If your goal is to increase your strength, the most important step is to train with heavy weights.
In addition to your training, nutrition, and recovery plans, a strong support system of supplements can help.
If you’re ready to kick-start your strength program and need a few good products to help you out, the following supplements can help you reach your next PR.
1) Protein Powder
Protein makes up the very building blocks of muscle mass. It’s essential for building muscle and strength.
For optimal strength, muscle, and recovery, the simple truth is most people don’t get enough protein. A high-quality protein powder is a convenient way to get the protein you need.
While the idea of a “post-workout window” has been debated, taking protein post-workout is a great way to jumpstart your recovery process.
In addition to post-workout, you may also choose to have a scoop of protein powder throughout the day whenever you’re in need of a protein boost. It can also be combined with other macronutrients to make a more complete meal.
Which Protein Powder is Best?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this. At Kaged, we whey, casein, plant-based, and blends. These each have unique benefits, like different rates of digestion.
The common thread is we only use 100% isolate forms of protein. As we talk more about in this article on concentrate vs isolate protein, isolate proteins filter out more of the sugar, fat, and filler. By weight, they have more protein overall, and are the cleaner option when it comes to protein powder.
Can Vegan Protein Support Strength?
Yes it can! Kaged Plantein contains an amino acid profile comparable to whey.
SHOP PROTEIN POWDERS
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements in existence, shown to improve strength, power, and recovery in-between sets.*
How does creatine support all this? It plays a crucial role in the production of energy during high-intensity, short-duration activities like strength training and sprinting.
It helps regenerate a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy currency of the cell. When you exert yourself in a quick burst of activity, ATP gets used up, and creatine helps replenish it, supporting peak performance.
Regular creatine supplementation helps your cells stay fully saturated with creatine. This will help prevent premature fatigue during the workout, allowing you to perform more total sets and reps than you would have without it.
This can translate to better overall progress both in muscle size and strength gains.*
Which form of creatine is best for strength?
Both creatine monohydrate and creatine HCl are effective for increasing phosphocreatine, and therefore providing the strength improvements well-studied with creatine.
With that said, they each have their advantages. Creatine HCl is more soluble, so it mixes better in water. Creatine monohydrate can be a bit grainy.
We cover the differences in depth in this article on creatine monohydrate vs HCl.
Regular of the form, creatine works best when taken consistently. The gold-standard is 5g per day.
Beta-alanine is another supplement that’s well-researched to support athletic performance. In particular it improves performance during high-intensity exercise lasting 1-10 minutes. (1) In other words, it’s perfect for high-intensity resistance training that supports strength.
It also directly improves performance by fighting muscle fatigue and increasing muscle endurance which means increased muscle endurance.*
It has been suggested to increase strength too.* One study looked at the effects of beta-alanine supplementation over the course of a 5-week training program. (2) They observed significant improvement in power output, and observed improvements in 1-rep max.
We include the patented Carnosyn® beta-alanine in all of our pre-workouts because it’s a very well-researched form.
4) BetaPower® Betaine Anhydrous
As the name implies, BetaPower® Betaine anhydrous may help increase max power output.* In Kaged pre-workouts, we use BetaPower®, a patented, purified form.
Strength and power have a close relationship. Think of power simply as the ability to apply strength in the shortest amount of time possible. Power, in its simplest form, is the rate at which work is done. In fitness terms, it's the ability to exert maximum force as quickly as possible. Now, you might be strong, but if you can't apply that strength in a quick, coordinated manner, your power output will be less than optimal. That's why traditional powerlifters incorporate speed work, plyometrics, and other power-focused modalities into their training regimes.
Taurine is another amino acid that supports overall performance.* It does this through various mechanisms. Taurine supports cellular hydration, electrolyte balance, and more efficient muscle contractions.* With regards to strength, the latter is what may lead to some indirect support. More efficient muscle contractions means your muscle will be able to recruit more effectively, which can improve your lifting outcomes.
We include taurine in hydration products as well as our pre-workouts.
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that has shown to improve muscle pumps by increasing nitric oxide synthesis. By the same mechanism, it has an array of other benefits to improve your workout performance and support recovery.
When L-Citrulline enters your system, it leads to an increase of L-Arginine and nitric oxide which promote blood vessel expansion (i.e., vasodilation).
This enhances the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscle.
Because L-Citrulline increases total blood flow moving into and out of the muscle, it’s also useful for accelerating the recovery process, and has been shown to reduce soreness.*
We use plant-based, fermented L-Citrulline in all of our pre-workouts.
You already take lots of BCAAs, even if you don’t know it. The “branched chain amino acids” are three essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
They’re critical to get in our diet, but you can also get them through supplementation to help reduce muscle breakdown.
They may be especially helpful during intense training. As your stores of energy deplete, BCAAs can be used as a quick fuel source for your muscles.
We only used plant-based, fermented BCAAs. Our unflavored BCAA powder is easy to stack with anything.
Glutamine is another amino acid found in the body. 61% of your total glutamine content is found in the muscle cells.
Similar to BCAAs, glutamine helps reduce muscle breakdown. As glutamine is rapidly depleted during intense strength training, supplementation helps restore your levels back to where they need to be.
We have an unflavored plant-based glutamine powder that you can add to any stack.
Honorable Mention: Caffeine
Caffeine is one of the most important molecules in modern civilization. It has shaped cultures, caused (and fueled) wars, and powers many national economies.
There’s no doubt that caffeine increases energy. But can it also increase strength? The results are mixed. Some results say it increases 1-rep max, other research says it doesn’t. As for the reasons why, we can only speculate.
For example, in general caffeine is more impactful on performance in sleep-deprived subjects. So that’s one theory. If you’re sleep-deprived, you should focus on improving your sleep. But in the short-term, caffeine may support your performance.
We have pre-workouts with and without caffeine. In our caffeinated pre-workouts, we only use PurCaf® organic caffeine made from green coffee beans.
This list covers some of the most powerful strength-building supplements you’ll want to include in your training plan. Nothing too fancy, but when it comes to supplements, sometimes it’s best to stick with the tried and true.
Pre-Workout + Protein Powder: A Great Stack for Supporting Strength
Through these, you may have spotted a theme: pre and post-workout supplementation.
With the right pre-workout, you can get a myriad of ingredients that support strength and overall performance, and much more.
With that right protein powder, you can get the aminos like BCAAs and glutamine you need to recover.
This is a great place to start with building out your supplement stack.
At Kaged, we pride ourselves on using some of the highest quality ingredients available in efficacious doses. We just plant-based aminos, organic caffeine, and isolate forms of protein as examples of our commitment to quality.
To stack and save, you can use our bundle builder and build your custom supplement stack.
BUILD YOUR STACK
- Saunders, Bryan et al. “β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 51,8 (2017): 658-669. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096396
- Maté-Muñoz, J.L., Lougedo, J.H., Garnacho-Castaño, M.V. et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation during a 5-week strength training program: a randomized, controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 19 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0224-0
- Zhang, M., Izumi, I., Kagamimori, S., Sokejima, S., Yamagami, T., Liu, Z. & Qi, B. (2004). Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy young men. Amino acids, 26 (2), 203-207. doi: 10.1007/s00726-003-0002-3
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.