Redcon1 has exploded into one of the biggest supplement companies out there, showing up in mainstream stores like Walmart. We dig their original Total War, so what about their new extreme, high-stim Total War Black Ops? Does it stand the test?
Our reviews are based on testing with our unique, multi-point methodology. We may earn commission on your purchase of some products.
|Caffeine Anhydrous, Green Coffee Bean, Guarana Seed Extract
|TeaCrine, Theobromine, Schisandra, Grains of Paradise, Pro-GBB, Huperzine A, Alpha yohimbine
|L-Citrulline, Citrulline Nitrate
|Beta-Alanine, Taurine, Dynamine
|TeaCrine, Theobromine, Schisandra, Grains of Paradise, Pro-GBB, Huperzine A, Alpha yohimbine
|Strength & Body Comp
|Creatine Nitrate, Betaine nitrate, Alpha GPC
|Three flavors as of this review
|Good ingredient selection, well-sourced
|Strong beta-alanine tingles, extremely revved-up, high endurance
Man, oh man, does it ever! Black Ops goes above and beyond with energy, focus, and endurance. High dosages of effective ingredients create a pre-workout that is not for the faint of heart – literally. This is a super high-stim formula that is going to satisfy even the bravest stim junkie.
Pre-Workout World Review are based on these key factors:
- Ingredients: We want to see scientifically tested ingredients in optimal doses
- Flavors: We like to see a variety of flavor choices that are actually enjoyable
- Overall Effect: We need a pre-workout that actually enhances our performance
At Pre-Workout World, we bring together amateur athletes, fitness professionals, and researchers to help you find the pre-workout supplements that help you achieve your fitness goals.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Its sole purpose is to educate and inform. Consult a licensed healthcare provider before beginning any fitness or nutritional program.
Black Ops is not a subtle product, and neither is the packaging. As a proudly patriotic company, they carry the military theme throughout the product, right down to the camo tape around the lid.
The ingredient list is long, but thorough and detailed. You know exactly what you get, and how much. I also like that a level scoop is exactly the right size for their suggested serving.
That’s the Pre-Workout World philosophy – weigh it out, know exactly what you’re taking. Especially something this high-stim!
THE FIRST SIP
Redcon1 doesn’t go all out with crazy names like some pre-workouts – except for the one I chose, Tiger’s Blood. You can’t really guess from the name, but Tiger’s Blood is cherry coconut.
It’s a really good flavor. I’d even say it’s one of the best-tasting pre-workouts I’ve tried. It’s a good balance of the cherry and coconut, too – you can really taste both. I also caught a nice little zing from the Grains of Paradise – a little peppery, gives it sort of a kick. If you’ve never tasted it, it might be a surprise that’ll keep you coming back.
THE BIG 3 – CORE INGREDIENTS
In Pre-Workout World reviews, the Big 3 ingredients are key:
- Beta Alanine
Obviously I want to see focus, strength support, and everything else you get from a good pre-workout, but the Big 3 are rock-solid foundational. If they’re not right, forget about it.
|Alpha Lion Superhuman Extreme
ENERGY INGREDIENTS IN BLACK OPS
When I tell you Black Ops is high stim, I mean it. It starts with 400mg of caffeine. 400mg! We’re in Ryse Godzilla territory there!
I like that Redcon1 gets their caffeine from three different sources:
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Green Coffee Bean
- Guarana Seed Extract
Doesn’t say if the caffeine dosage is before or after yield, but I would guess from the energy I felt that it’s after. I felt every bit of that 400mg.
Every kind of caffeine has its own effect. Caffeine anhydrous hits you quick, but too much can give you the jitters. The green coffee bean gives you a more natural feeling of energy, more like a cup of coffee. That can help smooth out that head-exploding feeling of too much anhydrous.
The Guarana Seed Extract is really interesting – you don’t see that often in pre-workout, but it’s in a lot of energy drinks. Besides caffeine, guarana has theophylline and theobromine, which are also good for focus. Studies have actually shown positive results from guarana supplements on endurance athletics and focus.
The energy came on strong. It only took about 10 minutes to hit and just built for the next hour. Let me say again – Black Ops is for stim junkies only! If you have caffeine sensitivity, go with something more moderate, like Pre-Kaged Sport.
Beta-Alanine is one of Pre-Workout World’s Big 3, and there’s a reason – it works. It’s been backed by scientific study, and by a whole lot of gym rats and endurance athletes. Redcon1 gives you that clinical dose of beta-alanine, 3.2g, and that’s pretty much right, when you add on all the other energy and endurance ingredients.
On paper, it sounds like a strong dose. In real life, the beta effect was actually a little weaker than I would have expected. So iif you like a high-stim supplement but you’re sensitive to the tingles, this might be the one for you.
Besides our favorite, beta, Black Ops include 1g of taurine and 150mg of Dynamine. Now, you’ll never hear me badmouth taurine. There’s a reason it’s in energy drinks – it gives you energy. That’s been shown by serious scientific studies.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of people who swear by Dynamine. Some users will tell you Dynamine and TeaCrine together offer an energy and endurance boost. So far, it’s not been backed up by studies, though. Take it with a grain of salt.
Last, but not least – as far as the Big 3 go – we have citrulline. Citrulline causes increased nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, which makes it useful for endurance, recovery, and, of course, blood flow. That’s where the pump comes in!
Increased blood flow means more oxygen and more nutrients to your cells during a workout. Black Ops uses two different forms of citrulline:
- L-Citrulline 6g
- Citrulline Nitrate 2g
That 6g dose of l-citrulline is right in line with a scientifically optimal dose, but the addition of 2g of citrulline nitrate puts it over the top.
Here’s what I like about nitrates – and that includes creatinine nitrate and betaine nitrate, also in the ingredients. They give you a nice, dry pump and vasuclarity, unlike glycerol, which gives more of a swole look. For you bodybuilders out there, the nitrates keep you looking tight and shredded. If you want to be ripped, not swole, here you go.
Not all pre-workouts include ingredients for strength support, but Black Ops is not your typical pre-workout. So with Black Ops, Redcon1 is giving you three proven ingredients for improving strength development and recovery.
- Creatine Nitrate 1g
- Betaine nitrate 1g
- Alpha GPC 300mg
I’ll be honest, 1g of creatine is not your optimal dose. Scientific studies have used a lot higher. But studies also show again and again that creatine supplements have an effect on muscle growth, recovery, and endurance. It’s one of the most proven supplements on the market.
Betaine is another strength ingredient that has scientific backing – at least in animals. When it comes to humans, there’s less clarity, but scientists argue that the potential is definitely there. Unfortunately, like with the creatine, 1g is a little underdosed.
Redcon1 isn’t done there, though. They’ve also dropped 300mg of alpha-GPC in there. That’s what I would consider an optimal dose, based on research. They are not letting you down!
FOCUS AND MOOD INGREDIENTS
When I tell you Total War Black Ops is fully loaded, I haven’t even gotten to the focus and mood ingredients. For the right headspace to perform, you have to look at nootropics. And man, Black Ops is bringing it for focus and mood. Besides all of the energy ingredients, look at this list:
- TeaCrine 125mg
- Theobromine 100mg
- Schisandra 100mg
- Grains of Paradise 25mg
- Pro-GBB 25mg
- Huperzine A 20mg
- Alpha yohimbine 2mg
Some of those ingredients have scientific backing. Theobromine shows some benefits for focus without the negative side effects of caffeine. Scientific studies have seen positive results with Alpha-GPC as well.
Others, like Huperzine A, haven’t been so promising in studies. And a lot of these haven’t been studied at all, or haven’t proven to work.
With that said, I felt a sense of focus with Black Ops that I don’t get from just any pre-workout. Just total, single-minded energy, endurance, and focus, set after set after set. It’s a high!
Here’s what I have to warn you about – you’re going to sweat like crazy on this stuff. That’s because GBB and alpha-yo are thermogenics, and both of them together are going to raise your body temperature for sure.
You sweat anyway? Not like this. Nose running, water pouring off, for as long as an hour after your workout. GBB and alpha yo are going to clean you out!
Okay, with that in mind, I have to mention that there are no electrolyte ingredients in Black Ops, and with how much sweating you’ll do, you’re going to need to replace your electrolytes. Dehydration is not cool!
As of this review, Total War Black Ops has three flavors:
- Tiger’s Blood
- Blue Lemonade
- Sour Gummy Bear
The Tiger’s Blood is a great flavor, and considering Redcon1 has gone mainstream and mass-market, I would guess that they’re got all their flavors dialed in.
The original Total War has a load of flavors (19 and counting), so Black Ops is sure to have more varieties available soon.
SWEETENERS IN BLACK OPS
Like a lot of pre-workouts, Total War Black Ops uses sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) as sweeteners. They have no calories, so artificial sweeteners keep the calorie count down. The only downside is that a lot of users get a bitter aftertaste from them.
I have to say, the taste of Black Ops was great, and I think the tangy taste of the Grains of Paradise probably overwhelmed any bitterness.
DOES BLACK OPS HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Does Black Ops have side effects? That kind of depends. If you’re sensitive to stimulants, then heck yeah, it has side effects. This might be the strongest stim pre-workout I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried some of the rawest stuff out there, from mass market to backtub mixes.
I would not in any way recommend Black Ops to someone who is not very used to high-stim pre-workouts and does not have a very high tolerance for caffeine or other stimulants. Even I felt my heart rate go way up. Black Ops is a product you have to work your way up to.
The thermogenics can cause some serious side effects too. Expect excess sweat, runny nose, possible dehydration if you’re sensitive to GBB.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Here’s the bottom line – Redcon1 Total War Black Ops is one of the hardest of the hard-core stim junkie pre-workouts. It is NOT for beginners. It might not even be for moderate users thinking about experimenting. Black Ops is not a product for “trying out” – it’s for the stim lovers who want the top of their head blown off. It’s hours of hard training, breaking down some muscle like you’ve never experienced.
WHAT WE LOVE
- Superior endurance
- Energy for hours
- Incredible focus and mood elevation
- Exceptional pump
WHAT WE’D IMPROVE
- Increase creatine and betaine for strength
- More flavor options
WHO IS BLACK OPS FOR?
- High-performance endurance athletes
- Body builders
- Stim junkies
WHO IS BLACK OPS NOT FOR?
- Anyone with caffeine sensitivity
- Anyone sensitive to GBB
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