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Supplements play a key role in any diet, regardless of your training goals. But does the type of exercise you do dictate what you should be taking?

The vast majority of people tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to supplements. There are those who think that supplements are “unnatural,” expensive, unnecessary and a waste of money. Then there are those who rely on supplements for everything, buy all the latest products and spend half their monthly income in the local supplement store.

Unfortunately, neither of these approaches is the best one to take.

Supplements aren’t essential, likewise they’re not worthless – they play an important role in boosting the effectiveness of an already healthy diet and giving your training a lift.

Whether you’re running marathons, taking part in track and field events, bodybuilding or just a general gym-goer, the supplements you take depend on the training that you do.

The following lists are far from exhaustive but they cover the basic tried and tested recommendations on supplements for weight lifting and cardio.

Supplements for Weight Lifting

Protein Powder

If you’re familiar with any current literature on bodybuilding, gaining muscle and training for strength and power, you’ll know that protein is a big player in your diet. It’s essential for muscle growth, repair and recovery. While recommendations vary, it’s typically advises that strength athletes consume around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day.

While it’s certainly doable to get this much protein from food, it’s not always convenient or cost effective. A 200 pound person will need 200 grams of protein per day. This would be something along the lines of –

- 1 large chicken breast
- 8 ounce rump steak
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of cottage cheese
- 1 tin of tuna
- 6 slices of deli-style roast beef

To consume this much food can be costly, time-consuming and not always easy. Which is where protein powder comes in handy. One scoop of powder delivers around 25 grams of protein with minimal fat and carbs, costs next to nothing if you buy in bulk and can be drunk in 10 seconds.

Creatine

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid (amino acids are the components of protein) and an increased intake has been associated with increased muscle size due to water retention. However its main benefit is that it increases your stores of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate or ATP, which is your muscles’ main source of energy when lifting weights.

Creatine has been tested extensively and an optimal dose is around five grams per day.

Beta Alanine

A slightly more obscure one, but potentially just as important. Beta alanine is a common ingredient in many pre-workout drinks and powders. Beta alanine acts to stable your blood pH levels which delays the onset of fatigue and boosts strength, muscular endurance and power output. When you take it you may also feel a tingling in your hands and face, which is caused by an increase excitement in nerve receptors.

Multivitamins

You may think that multivitamins aren’t all that important. Sure, they can help compensate for a lack of nutrients in your diet, but do they really matter for building muscle?

Well yes, they do, definitely.

Weight lifting causes a lot of stress, which is a good thing when your nutrition is on point as this stress leads to positive adaptations in muscle mass growth and strength increases. But one thing that’s vital in order for this to happen is an adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Even if you think your diet is pretty healthy, you can’t go wrong adding in a daily multi.

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