$40 | www.redpointnutrition.com | 3 Stars
The advice you often hear from so-called experts is that supplements are a waste of your money.
It seems like sound advice, and the yogic, Whole Foods-shopping part of me believes it. However, my East Coast go-getter side wants a competitive edge and the ability to warm up on Joe Kinder's projects. This personality trait (or flaw?) prompted me to check out Crank, a new supplement from Redpoint Nutrition that promises to delay the onset of muscle fatigue, increase power, improve endurance and speed recovery.
Crank is a powdered drink mix that tastes great (if you like Gatorade et al) and is full of B vitamins, caffeine (green tea extract) and ginseng, amino acids and lactate (in the form of calcium, magnesium and sodium), which supposedly helps alleviate pump.
The instructions say to mix one or two (no more than two) measurements into a half-liter bottle of water, and drink the elixir before you warm up.
Everyone had the same reaction when they found out that I was testing Crank. That's cheating! they would say. Then curiosity would get the best of them and they always asked, So, does it work?
The short answer is yes. At least, I think so. It's hard to be objective about something like your own climbing performance, but in general, when I was on Crank, I noticed more energy, alertness and stamina for a full day of climbing. I didn't necessarily notice myself getting any less or more pumped than usual. If you are like me, and consider yourself to have the performance of a Dodge Stratus, don't expect a couple of doses of Crank to turn you into an Audi R8.
I found Crank to have the greatest return at the start of the season, when I was really out of shape. At first I did as the instructions told me and drank two measurements before warming up. However, all that Crank at one time cranked me up a little too much -- exacerbating redpoint jitters, not to mention turning my pee bright green. I found it was better to drink half of my elixir before warming up, and then drink the second half toward the end of the day when I was tired but wanted to keep climbing.
I also found that I habituated to Crank with consistent use. Now that it's the middle of the season, and I feel like I'm back in my best form, I bring Crank to the crags but only use it to get through those low-energy days. I've experimented with various supplements over the years, and I'm happy to finally have one that is specifically tailored to climbers.
- Plenty of B vitamins (B1-B12).
- Lactate formula: sodium (20.5 mg), magnesium (36 mg) and calcium (108 mg). Touted to improve endurance.
- Taurine (1,000 mg) supports neurological development and helps regulate water and mineral salts in the blood. It is naturally found in meat, fish and breast milk, and artificially in many energy drinks. Some studies suggest taurine may improve athletic performance.
- Difficult to judge its effectiveness. You may pee green.