Alright, so you’ve got your nutrition nailed down, you’re training harder than ever, and have a basic supplement protocol in place, but you’re looking for even more performance/results? Let me share with you what I believe to be essential tools in getting your body past a stubborn plateau, or to truly push your workouts/results to another level.
Also, I’m going to share my personal day-to-day supplement protocol so you can see what I’m doing both inside and outside the gym. Just as a side note, if you don’t have the things I listed at the beginning of this blog truly nailed down and firing on all cylinders, do not waste your money on the following products! It will serve you much better, and be much more economical, to devote these funds to whole food, and your more basic supplements such as your protein powders, creatine, glutamine, and multivitamins.
Preworkout– Yes, the stimulant present in nearly every pre workout is a plus, and really can help you bang out a workout at the end of your work day or when your tired, but you shouldn’t purchase a preworkout product for this reason. You should purchase it because of the enhancements it brings to you at a physiological level during your workout. A good pre workout will increase blood flow, or to use bodybuilding lingo, increase your pump. In addition to feeling really good, this extra blood you’re forcing into the muscle will increase your strength and endurance because your muscle will become more oxygenated, and a more oxygenated muscle is a muscle that can lift heavier and for more repetitions. Preworkout products are, unfortunately, one of the most convoluted and flooded categories of sports supplements, and for this reason you should look for a couple things:
1. Make sure the product you buy contains efficacious amounts of the actives. Do a little research before you buy; any reputable supplement company should have their products clearly labeled, informing you of the amounts of actives in each serving. If they do not, chances are they aren’t using an effective amount of the active, or are using ingredients that might be less than “kosher”. If it is such a proprietary blend, they should have a patent on it, and should have no problem sharing the amounts of actives in their product. All Labrada products follow these guidelines under our “If its on the label, its in the bottle” and “Truth in labeling” guarantees.
2. If you are an athlete competing in any kind of drug tested events or leagues (NCAA, USAPL, WNBF, INBF, etc…), make sure the product you wish to purchase doesn’t contain any substances on your organization’s banned list.
BCAA– When you consume proteins, your body breaks them down into what’s called Essential Amino Acids. Of those, there are three called branch train amino acids, which are Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. These amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, and we all know that proteins are what support our existing muscle mass, and allow us to pack on more quality muscle tissue. That being said, I like to supplement with BCAA’s before, during, and after my workout to prevent catabolism (or breakdown) of my hard earned muscle tissue, as well as provide the nutrients necessary for additional growth during the intense stress of my workouts.
Fast acting carbohydrate– In my previous blog on nutrition, I mentioned to stay away from simple, fast acting carbs, as your body breaks them down very quickly, causing a large insulin spike that can lead to unwanted fat gain and less than optimal muscle gains. There is, however, a more than acceptable time to use these types of carbs, and that is before, during, and after your workout. Since your body rapidly processes simple carbs, they allow you to replenish the glycogen in your muscles that you rapidly deplete during your workout, allowing you to train harder. Also, the insulin spike that is usually less than desirable at other times of the day will actually allow your body to uptake your post workout nutrition, whether it is a shake or whole food, more effectively because insulin acts as a nutrient shuttle in your body. That makes insulin one of the most anabolic (muscle building) hormones in your body. You can get simple carbs from fruits, sugary sports beverages, dextrose, or any other number of extremely simple carbohydrates.
I personally use our PowerCarb product, as it is a special carbohydrate molecule designed to serve the exact function I have described above, but better than any of the previous options I listed. This is because it is absorbed even quicker than sugar, and because of this it gets precious glycogen to your muscles even quicker, giving you sustained pump and increased nutrient uptake. I enjoy sipping one scoop throughout my workout, as it helps me sustain a very full pump.
Testosterone booster– Keep in mind I mean exactly what I say when I say test booster. That does not mean pro-hormones, which are potentially dangerous precursors to steroid molecules, and will suppress your natural production of testosterone, so when you discontinue use of the pro-hormone, you might be worse off that before.
That being said, I mean to recommend a testosterone booster that will increase your testosterone naturally, or by making your body produce more on its own, without adding any exogenous (not produced by your own body) hormones. Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and in essence is responsible for all things manly. The increased muscle mass, body and facial hair, and aggression males experience compared to females is a direct result of having roughly 7 to 8 times more than their female counterparts. That being said, it would only make sense that higher testosterone levels will lead to the ability to put on and sustain more quality muscle mass. As far as recommendation of products, there are several single compounds with research to support the fact that they increase testosterone including: D-aspartic acid, tribulus terrestris, and ZMA. My personal favorite is Labrada’s Humanogrowth, as it not only safely boosts testosterone, but contains several actives effective at boosting GH, or growth hormone, as well.
Joint Recovery- With all this hard training you’re doing, and the increased strength you’re now experiencing from proper nutrition and supplementation, it is critical to take care not only of your muscles, but your joints and connective tissue as well. Look for a product containing glucosamine, collagen, and MSM as they have the most science behind them. These ingredients have been proven to not only help your connective tissue and joints, but to actually repair, and in the case of your connective tissue, grow more. This can alleviate pains you may be experiencing in your joints and connective tissue, as well as nip a potential problem in the bud if you are so lucky as to not be suffering from achy joints or connective tissue. Labrada’s ElastiJoint has clinical doses of the above ingredients in every serving, plus 1200mg of Chondroitin, another very effective joint and connective tissue repairing agent.
My Personal Supplement Stack
-Vitamin B (complex), C, D, E, K (taken individually, as the amounts of these in multi vitamins are sometimes way under dosed.)
-3 HICA-Max chews
-1 scoop ElastiJoint
-3 caps EFA Lean Gold
-6 caps Humanogrowth
About the Author
Hunter Labrada, amateur bodybuilder and fitness author, who got started in bodybuilding via football and now does it with the end goal of being at the Mr. Olympia stage.
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