Our Ultimate Guide To Gym Supplements
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Gym Supplements form a crucial part of the dietary intake of most passionate athletes. There are thousands of different types of gym supplements available, each made up of a variety of different ingredients and nutrients, and each offering varying benefits.
In the world of bodybuilding and powerlifting, gym supplements are especially important and professionals have been using them now for decades. However, with so many available, how do you even know where to begin? Well, here’s a look at 24 of the most beneficial supplements out there for you to consider.
Arginine is considered one of the hottest gym supplements at the moment due to the myriad of physiological functions it helps provide. For one, it is an amino acid that the body cannot produce on its own, so we must consume it through either food or supplements.
It helps with increasing your output of growth hormones, protecting the immune system, removing toxic waste from the body and hormone secretion. If you are in a period of injury recovery, then arginine can be increasingly useful as the body’s demand for arginine increases at this time.
Beta-Alanine is another non-essential amino acid that is now being considered essential within bodybuilding circles. Most importantly, it increases the muscle carnosine levels which in turn allows you to perform more at high-intensity levels.
As a result of taking Beta-Alanine, studies have shown an increase in muscle carnosine levels of up to 80% in just 10 weeks. Carnosine is not overly prevalent in foods we consume, and can mainly be found in beef and pork. As such, taking it in supplement form is very beneficial.
BCAAs, or Branched-Chain Amino Acid supplements, are some of the most studied supplements around. And there’s plenty of research to support the benefits being proclaimed. They are most popular amongst bodybuilders who need to get lean in time for competitions.
This is because they can help you to maintain muscle mass even when on a calorie-deficit diet. They work by simultaneously increasing protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown. Many also claim that they help you to maintain high-intensity workout without fatiguing as quickly.
Everyone has heard of caffeine as it’s the world’s most highly consumed stimulant. It is also a popular supplement for use at the gym. As you’d expect, it gives you a quick and effective boost in energy levels. It is also useful for those looking to lose weight.
Not only can it allow you to push yourself harder at the gym, but it can also boost your metabolism. However, you should be careful to only consume small doses of caffeine at a time and to avoid having it with high levels of sugar, such as in cappuccinos or energy drinks.
Caffeine is a major ingredient in all pre-workouts, our top choice for a good pre-workout from our gym is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged or Trec Nutrition SAW both available in tubs or single shots made fresh by our team.
If you are looking for the best natural forms of caffeine we have a blog just for you!
5. Chondroitin supplement
Chondroitin is a supplement made from the cartilage of certain animals. It is taken by those who suffer from joint pain or osteoporosis. However, it is not common to find chondroitin on its own. Instead, it usually comes in combination with other supplements.
This includes things like glucosamine and MSM, both of which are discussed below. If you do suffer from osteoporosis or joint pain in general, it is often advised that you speak to your doctor first to decide on a branded supplement and daily amount that is right for you.
Citrulline is a supplement that you consume as Citrulline Malate. It is an amino acid used by a wide variety of athletes. Including everyone from bodybuilders to triathletes. This is because it has a very clear benefit: it delays fatigue during intense physical training.
It works by accelerating the rate at which ammonia leaves your body. This postpones the decrease in muscle pH which typically occurs when working out. This lower pH is what causes muscles to increase in acidity and for you to start feeling sluggish and tired.
If you’re looking to drastically increase muscle mass and your strength in the gym, then creatine has to be the go-to supplement for helping you to achieve exactly this. It can also help to improve your sprint performance, improve your recovery and enhance brain function. It also happens to be arguably one of the biggest gym supplements on the market.
Here at Ultimate Fitness Birmingham, creatine is an increasingly popular gym supplement. We recommend taking between 5 and 10 grams around 20 minutes before training. Then, once your workout is over, take a further 10 grams to help maximise benefits.
CLA stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid. It is a fatty acid that is in many ways similar to omega-6. However, it has numerous benefits towards weight loss and improving your skin’s health. CLA improves weight loss efforts through two means.
It helps inhibit the production of unnecessary fats in the body whilst simultaneously reducing your desire to eat more food. You find CLA most commonly in things like milk. However, this is also full of other less-healthy fats. As such, CLA supplements help you to consume just this and nothing else.
9. D-Aspartic Acid
D-Aspartic Acid is a popular supplement taken by athletes looking for a short-term boost in testosterone levels. This supplement is actually given to men who are infertile and looking to increase their testosterone levels.
However, it has also shown effectiveness amongst those hitting the gym looking to increase their performance for a week or two. After this period, continuing to take D-Aspartic Acid has been shown to have a negligible effect, as testosterone levels return to stability.
As Ultimate Fitness Birmingham founder Si Fan points out, “Heavyweight training can cause inflammation in the joints. As such, you need good joint support supplements that contain anti-inflammatory compounds to reduce swelling and unnecessary joint friction. Most importantly glucosamine and MSM.”
Failure to look after your cartilage can lead to significant joint pain as bones start rubbing together. Glucosamine is normally taken alongside other beneficial supplements for joint pain including chondroitin and MSM. Of all the gym supplements on the market, this is ultimately essential for the longevity of your joints.
11. Green Tea
Green tea is one of nature’s most nutrient-packed foods. It can aid with all manner of things right through from weight loss to improving the quality of your skin. In most cases, green tea is still consumed as a hot or cold beverage, where the benefits are extracted directly from the leaves.
However, you can buy supplementary forms of green tea, such as powder or tablets, which allows you to access all of the same benefits. Those taking green tea regularly also notice an improvement in their energy levels as it contains a healthy dose of caffeine. As such, it is often taken just prior to working out.
Ginseng is not just incredibly popular amongst bodybuilders, it has been taken by people from all walks of life for hundreds of years. It has long been known to offer numerous health benefits right through from making you look more youthful to boosting male virility.
There are two main forms of ginseng, the American form and Asian form. Asian Ginseng can help to better stimulate the body, whereas the American one helps with recovery. There are also studies still taking place to help establish whether Ginseng can aid in weight loss efforts.
The most likely place you’ve seen guarana listed in the past is on the side of a can of energy drink. This is because it is an incredibly high source of caffeine. It is grown exclusively in South America and has been extracted and taken by indigenous people for hundreds of years.
As such it is often taken as a means to provide increased energy levels throughout strenuous workouts. As well as this, some claim that it aids with appetite suppression and, in turn, weight loss.
Amino acids have already been mentioned a number of items in this article, and leucine is arguably the most important of the three BCAAs. It is considered vital in muscle growth post-workout and is 10 times more effective at encouraging skeletal protein synthesis than any other amino acid.
Many take leucine supplements alongside fast-acting protein sources, such as whey protein. This boost in leucine increases the rate at which your muscles can then start absorbing a high quantity of protein and activating muscle growth.
Glutamine is another one of the three BCAAs and is actually the most prevalent amino acid in your muscles. It accounts for roughly 61% of skeletal muscle so should not be ignored. Overall, glutamine plays a vital role in the process of protein synthesis.
However, as you exercise, levels of glutamine in your muscles decreases rapidly and can take up to 6 days to return naturally to normal levels. As such, L-Glutamine supplements are taken to help maintain this level. This can boost energy levels and muscle growth and reduce recovery times between workouts.
L-Carnitine is classed as vitamin-like or amino-acid-like. However, it isn’t strictly speaking an amino acid. It is naturally formed in the kidneys and livers as a result of lysine and methionine. One of the main functions of L-carnitine is to transport fat to your cells in order to then be used as energy.
As such, taking L-Carnitine in supplementary form can help you to avoid fat gain when you’re consuming extra calories in your diet. It can also have the added benefits of improving blood flow, improving recovery and resisting fatigue.
L-Lysine is another essential amino acid, but it cannot be naturally produced by the human body. As such, you must ensure you obtain enough through your diet. You can find it in many dairies as well as fish and meat. But taking L-Lysine supplements can ensure your body is regularly receiving enough.
It plays numerous roles in helping your body to function effectively. Including helping to recover from injuries, aiding the production of hormones and antibodies, building muscle protein and aiding calcium absorption.
As mentioned earlier, MSM is another crucial supplement taken by those suffering from joint pain. When you exercise regularly, you place a lot of pressure on the cartilage around joints and this can cause it to become worn down.
Well, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is naturally found in all manner of meats. However, if meat has been transported a long way before you eat it, then MSM levels drop significantly. As such, consuming 1-2g of MSM a day through supplements can help maintain healthy cartilage and offset joint pain and osteoporosis.
19. Omega 3 Oil
For a long time, scientists failed to understand the dramatic benefits that Omega-3 fish oils can bring to the human diet. It was only in the 1970s that researchers first discovered the overwhelming benefits of these oils when visiting Inuit tribes who lived predominantly off fish.
Amongst the benefits, you’ll notice improved cardiovascular health, healthier skin, improved mental health, a healthier immune system and increased joint health. Omega 3 oils can be taken quickly and easily, such as from a single capsule once a day.
Pre-workouts are an essential supplement for anyone who is serious about their training and who live busy and tiring work lives. There’s a variety of pre-workouts available, and at Ultimate Fitness we stock mixed formulas with many of the nutrients and supplements discussed above.
Most contain some element of caffeine which can boost your alertness and endurance before workouts. Citrulline is another key component due to its ability to offset fatigue. Simply come to the desk and speak to our team and we’ll be happy to find one perfect for you.
Tribulus is actually derived from a plant that grows naturally in warm tropical climates. It is now a popular supplement found in the bodybuilding community. But for years it has been used to treat a range of serious and non-serious medical conditions.
Amongst other things, athletes and weightlifters have taken Tribulus supplements to improve energy levels, increase strength and relieve mental unwellness. It has also been found in some cases to help boost testosterone levels.
Spirulina is a supplement that has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. So much so that it is now considered by many to be a superfood. First off, it is incredibly high in protein, and has a protein-per-gram ratio similar to that of eggs.
It is also a great source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also popular amongst those looking for foods that help to better control their blood sugar levels. However, if you suffer from PKU (Phenylketonuria) then you should speak to your doctor before taking this as it can upset your health.
23. Whey Protein
Whey protein has to be the most commonly taken gym supplement. It is a fundamental way of ensuring you get enough protein in your diet by helping to increase protein intake between meals. It is most popularly taken immediately post workout.
As Simon from UFB points out, “The best times to take whey would be first thing in morning pre and post workout. That way, you ensure you are getting high quality fast acting protein into your bloodstream.” He recommends taking 1g of whey protein per pound of bodyweight. However, the necessary amount may differ depending on the intensity of your workouts and your goals.
ZMA is a combination of Magnesium Aspartate and Zinc Monomethionine, as well as Vitamin B6. This gym supplement contains a number of antioxidant properties which are essential in stimulating enzymes in the human body.
Amongst other things, it can help with weight loss, enhancing recovery and boosting overall muscle size and strength. One important thing to point out is that, contrary to widespread belief, ZMA does not boost testosterone levels and so should not be taken with the aim of doing so.
Finding the supplements that are right for you
It’s clear that, with so many different supplements available, there is no one-stop guide for everyone to follow. Instead, you should take the time to analyse your body and your diet and see where supplements can help to round of your dietary intake. Always remember that these are only supplements to a good diet and in no way replacements.
It is advised that you speak to your doctor before embarking on a strict course with any supplement. As well as this, the team here at Ultimate Fitness is always on hand to show you the supplements we stock and discuss your needs in greater depth.