With increasing research proving that intra workout supplementation is vital for growth, recovery and performance, I have compiled a list of five things you may want to add to that shaker bottle to ensure your workouts and rest periods are optimal.
Electrolytes are salts and minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. It is important that they stay balanced to allow all cells in the body to function normally.
Our main concern with electrolytes is they allow cells to generate energy. They are important for muscle contractions and also moving water and fluids within the body. When we train for a long period, we can deplete certain electrolytes, which can cause muscle weakness and severe muscle contraction. The longer we train, the more depleted we become. If your sessions are short, perhaps 20-30 minutes, then an electrolyte drink after exercise will be fine. However, sessions of an hour or more would warrant the need for electrolytes to be taken on board during the session to prevent fatigue.
As well as an electrolyte drink, I also add pink Himalayan salt to most meals pre and post workout to ensure I’m getting sodium in before the workout and replenishing it afterwards.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that help grow and repair our muscles. There are 20 amino acids in total. Eight are essential, as the body cannot make them and they have to be supplied by an outside source, two are semi-essential and 10 are non-essential. For muscle growth, we are mostly concerned with the amino acid leucine, which is shown to have the largest effect and protein synthesis by activating the mTor pathway.
For workout performance, citrulline malate and beta alanine are best used. Citrulline malate taken at a dose of around 6g will significantly improve strength and endurance while increasing the muscle pump like you wouldn’t believe. Beta alanine acts as a buffer and helps prevent the lactic acid build up in the muscle. This increases muscular endurance aiding in potential muscle growth. When looking for an intra workout amino acid supplement, a BCAA or EAA containing a good dose of these three amino acids is what I would recommend if you want the most from your workouts.
Carbs for me are a must intra workout. They only come out completely during the last stages of prep when were really trying to drive calories low and deplete the muscle. I use highly branched cyclic dextrin, as it has a low osmolarity and the fastest gastric clearance of all carbs sources and I don’t experience any bloat. As we all know, carbs are key for a good muscle pump and, as insulin is released, this is the perfect supplement to combine with your amino acids.
The insulin that is released will drive the aminos straight to the muscle where they can begin the growth and repair process. Away from intra workout supplementation, another healthy choice of carb is from fruit. Add fresh lemon and lime juice to a glass of warm water on a morning. This will aid in cleansing the liver of toxins and help digestion.
HICA, also known as leucic acid, is a metabolite of leucine thought to have anabolic properties. Further research is required to determine how effective HICA actually is as opposed to HMB or leucine, but from the one study that was conducted, an increase in lean mass was evident over the placebo group.
Creatine monohydrate is another staple in my intra workout supplementation for many reasons. It’s the most intensively researched supplement available to us today, which is proven to actually work, and it’s so cheap. Without diving too much into the science behind energy systems, creatine works by quickly replenishing the phosphate molecule of ATP once it’s used up. This means that we recover quicker during sets enabling us to push harder through workouts.