One of the questions I am most frequently asked by my athletes is regarding supplements. Do I need them? Do they work? Are they safe? In my opinion, any athlete or person who trains hard and eats correctly can benefit immensely from proper supplementation. There are so many supplements available today that the selection can be at times overwhelming.
Do you want to increase your endurance during workouts? Decrease your recovery time between workouts? Increase strength gain? Increase fat-loss? Effective supplementation can augment your efforts in the gym and in the kitchen, helping you push yourself and your results to the next level.
However, for every great supplement, there are ten that are completely useless and will do nothing but lighten your wallet. Stay away from the flavor of the month “fad supplements”. As in training, the basics are most always the most effective options. As a rule of thumb, if the name of the product contains hardcore, xtreme, or any combination of the two, stay away. If the product is compared to anabolic steroids, stay away. Companies are developing new formulas seemingly everyday, many of which are based on completely useless ingredients. One of the most hyped supplements on the market today has its main ingredient as the extract of an orange tree. Of course it’s not called orange tree extract, instead an extensive chemical name is used to mislead the consumer. If the supplement contains one large proprietary blend with none of the actual amounts of the ingredients disclosed, you can be fairly certain that the key ingredients are under-dosed. Once you eliminate all of the advertising noise, we can get down to what we really need.
What do I need?
The very basics of supplementation include a training aide to prime the body for intense activity, a high-quality absorbable multi-vitamin/mineral to fill micronutrient gaps and allow the body to function properly, and lastly a protein powder if necessary to meet your nutritional needs. These are essentials for anyone looking to transform their body and perform at their best. This article is focusing on one of the above aspects; the pre-workout window.
When you are preparing to workout, the right supplementation can take a good workout, and make it an amazing workout. If you are really serious about getting results, then you have to approach every workout with the mindset that it is going to be the best workout you’ve ever had. An effective pre-workout supplement can do this by increasing your strength, endurance, focus, and energy. Many pre-workout products are really just glorified energy drinks. These products are heavily advertised and poorly designed They often contain 30-40 ingredients that you’ve never heard of, and they are loaded with cheap stimulants like low grade caffeine to trick you into thinking you feel something.
A good pre-workout supplement will contain one of more of: CreaPure, CarnoSyn, Carnitine, designer carbohydrate, and BCAA. These are the things that the body can utilize to get more out of each training session. CreaPure(creatine) has been proven in numerous studies to increase strength and lean mass1 Carnitine supplementation has been shown to increase fatty acid oxidation and improve body composition2 CarnoSyn(Beta-Alanine) has been shown to increase endurance, reduce lactic acid build up, and improve exercise capacity among trained athletes. Utilizing research-supported ingredients, at the correct, full dosages is the calling card of a great pre-workout supplement. Beware of products using proprietary blends with 20-30 ingredients; this is a red flag for a company under-dosing ingredients to create a more impressive ingredient list.
As much as a great pre-workout supplement can aid your training, the trouble sometime is finding these great supplements. The market is filled with mediocre and low-grade products that are based on designer stimulants.
The key ingredient in many popular pre-workouts, the designer stimulant, DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) has been banned by Health Canada and many of these popular products have been recalled as a result.4 The FDA has not taken action yet, but they will shortly. It is important to choose your products carefully, and to demand that your products are tested for safety, purity, and effectiveness.
When we train, we set the stage for the physique and performance changes that we are striving for. Our nutrition allows the changes to take place. If this is the equation for changing out bodies, than a pre-workout supplement’s place is as a multiplier on the training variable. The harder you train, the more benefit you can reap from each workout. So, if you’re not already, consider using a pre-workout supplement and see how it can make your next session and everyone after that the best one you’ve ever had.
Author: Sean Torbati
Sean is the owner/founder of the HPN supplement line.
 The Effect of L-Carnitine on Fat Oxidation, Protein Turnover, and Body Composition in Slightly Overweight Subjects Klaus D. Wutzke and Henrik Lorenz
 Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print] Effect of B-Alanine plus Sodium Bicarbonate on High-Intensity Cycling Capacity. Sale C, Saunders B, Hudson S, Wise JA, Harris RC, Sunderland CD.
 Drug Recall Listings – Health Canada http://hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/compli-conform/recall-retrait/_list/rec-ret_drugs-med_trade-marque_apr-june_2011-eng.php