One of the questions I get all the time from guys who are looking to get bigger and stronger refers to supplements. “Coach, what can I take?”. My usual answer?  Take your ass to the gym and train hard.  Take your ass to the kitchen and prep your food.  Take your ass to bed and get some sleep.
Once you have these 3 things in line, you may want to take a few products that can help you get more out of your training, nutrition and sleep, but let me say this: If you are looking for a shortcut, you’re on the wrong blog.
Find another site that tells you what you want to hear, or better yet find some skinny crossfit kid behind the counter at GNC who spews lies like direct arm training is a waste of time, and that tribulus, horny goat weed (yes, this is a thing), and bull testicle pills (also a thing) boost natural testosterone production 1007% (yeah right).
That said, if you want the REAL facts behind supplements and how they can help you, keep reading. But first thing’s first.
Whenever I talk supps, I feel the need to repeat myself. Supplements are just that…products to SUPPLEMENT your current nutrition and training approach.
With the exception of a customized multi-vitamin supplement that will fill in gaps in your personal nutrition, you should not be trying to base your results off pills and powders. Think about it, if they all worked so well, we’d all be huge, jacked, and lean…but so many guys who go to the gym look exactly the same as they did 3 years ago.
You should not be depending on protein shakes for the majority of your calorie intake. You should not take a pre-workout powder if you’re sleeping 4 hours per day. You should not take creatine if you’re workouts are not intense. You’re wasting your time and money, and you’re giving yourself false hope.
First thing’s first. Fix your nutrition, fix your sleep patterns, and fix your workouts. See how far you can get without pills and powders, and when you graduate to pushing and pulling heavy weight consistently start looking into some products that can help you.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive in.
 Customized Multi-Vitamin – Multi problem #1: What you may not know is that hard pressed pills you might be buying at the vitamin store or pharmacy often get passed without breaking down properly, or even at all. Don’t believe me? Check the toilet. Multi problem #2: You NEED certain amounts of some vitamins due to your height, weight, sun exposure, etc. Multi problem #3: Certain vitamins work better at certain times of day. Multi problem #4: If you’re buying everything separately (fish oil, multi, vitamin d, glucosamine, carnitine, probiotic, etc), there is an easier, more all-inclusive way through ID Nutrition. What’s the takeaway here? If you’re taking a ‘hard-pressed’ multi-vitamin tablet in the morning that wasn’t designed for your height and weight and personal history (which could mean it’s over or under-dosed), along with other numerous products you bought from different stores there IS an easier way that will help you take the correct doses for your body type and alleviate you having to buy a ton of products separately.
 Protein Shakes – Protein is built of amino acids and needs to be something you ingest on a daily basis to help repair the damage to your muscle fibers caused by training. If you can’t get enough protein in your diet from food, shoot for a complete protein source like whey or a combination of complete plant based proteins. Just make sure it comes from grassfed sources, non-GMO, and hormone free, soy free, casein free, and flavored and sweetened naturally. I use a mixture of both, but the choice is yours. Shoot for 1-2g of protein per pound of body weight per day.
 Creatine Monohydrate (Creapure) – Creatine is a supplement that allows your body to push a little harder and longer in your workouts, by providing your muscles more energy on a cellular level. You won’t feel jittery like you do on caffeine, but you will feel like you won’t burn out as fast as you would without it. Make sure you use a high-quality product like ‘Creapure’. Usually if it’s not Creapure, it’s from a cheap, imported source (like China) and can contain high amounts of metals that will upset the stomach. Creapure is the only way to go. For best results, mix creatine with glycerin and your preworkout stack, if it’s not already in there.
 Pre/Post Workout Stack – Sometimes all you need to put a little pep in your workouts and recover quicker is a preworkout and/or post workout powder that has a little caffeine (only in the preworkout), amino acids, creatine (Creapure, of course) and carbs to help give your body something to work with and push through your toughest workouts. The problem with a lot of pre-workout powders is that they contains massive amounts of stimulants (some of which are borderline illegal), and trace amounts of the ingredients that actually work because they use something called a ‘proprietary blend’. Which means they just give you the total number in grams or kilograms of all the ingredients in the product. Instead of giving you exact amounts. Great products always give you exact amounts on the ingredients so you know what you’re getting.
 Sleep Aid – If you’re not sleeping well, you’re short changing your fat loss, muscle building, and strength gaining efforts. Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your hormones. When your hormones are whacked out, you don’t recover properly, you wake up groggy and ultimately can’t hit your day head on from the time your alarm clock goes off. This is a problem. In order to combat this and get the full benefit from your training, you might want to look into taking something to help you sleep soundly for up to 8 hours and wake up rested so you can attack your day.
Remember, you will only reach your goals if your training, nutrition, and sleep patterns are in check. Do your best to get these in line without help from products, but when you hit that wall quality supplements might be the only thing you need to boost your results and get to the next level. Just remember. They’re NOT magic and the will only work as well as your nutrition and training allow them to.
If you’re looking for a complete supplement system that includes a custom multivitamin (suited for your height, weight, body type, and health concerns), a quality protein shake powder, a drink to keep you hydrated during your workouts, and a natural sleep aid to help you rest deeper and recover better, check out the ID Experience.
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