Whether you’re a bodybuilder, cross-trainer or extreme exercise enthusiast, training intensely comes at a cost. Sure, you have to turn up the tempo or pile on the weights to get insane results, but the physical stress is significant. To make any real progress, you have to fuel your body with a good diet (using the macronutrient percentages of 40-30-20 for carbs, protein and fats), plenty of water and some specific supplements for nutritional insurance. Here are the essentials I use and recommend to my high-intensity-training clients.
Protein. Let’s face it, you need adequate protein to build and repair muscle tissue. Your first choice should be food, but supplements offer convenience when you can’t eat chicken or lean meat. My new favorite protein powder is Paleo Protein from MHP. By combining only beef protein isolate and egg-white protein, it provides the two best old-school muscle builders in a delicious shake. And if you want a high-protein treat, reach for Power Pak Pudding. With 30 grams of protein and only 190 calories, this sugar-free pudding tastes amazing!
Fish oil. Every guy or gal who lifts heavy or performs high-volume training absolutely should be taking fish oil daily. It has proven anti-inflammatory effects and enhances your cardiovascular system. Just be sure your supplement of choice is high in DHA and EPA, the important omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. I’m with MHP, so I recommend Omega Strong, which is a triple-potency product, but there are other good fish-oil supplements on the market. I take it twice daily to get three grams of omega-3s.
Amino acids. Along with a protein supplement, it’s a good idea to take extra amino acids for enhanced muscle building and decreased muscle breakdown, as well as faster recovery. The essentials include BCAAs and glutamine. The former serves as a cellular fuel within the muscles, enabling you to train harder and longer. The latter is a proven anticatabolic amino that protects against overtraining by limiting muscle degradation. My recommendations are BCAA 3300 (a highly anabolic 4:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine) and Glutamine-SR (timed-release glutamine), both from—you guessed it—MHP.
Preworkout. Depending on your activity of choice, stimulants may be helpful—but too much of even a good thing can be harmful. The current trend in preworkout products is heavy on stimulants and not so much anything else of value. Hey, I don’t need to take amphetamines to train hard—but I do believe in the use of research-proven compounds like creatine and beta-alanine for anabolic and anticatabolic value.
The only preworkout supplement I use is MHP’s X-Fit Trainer. It contains full clinical doses of creatine and beta-alanine, plus it has a stimulant kick of caffeine, a known ergogenic aid, and raspberry ketones for increased calorie burn. In addition, it’s the only preworkout that contains a clinical dose of CortiFit, a natural compound that lowers cortisol. That’s especially important for high-intensity lifters who keep the pedal down at workout after workout.
Postworkout. To finish your training right, you must feed your muscles immediately to avoid muscle breakdown. The first 30 minutes postexercise is when your body needs a supercompensation of certain nutrients—glycogen, creatine and amino acids. That’s because you use your muscle glycogen stores during intense exercise, your phosphocreatine stores are depleted because of ATP breakdown, and your muscles are degraded due to microtrauma from multiple contractions. If you don’t feed your muscles right away, you remain in a highly catabolic state, in which your body will break down muscle tissue for nutrients.
Supplements are very handy for the postworkout window because people typically don’t have an appetite for solid food. My choice for this critical time is MHP’s Dark Matter, which contains waxy maize, a multicreatine blend and an amino acid matrix. It comes in a powder that makes a great-tasting shake, and I look forward to drinking it after every training session. Other good choices are fast-absorbing whey powder (such as ISOFAST Whey Milkshake) with a banana or other easy-to-digest fruit.
Bottom line: If you’re going to beat up your body day after day with extreme high-intensity training, you absolutely need to fuel your muscles to keep making progress. Eat clean, of course, but use the right supplements for maximum results. —Cornell Hunt, C.S.C.S.
Editor’s note: For more information on MHP performance-nutrition supplements, visit MHPSTRONG.com. Cornell Hunt, C.S.C.S., is a noted cross-training expert in New Jersey. For more information visit HuntForStrength.com.