The 4 Supplements You Need for Strength Training

Let me let you in on a dirty secret, you’re different, you are unique, and you are special. And no, it’s not because your mummy says so, it’s because you train. Yep, that’s right, because you step into a gym, pitch, court, or whatever, you are part of a special group of people we like to call athletes, and as athletes, you are different to other people, and because of this, your nutritional needs are different. With only 32% of Welsh men, and 22% of women meeting the Governments health guidelines, i.e. 2.5 hours per week of activity, we can safely say that we are the exception to the trend, so why should our nutrition be any different? Untitled1   Fueled by more than desire!   As an athlete engaging in strength and conditioning, whether it is to improve his/her physique, athletic performance, or whatever, your needs are different. Regardless of NHS guidelines, you need more protein. You need more carbs. You need more in regards to quantity and quality. So we at Team CSN are here to give you the bare bones of what supplementation is going to help you get that optimal performance that you are chasing. Tom Platz once said that there is no such thing as overtraining, only under eating and under recovery, and to be honest I agree. Supplementation can be a key part of allowing you to train better, for longer, at a state of optimal performance. So here is my basic rundown of what I think are essentials for all athletes, and gym goers!  -       Fish oils -       Creatine -       BCAA’s -       Whey Protein   1: Fish oils –  Untitled2 They are good for you, I swear!   Let's be honest for a moment, training hurts! DOMS (delayed onset muscular soreness) is just a part of the game and we all accept it. Equally though, what if I told you can do something about it? Interested? Thought so! When I say fish oils, you wouldn’t be thinking of anti-inflammatory benefits, or increased levels of brain cognivity, or even increased lubrication of the joints, but it’s all true!  Fish oils are essentially made out of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Now, these fatty acids are amazing for you for a number of reasons. Firstly, the main constituents of Omega-6 are two fats known as EPA and DHA. What’s good about these I hear you ask? Well, your brain is, in fact, made out of EPA and DHA (amongst other things) so increasing consumption of these fats allows for more nutrients to be transported to the brain. This is obviously good for you, so what about the anti-inflammatory benefits of Fish oils? Well, when we think of anti-inflammatory, we need to think of it in two ways, firstly in terms of your immune system and then your body.  So, when the bodies different cell signalling components, the things which tell the immune system what to do, become inflamed due to stress and cortisol production due to exercise, and the presence of free radicals, which enter your body through the air and your food, things start going wrong. When these cell signalling components are inflamed, the bodies level of immune cells are ramped up and puts the body into a high state of oxidative stress. This leads to further production of cortisol, and other catabolic hormones. It also causes your levels of soreness after a workout to increase, due to the inhibited protein synthesis and the high levels of oxidative stress the body is under. This is where the body is taken into account when we talk about anti-inflammation.  When the body is in this state, not only are you more sore, but the cell signalling components we talked about earlier, they are not as efficient at signalling the bodies response systems, such as the response system which tells your joints to secrete synovial fluid and keep your joints nice and lubed up. Now no athlete wants this to be the case for them, you can’t make gains with a shot immune system, inhibited protein synthesis, and knackered joints. Fish oils, due to their high levels of DHA and EPA, amongst other anti-inflammatory fats, deal with this effectively by reducing cortisol production, increasing protein synthesis and reducing inflammation of the bodies cell signalling components by creating an anabolic environment in the body, allowing for optimal recovery, and performance. So how should you take them, well, depending of the quality of the fish oil, the less you need, but fish oil is one of those things where more is often better, but that doesn’t mean go and chuck an entire pot. I would recommend 3-4 grams, so if each pill is 3-4000mg, that would be 3-4 pills through out the day. I personally prefer first thing in the morning, due to the higher levels of insulin. A great quality fish oil we have in stock here at Cardiff Sports Nutrition is PurePharma Omega-3:   2: Creatine –

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Creatine… ITS GOOD STUFF!    So what is it? Well, it’s a naturally occurring substance that the body needs; one might even say it’s essential. It’s in the food we eat, but further supplementation with creatine helps for a number of reasons, and in my opinion, should be taken by everyone. So, the body has a number of energy systems that it runs off, but the thing that all these systems have in common is that they are all aimed at producing more ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which is the bodies’ energy currency. The breaking of the bonds which make ATP what it is, is what releases energy within the body. So, this is constantly going on in one way or another, but one energy system in particular is of great importance to an athlete, the phosphocreatine system. Basically, this system is the bodies quick fire energy system which is used in events of maximal intensity, i.e. sprinting, throwing, jumping, max effort lifting etc.  Untitled3   Heavy lifting places a huge demand on the PC system    In order to make more ATP, the body uses its creatine phosphate stores, 95% of which is stored in the muscles, and breaks it down into a simple phosphate which is then added onto the now broken ATP, now in the form of ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) and reverts it back to ATP, allowing for it to be broken again and create more usable energy.  Now this energy system only lasts 6-10 seconds, but can generate huge amounts of power within the body. Supplementation with creatine allows for the Phosphocreatine system to last for longer, which is obviously a benefit for the athlete, but what else does it do? Well, creatine, after it is absorbed into the body, is bound with water molecules and stored in the sarcoplasm of your muscle cells. Sarcoplasm is essentially the cells storage unit, and when you supplement with creatine, after stress has been put on a muscle and a growth response has been triggered, the creatine causes more water and nutrients to be pulled into the sarcoplasm, forcing the muscle cells to expand, thus growing the muscle. What athlete doesn’t want a greater muscle density? (Different argument!) A few other nice benefits of creatine, is increased brain performance, due to its nourishing qualities, it has been proven to mitigate symptoms of neuro-muscular disorders, and even prevent DNA mutations with in aging cells. It has also been shown to increase muscle size and strength, which, lets be honest, is just plain great! The best times to take creatine are moments in the day where your insulin is spiking, so first thing in the morning with a little fruit juice to speed up absorption, and after a workout. The creatine product we would recommend for those athletes undergoing strength training would be Muscle Pharm Creatine, which is a great quality blend of creatine forms that requires NO loading phase:   3: BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) –  Untitled4 I love leucine!... or is it Lucy?   Ok, unlike the last two there isn’t that much to say on these, as the importance of them pretty much speaks for themselves. Protein is made out of amino acids, FACT! There are 20 amino acids, 8 of which cannot be produced in the body, so we have to get them from food, SCIENCE FACT! Ok, so amino acids are the building blocks of pretty much everything that we are, so to fuel growth, we eat protein, simples! Or is it? Well, a little known fact is that if the body doesn’t get all of the amino acids it requires, then it will start breaking down amino acid stores, i.e. your muscles, in order to get them. Taking in BCAA’s post workout prevents muscle breakdown due to the stress you have put it under by training. The hero of all these amino acids is leucine, the main culprit in keeping you out of a cortisol ridden, catabolic state! However, if leucine is the MVP of team amino acids, then why not just supplement with that? Well, the answer is simple, take a good hard look at your diet, and I bet you will realize something, namely, that you eat vast quantities of food, and not just that, but that you eat vast amountsof the same thing. Athletes are notorious for not having variety in their diets; we pick the foods that work, and stick to them. This, in many cases, limits the variety in protein sources and often leaves us wanting in regards to getting all our amino acids. Long story short, BCAA’s are a fantastic way for you to increase the amount of amino acids you are getting into your system, but also guarantee that you are getting the amino acids that you may be missing from your diet! Taken pre, intra and, or, post workout, you will reap the benefits of using BCAA’s.   4: Whey Protein –


 You want good recovery? Cause I do!   Ok so here is the heavy hitter of the group. We all know that protein is good for us and our muscle and strength building agendas. However, there are three different kinds of whey, and depending on your goals, you may need a specific kind of whey, but more on that later. Protein shakes are a staple in any athletes diet, and for a damn good reason, they work! They are designed to be effective, and they are designed to get into your system quick and get you on the path to recovery! Equally, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that an athlete’s protein intake should be roughly 1.4 – 2g per kg of body weight. Now, that’s a lot of food, and as much as I think whole foods are what make you grow, they are not convenient. Lets be honest, chicken breast and white rice is not the most appetizing thing in the world after prowler pushes, or squats. However, a nice protein shake is, and not only is it more appetizing, it’s actually more optimal because of its high Biological Value. The higher a substances Biological Value, the quicker it is absorbed into the body, very similar to the GI scale. Protein is essential, so choosing the right protein for your goals is a very important choice. There are three types of whey for you to choose from:  i)               Whey Protein Concentrate – The whey is taken from the pasteurization of milk, in fact, it’s a waste product from the process. Regardless, they take the whey and it is then taken through a process of micro and ultrafiltration. This refines the whey into a state where it is roughly 70-80% protein, with the rest of its constituent parts being made of lactose sugar and fat. Due to the relatively limited processing, the concentrate retains much of the whey’s peptides, which perform various beneficial processes in the body, such as protein synthesis. Fantastic for Post workout as it contains simple sugars that your body requires to recover optimally.  ii)             Whey Protein Isolate – Due to the higher levels of refinement and processing, Isolate has a much higher protein content, roughly 90-95%. This means that the end product its very low on carbs and fats. As such, this is a great product for dieters and for pre and peri workout nutrition. Due to his fast absorption rate, it is also fantastic for post workout nutrition, but I would recommend adding a simple sugar such as glucose, or dextrose into your shake to refuel your bodies’ glucose stores.  iii)            Whey Protein Hydrosolate – Hydrolyzed protein in the most processed and refined form of protein. The process of hydrolysis actually predigests the protein, and breaks it down into smaller, more easily absorbed peptide fragments. This gives whey protein hydrosolate the highest Biological Value of the three, giving it an incredibly fast rate of absorption into the body, making it an ideal peri workout fuel, and a key part of many pre workout supplements.  So what does taking these shakes actually do? Well as discussed earlier, you need protein due to its amino acid based structure. But what happens when we take it post workout? Well, what happens is that the bodies’ rate of protein synthesis spikes, and goes into hyper drive. You have given your body an easily absorbed raw material that it is in need of to repair the damage you have done to it in training, and it does this with incredibly high efficiency. If that’s not enough of a reason, let me chuck some science at you. In 1997, a French study was released in which two groups where given post workout shakes. One group drank a whey based shake, the other a casein based drink. Surprise, surprise, the group with the whey shakes showed a dramatic spike in protein synthesis post work out, and during the course of the experiment saw an increase of protein synthesis rates of roughly 70%, where as the casein group only experienced a spike of roughly 30%.  So there it is, a relatively in-depth, but not too brief into what I consider to be core supplements for any athlete engaging in strength and conditioning. I hope you have found this a witty, and slightly interesting read, and for all your questions and product needs, please come into Cardiff Sports Nutrition on Whitchurch Road. We are here to provide you with the best knowledge, and the best supplementation to get you on the road to the best you!   Train Strong Live Strong Be Strong   Rogan Allport – Rebellion Fitness. Ltd (Owner)   Personal trainer Remote programmer Consultant