I love when I see people working hard to reach their goals, especially when they’re spending extra time trying to learn and figure out how to improve their training to allow them to work even harder. Unfortunately the results are not always great because there is a great amount of misinformation out there from companies trying to sell you their products.
Who can you trust really? Me? Well you shouldn’t, you don’t even know me, you have to trust yourself. I will outline all of my thoughts throughout this post and you should only take in the things that make sense to you. In this article I am going to attempt to identify the best workout supplements for men.
What’s in a Supplement?
I covered this is great detail in other articles and the homepage, but I’ll give you a little summary of the different things found in pre-workout supplements.
- Caffeine: A well-studied, common, and safe stimulant that will increase your focus and energy levels. However, we want to be careful with the amount, since companies don’t typically publish caffeine content, read other user reviews to see if other people think there is too much in the supplement.
- Creatine: Another safe long-term supplement. This won’t give you any short term measurable effect, but regular use will increase the concentration of creatine in your muscles, which allows you to work 5-15% harder in future training sessions.
- L-Arginine: This is an ingredient found in “Nitrous Oxide” products. It’s the amino acid that is needed to synthesize nitrous oxide in the body. Too bad it doesn’t really work. While nitrous oxide will be produced, and it is a dilatant (causes blood flow to increase), the body is really good at regulating blood flow and will quickly adjust your blood flow back to normal amounts.
- Beta-Alanine: This is another amino acid, but scientific studies have shown that it works. It is used in order to make Carnosine in the body which slows down lactic acid formation. You probably know that lactic acid is correlated with fatigue, which is why beta-alanine reduces fatigue.
Bodybuilding Supplements that Work
If you walk into a GNC or a Vitamin Shoppe what do you see? Hundreds among hundreds of different products. The health supplement industry is huge and extremely profitable, which unfortunately attracts companies who prey on uninformed consumers to buy their over-hyped ineffective products. My goal in this article is to highlight the bodybuilding supplements that actually work. There are 3 main products that are sold that are highly effective, most other things are junk.
The studies on caffeine are endless since it is something that so many people consume on a daily basis. What the studies say is that as long as you don’t overdo it and become reliant on caffeine it can be a great way to boost focus and energy for a short period. This is the primary reason why caffeine is one of, if not the best stimulant to take before a workout. You can have a cup of coffee or tea, get caffeine in capsule form as a supplement, or find a pre-workout product that contains caffeine. (Note: Most of the best pre workout supplements will have caffeine)
This is a specific amino acid that is converted into Carnosine in the body. The results from studies on beta-alanine are overwhelmingly positive. What they show is that it improves short term and long term performance by reducing fatigue. How does it do this? Well, beta-alanine has a primary function to inhibit lactic acid from forming, which is the main cause of fatigue in muscles. With less lactic acid, you get less fatigue and therefore better performance.
Creatine is another substance which has been around the bodybuilding community for a long time, and fortunately has been studied really well in the past few years. What we know now is that creatine supplementation is safe for an indefinite period of time provided you take the recommended dose.
Taking creatine from supplementation will increase the normally found creatine concentration in your muscles. The reason why creatine is so important is that your muscles convert ATP into ADP + energy. So when you need energy fast your limited amount of ATP gets converted to ADP. To convert this ADP back into a useable form we need creatine. The more creatine we have the faster and longer we can get ATP back. Studies have shown a 5-15% increase in high-intensity weight-lifting performance with creatine supplementation.
Finally we have the long used protein powder. It can be difficult to get a lot of protein with a regular diet. To fix this protein powder was created to provide a convenient, quick way to get a lot of protein. For bodybuilding purposes whey protein is usually used after workouts because it absorbs the fastest, and casein is taken before sleeping to provide a constant protein source during the night.
Summary of Bodybuilding Supplements that Work
Avoid other products that are over-hyped like nitric oxide supplements (L-Arginine) which studies have shown has no significant effects. Instead focus on the products I have discussed above, or products that contain them. For example some pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine all in one.