Being new to strength training can be a little daunting especially when walking into any type of a nutritional store and seeing the shelves upon shelves of supplements. You know you need supplements if you are looking to build muscle but you don’t know where to start. I’ve spent the last few years researching products and talking to experts to see what works and what doesn’t. I put together this guide from all of the work I’ve done. This is a starting point to help you find the right supplements that will help you achieve your goals.
What You Should Know Before Taking Any Supplement.
If you are new to lifting weights it can be difficult to know where to start or how much money you should be spending on supplements. It’s important to make sure that your nutrition and training are where they should be to get the most benefits from your supplements.
As a beginner it is important not to weight train for more than four days a week and no more than an hour at a time. You need to allow for a healing period to get the results you want and overtraining won’t get you the results you need.
Nutrition for a strength training is not like going on a diet. You need to consume several meals a day, not three but closer to seven or even eight small meals throughout the day. Here is a quick guide on nutrition rules to build muscle. Protein intake is extremely important for a bodybuilder so make sure that you are getting 20 grams of protein per meal even on your rest days.
Why Workout Supplements are important
It’s important to take supplements as part of your training because it gives you the necessary nutrients to build muscle.
The only drawback to supplements is taking too many. They should be a supplement to your diet and not something that replaces food. Supplements can also be expensive so if you’re taking them long term you need to keep that in mind.
Beginner Workout Supplement Stack
You need protein to build muscles and whey protein is the fastest way to get it to your muscles during and after a workout. It’s great for recovery while providing some much need amino acids to support you during training. You can take whey protein before or after your workout for optimal benefits. Whey protein gives your muscles what it needs to grow. When you take it after your workout it stimulates muscle growth more than any other form of protein. Learn more about the different types of protein supplements you can take.
Pros of Taking Protein
- Most easily absorbed form of protein
- It’s convenient. Make a shake and take it with you wherever you go
Cons of Taking Protein
- It’s expensive for long term use
- Extra calories if you are trying to lose weight
2. Slow Carbs
Slow carb supplements can be a combination of vitamins such as Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. These carbs break down slowly and create energy for your workouts, so are best taken before your workout.
Other options are found in simple sugars like dextrose and maltodextrin, but these can be a little expensive. Some natural options could be combining whey protein with rice milk or making a blended shake with a banana. Other healthy options are oatmeal, dates, figs, raisins, or even sweet potato.
Pros of Slow Carbs
- Keeps blood sugar stable
- Helps with fat burning
Cons of Slow Carbs
- Powder form can be expensive
Studies have found that creatine is a great supplement because it increases strength and your lean body mass. Creatine should be taken every day even on your rest days, before or after your workout, the recommended dose being 5g/day.
What creatine does for your body is provide you with energy for those high intensity workouts. The reason it’s so good for you is due to the fact that it saturates your muscles and gives you the ability to work beyond the point that you would have been able to do without it. There are bunch of different forms learn which is best for you.
Pros of Taking Creatine
- Makes your stronger during sets
- Helps your body replenish levels
- Deliver nutrients to help with recovery
Cons of Taking Creatine
- Could cause energy loss after workout
- Weight gain due to water retention
4. Fish Oil
A great benefit of adding fish oil as a supplement to your diet is it acts as an anti-inflammatory which is useful when it comes down to recovery. It’s been proven to be just as effective as ibuprofen but without any harmful side effects. The recommended dosage for people in training is 2-4g a day. Most people don’t get enough Omega-3 and Omega-6 in their diets and fish oil is a great source of that.
Pros of Taking Fish Oil
- Helps recovery as it acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Good source of nutrients Omega 3 & 6
Cons of Taking Fish Oil
- Unpleasant Aftertaste
- Fish smelling burps
- Can cause heartburn and mild nausea
5. Beta Alanine
Beta Alanine works to prevent muscle acidosis, which is that burning sensation you get when you’re working hard on a set. Without it your muscles become fatigued and your workout ends. By taking it you get more out of your workout and faster strength improvement. If it’s your training day, it’s a good idea to take it 30 minutes prior to your workout. If it’s a non-training day you can take it whenever it’s convenient. You get enhanced strength by increasing your body mass and eliminating body fat.
Pros of Taking Beta Alanine
- Less muscle fatigue
- Improvement in strength and body mass
- Decrease in body fat
Cons of Taking Beta Alanine
- Harmless tingling feeling throughout body
Other Workout Supplements to Consider
Pre-Workout is made to provide your body with energy before you workout allowing you to achieve more before becoming fatigued. It’s a supplement that should be taken about 30 minutes before you plan on training. These supplements are a blend of several different ingredients. Popular ingredients include Arginine, Beta Alanine, Caffeine, Creatine nitrate and L-Tyrosine. I have looked into several of the supplement. Read More to see if this type of supplement is right for you.
Pros of Taking Pre-Workout
- Boost of energy for your workout
Cons of Taking Pre-Workout
- Many of the ingredients found in pre-workout can be found in others such as Beta-alanine so it may be best to stick to other products
Glutamine helps in the recovery of your body after a workout. When taking glutamine after your workout it promotes healing so that you experience less soreness. When you are able to recover quicker than you can return back to working out sooner.
Pros of Taking Glutamine
- Helps immune system function properly
- Removes excess ammonia from body
- Minimizes soreness
Cons of Taking Glutamine
Testosterone in males decrease as a man gets older and it is possible to replace that testosterone through a booster. Using testosterone boosters helps the production of the natural male hormone than can have numerous benefits. Learn more about testosterone boosters.
Pros of Taking Testosterone Boosters
- Use natural ingredients
- Increased energy levels and libido
- Helps increase muscle mass
Cons of Taking Testosterone Boosters
- Will only produce a limited amount of testosterone
- Taking too much testosterone can have side effects such as acne, hair loss and short tempers
This sports performing supplement helps to increase your anabolic hormone levels and strength. Not only that but it helps improve your endurance and promotes quicker recovery time. ZMA is not considered to be a testosterone booster but studies have shown that people maintain higher levels of testosterone while training.
Pros of Taking ZMA
- Natural increase of testosterone levels
- Increase muscle size and recovery
Cons of Taking ZMA
- An accumulation of vitamins and minerals in the body if taken too much
Conclusion on Workout Supplements
Supplements can offer a great improvement to your training program and should be something that you should consider. They can offer great improvements in strength, performance and offer you quicker recovery time. This is a simplified guide but it gets the point across. It’s very important to have a main focus on your diet and from there you can find out where the holes are and add supplements in where you need them.