Everyone who steps foot in the gym has the goal of self-improvement.  Self-improvement means different things to different people, therefore, training and diet methods also differ.  A powerlifter looking to add more weight to their deadlift will train and eat differently than a bodybuilder leaning out for a show.  Likewise, the training and diet demands of someone preparing for a marathon will differ from that of a fighter gearing up for a grappling tournament.  In the same way that the training and diets of these athletes differ based on their individual goals, their supplement stacks should differ, too.


There are certain ingredients all athletes can benefit from, which should make up the essentials of their stacks.  But for individuals focused on achieving a specific goal, creating a more tailored approach to their stack could be beneficial.  A problem many people encounter with supplements is a misunderstanding of an ingredient’s function, and the demands their training puts on their body.  You may have experienced this when one of your gym buddies swears by an ingredient while another person tells you the same ingredient did nothing for them.  It’s possible they’re both right, especially if they have conflicting training goals. Here’s a guide to help you customize your supplement stack based on your specific training goals.


PIP Stack (AKA, “The Essential Stack”) -The peri-workout window is the time before, during, and after your workout.  Many people consider this timeframe to be one of the most important times of the day.  By setting yourself up with the proper nutrients before and during your workout, you’re able to train at your maximum intensity. When you finish your workout, you want to supply your body with the right nutrients to accelerate a complete recovery.   

PRE-KAGED®: Before your workout, you want to supply your body with ingredients which will help increase your energy levels, support healthy muscle pumps, and buffer lactic acid. Ingredients such as organic caffeine, citrulline, and CarnoSyn® beta-alanine help support this.

IN-KAGED®: You want to maintain your intensity from your first rep right through to your last.  Taking BCAAs provides you with fuel for your muscles, while ingredients such as organic caffeine helps support energy and focus.

RE-KAGED®: Following an intense workout, you want to provide your body with the nutrients which support muscle recovery.  This should include a fast-digesting protein source to support muscle protein synthesis, and ingredients such as Creatine HCl, Glutamine, and BetaPower® betaine - an osmolyte that supports hydration.


Beyond these critical timeframes around your workout, you can further customize a stack to your specific goals. These goal-oriented stacks can be added to the PIP stack, based on your current focus.

 

Lean Gains Muscle Stack - When you’re working to build muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus to support an anabolic environment.  The ideal situation would be to maximize muscle gain while minimizing increases in body fat. Lifters looking to add muscle will also typically do hypertrophy-specific training which often results in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This stack is created with the goal to support muscle growth.

Micropure® Whey Protein Isolate (or Amino Synergy™): A fast digesting isolate protein provides the body with a quality source of protein and the full spectrum of essential amino acids.  For individuals who prefer plant-based protein sources, Amino Synergy also provides the full spectrum of essential amino acids.

L-Carnitine: Carnitine facilitates the transfer of fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane, so they can be burned for energy.  Carnitine also helps to alleviate post-workout markers of muscle stress and soreness following resistance training.

How to stack it: Whey Isolate can be used anytime throughout the day to meet your protein intake needs.  For carnitine, use 3-4 servings daily. On workout days, take 30-60 minutes prior to training.

 

Fat Loss Stack -When you’re trying to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, and the goal is to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.  For those who weight train, research shows there’s a benefit to increasing daily protein intake when following a caloric restrictive diet. [1] This stack is optimal to use during a cutting phase.

Clean Burn®: Supports weight loss from multiple angles with ingredients that increase thermogenesis, support fatty acid oxidation, one that has traditionally been used to maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within a healthy range..

Kasein™: Casein is a slow digesting protein that has been shown to be effective at reducing muscle protein breakdown.

How to stack it: Take a serving of Clean Burn three times a day, and use Kasein at night to feed your muscles overnight and to help hit your daily protein intake goals.

 

Veteran Stack (recommended for those over 30 years of age) - Having an optimal testosterone to cortisol ratio is linked to favorable body composition.  You can help support a more anabolic environment with this stack.

Ferodrox™: A testosterone support matrix designed to help keep your testosterone and cortisol ratio within normal levels.  Ferodrox includes LJ100® Tongkat Ali which has been shown to promote favorable testosterone to cortisol ratios, and KSM-66® ashwagandha which has been shown to increase muscle mass, total testosterone and strength. [2]

Glutamine: Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid that can become depleted by intense exercise.  Typically, glutamine is used as a supplement to support muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown.

How to stack it: Take one serving of Ferodrox in the morning and another before your workout.  Use glutamine after an intense workout to aid in recovery.

 

Strength and Power Stack -For strength and field sports, a great deal of time is spent training the ATP-PC and anaerobic systems.  The ATP-PC system is the primary system used for explosive activities like weight lifting and sprints. The anaerobic system is used when the body produces energy without oxygen, such as a kickboxing workout or a CrossFit WOD.  Try this stack if you’re working on increasing your strength or regularly perform high intensity training sessions.

CreaClear®– Creatine monohydrate is arguably the most effective sports nutrition ingredient you can take, especially if your training focus revolves around the ATP-PC system.  In a review of 22 studies, creatine supplementation was shown to increase muscular strength and the overall number of reps performed. [3]

SR-CarnoSyn® – Beta-alanine is an effective ingredient for athletes who rely on their anaerobic energy system.  It increases intramuscular carnosine levels and enhances the muscle’s buffering capacity. A study on strength training individuals using 6.4g per day for 5 weeks found beta-alanine supplementation effective at increasing power output. [4]

How to stack it: Take 5 g of CreaClear daily, and 3.2 – 6.4 g of beta-alanine per day, which can be split into multiple smaller doses as desired.  

 

Endurance Stack -For endurance athletes, the bulk of their training utilizes the aerobic system.  It’s common for serious endurance athletes to log daily workouts which last over two hours.  Because of these extreme training schedules, maintaining optimal hydration levels and reducing muscle catabolism are major priorities.  Incorporate this stack during long cardio-based workouts.

Hydra-Charge®: Using an electrolyte mix can be a convenient way to help maintain hydration as electrolytes play key roles in the regulation of body fluids.  Taurine has been shown to improve endurance performance, making it an important ingredient for endurance athletes to consume.

Citrulline: Citrulline increases arginine levels which ultimately results in increased plasma nitric oxide.  In a study on cyclists, citrulline supplementation was shown to enhance cycle time trial performance. [5]

BCAAs: BCAAs bypass the liver and get metabolized by the muscle directly, making them a fast-acting source of muscle fuel.  

How to stack it: For endurance training sessions, mix a serving of Hydra-Charge, 2-4 g of citrulline, and BCAAs into a jug of water and sip throughout the workout.

No matter what your goal is, there are supplements to support you. We’ve done the legwork by creating and outlining the most important products and ingredients based on common goals. When you’re putting the time and energy into shaping your ideal physique, make sure your body has what it needs to push through training sessions and recover efficiently.

 

References

[1] Helms, E., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D., & Brown, S. (2013). A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: A case for higher intakes.International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24. 10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0054.

[2] Wankhede, S et al.J Inter Soc Sports Nutr 2012, 25 (12): 43.

[3] Rawson, E. S., & Volek, J. S. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance.The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17(4), 822. doi:10.1519/1533-4287(2003)0172.0.co;2

[4] Maté-Muñoz, J. L., Lougedo, J. H., Garnacho-Castaño, M. V., Veiga-Herreros, P., Lozano-Estevan, M., García-Fernández, P., de Jesús, F., Guodemar-Pérez, J., San Juan, A. F., … Domínguez, R. (2018). Effects of β-alanine supplementation during a 5-week strength training program: a randomized, controlled study.Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 19. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0224-0

[5] Suzuki, T., Morita, M., Kobayashi, Y., & Kamimura, A. (2016). Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study.Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13, 6. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0117-z


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