This post is to those who have been working hard and steady and to those who just began a New Year's Resolution. Quick word to the latter group: I read somewhere that 98% of New Year's resolutions end withing 2 weeks. Congratulations, its been over 2 weeks; you're in the 2%. Don't let yourself fail. Get up and push yourself harder each day. Be who you want to be.
And now for the substance:
I mixed up my workouts a little this year, largely to accommodate a more intense academic schedule featuring the likes of human anatomy and exercise nutrition. Gone are the 2-a-days and in are high intensity daily workouts divided every-other-day between upper body (chest, arms, shoulders, etc...) and lower body (LEGS, back, etc..).
The last year was a very successful year for me. Each of my workouts grew immensely, I acquired the ever-improving best shape of my adult life, and most importantly, I became addicted to heavy weight training. Some notable milestones:
- Bench press up to 250lbs despite my nagging left shoulder rearing it's ugly head and dislocating itself again in rugby this year
- Deadlift up to 450lbs and growing 5-10 lbs per workout
- Squat to 595lbs. With my newly healed shoulder, I am pushing past 500 again on my way to bigger and better things.
- Vastly improved cardio performance and endurance preparing for Hockey and Rugby seasons.
My focus in this new year is on intensity and pushing the bounds of my performance. I plan to come in to each workout focused and determined to improve myself with each and every minute spent in and out of the weight room. The next few months will be dedicated to further improving my strength through my custom 5x5 based program while also concentrating on decreasing body fat percentage through the development of more lean muscle mass.
No matter how hard you work you're not going to accomplish your potential without giving your body what it needs! That's where supplements come in. The following are my thoughts and reviews based on my experiences the past few months.
Lets start out with the new "magic elixir" in my bag that works beyond my wildest dreams.
- BSN AMINOx
BSN AMINOx Website
2. Optimum Nutrition PlatinumPRE
A rep from Optimum responded to my last article where I mentioned excitement to try PlatinumPRE and kindly sent me a tub. If you are reading this: THANK YOU. Now to the good stuff. PlatinumPRE is a very good tasting pre-workout (especially relative to much of its competition!). It also seems to me to be one of the healthiest, safest, least controversial of the pre-workouts. As far as I know it contains nothing banned or frowned upon by the NCAA, FDA, etc... It's not just not bad for you but it seems to be good for you. A pre-workout with BCAA's??? Why is this a new idea? It's a brilliant idea!
Taste, health; they're important but not what most people look at first with a pre-workout. When I think pre-workout I think kick. ON's PRE scores pretty well here. First I will note it does not provide the type of focus you will find in the original Jack3d, but that comes courtesy of the controversial DMAA that ON and many others seem to be staying away from. PRE is not meant to give that focus, it is designed to give the consumer a kick and that it does very well. This kick comes courtesy of up to 400mg of caffeine if you do the 2 servings allowed. I have to confess this didn't hit me as hard as i may have hoped. I have quite a high caffeine tolerance, always have. When my workout buddies used it, however, they reported very strong kicks and responses and I observed much higher performance out of them compared to no pre-workout. PlatinumPRE benefited me most through the 3.2g of Beta Alanine (nice and tingly!) and the 4 grams of citrulline (NO precursor). These both allowed me to maintain high intensity during long workouts (especially important now that the gyms are swamped with New Years resolutioners!!) Other genius ingredients include 500mg of phytonutrients (antioxidants) which may help in muscle recovery, overall health maintenance and cancer prevention. There's loads of studies going on with these nutrients responsible for many of the health benefits of dark chocolate, red wine, and colorful fruits. 200mg of Vitamin C is included to help boost your immune system. Let's face it we all workout better healthy and who knows what kind of pathogens are being spread at the gym. Why this is new to the pre-workout world I don't know but I love it! Lastly, there is encapsulated capsicum. ON says this provides metabolic support (possibly thermogenic?) Capsicum is what makes hot peppers HOT! It is known to increase heart rate and cause sweating leading to my suspicion of it's use as a thermogenic. If I receive confirmation of this I will update this. Just a fair warning, these granules are encapsulated so you shouldn't be exposed to the "hot effect". That being said, they're not exactly water soluble so make sure to keep this well mixed and if you feel any lingering grains in your mouth DON'T BITE THEM, wash them down with another swig or some good old water. Trust me, I did this accidentally. Biting them compares to eating a suicide chicken wing (yes, I'm from Buffalo...). But don't worry because if you don't bite them you wont notice!
Overall, I love this product. It is functional and revolutionary! So many of the ingredients are noticeably absent in the competition as of now. Bravo Optimum Nutrition! As usual, you failed to disappoint!
Optimum Nutrition PlatinumPRE
3. MHP PowerPak Pudding
My largest workout inspiration is probably Sylvester Stallone. When I found out that for a short time he actually had a workout supplement company called Instone, I started digging around. Unfortunately that company no longer exists, but they were most famous for their high protein pudding. I love that idea. Mixing it up a little from the usual protein shake is a refreshing idea! The pudding comes in 8.8oz steel cans (very convenient!) with pull tabs. Bodybuilding.com lists the main active ingredient as whey protein, but looking at the label I suspect that is inaccurate. Protein ingredients listed are Milk Protein Isolates and Soy Protein Isolates. Milk protein is 80% casein and 20% whey. Therefor, I treat this as mainly a casein protein and enjoy one before bed. I am also under the impression from various internet research that the soy protein is minimal... I hope so. I am a staunch opponent of Soy products. They are a major source of phytoestrogens. (Notably used as a natural estrogen replacement therapy in women...) That's not exactly what a powerlifter or bodybuilder wants. In addition many studies hint that soy (largely due to it's phytoestrogens) may cause various cancers most notably breast cancer in men and women. No thanks. MHP if you're reading this PLEASE take out the soy!! My other grief with this product is the price. Sold individually on bodybuilding.com a can goes for $3.99! A six pack is currently $18.98! The price for convenience and market exclusivity is high, but fear not there are often sales so keep your eyes peeled and don't buy at full price!
So far you read my griefs with PowerPak puddings by MHP. Don't be turned off, I have 6 cases of them right next to me as I type this. If I didn't like this product would I have bought all these? I think not. So what do I like so much? First off it provides variety. Shakes are great and convenient on the run or post workout but get dull after awhile. This provides a healthy snack that feels like a snack. Packing 30 grams of protein in the can is pretty impressive. I recommend refrigerating this and buying the chocolate flavor as these help minimize the casein grittiness and aftertastes. Do this and it tastes largely like Jello. Very good! As I said before, I suspect the protein content is largely casein. Combine this with the complete lack of sugar and only 190 calories, and you have a great pre-bed snack. Casein is strongly anti-catabolic and due to it's ultra slow digestion, will provide a steady stream of amino acids to your body as you sleep, thus preserving and restoring your muscles after a hard day's lift. It's not ideal for on the run right after your workout but definitely nice to have for a nighttime snack! Overall I love this product, I love the concept, just PLEASE MHP DITCH THE SOY!
Bodybuilding.com MHP PowerPak
4. GNC Glutamine Chews
Glutamine is an amino acid used during strenuous weight training, and also necessary to the function of the immune system. Many weight trainers may find themselves glutamine deficient and therefor immune compromised without supplementation. I like GNC's chews as they provide a great tasting variety from the powder everything else seems to come as. Relatively cheap, easy to carry around, great tasting, and convenient; GNC's chews are my glutamine source of choice.
GNC Pro Performance Glutamine Chews
There are a couple products I would love to try in the coming weeks:
1. Nutrex Research
Nutrex kindly sent me a sample tub of Chocolate Monster Muscle Infusion Black. I can't wait to dig into this! The mix of protein sources (THANKFULLY NO SOY!) and reputed excellent taste promises to combine to produce a great product and excellent results!
Nutrex also sent me a few packets of Hemo Rage Black. This pre-workout could shake up the market. The jury is still out as 2 servings is far from enough to base a review on. With any luck I will have more information shortly.
Bodybuilding.com's platinum series has a few products that excite me. Namely Scream and Protogen. Scream looks to have potential in the pre-workout market and Protogen is encouraging as a more-than-Protein post-workout shake.
3. Fusion Bodybuilding
Fusion Bodybuilding is one of those companies that seems to have the right mentality on everything. While I have yet to sample any of their products, just about everything in their lineup seems encouraging to the workaholic die hard bodybuilder/powerlifter. I hope to sample some of their products soon!
Remember supplements only work if you do! Hit the weights! Work hard and reap the rewards!
Just the fancy legal stuff: All of the above are based on my experiences and research and are for informational purposes only. Workout and consume supplements at your own risk and remember, always consult with a doctor before beginning a workout routine or drastically changing your diet. Be Careful. Stay Safe. Lift Heavy. Be Strong!