Ask any bodybuilder about their supplement routine and they’ll likely take you to school on the nuances of different protein blends, their favorite nitric oxide boosters, and how they cycle their pre-workouts to keep crushing gym sessions day after day. Less expected, they may even wax poetic about their daily vitamin regimen.
More and more bodybuilders have begun expanding their supplement horizons beyond the sports nutrition shelves—and for good reason. “Factors such as baseline nutrient coverage and hormonal balance impact your ability to accomplish your fitness goals,” explains The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Brittany Michels, R.D.N., L.D.N., C.P.T. “These health factors are the foundation of fitness, performance, and physique success. If any of these areas are compromised, your goals will be negatively impacted.”
In a nutshell: The stronger your foundation, the stronger your squats.
The idea of holistic health for bodybuilders has caught on so broadly that The Vitamin Shoppe even created an entire store section dedicated to it called Fit Lifestyle. Below, you’ll find its featured categories and some choice product recommendations to get you started.
- ABOUT OUR EXPERTS: Brittany Michels, R.D.N., L.D.N., C.P.T., is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and in-house nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. Karen Cooney, C.N., B.C.H.H.P., is a certified nutritionist, board-certified holistic health practitioner, and in-house nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe.
Greens powders are popping right now—and bodybuilders have plenty of reasons to sip down some extra green goodness. “Greens are gold for athletes, serious gym-goers, and bodybuilders because they’re low in calories and packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that are many times lacking in the average diet,” says Michels. “Greens powder typically includes dried vegetables, herbs, grasses, and/or algae, and some even add fruit and/or probiotics. Including a greens powder is one of the easiest ways to supplement an array of nutrients and beneficial compounds.”
Together, these nutrients can offer gymgoers everything from a boost in energy to antioxidants that support recovery, shares The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Karen Cooney, C.N., B.C.H.H.P., a board-certified holistic health practitioner.
Product Pick: BodyTech Greens + Reds Superfood and Digestion Support
Michels loves this superfood supplement from BodyTech because it combines greens like alfalfa, spirulina, and wheatgrass with reds like tart cherry, beets, and cranberry. The idea here is that superfoods of varying colors provide unique arrays of nutrients, so you’re getting a slew of extra goodness when you sip on a powder made from a rainbow of ingredients.
Product Pick: GHOST Greens Superfood Powder
You probably already love GHOST for its pre-workouts, energy drinks, and proteins—and its newer Greens Superfood Powder is a testament to how seriously gymgoers are taking overall health. In addition to blends of both green and red superfoods, GHOST’s greens also offer a slew of digestive enzymes, 10 billion CFU of probiotics, and even some prebiotic fiber for robust gut health.
You might think hydration supplements are just for marathoners, but they’re a saving grace for heavy lifters, too. After all, we all lose electrolytes through sweat! “For athletes to achieve peak performance, it’s essential that they hydrate (and rehydrate) their bodies with the proper amount of electrolytes,” says Cooney.
“Gymgoers and bodybuilders have increased hydration needs, so hydration products can be especially beneficial for them,” agrees Michels. “They may need more electrolyte support (think sodium, potassium, and magnesium) if they have a high sweat rate, workout in hot conditions, or endure longer or multiple daily workouts.” She recommends looking for between a 2:1 and 3:1 ratio of sodium to potassium and experimenting to find the right balance for you.
Product Pick: NUUN Sport Hydration Electrolyte Powder Drink Mix
Hydration supplements provide your body with much-needed electrolytes to keep you working (and recovering) at your best—and come with the extra perk of punching up your water with flavor. NUUN’s drink mix sticks contain 90 percent less sugar than your average hydration supplement, making them a good option for a wide range of exercisers, from long-haul runners to heavy lifters. Each serving also provides five key electrolytes, including a moderate 300 milligrams of sodium. The single-serving sticks also make this pick a convenient one. Stash them in your gym back, your work desk, or wherever you might find yourself in need of a hydration boost.
Though many don’t start giving joint health the time of day until they’re having an issue, nourishing your joints is a good idea if you regularly put them through the wringer in the weight room.
“Joint health supplements help reduce stiffness and keep joints agile,” explains Michels. “As we age, synovial fluid, which plays a role in supporting weight and lubricating joints, decreases.” A number of different nutrients and supplements are used to support healthy joints, including glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, collagen, turmeric, and omega-3s.
You can either opt for a combination formula that serves as a one-stop shop for joint support or choose to supplement with single nutrients known for their joint benefits.
Product Pick: RedCon1 Foxtrot Joint Support
Formulated with joint health all-stars glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, RedCon1’s Foxtrot Joint Support supplement attacks the inflammation that can come with exercise by including turmeric, tart cherry, and ginger in the mix. Consider it a key player in your post-training recovery process.
Product Pick: Bare Performance Nutrition Strong Joints
This unique joint support formula provides a punch of MSM, a hefty amount of undenatured type two collagen, and hyaluronic acid to nourish your joints through the demands you place on them every day. Make it a regular part of your rotation to keep movement comfortable through your toughest training sessions.
Active folks have greater needs for certain nutrients than the average person, and swapping your standard multi for a sports-focused multivitamin can fuel your body with the slew of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to crush each workout, suggests Michels. Consider it an insurance policy that keeps your nutrient intake steady, even when your diet falters.
Product Pick: BodyTech Elite Modern Man Multi
BodyTech Elite’s Modern Man Multi checks all of your basic nutrient boxes while placing extra emphasis on cognitive support with the adaptogens rhodiola and bacopa, immunity support with high amounts of zinc, vitamin D3, and vitamin C, and a blend of fenugreek, saw palmetto, and maca for testosterone support and general men’s health.
Product Pick: KAGED Whole Food Multivitamin
Active men and women alike can benefit from KAGED’s all-encompassing multi. Made with nutrient-rich organic foods (think fruits, marine flora, and vegetables) to provide 100 percent of your daily needs of 21 vitamins and minerals, it’s a clean, mean, green formula for all. As a bonus, it contains a patented form of aloe vera that works to bolster gut health by serving as a prebiotic and feeding those good gut bugs.
Any fitness buff knows that physical performance is only half the battle; you’ll only get so far in reaching your goals if your mind isn’t in the game alongside your muscles. If you’re after next-level “mental agility,” as Michels calls it, make sure your supplement stack doesn’t neglect your brain. Nootropic supplements put to work any number of herbs and other nutrients to promote sharp focus, clarity, and motivation.
Product Pick: Revive MD Brain+ Stimulant-Free Focus Support
A good option for any gymgoer who wants to step up their mental game without interfering with their caffeination strategy, Revive MD Brain+ sharpens you up without any added jitters. It contains a slew of nutrients to support brain function, balance mood, provide antioxidant support, and keep brain cells firing on all cylinders, helping you push through workouts—and whatever else your day holds. Some of the power players include choline (which Michels says is crucial for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for healthy mood and memory), lithium (which helps the brain fend off stress and toxins), and Alpha-GPC (which boosts acetylcholine and promotes cognitive health).
Product Pick: KAGED Mindset Nootropic
If you prefer your nootropics with a side of caffeine, go for KAGED Mindset Nootropic + Caffeine. In addition to 150 milligrams of caffeine, this flavored powder combines potent doses of seven science-backed premium ingredients. (Think B vitamins, Alpha-GPC, l-tyrosine, American ginseng, fulvic minerals, and acetyl-l-carnitine.) This cognitive enhancer delivers a powerful punch that’ll drive you straight through any workout session, work project, or creative endeavor. Consider it “the big guns” you need on the days when your mind drags.
Overall Health Is The Ticket To Long-Term Fitness
As easy as it is to overlook certain aspects of general health when you’re hyper-focused on crushing it in the gym and seeing the physique or performance goals you’re after, hanging onto the gains you make for the long run requires a solid foundation of overall well-being. These supplements support many areas of health and body function that bodybuilders should be particularly mindful of as they grind through their training programs.