FLEX feels your pain and has put together a list of every worthwhile supplement you’re likely to encounter on your next trip to the store. Each is rated for effectiveness and broken down into categories with listed benefits. Plus, we tell you just how much to take and the best times of day (or night) to take them so that all of your hard work in the gym doesn’t go to waste. If you were confused about supplements before, you won’t be after you read this. So here’s Part 1 of the FLEX Supplement Encyclopedia: A to F.
ADENOSINE TRIPHOSPHATE (ATP)
MB, ST, FL
BENEFITS: Adenosine triphosphate is a nucleic acid and major energy source for every cell in the body. But taking the supplemental form does not increase the amount of ATP within cells. It boosts blood levels of ATP, which increases blood flow to exercising muscles. ATP also reduces fat storage and burns more already-stored fat. One study reported that subjects taking ATP for 14 days increased their one-rep max and the number of reps they could complete with a weight to failure.
DOSAGE: 125–250mg twice daily on an empty stomach
CATEGORIES: MB, ST, EP, HL
BENEFITS: This by-product of the breakdown of the amino acid arginine boosts nitric oxide (NO) levels and the release of insulin (an anabolic hormone that increases muscle growth and dilates blood vessels to further boost blood flow). Agmatine can increase training intensity and strength for stronger muscle contractions while blunting pain to help you do more reps. It can even help boost the anabolic hormones testosterone and growth hormone (GH) and provides an antioxidant benefit for recovery.
DOSAGE: 500–1,000mg 30–60 minutes before workouts
CATEGORIES: MB, MA, HL
BENEFITS: Derived from soy lecithin and a good source of choline, Alpha-GPC increases GH production by inhibiting a brain chemical that normally blocks it. One study reported that a single dose increased bench-press strength by 15%. It can enhance mental function by increasing acetylcholine production.
DOSAGE: 250–500mg one hour before workouts and before bed
ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID (ALA)
CATEGORIES: FL, HL, MB
BENEFITS: A powerful antioxidant that also improves muscle glucose and creatine uptake when it’s consumed with simple carbs like dextrose. ALA is included in some fat-loss products because it reduces the amount of insulin released when carbs are eaten, which increases fat burning and reduces hunger.
DOSAGE: For increased creatine uptake: 500–600mg with 2–5g of creatine; fat loss and antioxidant protection: 100–300mg two to three times per day
CATEGORIES: MB, ST
BENEFITS: This amino acid enhances NO production, which improves blood flow to exercising muscles and delivers nutrients, hormones, and oxygen to aid in recovery. Arginine also boosts GH levels. Research shows significant strength improvements in men taking arginine products.
DOSAGE: 3–5g of arginine or NO products three times per day, with one dose 30–40 minutes before exercise