Supplement Wars: January 2018

I’m always on the lookout for that magic supplement that is going to supersede sub-par genetics and dietary misdemeanours. I know I’m never gonna find it but the search is fun and measuring the impact of new additions to my supplement stack lets me continually monitor and improve performance and nutrition.

Supplement Wars is a monthly round-up of new additions that I’m enjoying at the moment and what isn’t cut out for a permanent space on the shelf!

PHD PRE-WKT PUMP

I was after a caffeine free pre-workout that would allow me to continue my indulgence in the black stuff (read more about the impact of caffeine here). This is the first PHD product I’ve tried and consists of a mix of protein, arginine, norvaline and much more.

I add around 8g of citrulline malate to this to form my pre-workout drink and consume 30 minutes before hitting the gym. Admittedly, it doesn’t offer the focus or energy boost that you expect from a caffeine-based supplement but you do get an excellent pump which generally sustains through the whole workout.

At around £15 for 20 servings, it is decent value for money and the raspberry lemonade flavour is a winner.

MAXIMUSCLE CYCLONE STRENGTH BAR

I’m a big fan of protein bars but will be the first to admit that the quality, taste and micronutrients content varies wildly across brands.

Avoiding the chalky, heavy nightmare of some ‘snacks’, the Cyclone bar in Chocolate Caramel flavour tastes (mostly) like a normal chocolate bar. Packing 20.3g of protein and an additional 3g of creatine helps push me towards my daily goals – the bars are filling enough to plug the gaps between meals and super convenient when out and about.

Coming in at 213 calories with 8.5g of sugar puts it around average in its class but, as with most protein bars, keep an eye on that sugar content to make sure it doesn’t push you over your daily target.

Have you tried any new supplements this month? What is your go to pre-workout??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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The Two Essential Bodybuilding Supplements

essential bodybuilding supplements

Whey Protein

Daily, we aim to consume around 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. For me, that means getting in around 190g per day. It is absolutely possible to meet this through food alone, dependent upon your diet, and that’s the preferable way to consume protein. But, for me, on a primarily vegetarian diet, I struggle to get above 120g per day and look for supplements to provide the rest.

I have chosen whey because it is a high quality, complete protein which is generally absorbed well and will offer all the essential amino acids you need to grow. However, there are many choices and those on vegan diets might look to go with hemp or soy protein.

A protein supplement is an excellent way to hit your macros for the day, as a snack or as a meal replacement when cutting.

Creatine

Offering an increase in muscle size and improved athletic performance, creatine is an essential addition to every lifters supplement cabinet. By increasing the water content of muscles, creatine should begin providing benefits to gains and endurance within around four weeks. It is important to make sure your hydration is on-point as creatine draws water from the rest of your body to feed the muscles so you need to keep those stores topped-up.

5g per day is the recommended dose and, unlike protein, it isn’t really possible to get without supplementation. Contrary to what you may have heard, a loading phase is not necessary and you don’t have to cycle off. Creatine is super cheap – stick to the monohydrate version – and carries little to no problematic side-effects for most people.

So, whey protein and creatine are the two essential bodybuilding supplements. Would you add any to the list?

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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Should You Workout While Sick?

should you workout while sick

A question I’ve been asking myself multiple times a day for over a week now. I hate not being able to workout – anything more than two days and I’m bemoaning the ‘lost’ gains!

So, would a trip to the gym be the cure for illness or just make things worse? Should you workout while sick??

I know how easy it is to fall into the ‘tough it out’ trap and there are times when that is the right answer. But it’s important to consider how you are feeling now and how you are likely to feel after, before making a decision. A couple of years back, I underestimated what was wrong and tried to ‘sweat out’ a chest infection – not my brightest moment and set back overall recovery by a few days for a below par session.

The easiest way to make a decision is by using the common ‘above the neck’ rule. If your body is fighting a virus, cough, fever or similar, it’s unlikely to be able to recover sufficiently for optimal, post-workout muscle building. However, symptoms above the neck like a cold, sore throat or headache should be easy enough to work through and you might experience some benefits from the endorphins and reduced congestion resulting from exercise.

If you are carrying something contagious, it’s best to stay away from the gym for the benefit of others – there’s not much worse than watching someone cough and sneeze all over the machine you are just about to use!

As always, hydration is super-important, even more so when you’re not functioning at 100%. You may also find that, although strength may generally be around the same level as usual, muscular endurance will be reduced during periods of illness so it’s worth reducing overall volume of training while sick.

What are your rules for working out while sick? What’s the worst illness you’ve tried to ‘sweat-out’??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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