No, you don’t need supplements to lift weights, nor should they be your main focus when lifting. On the other hand, the right supplements can really help you get to where you need to go. I lift for hobby and for getting a good combination of strength and tone, and don’t plan on making it take up much of my time.
Nonetheless, it’s really hard to figure out what you need when you see gigantic containers with MASS BUILDER and EXTRA ULTRA MEGA MUSCLE EXPLOSION that are filled half with air and half with a bunch of bullshit that you’re going to wind up paying way too much money for. If you already eat right, you don’t really need to worry much about that junk.
So I’ll give you the real scoop on what I’ve been taking for weights, supplementally-speaking:
- Creatine monohydrate
The following image should serve as a mnemonic to help you remember this stack when weightlifting:
Creatine is probably the ultimate staple supplement for anyone who lifts. You probably already take it if you’ve done your reading. Idiots will say “it’s just water weight” about creatine gains, implying that it’s useless, like the watery meat of a plumped-up supermarket chicken.
Do an experiment for yourself if you don’t believe it. Compare one week with daily creatine monohydrate dosage and one week without, then tell yourself with a straight face that there weren’t any gains. Unless you were drinking caffeine, you probably saw some mass and strength gains. (Either that or you pussed out and didn’t lift.)
Creatine works because it is part of the process which creates ATP in the body, the energy molecule for cellular activity. The body does very well with dietary creatine, and when supplemented, it leads to tremendous increase in power output, strength and lean mass. If you want to know that your lifting routine is working for you, get some of this stuff. If you have a steady girl and she does squats often, make her take some daily. You won’t regret it.
I’ve written here about fenugreek before. Its benefits to men who lift weights are as follows:
- Improves testosterone by what appears to be an anti-estrogenic effect
- Improves uptake of creatine more effectively than carbohydrates
- Makes your pee smell like maple after a certain dosage
I’ve also written about citrulline before and its benefits for sexual function, but did you know that it also helps those who are lifters as well?
Just a quick read-through of the benefits noted in Examine’s page on the subject:
- Reduced muscle soreness following exercise
- Benefits ATP production and efficiency
- Reduced fatigue from longer workouts
According to my guesstimations, this will help bolster the action of the creatine above, just prior to working out. In my experience, it helps get you ready to lift. There’s less time spent warming up plus the blood’s already flowing.
Taken about an hour prior to lifting, these three supplements haven’t failed to turn a “good” workout into a great workout.
For the sake of convenience, I’ve made a cart on iHerb containing these 3 supplements, totaling $33 with the first-time order discount. You can see the items here, chosen for price and quantity. Otherwise, pick some up at your local supplement store. Just don’t get conned into buying the other shit.
Chances are the creatine will barely outlast the fenugreek and citrulline powder, unless you like to load and cycle your creatine. It should be good for about a couple months of regular lifting a couple times per week.
Links for nerds
Creatine @ Examine