CrossFiiiit! Sure, it’s all good fun when you’re posting #WODWednesday selfies, but when someone scribbles four rounds of devilish exercise on a whiteboard? That’s when you’ll be glad of the ol’ lifting powder. “Creatine helps your body’s production of ATP, your energy source for short, explosive efforts,” says Precision Nutrition coach Jessica Wolny. “And it also helps muscular recovery between efforts.” Ideal for that kettlebell/rope-climb/sled push monstrosity then, especially if you load it for a few days prior.
If you’re grinding it out like Lou Ferrigno in Pumping Iron (with obligatory “Ahhh-nold!” noises) but the results aren’t coming, it could be that you aren’t given your precious pectorals the fuel they need. Enter branched chain amino acids, which are designed to be taken pre-, post-, or even “peri” (that’s gym-bro for “during”) workout to keep protein synthesis on point. It comes with three key ingredients – leucine is the most important, so for complicated science reasons keep to a ratio of 2:1:1 between that and the others.
Yes, your Aeropress addiction comes with scientific benefits: caffeine isn’t just a heart-rate boosting stimulant and fat-loss booster, but also helps with muscular endurance. “The evidence seems to suggest that it’s slightly more effective for higher reps than singles,” says Revive Stronger coach Stephen Hall. “But it works better if you periodise it slightly – so drink less coffee on the days when you aren’t training, and have an espresso 20–30 minutes before you hit the gym.” It also works as a mild appetite suppressant: so if you’re trying to cool it on the almond croissants, bang down a long black before the mid-morning Tesco dash.
True, your Victoria park trot will top you up in the summer months, but up until mid-February there’s too little UVB radiation in the sun’s rays to keep you in recommended levels. “If you’re deficient, the evidence suggests that your testosterone levels suffer and your risk of illness and stress fractures goes up,” says Wolny. “Top up with anything up to 2,000 IU a day.” Mouth sprays are more easily-absorbed – make it part of your post-toothbrushing routine, and out-sprint those uppity French bulldogs.
Sure, it’s the unglamorous option but it’s one of the most scientifically sound, whatever your levels of activity. “Unless you already eat a lot of oily fish, you can benefit from supplementing with fish oil to reduce body fat and inflammation,” says strength and conditioning coach Joseph Lightfoot. It it also improves focus and cognitive balance, making regular intake key for everything from over-serious tactics meetings (“follow the bald bloke!”) to on-pitch performance. You don’t need to glug it just before kick-off: take it with your most recent pre-match meal.