Using Sports Supplements for the First Time
One of the most frequently debated topics among the bodybuilding & fitness community is that of using sports supplements for the first time.
A lot of people may not think much of it, but I know that there are some that actually consider it a big step towards their bodybuilding journey.
Contrary to popular belief, using a sports supplement is a very big deal that shouldn't be taken lightly.
I say this because the average individual who's never used a supplement is most likely a teenager or young adult that's looking to step up their progress.
I've personally been there before and know just how exciting -but stressful- buying a first supplement can be.
That's why I decided to create this simple -but straightforward- beginner's guide that will teach you all the important aspects that you should know about before buying your first supplement.
Are Bodybuilding Supplements Safe?
One of the biggest misconceptions that general society has regarding supplements is that they're dangerous to use.
For some very strange/weird reason, a lot of men and women out there actually think that bodybuilding supplements are just as dangerous as steroids.
This is entirely false and just creates more confusion among the young crowd that's anxiously waiting to buy their first supplement.
A quality supplement won't be dangerous because it's formulated with a natural source of ingredients that won't cause any side effects, whatsoever.
The purpose of these ingredients is fueling the human body with a series of nutrients that will allow it to naturally enhance both its physical appearance and athletic performance.
Steroids should never be confused with supplements because they are nothing alike. Plus, steroids are illegal and extremely dangerous.
Do You Really Need to Use a Supplement?
The most important aspect of using a supplement is determining if you actually need to use one.
I can't even begin to tell you how many people I've seen using these products that really shouldn't be.
Supplements are believed -by many- to be magical pills that can miraculously transform someone into a magazine fitness model.
Yet, a supplement is nothing more than a powerful tool that's used to deliver crucial nutrients to the human body so it can look and perform better.
In theory, most supplements sold at your local GNC aren't really necessary because you could easily get the same nutrients (and benefits) from a complete diet.
Other supplements, with rarer types of nutrients, might be a different story because it's harder to consume them in a regular diet.
So, if this is the case and supplements -in general- aren't really necessary, why do people still use them?
When Should Someone Use a Supplement?
Any expert on the subject will tell you that supplements aren't necessary if your diet and training are on point.
Although, you could use them to get an edge.
Remember that supplements are nothing more than an exogenous source of nutrients that focus on enhancing your body's overall performance.
If you are already receiving an adequate amount of nutrients, the only reasons you would look at buying a supplement are the following:
#1 – To take your progress even further by incorporating more nutrients into your diet.
#2 – Your lifestyle doesn't allow you to practice a proper diet.
#3 – You're specifically searching for nutrients that you aren't normally getting in your diet.
#4 – You're an aspiring competitive athlete/bodybuilder that needs to stay in top shape 24/7.
Taking the Necessary Steps to Make a Supplement Work
As it was briefly mentioned, supplements will not work for you out of thin air.
In order for any supplement formula to do its job -and generate the claimed benefits – you will need to put in the work.
Your body will only absorb the nutrients that you are giving it if it actually requires them to perform a certain task – like recovering, building muscle, or losing body fat.
When you train with weights, you deplete your body of its nutrients and you damage the muscle fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger.
This growth can only happen if your body is resting and receiving the right amount of nutrients from a complete diet.
When you're consistently training and watching your diet, your body acts like a sponge. Meaning that it will absorb anything that you throw at it.
At this point, you'll need to be creative and choose what kind of supplement you need to improve your physical appearance, performance – or both.
Are you having issues with eating enough calories in a day? An extra source of protein will fix that.
Not feeling motivated to go the gym because of a busy day? A pre-workout can give you the energy you need.
Are you gassing out when you approach the middle of your workout? BCAA's can help you pick up the slack.
It goes without saying that you could also fix all of the previously mentioned problems without the help of a supplement. It would be a lot harder, but it could definitely be achieved.
That's why I mentioned that supplements aren't necessary but they can definitely come in handy and make life a lot easier in certain scenarios.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk a bit about the importance of training and nutrition – two important factors that can make or break your supplementation regime.
The Importance of Nutrition
Before even thinking about spending your hard-earned money on a supplement; you should learn how to eat.
A lot of beginners tend to focus all of their energy on working out while neglecting their diet.
What many don't seem to understand is that a balanced diet is (arguably) more important than lifting weights.
You can train three hours every single day of the week, for years straight, and not grow an inch on your arms if you don't know how to eat.
Contrary to popular belief, muscles don't grow while you're training them. The feeling of them growing while you train is known as the pump (increased blood flow).
Muscles grow while you're resting by utilizing all of the nutrients that it's receiving through a diet and supplementation regime.
Believe it or not, the purpose of weight training is to stress and injure the muscle fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger.
In order for them to do this, they need macronutrients and micronutrients.
This means that you'll need to practice a balanced diet composed of protein, carbohydrates, fat – amino acids, and minerals.
There is no supplement in existence that's going to give you the nutrients that you need in order to successfully build your physique.
If your diet is on point, a supplement will be the cherry on top that helps you take everything one step further.
Training Like An Athlete
If your diet is already in check, you'll need to ask yourself if your training is also up to par.
If you want to maximize the benefits of a given sports supplement; you need to make sure that your training is the best that it can be.
If it's not, you won't be able to see the results you want and you might as well throw your money out the window.
Every single day, I come across countless people complaining online about how supplements don't work, and it doesn't take an expert to imagine why.
I can assure you that most of these individuals lack the necessary knowledge and work ethic to MAKE the supplement work.
I've met a lot of different people (at the gym) over the years that believed that they trained hard when they actually didn't.
I'm sorry, but doing twenty minutes of cardio followed by some curls and crunches, doesn't necessarily qualify as training hard.
If you train like a bodybuilder, do your cardio, and eat right; it will be impossible for a supplement to not work.
If you want to look like an athlete, you need to train like one.
You can't expect a supplement to help you build muscle if you're in and out of the gym in thirty minutes.
Choosing the Right Supplement
Now that we got all of that out of the way; it's finally time to give you some advice on choosing the right supplement.
First of all, you'll need to make sure that you're following an appropriate eating plan and that your training is consistent.
Once everything is as it should be, you can assess your weak points and determine what kind of supplement you need.
Do you feel weak mid-workout? Do you train late in the day and have no energy to exercise? Is your diet lacking protein?
Think about all the different aspects that you're looking to change -that are hindering your progress- and think of a solution.
For example, think of someone who's in his forties. This person loves working out and follows a balanced diet yet he lacks the necessary energy to get through the day.
Would it make more sense for this person to use a fat burner or a testosterone booster? The answer is a testosterone booster.
After the age of thirty, testosterone levels begin to drop. As you might already know, testosterone is the male sex hormone that's in charge of muscular development, energy, sex drive, etc.
His diet and eating habits are obviously on point so it only makes sense that his lack of energy could be due to low testosterone.
A testosterone booster could help him increase his hormone levels and make him feel a lot more energized.
Try this method out for yourself and think about the different areas that you want to improve on and potential issues that you want to solve.
Take your time and think about it.
How Long Will It Take Until I See Results?
A lot of supplement companies claim that you can see results in as little as a few days, but, are they telling the truth?
Honestly, it all depends on the supplement and the person that uses it
It's not uncommon for someone to say that a supplement works incredibly well, only for someone else to claim that it didn't work for them.
If you take two people and make them train and eat identically; their results will be completely different.
This happens because everyone is genetically unique and responds differently to training and nutrition.
This is why some people manage to build incredible physiques in only a few years while others make minimal changes throughout their lifetime.
The same thing happens with supplements. That's why it's very difficult to assess how much muscle someone can gain or how much fat someone can lose.
Whereas you might be able to build a few pounds of muscle in a couple of weeks; it could take your training partner twice as long to do so.
That's why it's important to ignore the numbers and focus on purchasing a quality supplement that's actually worth the money.
The gains will come, trust me.
Best Sports Supplements for Beginners
If you are excited about buying your first supplement, I highly encourage you to do as much research as possible and find a product that suits your needs/goals.
It's no secret that this website is dedicated to reviewing supplements, and although we've reviewed a lot of great products – there are a ton of other amazing products out there.
If you're a beginner, you probably won't want to go too crazy with your first supplement and spend a ton on money.
If you're looking for a suggestion, you might want to take a look at Blackwolf Workout Supplements.
They specialize in pre, intra, and post-workout formulas. Each supplement contains approximately fifteen active ingredients and they ship worldwide at no extra cost to you.
Blackwolf products are a particularly good choice for beginners, particularly because of their ingredient selection.
Just to give you an example, their pre-workout contains everything that you could ever need in order to get ready for a training session.
Vitamins, Minerals, Whey Protein, etc. It has it all. The rest of their product range is just as good.
I honestly hope that I did my best at answering your questions regarding the basics of sports supplements.
Believe it or not, it's a big step moving forward.
That's why you need to gather as much information as possible before actually taking it.
Before incorporating any type of enhancement product into your diet; it's important to consult with an expert and be over the age of eighteen.
Some would argue that it's perfectly fine to wait until you're a little bit older than that.
Also, don't expect a supplement to magically transform you into a fitness model because it won't.
Be realistic with your goals, take everything one step at a time, and more importantly – be patient.
If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.