Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout is a supplement that aims to provide a relatively different approach to the kind of thing you see on the market.
However, unlike a number of the supplements that also have this aim, it actually does pretty well. The benefits of this product are interesting and unique, but they offer something relatively new and we’re here to explain what you can expect.
If you’re looking for an interesting pre-workout, this review is going to be the one for you…
About Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout
While Darkside Ultra Pre has the same intended goals of other pre-workouts, the rationale behind ingredient choice is pretty interesting.
The standard goals are relatively simple and should be familiar to anyone with a history of supplement use:
- Increased mental performance and wakefulness
- Improved performance metrics – whether in the form of strength, endurance, or recovery
These are the two criteria we use for the majority of pre-workouts. It’s also important to note that the stated goals of the product are energy, massive pumps, and better workouts.
These obviously overlap with those mentioned above – but it’s always good to get it from the manufacturer.
In many ways, these goals actually fit the product – and they’re the lines we’re going to judge it across.
Let’s take a quick look at the ingredient list to get a better idea of what you’re getting and what it looks like compared to other PWO on the market:
Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout Supplement Facts
Directions for Use
The guidelines for using this product suggest a double scoop, with a significant 18.9g of product. There’s nothing wrong with this – it provides a more potent supplement and the container is large enough – but it is a little more than you might be used to.
The best use is to combine this product with water and consume in the 30-60 minutes before your workout. This gives the caffeine and citrulline time to begin working, since the general timeline for absorption and benefits is around 30-45 minutes.
As ever, pre-workouts work best when combined with some high-quality carbohydrates for better cognitive and physical performance.
What is in Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout?
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Citrulline is cool and this product goes hard: with 4-8g of citrulline per serving (depending on 1 or 2 scoops). This is a great quantity and provides a ton of benefits, ultimately just boosting your performance more effectively.
The citrulline is useful for the pumps and endurance discussed on the Darkside page. It boosts nitric oxide levels, improving blood flow for both aesthetic and performance reasons.
Pumps will be bigger, while endurance – and especially repeated bout endurance – will see significant improvements. The combination means that citrulline alone is going to be great for performance, and it may even have some quality post-workout recovery benefits.
The benefits of beta alanine are great because they cover the middle-range endurance performance. This is different to the endurance benefits seen with the Citrulline we mentioned above.
Middle-range endurance will see significant benefits, and this is great because there’s a synergy with tons of other compounds. The benefits of beta-alanine and citrulline together set the foundation, then the rest of the ingredients add up massively.
We’re going to see this with a ton of the more interesting/unique compounds in this product so let’s look at what else is going on…
This is almost entirely useful for the benefits it brings to hydration. The hydration of muscle cells is important for the role it plays in increasing cell volume – which is key in recovery and growth.
This is even more effective when combined with creatine, but you’re not going to find that in this product. That’s not a huge problem, however: you can just add an additional scoop of creatine to your pre-workout drink at very little cost.
As with the previous compound, Betaine – or trimethylglycine – is great for hydration but also for overall health.
It contains some spare methyl groups which the body absorbs for methylation. This process is important in a wide variety of places in the body, with the result of improved health in response to exercise stress.
This is a great little compound to have in your pre-workout but doesn’t provide tons of benefits. It’s contributing to the hydration process like glycerol, but with some mild health benefits along the way.
This is a compound that boosts mental performance and, specifically, both fatigue and mood. These are obviously tied together: less fatigue means less anxiety and better performance, which are the whole point of pre-workouts.
For the psychological benefits, this is a great compound. These include the benefits of synergy with compounds like caffeine, theacrine, and the ingredients in the S7 blend. This adds up significantly for the wakefulness/focus goals of a pre-workout.
Naturally, caffeine is important here. It’s the main compound that is used to induce both physical and psychological performance benefits in most pre-workouts.
In this product, it’s a good foundation for both of these types of gains – and it combines with a number of synergists on both sides.
Physically, it improves performance by reducing fatigue and improving neuromuscular factors. These are great for strength, power, and obviously improving endurance. They’re also pretty cool for adjusting things like rate of perceived exertion – especially after long days.
Psychologically, the main benefits are reducing fatigue and keeping you awake/focused. Again, useful after a long day but combines very well with compounds like Choline/ Huperzine and even the benefits of citrulline or theacrine.
End result? Caffeine is good – and this product contains two forms. This is the normal one, but you also get Dicaffeine Malate.
This is a traditional form of herbal medicine that doesn’t really have much place in this product. It takes up very little space here, and the main suspected benefit is digestive health – with some protective effects against Colo-rectal cancer.
There’s not much drawback to this product containing juniper, there’s just not much benefit. So we’re going to talk about the other stuff instead.
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It’s apple extract and it doesn’t do much. It’s primarily as an antioxidant compound but it’s not a major player in the things this product does, so, like stimberry, we’re not expecting much.
It could have some possible benefits but, honestly, there’s nothing to commend this compound. We’d rather see something like creatine or piperine instead.
Another stimulant, but not quite the same as caffeine. They act in similar ways but theacrine doesn’t interact with caffeine tolerance/resistance in the same way.
As a result, it’s going to feel intense for most of us – even with caffeine tolerance. This might not be generally a positive if you suffer from jitters after consuming caffeine.
As this builds, it becomes more and more obvious that you need to start with one scoop just to assess tolerance and get used to this product.
Theacrine is decent – especially as a tea-derived source – but you need to consider your total daily stimulant intake. Especially if you’re training towards the end of the day!
This is pretty great. We love the inclusion of Dicaffeine Malate since it offers a new perspective on caffeine. The benefits are a slower and more sustainable release, while the digestive effects of Malate make it a much lower side effect risk.
However, this means you’re getting a really hefty dose of caffeine (and stimulants overall). Which can cause jittery side effects – especially if you like to drink coffee during your normal day.
As a result, we have started to prefer non-stim pre-workouts. But if we choose to take a stim pre-workout, then we make sure it only contains 1 source of caffeine. This is to keep us safe from risk of jitters.
This basically has some low-level fat-burning effects in the same way that caffeine or other stimulants do. It’s got similar actions to light stimulants like synephrine, but this is a WADA banned substance (for the athletes out there), and it’s not proven to be beneficial.
There are no real, significant effects to this product that make it worthwhile, but it’s in Darkside either way. We don’t think it’s a huge risk – we can’t say why it’s on the WADA list other than simply being a stimulant.
This ingredient doesn’t add much, and it does make this product WADA-banned so it can’t be used for athletes. It’s a pain in the ass, but it won’t matter too much if you don’t plan on competing in a drug-tested sport any time soon.
This is a simple blend of a few herbal extracts that have effective benefits. The green tea and coffee bean are important, while the other two are primarily just antioxidant extracts – but that’s cool too.
- Coffee bean
This is effectively just a compound for chlorogenic acid, which is a powerful, general antioxidant. It combines well with the two forms of caffeine in this product, and has been associated with some very mild fat-oxidation benefits.
This doesn’t mean burning more fat at appreciable levels, but it can contribute to better metabolism overall. It’s a cool way of building up a better metabolic profile for the average joe.
- Green tea
This is awesome because GABA and EGCG have separate roles in the body, but both are effective.
GABA is an anti-stress compound that is going to be useful for improving hormonal responses to exercise. The total result is better recovery and growth – which are great for a pre-workout.
EGCG is a fat-burning, antioxidant compound and one of the main reasons why tea is considered healthy. It improves the catecholamine processes involved in fat burning, which means better results and even better health.
Green tea extract is a winner in almost every health supplement.
Turmeric is a superfood in the sense that the term is often used – and usually without much basis.
However, it’s one of the very few compounds that justifies a ‘superfood’ title.
The benefits are even wider-ranging, but this article isn’t all about turmeric. The point is that turmeric is good for you and thus a great inclusion for this product.
Ginseng and Astragus
Ginseng is in the same category as turmeric: “superfoods” that are actually multipurpose, scientifically-proven ergogenics. They provide a ton of health and wellbeing benefits while taking up very little space in this product.
It’s another anti-inflammatory compound but this one is more closely tied to mood, immune system function, and improving cognitive performance. These are great for combining with the mental performance compounds in this product like choline/Huperzine and the two types of caffeine.
Astragus is less good, falling into the category of “herbal extracts that are mildly underwhelming”. The overall result, on average, is a quality herbal blend – and more so for the S7 blend we just talked about.
If choline boosts Acetylcholine levels, Huperzine is perfect for keeping them up. It reduces the breakdown in the brain which allows you to operate at higher levels of mental performance for longer.
This is mostly useful as a synergist with choline, but even by itself it can support a gentle performance buzz.
The bad news is that Huperzine is also associated with many potential side effects.
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Does it work? The Formula Analysis
This product’s potency and effectiveness aren’t questionable. The dosage is intense, but the benefits are equally intense and there’s really no way of using this product that doesn’t provide significant benefits to mental and physical performance.
When we look at the standards it set for itself, we’re pleasantly surprised that it actually does seem to fulfil them.
HOWEVER, you simply can’t ignore the amount of stimulants in Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout. There are too many, which can lead to side effects.
A hardcore pre-workout that comes with a ton of great benefits to physical and mental performance markers. The end result is a good product – even if it does come at a higher price than many on the market.
One thing we’d change is the heavy amount of stimulants in Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout. A warning to those sensitive to caffeine: you may suffer from jitters, especially if you also drink coffee. Don’t take this close to bedtime either.
Darkside Ultra Pre Benefits
The benefits are pretty comprehensive; improved focus and energy, improved strength and power, as well as endurance and recovery. This is a product whose benefits should be noticeable from the wide variety of areas it touches in your own training.
With a good balance of physical and mental performance boosts, Darkside Ultra PWO is going to be useful in almost everything.
Any Side Effects?
The most likely reason to deal with side effects in this product is stimulant load. You can adjust the stimulant load by sticking with 1 scoop – which we recommend for everyone initially.
There are a number of stimulants here; caffeine is the classical one, while the dimalate version has some reduced side effects, and the octopamine and theacrine are a whole other category. These make tolerance difficult, so everyone should start with one scoop!
The octopamine is a bit unclear, scientifically, which could make it a concern if you’re stimulant sensitive. Check with your doctor before using this product – just to be safe.
Who Takes It?
Not athletes, as this is a WADA-banned product. Aside from that, it’s a product with a great variety of benefits so if you’re a recreational lifter or an average joe looking to perform better, this is a quality product.
The variety of benefits makes Ultra Pre-Workout an equally versatile product; whatever your goals and style, it will offer something valuable.
Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout Summary
- Great dosage
- Clever, effective ingredient choice
- Great synergies
- Banned by WADA for Octopamine
- Creatine would be an easy/effective combination for glycerol/betaine
- Piperine would be great for overall benefits and turmeric specifically
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Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout Price & Buying Info
The price of this product on second party sites can get really intense. Even at the manufacturer’s own site you’re looking at the best part of $50 for a container which could be 20-40 servings (depending on dose).
This puts it way into the more expensive side of the spectrum with other premium products like the Performance Lab SPORT Pre easily beating it out on dollar value. On second party sites where it can fetch $60+, you need to be careful.
This is the big drawback of this product: it offers good value in terms of results, but can be questionable when you start asking for the majority of $100! Try and get it direct for the best deals, and always keep your eye out for sales.
This product is definitely an investment in your own performance!
Darkside Ultra Pre-Workout Review: Final Word
This is a really interesting product and we’ve had great fun reviewing the ingredients. There are some really interesting and positive choices like the distribution of caffeine and DCM, as well as the heavy doses of performance-boosting compounds.
The inclusion of octopamine and the absence of creatine/piperine are tweaks we’d like to see implemented, but overall, it’s not a bad product. As mentioned a couple of times, just be aware of the big stimulant load – we’d recommend avoiding and looking at a non-stimulant pre-workout if you’re worried about jittery side effects.
You’re going to have to pay a big, premium price for this product should you decide on it.