Supplements – How necessary are they to your Success in the Gym?
You can’t open a workout magazine or watch television without someone telling you just how important this drink, that powder or the other pill is to you if you want to achieve your desired results. The average person is so bombarded with this imagery that it might be ingrained in their brain that no matter what their fitness goal, it simply can’t be achieved without the proper supplementation.
So are powders, pills and other potions really integral to your success in the gym? Short answer is – Nope.
There are several factors that you’ll depend on in order to make good progress with your workout plan, supplements happen to be very low on the list of importance – that’s not to say that they can’t provide some assistance toward you achieving your goal, but alone supplements mean very little to your overall progress in the gym.
When breaking down the most important factors to consider in your regimen, the first should be consistency. You need to have your goals (difficult, but achievable) in place and you have to actually get to the gym and put in the time on a regular basis if you hope to see any results. I won’t get into too much detail with this part because we’ve been down this road before – in short, if you want to see improvements get off your ass and work.
The second most important thing could conceivably be a toss up between rest/recovery and what you’re putting into your body depending upon your goals. Both are of crucial importance, but depending upon your individual regimen one may be a little more important than the other.
We’ll discuss consumption first because in all probability for the readers, this will be the more important and more controllable factor. Most people want to look and feel the best that they possibly can, and much of what will make that happen is the determined by what goes into their bodies. This is where supplement companies want to make you think that you can’t achieve any results in terms of looking or feeling better without the use of their products, but in all honesty – the absolute best supplement product in the world won’t do a damn thing for you if you aren’t in control of the rest of your diet. Don’t be fooled by the companies that tell you that you can eat whatever you want, because as long as you’re taking their product you’ll still lose fat, build muscle, etc., etc. – that is complete BS. The most important thing you can do in terms of consumption is to follow a clean, well balanced diet – if you want to “supplement” with a multi-vitamin or a quality protein shake that’s fine, but without the proper attention to your diet you’ll never achieve your goals.
Work ethic and nutrition are of paramount importance but another area that often gets overlooked in the need for good rest. If you don’t get a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis it will be impossible for your body to recover from the stress you are putting it under in your training. You can still get visible results on limited sleep, but they won’t come nearly as fast as they would if you were getting the necessary amount for your activity level. I know that a lot of you are probably snickering right now because going to bed early really cuts into your “play time,” and I understand. With all of the responsibilities that come with life in general I don’t want to go to bed at nine o’clock either, it’s just unrealistic to assume that everyone can get nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. What I will suggest is that you at least make an effort to get a bit more sleep than you currently are if your want to see the best possible results from your training. If you can get a solid seven hours a night that will probably be enough and if you can manage to sneak in one or two nights a week with eight plus hours, even better. Don’t completely sacrifice your night if that’s the only relaxing time that you get to yourself, just cut it down a little bit in favor of a little extra shut-eye and you’ll start to see improvements in your training more quickly.
Once these other three areas are in line (the consistency, the clean diet and the good sleep), you can start worrying about supplements if you’d like. You shouldn’t need anything major, maybe a once a day multi-vitamin, an occasional pre-workout energy drink (if necessary), and if you’re doing a lot of weight training – a post workout protein shake.
When used properly good quality supplements can aid in yielding results, but only if the three aforementioned areas are already taken care of. There is no legal supplement that can effectively replace hard work in the gym, a good diet and getting enough sleep.
About Jeff Wilson Jeff Wilson has been involved in some form of sports and athletic training for more than two decades: as an athlete, a trainer and a writer.