Provocative title, isn’t it? Well, that’s the cold hard truth. I’ve already established that supplements are just the finishing touch to a well-designed diet and exercise regiments; however, most people will find no use of supplements. Why is that? You can spend all the money you want on however many supplements in hopes of speeding up your progress, but there are many factors that come into play. Some will benefit greatly from sports supplements, and majority won’t. Let’s make sure you are not one of the latter group.
Poor dietary and training programs
This one is pretty self-explanatory. And because it is self-explanatory, you would assume that people would avoid this common and lethal mistake, well, guess again! Throughout my job in the fitness realm, I often come across the same trend: people are looking for the magic bullet! It doesn’t exist, fellas!
People prefer to put great emphasis on supplements than to fix up their diet and/or their training program first. Majority of them would be doing great if only they fix up their diets and training programs, but no, they rather go around spending money on supplements which ultimately leaves them frustrated, broke (not literally) and hopeless. They lose faith in supplements altogether, which is another problem. It’s YOUR fault! Supplements only augment the foundation, I cannot stress this enough.
Before you go around investing into supplements that can take your performance or physique to the next level, make sure your diet and training programs are dialed in first! Only then will you benefit from whatever supplement you buy. Supplements are not meant to substitute hard work, a solid diet plan and a smart training program that keeps you progressing over time. Period.
If you’ve been training or been doing some sort of physical activity for a while you probably know how big of a role genetics play in your progress. Genetics can be a blessing and a curse.
Some find it very easy to build muscle while others have to go through hell and back to build a few pounds of lean mass! I don’t mean to shatter your dreams, but your genetics will also play a role in how well you respond to a certain supplement! Now, luckily, that response won’t vary dramatically among different individuals, but it could give a nice advantage to those who respond well. For instance, creatine, one of the most researched and proven dietary supplements in history, has “non-responders”!
Some will reap the benefits of supplementing with creatine, while others will be mostly flushing their money down the toilet. This is because certain individuals naturally have higher levels of creatine within their muscles, thus supplementing with additional creatine does little to nothing for them. Same rule applies to other dietary supplements. What may work for some may not work for you, and vice versa.
I have seen people swear by certain supplements at my job while others claiming it’s bullshit. Are they all lying to me as part of some grand scheme? I highly doubt it.
Differences in quality
Have you noticed that sometimes you try a certain supplement by a specific company and it works wonders but then you tried that same supplement made by a different company only to realize you have blown your money in the air?
We’ve all been there and the truth is that quality matters A LOT! Let me illustrate with an example:
Company X makes a testosterone booster utilizing long jack (proven to increase testosterone levels)
Company Z makes a testosterone booster also utilizing long jack
An individual tries both products on two separate occasions and uses them properly in addition to a solid diet and training programs.
However, company x’s product worked much better than company z’s product. Why is that? Here are the potential reasons:
1- Company X probably uses the right part of the long jack’s plant (root/leaves…etc.)
2- Company X’s extraction method ensures that the active substance(s) in the herb do not get destroyed while extracting them.
3- Company X utilizes a higher quality extract.
4- Company X’s manufacturing processes are more organized, cleaner and protective of the active substances in the plant/extract used.
Eventually, you get a high-quality product that works better than another company’s product that uses poor extracts and crappy manufacturing processes. This could also result in an under-dosed product that utilizes an effective ingredient, but unfortunately, an un-effective dosage.
Just like genetics and individual responses to different supplements, we all have different “tolerance” towards certain ingredients. What the heck do I mean?
A specific ingredient could pretty much be rejected by your own body due to your unique individual physiological makeup. There may be nothing wrong with the product or the herb/ingredient, however, your body just sees something “bad” in that same ingredient. For the sake of simplicity, think of it as an allergic reaction. If you are lactose intolerant -like myself- it means that YOUR body is unable to process milk properly, but the milk in and itself is fine.
You jump on the bandwagon
There are new supplements coming out every day, however, we still don’t see many more quality physiques walking around. I mean, we would assume that new scientific breakthroughs in the supplements world would correspond with an increase in aesthetic physiques walking around, right?
Yes, I know that not all of them are following proper diets and training programs, but let’s exclude this factor for a second to prove a point. Most companies want you to believe that they have found a new breakthrough that will yield tons of muscle mass and make you lose fat faster than you blink, but this is all bullshit.
Unfortunately, people often jump on the bandwagon and rush to their local supplement store to buy that new magic herb. Not so fast, my friend! Instead of jeopardizing and trying new things (hey, you may come across something that works for you) that come out almost every day, stick to the basics. Stick to supplements that have been proven to work from both clinical research AND real world results.
I say both because sometimes real world experiences are ahead of clinical research available, especially if those studies have major limitations. So, stick with the basics and work hard. The results will come.
PS: A good source of what supplements work and what don’t is examine.com. Examine.com has a solid base of information and scientific studies on almost every supplement you can think. Check it out.
Now that I have established a solid foundation for the use of supplements and how to properly use them for maximum benefit, let’s move on to what supplements have been proven to work and can help you throughout your journey. We will start with muscle-building supplements: