15 minutes to 30 minutes prior to a workout.
Creating an Ephedrine Cutting Cycle
The purpose for using a cutting cycle with ephedrine tablets was to facilitate fat loss, most commonly prior to a bodybuilding event or sporting competition.
An ephedra cutting cycle was, and still is, considered relatively ineffective for anything except for its benefits as a moderate fat loss component, but for some was also effective in increasing energy and stamina.
A common cutting phase might last anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on what other components were involved in its creation, such as caffeine. Most commonly, it was used two to three times a week for pre-workout regimens. Dosage recommendations average anywhere from 25 mg to 50 mg per dose.
As mentioned, the ephedrine cutting stack was mainly created with other stimulants combined for pre-workout purposes, although others turned to a cycle to drop 2 to 3 pounds prior to a competition.
Combining other components with ephedrine pre-workout stacks may improve results. Ingredients like T3, a synthetic thyroid hormone, are sometimes used while others combined it with human growth hormone (HGH).
Experienced bodybuilders caution against combining ephedrine with other potent stimulants including Clenbuterol. Doubling up on the stimulative effects can contribute to a number of negative and potentially dangerous side effects.
Testosterone and Ephedrine
One of the common fat loss stacks used by bodybuilders included certain forms of testosterone and ephedrine. This would sometimes be used in a Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT) regimen.
Here is one example of an ephedrine cycle used by bodybuilders with testosterone (this cycle lasted 12 weeks):
- Testosterone cypionate taken at approximately 300 mg on a weekly basis throughout.
- Ephedrine (90 mg daily) to be used for Weeks 1 through 4 and then again from Weeks 8 through 12.
- Caffeine at 600 mg a day, recommending that 200 mg be taken with the ephedrine dosage from Weeks 1 through 4, and again Weeks 8 through 12.
Note: The Mayo Clinic recommends that individuals not exceed 400 mg caffeine on a daily basis.
It should be emphasized that such milligram levels for the above components are not recommended for a beginner. At 600 mg of caffeine daily plus the 90 mg of ephedrine, even experienced bodybuilders might experience a number of negative side effects.
Dosages this high are dangerous for your heart and even healthy people could experience disastrous side effects.
Another ephedrine cutting cycle suggestion that was relatively popular lasted eight weeks, again with several varieties of testosterone used for the first eight weeks.
Starting at week 4 through 8, another suggestion was to add 90 mg daily of ephedrine and 600 mg daily to be combined with the ephedrine in a 100 mg dosage several times a day.
Again, such a stack can be somewhat overwhelming for beginners.
The foundation of using ephedrine for bodybuilding in the past was its effect on the central nervous system and its ability to accelerate, stimulate, and enhance the body’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and metabolism.
Since ephedrine is not as available today as it once was, bodybuilders, athletes, and dieters are turning to other thermogenic agents as a substitute. Watching for side effects today is as important as it was in the past, especially with the ingredients used as substitutes.
Side Effects for Bodybuilders
Numerous side effects are associated with ephedrine. It was these negative and adverse reactions that ended up leading to the ban of ephedrine from ephedra dietary products in 2004.
Studies have shown that modern ephedra-based pre-workout and cutting cycles can be just as dangerous as those of the past. This is because of the combination of stimulants intended to replace the effects of ephedrine on bodybuilders.
Ephedra extract supplements are commonly combined with thermogenic agents added to ingredients, as well as Bitter Orange, theobromine, yohimbine, and others that stimulate and/or promote heat production in the body such as cayenne pepper extract.
A number of studies reporting on the combined effects of such ingredients suggest harmful potential side effects. This is not to suggest that all-natural stimulants or thermogenic agents are dangerous.
When used alone or in moderate dosages, such stimulants are not particularly dangerous. Combining them in excess of milligram strengths however, can provoke adverse reactions.
A study from 2012 deemed combinations of p-synephrine (a component of Bitter Orange), caffeine, and ephedrine as being potentially toxic. The study was conducted on mice, as the dangers of conducting such a study on humans is generally discouraged.
The above-mentioned ingredients were combined to gauge effect on physiological reactions. Among them:
- Reduced local motor activity
While many bodybuilders or athletes might scoff that such effects cannot be extrapolated to humans, it should be noted that they are possible, if not likely.
Based on medical recommendations, the ban of use of ephedrine for bodybuilding, for dieting, for weight loss, and other purposes is understandable, especially due to the fact that such individuals rarely use such compounds or ingredients as directed.
Products that contain ephedrine are still abused, used in higher than recommended dosages or taken off-label for a number of purposes, including cutting cycles.
Negative side effects are not merely associated to those who are older or who are dealing with pre-diagnosed or undiagnosed conditions. When turning to ephedrine for bodybuilding or weight loss or enhanced energy, use caution and discretion.
Those taking a pre-workout stack with cough and cold products, decongestants, and then adding other stimulants on top of it including herbal products like Bitter Orange or theobromine may notice some short-term benefits, but also potential negative side effects.
There are safer alternatives that bodybuilders can look to if their goal is to promote fat loss safely, but effectively.