Pycnogenol comes from the bark of French maritime pine trees, and we've known for years that it supports antioxidant and nitric-oxide levels. A new study, though, demonstrates that it also supports exercise performance and endurance and reduces muscle cramping and the soreness that often follows intense workouts.
That study, published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, examined two groups of athletes. The first group, recreational athletes, were given the Army Physical Fitness Test (maximum push-ups and sit-ups for two minutes each, plus a timed 2-mile run) multiple times over four to eight weeks. The second group, trained triathletes, ran a standard 100-minute triathlon (0.47-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and 5K run) 10 times over 30 days. In each group, roughly half the subjects were given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol daily while the others were not.
The results showed that both the Pycnogenol groups experienced significant improvement in all areas. The recreational athletes decreased the time of the run by an average of nearly two minutes and increased push-up endurance by an average of 25 percent and sit-up endurance by an average of 15 percent. The triathletes reduced the time of their splits, with total triathlon time declining from an average of 1:40:24 to an average of 1:29:44. They also reported significantly less muscle cramping.
It’s likely that these results stem from Pycnogenol’s ability to help deliver oxygen to muscle tissue while reducing carbon dioxide, spurring greater blood flow in and out of muscles for faster recovery. In addition, the compound increases nitric-oxide production, which allows greater flow of blood and nutrients to muscle tissue during workouts, resulting in more effective workouts and faster recovery.
Because Pycnogenol works to increase nitric oxide in a different way than argninine, reap all these benefits by adding 50 to 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol to your regimen whenever you take a supplement that contains arginine or citrulline (namely, before workouts).