You can eat all the protein, pound down all the complex carbs and lift all the weights your heart desires, but unless your energy levels are near their peak, you’re not going to maximize your physique potential. In short, low energy equals middling gains. High energy equals notable ones. Reason enough to boost your energy? We thought so.
FLEX has compiled a list of seven of our favorite energy-boosting supps, along with recommendations for implementing them into your bodybuilding regimen. All of them are to be taken prior to exercise rather than throughout the day. The idea is to create a targeted spike in energy when you need it most, rather than taxing your physiology throughout your waking hours.
We don’t just recommend caffeine as a pre-workout supplement because of the buzz it provides. Yes, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can increase your drive and focus when you get to the gym, but caffeine’s benefits go beyond its pick-me-up effects.
Caffeine has been found to increase muscle strength and endurance during workouts. One study published in a 2003 issue of the Journal of Pain found that subjects who took caffeine an hour before intense exercise experienced significantly less muscle pain while exercising. So, if your muscles hurt less while exercising, you’ll be able to work out harder for longer. Caffeine also increases the amount of fat you burn during workouts. This isn’t just positive in a body-composition sense — it’s also good for your energy levels at the gym, because more fat burning spares glycogen levels (the stored form of carbs in the body).
About an hour before workouts.
Here’s an alternative: if you take your caffeine in the form of coffee, remember that — in addition to its energy-boosting effects — coffee is also a good source of antioxidants. However, keep your source in mind — a Starbucks tall (12-ounce) coffee has approximately 260 mg of caffeine, whereas a home-brewed 8-ounce cup will give you about half of that.
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