If you’ve ever been serious into athletics, or into hitting the gym and working out, you’ve probably thought about supplements at some point in time. You may have even been to bodybuilding.com or a forum from there just from google searching topics of health you were interested in. Chances are, you’ve purchased or have otherwise wondered about which supplements are necessary, and which the best are for your money. I’m here to tell you what is vital for performance and health, as well as what is out there just to get you to waste your hard-earned cash.
Most athletes tend to spend a lot of their time researching both recovery and pre-workout booster supplements. My opinion on both of these products varies by individuals, but the bottom line is: Neither are crucial.
Preworkouts tend to be made with lots of stimulants, with the objective of giving you an extra pump before you hit the gym or whatever activity it is you wish to do. Some are more focused on different types of proteins or amino acids, but most are focused around a few ingredients, including 1 3 dimethylamylamine, caffeine, nitric oxide, beta alanine, creatine, and various other well-known stimulant enhancers. While different ingredients work better for different people, the most universal, safe performance enhancers tend to be caffeine and beta alanine.
Most of the pre-workouts widely available will include nitric oxide, which has caused a lot of debate. Some will tell you it is essential, others will tell you it’s all muscle-memory hype (placebo). I personally find that pre-workouts with 1 3 dimethyl enhance my short-term performance the best (for instance, the OLD Jack3d recipe), but tend to force me to wear down at a much faster rate. Others, such as Beta-Alanine (found in assault, N.O Explode) give me far less of a pump, but seem to make me sweat more and want to do more reps/have a longer workout.
I prefer to take pre-workouts that allow me to go longer on most days, especially cardio. On major, powerlifting, muscle building days, I prefer to go with Jack3d and do supersets (very few breaks, exercises compile one right into the next). The bottom line: No preworkouts are absolutely necessary, but if you do choose one, make sure to choose one that benefits you long-term, and do your research first; Read reviews, maybe even try sample sizes first.
Post Workouts work differently in that they are meant to help you recover from hard workouts. Some may decrease DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness), and others may just help you get ready for your next workout in minimal time. I don’t have much to say here, as there are so many products out there that it’s difficult to mention any specific ones. In my experience, if you have to supplement any post-workouts, get a good quality Whey protein. Not isolate, and not mass builder protein unless you have more specific goals.
Whey protein is a very good whole protein and BCAA (Branched chain amino acids) provider, but I am more interested in the extra ingredients that come with higher quality whey protein supplements. These include glutamate, creatine monohydrate, and several other ingredients that are proven to reduce muscle soreness. Of course, have other lean protein sources. I prefer grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breast. Tuna is another great protein source that will help in muscle building and recovery, as well as provide you with the all-necessary omega-3 fatty oils.
While some of the above supplements may increase performance and recovery, I don’t believe they are 100% necessary for any given individual. There are great substitutes that are much more affordable, and natural. Caffeine is a proven stimulant that helps focus the mind and body. Instead of spending tons of money trying to find a functional pre-workout supplement, try making some all-natural green tea or coffee pre-workout, and get some complex carbs in (whole grain bread, etc) an hour before your workout. This should provide similar results as many pre-workouts.
My personal favorite before a workout for years was a baked potato an hour or so before, and then a cup of dark coffee 20 minutes before workout. This is cheap, and effective. Post workout, I would have some lean meat source, and some more complex carbs to keep my energy from spiking.
I hope this article has informed you of some of the common mistakes people make with supplementing their pre and post workouts – As well as potentially saved you some money! Comments are appreciated.