Updated: Jul 29, 2018
Supplements aren’t everything, but they can do a lot. They do not come close to proper nutritional habits, and any serious competitive weightlifter should prioritize proper dieting. Supplements for weightlifters help them become stronger faster, recover quicker, and keep them training consistently at a high level. These are the supplements I would recommend to almost any competitive weightlifter I come across.
Protein Powder: A quality protein power is the base of any good supplement routine, for the most important reason: convenience. Brining enough food with you for the full day can be difficult logistically. Having an easy way to get protein in, especially after a workout can be simplified by having a good protein powder. Most individuals will best benefit from having a good whey protein for starting off. Even at night, casein is only minimally better for nighttime feeding, and could be just another supplement you would have to purchase. Whey works pretty much the same. If your stomach does not sit well with whey, consider a beef or plant based protein, making sure that the leucine content is at least two grams or higher. Sometimes an additional half serving of a plant based protein can accomplish this.
Creatine: Creatine is one of the safest supplements any power athlete can take. Its main purpose is to benefit training. Creatine works by helping you replenish your creatine phosphate stores more readily. In training, this means that when you hit a set in the 90%s and then have to go back and hit another one, you will have similar strength as the first time you hit it. You will be able to keep training at higher volumes at higher weights during a training session. Better training in the long run will benefit performance.
Multivitamin: Every individual should be taking a multivitamin, it is your catch all. There is no reason to walk around deficient in one vitamin or mineral when it is so simple not to. Just take a good quality multivitamin. You are looking for one that is in high bioavailability of its nutrients and most likely a capsule instead of a hard pressed pill. Weightlifters in particular are looking for a multi vitamin high in magnesium for muscle repair.
Fish oil: Fish oil is similar to a multivitamin in that almost everyone should be taking one, and especially weight lifters. There are two main reasons to take fish oil- anti-inflammation and proper brain function. EPA, one of the eicosanoids in fish oil decreases inflammation helping multiple health factors and decreases some of the stress caused by heavy lifting. DHA, another eicosanoid improves brain function and mental health. I recommend weightlifters get about 600-800mg EPA and 300-500mg DHA a day.
Vitamin D: Most Americans do not get enough sunlight or Vitamin D to put themselves in optimal levels. Two of the most important processes that Vitamin D is involved in is bone health and immune function. Keeping strong bones and not getting sick are two great ways to keep an athlete lifting. A sick or injured athlete doesn’t lift. Protect yourself with getting adequate vitamin D, preferably with a oil based liquid.
Melatonin: Quality sleep is vital to a lifter. Being under heavy load means an increased need for MORE hours. The average adult needs about 8 hours of sleep; weightlifters usually need even more for repair. There are very few individuals that I see that in the beginning prioritize sleep to get the most out of their day and training. One supplement that I suggest to help athletes fall asleep faster is melatonin. Melatonin works with growth hormone to help improve muscle repair while you sleep and fall asleep faster and stay asleep.