Athletic Xtreme Product Support Center

When to start taking supplements.

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2012 12:49PM MST
Beginning the Journey

Many of us come into this sport, hobby, or pastime with goals in mind. Whether your goal is to get bigger, stronger, slimmer, defined, faster, healthier, more sexy, or whatever else, there is always a need to have a plan of attack. Those of us who started out as non-athletes often don't have the requisite knowledge to formulate that plan, and yet there are those who have played sports all their lives who still don't know what they are doing. 

In order to obtain any goal, you must have a way to go about reaching that goal. I'm sure that we can all agree that some kind of roadmap must be created, as our goals are seldom reached in a day. The map to a better body is full of roadblocks, potholes, detours, and often times, wrong turns. Best laid plans of mice and men, and yadda yadda yadda… The professional bodybuilder, strength athlete, or competitor of any serious nature spends hours with trainers, dieticians, and by themselves planning their road to success. For the average gymrat, this may not be the case. We are dependent on ourselves and the knowledge that we acquire from reading books, watching TV, and looking things up on dat dere interwebz. Forums such as this one can be a very useful tool, but in the wrong hands, misinformation can spread like wildfire, leading you down the path to destruction rather than the path to perfection. 

No Rushing Into It

Nowadays, with information (and misinformation) spread so widely across the media, many are jumping into the gym equipped with more pills and potions than training common sense. The 'glamour' of sixpack abs, the 'glitz' of that killer beach body, or the 'appeal' of being the new fox on the block is certainly alluring. But none of those things are obtained easily or instantly. Sorry to say it folks, but there's actual WORK involved in it! That's right, work. Jumping into the gym equipped with the latest and greatest of what the local supplement market has to offer isn't going to replace the time, effort, sweat, and even blood and tears that it takes to get to where you want to be. To those who walk into the gym as newbies just like this, take a step back and read this article twice. Absorb it, learn from it, and live it. 

Hierarchy, Top Level: Training and Diet

The road we follow changes frequently, or atleast it should. Our bodies adapt; it is the nature of it all. Following a set routine day in and day out for months on end leads to the body adapting to the stimulus of training, putting a halt to our progress. When we first hit the gym, we make gains or losses easily. We haven't trained before, and the new stimuli are having a profound affect on our 'lazy' bodies. But soon, we hit that wall, the first plateau is upon us where no matter how hard we try, we can't get that extra 5lbs up. I won't get into the myriad of training styles, programs and whatnot here, but I will say that you MUST have a routine in mind in order to be successful. Choose a program or design one yourself that caters to your goals. If you've read about something that you want to try, by all means, try it out! But limit yourself to 4-6 weeks on it else the body will adapt. If it works, keep it in a folder for future use. After the time is up, try something else. If it works, fine. If not, scrap it. 

As important as training is the topic of diet. Look at your goals, both long and short term, and plan to eat to accommodate your success. If you are cutting, don't expect a Wendy's Baconator to be on the menu all week long. Do your homework, find what's good and what's not good, and customize it! Just as with training, diet is individual to each person. I wouldn't want anyone to follow my diet to a "T", nor could I expect myself to follow Big Swole Kim Williams' diet and expect to look like him in a short period of time. Take a look at what you eat now and make changes accordingly. Get suggestions, ask for help, and plan plan plan! 

Without a proper diet and training regimine, you're screwed. Face it, that's the facts. Nobody get ripped eating fast food every day, I don't care how high you think your metabolism is. And if one suffers, the other will suffer as well. 

Hierarchy, Level 2: Rest

Perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects to a healthier lifestyle is rest. Busy lifestyles leave us little time to take a break throughout the week. Having a job, or a family, or a social life take a chunk of our lives away from the training process and can have adverse affects on our progress. While we all have things that we must do or want to do, we also need to incorporate time to allow our bodies to regenerate. 

Sleeping at night is important. Studies have shown that this is when the major recovery happens. And don't ask me to cite studies, I'm not into that and by now this is pretty common knowledge. But getting some quality sleep at night helps so much in not only the training, but in our daily lives. Sleep too little and you wake up feeling like crap. Likewise, sleep too long and you'll feel the same! If you don't have normal sleep patterns, take steps to adjust. Get your full 8 hours, or 7, or 9…whatever you need. Just make sure to do it. 

Nap time? Sure, why not?! If at all possible, we should all take an hour nap each afternoon. That "powernap" can do us a world of good, recharging our mind and body to continue throughout the day. For the pro stage walkers, it's almost mandatory. For us average Joe types, not so much. But if you are training intensely, especially more than once each day, then take the rest! 

Overtraining sucks and too many people do it. If you hit the gym and are in there lifting for hours on end each day expecting to get heyooge, forget it. Get in, get it done, go about your day. Some say that 45 minutes is sufficient, while others may argue up to 2 hours, depending on the routine. Personally, 45 minutes of intense lifting is it for me. After that, I'm too wasted to make any good progress or do any quality lifts. This is a case of more is NOT always better. Keep the intensity high while you are there. If you're winding down to the point where it isn't there, leave! Go hard or go home – words to live by. Similarly, watch out for overtraining over multiple sessions. Typical muscles and muscle groups need a day or two to recover properly before you smash into them again. Abs, forarms and calves may be an exception that can be trained daily. But don't do chest two days in a row, or do back two days in a row, or even stand around curling like a dumbass every day you go in there. Let the worked part rest! 

Hierarchy Level 3: Supplements (the bottom rung on the ladder)

So now that you've gotten your ass in the gym for a few weeks and are making some killer progress, and now that you've gotten your diet in check to the point where eating healthy and to your goals is second nature, and now that you realize the importance of rest for recovery and growth, NOW comes the option to supplement. Supplements are just that – supplemental. They are never required, with the exception of dietary or physiological deficiencies (ie iron deficiency, or taking calcium when lactose intolerant). Supplements are an option to help push you through. They are the high octane in your hard-working daily driver. Supplements are NOT the beat-all end-all, they are NOT the means to the end, and they are NOT the answer to life's problems. 

So when do I start incorporating supplements into my life? Well, anytime really, except for the beginning. I'm not a fan of using supplements as a crutch, nor am I of those who walk into the gym on Day 1 armed with the entire shelf of test boosters from GNC. When you've got the top 2 levels in this "Hierarchy" nailed down and your progress slows, I think it's time to start bringing in supplements to get you to the next level.

Contact Us

  • Email Us
  • Or call 1.888.388.7566 Phone Support Hours Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm PST