In part 1 of Supplementation for Powerlifters, we looked at the top 4 supplements for improving strength, power and general performance through enhancing the ability of the lifter to accumulate a greater training volume over time. In part 2 we will be looking at the top 2 supplements for recovery and the top 4 supplements all Powerlifters can use to optimise their health.
Without appropriate recovery both post weight training and throughout the week, performance may waiver and even worse, the risk of injury may rise. Utilising these 2 supplements to ensure recovery is optimised, is paramount in ensuring you can maintain performance long term as a reduction in recovery is a sure fire way to decrease performance.
While adequate consumption of dietary protein may be achieved through food, utilising a whey protein source or an equivalent vegan protein source such as pea and rice protein, can often make achieving an optimal intake easier than relying solely on food.
Similarly, it is advantageous to consume an adequate amount of protein per serve in order to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), of which you only require an average of 30-35g of protein from a powdered source versus 40g or more from an animal protein. This is important to recognise as lighter individuals requiring less protein daily, like females, may wish to use whey to achieve MPS as opposed to consuming large quantities of meat.
Furthermore, should you be following a vegan or vegetarian diet, utilising a supplement to fortify your diet will not only make reaching your optimal intake for the day easier, but the quality of protein per serve required to achieve MPS will also be enhanced.
It is, of course, encouraged that the large majority of your protein be consumed from traditional food sources, however, utilising whey/pea or rice protein to simply fortify your dietary approach or to optimise your per meal intake, is extremely advantageous in most cases.
I call this supplement the ‘pain equaliser’ and I do so for good reason.
Curcumin, which is derived primarily from the turmeric spice, is a bright yellow pigmented chemical that has been studied with tremendous efficacy for the treatment of pain, inflammation, gut disruption and even blood lipid profiles.
Studied in populations experiencing prior pain, daily Curcumin supplementation resulted in significant increases in time to fatigue, reduced scores on pain measurement surveys, a reduction in gut dysbiosis and an improvement in joint stiffness.
Furthermore, despite requiring further study, Curcumin contains naturally occurring levels of salicylates and proposes potential benefits in controlling blood pressure, which is a common issue within the powerlifting community and especially in those who are using additional performance enhancing drugs.
Learn more about Curcumin and its awesomeness in detail.
While the following 4 supplements may not provide you with direct performance enhancement, their ability to maintain your health is critically important to ensuring the longevity of your performance. Failing to recognise the implications for an increase in the markers of poor health is, in my opinion, unacceptable, and it should be noted that without long-term good health you can not have long term recovery and performance.
Fish oil is an Omega 3 fatty acid and is an essential nutrient that must be consumed via dietary or supplementary sources in order to maintain healthy physiological function. While it may be possible to achieve your minimum requirements for omega 3 intake via daily salmon intake (120g) it is generally not feasible, nor is it at optimal levels, which is why supplementation of fish oil is important.
Consuming adequate omega 3 fatty acids has been shown to improve:
- Blood triglycerides
- Blood sugar control
- Mood regulation
- Improved cognitive function
Triple Strength Omega 3 by Nutralife
Supplementing with fish oil daily may also aid in reducing inflammation in users previously lacking adequate omega 3 fatty acid intake, which is a great reason for all you heavy lifters out there to use this supplement as well.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is created through the use of circulatory cholesterol and is claimed to be one of the top 2 vitamins or minerals that are deficient in those living in developed countries.
Increasing vitamin D3 intake may aid in the improvement of:
- Bone health
- Hormone production
- Blood glucose regulation
- Improved well-being
Supplementing with vitamin D3 has been shown to enhance performance in those not subjected to enough natural UV light and is a vital nutrient for an array of physiological functions so ensuring your intake is sufficient is critically important for improving the 4 markers listed above.
Magnesium is readily available in food sources as well, however, it still remains as the number 2 most deficient vitamin or mineral in developed societies.
Supplementing with magnesium daily can help improve:
- Blood pressure
- Nerve conductivity in muscle tissue
- Blood glucose regulation
- Increased insulin sensitivity
In a sport where neural activation and muscular health is paramount, as well as the fact that most powerlifters are consuming large quantities of calories from carbohydrates, magnesium may benefit the user in both physical function for performance and recovery but also support the large dietary intake of carbohydrates as well.
Of the 4 supplements mentioned in this article, digestive enzymes are the one product that could be intermittently used and removed, depending on the phase the athlete is in. Due to the large quantity of food intake, powerlifters are arguably subjected to supraphysiological gastric stress, which leaves some people to believe that the supplementation of digestive enzymes may ease total gastric stress and improve the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients.
If you are suffering from gastric stress after the consumption of every meal, it may be advantageous to utilise digestive enzymes to ease the digestive process and enhance general well being as your gut and its health can be a primary determinant of total health as well.
Whether you are simply looking to feel better, be healthier or perform better, the supplements listed in both Part 1 and Part 2 in this series can offer real benefit.
To minimise the confusion and to ensure supplementation is adequate, below is a guide on the use, timing and dosage of each supplement listed to improve your performance.
|Creatine Monohydrate||5 - 10g||Daily||Consume with a protein/carbohydrate|
|Caffeine||3-6mg per kg||0-30min pre workout||Consuming on an empty stomach is best|
|Beta Alanine||3 - 4g||Daily||Can cause tingling/itchiness post consumption|
|Citrulline Malate||5 - 8g||30min pre workout||Consume on its own or with carbohydrates|
|Curcumin||100mg||2x daily with food||Meriva is recognised as the best patented form|
|Fish Oil||2.7g EPA/DHA||Daily split into 3 doses of 900mg||Consume with food to minimise reflux|
|Magnesium||600mg||300mg post training and prior to bed||Citrate/chelates are preferred sources|
|Vitamin D3||2000-5000iu||Daily||Consume with a dietary fat source|
|Whey Protein||30-40g||Daily||Used to fortify diet|
|Digestive Enzymes||1 capsule||Daily with meals||Used to support poor digestion|