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In the the iron game “Pre-Workout” supplements are BIG business.
They routinely promise you insanely super pumps, increased endurance, insanely super pumps, more focus, insanely super pumps, and enhanced strength and power.
With all of the supposed benefits of pre-workout supplements, you would think that the millions of trainees who spend $50 a tub for 20-30 servings of HyperLean X would be in absolutely ridiculous shape right?
WRONG. So the real question is, do you really need pre-workout supplements?
The Truth Pt. 1
I have used the vast majority of the natural supplements on the market. In fact when I was at the beginning of my natural bodybuilding career my kitchen cabinet looked like a mini Vitamin Shoppe.
Meanwhile my physique did not look any more muscular than when I took just the basic supplements. I knew at this point that the majority of supplements on the market were fake hustle.
A few staple supplements like creatine, caffeine, and vitamin D have made differences in my training or competition performances. The majority of supplements I have taken though did absolutely nothing to make me better.
My physique started to undergo serious changes when I began to shift my focus to the true big 3 of results: Training, Nutrition, and Recovery. Without optimizing the big 3, you have no chance to build your dream body.
The Truth Pt. II
Naive lifters and trainees are always the main target of flashy pre-workout powders. In my younger and super impressionable days, I would buy powder after powder. They all promised to change me from zero to hero so I bought into the hype.
Young men and women are the easiest marks for a major supplement company. At that time I was a bird-chested young man and I offered no resistance to the pusher men.
For years I trained hard but not smart. My nutrition was also lackluster and not what it needed to be for an athlete. You cannot out exercise a bad diet and poor recovery.
My strength, performances, and physique were decent and much better than Anthony Average at the Globo Gym.
But my results were not what I was expecting since the HyperPump 99 told me I was going to be superhuman.
I used to believe that if I missed a serving of NitroOxy 24 that I would be finished and my gains would not ever come. I was the definition of a cot dang fool.
The Truth Pt. III
What you truly need pre-workout is not some haphazard concoction of supplements that have no value.
What you truly need pre-workout is a balanced meal of complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and water to drink. For example, you could have 6-8oz of lean ground turkey, a 1/2 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of broccoli, and 1/2 cup of natural marinara sauce to add to the meat.
You have the complex carbs from the brown rice and you have the protein and healthy fats from the lean ground turkey.
The vegetables are not going to give you any true energy for training, but they are good for your system. Eat them.
For a performance boost after that meal, you can have a cup of coffee sweetened with stevia or a small, measured amount of brown sugar. This will supply the caffeine which is a proven performance booster.
I suggest if you do want to use caffeine that you have it earlier in the day preferably before 12pm. If you have trouble falling asleep using it later in the day could bite you in the glutes.
I once had a sleep study and the doctor told me that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours. Remember caffeine is a powerful stimulant that amps ups your central nervous system.
In my first natural bodybuilding run, I used to regularly train at 9pm.
One of the worst feelings is to be amped up on caffeine after a late night workout. The combination of the caffeine and the tough workout make it terribly difficult to fall asleep.
1 cup of coffee typically has about 100-120mg of caffeine in it. If you are a total caffeine junkie then 1 cup of coffee will have no impact like a wasted 1st-round draft pick in the League. You will need to slowly ween yourself down in order to feel the positive effects of the caffeine.
You can also take 3-5 grams of creatine pre-workout.
Creatine is one of the few natural supplements that has been proven to work. Creatine provides your body with extra energy (ATP) which in turn gives you more juice to pump out a few extra reps and produce more power.
There are multiple versions of creatine out here on the market, but basic creatine monohydrate is all you need. I prefer the pill form because creatine powder does not dissolve well. I rather take the pills than to waste the powder.
The Truth Pt. IV
One of the most underrated players in the game is H2O.
Water is of vast importance in terms of your muscles getting a pump because without water there is no pump.
A huge selling point for these products is promising a bigger “pump.” Arnold loved the pump, I love the pump, and as a lifter, you probably love the pump too.
Being well-hydrated and properly fed will ensure you get a great pump. PumpUp “Advanced Strength” pre-workout powder will not give you any pump but water and complex carbs will.
While there are useful pre-workout supplements like creatine, caffeine, or even natural nootropics like Alpha GPC and Rhodiola, you have to realize that none of those things have any value if your big 3 is jacked up.
Natural supplements are not going to work like magic. You have to focus on mastering the basics of nutrition, meal timing, and proper hydration. Only then will you be able to maximize your physique and your performance.
Don’t put your focus on the next, hyped up “pre-workout” supplement. If you do you will be going nowhere fast like Tony Treadmill back in the “cardio” section of a lame commercial gym.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,
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