A Review of the Nootropic Pre-Workout Stack Hydracetam and Potential Modifications
There are a number of popular nootropic stacks on the market. Some are premixed, such as NootropX, and others are simply the creation of self-professed nootropics lovers.
Kurtis Frank, who goes by the pseudonym SilverHydra online, is a lead researcher for examine.com and put together his own creation dubbed Hydracetam.
His main focus for this stack was as a pre-workout supplement that would lessen the degree of strength loss during a workout while decreasing the necessary rest period between sets. This stack also boasts an increase in cognitive function and focus, which can be useful when trying to power through a particularly difficult set.
I found this blend of pre-workout and nootropic focus to be an interesting one. After reviewing the stack, I came up with some modification of my own.
What is Hydracetam?
The original main ingredients of this stack included Alpha-GPC, Aniracetam, and Huperzine-A.
Alpha-GPC is a popular choline source that is fat soluble, meaning it will reach your brain quickly. Once it has crossed the blood-brain barrier, it is able to increase acetylcholine, a necessary brain chemical for memory and learning. There is also much interest and ongoing research in using Alpha GPC for improving age-related memory loss. [1, 2, 3]
Additionally, athletes have shown interest in Alpha-GPC for its purported ability to increase growth hormone production [4, 5, 6].
Aniracetam is also fat soluble and is typically used to enhance cognition and mental alertness. Some also use it for its anxiolytic properties [7, 8].
This may seem like an odd addition to a pre-workout stack and Frank addressed this. The original inclusion was entirely on accident, and apparently it was a happy one. He found that aniracetam was able to counter the sometimes unwanted stimulant effects of Alpha-GPC.
Thus, the aniracetam is able to stop any resulting crash from overstimulation. As his goal for this stack was to increase strength later in the workout rather than prior to the workout, he obviously could not afford any such break down of effects.
Huperzine-A has since been rescinded from the list, but here was Frank’s original thought process behind its inclusion. Huperzine-A has the ability to slow the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. As a cholinergic compound is part of this stack, it makes sense to prolong its effects as long as possible.
The issue with Huperzine-A is it has a very long half-life. Frank expressed concerns over long-term use of the supplement. While he clarifies it is not a toxic substance, he does not feel a pre-workout supplement should stay in your body for an entire day, as Huperzine-A would be wont to do.
Frank also suggests individuals take this stack with a lipid of some kind, such as fish oil. This is to reduce absorption time to enjoy maximum effects as quickly as possible.
Possible Additions to This Stack
Many pre-workout supplements contain some kind of adrenaline booster, something that is noticeably missing from this stack. The reason given is that many people do not enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies those mixes. However, Frank notes that there is no reason you couldn’t add a stimulant to the mix.
I would personally suggest adding caffeine and l-theanine to this stack.
My logic for adding caffeine is pretty straight forward. Caffeine is one of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements for its energy and strength boosting abilities. It also has the added benefit of being an effective fat burner.
However, if you were looking to use Hydracetam because it doesn’t have an associated energy rush, then you could benefit from the addition of theanine.
Theanine and caffeine are a known synergistic combination. Theanine has the ability to smooth the edginess and anxiety that are sometimes linked with caffeine as well as improve concentration and alertness [9, 10, 11]. Additionally, theanine may be able to counteract the negative effects caffeine has on sleep .
I would suggest cycling caffeine and theanine with this stack, however, as caffeine’s effects are diminished over time due to tolerance . If properly cycled (and you are not already a heavy caffeine user), you should be able to avoid the tolerance build up.
On the other hand, there is some debate on whether caffeine needs to be cycled as there are benefits to both chronic and acute caffeine intake.
Endurance exercise benefits do not diminish from chronic use, so cycling would not be needed. Conversely, if you are using caffeine to increase focus, fat burning, and appetite suppression, then cycling is suggested.
Either way, with the addition of caffeine and theanine, you will have plenty of energy without the jitters as well as the focus and power supplied by the original Hydracetam stack.
About Phillip Johnson
Phillip Johnson is a freelance writer and primary author of the popular nootropics blog NootropicsHacks. He enjoys documenting his experiences with various nootropics and other cognitive related supplements.