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View Full Version : Tuning up my supplement mix for strongman performance


Don Stevenson
03-09-2010, 04:25 AM
Ok team, a question/survey for the nutrition and supplementation gurus that are here.

I've read the top five supplements thread and clearly there is a pattern there but i figured i'd see what advice you guys have for me.

Situation

I'm 30 years old and have been training for about 12 years, the last 5 or so seriously and the last two 2 very seriously with the focus being improved performance as a 105kg / 231# Strongman in whats turning out to be a very competitive division.

Lifestyle - I run my own business training people and running workshops which means some odd hours and early mornings and typically I don't get as much sleep as i'd like.

Diet - Last year I put on 14kg / 30lb by eating everything in sight and found that I was recovering brilliantly and progressing nicely. Now i've hit my goal training weight of 107kg/240# I have cut down my food a bit so that i don't get too heavy and i'm finding that my recovery and progress are a bit compromised.

Supplements - This is where i'm hoping I can make some gains without resorting to eating bulk cheese burgers again. Currently all I use is plain whey protein powder 2-3 times a day, a generic multi vitamin and 4g of fish oil each night. For longer gym sessions I drink gatorade but have just got some Endura stuff that has magnesium, potassium, sodium etc in it.

Training - I've run out of easy gains in the big lifts and have pretty much run into the situation where i've got to use some more sophisticated programming and all round higher workloads to see progress these days, this of course means my recovery needs to be spot on to avoid an enormous crash and burn.

So this leads to my question

Back in the old days I used to use creatine, glutamine and a few other odds and ends and am now thinking off adding some stuff back to my supplement plan.

Based on what i've read here and elsewhere some candidates include

Creatine, glutamine (although i see it's not getting as much love as it used to), BCAA, Vit D, ZMA.

What are everyone's thoughts on taking some (or all of these) to enhance performance in the big basic lifts and strongman performance while doing very heavy and hard training such as the hormonal fluctuation cycles outlined in practical programming?

Garrett Smith
03-09-2010, 04:37 AM
The ones you list are good basics, I do all of them except BCAA.

Ryan Secor
03-09-2010, 08:00 PM
Do you do any AAS (or legal designer AAS)? Obviously this would be optimal for performance for strongman competition (or any performance competition for that matter) if you're willing to take the plunge.

If not - Marc Bartley (http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/default.asp?a=search&tid=) over at EliteFTS suggests trying a month natural test boosting "cycle" of 4g Tribulus with some other stuff (Stinging nettle leaf, etc) and apparently has people having good results with it. I'm thinking about starting a thread about it here to collect thoughts (may not have to now)... but it may be beneficial if in fact it works how it claims (I know there's a few studies out there that contradict tribulus' claims). Anyway --- worth maybe checking out.... maybe guys with more experience with this can chime in.

Derek Weaver
03-09-2010, 11:13 PM
Do you do any AAS (or legal designer AAS)? Obviously this would be optimal for performance for strongman competition (or any performance competition for that matter) if you're willing to take the plunge.

If not - Marc Bartley (http://asp.elitefts.com/qa/default.asp?a=search&tid=) over at EliteFTS suggests trying a month natural test boosting "cycle" of 4g Tribulus with some other stuff (Stinging nettle leaf, etc) and apparently has people having good results with it. I'm thinking about starting a thread about it here to collect thoughts (may not have to now)... but it may be beneficial if in fact it works how it claims (I know there's a few studies out there that contradict tribulus' claims). Anyway --- worth maybe checking out.... maybe guys with more experience with this can chime in.

The issue with Tribulus and other natural Test boosters is that they usually don't boost levels outside of the normal range.

They may be good to get someone from low to mid-normal, but that change would be unlikely to result in a substantial increases in strength, muscle mass, recovery etc.

What I think would make sense would be to get a hormonal profile done as well as getting Vitamin D levels checked.

Whatever you decide to do, I would only add one supplement at a time. Otherwise if you add more than one supplement it's impossible to tell if all are working or just one.

If you are reducing food intake to keep weight in check, a natural side effect of this would be the decreased recovery and slower gains. Additionally, judging from the #'s in your training log, it makes sense you are in need of more complex programming.

Donald Lee
03-09-2010, 11:15 PM
Martin Berkham wrote up a list of useful supplements:

http://leangains.blogspot.com/2010/01/supplements-you-might-actually-find_09.html

Tony Ferous
03-10-2010, 05:01 AM
Ive not read the leangains site before to know his credentials, interesting he rates calcium in his top 3 supps(T boosting affects withpubmed link) ive seen a previous study with same type of results before. I guess with D supps and good alkaline balance you should need less, im still taking 500mg daily though.

Mike ODonnell
03-10-2010, 08:54 AM
Lifestyle - I run my own business training people and running workshops which means some odd hours and early mornings and typically I don't get as much sleep as i'd like.

Sleep of course is good (that GH spike at night) and stress can be an issue. Elevated cortisol will only signal want to conserve and use more glycogen and cause less AA uptake at the muscle level...aka you are lowering protein synthesis. Hence why I think especially for a person who works long stressful days or has longer workouts, sipping on BCAAs in water will have some benefit in controlling that cortisol response. Try it....see what happens...worst case you spent $30.

Garrett Smith
03-10-2010, 10:36 AM
That guy (Berkham) has the freakiest looking bicep muscle I've ever seen from his photo on his site, either that or some really bad Photoshopping...
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dtaWqzV6d7M/SFZltlzsM-I/AAAAAAAAALQ/jPL1yLgR3dc/S150/IFrecompb.jpg

Donald Lee
03-10-2010, 07:27 PM
That guy (Berkham) has the freakiest looking bicep muscle I've ever seen from his photo on his site, either that or some really bad Photoshopping...
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dtaWqzV6d7M/SFZltlzsM-I/AAAAAAAAALQ/jPL1yLgR3dc/S150/IFrecompb.jpg

And he says he got them from Weighted Chinups. HMM...

Garrett Smith
03-10-2010, 07:56 PM
Really? That would be interesting. I'm sure genetics played no role at all...

It's scary when I look at my dad's old photos compared to mine, and now when I look at my baby girl's compared to me around the same age. There's only so much change that one can do.

Don Stevenson
03-10-2010, 09:27 PM
Thanks for the input guys.

To clear up a couple of things.

I don't take any AAS and anything that even looks like an AAS precursor or whatever is banned in Australia. You can buy Tribulus but that's about it.

As much as i'd like to add one thing at time to my plan at the moment i'm going to just dump a bunch of stuff in and see how i go with my next training cycle.

I went out today and picked up the following

L- Glutamine
Creatine
Vit D3
BCAA
Endura electrolyte drink with magnesium in it

Fortunately a friend of mine owns a supplement store because some of this stuff isn't cheap here in Aus!

He also recommended GABA over ZMA for sleep / GH increase. Any opinions on this?

Also dose wise this is what i'm planning

Multivitamin - 1 per day
Fish oil - 4g before bed
D3 - 4000IU per day
Creatine - 20g x 5 days loading then 5g/ day
L Glutamine - 3-5g post workout
BCAA mix - 2.2g post workout
Protein - WPC 40g 3x a day
Endura - 2 scoops post workout = 320mg magnesium, 80mg calcium, 240mg potassium

Derek Weaver
03-10-2010, 10:25 PM
As much as i'd like to add one thing at time to my plan at the moment i'm going to just dump a bunch of stuff in and see how i go with my next training cycle.


I don't get this. I don't really care as it's your training + money, but why is that the plan over knowing which supps. are actually working?

Don Stevenson
03-10-2010, 10:49 PM
Derek,

Good point, I guess it runs something like this

For the past 12 months i've used the following with seemingly good results.

Protein
Fish Oil
Multi Vitamin

In previous years i've used the following with good effect so i'm happy adding them in

Creatine and Glutamine

This leaves the BCAAs, Vit D and Electrolytes as the more experimental stuff.

It probably should try them one at a time but given that I think the improvements from these three are going to total a few percent in terms of recovery over and above the other stuff I'm not sure how i'd determine how effective each one is on it's own within the progress i make over the next 5-6 weeks.

What I may do is take them all until the end of this training cycle and then try eliminating one at a time to see if there are any adverse effects from stopping.

Donald Lee
03-10-2010, 11:21 PM
Really? That would be interesting. I'm sure genetics played no role at all...

It's scary when I look at my dad's old photos compared to mine, and now when I look at my baby girl's compared to me around the same age. There's only so much change that one can do.

He grew up fat, so I'm not sure if he's genetically gifted strength-wise. He must not be gifted bodyfat-wise though.

Allen Yeh
03-11-2010, 03:26 AM
It's been a while since I've messed with creatine but I thought it was concluded the loading phase wasn't necessary?

Never really read too much about GABA but I do like ZMA for the sleep benefits especially when training hard. Eric Cressey has mentioned how much he loves Z-12 which has GABA in it: ( It even gave me the Australian Biotest link)
http://www.biotestaustralia.com/products/Z12.html
I'm not usually one to take recommendations of supps lightly but if Eric Cressey thinks it's worthy, it might just be worth a shot. I don't know if it's worht 99 RRP, in the States it's $35 USD.

James Evans
03-11-2010, 04:26 AM
He grew up fat, so I'm not sure if he's genetically gifted strength-wise. He must not be gifted bodyfat-wise though.

Does that guy post on Lyle's forum or have I mistaken him for one of the other sinewy half naked fellows?

Derek Weaver
03-11-2010, 10:15 AM
Does that guy post on Lyle's forum or have I mistaken him for one of the other sinewy half naked fellows?

Yes he posts on Lyle's forum. He was one of the four who were supposed to release some mega project of sorts.

Donald Lee
03-11-2010, 11:36 AM
Yes he posts on Lyle's forum. He was one of the four who were supposed to release some mega project of sorts.

Yeah, he posts as Work, and that project got cancelled. Martin Berkham is coming out with a book some time this year though.

Derek Weaver
03-11-2010, 03:07 PM
Yeah, he posts as Work, and that project got cancelled. Martin Berkham is coming out with a book some time this year though.

I never thought that project would become a reality.

4 guys in different time zones all with similar, but still different methods and ideas on one project. And all of them have somewhat limited audiences to begin with.

Don Stevenson
03-11-2010, 04:42 PM
Allen, you may be right, it's been a while since I used creatine.

I got a sample of GABA from my friend with the rest of the stuff i picked up and tried it last night.

took 2g 30 minutes before bed and it knocked me out cold and made me sleep all the way through to just before my alarm went off and today I feel much better rested than is usual after a night at my girlfriends place (which is noisy and a bit hot)

On the downside it's expensive here. $70 for a 100g bottle but i'll try another night or two on it and if it works as well over the weekend i'll buy some.

PS I though this thread was about me, not some skinny dude with freaky biceps! I'm the attention whore here, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!!!!:D

Garrett Smith
03-11-2010, 04:54 PM
Try working with less GABA.

Derek Weaver
03-11-2010, 05:33 PM
I personally love GABA. There's a combination supp. I've used off an on and it's the only sleep aid I have used that consistently helps me and doesn't leave me feeling drugged.

The prescription sleep aids mess with me, and ZMA tends to not have a real consistent effect.

I should have pointed out that it's the only supplement I would recommend outright.

Garrett Smith
03-11-2010, 05:51 PM
I love one pill of my Pharma-GABA, I think it's only like 100mg, which IIRC is worth about 600mg of the "regular" GABA. Two pills has me waking up in the same position I went to sleep in.

Don Stevenson
03-11-2010, 05:53 PM
I'll back it off to 1g of GABA and see how I go.

Training switches from light to medium this week and then flat out the following week so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Scott Kustes
03-12-2010, 06:04 AM
I feel much better rested than is usual after a night at my girlfriends place (which is noisy and a bit hot)
There's a joke in there somewhere....

Don Stevenson
03-14-2010, 06:45 PM
You'd think so but at the moment you'd be wrong. She's currently 13 weeks pregnant and there is no "working out" going on at her place at the moment :p

Justin Keane
03-17-2010, 07:58 AM
just did my yearly reread of Lights Out and they recommend against any melatonin supplementation (or really, any sleep aid other than kava kava or the occasional tylenol pm...odd...anyhoo...)

can anyone think of any reason not to try gaba? would a low dosage interfere with any of the stuff the body ought to be naturally producing? i've been using zma recently and while it's been okay, i'm still not as rested as i'd like to be and am intrigued by the comments i've read about gaba (especially the pharmagaba)