Training Supplements – Where to Start

Training supplementsShopping for training supplements can be time-consuming and tiring. Most of us could probably do with a dose of 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine just to read some of the ingredients that go into these things. 

You caught that clever pun, I hope. 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine is the science-waffle name for Caffeine. A lot of manufacturers use this kind of terminology to make their product sound more impressive to the potential customer. 

One of our objectives is to explain some of the quirks of the supplement market and help you cut through the fog to find the products that work and have been tested time and time again.

An example – Caffeine

Difference between caffein and coffeeThe problem with this kind of grandiose approach is that it’s largely unnecessary. Let’s continue with Caffeine as the example: It is one of the most proven supplements on the market today; both scientifically and empirically.

That is to say it has been tested in the highest order double-blind studies and it has been tested in the gyms by men and women who know their bodies and can feel the effect of anything that enters their system. They can also tell whether it has any benefit to performance, muscle mass, strength, endurance, mental focus or fat loss.

In the case of caffeine, it most assuredly works – to boost energy, sharpen focus and help burn fat.

So, why all the hyped-up ingredient naming? Well, caffeine is associated with coffee and a lot of people would ask themselves why they need to fork out for something they can get every morning from their kitchen at a fraction of the cost. The answer is just as simple.

Yes, coffee contains caffeine but at nowhere near the level we can get from pharmacy-grade caffeine and the dose is so variable that we could never tell what we are in for. Supplemental caffeine is more reliable and pure, not to mention a little cleaner in the guts while we work out.

So that’s one reason, but another lies in the fact that caffeine is so pervasive in the sports supplement industry that anything containing it just starts to look similar. And the customer might ask why they are paying more for this pre-workout with caffeine than this one. So they change the name back to science-waffle and hope to sell more based on simple confusion.

What would be more helpful is if the company told you to cycle off caffeine periodically because we can become tolerant to it after a while of habitual use. No dosage can break this resistance either, so we simply have to take a break from it and let the tolerance drop.

The truth is, a supplement containing caffeine could be a valuable addition to your gym bag, most likely as a pre-workout, you just have to see through the nonsense.

By the way: 200-250mg of caffeine about 20 minutes before a workout is ideal for someone weighing about 170 lbs (~77kg).

400mg per day (or 6mg/kg bodyweight) is widely considered safe. Any more and the common side-effects like jitters and dizziness might start.

Click here to go and view our best Pre-Workout Supplement page 

Another example – Creatine

Best purest creatine monohydrateCreatine is probably the most studied ergogenic (performance enhancing) supplement in the world and the most widely used.

Out of all the creatine salts, blends and compounds – Creating Monohydrate has been the most tested and proven. The problem for supplement companies is that monohydrate is so widely manufactured, that it’s price has almost been set, meaning that they cannot bolt on a lot of mark-up.

That said, there are more trustworthy Creatine Monohydrate supplements out there that may be worth spending a little more on, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Creatine works by increasing the re-synthesis of cellular ATP (adenosine triphosphate) while we are engaged in high-intensity anaerobic exercise. ATP is the cell’s primary source of energy. For weight-lifting, power sports and anything that requires strength and force at high work rates, creatine is extremely beneficial.

Generally, when supplemented on its own, a loading dose (typically 20g per day but varies with bodyweight) of Creatine is taken over the first week to “saturate” our muscle tissue. That essentially means we fill the tanks and there is no more room for creatine.

After the first week, the maintenance dose starts, whereby a smaller amount (typically 5g per day but varies with bodyweight) is taken to top the levels up as they are used. Usually we take creatine for 6-12 weeks and follow that with an equal period off. This is called cycling.

NOTE: aside from taking some simple carbs (sports drinks etc.) which can further increase creatine stores, there is no way of getting more creatine in your system than the loading period achieves. Saturation means just that. So, whether you use simple Monohydrate or some fast-absorbing twice-the-price proprietary formula – the end result = the same.

So, What Should I Do?

There are some complex and confusing supplements out there. If it’s all too much to find the right blend, or it’s impossible to know where to look when all these muscle-bound guys with huge necks are telling you “this is the best stuff out there”, slow down and stick to the basics.

There are well studied and proven supplements that you can start with, perhaps without blends and fancy hype for now, while you figure out what works.

Best Pre-Workout supplementWe have mentioned two such supplements in this article but there are others, and we can introduce you to them using some resources and knowledge of the market we happen to have in droves.

In the meantime, click on the link below and you can start reading through some of the effective supplements available from retailers we recommend.

Click here to view the Best Pre-Workout Supplement page

 

 


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