Weightlifting can be an incredibly rewarding sport that mixes technique with pure physical prowess. As you steadily improve, it becomes ever-increasingly difficult to reach the next peak of performance. The initially unimportant minutia of nutrition and proper supplementation becomes more relevant, and you HAVE to start thinking about the little details that can help you reach that level.
If you want the best possible results, there is no going around it, you will need supplements. In an ideal world, we would all rely on whole-food meals; however, modern life keeps us incredibly busy, and finding the time and energy to meal prep can be challenging. Let’s face it, who has the foresight to plan for every surprise and unscheduled meeting out there? The point is, stuff happens and there will come a point when you'll miss a meal, or you won't be as well-rested for a workout as you’d like to be. That's when high-quality supplements come to save the day.
The Top 5 Supplements
This is our list of true and tried supplements, backed by a massive amount of research and of the highest quality that any good weightlifter should have:
Despite how common it is, whey is undoubtedly the king of all supplements. It’s incredibly useful, cost-effective, and convenient. If you don't already consume whey, you should. The fact of the matter is that virtually none of us can hit our protein requirements consistently without having to rely on the occasional shake. Let's face it, depending on your body weight you might have to eat from 140g all the way to 250g of protein, sometimes more, and that's just sooo much protein to get from actual meals, you'd get exhausted from the constant chewing. Most of us spend our days in offices or warehouses, do you really want to be that guy, the one that opens up a Tupperware of chicken breast in the middle of the workday? I know I don’t.
On top of that, willingness aside, there are days when you simply can’t avoid skipping a meal. Maybe you can’t eat lunch due to a meeting, or you have to skip breakfast because you overslept. All these little instances may not sound like much but they add up and having a fast-digesting protein like whey solves the issue. Truly, how long does it take to prepare a shake? Two minutes? And that's if you are on the slow side of things.
The lesser-known brother of whey, casein is a slow-digesting form of protein that has its fair share of perks. While whey only takes 30 to 60 minutes to digest, casein will take at least 3 hours to digest. This kind of slow-digesting protein can be great when you know you will go through prolonged periods of time without eating.
For instance, if you don't have much of an appetite at night, taking a casein shake is a great way to make sure your body will have a steady stream of amino acids through the night. Or maybe you are going to a conference, and you don't think you'll find any good protein sources, then drink a casein shake before that and you're good.
If you are not aware of it, caffeine is a powerful stimulant that enhances physical and mental performance. I’m not saying this just because I enjoy drinking it, I swear!
There is a good amount of research on this, caffeine will take a potentially average workout and transform it into one of those epic workouts where every repetition feels like you are the reincarnation of Leonidas, striking away invaders.
Jokes aside, you should expect to get more repetitions per exercise once you introduce caffeine into your workouts, and lucky you, our Ignite pre-workout has just the right dosage you need. As for timing, 15 minutes before your workout is usually a good idea.
Creatine is the best-researched supplement out there and its effectiveness is beyond question. Unlike caffeine, it is not a stimulant and rather helps you by getting stored in your muscles. I’ll spare you the minutia, the point is that once stored, it helps replenish your ATP which is your energy source when lifting, ultimately leading to your ability to produce force for longer, aka getting more repetitions than before.
An additional perk is that it tends to promote a bit of intramuscular water retention, which gives you a fuller bigger look, granted, not everyone appreciates said look. As for dosage, no worries, our pre-workout has you covered, it contains the right amount of caffeine and creatine per scoop. Just take them consistently and you’ll see the benefits.
This one is a bit tricky, its effectiveness will depend entirely on your lifestyle. Vitamin D3 is primarily obtained through direct sunlight exposure and I think it is safe to say that in our modern lifestyles, most of us lack it. In fact, researchers have found that up to 67% of athletes have insufficient vitamin D3 levels, and it’s unlikely that you’ll outperform these athletes, especially if you spend most of your day in an office, then drive home. To make matters worse, not only does this deficiency affect your performance, but it has been linked to depression, cognitive decline, and poor bone health.
From a performance standpoint, assuming you’re deficient, proper supplementation can easily increase your strength or repetition performance. On the other hand, if you have adequate levels of D3 already, supplementation won’t do much for you. To err on the safe side, I would advise you to get tested before starting to supplement, unlike protein, this is not one instance where the more vitamin D3 the better.
There is a good argument to be made that food sources don’t matter as much as food availability or consumption, that may not be the case with supplementation. Picking a trusted supplement source is vital to ensure that you are getting the right dosage from the right sources with no added garbage. At Icon nutrition, we provide you with the best quality available out there, our protein comes directly from grass-fed hormone-free Irish cows, our pre-workout contains a transparent list of ingredients that have been fully vetted and backed by years of research, our vitamins are made right in the UK to GMP standards completely GMO-free. We pride ourselves on providing the best damn quality in the market!