I have been weight training for the last ten years now. There was a time when I wanted to try every single weight lifting supplement in existence, but I didn’t have any of my own money and my parents weren’t about to spring for them all. But I was able to try a few. The funny thing is, now that I have been training consistently for the last three years, and making my greatest gains, I no longer take anything besides a protein supplement. Nor am I interested in doing so, but that’s just me.
Below I’d like to give you a brief review of my own experiences with each of the supplements I have tried. For the record, it has been my experience, both with myself and with clients I have trained, that there are three things that help people reach their physique goals, whether they are muscle building or fat loss.
1. resistance training
2. proper nutrition
These three things form the pyramid. You can make a lot of progress only doing two out of the three, assuming that you are doing #1 and #2. I wanted to jump right into #3, supplements, and that is where a lot of people seem to be headed. It’s an attractive idea, isn’t it? It would be nice to have a shortcut, but I don’t think it’s possible. What’s more, I don’t think it’s desirable–it would rob me of the thrill of the journey of strength training and natural progression, and I value the journey more than the results.
I have tried:
This is a nitric oxide booster that comes in a fierce-looking red bottle. It comes wrapped in even fiercer-looking marketing and hype. Does this mean that it doesn’t work? Not necessarily, but people were getting stronger and bigger long before supplements.
NO-Xplode is intended to give you a rush. You take it before you go to the gym and then you have a great workout because you’ve got energy to burn. This is couched in terms like “Lift with bone-crushing fury!” and “Punish some iron, you were born to slay it!” but it really just means that you get some extra energy.
I will say that it worked for me…for about a week. Then I built up a tolerance to the stimulants inside and was faced with the choice of taking a higher dosage–not an attractive option with the high price and large scoop size–or taking it just to take it. Blah.
So I would say that it works, but probably not forever.
This is like BSN’s nitric oxide booster in gigantic purple pill form. You take eight pills before your workout and then you proceed to lift with more energy. That’s about the sum of it. Gakic suffers from the same marketing drama as every other muscle building supplement. It isn’t enough to have extra energy for your workout, it’s about battling demons and uncontrollable rage and being a cyclone in the free weights area. Whatever.
It worked for me until the fourth dose, by which point I had adjusted to the stimulants. The thought of adding more gigantic purple pills wasn’t good, so I didn’t. I used the rest of the bottle with diminishing returns.
I really like creatine. Other than whey protein, it might be the only supplement I would still consider taking regularly. I’ve tried BSN’s Cellmass and a bunch of other brands as well, but they all seem to work about the same for me. Creatine made me feel like I was stronger when I went into the gym, without the freaked out panicky feel of a nitric oxide booster.
I put on more lean muscle while using creatine than while I am off it. It can be a hassle during the loading phase–you take a large amount for 5-7 days before going off of it for an interval of time–but I have never had anything but good results with Creatine.That is one thing BSN’s powdered drink mix had going for it–no loading phases.
I don’t take it now because I don’t want to spend the money and the extra gains are not that big of a deal to me. I now train primarily for strength and my physique looks pretty good as long as I am always getting stronger. Funny thing about that: the ability to lift heavier weights leads to bigger muscles, with or without supplements.
I’m not going to win any bodybuilding competitions, that’s for sure, but neither is anyone who says they’re only taking Gakic, BSN nitros, and whatever the latest thermogenic is.
To gain strength and put on muscle mass, I need to eat a lot. I find eating a lot to be an inconvenience, particularly getting enough protein-rich foods like chicken, eggs, and the like. So I make a lot of protein shakes. I don’t know about the 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight ratios, I just try to get a lot more protein than I would if I wasn’t lifting.
Shakes are convenient, a lot more affordable than the other supplements I’ve talked about above, and I’ll probably be taking them for the next 50 years–that’s how long I hope to be training for, minimum.
If you love to try this stuff, that is 100% your right, don’t let anyone tell you differently. But I would always suggest making sure that I was taking care of my strength training and nutrition in proper proportion. If they’re not dialed in and getting their proper share of consideration, no amount of powders and pills is going to make that big of a difference for you.
When I have used weights consistently and put in my time under the iron, I see results, supplements or no.