Whether you workout to get in shape or to boost your performance as an athlete, exercise supplements can play a significant role in getting the most out of your workout.
Intended to optimize your exercise routine by increasing energy and improving performance through stimulation of heart rate, exercise supplements are popular amongst those dedicated to fitness. Depending on the supplement, these products may also claim to support endurance, power, and muscle pump.
With the vast variety of exercise supplements out there, though—some of which actually do more harm than good—it can be difficult to determine what you need. And it doesn’t help that many exercise supplement providers deliberately confuse consumers with complicated ingredients, exaggerated produce names, and manipulative marketing.
While supplement manufacturers may not be doing you any favors, there are certain elements to keep an eye out for that will help you understand whether you’re getting what you want from your exercise supplement.
What to Look in an Exercise Supplement:
Proprietary blends are something to look out for — and stay away from. They often may exercise supplements look like great products thanks to the long list of powerful-sounding ingredients, but proprietary blends often indicate that the manufacturer is trying to hide something.
Typically, these blends include ingredients with no substantiated results or such small amounts of ingredients that the effect is equivalent to a cup of coffee, while the price tag is much higher than your morning joe. Even worse, sometimes these mysterious blends include banned substances that can get athletes in trouble.
Caffeine is a safe addition to any exercise supplement, and though it may not seem as fancy as, say, beta-alanine or creatine monohydrate, it gets the job done. Look for caffeine amounts around 100-500 mg. You can expect this household name to increase both your performance and your endurance.
If you regularly drink coffee—or consume caffeine in some other way—you may need to up those amounts. Luckily, caffeine is a safe supplement, so feel free to experiment and learn what works best for your workout. Considering the lasting effects of energy from caffeine, nighttime exercisers should be careful how much they consume before bed.
Known for increasing muscular endurance, beta-alanine helps by delaying lactic acid, the main cause of muscle fatigue. It is commonly understood that beta-alanine can have a direct impact on muscle size by allowing for more volume and more gains. This supplement is also notorious for causing the famed ’tingly’ sensation that many athletes and bodybuilders associate with exercise supplements.
This effect is harmless, but, if you really hate it, you can split your portions of the supplement throughout the day. It is just as effective when taken a while before your workout, and splitting the dose up will keep the tingly feelings at bay.
This supplement is agreed upon by nearly all exercise professionals as both safe and effective. Additionally, it can be taken both before and after a workout to enhance your performance and maximize the effects. In other words, you can’t go wrong with creatine-monohydrate.
It’s best known for its strength-enhancing effects, which come from creatine’s ability to saturate muscles in energy and, therefore, produce faster, deeper muscle pumps and lifts.
In pre-workout, try taking 3-5g. You can take up to 20g a day, though, so save the rest for earlier in the day or for your post-workout cool down to enhance the efforts of your hard work.
Exercise supplements can certainly work magic. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are all you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get in your best shape, though because you may find the best fat burner for women without losing muscle but you may still need more from your everyday food to help keep to optimal health.
It’s essential that you pair your exercise supplement with consistent exercise and a nutritious diet—these are key to hitting your personal fitness goals. Your supplements, on the other hand, should serve primarily to give an additional edge to your already solid diet and exercise plan.
Many serious athletes, bodybuilders, fitness gurus, and more rely on exercise supplements to keep them in peak physical condition and separate them from the pack. And if you remember what you need to look out for in these supplements, you’ll be ready to join them.
Ultimately, the simpler the better with exercise supplements. If you can find a product with the three ingredients above, you’ll be well on your way to a better, more impactful workout.