Energy pills and supplements can support your workouts by allowing your muscles to produce more power, contract more intensely and lift heavier weights for more repetitions. Working out hard means pushing yourself with progressively more challenging resistance and/or training duration. Many natural supplements can help you work out longer and harder than proper diet alone. Always consult with your doctor before taking any energy supplements.
Pre-workout supplements can help you get better results from your fitness program by increasing energy and fat burning, as well as creating an anabolic or growth environment inside your muscle cells, says Jeff Anderson in "Homemade Supplement Secrets." Natural ingredients such as herbs and amino acids support intense workouts by allowing your muscles to work longer and harder in the gym. Some of these supplements have a greater synergistic effect when combined than when taken alone. Energy supplements not only help you in the gym, but may improve muscle recovery while you rest.
The popular NO products provide precursors to nitric oxide, a gas that dilates blood vessels to allow more nutrient delivery to working muscles. Stimulant products, containing caffeine and other central nervous system stimulants, cause the body to produce more adrenal hormones like epinephrine, which triggers the release of fatty acids for energy usage, according to "Supplements 101" by Jim Stoppani. Amino acids provide the building blocks of protein that help muscles recover and rebuild during and after training. Some special amino acids even act directly to fuel muscles and prevent breakdown.
Common ingredients in NO products include the amino acid L-arginine or its analogs, L-citrulline, pycnogenol, pomegranate extract and vitamin C, according to "Everything You Need to NO" by Jordana Brown. The amino acids L-glutamine, taurine and the branched-chain aminos (BCAAs) also are also common pre-workout energy supplements. Beta-alanine and creatine work together to simultaneously increase muscular energy and decrease fatigue by buffering lactic acid production, which acts as a limiting factor for muscle contraction. Caffeine, yohimbe, synephrine, theophylline and theobromine are common stimulants with potent energetic effects in the body.
The most popular drug worldwide, caffeine, has its place among energy supplements because it works well. According to "Power Pills" by Jose Antonio, caffeine can instantly boost your strength levels while decreasing your perceived muscle fatigue during workouts. NO and L-arginine products increase muscle building, fat burning and even directly impact strength and muscle size, according to "Natural Anabolics" by Jerry Brainum. The molecular structure of the BCAAs allows muscles to use them as a direct source of energy during training to inhibit muscle loss, fuel protein synthesis and speed up muscle recovery.
Energy supplements are not for everyone. Caffeine and other stimulants can have serious health risks for those who have a history of heart disease. Likewise, creatine can aggravate preexisting kidney or liver disease. Although less severe, L-arginine and beta-alanine may also cause some side effects. L-arginine can cause a breakout for individuals infected with the herpes viruses. NO supplements can also cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and should not be taken along with blood pressure medication. Beta-alanine causes a slight tingle or flushing sensation in the skin that is harmless, but can cause discomfort.
- "Homemade Supplement Secrets"; Jeff Anderson; 2008
- "Muscle & Fitness Presents 2010 Edition: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook"; Supplements 101; Jim Stoppani, PhD; January 2010
- "Muscle & Performance"; Everything You Need to NO; Jordana Brown; January 2010
- "Muscle & Performance"; Alpha-Beta; Kimberly J. Retzlaff; February 2010
- "Muscle & Fitness Presents 2010 Edition: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook"; Power Pills; Jose Antonio, PhD; January 2010
- "Natural Anabolics"; Jerry Brainum; 2006