I started using supplements in high school to boost my athletic performance. Unfortunately, I was an uneducated consumer, and every time some new supplement was promoted in “Muscle Mag”, “Flex” or “Muscle & Fitness”, I rushed out like an idiot and bought it.
Some of them worked.
Some of them just wasted my money and time.
At the worst, some gave me horrific allergic reactions. On 2 different occasions I had to go to the hospital to combat a severe allergic reactions form some random ingredient a shady supplier had placed in their “muscle building” formula.
Since there are so many performance enhancing supplements available in today’s market it’s difficult, if not impossible, to start as an educated consumer. There are, however, a few proven supplements that really can help you achieve your goals. We are going to break these down into a few primary categories to make life easier.
So without further ado, let’s talk supplements that will really help you.
Amino acids are called the “building blocks of life” because of the important role they play in the body’s function. Amino acids are the components of protein, and every performance athlete knows the desire to maximize quality proteins in our diet. Amino acids help the body to heal, recover and grow, as well as moving and delivering nutrients throughout the body and supporting healthy muscles, skin, arteries, organs, endocrine system, tendons and more.
On average, the human body is composed of 60% water, 17% fat, 17% protein, 5% carbohydrates and 1% minerals.
Amino acids play dual primary roles as both building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism. There are 20 amino acids that are found within the body and they fall within two groups: Essential and Non-Essential.
Essential amino acids
Typically, humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids (there are some people that have a difficult time producing some of the non-essential aminos. The essential amino acids must be supplied by food or supplement intake. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids (the ones are body cannot make) results in self cannibalization of the body’s proteins—muscle, organs, skin, etc. – to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use. Essential the amino acids must be supplied in our diet daily.
The 10 amino acids that we can produce are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well. The essential amino acids are arginine (required for the young, but not for adults), histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids are required in the diet. Plants, of course, must be able to make all the amino acids. Humans, on the other hand, do not have all the the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of all of the amino acids.
BCAA’s (Branch Chained Amino Acids) and Glutamine are especially important for athletes and bodybuilders because of their key role in building muscle. Glutamine, carnitine, arginine and methionine all play a primary role in weight loss and fat-burning. Arginine and ornithine are excellent nitric oxide boosters and libido enhancers as well.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or just concerned about your health and appearance, everyone can benefit from taking amino acid supplements. Daily new studies are release detailing the never-ending benefits derived from adding these amino acid nutrients to your diet. You will definitely feel and look better, and if you’re active in sports or the gym, the results will show.
Protein supplements come in a wide array of types, purity and flavors, and are typically ingested from powders, pills, drinks and shakes. They can be made from several ingredients, such as whey, casein, egg, milk, soy, rice or hemp, and they’re also available in all-natural and organic formulations.
They are best known for their use by bodybuilders, but supplemental protein are very helpful for athletes, those seeking to lose fat, the elderly, growing children, vegans and vegetarians, and anyone else needing extra protein in their diet.
The benefits of consuming protein post workout are well known, as it helps to replenish, re-build and repair muscle tissue that is stretched or experiencing “micro-tears” from exercise. For this same reason protein supplements often recommended to hospital patients following surgery to speed up the recovery process.
Personally, I use NutraBio 100% Whey Isolate Protein Powder, and have for the last 8 years. I buy the protein in bulk form (50 lb box). During my mass building phases, I will consume ~ 2 grams of protein per lean body pound per day. For me, that is 5-6 shakes a day, taken every 2-3 hours.
Some of the other top brands available include:
- Muscle Tech’s Nitro-Tech Performance Series
- Ultramet by Champion Performance
- Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein.
Whether you’re looking for a post-workout supplement to aid in recovery and help build lean muscle mass, or you’re simply not getting enough protein into your diet, investing in a high-quality protein product is a wise move to make.
Out of all the different types of fitness and workout supplements that have been used over the years, none has been more tested and studied than creatine. Creatine is produced by the body naturally from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine, 95% of which is found in skeletal muscle.
The benefits of creatine usage are well documented, and the list of positive health effects includes an increase in muscle mass, greater muscle volume or “pump”, enhanced strength, speedier recovery and improved cognitive ability. While creatine is mostly available in powder or capsules, deciding which to use mainly comes down to personal preference since both forms are equally effective.
Creatine is available in 3 primary forms:
- Creatine Monohydrate – The naturally occurring form that your body uses to fuel the muscles.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester – A simply creatine with a single ester added for more efficient absorption compared to the monohydrate form.
- Creatine Kre-Alkalyn – This is also called “Buffered Creatine”, it’s better pH balanced for quicker absorption and requires no loading phase.
Monohydrate Creatine is also available in a superior absorption form called micronized creatine, which has much smaller micro-particles than normal creatine powder. While micronized creatine costs a little bit more, the added effectiveness is definitely worth the extra expense.
There many outstanding creatine products and I have not tested them all. Some of the ones I have liked are:
- Muscle Advance Creatine
- Muscle Tech’s Cell Tech Performance Series
- Iso Mass Xtreme Gainer by Ultimate Nutrition
- AllMax Nutrition’s CVOL
If you’re looking for a solid and effective creatine supplement I recommend this one and currently use it.
BioCreatine is one supplement that can help transport creatine into the brain and body without having to consume simple carbohydrates. Not only is it great for bodybuilders and strength building athletes, it’s also extremely beneficial for our aging population, people with neurodegenerative diseases, vegetarians and anyone with otherwise low levels of creatine.
I use BioCreatine as one of my pre-workout supplements. I also use a 5-hour energy drink that I personally blend.
After that, the world of pre-workout products can be a bit complicated, since nearly any combination of sports fitness supplements can be used prior to working out for enhanced performance. In general, good pre-workout supplements should help to maximize your workouts by either providing a boost of energy at the gym or increased blood flow to the muscles – or both. Stimulants and nitric oxide are two of the most commonly used types of pre-workout ingredients.
Stimulants like caffeine and ephedra have long been employed by bodybuilders for the surge of strength and stamina they provide, allowing for a harder, more intense session. I have used ephedra, and I am not crazy about it, though it is an added ingredient in many supplements. As for caffiene, I use a small amount in my custom energy drink.
Nitric oxide is another typical choice among fitness fans that’s commonly used prior to hitting the weights. It’s a vasodilator which increases the amount of oxygen and blood that gets delivered to the muscles, providing better results with a fuller, more pumped-up appearance and faster recovery.
Some of the highest rated pre-workout products available are:
If you’re looking for a solid and effective pre-workout supplement I recommend this one and currently use it as well.
Choosing the best pre-workout booster is cross of purity and how it impacts your body. There are 2 main areas you want to feel results in; increased energy and increased blood. If the supplement is boosting these two factors with little to no side effects, you have found a winner.
Prohormone supplements are not anabolic steroids. Instead they are precursors to hormones. Unlike synthetic anabolics which are directly injected into the body, prohormones are converted into testosterone or other anabolic agent once inside the body. I have tried many types as I have sought to boost testosterone with breaking the law and using an illegal steroid.
Prohormone supplements have inhabited a somewhat gray area legally, with some foreign produced prohormones being out-right illegal. Because they do work their use can result in a huge increase in muscle gains faster than possible without them, as well as reduced recovery time. Something every bodybuilder wants
Due to an ever-increasing list of government-banned ingredients, many prohormone manufacturers find themselves in a constant state of catch-up, finding new and effective ingredients that are currently legal to replace the previous ones as soon as they’re prohibited.
While these types of supplements are a strong solution to obtaining exceptional workout results, they should be used cautiously and intelligently. If you’ve hit a plateau with your bodybuilding efforts, you’ll find that using prohormones may just be the key to overcoming your slump.
Prohormones can be purchased online from a number of websites, such as Legendary Supplements.
If you are thinking about using prohormones, start with this.
If you’re serious about your workout results, you’ll probably invest in a number of supplements to help reach your goals. The problem is knowing which supplements to take and in what combination they’ll be most effective.
One answer is to acquire a good pre-packaged supplement stack that’s specifically tailored for the results you’re looking for. These stacks will usually consist of several different but complimentary supplements, usually by the same manufacturer to produce a desired outcome over a specified period of time. For example, there are stacks for cutting or fat-burning, bulking, and strength and endurance, among others.
There are some highly effective and targeted stacked supplement packages available, including:
If you’re wanting to try a ready-made supplement stack that will give you great results, you can’t go wrong with this one.
One of the main benefits to buying a supplement stack package is the cost effectiveness of it. Since you’re buying several products together it’s almost always cheaper than what you would pay for the individual units. Also, these supplements are usually carefully placed together for a synergistic effect that may provide far greater results than simply taking any one of the products separately.