The most obvious staple supplement of any lifter is whey protein. Clearly a protein shakes after a workout is a great idea, but there are other times throughout day where it is beneficial to drink a shake. Drinking a shake before sleeping may help recover tissues faster by improving sleep quality. Another good time for a shake is first thing in the morning if you don’t have time for a proper breakfast. A great way to take you protein is blending it up with darky leafy greens such as kale, spinach beet tops etc. So obviously a whey protein supplement is a good idea for any lifter, but what about supplements to improve performance during a workout?
This next supplement is quite complex in how it actually works, but its effects are quite profound. Choline is a nutrient that is similar in structure to the B-vitamin family. The body makes small amounts of naturally and there is some in meat and eggs, but not enough for max performance. Choline has many important functions in the body, but we will focus on its effects on neurochemistry. This nutrient makes the neurotransmitter ‘acetylcholine’ which is responsible for 2 very important functions in the nervous system. First, acetylcholine is the chemical messenger that passes the electrical signal from the nerve to the muscle fibre. This means that more nerves have the potential to be stimulated, and in turn, more muscle fibers can be stimulated. An increase in stimulated muscle fibers is something we all want considering it results in an increase strength, density and resting muscle tone. The second benefit is choline’s effect on mental acuity. The previously mentioned neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, has many functions within the prefrontal cortex in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain responsible ‘executive function’ which involves attention, focus and execution of goal oriented tasks. Exactly what you need to get through a gruelling workout. Taking 300-600mg of Alpha GPC or choline bitartrate 1-2 hours before lifting can be the difference between getting that last few reps, and failing short of your goal. The next supplement will make you bigger and more vascular within minutes!
Yes it’s true, you can take a pill and within minutes you will look and feel more muscular. Controlling the amount of blood that is in muscles is very important for recovery, performance and aesthetics. The amino acid arginine is involved in vasodilatation, or the opening of blood vessels. This is the main ingredient in most of today's preworkout drinks. But, these are not recommended because of the extra crap they put in to give it a bearable taste. Instead, take supplements in capsule form to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. There are many forms of arginine on the market, but Arginine Alphaketoglutarate (AAKG) seems to be the most potent form of the amino acid. Take 1000-3000mg in capsule form 30 minutes before training. You will notice your body becoming very warm as the blood flow to the muscles increases. So now you can train like a beast, what about recovery?
We all know we need protein to maintain and build muscle tissue. But, dietary fat is something we think less about even though it is absolutely critical. We have all heard Omega 3 is an essential nutrient and it serves many important functions, especially within the brain. But this fatty acid can serve many other important functions for lifters. Every cell within the human body contains a layer of fat known as the cell membrane. This cell membrane serves countless vital functions that we won’t go into. But know this, in order to grow new muscles cells, this fat layer or cell membrane must be present. The best source of fat to make this membrane is Omega 3 fatty acids. Another important feature of Omega 3 is its anti-inflammatory properties. Rather than using Ibuprofen to bring down joint swelling from brutal lifts, take large doses of Omega 3 fish oil (2000-3000mg 2-3 times per day). Think of Omega 3 as the WD-40 of the joints. Having joints that are well oiled will most certainly improve the quality of your workout.
If you really want to be the best you can be, pick up these 4 supplements (whey protein, choline, arginine, and omega 3 and get training!