When it comes to lifting weights, the best way to get results is through good nutrition and hard work. There’s no supplement for effort, and achieving your goals is a matter of throwing out your excuses and adopting a training regime where you push yourself each and every time you step into the gym.
However, supplementation can certainly aid the dedicated lifter in a number of ways. Helping with recovery, boosting energy and aiding the natural process of muscle building are just a few of the aspects that supplements can help with. For serious gym athletes, there are a few main supplements that can arguably net the best effects so check out my top 3 diet supplements for weight training from my friends over at MaxiNutrition.
Creatine is one of the most thoroughly researched sports supplements on the planet. In monohydrate form, creatine has been proven to increase your energy in bursts of intense exercise – which means you can lift heavier and therefore increase the results you get from a workout. Creatine is found in small amounts in animal foods and is produced in the liver and kidneys from amino acids.
Essentially, when taken as a supplement creatine helps aid the body’s store of creatine phosphate (PCr) to form more adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This, in turn, increases the rate of ATP formation when a muscle is contracted. The more PCr you have available, the more you can accomplish before muscle fatigue becomes a factor.
Often taken as a post workout, creatine can be limited by caffeine so should not be mixed. It should initially be taken at a higher dosage for 5-7 days known as a ‘loading phase’ (see the serving instructions on the packaging but normally ~4x the normally daily dosage split through the day), followed by ‘maintenance’ i.e. the normal daily dosage.
2. Protein Powder
Whether it is whey protein or soy protein for vegans, a post-workout protein shake is an exceptionally useful way to help aid protein synthesis in your body immediately following exercise. Whey is the fastest absorbing form of protein, so it is best to consume when you’ve finished working out.
Protein is a naturally occurring macronutrient and an essential part of growing muscle tissue. Taking a protein shake following exercise helps aid your daily protein goals – as it can be tough to get enough through food. Because they help supplement this intake, protein shakes help people who are looking to gain mass.
However, they also aid people who work out without the goal of putting weight on, as they actively help the body’s natural protein synthesis stage. This in turn helps repair muscle tissues that are broken down during exercise.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a terrific extra supplement for those looking to excel with weight training. Consisting of naturally occurring amino acids: leucine, Isoleucine and valine, BCAAs as a supplement help stimulate protein synthesis, increasing both the rate and capacity of protein synthesis for a cell.
They also reduce the rate of protein breakdown – which essentially means they help you get the most from protein in your body and diet. BCAAs, unlike other dietary supplements, bypasses the liver and gut and goes directly into your bloodstream to grant you instant energy. With that in mind, most people take BCAAs during workouts.
Want to know more?
Whilst these are my top 3 diet supplements for weight training, if you want to know even more about what’s on the market and which supplements are worth the money then check out my ultimate guide to supplements.