In the fitness world, several brands promote dud supplements to millions of people desperate for elite fitness results, yesterday. Of course, sifting through the clamors from dozens of brands promising you the best product to guarantee you unrivalled results, can be quite daunting–and costly.
One of the reasons why several jacked and ripped athletes falsely claim to be natural, is to sell expensive supplements for their sponsors, as they make you believe their enhanced physique is attainable without performance enhancing drugs.
Although “natural” supplements are often overrated to drive sales, when, in actuality, their net effect is negligible at best; there are supplements that CAN help.
This list might come across as fairly elementary. As a lifelong natural lifter thus far, I tried to get as strong and big as possible without any supplementation whatsoever.
After managing several years without anything, the addition of certain supplements definitely assisted my progress.
FIVE COMMON SUPPLEMENTS THAT WORK
I admit it, I was a skeptic.
For some reason, I had convinced myself that what I would achieve would be minimal from Creatine.
After having played rugby in my early 20s, I feared taking Creatine as I believed it would make me retain too much water, thus killing my pace.
Fast forward a few years, I completed my master’s degree and got married.
When I tied the knot, I thought about buying some Creatine to spice up my workouts–almost as a compromise to becoming enhanced.
Despite being of little faith, I was very pleased with the effects of Creatine.
After pre-loading with 20g a day for the first week, before tapering down to 5-10g a day thereafter, I managed to increase my plateaued bench press by 20kg and deadlift well over 600lb for the first time.
Creatine is one of the most studied supplements out there.
Creatine has been proven to enhance performance to a supraphysiological level.
Not only is creatine one of the few over-the-counter supplements that can significantly improve performance in the gym, it can increase your muscle-growing potential beyond your natural limits.
Aside from these wonderful benefits, creatine has also been shown to carry some nootropic properties with its conversion to ATP.
From an anecdotal standpoint, creatine not only significantly boosted my performance in the gym, but I also feel sharper when taking creatine.
Contrary to gym legend, you don’t need to cycle creatine on and off — you can take it year-round.
Given the explosion of pre-workout brands to come onto the scene in the past few years, discerning gym bros are spoilt for choice.
Finding a pre-workout for you can be an exercise in trial and error.
Amateurs and caffeine sensitive individuals might want to stave off pre-workout until they develop a tolerance.
A good pre-workout can MAKE a legendary workout–especially when you’re in a calorie deficit.
Of course, you should cycle your usage of pre-workout to reset tolerance levels every now and then.
But pre-workout will fill you with confidence, focus, and energy other legal supplements might not be able to provide.
Some pre-workouts are fantastic before a huge session or planned PRs.
I gave up pre-workout for a number of years before 2020, drinking black coffee instead.
The addition of Creatine and pre-workout in my diet enabled me, as an advanced lifter, to hit big PRs in a short period of time.
However, you need to know which pre-workout supplements to buy.
The vast majority of pre-workout supplements are brimming with ingredients lacking in bioavailability; underdose products to cut production costs or create an opportunity to sell other products; or contain ingredients whose effectiveness is grossly overstated to increase total sales.
Some pre-workouts are virtually just caffeine water that make your face itch.
Gorilla Mode is one of the few pre-workout supplements on the market that can actually give you a supraphysiological workout.
Zinc, Magnesium, and Aspartate is sometimes marketed as a testosterone booster.
While I personally cannot ascertain whether it has markedly improved my T levels — as we are in quarantine — ZMA has drastically improved my quality of sleep.
Recovery is one of the most important parts of a gymgoer’s life.
Poor sleep is, perhaps, the biggest gain-killer out there aside from poor nutrition.
Even if you’re eating right, if your sleeping schedule isn’t on point, you will be sacrificing much of your muscular potential to sleepless nights.
Moreover, Zinc is the second most abundant mineral in the body; and magnesium is the fourth most common mineral.
Both minerals play a crucial role in energy conversion and cellular and organ health.
And both minerals are lost through sweat.
And as both minerals are often difficult to replenish through nutrition, a supplement is necessary to ensure optimal bodily functioning and energy levels to train to the best of your ability.
4. Vitamin D
This supplement is an absolute game changer for me.
Call me a traditionalist in my form of consumption, but I much prefer taking it in the old-fashioned away–going outside.
Getting some sunshine can make or break your morale.
I’m a firm believer that one of the reasons for the rampant crippling depression suffered by many is through a lack of direct sunlight.
For several years, I lived on a maritime climate with few sunny days a year.
Winters were virtually continually grey overhead.
By the time October came around, my seasonal depression would set in.
Now, I live somewhere with a Mediterranean climate and around 300 sunny days a year, which means that I can spend several hours a day sunning myself.
For the short winter months, I take between 800-5000IU of Vitamin D-3 depending on how I’m feeling.
Consequently, my seasonal depression has kept at bay.
Mood is important for your energy levels. Mental health is extremely important in maintaining inspired to hit the gym on a regular basis.
Avoiding self-medication through alcohol or calorie-dense foods by taking less caloric and cheaper supplements makes all the difference.
Some climates require a Vitamin D supplement.
My preferred method of consumption is via direct sunlight — nothing elevates the mood as much as being outside on a sunny day.
This final supplement is something of a cliché, nevertheless, it can’t be ignored.
Most lifters eat ample protein in their diet; and, if anything, most lifters consume too much protein.
Most lifters will be better off saving their money.
It has become something of a meme to obsess about protein and to have the mandatory sloppy shake as the amateur nudist boomer in the locker room chews your ear off as you attempt to make a swift exit from the premises.
But protein’s importance can’t be disregarded: when I supplemented my diet with protein powder, I found a meal replacement to help in weight loss, and conversely, my strength levels increased quite rapidly due to its addition.
There are several types of protein powder supplements out there. Many have different macronutrient content and calories.
I, personally, take Carnivor as I’m leaning out.
It has 30g of protein and 120 kcals a scoop. Other proteins, although tastier, contain more calories in the form of sugars.
Dairy — whey — tends to bloat me too much.
Some lifters prefer vegan powders to avoid bloating.
There are hundreds of choices out there for your perusal.
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