For some time now we have known that pre-exercise arginine supplementation leads to increased vascularity, great pumps, and intense workouts. Some research claims that these effects are due to increased production of the potent vasodilator nitric oxide (NO).
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 For the most part, NO's effects on muscle growth and strength have been credited based on its claimed ability to increase muscle blood flow, thus supporting delivery of nutrients and flushing of metabolic by products. However, accumulating evidence substantiates anecdotal reports of great muscular gains and illustrate that arginine is much more than a just muscle pump promoting agent.

In a recent article published in Clinical Nutrition, scientists from Texas investigated the anabolic potential of arginine, independent of NO-related mechanisms.  Using a burn model of injury in rabbits, the researchers found that arginine supplements significantly increased net protein balance and recovery in skin and skeletal muscle compared to animals that received an amino acid mixture of equal nitrogen content. The authors concluded that arginine produces true anabolic effects that act by stimulating the transport of amino acids into injured tissues (i.e., those in a catabolic state), leading to increased amino acid availability for protein synthesis.


Zhang XJ, Chinkes DL, Wolfe RR. The anabolic effect of arginine on proteins in skin wound and muscle is independent of nitric oxide production. Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;27(4):649-56.