Achieving a high level of fitness in Crossfit is a difficult endeavor. It requires hours of time in the gym and it also forces you to meticulously track your diet.
All that to say, it takes hard work and dedication.
And when it comes to health and wellness, sweating the little details matters. In fact, controlling those little, seemingly inconsequently details is what adds up to success.
While diet and exercise should make up the majority of your fitness routine, there are a few “fine detail” items that you can use to gain an edge over your fellow Crossfit competitors.
One of those details that can make you better is supplementation.
It’s been said that supplements can give you a 5-10% edge. While this is small compared to what you can gain from maintaining a healthy diet and regularly hitting WOD’s, this small edge can be enough to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Read below to learn the best Crossfit supplements and start upping your recovery game!
1. Fish Oil
Fish oil is one of the best supplements for helping you recover stronger. This is due to fish oil’s omega-3 content, which helps to combat inflammation.
When you exercise you are creating inflammation in your body. For instance, when you do a handstand pushup, you are tearing the muscle tissue in your shoulders. This is part of the natural process of repairing and growing muscle tissue. However, this creates inflammation.
Taking a high quality fish oil supplement will help to reduce that inflammation and help your body recover faster and stronger.
Be aware that not all fish oil is created equal. Some types of omega-3 supplements are better. When shipping, make sure to buy a natural triglyceride fish oil supplement. While that may sound like a scary name, it’s pretty simple when you dig into it.
Natural triglyceride simply means that the fish oil is in a natural state. This increases the absorption. Stay away from cheaper ethyl ester forms of fish oil, this type of omega-3 oil is synthetic and is not as easily absorbed.
You may be wondering why I don’t have protein listed as my #1 fitness supplement. The answer is simple, there has been way too much focus on protein over the last 10 years. Many people think that all they have to do to get lean and fit is to take a powdery protein supplement and then they’ll achieve all of their fitness dreams.
It’s not that simple.
Protein is only a part of the puzzle. While you do need protein to help rebuild muscle tissue, it’s not the only thing required to gain muscle or lose weight.
Gaining muscle has to do with eating a calorie surplus. It’s that simple. If you under-eat, taking a protein powder supplement won’t do anything for you.
All that being said, if you have your nutrition dialed in for your Crossfit goals, then by all means take a post-workout protein powder. Remember though, taking a protein supplement should be looked at as a convenience, not muscle voodoo magic.
Treat protein powders as quick, ready to eat meal.
When looking for a post-workout supplement, make sure it has a good balance of protein and carbs. Also, make sure the protein comes from a high quality source. Certified Organic is best, second best would be natural whey product with minimal processing.
For vegans and vegetarians, go for a plant-based option. I like brown rice based products, they tend to be less “gritty” than pea or hemp based products.
Creatine is one of the most polarizing supplements. People either swear by it, or they treat it like a steroid-like illegal substance.
I’ll put all of that to rest.
Creatine is a natural substance found in foods that you eat every day. For instance, creatine is highly prevalent in steak and other meat products. It is natural and safe to take.
For Crossfit athletes and those looking to become more fit, creatinine is great option. It helps to increase the amount of energy that your body can produce. For instance, if you can do 8 reps of bench press at #185, after loading your body with creatine, you most likely will be able to do 9-10 reps. It’s not a huge gain, but it will increase your overall strength output.
In addition to this, creatine also tends to increase your overall weight. It does this by forcing your body to retain more water. Many bodybuilders prefer this as it gives them a more “full” look.
For Crossfitters that struggle with weight gain, this can be very beneficial. Most Metcons can be cardio intensive, which makes it hard to maintain and/or add muscle mass.
When shopping for creatine, be aware of the many different options available. My personal opinion is that all of the fancy types are marketing ploys. Stick with straight unflavored creatine monohydrate. Get USP grade if possible. It’s cheap,effective, and will give you a boost!
One thing to be aware of is that not all people respond well to creatine. Some people instantly get a boost in strength and size, while others notice little to no effect. Try it for a few weeks, see if it works for you.
One of the best ways to boost your workouts and help with motivation is to take caffeine. Caffeine helps to boost your energy and can help to get you in the box on those low motivation days.
You can get caffeine in a variety of different ways, the most common being in coffee or pre-workout drinks. I’ll detail the pro’s and cons of each below.
I argue against taking a souped-up pre-workout that gets your body all jacked up and jittery. Usually when you reach a huge peak in energy you will get a drastic drop-off. Also, most pre-workout drinks tend to be addictive.
I don’t like to be dependent on supplements to get a productive workout. I think you should be able to get a solid workout without having to get yourself all jacked up.
That being said, for days when you are going for a PR (personal record) or when you are not feeling it, taking a pre-workout supplement can be a great idea.
Rather than a pre-workout energy drink, I prefer coffee. There are a few simple reasons why I prefer coffee to pre-workout.
- Tastes amazing
It’s hard to beat coffee. It takes great, it’s cheap, and it contains the caffeine you need to get pumped for your workout without overpowering your body.
5. Sleep Aids
The final supplement that I recommend is a high quality natural sleep aid. Better sleep equals better recovery. This will create extra growth and will refresh your body like nothing else!
Getting into deep sleep can be tough. I recommend taking a sleep aid to help you. Taking a sleep supplement can help you get into that deep, REM stage of sleep.
Getting this type of sleep will help you to feel better and it will go a long way towards bolstering your recovery.
When looking for a sleep supplement, try and find a product with natural ingredients. Stay away from chemical-filled products. Good ingredients to look for include valerian root, german chamomile, GABA, and passionflower.
One of the often over-looked ingredients that benefits overall health are minerals. While minerals are found in the foods that we eat and the water that we drink, we tend to be deficient in them.
This is due to the fact that the ground that we grow our foods in is mineral-depleted.
The best way to add minerals back into your diet is through a mineral supplement. However, you don’t want just any old product, you want a high quality chelated mineral supplement.
Amino acid mineral chelates are minerals that have been bound to an amino acid. This process is called “chelation”. This creates minerals that are more readily absorbed by your body. You can read more here about how chelated minerals are created (and how they benefit your body).
So there you have it! Here are my top Crossfit supplements for increasing your health and wellness – and increasing your ability to recover from tough WODs. These supplements are only the small details that should be laid at the top of your pyramid made of diet and exercise (with diet and exercise at the base).
Put it all together and you can be on your way to a healthier, happier life!