What sup? The third and final act. How do you cycle your sups?

What sup? The third and final act. How do you cycle your sups?

Mar 18, 2014

Ok I have probably bored you and written you into a coma. I promise this is the last article on the supplements. In case you are just visiting and catching this article first, well STOP.  Since you missed the first two you may want to see where I am coming from.

This is the first article about the offseason supplements I take:

http://ironauthority.com/what-sup-part-1/

This is the second article about the contest season supplements I take:

http://ironauthority.com/what-sup-contest-day-week-and-cns-sups-part-2/

Which leads me to this article which is about ideas on how to take supplements year around. I am sure there are multiple ways to look at or do your supplements but this is about the way I do them and look at them. I will cover three ways I look at it.

When I talk about year around I mean contest /off season because of the obvious difference in my previous articles. If you don’t compete and just lift you can still incorporate this ideology and “create” your own on/off seasons. If you don’t have this thinking I am hoping you have a way of measuring success of supplements or your training routines.

All or none

Many years ago this was my approach. At first I thought it was great. I looked at sups as a crutch and didn’t want to become dependent on them year around. I looked at them like steroids and figured I would go on and off while trying to maintain the gains from the “on” cycle. I want to say this worked for a few years but now I even question that. I also wonder if I held myself back somewhat and possibly lost precious time.

Creatine has been a staple of my supplements forever. I would tell people back then you measure the success of a supplement by seeing what you are doing a few weeks after you are off of it.

Example:

Bench

  • 300 before cycle
  • 325 during cycle
  • 315 few weeks after being off supplement

The sup was successful for 15 lbs not 25 to me. That is how you measure success of it. The maintaining of the gains afterwards is the net gain. If I made no gains, either in size or strength (not all sups do both) I then decide did it do what I want, strength? If it gave me size I would know at least it was profitable for something at least for future inquiries.

I would do supplements for 8 weeks or so on (meet training) and then when the meet was over I went cold turkey. Nothing, not even vitamins. I knew I would lose something, size or strength if not both. I was content with that because nothing you do will give you constant gains, everything has either a ceiling or has plateaus. So, as in my example, I was willing to look to lose half my gains but hopefully no more.  Only problem is it may lead to overtraining if you are trying to maintain ALL your gains. You will force yourself to do things that you wouldn’t have if you were “on”. Eventually this could lead to injuries.

How would I counter water loss which would help with stronger muscle contractions? Increase sodium (I still load extra water into the system meet day, refer to second article about glycerol). Well just because you are bloated only a small portion of the extra water I held was being absorbed by the muscle the majority was in between the skin and muscle so I squished when I walked.

It was frustrating after a few weeks gains and size were going down. I increased calories sometimes to counter this.

Why would I do something so dumb? At the time maybe a tough guy approach I don’t need sups all the time was at play. Now years later I shake my head and think that was so befuddling thinking like that. Or maybe it was because  I am a huge believer that when you go into meet training that if you don’t have something to “mentally” counter the heavier weight increases in your workout then how can you expect to make gains if there is not some sort of change? The mental approach from going into a meet cycle, to a workout set by set, to a meet day in my training is a tit for a tat. Looking at it from a macro to a micro aspect. That is a whole another article.

Some may still do it and I ask you this, are you losing precious time and being counterproductive to yourself? Remember I did this for years and without a doubt say yes, it is not a wise thinking. If money is the issue then it is understandable where you can’t do it year around. Of course there could be ways to alleviate the financial burden, buy bulk with friends or “cycle your sups with the most effective ones being used during a contest cycle. If you look at my two cycles that may give you a blueprint to start with and modify.

Now let’s advance to the present……..

 

Same Sups all year around

 

Ok this is another approach that I thought about but honestly I could never have done this. I will go over a couple of reasons. However I do need to point out that I do not count protein shakes, drinks as a supplement. Actually if I have to splinter my definition of a supplement I would say everything I do is a “sport” supplement and protein is just a supplement. I don’t feel any boosts or gains when I take protein by itself. Yes I know it is a supplement BUT I can get protein from my meals. Otherwise most of the other “supplements” I take can only be consumed as a supplement.

Yes you can get creatine from meat but do you know how much you have to eat to get 20 grams (I believe in loading) of creatine a day? Here let me show you.

Pork  5     grams per 2.2 lbs
Red Meat 4.5    “                       “
Herring 6.5     “                      “
Cod, salmon 3-4.5 “                       “
Veggies, fruit Almost none

{1}

If you don’t like seafood or say you are a vegetarian you HAVE to do it in supplement form. Imagine what you cholesterol level would be if red meat was your source.

Ok back to my reasons.

First reason is financially. The supplement whore I have turned into couldn’t afford it. I would have to pimp myself out to afford it and no one is fantasizing over a stocky 5’6” white guy. Let’s be realistic sups are expensive .Yes there are some quality ones that are affordable and get results but they are hard to find. Like mentioned in the first article there ARE many companies with poor products. Don’t get ripped off. Research your products. Look it up on forums and see what others have said. Ask people who are making gains in your gym (drug free athletes) and ask them what they recommend.

Second, I will go back to how am I to expect gains if I am doing the same thing all the time with no break from them? Why are you not making gains like two months ago?  It is called tolerance. You can become tolerant to medicines and supplements.

I hear guys in the gym talk about what they take and they never stop. I also hear how they are stuck in some aspect of their training. Hmmmn here’s an idea CYCLE!!!  Cycle your sups. Cycle your training.

 

Different sups year around

                Well when it is all said and done this is where I ended up. Years of trial and error with my training and supplements. This is the plan that works for me. I can have my cake and eat it too. I don’t see me changing this plan outside of financial reasons.

About three years ago I was doing meets that were close together and I would take off for about two weeks from sups at the longest. When the meets were done and I hit a 4-5 month hiatus from competing I realized I would lose some of my gains and being a master lifter this is extremely important because gains are hard to come by. The thought of just giving them away is NOT an ideal plan. So I sat and figured out something to keep most of my gains.

So I came up with a plan. I would take the sure fire sups that work and only take them for contest training. I have all bases covered. Muscles, joints and mind .If you are expecting to be at 100% then give your body what it needs.

The offseason is for trying out some new supplements. Refer to my first article and compare the differences between the supplements and the number of them I consume. I try different ones in case there is something better that I can either replace one with or add. Remember to treat your body right in the offseason don’t abuse it or it will bite you later down the road

I never take creatine in the offseason. I use this as my secret weapon. I want to go into a contest cycle anxious to hit the heavy weights because I know creatine will help me attain my goals.

Also change up your preworkout drink or supplement in the offseason because it is an upper. You will become tolerant to it and it will become less effective. Just by changing it up (Going for like C4 to caffeine) you can weaken the tolerance to one ingredient that may not be in the new preworkout you are taking so you can still get the edgy feeling and not worry about having to increase dosages.

In the second article

http://ironauthority.com/what-sup-contest-day-week-and-cns-sups-part-2/

I cover CNS supplements so read that to understand a little more about the CNS and sups that affect it.

Make a list of what works for you the best and works ok. Divvy up according to what you can afford and make your two lists of supplements. Group the most effective for your contest and the others for the offseason. Try not to use your best year around (creatine for me).

Substitute your off season sups. Don’t be scared. You may find a supplement that you decide to add into your contest season cycle. Still make sure you are doing something to help your body recover at the least from your workouts.

How do you know what sups to take and for what? Prioritize what is important to you. I’ll leave you mine below.

Off season priorities for me look like this:

  1. Joints(treat them right sups and training) If they go your muscles are worthless
  2. Muscles (Protein)
  3. Mind (Offseason alone should be enough to reset it, sups not necessarily necessary)
  4. Strength (yes I am not concerned about being at 100% year around that maybe the key to longevity)

 

 

 

Final Act

                Well there you go 3 articles and 6500 words later we are done. This may have felt longer then the Lord of the Rings trilogy but hopefully you have come out of it with something. If you have questions feel free to email me. I am not the end all say all. I just hope the way I do things may help at least one person because like I say not everything I do or say will work for you but hopefully something does.

Till next time.

Focus First.

Thanks to The GYM and Tan Line, Titan Support Systems, IronAuthority, ATP Extreme ,Oxygen Factor, and RockTape.

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